Here’s The Trailer For The Human Voice!

Tilda Swinton and a dog wait for the arrival of a man who never comes.

Sounds like fun, right?

Well, if anyone can make this work, it’ll be Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodovar.  This is Almodovar’s first English language short film.  It’s based on a play by Jean Cocteau, one that was previously filmed by Roberto Rossellini in 1948.

Here’s the trailer:

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions For July

It’s that time of the month, again!

(No, not that time!)

It’s time for me to present my predictions for who and what will be nominated for the Academy Awards next January!  Now that we’re nearly done with the summer, the Oscar picture is becoming a bit more clear.  For instance, I do think that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is going to be a player, if just because it’s about actors and the Actors Branch is the biggest voting bloc in the Academy.  (How do you think Birdman and Argo managed to win?)  And the trailer for The Irishman makes it look like the type of Scorsese film that often gets nominated.

Still, it’s too early to say anything for sure.  Last year, for instance, Green Book didn’t really become a player until fairly late in the season.  In fact, at this time last year, everyone still thought A Star Is Born was going to win everything.

So, with all that in mind, here are my predictions for July.  Be sure to also check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture


The Aeronauts

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Fair and Balanced


The Irishman

JoJo Rabbit

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Pain & Glory

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Pain & Glory

Kasi Lemmons for Harriet

Sam Mendes for 1917

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas in Pain & Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

John Lithgow in Fair and Balanced

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

Rene Zellweger in Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon

Malcolm McDowell in Fair and Balanced

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

Taika Waititi in JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actress

Scarlett Johansson in JoJo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae in Harriet

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Meryl Streep in Little Women

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Announced Their Picks For The Best of 2016!


The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (of which I am not a member and what’s up with that!?) announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier this week.

And here they are:

These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.
Best Film
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Screenplay, Original
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hail Caesar – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Screenplay, Adapted
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Lion – Luke Davies
Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
Nocturnal Animals –Tom Ford

Best Documentary
13th – Ava DuVernay
Gleason – Clay Tweel
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck
OJ Made in America – Ezra Edelman
Weiner – Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegma

Best Animated Film
Finding Dory – Andrew Stanton andAngus MacLane
Kubo and the Two Strings- Travis Knight
Moana – Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, Chris Williams
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Best Actress
Amy Adams – Arrival
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director
20th Century Women – Mark Bennett and Laura Rosenthal
Hail Caesar – Ellen Chenoweth
Hell or High Water – Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks
Manchester by the Sea – Douglas Aibel
Moonlight – Yesi Ramirez

Best Cinematography
Arrival – Bradford Young
Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Manchester by The Sea – Jody Lee Lipes
Moonlight – James Laxton

Best Editing
Arrival – Joe Walker
I Am Not Your Negro — Alexandra Strauss
La La Land – Tom Cross
Manchester By The Sea – Jennifer Lame
Moonlight – Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders

Best Non-English-Language Film
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Fire At Sea – Gianfranco Rossi, Italy
The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park, South Korea
Julieta – Pedro Almodovar. Spain
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ede, Germany

These awards honor WOMEN only

Best Woman Director
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Ava DuVernay -13TH
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women

Best Woman Screenwriter
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Lorene Scafaria – The Meddler
Laura Terruso – Hello, My Name is Doris

Best Animated Female
Dory in Finding Dory –Ellen DeGeneres
Judy in Zootopia – Ginnifer Goodwin
Moana in Moana – Auli’i Cravalho

Best Breakthrough Performance
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Janelle Monáe – Moonlight and Hidden Figures
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Ruth Negga – Loving

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry
Ava DuVernay – For 13TH and raising awareness about the need for diversity and gender equality in Hollywood
Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby for establishing Tangerine Entertainment’s Juice Fund to support female filmmakers
Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films, which finances narrative films directed by women
April Reign for creating and mobilizing the #OscarsSoWhite campaign


Actress Defying Age and Ageism
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Viola Davis – Fences
Sally Field – Hello, My Name is Doris
Isabelle Huppert – Elle and Things to Come
Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award
Dirty Grandpa – Robert De Niro (b. 1943) and Aubrey Plaza (b. 1984)
Independence Day: Resurgence – Charlotte Gainsbourg (b 1971) and Jeff Goldblum (b 1952)
Mechanic Resurrection – Jason Statham (b. 1967) and Jessica Aba (b. 1981)
Rules Don’t Apply – Warren Beatty (b. 1937) and Lily Collins (b. 1989)

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Jennifer Aniston – Mother’s Day and Office Christmas Party
Melissa McCarthy – The Boss and Ghostbusters
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad and Tarzan
Julia Roberts – Mother’s Day
Shailene Woodley – Divergent Series

Bravest Performance
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Ruth Negga – Loving

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t have been Made
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Magnificent Seven
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award
Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Baby
Nicholas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for The Neon Demon
David Ayer and Margot Robbie for Suicide Squad
David E. Talbert and Mo’Nique for Almost Christmas

Film Reviews: The Skin I Live In (dir. by Pedro Almodovar) and Take Shelter (dir. by Jeff Nichols)

In terms of film, the horror genre has never gotten the respect that it undeniably deserves.  Afterall, some of the most effective trends in cinema (German expressionism, for instance) first had their start in the horror genre.  However, most critics seem to be more comfortable just dismissing most horror films as being a bunch of predictable tropes and easy shocks as opposes to admitting that the horror genre is one that is rich with history, subtext, and importance.  Right now, there are two horror films playing the art houses of America and they are both more than worth your time.  Those films: Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In and Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter.

In The Skin I Live In, a weary-looking Antonio Banderas plays a world-renowned plastic surgeon who, unknown to all of his colleagues, has trapped a young woman in his sprawling estate.  With the help of his devoted servant Marilla (Marisa Paredes), he keeps the woman (played by Elena Anaya) a total prisoner while continually experimenting on her in his efforts to create a new type of skin that is immune to bug bites and being burned.  However, Anaya — who has been held prisoner for six years — is desperate to escape and is even willing to engage in self-mutilation in her effort to make things difficult for Banderas.  Finally, while Banderas is out, Marilla’s psychotic son (a terrifying Robert Alamo) shows up at the estate and, convinced that he knows the young woman, tries to kidnap her for his own.

In between the scenes involving the strange experiments going on at the estate, another story plays out as Antonio Banderas exacts a disturbing revenge on the young man (Jan Cornet) that Banderas holds responsible for the death of his daughter.  The film’s two stories eventually intersect in a surprising yet disturbingly logical way.

As a director, Almodovar often pays homage to other, similarly iconic filmmakers and The Skin I Live In feels like a combination of the over-the-top melodrama of Douglas Sirk (right down to the film’s “hero” being a doctor) and the unapologetic sordidness of Jesus Franco.  This is especially evident in the film’s big, surprise twist; a twist that manages to be both ludicrous and compelling at the same time.  (I should also note that, at the showing I went to, the twist inspired about a fourth of the people in the theater to leave.)  The end result is a creepily effective, thought-provoking horror film that is both deliberately absurd and touched with a strain of undeniable melancholy.

As opposed to the baroque The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter takes place in the deceptively mundane American midwest.  Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a soft-spoken construction worker who suddenly finds himself haunted with terrifying nightmares of an incoming apocalypse.  The nightmares always start with rain and, as the film unfolds, they grew progressively more and more disturbing.  Soon, he’s seeing shadowy figures wearing hospital gowns standing out in the rain, waiting to attack him and even worse, he starts to see visions of his friends and family waiting to attack him.  Is Curtis seeing the future or has he simply inherited his mother’s schizophrenia?

The genius of the film is that, up until the final scene, you’re not quite sure.  I’ve seen a lot of nightmares in a lot of horror films and I can usually spot them long before the inevitable scene of the film’s hero waking up in bed with a shout.  Take Shelter is full of nightmares and they all follow the same basic theme but they are so effortlessly woven into the film that they still take you by surprise long after they shouldn’t.  As a viewer, you find yourself relating to Curtis because, like him, you’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s just in his mind.  The film forces us to try to figure out whether Curtis is scared because he’s crazy or is he going crazy because he’s scared. 

The film’s apocalyptic visions reminded me a lot of Peter Weir’s somewhat similar film, The Last Wave.  However, both director Jeff Nichols and star Michael Shannon manage to make this story their own.  Shannon is in nearly every scene of the film and he gives a performance that’s both dramatic and subtle.  In the past, whenever Shannon’s played a mentally ill character (Revolutionary Road, The Runaways), I’ve always felt he’s come really close to caricature.  However, in this case, he gets it right and brings a real sense of reality and urgency to the film.  Also giving good performances: Kathy Baker (as Curtis’s mother) and Jessica Chastain (who plays Shannon’s wife).

The horror genre may never get the respect it deserves.  However, films like The Skin I Live In and Take Shelter are here to let us know that horror remains a vibrant genre that will not be ignored.