Here Are The Hollywood Critics Association’s Nominations For The Best of 2019


The Hollywood Critics Association was, up until a few days ago, known as the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society.  Perhaps realizing that HCA just plans looks better than LAOFCS, they announced yesterday that they were changing their name.

They also announced their nominees for the best of films and performances of 2019!  While the HCA may not be one of the major precursors of awards season, their nominations do give a fairly good picture of which films and performances are currently being touted as possible Oscar nominees.

And here they are:

BEST PICTURE

  • “1917”
  • “Booksmart”
  • “The Farewell”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Joker”
  • “Jojo Rabbit”
  • “Parasite”
  • “Marriage Story”
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • “Waves

BEST ACTOR

  • Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
  • Eddie Murphy, “Dolemite Is My Name”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • “Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”

BEST ACTRESS

  • Awkwafina, “The Farewell”
  • “Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
  • Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”
  • Renée Zellweger, “Judy”
  • Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
  • Shia LaBeouf, “Honey Boy”
  • Sterling K. Brown, “Waves”
  • Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”
  • Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
  • Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Taylor Russell, “Waves”
  • Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell”

BEST MALE DIRECTOR

  • Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”
  • Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
  • Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
  • Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit”

BEST FEMALE DIRECTOR

  • Alma Har’el, “Honey Boy”
  • Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”
  • Lorene Scafaria, “Hustlers”
  • Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”
  • Olivia Wilde, “Booksmart”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won, “Parasite”
  • Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, & Katie Silberman, “Booksmart”
  • Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”
  • Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
  • Rian Johnson, “Knives Out”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Anthony McCarten, “The Two Popes”
  • Lorene Scafaria, “Hustlers”
  • Scott Silver and Todd Phillips, “Joker”
  • Steven Zailian, “The Irishman”
  • Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR OR ACTRESS 23 AND UNDER

  • Kaitlyn Dever, “Booksmart”
  • Julia Butters, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Noah Jupe, “Honey Boy”
  • Roman Griffin Davis, “Jojo Rabbit”
  • Thomasin McKenzie, “Jojo Rabbit”

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE

  • Jessie Buckley, “Wild Rose”
  • Kelvin Harrison Jr., “Waves”
  • Paul Walter Hauser, “Richard Jewell”
  • Taylor Russell, “Waves”
  • Zack Gottsagen, “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

BEST CAST

  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Knives Out”
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • “Waves”

BEST FIRST FEATURE

  • “Brittany Runs a Marathon”
  • “Booksmart”
  • “Honey Boy”
  • “The Peanut Butter Falcon”
  • “Queen & Slim”

BEST INDEPENDENT FILM

  • “Booksmart”
  • “The Farewell”
  • “Honey Boy”
  • “Luce”
  • “Waves”

BEST ACTION/WAR FILM

  • “1917”
  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “Captain Marvel”
  • “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”
  • “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  • “Abominable”
  • “Frozen II”
  • “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
  • “Missing Link”
  • “Toy Story 4”

BEST BLOCKBUSTER

  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “Captain Marvel”
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • “Shazam!”
  • “Spider-Man: Far from Home”

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL

  • “Booksmart”
  • “Blinded by the Light”
  • Dolemite Is My Name”
  • “Long Shot”
  • “Rocketman”

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • “American Factory”
  • “Apollo 11”
  • “Hail Satan?”
  • “The Kingmaker”
  • “Love, Antosha”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • “The Farewell”
  • “Monos”
  • “Pain & Glory”
  • “Parasite”
  • “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

BEST HORROR FILM

  • “Crawl”
  • “Doctor Sleep”
  • “Midsommar”
  • “Ready or Not”
  • “Us”

BEST ANIMATED OR VFX PERFORMANCE

  • Josh Brolin, “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Robert De Niro, “The Irishman”
  • Rosa Salazar, “Alita: Battle Angel”
  • Ryan Reynolds, “Detective Pikachu”
  • Tom Hanks, “Toy Story 4”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Drew Daniel, “Waves”
  • Jarin Blaschke, “The Lighthouse”
  • Lawrence Sher, “Joker”
  • Robert Richardson, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Roger Deakins, “1917”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Arianne Phillips, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Julian Day, “Rocketman”
  • Jacqueline Durran, “Little Women”
  • Ruth E. Carter, “Dolemite Is My Name”
  • Mark Bridges, “Joker”

BEST EDITING

  • Fred Raskin, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Lee Smith, “1917”
  • Michael McCusker, “Ford v Ferrari”
  • Thelma Schoonmaker, ‘The Irishman”
  • Yang Jin-mo, “Parasite”

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

  • “Bombshell”
  • “Joker”
  • “Judy”
  • “Rocketman”
  • “The Irishman”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Catchy Song” from “The Lego Movie: The Second Part”
  • “Glasgow” from “Wild Rose”
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”
  • “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II”
  • “Speechless” from “Aladdin”

BEST SCORE

  • Alexandre Desplat, “Little Women”
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir, “Joker”
  • Michael Abels, “Us”
  • Thomas Newman, “1917”
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Waves”

BEST STUNT WORK

  • “1917”
  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “Captain Marvel”
  • “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”
  • “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • “1917”
  • “Ad Astra”
  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “Alita: Battle Angel”
  • “The Irishman”

The winners will announced in December!

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Glass, Aquaman, Shazam, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridenwald, Patient Zero, I Still See You, Second Act, On The Basis of Sex, The Walking Dead


First, in 2000, there was Unbreakable.  Then, 16 years later, there was Split.  This January, M. Night Shyamalan brings us the third part of his Eastrail 177 trilogy, Glass.  The first trailer for Glass was dropped at SDCC this weekend and it leads off this week’s trailer round-up.

Also dropping at SDCC was the first trailer for Aquaman.  The DC hero that everyone loves to ridicule is finally get a movie of his very own.  The trailer hints at the origins of Arthur Curry, features the expected underwater action, and features enough ironic line readings that it could almost pass for the latest entry in the MCU.

If Glass and Aquaman are not heroic enough for you, there is always Shazam.  Back in the 1940s, Shazam was known as Captain Marvel and his adventures were published by Fawcett.  Claiming that Captain Marvel was clear rip-off of Superman, DC attempted to sue Fawcett out of business and then purchased the character, renaming him Shazam.  Now, Shazam is coming to theaters.  Shazam’s appeal has always been retro so, naturally, the trailer is full of references to Game of Thrones and self-reflexive humor.

Following the 2014 Godzilla reboot and Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the third chapter in Legendary’s Monsterverse.  This one will see Godzilla meeting Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be released on May 31st, 2019.

Also released at SDCC was the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridenwald.  Fantastic Beasts will be released on November 16th.

In Patient Zero, Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer try to find a cure for a virus that is transforming humanity into zombies.  The film is scheduled to be released through video-on-demand on 14 August 2018, before a limited theatrical release on 14 September 2018.

I Still See You is the latest B-movie to feature Bella Thorne getting stalked.  Will you see I Still See You when it’s released on October 12th?

In the upcoming comedy, Second Act, Jennifer Lopez plays an ambitious woman who is mistaken for a high-level business consultant.  With a plot like that, Second Act sounds like it could be the funniest film of 2004.  Second Act will be released on November 21st, 2018.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has already been the subject of one of the year’s most successful documentaries.  She gets the biopic treatment with On The Basis of Sex.  Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg while Mimi Leder returns from her cinematic exile to handle directing duties.  On The Basis of Sex will be released on December 25th.

Finally, the trailer for the 9th season of The Walking Dead dropped at SDCC and promised a new world with new rules.  Season 9 premieres on October 7th.

 

“The Multiversity : Thunderworld Adventures” #1 — Grant Morrison’s Love Letter To C.C. Beck


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If there’s one criticism that’s been leveled at Grant Morrison — and British comics writers in general — over the years, it’s that their work, while admittedly literate and intelligent, is often too “dark” or “cynical.” I guess sometimes it does apply — I mean, The Invisibles and The Filth , to name just a couple of standout Morrison projects, weren’t exactly light-hearted, happy-go-lucky affairs, were they?

And yet — even those two comics, bleak and nihilistic as they could often be, ultimately had optimistic endings, didn’t they? And books like Animal Man and All-Star Superman were flat-out celebrations of the type of comic book storytelling that the “British invasion” of the 1980s supposedly put an end to (as a side note, Alan Moore gets called out onto the carpet for the “darkness” of his work a lot, as well,  yet the same guy who gave us From Hell also gave us the most majestic tribute to the Superman of old ever conceived with his downright mythic run on Supreme and years earlier gave us arguably the single-greatest Superman story of all, “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? ” — hell, even Watchmen had a more optimistic conclusion than most folks give it credit for). All in all, then, when it comes to Morrison’s career arc, it’s probably more fair to say that even when things do get “dark” and/or “dystopian” (anybody reading Annihilator right now? You really should be), it’s usually only a matter of time until we get to the light.

That’s why I was a bit confused over some of the hand-wringing that was going on prior to his much-anticipated Captain Marvel (or Shazam!, if you must) story for The Multiversity. People were openly questioning whether or not his “style” would be the right fit for the character. Whether or not he could “do it justice.” Whether or not he could “bring back that 1950s-style magic and innocence.”

Well, The Multiversity : Thunderworld Adventures #1 came out last Wednesday, and it’s fair to say that all those concerns have been silenced in the days since, because this is probably the most heartfelt, endearing, spot-on adventure for The Big Red Cheese since C.C. Beck chronicled his exploits for Fawcett publications.  No hyperbole, no bullshit — everything you were hoping this issue would be, it is.

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Off we go, then, to Earth-5, which is apparently where Captain Marvel (and I bet we don’t see him referred to by that name anytime again too soon)  as he ought to be — instead of the angst-ridden, more “realistic” version of him we’ve been subjected to in the “New 52” universe — still exists, along with the rest of the Marvel family, and still does battle with the likes of Black Adam, Mr. Mind, The Monster Society Of Evil, and the villain of this story, Dr. Sivana, who has created a doppleganger “Sivana Family” and added an eighth day to the week, thanks to time and power siphoned away from other realities in the Multiverse.

That “cynicism” people were fretting about? It’s nowhere to be found here, as this is pure Beck-style storytelling all the way : imaginative, character-driven, idealistic, and action-packed. Heck, Morrison even gets the little touches right, such as when he gives us the first appearance in forever and a day of the non-super-powered Uncle Marvel, and continues the tradition of him pretending to have powers and everybody else knowing he doesn’t but humoring him anyway. There’s not a note missed, not a beat skipped. This is a majestic old-school comic book adventure that doesn’t even feel so much like an homage as it does a direct continuation of a story abandoned over 50 years ago (you know, when DC sued Fawcett right out of business for their flagship character’s “similarity” to Superman — then bought up his rights for a pittance).

It may flirt with overkill sometimes, I suppose, but even after two readings I remain more than happy to put that tiny concern aside, simply because there’s nothing in the least bit “post-ironic” — much less ironic — about what Morrison is doing here. Every page, every panel, every word bubble — it’s all coming from the heart, without any sort of “knowing wink at the audience” to be had. Much as I liked All-Star Superman, it still had elements of a 12-part funeral dirge to it, a “last story of this type that’s ever going to be told” vibe. There’s none of that on display here, even if we probably won’t see a comic quite like this one — at least from DC — again in our lifetimes.

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It also represents a 180-degree turn from the more nihilistic — but every bit as well-executed — tone taken with this series’ last “one-shot” issue, the magnificently rich and complex Pax Americana, yet while  the two stories couldn’t be further apart in terms of style, this one is just  as compelling  that modern masterwork despite being infinitely “simpler” and more straightforward. The two issues coming out back-to-back as they have certainly highlights the diversity of Morrison’s writing ability, of course, but also the diversity inherent in The Multiversity project itself — a series where, truly, any story can be told in any given month. We hear that said — usually in hype generated by the publishers — about lots of comics, I suppose, but in this case, it’s proving to be absolutely true, and while Thunderworld Adventures does, in fact, make a few more concessions to the overall narrative connecting all of these disparate books than Pax Americana did, rest assured that it can still be read as a “stand-alone” story just fine.

About the only concession made here to the kind of “mind-fuckery” our guy Grant likes to engage in is a trippy double-page splash (one that’s so awesome to behold that I can’t bring myself to “spoil” it by including a preview image here, sorry) that doesn’t make much rational “sense” but certainly fits in with the overall tone of the proceedings very nicely indeed. Apart from that, though, all else in the world of Billy Batson and his magically-powered alter ego is more or less exactly as you remembered — maybe even better,

Speaking of the art — Cameron Stewart, who provides both pencils and inks for this issue, is a guy I’ve never considered to be anything other than a competent journeyman artist, providing good, but hardly memorable, work for a number of titles over the years, including several projects with Morrison like Seaguy and Batman And Robin (he’s currently the regular penciler on DC’s recently-revamped Batgirl monthly series), but damn if this isn’t the comic he was born to draw. Just look at that panel reproduced above showing a car smashing into Captain Marvel for a prime example of the dynamic and impactful sensibility he brings to the table here. I get the feeling that he spent several months working on this book, and if he didn’t — well, shit, then I guess I’m even more impressed, because none of the trademarks of a “rush job” are apparent here in any way. This is bold, breathtaking stuff that has me reconsidering his entire body of work in a whole new light. You might even say that he’s unleashed his inner super-hero here.

And the colors — man oh man, the colors! It’s hard to believe this is the same Nathan Fairbairn who gave us the more muted tones of Pax Americana as everything here is bright, vibrant, eye-catching, and just plain sunny. Earth-5 literally looks like a place where it never rains. Just have a look at the triumphant panel the story ends on here and you’ll see exactly what I mean —

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That, right there, is why most of us who fell in love with the comics medium as kids did so, isn’t it? Even if these characters were a bit “before our time” for most of us, it was the spirit of idealistic adventure that drew us in and that we all wish we’d see more of these days. In my headline for this review I called Thunderworld Adventures Morrison’s “love letter to C.C. Beck” (it’s worth noting that Alan Moore has pointed to Beck as being his primary storytelling influence on Supreme, as well), and while that’s undoubtedly true, there’s actually more to it than that — it’s a love letter to youth, optimism, idealism, and a kind of non-ironic goodness that’s in far too short a supply both in modern comics and , crucially, modern life. It’s a celebration of all that we can be, and sometimes are — when we’re willing to be the heroes of our own adventures.

Quick Review – Injustice: Gods Among Us (by NetherRealm Studios)


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On my way home recently, I saw a subway poster for Injustice: Gods Among Us, depicting DC Comics characters The Joker really to take a crowbar to the Green Lantern. That seemed interesting, but when I found out that it was a fighting game, I didn’t expect much. Most of the fighting games I’ve played will just toss a number of characters together and have them fight without any real reason to do so. The only game of recent memory to do anything different was Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where you eventually found yourself doing battle with Galactus, but even then, getting to that point was merely a set of random battles from Point A to Point C. After finding out that Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat was involved, I had a feeling the fighting would be good but still empty.

Injustice’s single player game is done in such a way that it gives every character (24 in all, half heroes / half villains) a chance to shine or fall. I haven’t gone all the way through it, but each chapter of the game focuses on a particular hero and the events in that have him or her confronting an enemy to further push the narrative. While I’m not familiar with the story behind it (I’ve always been more of a Marvel than DC fan), it’s compelling enough that I at least want to know what happens next.

The story starts with the full on destruction of Metropolis at the hands of The Joker. As Batman interrogates him, Superman intervenes and we come to find that The Joker somehow manipulated him into killing Lois Lane and his unborn son. The result of this knowledge causes the scene to end in a way that reflects some of the darker tones of the Warner Animated movies like Batman: Under the Red Hood. It shifts to an alternate universe story where – from what I tell – Superman is the ruler of the world with some of the heroes siding with him and becoming your enemies. Can he be defeated? Only crazy button mashing and timing will tell.

As fighting games go, the mechanics to Injustice are very simple. Rooted in the Mortal Kombat style of fighting, you have your basics. Back lets you block anything coming at you high or from the air. Down blocks low sweeps and kicks. Using the diamond formation of console buttons, your light attacks from the 360’s X button / PS3s Square button. Medium Attacks are the 360s Y button / PS3’s Triangle and Heavy comes from the A button / X on the PS3. It’s a good layout that helps the battle flow fast. Combos are also very easy to execute, most of them being of the quick left, right, button press or down, forward button variety. The B button / Circle acts as a special character feature. I thought this was really cool in that every character has either an ability that can be enhanced – Green Lantern charges his ring, Aquaman creates a water shield or Superman uses the Sun to make him stronger. For those were are less than meta, their gadgets / weapons change. Batman brings in a swarm of mini bats, Nightwing’s escrimas fuse together to form a staff and Wonder Woman switches from her lasso to her sword & shield.

InJustice also uses a meter system similar to Street Fighter IV. As you get hurt or string attacks, this meter will fill up in stages. You can use a stage to pull off more advanced moves or if you allow it max out, you can unleash a Signature Move. Some of them are very cool – Both Superman and The Flash have one that I love to do – while others – like Green Lantern’s and The Joker are smile inducing. These are fun, but it would have been nice to maybe incorporate 2 different ones per character. That’s just me.

The backgrounds are used very well in Injustice. If you happen to be near an object that can be used – say a car that’s parked in front of Wayne Manor, a quick bumper button tap lets you smack your opponent with it or throw it at them. Other stages have multiple levels that let you take the battle high or low and damage your enemy in the process. From the street of Gotham City, I sent Solomon Grundy into a chemical truck that exploded, and sent him flying upwards, bouncing off of various apartments until he landed on the roof of a building. That was downright awesome, and strung together with the right combo just adds to the feeling that you’re working with some pretty powerful characters. I haven’t smiled like that since some of my little brother’s Dragonball Z games. Other locations include the Hall of Justice, The Batcave, Atlantis, Themyscira, Arkham Asylum and The Fortress of Solitude. Some of the other locations have multiple levels that be accessed.

And that power can easily be abused, especially when the game goes online. As previously mentioned, the players are divided between those with superpowered abilities (Shazam, Superman, Green Lantern) and the weapons based fighters. I gave the online game a try, which has a number of different modes. While the one on one battles are nice, I liked the Survivor Mode that puts a player as the one everyone needs to dethrone. What’s sweet here is that you can alternate from a theatre mode that lets you watch two people fight or switch over to the current list of people who have waiting to take on the winner. The reigning champ only has so much health to work with from game to game, and I watched one fellow using Black Adam keep everyone at bay with distance shots.  Another used Superman and just kept lasering the opponent. It has room for some cheezy moves, but that’s common with just about any fighter, I think. My Nightwing couldn’t even get close. Then again, I’m not the best fighter in the ring. Every fight you have, whether it’s offline or online gives you some sort of XP, which can be used to unlock and use new Portrait Cards, alternate costumes and backgrounds for your Badge (made popular by Call of Duty).

In terms of problems, the only complaint I have about Injustice is that I hoped there would have been more tailoring to the relationships between the characters. Other than that, the game’s just grand. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had this system where depending on who you chose and who you were up against, you would get some banter that was character specific. For example, if your tag team of 3 in that game were made up of Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, you’d have an opponent recognize that group as the Avengers. If X-23 faced off against Wolverine, she’d ask him who really was the best at what they do. Injustice does this to a small degree, only happening when you perform a Wager match in a round. Wager matches allow you to bet some of your Meter Power. This results in a scene where the players throw a line at each other before charging at full speed. Whoever wins gains some health. The loser has the opponent’s meter level match his or her damage. Sometimes it works out, other times, it’s just alright. I wanted more of that. My favorite so far is the Nightwing / Joker interaction:

Joker: “I liked you better as Robin.”  / Nightwing: “I liked you better in Arkham.”

Overall, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a great game to play if you’re in either into fighting games or are a fan of the DC Universe. I’m curious as to what the downloadable content is going to contain.