Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for February


Well, with the 2018 Oscars finally out of the way, we can now shift our focus to the 2019 race.

As of February, that race is totally cloudy.  The predictions below should be taken with a grain of salt because 1) they’re mostly wild guesses and 2) the Oscar race never starts to become clear until after the summer.  You could probably argue that doing predictions this early in the year is a pointless exercise but here we are!

Best Picture

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Call of the Wild

Captain Marvel

Harriet

The Irishman

The Last Thing He Wanted

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Report

Toy Story 4

 

Best Director

Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Kassi Lemmons for Harriet

Chris Sanders for Call of the Wild

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari

Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Taron Egerton in Rocketman

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Ian McKellen in The Good Liar

 

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman In The Window

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Emma Thompson in Late Night

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

 

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in The Last Thing He Wanted

Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari

Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

Best Supporting Actress

Annette Bening in The Report

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae in Harriet

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Meryl Streep in Little Women

 

After checking out my pointless predictions for February, be sure to check out my even more pointless predictions for January!

Here’s The Trailer For Rocketman!


So, there’s a biopic of Elton John coming out this year.  It’s called Rocketman and it stars Taron Egerton in the lead role.  Just judging from a lot of the early publicity, it sounds like the hope is that the same audience that made Bohemian Rhapsody a hit will also do the same for Rocketman.

So, does that mean that Rocketman is being set up to be an Oscar contender, just like Bohemian Rhapsody?  It’s hard to say.  (Of course, it should be remembered that most observers were genuinely shocked when Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe that pretty much launched it as a legitimate best picture contender.)  One thing working against Rocketman as an Oscar contender is that the film is being released at the end of May, which is generally kind of a bad time to be released.

(I know, I know.  Early release dates didn’t harm either Black Panther or Grand Budapest Hotel.)

So, who knows?  All that we can say for sure is that, from what we’ve seen, Taron seems to look the part.  Here’s the trailer that was released earlier this week.

Film Review: Billionaire Boys Club (dir by James Cox)


Have patience.  This is kind of a long story.

Billionaire Boys Club, a fact-based film about two murders that occurred back in the greed and cocaine-filled 80s, was first announced in 2010.  After five years of pre-production, the film started shooting in 2015.  It featured up-and-coming stars Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton in the lead roles and Emma Roberts in a key supporting role.  It also featured a certain two-time Oscar-winning actor, who we will talk about shortly.  There was speculation that Billionaire Boys Club could be an Oscar contender.  At the very least, that two-time Oscar-winning actor might pick up another supporting nomination.  Shooting started in December of 2015 and wrapped in January of 2016.

And then …. nothing.

What happened?

Kevin Spacey happened.  On October 29th, 2017, Anthony Rapp told how, when he was 14, an intoxicated Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance towards him.  Subsequently, 15 other people came forward with stories about Spacey making similar advances towards them.  At the time, the Oscar-wining actor had key supporting roles in two upcoming films: All The Money In The World and Billionaire Boys Club.  The producers of All The Money In The World replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer and hastily refilmed all of his scenes.

Unfortunately, that really wasn’t an option for the producers of Billionaire Boys Club.  Whereas Spacey’s role in All The Money In The World was basically an extended cameo, he was a key part of Billionare Boys Club.  Spacey had been cast as Ron Levin, a flamboyant con man whose murder led to the collapse of an 80s investment firm.  There was really no feasible way to replace Spacey without reshooting the majority of the film.  As a result, Billionaire Boys Club sat a while in limbo before finally getting an extremely limited release back in July.  On opening day, the film made a total of $126.  (The final weekend gross was $618.)

As for the film itself, the behind the scenes drama is far more interesting than anything that actually happens on screen.  Elgort and Egerton play Joe Hunt and Dean Karny, two middle-class guys who want to be rich in the 80s.  They do this by starting an investment firm called Billionaire Boys Club and, for a few months, everything seems to be perfect.  They appear to be making money.  They drive nice cars and live in big mansions and throw big parties.  There’s all the usual stuff that you expect to see in films about rich twentysomethings: cocaine, swimming pools, black lingerie, and fast cars.  In fact, that’s kind of the problem with the film.  There’s nothing surprising about what happens to Joe and Dean.  If you’ve seen Wolf of Wall Street, you’ve seen it all before.  In fact, if anything, the film’s recreation of greed-fueled decadence is almost too tame.  I mean, sure — we get the shot of the lines of cocaine getting snorted off a counter top but it’s hardly the mountain of coke that usually shows up in a movie like this.  If anything, this movie needed more cocaine.

Of course, everything eventually falls apart.  It turns out that Ron Levin, their main financial backer, was actually a con man who had managed to trick everyone into thinking that he was a millionaire.  In the end, it all leads to two murders, one prison sentence, and one new life in the witness protection program.

The film tries to critique the culture of greed but it fails because it never seems to understand why that culture would be so attractive to two guys like Joe and Dean in the first place.  Despite the efforts of Elgort and Egerton, Joe and Dean just come across as being two ciphers who maybe watched Wall Street one too many times.  It’s never clear what made these two click or why they were able to trick so many people into believing in them.  Unlike something like The Wolf of Wall Street, Billionaire Boys Club is so busy scolding everyone for being greedy that it never acknowledges that being rich can also be a lot of fun.  (It doesn’t help that Billionaire Boys Club features first person narration, which often leads to the film telling us what it should be showing us.)

As for Kevin Spacey, he gave the same performance that he gave in any number of similar films.  He’s arch and sarcastic and sometimes ambiguously flamboyant.  He gets upset whenever anyone says anything against his dog.  When he announces that he’s a “hustler” and brags about how he can get away with anything because he’s convinced people that he’s something that he’s not, it’s hard not to cringe.  It’s not really a bad performance, as much as it just kind of a predictable one.  It feels destined to be remembered only for being Spacey’s final appearance in a feature film.

Billionaire Boys Club will be making its Showtime premiere later tonight.  It’s not a terrible film but it’s not a particularly memorable one either.

Film Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (dir by Matthew Vaughn)


Before I say too much about Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I do want to acknowledge a few good things about the movie.

First off, it doesn’t take long for the film to reveal that Harry (Colin Firth) didn’t actually die when Samuel L. Jackson shot him in the head in the first movie.  Undoubtedly, that diminishes the power of that scene but, at the same time, it also means that Colin Firth gets to come back.

Secondly, Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy.  The script really doesn’t give him too many opportunities to show what he’s capable of as an actor, largely because the character of Eggsy was fully developed by the end of the first movie.  Now that Eggsy is a fully trained and competent Kingsman, there’s not really much for him to do other than trade a few quips and take a few lives.  That said, Egerton is a likable actor and he’s fun to watch.

Third, Julianne Moore has a few fun scenes as the film’s main villain, Poppy Adams.  Poppy is the head of an international drug cartel.  She’s also obsessed with the 1950s and always amazingly cheerful.

Fourth, all of the Kingsmen still wear suits and Michael Caine-style glasses.  Colin Firth gets to use his umbrella as a shield.

Finally, Mark Strong is back as Merlin.

So, that’s five good things about Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  Unfortunately, all five of those things are somewhat obscured by the fact that the movie really, really sucks.

Admittedly, I had really high hopes for the movie.  I loved the first Kingsman film, which was a stylish satire that featured one of the greatest action set pieces of all time.  And I was excited to see that not only was Firth returning but Matthew Vaughn would also be directing the sequel.

But no.  This movie just doesn’t work.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle attempts to do everything on a larger scale than the first Kingsman.  That means more violence, more betrayals, and a longer running time.  This time, the movie not only features the Kingsmen but also the Statesmen, which is the American equivalent of the Kingsmen.  (The Statesmen all dress like cowboys and speak in exaggerated Southern drawls, which I got kind of sick of listening to after about three minutes.)  Along with the returning stars of the first film, Jeff Bridges, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum all have small roles.  Pedro Pascal (best known for playing Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones) has a much larger role as a Statesman codenamed Whiskey.

Unfortunately, bigger is not always better.  The Golden Circle never comes close to matching the lunatic heights of the first movie.  There are a lot of action scenes but none of them match the church fight from the first film.  There’s a surprise death but it’s nowhere near as shocking or effective as Firth’s “death” in the first film.  Even the required barroom brawl falls flat.  Nowhere does The Golden Circle match the audacity of the first film.  The first film ended with exploding heads.  This film ends with the promise of more sequels.

But really, I think what really doomed The Golden Circle was that extended running time.  There’s really no good reason for The Golden Circle to last for 2 hours and 21 minutes.  Quite a bit of the film, especially during the first hour, felt padded out and, as a result, it seemed like took forever for the film’s story to actually get started.  Probably 40 minutes to an hour could have been cut from The Golden Circle without anyone missing it.

Ultimately, I think the main problem is that the first Kingsman felt like it was made by people who truly did love the material.  This film feels contractually obligated.  The Golden Circle has a lot of action but it’s just not very fun.

Trailer – Kingsman: The Golden Circle


Oh, yes, it’s on!!! Has it been three years already?

Matthew Vaughn’s (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) MARV Films and 20th Century Fox has released the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This time around, it looks like Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is out to solve another global incident with the help of (or is being opposed by) the Statesman. Are they the American version of the Kingsman?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle also stars Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges (both from The Big Lebowski), Mark Strong (a Vaughn favorite), Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Colin Firth.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Eddie the Eagle (dir by Dexter Fletcher)


 

eddie_the_eagle_poster

Hi, everyone!

So. I’m guessing, after what happened last night, some of our readers might need something to cheer them up.  If you’re a regular reader of this site, I’m going to imagine that you love movies.  And, in your moment of uncertainty or whatever, you might want to watch a movie.  And, of course, you’re asking yourself, “What does Lisa think I should watch?”

Well, I’ll be honest.  My cinematic tastes tend to be rather dark.  I like horror movies.  I like movies with sad endings.  I love brutal satire.  I love movies that attack their audience and that dare you to look away.  So, I might not be the best person to ask…

But you know what?

There actually is a movie that I can recommend to anyone who needs to be cheered up this week.  Eddie the Eagle, which came out way back in February, is exactly the type of movie that you would expect an arthouse snob like me to dismiss.  It’s a feel-good sports movie, one that is based on a true story but which also features a lot of composite characters and manufactured drama.  No, Eddie the Eagle is perhaps not the type of film that you would expect me to enjoy but, when I finally got around to watching it a few days ago, I absolutely loved it!

Eddie the Eagle tells the story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a somewhat eccentric Englishman who dreams of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite the fact that he’s not all that athletically inclined.  When he’s turned down for a spot on the Olympic skiing team, Eddie decides to try to go to the Olympics as a ski jumper.  Working to Eddie’s advantage is the fact that there are no other English ski jumpers.  (We’re told that it’s been over 60 years since the UK even sent a ski jumper to the Olympics.)  In theory, Eddie should be able to qualify for the Olympic team just by showing up.  Working to Eddie’s disadvantage is the fact that the snooty British Olympic officials don’t want him to represent the UK in the Olympics.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Eddie has no experience as a ski jumper and only a few months to learn how to do it.  And, if Eddie makes any mistakes during one of his jumps, he could easily be severely injured or perhaps even die.

Most people would probably just give up and find something practical to do with their life but not Eddie!  Eddie has a dream and he’s going to achieve it, no matter what.  Fortunately, Eddie finds a coach.  Alcoholic Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) used to be a champion ski jumper but he’s spent the last few years drinking and being bitter.  At first, Bronson doesn’t want anything to do with Eddie but eventually, Eddie wins him over with his sincerity and his refusal to give up.  As Eddie explains to Bronson, he doesn’t care whether or not he wins a medal.  He just wants to compete…

And really, it shouldn’t work.  I should be complaining about how shamelessly manipulative this movie is.  I should be making fun of the fact that it features almost every sports film cliché imaginable.  But dammit, it’s such a sweet movie!  Director Dexter Fletcher does a great job filming Eddie’s jumps (often times from his point of view) and Taron Egerton is so charmingly odd in the role that you can’t help but cheer whenever Eddie manages to land without crippling himself.  Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman does a good job of grounding the movie in reality (which makes it all the more ironic that, unlike Egerton, Jackman is playing a fictional character).  Add to that, this film features a somewhat random Christopher Walken cameo!  Seriously, you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “This is a good movie but I just wish Christopher Walken was here…” and then suddenly …. THERE’S CHRISTOPHER WALKEN!

Eddie the Eagle is a sweet and sincere burst of positivity.  It’s the perfect antidote to 2016!

Quick Review: Kingsman – The Secret Service (dir. by Matthew Vaughn)


file_118522_1_kingsmanposterlargeKingsman: The Secret Service was a no brainer for me. I’ve been following Matthew Vaughn since Stardust, and a friend pointed me towards Layer Cake, which I love. Most audiences know Vaughn from his work on X-Men: First  Class and Kick-Ass. That’s the main reason I ran towards this movie. I also found out writer Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick-Ass, Marvel’s Civil War) was involved and the story was originally a comic, so the flow of the film makes perfect sense. Overall, Kingsman is a triumph for everyone involved, easily a film I could see myself returning to see again, but it’s not without it’s quirks. If the movie were cut into four acts, the first three were great, but the last act comes close to falling into the clichés it tries so hard to avoid.

Short and Sweet:

If you liked Wanted’s and Kick-Ass’ action sequences and copious amounts of violence mixed with bloodletting, Kingsman has your name written all over it. Throats are cut, people are shot, and bones are broken. It doesn’t happen often throughout the film, but when it does, it can get messy. The movie may have you considering wanting to get yourself some good business attire. It isn’t for kids by a long shot, it’s rated R for a reason.

The Slightly Long Version:

Kingsman is the tale of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), a young man who ends up being recruited for The Kingsman after a run in with the law. The Kingsman are a secret society of spies that at one time were tailors to great people. When a threat to the world rises in the form of a rich tech wiz named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), the Kingsmen must find a way to stop him.

Eggsy’s recruiter is Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, who does the best job out of all of the actors involved (in my opinion). Being the one who has to explain what all this is about, Firth manages to play the mentor role well. When it comes to fighting, he shows everyone who’s boss. Who knew Mark Darcy could fight (well, other than Daniel Cleaver, I guess)?

The casting for Kingsman really couldn’t offer any more surprises than it did. You have Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean), Mark Hamill (channeling his inner Joker here), Michael Caine, Mark Strong (a Vaughn favorite), Sofia Boutella (whose dance techniques work well for her blade wielding character) and Sophie Cookson. There’s really no one out of place here, save for maybe Jackson, who’s villain hates violence yet sees when it needs to be done. I do like that the movie kept me guessing about the Valentine’s intentions.As for Egerton, though I’ve never seen Egerton in anything before this, he’s good enough to warrant seeing him in a sequel. I can see him becoming a Vaughn regular in another film – maybe as an X-Men member?

As if the crew spent some time watching John Wick, the action in Kingsman moves pretty fast and fierce at times, and there’ll undoubtedly be a few scenes that will have you abusing the slo-mo feature when it arrives on digital download. The film moves through scenes with few cuts involved. You’ll have someone staring into a monitor at a fight that travels to the fight itself, and then flow into another moment. It’s Vaughn at his best, and at times, it’s all beautiful. I guarantee you that at least one scene in particular will probably have people talking. By far, one of the most unique uses of a Lynyrd Skynyrd track since The Devil’s Rejects. On a side note, it’s wonderful to see every advertised gadget get some use.

So, with all that praise, what’s the problem? Well, the last part of the film felt a little flat for me. If you’ve ever watched Batman Begins and it’s repetitious “stop the train before it hits the Wayne Tower” sequence, Kingsman feels similar. What bothered me was how some of the events were kind of caught in a bubble. Given the stakes involved (especially near the end), you’re never really told or shown the outcome of the actions. It’s really hard to explain without giving anything away, but I could put it like this. If you fired a gun in the middle of a street in broad daylight, someone would react and call the cops, no? So, if you escalate that action, shouldn’t the reaction / after effects be big? Between this and an annoying bit of product placement, I suppose it couldn’t be avoided. Still, it may be something that stands out for some audiences. It’s by no means a deal breaker, though.

I’d happily see it again at the cinema.