Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for January


Well, here we are. Another awards season is wrapping up. Almost all of the regional critic groups have announced their picks for the best of 2021. The Guilds have spoken. The front runners have emerged. Both Don’t Look Up and Being the Ricardos have weathered bad reviews and become probable Oscar nominees. If nothing else, I’ll have something to complain about for the next three or four months. At the same time, Power of the Dog has emerged as the critical favorite. Belfast seems to be the populist favorite. West Side Story is the big production that has to be nominated, even though no one seems to feel particularly strongly about it one way or the other. Dune is the blockbuster that the Academy is hoping will cause people to tune into the ceremony, especially now that it appears that the Spider-Man Oscar campaign has fizzled. Don’t Look Up is the “Let’s piss off the cons” nominee. Being the Ricardos is this year’s “Wow, our industry really is the best” nominee. Personally, I’m going to view tick, tick….Boom! as being the most likely dark horse to pull off an upset.

So, with all that in mind, here’s my last set of 2021 Oscar predictions.

Looking at the list below, I have to say that we certainly have a good race this year. It’s interesting that, this year, only films that were released between March and the end of December were eligible for the Oscars. 2021 was a very good year for movies! Not only do we have the nominees below but we also had films like The Father and Judas and the Black Messiah, both of which are 2021 films as far as I’m concerned.

(Consider this. If the Oscars had kept the eligibility window the same last year instead of extending it to accommodate films delayed by the pandemic, Anthony Hopkins would probably be the Best Actor front runner right now and the Academy probably would have given Chadwick Boseman a posthumous Best Actor award last April. I also imagine that Jesse Plemons would have a better chance of picking up a supporting actor nomination if the members of the Academy were currently screening both The Power of the Dog and Judas and the Black Messiah at the same time.)

To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October and November and December!

The Oscar nominations will be announced on February 8th. Below are my predictions!

Best Picture

Being The Ricardos
Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
The Power Of The Dog
Tick, Tick….Boom!
West Side Story

Best Director

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Adam McKay for Don’t Look Up

Lin-Manuel Miranda for tick, tick …. Boom!

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage in Pig

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield in tick, tick….Boom!

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Riacardos

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizzia

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Troy Kostur in CODA

Jared Leto in House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Caitriona Balfe in Belfast

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Ruth Negga in Passing

Drive My Car and Nicolas Cage Win In Seattle


On Monday, the Seattle Film Critics Society announced their picks for the best of 2021 and it was another victory for Drive My Car and Pig‘s Nicolas Cage!

Best Picture of the Year
CODA (Apple TV+)
Drive My Car (Janus Films)
Dune (Warner Bros.)
The Green Knight (A24)
In the Heights (Warner Bros.)
Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Pig (NEON)
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
Titane (NEON)
West Side Story (20th Century Studios)

Best Director
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Julia Ducournau – Titane
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Renate Reinsve – The Worst Person in the World
Agathe Rousselle – Titane
Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
Dev Patel – The Green Knight
Simon Rex – Red Rocket

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
Ruth Negga – Passing

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Colman Domingo – Zola
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Vincent Lindon – Titane
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog
Jeffrey Wright – The French Dispatch

Best Ensemble Cast
Dune – Jina Jay, Francine Maisler, casting directors
In the Heights – Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey, casting directors
Licorice Pizza – Cassandra Kulukundis, casting director
Mass – Henry Russell Bergstein, Allison Estrin, casting directors
The Power of the Dog – Nikki Barrett, Tina Cleary, Carmen Cuba, Nina Gold, casting directors

Best Screenplay
Drive My Car – Ryûsuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe
The Green Knight – David Lowery
Mass – Fran Kranz
Pig – Michael Sarnoski
The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion

Best Film Not in the English Language
Drive My Car (Janus Films) – Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, director
Flee (NEON) – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director
The Hand of God (Netflix) – Paolo Sorrentino, director
Titane (NEON) – Julia Ducournau, director
The Worst Person in the World (NEON) – Joachim Trier, director

Best Animated Feature
Encanto (Walt Disney Pictures) – Jared Bush, Byron Howard, director; Charise Castro Smith, co-director
Flee (NEON) – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director
Luca (Walt Disney Pictures) – Enrico Casarosa, director
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Netflix) – Michael Rianda, director; Jeff Rowe, co-director
Raya and the Last Dragon (Walt Disney Pictures) – Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, director; Paul Briggs, John Ripa, co-director

Best Documentary Feature
Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry (Apple TV+) – R.J. Cutler, director
Flee (NEON) – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director
The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films/Greenwich Entertainment) – Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, directors
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Hulu) – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, director
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Severin Films) – Kier-La Janisse, director

Best Original Score
Dune – Hans Zimmer
The French Dispatch – Alexandre Desplat
The Green Knight – Daniel Hart
The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood
Spencer – Jonny Greenwood

Best Film Editing
Drive My Car – Azusa Yamazaki
Dune – Joe Walker
The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras
Titane – Jean-Christophe Bouzy
West Side Story – Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar

Best Cinematography
Dune – Greig Fraser
The Green Knight – Andrew Droz Palermo
The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth – Bruno Delbonnel
West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski

Best Costume Design
Cruella – Jenny Beavan
Dune – Jacqueline West, Robert Morgan
The Green Knight – Malgosia Turzanska
House of Gucci – Janty Yates
Spencer – Jacqueline Durran

Best Production Design
Dune – Patrice Vermette (Production Design); Zsuzsanna Sipos (Set Decoration)
The French Dispatch – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Rena DeAngelo (Set Decoration)
The Green Knight – Jade Healy (Production Design); Jenny Oman (Set Decoration)
Nightmare Alley – Tamara Deverell (Production Design); Shane Vieau (Set Decoration)
West Side Story – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Rena DeAngelo (Set Decoration)

Best Visual Effects
Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, Gerd Nefzer
The Green Knight – Eric Saindon, Michael Cozens
The Matrix Resurrections – Dan Glass, Huw J. Evans, Tom Debenham, J.D. Schwalm
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Walker, Dan Oliver
Spider-Man: No Way Home – Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein, Dan Sudick

Best Youth Performance (18 years of age or younger upon start of filming):
Jude Hill – Belfast
Cooper Hoffman – Licorice Pizza
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon C’mon
Joséphine Sanz – Petite Maman

Villain of the Year:
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen – Dune – portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård
The Green Goblin/Norman Osborn – Spider-Man: No Way Home – portrayed by Willem Dafoe
Phil Burbank – The Power of the Dog – portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch
Rufus Buck – The Harder They Fall – portrayed by Idris Elba
Xu Wenwu – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – portrayed by Tony Leung

Best Action Choreography
In the Heights
No Time to Die
Nobody
Raging Fire
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Scenes That I Love: Nicolas Cage in Wild At Heart


Today is Nicolas Cage’s birthday!

How old is Nicolas Cage today?  It doesn’t matter.  Nicolas Cage is timeless.  He has no age.  You could say that Nicolas Cage has always been there and will always be there.

On a more realistic note, you could say that Nicolas Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and that he started his film career as Nicolas Coppola.  (That was the name he used when he made his film debut with a small role in Fast Times At Ridgemont High.)  Not wanting people to assume that he only got work because of his family connections, Nic soon changed his last name to Cage in honor of Marvel’s Luke Cage.  Nicolas Cage has gone on to become one of the best-known actors in the world, an iconic figure of sorts.  When he’s good, Nicolas Cage is great.  When he’s appearing in a bad film, Nicolas Cage is often fascinating.  Cage may have a reputation for being an eccentric and for appearing in almost anything but often Cage’s brand of weirdness is just what is needed to elevate a film like Mandy or Pig from good to great.

In honor of his birthday, here are two scenes that I love from a very good film, David Lynch’s Wild At Heart.  Watch as Nicolas Cage explains the meaning of his snakeskin jacket.  Stick around to watch Nicolas Cage serenade Laura Dern with the world’s greatest Elvis impersonation.

Happy birthday, Nicolas Cage!

The Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Honors Pig!


The Greater Western New York Film Critics Association actually announced their picks for the best of 2021 on December 31st but, with the holidays and all, I’m only now getting a chance to share them with you.  The GWNFCA picked Pig for the best film of 2021 and that’s actually really cool.  Both Pig and Nicolas Cage’s lead performance are probably too weird for the Academy but it’s a damn good film.  One of the great things about the critics groups is that the best of them are willing to consider the films that the more mainstream Academy might overlook, films like Pig and The Green Knight.

Here are all the winners and the nominees from Western New York!

(The winners are in bold.)

BEST PICTURE
C’mon C’mon
CODA
Dune
The Green Knight
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Last Duel
Licorice Pizza
Pig
The Power of the Dog
Spencer

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Drive My Car (Japan)
Flee (Denmark)
Parallel Mothers (Spain)
Titane (France)
The Worst Person in the World (Norway)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Flee
No Ordinary Man
Procession
The Sparks Brothers
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Belle
The Boss Baby 2: Family Business
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines

BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Jodie Comer – The Last Duel
Emilia Jones – CODA
Renate Reinsve – The Worst Person in the World
Kristen Stewart – Spencer

BEST LEAD ACTOR
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick … BOOM!
Joaquin Phoenix – C’mon C’mon
Will Smith – King Richard

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter
Ariana Debose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
Ruth Negga – Passing

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robin de Jesús – tick, tick … BOOM!
Mike Faist – West Side Story
Jason Isaacs – Mass
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
Troy Kotsur – CODA

BEST DIRECTOR
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Pablo Larraín – Spencer
Ridley Scott – The Last Duel
Michael Sarnoski – Pig
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenneth Lucas & Keith Lucas – Judas and the Black Messiah
Julia Ducournau – Titane
Fran Kranz – Mass
Mike Mills – C’mon C’mon

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Ben Affleck, Matt Damon & Nicole Holofcener – The Last Duel
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter
Rebecca Hall – Passing
Tony Kushner – West Side Story

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Andrew Droz Palermo – The Green Knight
Greig Fraser – Dune
Claire Mathon – Spencer
Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog

BEST EDITING
Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog
Sebastián Sepúlveda – Spencer
Claire Simpson – The Last Duel
Joe Walker – Dune
Andrew Weisblum – The French Dispatch

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Carter Burwell – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog
Jonny Greenwood – Spencer
Alberto Iglesias – Parallel Mothers
Hans Zimmer – Dune

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Mike Faist – West Side Story
Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Emilia Jones – CODA
Agathe Rousselle – Titane
Rachel Sennott – Shiva Baby

BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter
Rebecca Hall – Passing
Fran Kranz – Mass
Michael Sarnoski – Pig
Emma Seligman – Shiva Baby

Here Are the 2021 Nominations of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics!


The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics have announced their nominees for the best of 2021!  The winners will be announced tomorrow so that means you have exactly one day to see all the nominees.  GET TO IT!

Best Film
Belfast
The Green Knight
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick…BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actor
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
Will Smith – King Richard
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Tessa Thompson – Passing

Best Supporting Actor
Jamie Dornan – Belfast
Ciarán Hinds – Belfast
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress
Caitríona Balfe – Belfast
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Best Acting Ensemble
Belfast
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Mass
The Power of the Dog

Best Youth Performance
Jude Hill – Belfast
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon, C’mon
Saniyya Sidney – King Richard
Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Voice Performance
Awkwafina – Raya and the Last Dragon
Stephanie Beatriz – Encanto
Abbi Jacobson – The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Kelly Marie Tran – Raya and the Last Dragon
Jacob Tremblay – Luca

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Mike Mills – C’mon, C’mon
Zach Baylin – King Richard
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Fran Kranz – Mass

Best Adapted Screenplay
Siân Heder – CODA
Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth – Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Steven Levenson – tick, tick…BOOM!
Tony Kushner – West Side Story

Best Animated Feature
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Documentary
The First Wave
Flee
The Rescue
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Val

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Drive My Car
A Hero
Lamb
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Best Production Design
Jim Clay, Production Designer; Claire Nia Richards, Set Decorator – Belfast
Patrice Vermette, Production Designer; Richard Roberts and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Set Decorators – Dune
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – The French Dispatch
Tamara Deverell, Production Designer; Shane Vieau, Set Decorator – Nightmare Alley
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – West Side Story

Best Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos – Belfast
Greig Fraser – Dune
Andrew Droz Palermo – The Green Knight
Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog
Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Editing
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Belfast
Joe Walker – Dune
Andrew Weisblum – The French Dispatch
Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog
Myron Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum – tick, tick…BOOM!

Best Original Score
Bryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner – Cyrano
Hans Zimmer – Dune
Alexandre Desplat – The French Dispatch
Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog
Jonny Greenwood – Spencer

Here Are The Nominations From The Detroit Film Critics Society


The Detroit Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2021 earlier today.  It’s an interesting group of nomination, though I would point out that Detroit is usually one of the quirkier of the critics groups.  Every awards season, they nominate something or someone unexpected, there’s a brief flurry of excitement, and then everyone moves on.

I guess that’s one reason why I love them.

Anyway, here’s their nominations:

BEST PICTURE
Belfast
CODA
Cyrano
Don’t Look Up
King Richard

BEST DIRECTOR
Sean Baker – Red Rocket
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up
Lan-Manuel Miranda – Tick, Tick…Boom!

BEST ACTOR
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Peter Dinklage – Cyrano
Andrew Garfield – Tick, Tick…Boom!
Oscar Isaac – The Card Counter
Will Smith – King Richard

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Jennifer Hudson – Respect
Nicole Kidman – Being The Ricardos
​Kristen Stewart – Spencer

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jon Bernthal – King Richard
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jared Leto – House Of Gucci
Ray Liotta – The Many Saints Of Newark
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power Of The Dog

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Kirsten Dunst – The Power Of The Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
Rita Moreno – West Side Story
Diana Rigg – Last Night In Soho

BEST ENSEMBLE
CODA
Don’t Look Up
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
House Of Gucci

BREAKTHROUGH
Alana Haim – Actress – Licorice Pizza
Emilia Jones – Actress – CODA
Woody Norman – Actor – C’mon C’mon
Agathe Rousselle – Actress – Titane
Emma Seligman – Writer/Director – Shiva Baby

BEST USE OF MUSIC/SOUND
Cyrano
In The Heights
Last Night In Soho
Tick, Tick…Boom!
West Side Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Don’t Look Up
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Licorice Pizza
Parallel Mothers

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CODA
The Green Knight
In The Heights
The Power Of The Dog
Tick, Tick…Boom!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Belle
Cryptozoo
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. The Machines

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Flee
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
The Sparks Brothers
Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street
Summer Of Soul

Nicolas Cage Does His Thing In The Trailer For Prisoners Of The Ghostland!


Even though October is nearly over, we still have a lot to look forward to this year.

For instance, just watch this trailer for Prisoners of the Ghostland, starring Nicolas Cage! This film will be available on Shudder in November.

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


It’s that time of the month again!  It’s time for me to make my early Oscar predictions.

This year, the Cannes Film Festival really didn’t clear much up.  The French Dispatch was acclaimed but, in every review, there was an admission that, for everyone who absolutely loved it, there would probably be someone else who would absolutely hate it.  I did decided to include Red Rocket on my list of predictions, based on the Cannes reaction.  I’m still not a 100% convinced that it’s going to be a contender, of course.  But the idea of a Simon Rex movie being nominated for best picture was just too wonderfully strange for me to ignore.  That’s the same logic that led to me including Pig as a best picture nominee, by the way.

On the Ridely Scott front, the overacting in the trailer for House of Gucci really turned me off so I dropped it from all of my predictions.  The Last Duel looks like it might have a chance, however.

Anyway, the main thing to remember when looking at these predictions is that the majority of them are just random guesses, based on hunches and past Academy behavior.  So, as always, take them with several grains of salt.

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May and June!

Best Picture

Belfast

A Journal For Jordan

The Last Duel

Nightmare Alley

Pig

The Power of the Dog

Red Rocket

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

 

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo Del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage in Pig

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal For Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being The Ricardos

Tessa Thomspon in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Simon Helberg in Annette

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Chante Adams in A Journal For Jordan

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Ruth Negga in Passing

18 Days of Paranoia #2: The Humanity Bureau (dir by Rob W. King)


Welcome to the future!  It sucks!

The 2017 film, The Humanity Bureau, takes place in a dystopian future where the government is not to be trusted and bureaucracy ruins everyone’s lives.  It’s kind of like the present except that it’s taking place in the future and Nicolas Cage works for the government.  (Of course, for all I know, Nicolas Cage might work for the government in the real world, as well.  I mean, it just kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, the idea here is that, in the near future, America is out of resources.  Some of its due to climate change and some of its due to a war and apparently, there was a plague as well.  Because things got so bad, people gave up their personal freedom and basically decided to surrender control of their lives to the government.  The government responded by creating The Humanity Bureau.  The Humanity Bureau decides whether or not you’re a worthwhile part of society or if you’re just a drain on what little resources the nation has left.  If you’re not found to be an “efficient” human being, you’re deported to a city called New Eden where everyone assumes that you learn how to become more efficient or, at the very least, how to not be a burden on society.  The truth, of course, is far different.

Noah Kross (Nicolas Cage) is an agent of The Humanity Bureau.  His bosses worry that Noah might have too much real humanity to be an efficient agent.  After all, he drives an old car and he often talks about his childhood memories of going out to the lake and fishing.  Of course, when we first meet Noah, he’s busy gunning down an old alcoholic who refuses to go to New Eden so he seems pretty efficient to us.

When Noah is assigned to investigate a single mother named Rachel (Sarah Lind) and her son, Lukas (Jakob Davies), it becomes obvious that their case is personal to Noah.  Even though he’s supposed to immediately deport them, he allows them to have an extra day of freedom so that Lukas can sing Amazing Grace at a school recital.  (The kids perform in front of a gigantic American flag, just in case you’re missing the symbolism.)  When another agent (Hugh Dillon) shows up and demands to know what the hold up is, Noah, Rachel, and Lukas go on the run.  It turns out that both Noah and Rachel have a secret agenda of their own….

When you hear that a film takes place in a dystopia and that it stars Nicolas Cage, that probably creates a certain set of expectations in your head.  Unfortunately, Cage is oddly subdued for the majority of the film so those looking for a full scale Nic Cage freak-out are probably going to be disappointed.  While the film’s story has the potential to be interesting, the film never really take full advantage of just how weird things could potentially get.  This is one of those films where you know it’s the future because everyone’s in the desert.

That said, the idea of a major crisis leading to people voluntarily giving up their freedom to the state is not a particularly far-fetched one.  As I sit here writing this, a lot of people are using the panic over the coronavirus pandemic to promote their own totalitarian political vision and what’s sad is that a lot of frightened citizens are just scared enough to probably more receptive to all of that authoritarian BS than they would be under normal circumstances.  The Humanity Bureau takes place in a world where enough people have voluntarily surrendered their free will that the government can basically get away with punishing anyone who dares to think differently.  The Humanity Bureau is often an amateurish film but, when it comes to portraying how an authoritarian state could come to power and would that would mean for those who refuse to conform, it gets things exactly right.

Previous entries in the 18 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. The Flight That Disappeared