The Las Vegas Film Critics Announces A Huge Amount of Nominations!


Here are the nominations for the Las Vegas Film Critics!  They loved Creed but, for some reason, not Saoirse Ronan!

Best Picture
1. Spotlight
2. Creed
3. Ex Machina
4. Straight Outta Compton
5. Beasts of No Nation

Best Director
1. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
2. Ridley Scott (The Martian)
3. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
4. Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
5. Ryan Coogler (Creed)

Best Actor
1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
2. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
3. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
4. Matt Damon (The Martian)
5. Michael B. Jordan (Creed)

Best Actress
1. Emily Blunt (Sicario)
2. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
3. Brie Larson (Room)
4. Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
5. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Supporting Actor
1. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
2. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
3. Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
4. Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
5. Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
2. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
3. Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
4. Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy)
5. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Best Screenplay (Original)
1. Ex Machina
2. Inside Out
3. Spotlight
4. Trainwreck
5. The Hateful Eight

Best Screenplay (Adapted)

1. Steve Jobs
2. The Martian

3. Room
4. Brooklyn
5. The Big Short

Best Cinematography
1. Roger Deakins (Sicario)
2. Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
3. John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)
4. Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
5. Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight)

Best Film Editing
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. The Martian
3. Spotlight
4. Steve Jobs
5. The Revenant

Best Art Direction
1. The Hateful Eight
2. Brooklyn
3. The Danish Girl
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. The Martian

Best Costume Design

1. The Hateful Eight
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. The Danish Girl
4. Carol
5. Cinderella

Best Visual Effects
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Ex Machina
3. The Martian
4. The Walk
5. In the Heart of the Sea

Best Score
1. The Danish Girl
2. The Revenant
3. Spotlight
4. Sicario
5. The Hateful Eight

Best Song
1. ‘See You Again’ (Furious 7)
2. ‘One Kind of Love’ (Love & Mercy)
3. ‘It’s My Turn Now’ (Dope)
4. ‘Simple Song #3’ (Youth)
5. ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ (Spectre)

Best Ensemble
1. The Big Short
2. The Hateful Eight
3. Straight Outta Compton
4. Trumbo
5. Spotlight

Best Animated Film
1. Anomalisa
2. Inside Out
3. The Good Dinosaur
4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
5. The Peanuts Movie

Best Documentary
1. Meru
2. Amy
3. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
4. Cartel Land
5. Best of Enemies

Best Foreign Film
1. Goodnight Mommy
2. Mustang
3. Phoenix
4. Respire
5. Tu Dors Nicole

Best Action Film
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
5. Ant-Man

Best Comedy Film
1. Trainwreck
2. The Big Short
3. Dope
4. Sisters
5. Spy

Best Family Film
1. Goosebumps
2. Cinderella
3. Pan
4. Ant-Man
5. Tomorrowland

Best Horror / Sci-Fi Film
1. Ex Machina
2. The Martian
3. Jurassic World
4. It Follows
5. Krampus

Best Breakout Filmmaker
1. Rick Famuyiwa (Dope)
2. Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
3. David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)
4. Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)

Youth in Film Award

1. Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)
2. Jacob Tremblay (Room)
3. Milo Parker (Mr. Holmes)
4. Shameik Moore (Dope)
5. Imogene Wolodarsky (Infinitely Polar Bear)

Here Are The 74 Songs Eligible For Best Original Song!

Today, the Academy announced the 74 songs that have been ruled eligible for a Best Original Song nomination!  And you know what that means — it’s time for my to post the list!  (Our longtime readers should know, by now, how much I love lists!)

The big news is that the 2nd song from the end credits of Love & Mercy — the one that everyone was expecting to be a front runner — has been ruled ineligible.  Here’s what is eligible!  Be sure to listen to all of these songs before the Oscar nominations are announced in January…

“Happy” from “Altered Minds”
“Home” from “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”
“None Of Them Are You” from “Anomalisa”
“Stem To The Rose” from “Becoming Bulletproof”
“The Mystery Of Your Gift” from “Boychoir”
“I Run” from “Chi-Raq”
“Pray 4 My City” from “Chi-Raq”
“Sit Down For This” from “Chi-Raq”
“Strong” from “Cinderella”
“So Long” from “Concussion”
“Fighting Stronger” from “Creed”
“Grip” from “Creed”
“Waiting For My Moment” from “Creed”
“Don’t Look Down” from “Danny Collins”
“Hey Baby Doll” from “Danny Collins”
“Dreamsong” from “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
“It’s My Turn Now” from “Dope”
“Ya Rahem, Maula Maula” from “Dukhtar”
“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Love Me Like You Do” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Salted Wound” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Hands Of Love” from “Freeheld”
“See You Again” from “Furious Seven”
“Brother” from “Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones”
“As Real As You And Me” from “Home”
“Dancing In The Dark” from “Home”
“Feel The Light” from “Home”
“Red Balloon” from “Home”
“Two Of A Crime” from “Hot Pursuit”
“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
“I’ll See You In My Dreams” from “I’ll See You in My Dreams”
“The Movie About Us” from “Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words”
“Bhoomiyilenghanumundo” from “Jalam”
“Koodu Vaykkan” from “Jalam”
“Pakalppaathi Chaari” from “Jalam”
“Yaathra Manoradhamerum” from “Jalam”
“Lost In Love” from “Jenny’s Wedding”
“True Love Avenue” from “Jenny’s Wedding”
“Hypnosis” from “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”
“Juntos (Together)” from “McFarland, USA”
“The Light That Never Fails” from “Meru”
“The Crazy Ones” from “Miss You Already”
“There’s A Place” from “Miss You Already”
“Johanna” from “Mortdecai”
“Little Soldier” from “Pan”
“Something’s Not Right” from “Pan”
“Paranoid Girl” from “Paranoid Girls”
“Better When I’m Dancin’” from “The Peanuts Movie”
“Pink & Blue” from “Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer”
“Flashlight” from “Pitch Perfect 2”
“Birds Of A Feather” from “Poached”
“Still Breathing” from “Point Break”
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”
“Cold One” from “Ricki and the Flash”
“Torch” from “Rock the Kasbah”
“Someone Like You” from “The Rumperbutts”
“Aankhon Me Samaye Dil” from “Salt Bridge”
“Bachpana Thaa” from “Salt Bridge”
“Kanpne Lage Tum” from “Salt Bridge”
“Kyaa Bataaun Tujhe” from “Salt Bridge”
“Le Jaaye Jo Door Tumse” from “Salt Bridge”
“Na Jaane Kitni Door” from “Salt Bridge”
“Sookha Hi Rang Daalo” from “Salt Bridge”
“Feels Like Summer” from “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“Phenomenal” from “Southpaw”
“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre”
“Squeeze Me” from “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water”
“Teamwork” from “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water”
“Who Can You Trust” from “Spy”
“Came To Win” from “Sweet Micky for President”
“Mean Ol’ Moon” from “Ted 2
“Love Was My Alibi” from “The Water Diviner”
“Fine On The Outside” from “When Marnie Was There”
“Simple Song #3” from “Youth”

Review: The Black Waters Of Echo’s Pond (dir. by Gabriel Bolongna)


I’m going to start this review with a disclaimer.  Yesterday, I nearly died trying to see this movie.  As I was driving to the theater, I nearly collided with another car.  One of us (okay, it me) wasn’t paying attention and ran a stop sign.  We handled the near accident with the usual mix of car horns and profanity and, my heart still racing, I drove on to the theater and saw The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond.

As a result of my near death experience, I sat through this movie with one thought in my head: was seeing it worth losing my life?  While there are some movies (Suspiria, Beyond the Darkness, Zombi 2, and the Living Dead Girl, for example) that I would happily sacrifice a few years in order to see on the big screen, Black Waters is not one of them.

The film actually starts out well with a 9-minute prologue.  An archeological expedition in Turkey discovers an ancient tomb.  Inside the tomb, they find a map that is somehow linked to the Greek God Pan.  For nine minutes, we’re treated to clunky exposition (“Why, it’s what we’ve been here looking for!”  “Professor, do you mean that it’s the ancient map of Pan’s Arcadia?”  “Yes, the same Pan who was the Greek God of fertility and…”) and it seems like this movie might actually turn out to be a fun, cheerfully stupid take on the old Mummy movies that Hammer Studios released in the late 60s.

No such luck.  All the members of the expedition are promptly killed off-screen.  We jump forward to the “present day” and the entire movie quickly goes downhill.

In the present day, nine college friends get together to spend a weekend in an isolated mansion on an even more isolated island.  Why they would want to do this is never really addressed nor do you ever believe that any of the characters have a shared history or would actually be friends if not for the fact that the film demands it.  While there are some talented actors in the cast, they have absolutely no chemistry when they’re on screen together.  Since the rest of the film is pretty much dependent upon us believing that these people are all old friends, this lack of chemistry pretty much dooms the entire movie. 

(Add to that, the men in this group all appear to be having the worst bad hair day in recorded history.)

Once they’re in the mansion, the power promptly dies.  While attempting to find a fuse box, one of the friends instead discovers a board game.  Our group proceeds to play the game and soon, they’re seeing visions of murder, illicit sexual activity, and a big-horned demon.  However, none of them find this to be all that curious because they are 1) stoned and 2) incredibly stupid.

As I watched them play this cursed Jumanji death game, I found myself wondering if nobody in this film had ever seen a horror movie before.  Surely, if they had, they would realize that getting together in an isolated location, joking about sex, smoking weed, and then playing with the mysterious game that was previously walled up in the cellar is a good way to guarantee that you’re not going to be alive in the morning. 

To a certain extent, you have to be willing accept a lot of stupidity on the part of the characters in a horror film.  After all, we all know that our poor victims are always going to end up running up a flight of stairs in order to escape the killer (as opposed to going out the front door) and we forgive them for that because we know that if their actions were logical, then there would not be a movie.  However, the victims of the Black Waters of Echo’s Pond simply require us to forgive too much. 

Anyway, the game quickly starts to get weird as everyone draws cards that require them to answer increasingly personal questions.  Old resentments boil up to the surface.  One guy admits to wanting to have sex with both his girlfriend and her sister while the token responsible girl finds herself compelled to flirt with the token slut.  All of this goes on until finally, one member of the group snaps and, while everyone else is busy getting it on, proceeds to cut his best friend in half with a chainsaw.  (And no, nobody in the house hears the screams or the chainsaw because, as I mentioned earlier, they’re all incredibly stupid.)

Once that first murder is committed, everyone is soon trying to kill everyone else.  In this regard the film is remarkably similar to Mario Bava’s classic Bay of Blood (a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve).  However, the constant carnage in the Bava film worked because Bava made it clear that his many murderers were all working independently from each other with just their own greed to motivate them.  Whereas in Black Waters, it is made clear from the start that everyone has been possessed by Pan.  In short, the murders have nothing to do with the people being killed or those who do the killing.  And while the murders are nicely brutal and bloody (I hate bloodless horror films), they don’t have any meaning beyond the mechanics of the film.

Pan (or at least I assume that its meant to Pan because it looks more like a Minotaur than anything else) shows up fairly early in the movie and he is an impressive creature with a goat’s head that features glowing eyes and long, dirty talons at the end of his fingers.  Still, I think it was a mistake on the part of the filmmaker’s to reveal him as early (and as often) as the film does.  Once Pan shows up, the movie loses all of its mystery.  We now know, for sure, that all the ensuing mayhem is the result of Pan’s supernatural malevolence.  By revealing Pan as early as it does, the film sacrifices whatever chance it may have had to be truly scary.  Instead Pan, just becomes another faceless killer and the movie, which has been advertised as a “psychological thriller,” loses its edge.

Outside of Pan, the cast is largely forgettable and they’re certainly not helped by how unlikable the majority of the characters are.  A few members of the cast do occasionally manage to offer up a few good (or, at least, memorable) moments but their efforts are sabotaged by some of the most leaden dialogue I’ve ever heard.  (It’s not a good sign that the film feels like it was dubbed into English even though it’s not.) 

The Babysitter twins from the Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse show up for instance and, even though their characters are wildly inconsistent, they both bring a lot of energy to their roles.  Incidentally, one of them gets the worst the line of the dialogue in the entire film when she says, “Shakespeare is Shakespeare!  B-movies are porn!”

Robert Patrick plays Pete, the grizzled old-timer who gets to do the whole “Some people say the killer is still out there…” thing.  It’s not much of a role but Patrick has fun with it.

Speaking of horror film tropes, Mircea Monroe plays Veronique, the token slut.  From the minute she shows up on-screen, you know she’s doomed because she’s flirtatious, openly bisexual, and likes to show off her boobs.  (Come to think of it, if I ever find myself in a slasher film, I am fucked!)  It’s a thankless role but Monroe does her best with it and actually give Veronique a personality that goes beyond the puritan stereotype of the slasher film slut.  Her best scene is her last.  The look of mournful resignation on her face make her final fate rather sad and suggests the type of film that Black Waters could have been.

The two nominal leads are played Danielle Harris and James Duval and they both occasionally manage to transcend the shallowness of their roles.  Harris, of course, is a horror film veteran who could play her role in her sleep.  To her credit, she doesn’t.  James Duval is best known for playing Frank the Bunny in Donnie Darko.  Here, he plays ne’er-do-well Rick.  If for no other reason, the movie is worth seeing just for the way Duval delivers the line “Shit!  We’re fucked!”  It’s a line that he repeats several times and he says it with just the right combination of genuine frustration and stoner pathos.

In many ways, Black Waters On Echo’s Pond feels a lot like one Lucio Fulci’s post-Manhattan Baby efforts.  You have no doubt that the movie was made by talented people and you keep wanting it to be better than it actually is.  You find yourself clinging onto the few isolated moments that are actually effective and hoping that maybe they’ll carry you to the light at the end of the tunnel.  Unfortunately, by the end of the movie, you realize that the light was actually the train that’s just bisected you because you were too stupid to jump off the tracks.

Ultimately, the main problem with The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond is that it just is not a scary movie.  I can usually forgive a lot from a horror movie as long as there’s a handful of shocking “jump” moments.  Unfortunately, Black Waters doesn’t feature a single one.  While the gore effects are occasionally impressive, it takes more than blood to make a horror movie.  All the material was there for this to be a fun little B-movie (and not a porno, regardless of what that Babysitter Twin claims) but it just doesn’t happen.

I recently posted some of my feelings about this film over on a message board.  I quickly received a reply from a gentleman who disagreed with me.  He informed me that not only did I not have the slightest idea how difficult it is to make a movie but by criticizing this film, I was failing to support “independent film.”  “Why don’t you just go spend more of your money on Avatar again?” he asked.  Well, for the record, I hated Avatar and I do support independent film.  Just because this movie was made outside of the studios, that doesn’t make it a good film.  If you want to see a good, independent horror and/or fantasy film, go track down Baghead or Primer.  Leave the Black Waters of Echo’s Pond undisturbed.