Film Review: Mary Magdalene (dir by Garth Davis)


“Dress more like the Virgin and less like the Magdalene.”

That’s something my grandmother always used to tell me and my sisters.  That’s because, Mary Magdalene — who is described in the Gospels as being a woman who traveled with and supported Jesus — is often mistaken for being the “sinful woman” who scandalized Simon the Leper by anointing Jesus’s feet.  As such, there’s a tradition that Mary Magdalene was either a former prostitute or, at the very least, a formerly promiscuous woman who repented and followed Jesus.  That said, there’s nothing in the canonical gospels that supports that tradition and, in all probability, the sinful woman was another Mary, Mary of Bethany.  In 1969, Pope Paul VI officially removed all reference to Mary Magdalene being the sinful woman but it’s still fairly common for Mary Magdalene to be portrayed as being a former prostitute.

Mary Magdalene, which was released briefly in theaters last year, attempts to set the record straight by imagining a different backstory for Mary Magdalene.  In fact, the whole theme of this movie seems to be, “See?  She wasn’t a prostitute!”  And that’s fine except, while watching the movie, I really had to wonder if it was somehow an improvement to instead portray her as being the most boring person in Judea.  Watching the film, one gets the feeling that the filmmakers were so proud of themselves for making Mary Magdalene a feminist that it didn’t occur to them that they might also want to make her an interesting character as well.

In this movie, Mary Magdalene (played by a dependably dull Rooney Mara) is a young Jewish woman who rebels against the wishes of her family and refuses to enter into an arranged marriage with Ephraim (Tzachi Halevy) and who instead decides to follow a preacher named Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix).  As portrayed in this movie, Jesus is charismatic but often moody, preaching a good message (though the film seems to interpret that message as mostly being vague Gnostic liberalism) while getting annoyed with almost everyone around him.  Jesus often seems to be exhausted by his followers, especially Judas (Tahar Rahim) who is way too eager for Jesus to lead an armed uprising against the forces of the Roman Empire.  Meanwhile, Jesus’s main disciple, Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), often finds himself growing jealous of Mary Magdalene and the trust that builds between her and Jesus.  While this film does not go the Jesus Christ Superstar route of portraying them as being a couple, it also leaves little doubt that Mary Magdalene, who is defying not just Rome but also the entire patriarchy, understands Jesus and his teachings in a way that the male disciples never will.

As a film, Mary Magalene takes itself and its story very seriously and it generally eshews the type of grandeur that one might expect from a biblical epic.  That low-key approach may be historically accurate but it’s not much fun to watch and, with a running time of 120 minutes, the action just kind of plods along.  Rooney Mara can give a good performance when she has the right material but here, she’s often just reduced to just wanly staring off into the distance.

As for Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus …. well, the casting actually works better than you might think.  Phoenix plays Jesus as being a passionate leader who is haunted by his destiny.  With his long hair and his scruffy beard, Phoenix is not a glamorous Jesus but he’s very much a credible one.  The film is probably at its best in the scene where Jesus witnesses the money changers in the temple.  Rather than playing Jesus as being simply enraged, Phoenix plays him as being deeply disappointed.  One gets the feeling that he’s looking at what is happening in his father’s house and he’s thinking, “These are the people I’m supposed to sacrifice my life to save?”

Mary Magdalene is one of those films that took forever to actually show up in theaters.  The Weinstein Company was originally set to release the film in early 2017 but the release was pushed back to 2018, for reasons that have never been particularly clear.  Eventually the Weinstein Company pulled out of distributing the film and, for that, I’m thankful.  The idea of any film about Jesus carrying the Harvey Weinstein name is just too terrible to think about.  The film was then picked up by IFC, who gave it a perfunctory release in 2019.

It’s a flawed film, even though it’s heart may be in the right place.  The approach that it takes is just too low-key to be consistently interesting.  Sometimes, bigger is better.

A Halloween Film Review: A Ghost Story (dir by David Lowery)


To quote Taking Back Sunday:

“What’s it feel like to be a ghost?”

That’s the question that is asked in the hauntingly beautiful film, A Ghost Story.

How to describe the plot of A Ghost Story?  It’s not going to be easy because A Ghost Story is a film that defies easy description or categorization.  It’s power comes less from the specifics of the story and more from the mood that it creates.  A Ghost Story makes you think and it makes you feel and, to a certain extent, you’re just going to have to take my word on that.  This is one of those film that, to truly understand, you simply must see.

Casey Affleck plays C and Rooney Mara plays M.  They live in a small house, near Dallas.  They’re like any couple, really.  Sometimes, they appear to be in love.  Sometimes, they appear to be on the verge of breaking up and never seeing each other again.  Sometimes, they are happy.  Sometimes, they are sad.  The film starts with an almost random series of scenes, showing their life together.

Suddenly, we see a smashed car sitting in front of the house.

Just as abruptly, we’re in the hallway outside a sterile hospital room.  We can see that, inside the room,  M is staring down at a body on a slab.  The body has been covered with a sheet.  M leaves.  Slowly, the sheet-covered body sits up.  We watch as the sheet-covered ghost walks down the hallways of the hospital.  Briefly, it pauses to look at what appears to be a portal to … somewhere else.  The ghost does not enter the portal and the portal closes.

We spend the rest of the movie following that sheet-covered ghost as he wanders through our world.  No one living sees it and the ghost never says a word.  He watches as M mourns over his passing.  Time passes.  People enter and leave the house.  Life goes on but the ghost is stuck forever where he is, powerless to do anything other than occasionally break a dish, play a piano, or open a book.  Time passes.  The ghost sees the future, the past, and the present.  Why is the ghost still there?  Does the ghost know?  Is the ghost just waiting for someone who it has forgotten?

If I’m making A Ghost Story sound like a sad movie … well, it is.  There are moments of humor, largely coming from the fact that the ghost is literally a sheet with some eye holes.  For the most part, though, this film is a somber meditation on life, death, and what makes it all worth the trouble.  It’s a film that makes you wonder whether you would have entered that portal or if you too would have returned to your old house so that you silently watch the world go on without you.

From the stillness of the morgue to the view of a futuristic cityscape that the ghost can see but probably no longer appreciate, director David Lowery gives some truly beautiful and haunting images while telling this story.  (It’s not surprising to learn that the Dallas-based Lowery previously worked on Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color.)  A Ghost Story came out earlier this year and really didn’t get the attention that it deserved.  It’s a thought-provoking film and definitely one of the best of the year.

Film Review: Song to Song (dir by Terrence Malick)


You’re watching a movie called Song to Song.  It’s about beautiful people in a beautiful city.

In this case, the city is Austin, Texas.  The people are all involved in the Austin music scene and they’re played by actors like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, and Cate Blanchett.  A good deal of Song to Song was filmed at the Austin City Limits festival and several real-life musicians appear as themselves, though only Patti Smith is on screen long enough to make much of an impression.  To be honest, both the music and Austin are almost incidental to the film.  Though the movie was sold as an Austin film and it premiered at SXSW, it could have just as easily taken place in Ft. Worth.

The film is made up of short, deliberately obscure shots.  The camera never stops moving, floating over images of sunsets, sunrises, and oddly empty streets.  Because the film was shot with a wide-angle lens, you’re never not aware of the expanse around the characters.  At times, all of those beautiful film stars run the risk of become specks on the landscape, as if the film itself is taunting the characters for thinking that they are more important than nature.

Who are the characters?  It’s not always easy to say.  There are plenty of voice overs but it’s rare that anyone directly states what they’re thinking or who they are.  When the characters speak to each other, they mumble.  The dialogue is a mix of the banal and the portentous, a sure sign of a film that was largely shot without a script.  Eventually, you turn on the captioning so that you can at least understand what everyone’s muttering.

Michael Fassbender plays Cook.  Cook appears to be a music producer but he could just as easily be a businessman who enjoys hanging out with and manipulating aspiring stars.  People seem to know him but nobody seems to be particularly impressed by him.  Cook spends a lot of time standing in front of a pool.  Is it his pool?  Is it his house? It’s hard to say.  Cook is obsessed with control or maybe he isn’t.  Halfway through the film, Fassbender appears to turn into his character from Shame.

Ryan Gosling is BV.  BV appears to be a lyricist, though it’s never made clear what type of songs that he writes.  At one point, you think someone said that he had written a country song but you may have misheard.  BV appears to have an estranged relationship with his dying father.  BV may be a romantic or he may not.  He seems to fall in love easily but he spends just as much time staring at the sky soulfully and suggesting that he has a hard time with commitment.  BV appears to be Cook’s best friend but sometimes, he isn’t.  There’s a random scene where BV accuses Cook of cheating him.  It’s never brought up again.

Rooney Mara is Faye.  Faye contributes most of the voice overs and yet, oddly, you’re never sure who exactly she is.  She appears to be BV’s girlfriend and sometimes, she appears to be Cook’s girlfriend.  Sometimes, she’s in love and then, just as abruptly, she’s not.  She may be a singer or she may be a songwriter.  At one point, she appears to be interviewing Patty Smith so maybe she’s a music journalist.  The film is centered around her but it never makes clear who she is.

Natalie Portman is Rhonda.  Rhonda was a teacher but now she’s a waitress.  She might be religious or she might not.  She might be married to Cook or she might not.  Her mother (Holly Hunter) might be dying or she might not.

And there are other beautful people as well.  Cate Blanchett plays a character named Amanda.  Amanda has a relationship with one of the characters and then vanishes after four scenes.  There’s an intriguing sadness to Blanchett’s performance.  Since the first cut of Song to Song was 8 hours long, you can assume her backstory was left on the cutting room floor.  (And yet strangely, it works that we never know much about who Amanda is.)  Lykke Li shows up, presumably playing herself but maybe not.  Berenice Marlohe and Val Kilmer also have small roles, wandering in and out of the character’s lives.

There’s a lot of wandering in this movie.  The characters wander through their life, stopping only to kiss each other, caress each other, and occasionally stare soulfully into the distance.  The camera seems to wander from scene to scene, stopping to occasionally focus on random details.  Even the film’s timeline seems to wander, as you find yourself looking at Rooney Mara’s forever changing hair and using it as a roadmap in your attempt to understand the film’s story.

“I went through a period when I thought sex had to be violent,” Rooney Mara’s voice over breathlessly explains, “We thought we could just roll and tumble, live from song to song, kiss to kiss.”

As you watch Song to Song, you find yourself both intrigued and annoyed.  This is a Terrence Malick film, after all.  You love movies so, of course, you love Malick.  Even if his recent films have been flawed and self-indulgent, he is a true original.  You want to support him because he’s an artist but, as you watch Song to Song, the emphasis really does seem to be on self-indulgence.  The images are beautiful but the characters are so empty and the voice overs are so incredibly pretentious.  Should you be mad or should you be thankful that, in this time of cinematic blandness, there’s a director still willing to follow his own vision?

At times, Song to Song is brilliant.  There are images in Song to Song that are as beautiful as any that Malick has ever captured.  Sometimes, both the images and the characters are almost too beautiful.  The music business is tough and dirty but all of the images in Song to Song are clean and vibrant.

At times, Song to Song is incredibly annoying.  It’s hard not to suspect that the film would have worked better if Natalie Portman and Rooney Mara had switched roles.  Mara can be an outstanding actress with the right director (just check out her performance in Carol) but, in Song to Song, her natural blandness makes it difficult to take her seriously as whoever she’s supposed to be.  Portman has much less screen time and yet creates an unforgettable character.  Mara is in 75% of the film and yet never seems like an active participant.

At times, the film is annoyingly brilliant.  Malick’s self-indulgence can drive you mad while still leaving you impressed by his commitment to his vision.

And then, other times, the film is brilliantly annoying.  Many directors have mixed overly pretty images with pretentious voice overs but few do so with the panache of Terrence Malick.

Even fans of Terrence Malick, of which I certainly am one, will probably find Song to Song to be his weakest film.  Even compared to films like To The Wonder and Knight of Cups, Song to Song is a slow movie and there are moments that come dangerously close to self-parody.  Unlike Tree of Life, where everything eventually came together in enigmatic poignance, Song to Song often feels like less than the sum of its parts.  And yet, I can’t totally dismiss anything made by Terrence Malick.  Song to Song may be empty but it’s oh so pretty.

 

Insomnia File #25: The Winning Season (dir by James C. Strouse)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

If, last night, you were up at 11:45 then … well, you were probably like most people.  To be honest, I don’t know if The Winning Season, which aired on Cinemax last night, really counts as an insomnia file.  Being up at midnight probably doesn’t qualify as insomnia.

That said, The Winning Season is an extremely sweet and likable movie that, until I came across it last night, I had previously heard nothing about.  Even if it wasn’t directly inspired by insomnia, this was a film that I was happy to discover and I’m going to recommend that, if you haven’t seen it, you discover it too.

Of course, I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked that I loved this film because it stars Sam Rockwell.  Sam Rockwell is one of my favorite actors.  It’s not just that he’s talented and that he frequently takes risks and chooses interesting projects, though all of that is certainly true.  There’s a sincerity to Sam Rockwell’s performances.  He’s one of those actors who, when you watch him, you feel as if he’s literally opening up his heart and soul to you.  There are few actors who can make me cry quite as effectively as Sam Rockwell.  That he didn’t win an Oscar for Moon (and has, in fact, never even been nominated) remains one of the most glaring mistakes in the history of the Academy Awards.

Sam Rockwell is at the center of The Winning Season and it’s hard to imagine the film working with anyone other than him in the leading role.  Sam plays Bill, a former high school basketball star who is now a divorced alcoholic with a 16 year-old daughter that he struggles to communicate with.  Like many of Rockwell’s character, Bill is irresponsible but he means well.  Bill spends most of his time drinking and working as a busboy at a restaurant.

One night, Bill is approached by his former teammate, Terry (Rob Corddry).  Terry is now a high school principal and he has an offer for Bill.  Terry needs a new coach for the Girls’ Basketball Team.  Even though Bill doesn’t consider Girls’ Basketball to be a real sport, he accepts the position.

And you can guess what happens.  When Bill is first hired, no one takes the team seriously.  There’s only six players on the team and none of them — not even the ones played by Emma Roberts and Rooney Mara — believe that they have a chance at a winning season.  In fact, their best player breaks her ankle before the season even begins.  After a rough start, Bill and the girls bond and soon, they start to win games.

Again, it’s not surprising but it is incredibly sweet.  And, as predictable as it may be, the film still throws in a few unexpected twists.  One thing that I liked is that, even after they started to get good, the team still struggled and lost the occasional game.  They didn’t all magically become the best basketball players ever and, for that matter, Sam didn’t magically become the best coach in the world.  This is an unapologetic crowd pleaser that still keeps one foot in reality.  Everyone, in the film, fully commits to their roles.  In particular, Margo Martindale is great in the role of Bill’s assistant.  It’s always a pleasure to watch two good actors play off of each other and Martindale’s scenes with Sam Rockwell are fun to watch.

But really, the entire film belongs to Sam Rockwell.  Sam Rockwell can take the most predictable dialogue imaginable and make it sound like poetry.  About halfway through the film, Bill loses his driver’s licence and is reduced to showing up at the games on bicycle.  There’s little that is more adorable than Sam Rockwell pedaling across the screen.

The Winning Season is an incredibly sweet and likable movie.  I’m glad that I discovered it.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise
  15. George Wallace
  16. Kill The Messenger
  17. The Suburbans
  18. Only The Strong
  19. Great Expectations
  20. Casual Sex?
  21. Truth
  22. Insomina
  23. Death Do Us Part
  24. A Star is Born

Film Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (dir by Travis Knight)


Kubo_and_the_Two_Strings_poster

How is it that, this weekend, so much hype is being given to War Dogs and Ben-Hur — two films that you knew weren’t going to be any good from the minute you first saw their trailers — while one of the best films of the year is running the risk of being overlooked?

I just got back from seeing Kubo and The Two Strings and I am insisting that, if you haven’t already, you go out and see it right now.  If you’re busy today, I understand.  See it on Sunday.  You can even see it on Monday if you have to.  But the important thing is that you see it soon.  For the most part, 2016 in cinema has almost been as bad as 2016 in politics.  The year has been dominated by big spectacles, the majority of which do not even attempt to create any sort of emotional connection with the audience.  Don’t get me wrong — there have been some good films but not hardly enough.  Fortunately, Kubo and the Two Strings is the type of film that, if people actually go and see it, can help to redeem an entire year.

In short, I want to wake up on Monday and I want to read that Kubo and The Two Strings won the weekend.  Make it happen!

Kubo and The Two Strings is an animated film and yes, you need to see it in a theater and yes, you need to see it in 3D.  It’s one of the most visually stunning films that I’ve seen this year and, even better, it’s a film that actually has a heart.  When I watched Kubo and The Two Strings, I found myself both laughing and crying and feeling a renewed excitement about the potential of cinema.

Somewhat appropriately, this magical film is about magic, not just spell-casting magic but also the magic that we all have within our soul and locked away in our memories.  Taking place in ancient Japan, it tells the story of Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), a one-eyed child who lives in a cave with his sickly mother.  Most of the time, his mother is so out-of-it that she can only sit at the cave entrance and stare out at the distant ocean.  But occasionally, she is lucid enough that she remembers her past and she tells stories about how Kubo’s father was a mighty warrior who battled monsters and went on heroic quests.  She also remembers that Kubo’s grandfather is an evil demon, who is searching for his grandson and who hopes to take away his other eye.

Kubo supports his mother by going into a nearby village and, through the use of origami, magic, and music, telling stories to the townspeople.  His mother always warns Kubo not to say out after sunset.  Inevitably, however, Kubo does just that and soon, his demonic aunts appear in the village.  (The aunts, who are voiced by Rooney Mara, are truly scary.)  The village is destroyed and Kubo’s mother sacrifices her life to save him.

This, of course, all leads to Kubo going on a quest of his own.  He has to find his father’s armor so that he can defeat his grandfather.  Helping him in his quest is Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey, providing comic relief to an occasionally grim film).  But really, the quest is less about finding the armor and more about Kubo both growing up and coming to terms with the loss of his parents.  Yes, Kubo and The Two Strings may be an animated film and it may be a fantasy and it may feature bits of comedy but it’s a film that inspires very real emotions.  It’s a film that made me cry and it earned every single tear.

(Seriously, I dare you to watch the final five minutes of Kubo and The Two Strings without tearing up.)

Visually, this is an amazing film.  The images are often beautiful, sometimes frightening, and occasionally awe-inspiring.  Kubo’s aunts are pure nightmare fuel and his confrontation with his grandfather (voice by Ralph Fiennes) is magical in more ways than one.  Even beyond that, Kubo and the Two Strings creates a world that feels as real as our own.  It not only visualizes and celebrates film magic but also real-life magic as well.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a great and magical film and it’s one of the best of the year so far.  If you haven’t seen it, go out and see it.  If you’ve already seen it, go see it again.  Don’t wait for it to come out on Blu-ray.  Don’t say, “I’ll see it on cable.”  Don’t wait for Netflix.  See it on a big screen and see it now.

Seriously, don’t miss your chance to experience this movie the way it was meant to be experienced!

 

Lisa’s Oscar Predictions


2013 oscars

Can you believe that the Oscars are just a few hours away!?  This is actually shaping up to be an exciting year.  Even though I’m fairly certain that I know who and what is going to win, there’s still a strong possibility that we could have a few upsets when the winners are announced on Sunday night!

Well, I guess I better hurry up and post my predictions.  Below, I will list both what I think should win and what actually will win.

(If you want to see which films I would have nominated if I had all the power, please check out my What If Lisa Determined The Oscar Nominations post!)

Okay, here we go!

Best Picture:

Should Win: Brooklyn

Will Win: The Revenant

Best Director:

Should Win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Will Win: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant

Best Actor:

Should and Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Best Actress:

Should and Will Win: Brie Larson, Room

Best Supporting Actor:

Should and Will Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress:

Should Win: Rooney Mara, Carol

Will Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Best Original Screenplay:

Should Win: Inside Out

Will Win: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Should Win: Carol

Will Win: The Big Short

Best Animated Feature:

Should and Will: Inside Out

Best Art Direction:

Should and Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Cinematography:

Should Win: Carol

Will Win: The Revenant

Best Costume Design:

Should Win: Carol

Will Win: The Danish Girl

Best Editing:

Should and Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Makeup:

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Will Win: The Revenant

Best Sound Mixing:

Should and Will Win: The Revenant

Best Sound Editing:

Should and Will Win: The Revenant

Best Visual Effects:

Should Win: Ex Machina

Will Win: The Martian

Best Original Score:

Should Win: Carol

Will Win: The Hateful Eight

Best Original Song:

Should Win: “Earned it” from Fifty Shades of Grey

Will Win: “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground

Best Documentary Feature:

Should and Will Win: Amy

Best Foreign Language Film:

Should Win: Can’t say because I haven’t see any of the nominated films

Will Win: Son of Saul

Documentary Short:

Should Win: ????

Will Win: The Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness

Animated Short:

Should Win: ?????

Will Win: We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

Live Action Short:

Should Win: ??????

Will Win: Stutterer

 

Here Are The Oscar Nominees!


Oscars

I am so happy that Mad Max, Brooklyn, and Room were nominated but considering how many great films were released in 2015, it’s hard not to be disappointed with the nominees for Best Picture.  No Carol.  No Ex Machina.  No Sicario or Inside Out.  No Straight Out Of Compton, Creed, or Beasts of No Nation.  Is The Martian the only best picture winner to even have more than one African-American prominently featured in the cast?  10 years from now, when people can see past the politics and concentrate on the filmmaking, The Big Short will be recognized as one of the worst best picture nominees of all time.

As for other snubs, I am so sad to see that Kristen Stewart and Benicio Del Toro were not nominated in the supporting races.  For that matter, Rooney was the lead in Carol and that’s where she should have been nominated.  It’s also interesting to note that Mark Ruffalo was nominated for giving the worst performance in Spotlight.

I know that Spotlight is the official front runner but, looking at the nominations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Revenant win.  Or maybe even (bleh!)  The Big Short.

Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Room”
“Spotlight”

Best Director
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “The Revenant”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

Best Original Screenplay
“Bridge of Spies”
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“Spotlight”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Big Short”
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“The Martian”
“Room”

Best Cinematography
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
“Sicario”

Best Costume Design
“Carol”
“Cinderella”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
“Spotlight”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared”
“The Revenant”

Best Production Design
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

Best Score
“Bridge of Spies”
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Song
“Fifty Shades of Grey” – “Earned It”
“The Hunting Ground” – “Til it Happens to You”
“Racing Extinction” – “Manta Ray”
“Spectre” – “Writing’s on the Wall”
“Youth” – “Simple Song #3”

Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Sound Mixing
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Visual Effects
“Ex Machina”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Animated Feature
“Anomalisa”
“Boy and the World”
“Inside Out”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Best Documentary Feature
“Amy”
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Embrace of the Serpent”
“Mustang”
“Son of Saul”
“Theeb”
“A War”

Best Animated Short
“Bear Story”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live without Cosmos”
“World of Tomorrow”

Best Documentary Short
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, Beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Last Day of Freedom”

Best Live Action Short
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”
“Shok”
“Stutterer”

What If Lisa Had All The Power And Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2015 Edition


oscar trailer kitties

With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations. Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated. The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are starred and listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010!)

best picture

Best Picture
Brooklyn
*Carol*
Clouds of Sils Maria
Ex Machina
The Final Girls
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
Room
Sicario
Straight Outta Compton

George Miller

Best Director
John Crowley for Brooklyn
Alex Garland for Ex Machina
F. Gary Gray for Straight Outta Compton
Todd Haynes for Carol
*George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road*
Denis Villeneuve for Sicario

Jacob Tremblay

Best Actor
John Cusack in Love & Mercy
Gerard Depardieu in Welcome To New York
Johnny Depp in Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Michael B. Jordan in Creed
*Jacob Tremblay in Room*

alicia vikander

Best Actress
Katharine Isabelle in 88
Brie Larson in Room
Rooney Mara in Carol
Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
Amy Schumer in Trainwreck
*Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina*

Del Toro

Best Supporting Actor
Michael Angarano in The Stanford Prison Experiment
Paul Dano in Love & Mercy
*Benicio Del Toro in Sicario*
Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Maggie
Sylvester Stallone in Creed

MA

Best Supporting Actress
*Malin Akerman in The Final Girls*
Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy
Cate Blanchett in Carol
Jessica Chastain in Crimson Peak
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

amyp

Best Voice Over Performance
Jon Hamm in Minions
Richard Kind in Inside Out
Jason Mantzoukas in The Regular Show Movie
*Amy Poehler in Inside Out*
James Spader in Avengers: The Age Of Ultron
Steve Zahn in The Good Dinosaur

EM

Best Original Screenplay
Clouds of Sils Maria
*Ex Machina*
The Final Girls
Inside Out
Sicario
Trainwreck

mara_blanchett_carol

Best Adapted Screenplay
Brooklyn
*Carol*
The End of the Tour
Love & Mercy
Room
The Walk

Inside_Out_(2015_film)_poster

Best Animated Film
*Inside Out*
The Good Dinosaur
Minions
The Peanuts Movie
The Regular Show Movie
Shaun The Sheep

Amy_Movie_Poster

Best Documentary Feature:
3 ½ Minutes 10 Bullets
*Amy*
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau
Prophet’s Prey
The Wolfpack

The_Tribe_poster

Best Foreign Language Film
The Connection
Gloria
The Mafia Only Kills In Summer
Misunderstood
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Contemplating Existence
*The Tribe*

Brooklyn

Best Casting
*Brooklyn*
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Straight Outta Compton
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Sicario

Best Cinematography
Carol
Clouds of Sils Maria
The Green Inferno
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
*Sicario*

carol3

Best Costume Design
Brooklyn
*Carol*
Cinderella
Ex Machina
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Suffragette

MMedit

Best Editing
Carol
Ex Machina
*Mad Max: Fury Road*
Room
Sicario
Straight Outta Compton

Arnold-Schwarzenegger-in-Maggie

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Black Mass
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
*Maggie*
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

bl

Best Original Score
*Carol*
The Hateful Eight
It Follows
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spy2015_TeaserPoster

Best Original Song
“Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey
“See You Again” from Furious 7
“Better When I’m Dancing” from The Peanuts Movie
“Flashlight” from Pitch Perfect 2
“Feels Like Summer” from Shaun the Sheep
*“Who Can You Trust” from Spy*

Compton 2

Best Overall Use Of Music
Furious 7
The Hateful Eight
Joy
Love & Mercy
The Martian
*Straight Outta Compton*

cp

Best Production Design
*Crimson Peak*
Ex Machina
The Final Girls
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Unfriended

sicario-emily-blunt-trailer

Best Sound Editing
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Furious 7
The Revenant
*Sicario*
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

Compton

Best Sound Mixing
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Furious 7
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
*Straight Outta Compton*

MM Stunt

Best Stunt Work
Furious 7
Kingsman: The Secret Service
*Mad Max: Fury Road*
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Spy
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

Best Visual Effects
Ant-Man
Avengers: The Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
*Star Wars: The Force Awakens*
The Walk

Films By Number of Nominations:
11 Nominations – Carol
10 Nominations – Mad Max: Fury Road
9 Nominations – Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8 Nominations – Ex Machina
7 Nominations – Brooklyn, Straight Outta Compton
5 Nominations – Furious 7, Inside Out, Love & Mercy, The Revenant, Room
4 Nominations – Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Clouds of Sils MariaThe Final Girls
3 Nominations – The Hateful Eight
2 Nominations – Black Mass, Creed, Crimson Peak, The Good Dinosaur, Maggie, Minions, The Peanuts Movie, The Regular Show Movie, Shaun the SheepSpy, Trainwreck, The Walk
1 Nomination – 3 ½ Minutes 10 Bullets, 50 Shades of Grey, 88, Amy, Ant-Man, Beasts of No Nation, Cinderella, The Connection, The End of The Tour, Gloria, Going Clear, The Green Inferno, It Follows, Joy, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, The Martian, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Misunderstood, A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, Pitch Perfect 2, Prophet’s Prey, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Suffragette, The Tribe, UnfriendedWelcome to New York, The Wolfpack

Films By Number of Oscars Won:
4 Oscars – Carol
3 Oscars – Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario
2 Oscars – Ex Machina, Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton
1 Oscar – Amy, Brooklyn, Crimson Peak, The Final Girls, Maggie, Room, Spy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Tribe

Will the Academy be smart enough to agree with me on these picks?  We will find out on Thursday!

Lisa and Evelyn at the Oscars

Lisa and Evelyn at the Oscars

Here Are The Dorian Award Nominees!


Carol_(film)_POSTER

The Dorian Awards are handed out by the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Film Critics Association.  Here are their film nominations for 2015.

FILM OF THE YEAR
The Big Short / Paramount, Regency
Brooklyn / Fox Searchlight
Carol / The Weinstein Company
Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show
Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
(Film or Television)
Sean Baker, Tangerine / Magnolia Pictures
Todd Haynes, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, The Revenant / Fox
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR — ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Brie Larson, Room / A24
Rooney Mara, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years / Sundance Selects
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn / Fox Searchlight

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR — ACTOR
Matt Damon, The Martian / Fox
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant / Fox
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs / Universal
Tom Hardy, Legend / Universal, Cross Creek
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title

LGBTQ FILM OF THE YEAR
Carol / The Weinstein Company
The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title
Freeheld / Summit
Grandma / Sony Pictures Classics
Tangerine / Magnolia Pictures

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
The Assassin / Central Motion Pictures, Well Go USA
Mustang / Cohen Media Group
Phoenix / Sundance Selects
Son of Saul / Sony Pictures Classics
Viva / Magnolia Pictures

SCREENPLAY OF THE YEAR
Emma Donoghue, Room / A24
Phyllis Nagy, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short / Paramount, Regency
Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs / Universal

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR
(theatrical release, TV airing or DVD release)
Amy / A24
Best of Enemies / Magnolia Pictures, Magnet
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief / HBO
Making a Murderer / Netflix
What Happened, Miss Simone? / Netflix

VISUALLY STRIKING FILM OF THE YEAR
(honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography)
Carol / The Weinstein Company
The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title
Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show
The Martian / Fox
The Revenant / Fox

UNSUNG FILM OF THE YEAR
The Diary of a Teenage Girl / Sony Pictures Classics
Ex Machina / A24
Grandma / Sony Pictures Classics
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl / Fox Searchlight
Tangerine (Magnolia)

CAMPY FLICK OF THE YEAR
The Boy Next Door
Fifty Shades of Grey
Magic Mike XXL
Jupiter Ascending
Stonewall

Here Are the Reliably Boring Razzie Nominations!


Yawn!  The Razzies are always so boring!  Here are this year’s predictable nominations.  Talk about them on twitter and impress your friends.

Worst Picture
Fantastic Four
Fifty Shades of Grey
Jupiter Ascending
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Pixels

Worst Director
Andy Fickman, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Tom Six, Human Centipede 3
Sam Taylor-Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
Josh Trank, Fantastic Four
Andy and Lana Wachowski, Jupiter Ascending

Worst Actor
Johnny Depp, Mortdecai
Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey
Kevin James, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Adam Sandler, The Cobbler and Pixels
Channing Tatum, Jupiter Ascending

Worst Actress
Katherine Heigl, Home Sweet Hell
Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
Mila Kunis, Jupiter Ascending
Jennifer Lopez, The Boy Next Door
Gwyneth Paltrow, Mortdecai

Worst Supporting Actor
Chevy Chase, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Vacation
Josh Gad, Pixels and The Wedding Ringer
Kevin James, Pixels
Jason Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip
Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending

Worst Supporting Actress
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip and The Wedding Ringer
Rooney Mara, Pan
Michelle Monaghan, Pixels
Julianne Moore, Seventh Son
Amanda Seyfried, Love the Coopers and Pan

Worst Screenplay
Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater and Josh Trank, Fantastic Four
Kelly Marcel, Fifty Shades of Grey
Andy and Lana Wachowski, Jupiter Ascending
Kevin James and Nick Bakay, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, Pixels

Worst Remake or Sequel
Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Fantastic Four
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Human Centipede 3
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

Worst Screen Combo
Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, Fantastic Four
Johnny Depp and his glued-on mustache, Mortdecai
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
Kevin James and either his Segway or glued-on mustache, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Adam Sandler and any pair of shoes, The Cobbler

Razzies Redeemer Award
Elizabeth Banks
M. Night Shyamalan
Will Smith
Sylvester Stallone