Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Freshman Series

The first TV edition from Wandering Through the Shelves is putting a spotlight on those series that got their start last year. I had to save another freshman show I really love for a later pick, but here are three shows I started watching in 2019.

1) The Mandalorian

This show was so great, but so short. Obviously you know of the cultural impact of Baby Yoda, the one thing in this world that must be protected at all cost, but beyond him the show is really excellent and I can't wait for season two later this year.

2) His Dark Materials

I liked, but didn't love this. I feel like I would enjoy it more had I read the novels but it's still a solid watch and I'll be here for season two.

3) Watchmen

Watchmen isn't coming back for a second season but the first series ended on a wonderful note that wrapped it up well. I'm sad we won't see them back, because they could've expanded, but at least they had a wonderful season. Give Regina King all the Emmys for this.

Review: Clemency

You're in prison too.

Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) has overseen 12 executions as warden of a prison. The film opens with a botched attempt at lethal injection that only adds onto the weight Bernadine carries. Now another execution is on the horizon. One for a man named Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge) who swears he didn't commit the crime he is going to be killed for. Bernadine's world crumbles around her as she waits for his execution date, and the possibility of the governor granting him clemency.

Calling this bleak is an understatement. Unlike another death row film out in theaters right now - Just Mercy - there is no reprieve. It's a devastating watch.

It's interesting to see a film like this from the Warden's point of view. Bernadine is very by the books. She doesn't make exceptions but she's still a human being with feelings and right now those feelings (and lack of) are ruining her marriage and making her question the work she does. Woodard carries this burden convincingly. She practically drags herself emotionally from scene to scene. Then there's Hodge. When he gets the news of his execution date he doesn't scream or fight, but stares off in shock while tears stream down his face. It was such a powerful reaction and seeing him go back and forth between desperation and hope was extraordinary. Danielle Brooks also has a small but important scene which reminds me once again that it's criminal she has zero Emmys for her work on Orange is the New Black. It's criminal that no one in this film is getting Oscar nominations, to be honest.

If there's one thing that drags Clemency down, it's the ending. I knew before it happened that it was going to end that way, you could see it coming, but I wish they would've done a bit more with it. Even an additional 5 minutes would've helped.

And as an aside, I have to complain about this crazy bitch (I don't like to use that term, but I feel it applies here) who was LAUGHING when the medical person couldn't find a working vein and had to keep trying during the first execution we see. This isn't a comedy. Why are people so terrible?

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "They'll love you long after everything has happened" - Chaplain Kendricks (Michael O'Neill) - ((also this is paraphrased a bit because I was crying to hard to remember the actual quote verbatim. I suck at blogging))

Books I Read In 2019


We could talk about how much I slacked in the reading department this year, but I'm already wearing the cone of shame. Here's what I did manage to read in 2019. 

The Woman in the Window - A.J Finn

Once I saw a movie was being made with Amy Adams I checked this out from the library. A.J is a tremendous writer and I like how she handled agoraphobia from a doctor's point of view. It looked at it very clinic-y which I appreciated. That's different. The story itself was pretty predictable but I enjoyed reading it. Though afterwards, I read an article about this author, who sounds like a grade A douche by the way, and I'm not sure I would've picked this up had I read that first. B

Milk and Honey - Rumi Kaur
This is a lovely book of poetry that at times is very hard to read. Rumi focuses a lot on sexuality including writing about sexual assault. She had a poem that I related with so much by experience that I cried reading it. I just can't get over how beautiful her writing is. A+

Becoming - Michelle Obama
I loved this. Michelle Obama is such a wonderful woman and I really enjoyed hearing her own POV and learning more about her childhood. She managed to make me feel so many different things along side her in this book. A+

Defending Jacob - William Landay
Since this is getting the TV mini series treatment on a service that I will never buy, I figured I'd read the book instead. I really liked this, it was very engaging and I flew through it. I had a few people tell me it was very disturbing so I had ideas of where the story would go as I was reading, only for it to be nowhere near as bad as I expected. Not a bad thing at all, but I was expecting something darker. A

Men Explain Things To Me - Rebecca Solnit
I picked up a few of Solnit's books of essays at the library one day and they were certainly worth the read. I found this one kind of uncomfortable to read at times with how much it examines rape. (Which needs to be done but doesn't make it any less uncomfortable to me) B

The Mother of All Questions - Rebecca Solnit
This one was my favorite. She covers such a broad scope of feminism in various forms. B+

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
This book was excruciating. I know it's a classic and you can tell Capote put a lot of love into making this but it seriously made me question my enjoyment of true crime. I think I prefer it in shorter form, like an article or podcast or documentary. True crime books, where complete scenes are re imagined and things that have nothing to do with the crime itself are painstakingly added in is just not my thing. D

The Godfather - Mario Puzo
I went full stan after watching The Godfather so I picked up this book to continue on with that. The movie was very closely adapted, but I liked this book a lot too. Mostly for more insight on characters like Tom Hagen. A

Catch and Kill - Ronan Farrow
The saga of how he got his expose on Harvey Weinstein to go to print was very gripping for the first 300 or so pages, but once it was said and done, a lot of the follow up just wasn't as interesting to read. Farrow is a good author, and I'm glad I read this. B

Underseen Movies of the Decade Part 1

This idea started with a tweet. Someone shared a photo from Maps to the Stars and I thought to myself. "I love that movie, why does no one, including me talk about it anymore?" I decided to take a deep dive into my Indie Gems collection and find some films from the past decade that deserve a bit more conversation. As I selected nearly forty, this post is going up in four parts. I'll also link my old reviews in case you want more information. Be nice to me, it took me a while to find my writing voice.


1) Maps to the Stars

This film is apparently meant to be a satire of the fake Hollywood life but I never felt like it was. To me, it felt more like a window into how fucked up some lives can be. The actors were extraordinary and I loved the story. Review

2) I Used To Be Darker

 I mean, you know me and my dysfunctional stories. There was a time in my life I could relate very easily to our main character. Depressed, confused, and drifting through life quietly about it. Review 

3) The Stanford Prison Experiment

This film about a real life study of men in a mock prison situation felt like it was a hot topic for about a week. Then it disappeared. It was one of my favorites of that year. I found it incredibly fascinating. Review

4) Luce

Yes, there are a few 2019 picks on this list. But seriously how is this movie not being talked about more? The topic of conversation alone should've gotten it more attention. Review

5) Chatroom

I started writing about this film for an upcoming TMP post and even I forgot how much I liked this. The concept is so interesting - people in a chatroom but it's set up like a play. Highly recommend. Review

6) For A Good Time Call...

This movie is so funny, I just adore it. It's about two friends that start a phone sex line. It's very raunchy and I still think about it from time to time. Review

7) Night Moves

Kelly Reichardt is a director I struggle to connect with even though I try, but this one is the exception. I adore this film. Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg play a pair of environmentalists and they were wonderful together. Review 

8) Charlie Countryman

I could go on a separate rant about how Shia LaBeouf is in another movie out now not getting talked about enough - Honey Boy, but we're talking about Charlie here. This one is pretty batshit but it has Shia, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint and Mads Mikkelson. Why wouldn't you watch this? Review

9) The Sound of my Voice

I read an article recently where Quentin Tarantino described a movie as "frustrating in a bad way" and I thought to myself "Are you ever frustrated in a good way?" Then I remember this film. Brit Marling has a decent following but Sound of my Voice didn't seem to catch on as much. Review

10) Wish You Were Here

I haven't thought about this film in a long time, but when I saw my review (which I admit is comically vague) I instantly remembered why I liked this so much. It's a great little film, and yes, the less you know the better. Review

Thursday Movie Picks: Unforgettable Film Scores

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is a suggestion from yours truly. I love scores and I had a very specific one in mind when I suggested it, and that film is my first pick:

1) Atonement

Atonement has my favorite score of all time. I love how they incorporated the typewriter into Briony's theme. It's just lovely and compliments the movie so well.

2) The Lion King

Not just for the iconic intro of The Circle of Life, but THIS part of King of Pride rock is probably my favorite piece of music ever written for a film. It's so beautiful and perfect.

3) The Social Network

It's funny, I was so mad during the Oscars when this won over Inception for Best Original Score. I still think Inception has a fantastic score but this one has grown on me so much. This and Gone Girl are *chef's kiss*

The Top 10 Films of 2019

Movie wise, 2019 has been very fulfilling. I set myself a goal in January to watch all 41 films that I had in my Netflix queue for over a year, and I did that. I saw Avengers: Endgame opening night at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles and it was by far the coolest movie going experience of my life. I also got to visit the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam when director William Kentridge's short films were in residence and enjoyed learning about and seeing the work of a new to me director.

 In total I saw 217 films for the first time. And now I bring to you the best of those films! Aside from Avengers: Endgame being at the top - because that truly is my favorite film of the year - the rest are in no particular order. Following that are my favorite performances of the year, plus a few other favorites (and fails)
















Just missed:  El Camino,  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 1917



Honorable mentions: Them That Follow, How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World, Unicorn Store, Honey Boy, Official Secrets, The Report



Best Cinematic Example of "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong" - I thought we were just celebrating the love and long life of two people! Not well...that. - Midsommar

Cleganebowl GET HYPE Award for - you guessed it - maximum hype - "Avengers....assemble." *cries in perfect fan service*

Star Trek Into Darkness Award for "Fuck you, I loved this!" - Jake Gyllenhaal being limited by critique in Velvet Buzzsaw

Martha Award for Best Unintentional Laugh - Ma running over Mercedes as she's jogging in Ma. That character was written as such a bitch that I actually snorted when she got ran over which you know is not the desired reaction.  

"I know a guy" Breakout Side Character Award - The Trolling Seagull in The Lighthouse.

"You didn't see that coming?" Award for the film that surprised me the most - Ready or Not


Rooney Mara Stress Eats a Pie Award for "This Scene is Going on Way too Long" - The Noah's Arc story in Light of my Life, aka that time when an editor is supposed to tell the director to cut something. 

Best Actor in a Lead Role
Adam Driver - Marriage Story
Eddie Murphy - Dolemite Is My Name
Roman Griffin Davis - Jojo Rabbit
Jimmie Falls - The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Adam Sandler - Uncut Gems

Best Actress in a Lead Role
Lupita Nyong'o - Us
Cynthia Erivo - Harriet
Florence Pugh - Midsommar
Saoirse Ronan - Little Women
Jessie Buckley - Wild Rose

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Shia LaBeouf - Honey Boy
Tom Hanks - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Rob Morgan - Just Mercy
Kang-ho Song - Parasite 
Sterling K. Brown - Waves

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Shuzhen Zhao - The Farewell
Da'Vine Joy Randolph - Dolemite is my Name
Margot Robbie - Bombshell
Taylor Russell - Waves
Yeo-jeong Jo - Parasite

Best Director
Marielle Heller - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Taika Waititi - Jojo Rabbit
Rian Johnson - Knives Out
Bong Joon Ho - Parasite
Lulu Wang - The Farewell


Actors and Directors who are not in my Top 5 but deserve mentions:
Samara Weaving - Ready or Not
Taron Edgerton - Rocketman
Bradd Pitt - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Jennifer Lopez - Hustlers
Sam Mendes - 1917
Alma Har'el - Honey Boy
Scarlett Johansson - Marriage Story/Jojo Rabbit
George McKay - 1917
Awkwafina - The Farewell


2020 Screen Actors Guild Winners


What a night at the SAGS. Robert De Niro got the lifetime achievement award and gave a wonderful speech. Hollywood in general continues to be embarrassing giving Joker awards, and tabloids everywhere are going to be sharing THAT photo of Aniston and Pitt all through 2020. Including the stunt nominations I guessed 10/15 picks correctly. Not bad. Here are a list of the winners + my thoughts.

Cast in a Motion Picture
“Bombshell”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Parasite”
I am sooooooooooooooooooo happy about this. I know 1917 is probably winning that Oscar but I so wish Parasite would. The room clearly loved the film and I'm happy to see them get this win.

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”
Phoenix's speech was much better but it was also a massive campaign with him dropping Ledger's name. He did say one very correct thing, that Adam Driver should be up there.

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”
*yawn* Zellweger is talking like she hasn't already won a whole ass Oscar before.

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”
Pitt's speech was hilarious, especially calling out Tarantino's foot fetish.  

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”
Laura ran straight to her dad right after winning which was sweet. It's so boring that all four actor categories are locked now. I just can't be excited this year.

Ensemble in a Drama Series
“Big Little Lies”
“The Crown”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Stranger Things”
I called this! I like all of the other shows more than The Crown but I got it right so yay me. 

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”
Dinklage finally won his first SAG. Unlike the Emmys they've never just thrown awards at him. As angry as I am with the GoT showrunners, that never extended to the actors and Dinklage was an amazing Tyrion.

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”
I thought Colman would win, but Aniston game through. I had predicted her for the Globes and got it wrong. You can tell she was very overwhelmed.

Ensemble in a Comedy Series
“Barry”
“Fleabag”
“The Kominsky Method”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Schitt’s Creek”
I'm shocked Fleabag didn't win this. I just finished season 3 of Mrs. Maisel yesterday so I can't argue it, it was really good. 

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”
I knew the SAGs would chose Tony but I was still rooting for Scott. You'll always be the winner to me, Hot Priest.


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”
Phoebe's speech was lovely. This isn't a dream, she deserves 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”
I thought Jerome would win this and even he looked annoyed when he didn't. I should've remembered how much people love Rockwell. Leslie Bibb lost her shit when he won. It was funny.

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”
Michelle Williams once again gives a classy speech, and I once again weep for all the trophies Joey King should've won. 

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
“Avengers: Endgame”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Joker”
"Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"
I'm surprised Ford v Ferarri didn't win but I'm so happy Avengers did. They deserve to win so much more than they are being nominated for.

Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
“Game of Thrones”
“GLOW”
“Stranger Things”
“The Walking Dead”
"Watchmen"
The GoT stunt team has always been amazing. Good for them. 

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
“Bombshell”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Parasite”
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
“Barry”
“Fleabag”
“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”
“Joker”
"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”
“GLOW”
“Stranger Things”
“The Walking Dead”

“Watchmen”
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
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite
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
Klaus
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
Honeyland
Les Miserables
Pain and Glory
Parasite
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
Honeyland
No One Child Nation, gtfo.

Best Cinematography
The Irishman
Joker
The Lighthouse
1917
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
Joker
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
Joker
Parasite
Parasite being here is huge.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Bombshell
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917
How does Joker have better clown makeup than It: Chapter 2? Serious question.

Original Score
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
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
1917
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite
Parasite! I think Knives Out should've been here too though.

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Joker”
1917
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Sound Mixing
Ad Astra
Ford vs. Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Oh hi, Ad Astra. Glad someone remembered you.

Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
1917
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 
Daughter
Hair Love
Kitbull
Memorable
Sister

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

A Sister