The New York Film Critics Circle Honors TAR, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Ke Huy Quan, Keke Palmer, and S.S. Rajamouli!


And awards season is here!

Today, the New York Film Critics Circle announced their picks for the best of 2022!  The NYFCC is one of the many critics groups that will be announcing their picks over the upcoming weeks.  The NYFCC is considered to be one of the better precursors out there so a win is definitely a big deal.  (Last year, for instance, the NYFCC started the movement that eventually led to Drive My Car picking up a Best Picture nomination.)

Here are the NYFCC winners for 2022:

Best Picture: TAR

Best Director: S. S. Rajamouli, RRR
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, TAR
Best Actor: Colin Farrell, After Yang and The Banshees of Inisherin
Best Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Best International Film: EO
Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Top Gun: Maverick
Best Supporting Actress: Keke Palmer, Nope
Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Non-Fiction Film: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Best Animated Feature: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Best First Film: Aftersun

SPECIAL AWARD 1: Jake Perlin, curator, distributor, publisher, in recognition of his indispensable contributions to film culture.

SPECIAL AWARD 2: dGenerate Films, For their invaluable work bringing independent films from China to a wider audience

SPECIAL AWARD 3: Jafar Panahi, for his dogged bravery as an artist, and for the humanity and beauty of a body of work created under the most oppressive circumstances.

 

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For November


We are right on the cusp of Awards Season, which means that the Oscar race is about to become a bit more clear!

Below, you’ll find my predictions for November!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October!

Best Picture

Aftersun

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

Best Director

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Charlotte Wells for Aftersun

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Paul Mescal in Aftersun

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Margot Robbie in Babylon

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Claire Foy in Women Talking

Nina Hoss in Tar

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For October


Even though Horrorthon has taken up the majority of my time this October, I still have been watching as this year’s Oscar race has developed over the past 29 days.  And that’s a good thing because it’s time for my monthly predictions!

Below, you’ll find my predictions for October!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September!

Best Picture

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Says

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Claire Foy in Women Talking

Nina Hoss in Tar

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Carey Mulligan in She Says

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For September


Horrorthon, my favorite time of year, starts tomorrow!  However, before we get lost in the scary season, I want to take one last look at awards season!  It’s time for me to update my Oscar nominations.  Fortunately, thanks to all of the recent festival premieres, the Oscar picture is finally starting to look a little bit clearer.  There’s still a lot of question marks out there and, as always, anything can happen.  But, finally, I can say that there’s more to my predictions that just lucky guesses and wishful thinking.

Below, you’ll find my predictions for September!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, and August.

Best Picture

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Menu

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

A few thoughts on the (potential) nominees:

Babylon, I will admit, I’m including because of the trailer and the fact that it’s a Damien Chazelle film about Hollywood.  The Academy likes films about itself and one can argue that after what happened when La La Land was nominated, Chazelle is owed at least a little bit of recognition.  Then again, that same argument could have been made for First Man and we know how that turned out.

As for The Menu, I’ve got that in my surprise nominee slot.  There’s almost always at least one potential nominee that’s considered to be a long shot until the nominations are announced.  Now that we have a set number of ten nominees, the chances that one nominee will be a surprise seems even more certain than before.

Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all came out early in the year but they’ve all achieved the box office success necessary to be remembered.

Till seems like the type of film that the Academy will want to acknowledge, especially with the presidential election right around the corner.

The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, TAR, and Women Talking were all acclaimed when they made their festival debuts.  Banshees, in particular, went from being a probable also-ran to a surefire contender based on the length of the standing ovation that it received.

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Ralph Fiennes in The Menu

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Frances McDormand in Women Talking

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For August


It’s that time of the month again!

Here are my Oscar predictions for August.  By the end of September, the picture should be a bit clearer.  Until then, most of the predictions listed below continue to be guesses.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Empire of Light

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Inspection

The Son

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for TAR

Baz Luhrmann for Elvis

Steven Speilberg for The Fabelmans

Florian Zeller for The Son

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Anthony Hopkins in The Son

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Laura Dern in The Son

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


Little by little, the Oscar race is starting to become just a little bit clearer.  It’s still early, of course.  Really, it’s way too early to say anything for sure.  But it’s also hard to deny that certain films are now much more in the conversation than others.

The biggest development this month was the announcement that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will not be released until 2023.  That takes it out of Oscar contention …. for now.  (For those who may have forgotten, it was originally announced, halfway through 2013, that The Wolf of Wall Street would not be ready until sometimes in 2014.  Everyone dutifully updated their Oscar predictions, striking The Wolf of Wall Street from their lists of likely best picture nominees.  Then, at the last minute, Scorsese announced that the film actually would be ready for 2013.  If something similar happens this year, Killers of the Flower Moon will go right back to being a huge contender because it’s Scorsese and he’s one of the best, regardless of what certain Marvel fans would have you believe.)  With Scorsese apparently out, it would now appear that Steven Spielberg is going to be the only member of the old guard with a film in the Oscar race.  Considering that many people believe that Spielberg’s West Side Story was snubbed last year when it only took home one Oscar (out of a total of sever nominations), The Fabelmans seems like it will be a major contender.  Admittedly, my hope that David Lynch will earn an acting nomination for playing John Ford in The Fabelmans may be a longshot but it can not be denied that it would be a cool development.

As for the other contenders, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all seem poised to ride a combination of critical acclaim and box office success into the Oscar race.  Todd Field has finally returned with TarThe Whale has the potential to be a comeback vehicle for the always likable Brendan Fraser.  She Said, Till, and Women Talking all stand to take advantage of the current political climate.  And Babylon will presumably give Hollywood a chance to celebrate itself.

The Oscar picture is still a bit cloudy but, with so many major festival on the horizon, those clouds should be parting soon.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Said

Tar

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

Women Talking

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (The Daniels) for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for Tar

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Adam Driver in White Noise

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Ana de Arms in Blonde

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Patricia Clarkson in She Said

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for May


It’s that time of the month again!

It’s time for me to once again try to predict what will be nominated for the Oscars.  If you had to told me, at this time last year, that Top Gun: Maverick would emerge as an Oscar contender, I would have said that you were crazy but here we are.  Admittedly, it is early in the year and I think there’s always going to be some ambivalence towards honoring Tom Cruise.  (You just know that someone is having nightmares about him thanking David Miscavige in his Oscar speech.)  But with the reviews and the box office success that Top Gun: Maverick is getting, it would be a mistake to dismiss it.  After all, Mad Max: Fury Road came out around this same time of year in 2015.  As well, one can be sure that A24 will be giving Everything Everywhere All At Once a heavy awards push as well.  This could very well be the year of the genre blockbuster as far as the Oscars are concerned.

As for Cannes, it’s come and gone.  George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing got some good reviews, even if those reviews didn’t translate into awards at the end of the Festival.  David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future sounds like it’s going to be too divisive for the Academy and really, the thought of Cronenberg winning an Oscar has always been a bit implausible, regardless of how much he may or may not deserve one.  As for James Gray’s Armageddon Time, Gray has always been more popular with critics than with audiences or Academy voters.  If Gray couldn’t break through with something like The Lost City of Z, I doubt he’s going to do so with an autobiographical film about his life in private school.  Steven Spielberg already has the autobiography slot wrapped up with The Fabelmans. 

Of course, there’s still many films left to see and many more film festivals to be held.  Let us not forget that Martin Scorsese is bringing us Killers of the Flower Moon.  Personally, I’m looking forward to Damien Chazelle’s Babylon.  In short, nothing has been settled yet.  For all the acclaim that Top Gun and Everything are getting, who knows how the race is going to look at the start of the Fall season?

Anyway, here are my predictions for May.  Be sure to check out my predictions for February and March and April as well!

Best Picture

Amsterdam

Babylon

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

I Want To Dance With Somebody

Killers of the Flower Moon

Next Goal Wins

Rustin

She Said

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Kasi Lemmons for I Want To Dance With Somebody

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Taika Waititi for Next Goal Wins

Best Actor

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Idris Elba in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Want To Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Margot Robie in Babylon

Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

John Boyega in The Woman King

Leonardo DiCaprio in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Tantoo Cardinal in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Samantha Morton in She Said

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. by Joseph Kosinski)


From the moment it was announced, I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. I figured it was just Tom Cruise milking his other franchise for what it’s worth. I mean, I adore the Mission: Impossible movies, but was there ever really a need to return to the Top Gun Universe? I didn’t believe so, particularly with Joseph Kosinski being involved. I enjoyed Oblivion and I’ll die on the hill that is Tron: Legacy, but also recognize that Tron: Legacy could have been a better film if the writers just didn’t paste the original film and wipe it down with a new coat of paint. I think I may have incorrectly put that on Kosinski, rather than the writers.

Top Gun: Maverick does pretty much the same thing here. If you’ve seen the original Top Gun, you already have the blueprint for the sequel in your head. You could play both films side by side, and not counting for the pacing between them, align each scene with the sequel’s counterpart. Does that even make for a sequel? Did we learn nothing from Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

I don’t know. I didn’t hate Top Gun: Maverick at all. It’s just that odd feeling at having seen it all before and almost completely guessing what’s going to happen next. If you can get past that, it’s a good film. By the end of the movie, I wanted to buy a computer, a Thrustmaster HOTAS set and a copy of DCS to fly with.

Top Gun: Maverick continues the story of ace fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, once the 2nd Best at Top Gun. Now testing special aircraft, he lands himself into trouble again with the Navy, only to be sent back to Top Gun. Yes, he was an instructor there and this new film references this. However, Maverick’s return has him training a team of elite pilots on a special bombing mission requiring some unorthodox maneuvers. In training the pilots, the best will be declared the mission leader. When Maverick discovers that one of pilots is Brad Bradshaw (Miles Teller, Whiplash), son of his deceased Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Goose, tensions erupt. Can Maverick get the team to improve and be ready for the mission?

Writing wise, Top Gun: Maverick isn’t bad. It gets in, does the job and gets right back out. No scene is drawn out too far, no storyline angle seems to be mulled on. With two main writers and three screenplay writers (including Mission: Impossible‘s Christopher McQuarrie), it’s pretty tight. Again, there’s the problem of using the same story map as the original. There doesn’t appear to be many obstacles for them to hurdle, storywise. Like Underwater, having so many familiar sites and scenes helps. What I did like was that it didn’t point many fingers at any one place. The opposing fighters are “5th Gen” craft, but you don’t really get any kind of feeling of where they’re from. Were they Russian? Serbian? Chinese? Canadian? Unless I missed something in the watch, I didn’t catch who the enemy was. They were just men in planes with missiles and guns.

I liked the cast here. Jon Hamm (Tag)makes for a good opponent to Cruise, and they have good scenes together. There’s also something of a love story to the film, though it’s light. While it would have been cool to have Kelly McGinnis back, Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel) made for a good replacement and her character’s okay. For the young pilots, I particularly liked Lewis Pullman’s (Bad Times at the El Royale) Bob and Monica Barbero (NBCs Chicago Justice) Phoenix, along with Glen Powell’s (Everybody Wants Some!) Hangman. Each one brought some style and attitude to the mix.

By far the best entry here is Val Kilmer’s return as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. The story was written in a way to include his issues with speech, given his cancer diagnosis. He honestly has one of most memorable moments in the film, and I loved how they tied his character back to Maverick’s. I have to give some kudos to Cruise, Kilmer and company for that. If there’s any other reason to see the film other than the planes, that was it.

Oh, the flight and fight scenes! Goodness, what a treat! I usually sit in the front row, where no one ever sits. Since the Regal RPX screen is huge (but not Lincoln Center IMAX beastly), that first row is some distance away. The sense of speed was cool and there were some fantastic shots both in cockpit and out, which had me leaning in my seat with the action with every hard left and right. While I’ve always been more of a fan of the F-14 Tomcat used in the original, there is a legitimate reason for the team to have to use the F-18 Hornet. While the main mission feels a lot like the trench run from Star Wars: A New Hope, it’s a great sequence overall. Watching Maverick make a plane dance is a sight to behold, and there is at least one scene in the film that contained an awesome thrust vectoring moment. Think of thrust vectoring like drifting a plane in midair the way you would drift a car in a turn. It’s hard to describe, but beautiful when seen.

Musically, I don’t have much to say. While Lorne Balfe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Hans Zimmer (Dune), Harold Faltermeyer (Top Gun) and Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) all worked on this, I can’t say that any tune other than the original Top Gun Anthem really stood out for me. Not a terrible thing at all, just not extremely memorable. At least with Fallout, I was humming the 2nd half of “Stairs and Rooftops” until I bought the album. Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” is a great piece and ties in pretty well to where it’s used.

Overall, Top Gun: Maverick is a treat, and was better than I expected. It gets a little heavy handed at following the same path of the original, the but the new story is enjoyable enough to have it stand out on it own.

Music Video of the Day: Hold My Hand by Lady Gaga (2022, dir by Joseph Kosinski)


I’ve heard at least one critic predict that Top Gun: Maverick will be a major Oscar contender.  I don’t quite buy that but I do imagine that the soundtrack will get a major awards push.  As performed by Lady Gaga, Hold My Hand feels very Oscar bait-y.  We’ll see.

As for the song itself, it’s okay.  It’s definitely not my favorite Lady Gaga song, largely because it was so obviously conceived as a way for the film to win an award.  To me, it has a bit of a gospel feel and, as I think I’ve said in the past, I find gospel music to be the most boring type of music in existence.  That said, Lady Gaga’s voice is amazing and she certainly sells this song.

Enjoy!