Lisa Marie’s Possibly Pointless Oscar Predictions For March


I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I should even bother to continue my monthly Oscar predictions.  With the current Coronavirus pandemic, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if there will even be an Oscar ceremony next year.  Many completed films have been taken off the schedule so that they can be released at a time when people aren’t scared to leave their house.  Meanwhile, production on several other films — some of them expected to be Oscar contenders — has been suspended.  New films are continuing to premiere on the streaming services but the Academy has always insisted that films also play in a theater if they want to contend for an Oscar.  That’s going to be difficult with the majority of the country’s theaters currently being closed.

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not necessarily apocalyptic or even that pessimistic in my outlook.  I think that, one way or another, we will eventually be able to leave our homes again and that at least some of the movie theaters will reopen.  So, I think that we will be able to have some sort of Oscar ceremony.  For that reason, I’m going to make my predictions for March but, needless to say, take all of these with an even bigger grain of salt than usual.

If you’re curious to see what my Oscar thinking was in the months before the world went crazy, check out my predictions for January and February!

(I’ve tried to take the fact that the Coronavirus led to the suspension of many ongoing productions while making out my list below.  As far as I know, filming wrapped on all of the films listed below before the outbreak.)

Best Picture

Ammonite

Annette

Hillbilly Elegy

The Father

Minari

News of the World

Nomadland

On the Rocks

Tenet

West Side Story

Best Director

Isaac Lee Chung for Minari

Paul Greengrass for News of the World

Christopher Nolan for Tenet

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Florian Zeller for The Father

Best Actor

Tom Hanks in News of the World

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Bill Murray in On the Rocks

Gary Oldman in Mank

Will Smith in King Richard

Best Actress

Amy Adams in Hillbilly Elegy

Clare Dunne in Herself

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Kate Winslet in Ammonite

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Burke in Mank

Richard E. Grant in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Steve Yeun in Minari

Best Supporting Actress

Abigail Breslin in Stillwater

Glenn Close in Hillybilly Elegy

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite

Helena Zengel in News of the World

 

18 Days of Paranoia #18: Nineteen Eighty-Four (dir by Rudolph Cartier)


Well, here we are at the end of both March and the 18 days of paranoia.  We started things off with a review of The Flight That Disappeared and now, we end things with a look at the 1954 BBC production of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

“Orewllian” is a term that gets tossed around a lot nowadays, largely by people who the real George Orwell probably would have viewed rather dismissively.  Ever since the election of Donald Trump, for instance, it’s become rather common for certain people of twitter to say that “Orwell was right” or that we’re living in an “Orwellian nightmare.”  I remember after Trump’s press secretary blatantly lied about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, there was even a commercial that featured Zachary Quinto giving a hilariously overwrought reading of the final passage of George Orwell’s 1984.  “He …. LOVED …. BIG …. BROTHER!” Quinto declared while staring grimly at the camera.

Interestingly enough, many of the same people who complain about Trump’s lies being Orwellian never used the term during the previous 8 years, when we were being constantly told that a permanent recession was actually a sign of a strong economy and that if people liked their doctor, they could keep them.  The fact of the matter is that, for a lot of people, “Orwellian” is just a term that they use whenever a politician from the other side does something that they dislike.  It makes you wonder how many of them have actually read 1984 because, if they had, they would surely know that — if we truly were living in the world depicted in Orwell’s novel — no one would be allowed to acknowledge it and, in fact, Orwell and his books would have vanished down the memory hole.  Just the act of saying that we’re living in 1984 without getting sent to a reeducation camp is proof that we’re not (or, at least, we’re not just yet).

That’s not to say that 1984 isn’t an important work of literature.  In fact, it’s probably one of the most important books ever written, which is why it does it such a disservice to glibly toss around the term Orwellian.  Even if we aren’t living in Orwell’s world right now, it’s probably easier than ever to imagine a scenario where we eventually could.  The Coronavirus pandemic, for example, is just the sort of thing that could lead to the people accepting the idea that the government is meant to be a Big Brother and that those who disagree deserve to be reported for the good of the people.  It’s easy to imagine a future where people believe that history started with the Coranavirus and that everything that happened before the pandemic was just a hazy rumor, like Europe before the Renaissance.  As such, even if the term Orwellian is overused, 1984 is still a book that needs to be read and understood.

There have been several film adaptations of 1984, some of which are better than others.  My personal favorite is the 1985 film, which was directed by Michael Radford and which starred John Hurt and Richard Burton.  Running a close second, however, would be the version that was made for the BBC in 1954.

This version sticks closely to Orwell’s novel, though it downplays the book’s sexual themes.  (This is not surprising considering that this version was made for 1950s television.)  Though it condensed Orwell’s story, it hits all of the important points.  Winston Smith (Peter Cushing) is a member of the Outer Party who works at the Ministry of Truth and who lives a rather drab existence in London, “the chief city of Airstrip One.”  He is a citizen of Oceania, which has always been at war with Eurasia.  Winston lives under a system of government called Ingsoc and every day, he spends two minutes hating a mysterious figure named Goldstein.  All around him are posters of Big Brother, watching him and judging.

On the outside, Winston is a loyal party man but on the inside, he has questions and doubts.  How can he not when he works for the Ministry of Truth?  His job is to change history to reflect whatever the current version of it may be.  Some of his co-workers, like Symes (Donald Pleaseance), are openly cynical about what they do.  Others, like O’Brien (an imposing Andre Morell), seem as if they might be sympathetic to Winston’s doubts but Winston cannot be sure.  Meanwhile, Winston has found himself obsessed with Julia (Yvonne Mitchell), who is a member of the Anti-Sex League but who might have doubts of her own.  (Then again, she could also be a member of the Thought Police.)

When Winston is finally arrested for being a thoughtcriminal, it leads to a harrowing interrogation where he learns that truth doesn’t matter, the numbers add up to whatever the party says that they add up to, and that no one is strong enough to survive the ordeal of Room 101.

The BBC adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four was, for the most part, a live performance with a few filmed scenes inserted into the action.  Still, the fact that the majority of the actors were delivering their lines lives brings a certain immediacy to the film.  Everyone seem nervous and edgy.  In real life, that could have been due to the fear that they would miss a line but it also feels appropriate for people who spend every day of their life being watched and judged by Big Brother.  The entire production does an excellent job of creating a world where every minute is suffused in an atmosphere of dread and fear.  From the minute we first see him, Winston seems to know that he’s doomed.  The fact that Big Brother would rather torture and brainwash him rather than just make him disappear just makes things worse.

The production is full of actors — like Cushing, Morrell, and Pleasence — who would go on to become leading figures in the British horror industry and all of them do an excellent job bringing Orwell’s horror to life.  Peter Cushing, with his mix of intelligent features and neurotic screen presence, makes for the perfect Winston Smith and Andre Morrell is just as perfectly cast as the fearsome O’Brien.  The scene in which Winston is forced to confront Room 101 is still a harrowing one and this film perfectly nails the novel’s famous ending, doing so in a low-key manner that’s far more effective than the overwrought approach that other adaptations have brought to the final scene.

Nineteen Eighty-Four can currently be viewed on Prime.  The print is a bit grainy but that only adds to the film’s power.  It comes to us like a hazy vision of the future.

Other Entries In The 18 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. The Flight That Disappeared
  2. The Humanity Bureau
  3. The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
  4. The Falcon and the Snowman
  5. New World Order
  6. Scandal Sheet
  7. Cuban Rebel Girls
  8. The French Connection II
  9. Blunt: The Fourth Man 
  10. The Quiller Memorandum
  11. Betrayed
  12. Best Seller
  13. They Call Me Mister Tibbs
  14. The Organization
  15. Marie: A True Story
  16. Lost Girls
  17. Walk East On Beacon!

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Ewan McGregor Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is not just Christoper Walken’s birthday!  It’s also the birthday of another one of my favorite actors, the only and only Ewan McGregor!  And you know what that means.  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Ewan McGregor Films

Trainspotting (1996, dir by Danny Boyle)

Moulin Rouge! (2001, dir by Baz Luhrmann)

T2: Trainspotting (2017, dir by Danny Boyle)

Doctor Sleep (2019, dir by Mike Flanagan)

Scenes That I Love: Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction


Today is Christopher Walken’s 77th birthday so it seems appropriate to share a Walken scene that I love.  Without further ado, here is the classic gold watch speech from the 1994 film, Pulp Fiction:

What Lisa Watched Last Night #211: Remember Me, Mommy? (dir by Michelle Ouellet)


Last night, I watched the premiere of one of the greatest Lifetime films of all time, Remember Me, Mommy?

Why Was I Watching It?

It was on Lifetime.  I’ve been ordered to shelter in place.  What else could I do?

Then again, even if I wasn’t on lockdown, I probably still would have watched it because this is one of those Lifetime films that takes place at a private school and features a teacher with a secret in her past and those are typically my favorite Lifetime films.  There’s just something irresistible about the mix of super snobs and dark secrets!

What Was It About?

Elena Walker (Sydney Meyer) is the newest student at Clark Academy!  She’s a scholarship student, which means that she has to deal with a lot of hazing from all of the rich kids.  It turns out that most of the students at Clark Academy have known each other for their entire lives so Elena is definitely an outsider.

However, fear not!  Elena loves to write and the school’s creative writing teacher, Rebecca (Natalie Brown), is a former scholarship student herself.  In fact, Rebecca is so impressed with Elena’s essays that she even arranges for Elena to meet with an Ivy League recruiter.  So …. yay for the scholarship students, I guess.

Except …. well, Elena may not be who she claims.  In fact, it turns out that Elena has a bad habit of killing people who get on her nerves.  It also turns out that it’s not just a coincidence that Elena showed up at Clark Academy and immediately went out of her way to bond with Rebecca.

What is Elena’s plan?  What is Rebecca’s secret?  I’m not going to spoil anything, especially since the title of the film already does that.

What Worked?

It all worked!

Seriously, this is one of the best Lifetime films that I’ve seen in a while.  Though you’ll probably guess Rebecca’s secret long before the film actually reveals it, Remember Me, Mommy? is still a lot of fun.  In the tradition of the best Lifetime films, Remember Me, Mommy? fully embraces the melodrama.  Elena never stops plotting, Rebecca never stops teaching, and the pace never slackens.

And I have to admit that, as evil as Elena was, it was hard not to like her.  She was an agent of chaos, dropped in the middle of a bunch of complacent snobs and she reacted by disrupting the status quo.  Of course, it would have been nice if she could have resisted the temptation to kill but still….

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Like Elena, I always got along with my creative writing teachers.  They were some of my favorite people.

At one point in the film, Elena is accused of plagiarism and I have to admit that brought back some memories of high school math class.  I’ve always sucked at math.  It’s just not my thing.  Fortunately, I had an older sister who had taken the class a year before me and who had saved all of her tests so, whenever I had to take a test, I would just copy all the answers and …. well, technically, I guess I was cheating.  My plan, if I was ever caught, was to argue that I wasn’t so much cheating as I was just plagiarizing my sister’s answers.  Fortunately, I never got caught so I didn’t actually have to find out whether or not that argument would have worked.

Lessons Learned

Be nice to scholarship students!

Lisa’s Week In Review: 3/23/20 — 3/29/20


Last week, I sheltered in place.

This week, I sheltered in place.

Next week, I imagine that I will shelter in place.

This is getting annoying but at least I’m getting a lot written.

Having seasonal allergies in the middle of a Coronavirus pandemic is a whole new level of stress.  I woke up every morning congested and with a slightly sore throat and then I wait an hour to see if they go away.  Oh well.  Someday, I’ll go to a movie again.

Until then….

Films I Watched:

  1. 2020: Nostradamus (2017)
  2. A Mother Knows Worst (2020)
  3. Best Seller (1987)
  4. Betrayed (1988)
  5. The Big Fix (2018)
  6. Charles Chan At The Wax Museum (1940)
  7. Cobra (1985)
  8. Corruption (1933)
  9. Dr. Crippen (1962)
  10. Fame At A Deadly Cost (2020)
  11. A Field in England (2014)
  12. Full Confession (1939)
  13. Ghetto Freaks (1970)
  14. Gimme Shelter (1970)
  15. Grand Theft Auto Girls (2020)
  16. Is There A Killer In My Family? (2020)
  17. Marie (1985)
  18. Nancy Drew — Reporter (1939)
  19. The New Gladiators (1984)
  20. Off The Record (1939)
  21. The Organization (1971)
  22. Remember Me, Mommy (2020)
  23. The Rookie (2002)
  24. Shattered Glass (2003)
  25. They Call Me Mr. Tibbs (1970)
  26. Walk East On Beacon (1952)
  27. Way Out (1967)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 60 Days In
  2. Bar Rescue
  3. The Bold and the Beautiful
  4. Chappelle’s Show
  5. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  6. Daily Mass
  7. Dr. Phil
  8. Frasier
  9. General Hospital
  10. Ghost Whisperer
  11. The Office
  12. Survivor 40
  13. The Young and the Restless

Books I Read:

  1. The Museum of Desire (2020) by Jonathan Kellerman
  2. Under Currents (2019) by Nora Roberts
  3. Wild Child (2020) by Jordan Roberts

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Abba
  2. Adi Ulmansky
  3. The Beatles
  4. The Black Keys
  5. Bob Dylan
  6. Britney Spears
  7. The Chemical Brothers
  8. Coldplay
  9. Francesca Michielin
  10. Jake Bugg
  11. Kedr Livanskiy
  12. The Killers
  13. Mr. Rain
  14. Muse
  15. Nine Inch Nails
  16. Phantogram
  17. Prince
  18. Rita Ora
  19. Saint Motel
  20. Selena Gomez
  21. Spice Girls
  22. UPSAHL
  23. The Zen Circus

News From Last Week:

  1. How this L.A. comedy theater botched coronavirus layoffs
  2. Animated Series Adapt to Keep Production Going Amid Industry-Wide Shutdown
  3. The Haunted Winchester Mystery House is Offering a FREE Virtual Tour While We’re All Stuck Inside
  4. David Mamet on Stuart Gordon

Links From The Site:

  1. Erin profiled R.A. Osborne and shared: Rangeland Love, Detective Action, Dime Sports Magazine, Sports Action, Squeeze Play, The Devil Thumbs a Ride, and Never Come Morning!
  2. Jeff shared a music video from The Alan Parsons Project and paid tribute to Akira Kurosawa and Mike Longo and Eric Weissberg.  He reviewed The Seniors, Tom Horn, Cobra, The Octagon, Rowdy Girls, Guilty as Charged, and Fast-Walking!
  3. Leonard reviewed Escape From New York!
  4. Patrick reminded us all to wash our hands!  Y’all better listen to him!
  5. Ryan reviewed Cold and Water and shared his weekly reading round-up!
  6. I reviewed Bar Rescue, The Quiller Memorandum, Betrayed, Best Seller, They Call Me Mister Tibbs, The Organization, Marie, Lost Girls, and Mother Knows Worst!  I shared music videos from Spice Girls, Selena Gomez, Rita Ora, Francesca Michelien, The Zen Circus, and Mr. Rain.  I ranked the films of Quentin Tarantino and paid tribute to Stuart Gordon.

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon and you should consider subscribing! 
  2. On SyFyDesigns, I shared: The Order Has Come Down and The Cats Will Always Be Here.
  3. At Sleeping Lisa, I shared: Last Night’s Weird, Work-Related Dream
  4. For Reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  5. At my music site, I shared music from The Beatles, ABBA, The Killers, The Black Keys, Adi Ulmansky, Bob Dylan, and Selena Gomez!
  6. At her photography site, Erin shared Dragons, The Light in the Darkness, Weeds, Creeping, Water Meter, Rent Me!, and Alley!
  7. At Pop Politics, Jeff shared: Shelter-In-Place, Late Night Lockdown Thoughts, The Only Thing Worse Than Keeping People Out Too Long…, and Richard Reeves has died!

Want to see what went on last week?  Click here!

18 Days of Paranoia #16: Lost Girls (dir by Liz Garbus)


Lost Girls tells the true and infuriating story of Mari Gilbert and her search for her oldest daughter, Shannan.

Mari Gilbert is a single mother who is works as a waitress and struggles to give her children the best life that she can.  She’s still haunted by a decision that she made years ago to temporarily put her three daughters into foster care.  Though she eventually reclaimed two of her daughters, her eldest — Shannan — has basically been on her own since she was sixteen.  Shannan, who is now 24, visits her mother and her sisters on a semi-regular basis.  Despite the fact that Shannan claims that she’s just a waitress (like her mother), Shannan always seems to have a lot of money on her.  Mari has her suspicions about what Shannan’s doing to make that money but she keeps them to herself.

Then, one day in May, Shannan disappears.  Mari can’t get the police to take her seriously when she says her oldest daughter has vanished.  They say that Shannan left on her own and will probably return at some point.  They dismiss Mari’s concerns, telling her that her daughter was a prostitute and therefore, by their logic, unreliable.  Even when Mari gets strange phone calls from a doctor who lives in a gated community in Long Island, the police refuse to take her seriously.

However, Mari then discovers that Shannan called 911 the night that she disappeared.  Despite the fact that Shannan sounded panicked, the police waited an hour before responding to her call and, by the time they arrived, Shannan had disappeared.  It’s only when Mari goes to the media that the police actually start to search the area of Long Island where Shannan disappeared.  The police discover the bodies of several sex workers, all murdered by the same unknown killer.

However, they still don’t find Shannan’s body.  Though Mari and her daughter, Sherre (Thomasin McKenzie), are convinced that Shannan is one of the killer’s victims, the police continue to insist that Shannan probably just ran off on her own.  In fact, the local police commissioner (Gabriel Byrne) finds himself being pressured to do something about Mari because her now constant presence on TV is making the entire community look bad.

Meanwhile, Mari finds herself caught up in a personal feud between two men who live in the gated community, an amateur investigator (Kevin Corrigan) and a shady doctor (Reed Birney) who has a history of making inappropriate phone calls….

Lost Girls is an interesting but frustrating film.  Some of that is because the story on which the film is based did not have a happy ending.  The Long Island serial killer has never been identified or captured.  The most obvious suspect was never charged with anything and subsequently moved down to Florida.  Mari never got justice for Shannan and, sadly, was eventually murdered by her youngest daughter.  (The murder is acknowledged via a title card but it is not actually depicted in the film.)  As a result, the film itself doesn’t really offer up any of the payoff that you would normally expect to get after devoting 90 minutes of your life to it.  It’s frustrating but, at the same time, its understandable.

Amy Ryan gives a great performance as Mari.  That shouldn’t shock anyone.  She makes you feel Mari’s pain, fury, and guilt.  To its credit, the film does shy away from the fact that Mari often looked the other way when it came to how exactly Shannan was making the money that she regularly sent back to her family and Amy Ryan perfectly captures Mari’s struggle to not only get justice for her daughter but also to forgive herself.  Unfortunately, the film is a bit less convincing when it deals with the police and the suspects.  The film, for instance, can’t seem to decide whether or not Gabriel Byrne’s character is indifferent, incompetent, or just overwhelmed by a bad situation.  By that same token, the doctor and his neighbor both seem oddly underwritten and underplayed.  Obviously, the film can’t just come out and accuse a real, living person of murder (especially when that person hasn’t been charged with anything) but it still makes for a frustrating viewing experience.

Where Lost Girls succeeds is at creating a properly ominous atmosphere.  Every scene seems to be filled with dread and, from the minute that Mari starts her investigation, you feel nervous for her.  She’s taking a true journey into the heart of darkness.  The film leaves you angry that the police refused to search for Shannan.  Sex workers are regularly preyed upon and, because of what they do for a living, society often looks the other way.  That’s how you end up with killers like The Green River Killer and the Long Island serial killer.  They don’t get away with their crimes because they’re clever.  They get away with it because, far too often, society refuses to care about their victims.  Lost Girls is an imperfect film but its heart is in the right place and its message is an important one.

Other Entries In The 18 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. The Flight That Disappeared
  2. The Humanity Bureau
  3. The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
  4. The Falcon and the Snowman
  5. New World Order
  6. Scandal Sheet
  7. Cuban Rebel Girls
  8. The French Connection II
  9. Blunt: The Fourth Man 
  10. The Quiller Memorandum
  11. Betrayed
  12. Best Seller
  13. They Call Me Mister Tibbs
  14. The Organization
  15. Marie: A True Story