Catching Up With The Films of 2021: Wild Indian (dir by Lyle Corbine, Jr.)


Wild Indian opens in the 80s, with two teenage boys living on a Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin.  Both of them come from broken homes.  Both of the are bullied in school.  Makwa (played, as teenager, by Phoenix Wilson) is quiet but angry and spends most of his time trying to avoid the company of his alcoholic parents.  His cousin, Teddo (played, as a teenager, by Julian Goppal), is slightly more responsible and level-headed.  One day, after Makwa kills one of his classmates, he begs Teddo to help him hide the body.  Teddo is reluctant but eventually, he agrees.

We then jump forward several years.  Now played by Michael Greyeyes, the adult Macwa lives in California and he uses the name Michael Peterson.  He’s a businessman, a partner in a firm with Jerry (played by the film’s executive producer, Jesse Eisenberg).  Michael is married to a white woman (Kate Bosworth) and lives in an upscale apartment.  He and his wife have one child and another is on the way.  Though Michael doesn’t deny his Native heritage, he now uses it for a gimmick.  He describes it as being his “brand.”  He never speaks of his past in Wisconsin.  His wife doesn’t even know his original name.  Michael would seem to have everything that he’s ever wanted but it’s obvious that he’s still struggling with his inner demons.  He hires a stripper so that he can strangle her.  The rare time he does talk about other Native Americans, it’s to dismiss them as being dishonest and narcissistic, descriptions that many would use to describe Michael himself.

Meanwhile, Teddo (now played by Chaske Spencer) has spent the last several years in prison.  Wracked with guilt after helping Makwa cover up the murder of their classmate, Teddo became a drug dealer.  When he gets out of prison, his face is heavily tattooed, as if he’s trying to announce his crimes and sins to the world.  When he visits the mother of the boy that Makwa murdered, Teddo starts to cry uncontrollably.  Eventually, Teddo leaves Wisconsin, heading to California so that he can confront Makwa face-to-face.

Wild Indian is an atmospheric and, at times, rather disturbing thriller.  It’s not a surprise that Teddo wants and needs some sort of resolution with Makwa but, from that premise, the film’s story goes off in some unexpected directions and, in the end, neither Makwa nor Teddo turn out to be quite who the viewer was expecting them to be.  Teddo, the violent drug dealer, turns out to have a strong sense of moral obligation while Makwa, for all of his success, is so deeply in denial about his past and his sins that he can’t even be honest with himself about who he is, much less anyone else.  It all leads to a rather jarring ending, one that may seem abrupt but actually works perfectly.  In the end, the sins of the past cannot be escaped and they cannot be changed.  All one can do is live under the clouds of the past.

Wild Indian is triumphant directorial debut for Lyle Corbine, Jr., an uncompromising character study of two men who can never escape the past no matter how much they may want to.  Both Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer give wonderful performances as Makwa and Teddo.  This is definitely a film to track down and watch.

Here Are The Gotham Winners!


The Gotham Awards were held last night and the big winners were CODA and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter.  The Gothams aren’t exactly the biggest or most influential of the Oscar precursors but they were are one of the first so a victory can only help!

The winners are listed in bold:

Best Feature
“The Green Knight”
“The Lost Daughter”
“Passing”
“Pig”
“Test Pattern”

Best Documentary Feature
“Ascension”
“Faya Dayi”
Flee”
“President”
“Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

Best International Feature
“Azor”
“Drive My Car”
“The Souvenir Part II”
Titane
“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?”
“The Worst Person In The World”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter”
Edson Oda for “Nine Days”
Rebecca Hall for “Passing”
Emma Seligman for “Shiva Baby”
Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern”

Best Screenplay
“The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader
“El Planeta,” Amalia Ulman
“The Green Knight,” David Lowery
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“Passing,” Rebecca Hall
“Red Rocket,” Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

Outstanding Lead Performance
Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter”
Frankie Faison in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Michael Greyeyes in “Wild Indian”
Brittany S. Hall in “Test Pattern”
Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter”
Taylour Paige in “Zola”
Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”
Simon Rex in “Red Rocket”
Lili Taylor in “Paper Spiders”
Tessa Thompson in “Passing”

Outstanding Supporting Performance
Reed Birney in “Mass”
Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter”
Colman Domingo in “Zola”
Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon”
Troy Kotsur in “CODA”
Marlee Matlin in “CODA”
Ruth Negga in “Passing”

Breakthrough Performer
Emilia Jones in “CODA”
Natalie Morales in “Language Lessons”
Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby”
Suzanna Son in “Red Rocket”
Amalia Ulman in “El Planeta”

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Good Lord Bird”
“It’s A Sin”
“Small Axe”
“Squid Game”
“The Underground Railroad”
“The White Lotus”

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Blindspotting”
“Hacks”
“Reservation Dogs”
“Run the World”
“We Are Lady Parts”

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
“City So Real”
“Exterminate All the Brutes”
“How To with John Wilson”
“Philly D.A.”
“Pride”

Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus”
Michael Greyeyes in “Rutherford Falls”
Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird”
Devery Jacobs in “Reservation Dogs”
Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game”
Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad”
Jean Smart in “Hacks”
Omar Sy in “Lupin”
Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit”
Anjana Vasan in “We Are Lady Parts”

(Incidentally, I’m probably the only person not involved with the show to have noticed the victory for Philly D.A.  I’m just going to be honest and say that is one of my least favorite results ever.  Philly D.A. was a pure propaganda, nothing more.)

What If Oscar Season Started And No One Noticed, Part 2: Here Are The Gotham Award Nominations


As a sign of how wrapped up I am in this year’s Horrorthon, consider this: the 2021 Gotham Nominations — the first precursor of Awards Season! — were announced on Thursday and I totally missed them!  This is actually not the first year that this has happened.  October is a busy month for me and sometimes, the Gotham noms get missed.

The Gothams, of course, only honor independent films and they have pretty strict rules as far as what they consider to be independent.  The budget has to come in at a certain relatively low amount, for one thing.  So, as a result, a lot of Oscar nominees are not Gotham eligible.  But, at the same time, those Gotham rules also allow some films that otherwise might get overlooked a chance to get some precursor love.  Being nominated for a Gotham is hardly a guarantee that the Academy will remember you.  But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Better late than never, here are the 2021 Gotham Nominations!  As you’ll notice, the Gotham’s performance awards are gender neutral.  This is the first year that the Gothams have done this.  They also added categories for supporting performances and best performance in a series.

Anyway, here are the nominees:

Best Feature
“The Green Knight”
“The Lost Daughter”
“Passing”
“Pig”
“Test Pattern”

Best Documentary Feature
“Ascension”
“Faya Dayi”
“Flee”
“President”
“Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

Best International Feature
“Azor”
“Drive My Car”
“The Souvenir Part II”
Titane
“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?”
“The Worst Person In The World”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter”
Edson Oda for “Nine Days”
Rebecca Hall for “Passing”
Emma Seligman for “Shiva Baby”
Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern”

Best Screenplay
“The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader
“El Planeta,” Amalia Ulman
“The Green Knight,” David Lowery
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“Passing,” Rebecca Hall
“Red Rocket,” Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

Outstanding Lead Performance
Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter”
Frankie Faison in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Michael Greyeyes in “Wild Indian”
Brittany S. Hall in “Test Pattern”
Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter”
Taylour Paige in “Zola”
Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”
Simon Rex in “Red Rocket”
Lili Taylor in “Paper Spiders”
Tessa Thompson in “Passing”

Outstanding Supporting Performance
Reed Birney in “Mass”
Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter”
Colman Domingo in “Zola”
Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon”
Troy Kotsur in “CODA”
Marlee Matlin in “CODA”
Ruth Negga in “Passing”

Breakthrough Performer
Emilia Jones in “CODA”
Natalie Morales in “Language Lessons”
Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby”
Suzanna Son in “Red Rocket”
Amalia Ulman in “El Planeta”

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Good Lord Bird”
“It’s A Sin”
“Small Axe”
“Squid Game”
“The Underground Railroad”
“The White Lotus”

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Blindspotting”
“Hacks”
“Reservation Dogs”
“Run the World”
“We Are Lady Parts”

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
“City So Real”
“Exterminate All the Brutes”
“How To with John Wilson”
“Philly D.A.”
“Pride”

Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus”
Michael Greyeyes in “Rutherford Falls”
Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird”
Devery Jacobs in “Reservation Dogs”
Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game”
Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad”
Jean Smart in “Hacks”
Omar Sy in “Lupin”
Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit”
Anjana Vasan in “We Are Lady Parts”