2020 Blind Spot Series: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I'm back again doing the Blind Spot challenge. Truthfully I'm not sure if anyone is officially hosting it this year, but I enjoy the challenge so I'm just carrying on what Ryan started and Sofia continued.

What I knew going in: That it was based on a play.

Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) goes with her alcoholic and stuck in his glory days husband, Brick (Paul Newman) to his family home to celebrate his father, Big Daddy's(Burl Ives) birthday. But there's more to it then that, Big Daddy was recently at the hospital with a colon cancer diagnosis so the party is also a cover for going over matters of his estate. Maggie and Brick are in a rocky point in their marriage on top of it. 

The cast of characters range from okay to flat out deplorable. It's hard to root for anyone really. A lot of my sympathy for Maggie came from amusement over her calling her nieces and nephews "no neck monsters" (Seriously, those kids were awful) But it runs in the family. Brick, his brother, sister-in-law, and father are all various degrees of awful. His mother I just felt bad for. But even with unsympathetic characters it didn't make the film any less fun to watch.

It feels very much like the play it's adapted from. It mostly stays in a few sets, it's blocked much like a play would be and is very dialogue driven. It does feel slightly long for the amount of story, but it works well. 

Burl Ives was the standout as Big Daddy for me. He gives the best performance and Elizabeth Taylor is wonderful and beautiful as well. I also really enjoyed Madeleine Sherwood as Mae, Maggie's sister-in-law.
 I've never been a big Paul Newman fan, I thought he was the weak link here. I could never understand why Maggie fought so hard for him. I think I would've been on my way already if I were in her shoes.

This was a nice start to my 2020 Blind Spots. I'm glad I saw this.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: 
"Not only will I spit in your eye, I'll punch it black and blue." - Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor)

2020 SAG Predictions: Who will win, who should win.

We're back for more torture! The Screen Actors Guild awards are on Sunday and after failing all over my Golden Globes picks, it's time to guess who will win that glorious actor statue. And in some cases, who should win.

Cast in a Motion Picture
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Who will and should win: Parasite
I would love it if Jojo Rabbit won too, but I have a feeling the SAGs are going to show Parasite the Best Picture love it deserves. At least I hope they do.

Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferrari”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Who will win: Joaquin Phoenix
Who should win: Adam Driver
Somehow Phoenix is the front runner even though Adam is the one giving the best performance. *sigh* I would love a Driver upset but I doubt I get it. 

Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger, “Judy”
Who will win: Renee Zellweger
Who should win: Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita should be the one sweeping this season, but it's Zellweger and I've accepted it. 

Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Al Pacino, “The Irishman”
Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
Jamie Foxx, “Just Mercy”
Who will and should win: Brad Pitt
Pitt's winning. At least it's nice to see Foxx here. 

Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Nicole Kidman, “Bombshell”
Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”
Who will win: Laura Dern
Who should win: Margot Robbie
Laura has this in the bag, and she's fantastic, but my unpopular opinion is that I actually think Margot Robbie is the best here. She's so good in Bombshell.

Ensemble in a Drama Series
“Big Little Lies”
“The Crown”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Stranger Things”
Who will win: The Crown
Who should win: Any
This is hard to predict, I think the SAGs will go with Crown but I like the cast of all of these shows. I could see GoT winning as a pity award because it's not the actors fault the showrunners doomed them.

Male Actor in a Drama Series
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Steve Carell, “The Morning Show”
Billy Crudup, “The Morning Show”
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Who will win: Steve Carrell
The only ones I watch are Stranger Things and GoT and both Dinklage and Harbour are great, but for some reason I see SAG voters going after Morning Show even though the Globes didn't.

Female Actor in a Drama Series
Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Who will win: Olivia Colman
Again, The Crown feels more like a SAG winner.

Ensemble in a Comedy Series
“The Kominsky Method”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Schitt’s Creek”
Who will and should win: Fleabag
This is tough, because Fleabag has been so popular I expect it to repeat here, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mrs. Maisel won.

Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Andrew Scott, “Fleabag”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Who will win: Tony Shalhoub
Who should win: Andrew Scott or Bill Hader
I want to go all in for Hot Priest but I think the horn storm he created might intimate some fragile voters.

Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
Who will and should win: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
She's been on fire for Fleabag and this is the last big award she has to win for it. 

Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us”
Jared Harris, “Chernobyl”
Mahershala Ali, “True Detective”
Russell Crowe, “The Loudest Voice”
Sam Rockwell, “Fosse/Verdon”
Who will and should win: Jharrel Jerome
Chernobyl is popular but Jerome is so good in When They See Us I see the SAGs acknowledging that along with the Emmys. 

Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Patricia Arquette, “The Act”
Toni Collette, “Unbelievable”
Joey King, “The Act”
Emily Watson, “Chernobyl”
Michelle Williams, “Fosse/Verdon”
Who will win: Michelle Williams
Who should win: Joey King
I expect Williams to win and give another wonderful speech. I wish it were Joey King though, she was so good.

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
“Avengers: Endgame”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
"Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"
Who will win: Ford v Ferarri
Who should win: Avengers: Endgame

Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
“Game of Thrones”
“Stranger Things”
“The Walking Dead”

Who will and should win: Game of Thrones

Thursday Movie Picks: 2019 Releases

This week Wanderer asks to reflect on 2019. I decided to pick releases that I don't feel like were talked about nearly as much as they deserved to be.  Here are three films released last year that were wonderful, and you should see them if you haven't

1) Luce

This film is about a family coming to terms that son they adopted from a war torn country isn't as perfect as they think. The actors are great and I think this film asked a lot of interesting questions. I'm surprised more people aren't talking about this. 

2) Waves

Of these picks, this is the one I was sure would get at least some Oscar love. Mostly from Sterling K Brown. This is the story of a father who puts so much pressure on his teenage son (Kelvin Harrison Jr, who also stars in Luce) until his life implodes, then we follow his sister and how she deals with the aftermath. I hated the camerawork in this movie but the way the story is crafted feels very fresh.

3) Official Secrets

There were two whistle blower type films this year, this and The Report and neither are as popular as they should be. I went with Official Secrets because it's the lesser known of the two and Keira Knightley is wonderful in it. 

Review: Just Mercy

This isn't how the law works.

Fresh out of Harvard, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) moves to Alabama to work on overturning wrongfully convicted Death Row inmates alone side, local Eva. (Brie Larson) One of these inmates is Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) whose case was so clumsily thrown together that its baffling. He must force the racist lawmakers and police officers in McMillian's town to see that they made a mistake and arrested the wrong person.

Bryan is a real person and is still fighting for those wrongfully convicted today. I think this film does a fine job of telling one of those stories. I worried director Destin Daniel Cretton would go the romanticized route he took his last feature, The Glass Castle, and though some of this feels familiar I think he handled it well and the actors elevated a story we have seen before.

The racism in this film is very strong. I think at one point I would've said it was over the top but I am no longer of that mindset. People are still acting like this today, and it's frustrating to watch people be so shitty. Bryan is leagues above them and I loved how Michael B. Jordan played him. He's very stoic but you can see what weighs on him. Same with Jaime Foxx, it was a wonderful performance.

My favorite part of the film was the always wonderful Rob Morgan who played another death row inmate, Herbert Richardson whose PTSD from the Vietnam War is so bad he doesn't even know why he committed the crime he did. I cried the hardest watching his scenes. It's crazy to me how GOOD Morgan is in so many things and how he never gets acting accolades to show for it. I'm going to do a back flip the day he's finally recognized.

Just Mercy may not be the flashiest film out there but it's likely to be one of the best releases out this month and definitely deserves your time at the theater.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "We're with you, Herb!" - Walter (Jamie Foxx)

Review: 1917

I will.

Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) are given a mission to cross enemy territory during WWI and deliver a message to call off a planned attack that will see 1600 men killed, including Blake's brother. 

After what felt like an eternity I finally got to watch the recent Golden Globe winner for Best Drama and it lives up to every bit of hype. I am in awe of this film on a technical level. It's masterful film work.

Much has been made of the "single take" method of shooting, and it looks wonderful. It makes us feel like we're in the trenches with Blake and Schofield. We're right there next to them seeing the hopelessness of war. The annoyances and fear of their fellow comrades as they push by them on what feels like a suicide mission. The score, which is beautiful is one of the things that had me on the edge of my seat. Every time it picked up I was afraid of something terrible happening - and yes, it does. 

The cinematography is splendid. Even though the "money shot" in the trailer so to speak is the biggest part of the film, and I had seen behind the scenes footage of them making it, seeing it on the big screen uninterrupted was glorious. That scene alone is winning them a Cinematography Oscar.

Let's talk about the acting. George MacKay absolutely carries this film. It's a bit criminal that he's not in more Best Actor discussions when he's far better here than at least two of the nominated actors. Chapman doesn't have as much to do as MacKay but he's also good and it's nice to see what young Tommen Baratheon is up to. As for the big name cameos that are peppered throughout the film, Andrew Scott's was my favorite as a very cynical commanding officer who is so sure they're not going to make it he asks them to throw an expensive looking flare gun back towards their front lines if they get shot at. It's one of the few humorous moments that worked so well.

I thought a lot about Dunkirk after watching this, another masterfully made war film. I don't think they're very similar other than the fact that they feel so different from other war movies. There's not nearly as many WWI films out there but I think 1917 will now be known as the gold standard. It's incredible. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Don't worry, you'll be wanking again soon enough." - Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman)

2020 Academy Award Nominations

I can't believe I set my alarm and got up early on my day off for this. This is the most frustrating year of following the Oscars for me, and that's saying something after the mediocrity that was Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody won a bunch of Oscars last year. We now live in world where Joker has the most nominations and the Oscars are still so white and so male. There are a few bright spots that I'm excited about, like Jojo Rabbit getting way more Oscars that I expected, but I'm just disappointed with so much. Here are a list of the nominations plus my thoughts. 

Best Picture
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Would it kill these people to just use 10 slots? You're telling me there was no room for Knives Out or Dolemite is my Name here? 

Best Director
Martin Scorsese - The Irishman
Todd Phillips - Joker
Sam Mendes - 1917
Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon Ho - Parasite
I can't imagine thinking Todd Phillips is a better director than Marielle Heller, Greta Gerwig, Taika Waititi, Rian Johnson, Lulu Wang, or literally any other woman that directed something this year. And he's not the only issue. Scorsese and Tarantino are getting nominated by name only for their mediocre work. This category could've been so much better without those three. I know, how dare I speak against Scorcese and Tarantino like that. Well, I like their movies and these two where nowhere near their best. 

Best Actor
Antonio Banderas - Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio  - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Adam Driver - Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix - Joker
Jonathan Pryce - The Two Popes
I over estimated how much the Academy would love The Two Popes, but I probably should've seen it coming. I'm happy for Adam Driver being here, but it's a shame Eddie Murphy isn't. Or even Taran Edgerton who DIDN'T lip sync like last year's winner Rami Malek did. Or Roman Griffin-Davis who out acted Phoenix at every turn. Or George MacKay who carried 1917. Or Adam Sandler who gave his best performance to date. Or even Willem DaFoe spilling his beans in his weird ass movie. 

Best Actress
Cynthia Erivo - Harriet
Scarlett Johansson - Marriage Story
Saorise Ronan - Little Women
Charlize Theron - Bombshell

Renee Zellweger - Judy
Lupita Nyong'o being snubbed so the most egregious thing. We didn't need Theron in here over here. I'm happy for Erivo (who honestly gives the best performance of these 5) and Ronan but I will never get over the Lupita snub. Even Awkwafina would've been a good choice here.

Supporting Actor
Tom Hanks - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins - The Two Popes
Al Pacino - The Irishman
Joe Pesci  - The Irishman
Brad Pitt - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Older legends only, apparently. Sorry Dolemite is my Name, Parasite, and Last Black Man in San Francisco, what with your amazing supporting performances but lack of big names. Sorry Shia LaBeouf who poured his heart and soul into Honey Boy, you're not famous enough.

Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates - Richard Jewel
Laura Dern - Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson  - Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh - Little Women
Margot Robbie - Bombshell
When Hustlers came out, I said I didn't see what was so Oscar worthy about Jennifer Lopez's performance. It eventually grew on me so seeing her snubbed here was a shock. Shuzhen Zhao should've been here too. Did Scarlett need two nominations? I liked her in Jojo but she already has one for Marriage Story and who actually saw Richard Jewel? Would it kill voters to amplify women of color here? They're already giving the best performances. I will say I'm over the moon about Pugh though, but I'm going to pretend this is for Midsommar.

Adapted Screenplay
Taika Waititi - Jojo Rabbit
Steve Zaillian - The Irishman
Anthony McCarten - The Two Popes
Greta Gerwig - Little Women
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver - Joker
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood would've been a better inclusion than Joker. Actually, nearly every other adapted Screenplay would've been. I'm happy for Waititi and Gerwig. The rest I don't care about. 

Best Original Screenplay
Rian Johnson - Knives Out
Noah Baumbach - Marriage Story
Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns - 1917
Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won - Parasite
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE RIAN JOHNSON! This is one of my favorite nominations of the morning. I wish we could've subbed out Tarantino for Lulu Wang though. I'm sorry but OUATIH's screenplay wasn't good. 

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4
HTTYD! I want this to win so badly but it likely won't. I really liked I Lost My Body and Klaus so happy to see them here. 

International Feature Film
Corpus Christi
Les Miserables
Pain and Glory
I'm here for Parasite. I've only seen this and Pain and Glory, I need to catch up on the other three.

Best Documentary
American Factory
The Cave
Edge of Democracy
For Sama
No One Child Nation, gtfo.

Best Cinematography
The Irishman
The Lighthouse
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
I can't imagine what it must be like to think Joker had cinematography good enough to be included on a list with Roger Deakins' name on it. 

Best Costume Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
No Dolemite is my Name and Rocketman is ridiculous. I'm happy for Jojo, Little Women, and even though I was lukewarm on OUATIH, those costumes were great.

Film Editing
Ford vs. Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Parasite being here is huge.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
How does Joker have better clown makeup than It: Chapter 2? Serious question.

Original Score
Little Women
Marriage Story
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars is only here because it's John Williams' last go of it. It's a shame because there are better choices out there. And this is the only place I won't bitch about Joker. I think it actually deserves this one.

Original Song
"I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4
"I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” Rocketman
"I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough
"Into the Unknown,” Frozen 2
"Stand Up,” “Harriet
"Glasgow" from Wild Rose not getting nominated is offensive. 

Production Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite! I think Knives Out should've been here too though.

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Sound Mixing
Ad Astra
Ford vs. Ferrari
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Oh hi, Ad Astra. Glad someone remembered you.

Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
All I want is for Avengers to win this.

Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone If You’re a Girl
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha

Animated Short Film 
Hair Love

Live Action Short Film 
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbor’s Window

A Sister

My Favorite Characters of the Decade

Since we've closed out the decade and are onto the new (roaring?) 20's, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of my favorite characters that these past years have produced. I decided to narrow it down as one per year, or else my list was going to be very long. Here are 10 characters that left an impression on me.

2010 - Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1
I wanted to use the whole trio but I figured I shouldn't start off my post by cheating my own rules. The Harry Potter books mean everything to me, and we kicked off this decade with the first film from my favorite book. I'll always have a special place in my heart for Harry and how interesting and complicated he is. 

2011 - Alike/Pariah
I know I talk about Pariah a lot, but you can't talk about this film too much. Dee Rees' crafted a very moving story about Alike trying to find her sexual identity and Adepero Oduye plays her to perfection

2012 - Joe/Looper
You knew Joseph Gordon-Levitt was going to pop up here somewhere. Even if they did THAT to his face. But I love what he does in Rian Johnson's Looper. It's one of the most interesting sci fi movies out there and JGL captured so much even under all those prosthetics.

2013 - Grace/Short Term 12
Grace is a character I found very easy to relate too, especially since I used to work in the same field she does in this film. It's an incredible performance from Brie, and still remains my favorite of hers.

2014 - Amy Dunne/Gone Girl
Amy is just...amazing. Rosamund Pike was so perfectly cast. I will never stop appreciating Amy's complexity.

2015 - Wanda Maximoff/Age of Ultron
Y'all know I'm a Wanda stan, so of course I had to pick her in the year she made her MCU debut. I think she's one of the most interesting Avengers and I can't wait to watch her Disney+ show.

2016 - Chiron/Moonlight
Whether you call him Chiron, Little, or Black. I was not ready to leave him behind when Moonlight ended. I selfishly wanted more. I needed to know he was going to be okay, and that's how you know you have a good character. When you're not ready to say goodbye.

2017 - Caesar/War for the Planet of the Apes
Here's how much I love Caesar: I bought the  companion novels that take place between the films and the novelized versions of the movies just because I wanted more of his inner thoughts. This is one of my favorite franchises and Caesar is a big part of that. 

2018 - Queen Anne/The Favourite

This was the hardest year to pick from. There are so many great characters and films but I decided to pick one from the film I've probably re-watched the most. While I'd seen some of Olivia Colman's work before, The Favourite is what put her on the map for me and it's one of the most complex performances given that year. Equal parts heartbreaking, outrageous, and darkly funny.

2019 - Tony Stark/Avengers: Endgame

You know I have to finish out this list with Tony Stark. RDJ has an amazing legacy as Iron Man and it's going to be hard no longer having him around in the MCU.