Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: TV Score/Theme Song

 

This week's TV theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is focusing on score/theme song. I already touched on a lot of songs I loved in the opening credits post last month, because music plays such a big part of it. So today I'm breaking a rule I normally set to myself not to talk about the same show more than once a year, and I'm focusing on the music in Game of Thrones because I love it so much. Composer Ramin Djawadi wrote so many beautiful pieces of music. But these stick out as my favorite.


1) House Stark Theme
- The Starks were my favorites and just hearing this theme song makes me think of so many significant moments for each of the characters.



2) The Rains of Castamere - Is there any other song that fills you with dread like this one does? The Rains of Castamere's lyrics were in the books, and the song played at a very important and heartbreaking moment in A Storm of Swords and the episode devoted to it in season 3. Even though we had heard the theme before this, hearing it in this moment was almost scary knowing what was about to happen.



3) Light of the Seven - This is one of my favorite pieces written for the show. It plays during the final episode of season 6 and perfectly accompanies Cersei's mad plan to regain control. It's a beautiful piece of music. 

Bonus - Jenny of Oldstones - From the only good episode of season 8, I love that Podrick got to sing this song. It perfectly summed up this episode. Click the link, I made sure it started at the song.

Review: Concrete Cowboy


Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) has fucked up at school for the last time. His mother ships him off to Philly to spend the summer with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba) who is part of a community of black cowboys. 

You all know my love for Idris Elba, and McLaughlin is my favorite kid on Stranger Things so I've been excited to see this for a while. Even with the somewhat lukewarm reception it was getting, I still held out hope.

And it's fine! I actually enjoyed quite a bit about this movie. The first being that for the majority of the story, it feels so different. "Black pain" is a subject that's been talked about a lot recently. Everyone's tired of it, so watching a film where poverty seemed to be a central theme gave me pause, but while it falls into a few annoying tropes, the story is different enough to keep you engaged.

Truthfully, Elba is not in this very much, but McLaughlin holds his own well and supporting players like Lourraine Toussant and EMMY WINNER Jharrel Jerome are great in their parts. I also knew nothing about cowboys being in Philly. Over the credits they briefly interview real Fletcher Street riders who have smaller parts in the film and I liked hearing from them. I wish we could've heard more.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Hard things come before good things." - Nessie (Lourraine Toussant)

Review: Mortal Kombat


Cole (Lewis Tan) is an MMA fighter blissfully unaware that he is the descendent of one of the world's greatest fighters. When other warriors began to hunt he and his family down, he seeks out Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to learn more about what fate has in store for him.

Objectively, this is a bad movie but I had so much fun watching it. I didn't play a ton of Mortal Kombat as a kid, but I played it enough to recognize the property and welcome a bloody, campy fight fest. Thankfully this was streaming on HBO Max, so I didn't have to pay extra either. If you go in expecting those things, you'll have a good time. It makes for a nice evening at home. 

The fights are choreographed very well. At times it feels like the editor is deliberately trying to ruin a lot of these sequences, but the martial artists and stuntmen power through and deliver something very entertaining.

The script and the actors, not so much. Nearly all of the actors are terrible and the story doesn't do a very good job of explaining itself for people who aren't versed in the Mortal Kombat lore already. They also make some pretty questionable choices for a supposed franchise starter.

This is far from a "good" movie, but it's certainly fun.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Oh yeah, these motherfuckers work." - Jax (Nathan Jones)

2021 Academy Award Winners


We made it! The much smaller Oscars are finally upon us. The new set up was a bit hard to get used to, but I thought it looked lovely....and then the ~choices~ started.

~choice 1~ The Best Song nominees played during the pre-show..and they were all staged beautifully! I didn't even see all of them because I didn't realize that's what they were doing. Who saw Husavik's set up and thought that needed to be on during the preshow?
~choice 2~ No time limits on acceptance speeches. Fine, I hate when people get played off, but this got seriously rambly, and probably contributed to..
~choice 3~ NO clips other than Animated, International, and Best feature. I hate it. SHOW the clips. At one point Halle Berry mentioned that people didn't know what cinematography was (lol) and they follow it up with not showing any of the clips??
~choice 4~ We don't have time for clips, but we have time for yet another dumb comedy sketch that all the loyal watchers hate.
~choice 5~ We're going to put the In Memoriam segment on 2.0x speed because reasons. If you blinked you missed 5 names
and finally, ~choice 6~ Let's not end the Oscars with the Best Picture winner, burying Chloe Zhao's historic night, and let's end it on Best Actor when the posthumous win everyone was expecting doesn't even happen.  

Over all, I went 14/23 in my picks. Here's a list of the chaos winners + my thoughts. 

Best Picture
“The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″
I cannot believe they didn't let Zhao close out the night with this. Flabbergasted. 


Best Director
Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)
David Fincher (“Mank”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
This was like the 3rd or 4th thing presented which was really weird placing and honestly should've prepared me for the BS they pulled later. I'm happy for Chloe and I'm happy that Bong Joon-ho presented this category mostly in Korean.


Best Actor
Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
Steven Yeun (“Minari”)
Look, Anthony Hopkins was excellent in The Father. But the fact that they put this category last, banking on Chadwick winning, making his widow attend the ceremony, then NOT awarding him? This is atrocious.


Best Actress
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)
I love Frances but did she really deserve a 3rd Oscar for this? Imagine if we had the winning combo of Chadwick/Viola/Daniel/Yuh-jung. I really thought Viola was going to prevail here. 

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)
Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”)
LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Daniel Kaluuya's speech was something else. He said his mom gave him her "factory settings" which was so cute, then he ended the speech with "man, my mom and dad had sex" and she looked mortified. Basically, I loved it and I'm glad he's an Academy Award winner.

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)
Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”)
She fangirled over Brad Pitt presenting the award to her, and honestly...I feel seen.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Sacha Baron Cohen and Co-Writers (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton (“The Father”)
Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami”)
Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger”)
This was a surprise. I know it wasn't a *huge* one because they won the BAFTA too but I thought Nomadland was going to take it. Florian Zeller already had his Oscar in Paris during his speech. I wonder if they just whipped that out or if he knew it was coming?


Best Original Screenplay
Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
Derek Cianfrance, Abraham Marder, Darius Marder (“Sound of Metal”)
Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
This was expected but I still had so many problems with PYM's screenplay. But it's been 13 years since a woman won in this category so we're long overdue.


Best Animated Feature
“Onward”
“Over the Moon”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”
#JusticeForWolfwalkers. My Twitter feed was blowing up with love for Wolfwalkers, so that made me happy at least.


Best International Feature Film
“Another Round” (Denmark)
“Better Days” (Hong Kong)
“Collective” (Romania)
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! And the clip they used was Mads dancing and that was perfection. Thomas Vinterberg's speech was so touching. One of the decisions they made was to not play anyone off during their speeches, and his was the one I am most thankful didn't get interrupted. 


Best Documentary
“Collective”
“Crip Camp”
“The Mole Agent”
“My Octopus Teacher”
“Time”
I tried watching this but I fell asleep. It was no match for Pfizer shot #2.


Best Cinematography
Sean Bobbitt (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”)
Dariusz Wolski (“News of the World”)
Joshua James Richards (“Nomadland”)
Phedon Papamichael (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Mank was actively ugly in my opinion. Just because something is in nostalgic black and white doesn't make it better. 


Best Costume Design
“Emma”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Mulan”
“Pinocchio”
I'm really happy that I guessed both Ma Rainey wins in costume/makeup/hair correctly. 


Best Film Editing
“The Father”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
I'm very happy Sound of Metal won here. I had picked it, but I wasn't 100% sure I had this one right.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Emma”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Pinocchio"
I loved the speech they gave.


Best Original Score
“Da 5 Bloods”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
I think this was the shortest intro to an award of the night. Soul had an excellent score so I'm happy for them here.
 

Best Original Song
“Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
“lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
“Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami”
Still mad about the preshow performances. I was rooting for Husavik but I thought Speak Now would win. H.E.R looked stunning in her dress and this song is very good, so I can't be made about guessing wrong.

Best Production Design
“The Father”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Tenet”
Eww over The Father? What they did with that flat in the film was amazing.

Best Sound
“Greyhound”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
“Sound of Metal”
I'm so happy Riz got to announce this category. I saw a lot of people on Twitter hated that for some reason, but I think it's nice.
 

Best Visual Effects
“Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“Mulan”
“The One and Only Ivan”
“Tenet”
I mean...Tenet's visuals were great. I still don't fully understand that movie.


Best Documentary Short Subject
“Colette”
“A Concerto Is a Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“Hunger Ward”
“A Love Song for Latasha”
I'm torn on this. I wanted A Love Song for Latasha to win. I think it was the strongest of the 5, but on the other hand, I'm glad Hunger Ward didn't win like I thought it would. Colette was fine. I think I'd rank it 4th in these 5, so I'm not too enthusiastic about it, but I did enjoy the short overall.

Best Animated Short Film
“Burrow”
“Genius Loci”
“If Anything Happens I Love You”
“Opera”
“Yes-People”
I'm so happy this won! It was my favorite of this category and so deserved it.


Best Live Action Short Film 
“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
“The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”
I'm sorry, but this is gross. Two Distant Strangers didn't add anything to the conversation about black men being murdered by police other than just showing it over and over again. Teasing something would change, then watching the lead die yet again. This was easily my least favorite of all 15 short films. Bummed it won when Feeling Through, The Present, and the Letter Room were so much stronger.

Review: Blow The Man Down


After the death of their mother, Mary Beth (Morgan Sayler) and Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) are just trying to move on with their lives when a deadly run in results in them trying to cover up a serious crime. In doing so, they mix themselves up in their quiet Maine town's underground criminal activity. 

I first heard of this when the Independent Spirit Award Nominations were announced and writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy received a Best First Screenplay nomination. Luckily, it was available on Amazon Prime, so I gave it a watch. And I have....thoughts.

I really wanted to like this movie. I enjoyed the atmosphere and how cold and unforgiving everything felt, but the script was just trying to do too much. What I described in my brief synopsis is the main story, but it's not all of it. There's a few other side stories that attempt to weave together with the main one but they never quite click. At times, I wish I was watching an expansion of one of those stories vs the main one.

The best part of this film is the wonderful Margo Martindale who always gives solid performances. Everyone else (minus June Scquibb in a small part) feels very, very green, and while that works with the tone, Margo is clearly the star here. The best scenes always have her in them.

While I'm disappointed I didn't love this more, I think everyone involved has a bright future and I'm curious to see what comes next.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I lost control." -  Mary Beth (Morgan Sayler) 

Thursday Movie Picks: Psychological Thrillers

 

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is psychological thrillers. This is such a broad theme. I decided to stick with films that sort of blend into the horror side of things. 


1) Donnie Darko -
This is one of those cult movies I really enjoyed but don't talk about very much. Donnie is an interesting character and this movie is beyond weird.


2) 10 Cloverfield Lane -
I feel like I'm one of the few people out there that have actually enjoyed all the Cloverfield movies but this one was a huge surprise. I never thought it would be as good as it was. 


3) The Perfection -
This little gem on Netflix is batshit crazy and I'm glad I listened to so many fellow bloggers and checked it out.

Indie Gems: Disclosure


Not to be confused with the documentary on trans representation in media of the same name, Australia's disclosure centers around two couples. We have Danny and Emily Bowman, (Mark Leonard Winter and Matilda Ridgway) a normally care free couple who are dealing with with a confession from their four year old daughter that their friend's son assaulted her. Those friends are Bek and Joel Chalmers. (Geradline Hakewell and Tom Wren) Joel is in politics and while they took what the Bowmans told them seriously initially, they're now doubling down and defending their son. They want them to remove their son's name from the report they plan to file so that Joel's reputation isn't ruined.

We never see what happened between the children. In fact, we barely see them at all. The majority of this film takes place around the Bowman's pool as the couples argue about who's right and who's wrong. While the film attempts to make you question both sides, I was always firmly on the Bowman's. But even that, the concerns brought up felt very real. The script is the strongest point of this film. 

All the actors were wonderful but Matilda Ridgway steals the show for me. I loved how she defended her daughter. That made me love her even more, because child victims of abuse often aren't believed. 

The one thing that brings this film down is the way it's shot. The cinematography is atrocious. They attempt to do these slow motion shots that don't fit with the rest of the film and the lighting is very awkward. You can tell this was made on a budget, so I feel bad for pointing this out, but it was very distracting at times.

Thankfully, the actors really bring everything they've got to the table. It's been so long I've written an Indie Gem post. It feels like the right time to bring it back.

Watched on: Amazon Prime

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I wasn't talking about you." - Emily (Matilda Ridgway)

The 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films

Like I did in 2019 and 2020, I tried my best to locate all the Oscar nominated Short films to give them quick reviews. This year I was fortunate enough to find all 15! Much thanks to the random users of R/OscarsDeathRace who helped me with two films that took me *forever* to find online to stream. If you saw my predictions posts, you already know who I think is going to win, but check out my quick thoughts below.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Colette - About a 90 year old former French Resistance fighter who makes the decision to go to Germany after all this time to visit the concentration camp her brother was murdered in. I liked how frank Colette was, and how she talked about morbid tourism with these camps. The first time I went to Germany, it was for school and we toured a camp. I've never felt so awful in my life being in a place where so many innocent lives were taken. It was like a dark cloud hanging over me. Colette talks about a fair amount of people being braver than her, but I think she's pretty brave herself. B-

A Concerto Is a Conversation - This is a lovely conversation between a composer, Kris Bowers and his grandfather as he walks him through his family history. It's a nice story, and Kris seems like a lovely guy. My only issue with this was I didn't care for the way they chose to shoot this conversation. They switched back and forth in close ups instead of just having a wide frame of the two of them sitting and talking. I think that would've looked better. I loved the ending shot of Kris playing the piano and his grandfather singing though. That was gorgeous. B+

Do Not Split - At about 34 minutes, this is a condensed look at the 2019 Hong Kong protests. If you're very familiar with the protests, it may feel like a long news reel, but as someone who only knew the basics I really enjoyed the on the ground footage and interviews it provided. I found it very informative. B+

Hunger Ward - Shot in two hospitals in Yemen, this is about malnourished children in the war torn country. This film is upsetting. Of course starving and dead children are upsetting but this doc would rather just stare at their pain rather than provide any context whatsoever to the crisis in Yemen. Why are they at war? Why does aid have trouble getting in? Why are all these children developing gluten allergies? They don't even tell us anything about the medical professionals this film is following aside from their names. They barely provide insight. This was so lazy. C-

A Love Song for Latasha - When I saw the list of nominees, I didn't realize this documentary was about Latasha Harlins. I was familiar with her story and the joke of a sentence her murderer received, but even knowing that information beforehand, I thought this was an absolutely beautiful tribute by her friends and family. I loved how it was shot and I'm glad it's on Netflix for so many to see. A


Best Animated Short Film

Burrow - My son and I had previously watched this on Disney+. Sometimes these Disney shorts can really pull at the heart strings, and other times they're just a cute way to spend a few minutes. This is the latter. B

Genius Loci - The animation in this is STUNNING. I expect nothing less from the director who has also worked with Cartoon Saloon.....but wtf did I just watch? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself during this. It felt like a chaotic poem, but it was really out there. B-

If Anything Happens I Love You - I watched this back in December and per my letterboxd, I made it 5:20 into this 12 minute short before crying. It's devastating. Beautiful, but devastating. A

Opera - This asked Genius Loci to hold its beer. I have no idea what this is about. There is so much going on. It's very intricate but even after watching it twice I'm struggling to find the point. C-

Yes-People - This was pretty dumb, but I got a good laugh out of it and learned how to say "yes" and "no" in Icelandic. B-


Best Live Action Short Film 

Feeling Through - About a homeless teen's encounter with a blind and deaf man, this was very moving and the actors were wonderful. Robert Tarango is actually blind and deaf, so I'm glad the filmmakers gave him this opportunity. I hope both he and Steven Prescod have bright futures ahead. I loved watching them here. A

The Letter Room - This was a different role for Oscar Isaac as a lonely corrections officer. Even though it was a commentary on death row, it didn't feel as relentless as some of the other live action shorts that have been nominated in the past. I enjoyed it. B

The Present - This film made me so nervous, especially at the end. It's brief life of day to day Palestine for Arabs crossing into Israel is already frustrating enough. I thought the father and daughter had wonderful chemistry together. B

Two Distant Strangers - This is a deja vu film about a man who relives being murdered by police over and over. It stars Joey Bada$$, who I really like, but nope. Absolutely not. This didn't offer anything. Not even a bit of hope that the system could change. D

White Eye - This was one of the last ones I watched and it was just not worth the effort it took to track this down. It's shot very well, but over all I was bored with it. C-

2021 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win; Who Should Win


The never ending Oscar season is almost to an end...until Cannes rolls around this summer and we start talking about it again. Ahead of the ceremony next week, here are my predictions. Let's see how I do!

Best Picture
“The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″
Who will win: Nomadland
Who should win: Sound of Metal or Minari
I like Nomandland, but it's #4 on my Best Picture list. Sound of Metal, Minari and Trial come in above it for me. I just enjoyed them more, but I appreciate what Nomadland did and would be proud of all involved. 

Best Director
Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)
David Fincher (“Mank”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
Who will and should win: Chloe Zhao
While I prefer Minari and Another Round film wise, I think what Zhao did here is wonderful and she's on fire this season.

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
Steven Yeun (“Minari”)
Who will and should win: Chadwick Boseman
This one is all but guaranteed and will make us all cry. 

Best Actress
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)
Who will win: Viola Davis
Who should win: Davis, Kirby or Mulligan
Wow, this is the most competitive acting category I think I've seen since I started following the Oscars. I think Davis is going to win as she has the SAG support. 

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)
Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”)
LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Who will and should win: Daniel Kaluuya
Paul Raci is someone I'd also be very happy with winning but this is Daniel's. He was excellent. 

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)
Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”)
Who will win: Youn Yuh-jung
Who should win: Youn or Maria
I've been on Team Maria since seeing her in Borat but she hasn't won any of the big awards she's been up for. I think Youn is taking this one home, which makes me happy as well because I loved her work in Minari.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Sacha Baron Cohen and Co-Writers (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton (“The Father”)
Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami”)
Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger”)
Who will win: Nomadland
Who should win: That or One Night in Miami
One Night in Miami has a solid script, but it's not taking down Nomadland.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
Derek Cianfrance, Abraham Marder, Darius Marder (“Sound of Metal”)
Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Who will win: Emerald Fennell
Who should win: Literally anyone else
I feel bad saying that because I'm always for women winning all the Oscars but when it comes to the other movies here..I just liked them all so much more than Promising Young Woman, which I'm still mad about. I wanted to love that movie.  

Best Animated Feature
“Onward”
“Over the Moon”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”
Who will win: Soul
Who should win: Wolfwalkers
Imagine if Wolfwalkers actually won...just imagine it. 

Best International Feature Film
“Another Round” (Denmark)
“Better Days” (Hong Kong)
“Collective” (Romania)
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 
Who will and should win: Another Round
Quo Vadis, Aida? might put up a fight but I really hope Another Round prevails. This movie is so good I wish it was competing for Best Picture. This one is severely under nominated. 

Best Documentary
“Collective”
“Crip Camp”
“The Mole Agent”
“My Octopus Teacher”
“Time”
Who will win: Crip Camp
Who should win:?
I'm so behind with these this year. I saw Crip Camp, which was fine. I started Octopus Teacher and immediately fell asleep (though my second covid vax was likely more to blame for that) I'm still annoyed two great docs in Disclosure and Class Action Park are just nowhere here. (yes, I know they might be going for TV noms but still)

Best Cinematography
Sean Bobbitt (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”)
Dariusz Wolski (“News of the World”)
Joshua James Richards (“Nomadland”)
Phedon Papamichael (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Who will and should win: Nomadland
I really love the cinematography in News of the World and Chicago 7 but I think for the tone of the film, Nomadland's was perfect.

Best Costume Design
“Emma”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Mulan”
“Pinocchio”
Who will and should win: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
At the beginning of the season, I expected this to go to Mank but I'm liking Ma Rainey's chances more.

Best Film Editing
“The Father”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Who will and should win: Sound of Metal
I know I should predict Nomadland here but I'm going for Sound of Metal. I think they've got this. 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Emma”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Pinocchio”
Who will and should win: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Just look at Viola Davis in this movie and give someone the Oscar. 

Best Original Score
“Da 5 Bloods”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
Who will win: Soul
Who should win: Minari
I really liked Soul's score and I'll be happy with it winning, but I prefer Minari. News of the World also had a wonderful score that I wouldn't mind winning either. 

Best Original Song
“Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
“lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
“Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami”
Who will win: Speak Now
Who should win: Husavik
This one is tough, but I lean towards Speak Now. I wish Husavik would win because it just makes me laugh so much.

Best Production Design
“The Father”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Tenet”
Who will and should win: The Father
After seeing The Father this week, it really should win this one. I suppose Mank could win here, but I'm sticking with this one.

Best Sound
“Greyhound”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
“Sound of Metal”
Who will and should win: Sound of Metal
Anything else will be a travesty. 

Best Visual Effects
“Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“Mulan”
“The One and Only Ivan”
“Tenet”
Who will and should win: Tenet
This category feels so empty without our usual blockbusters. I don't even know where to go here. Tenet did have great effects. Midnight Sky did too. Mulan's were...fine I guess and I haven't seen the others. 

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Colette”
“A Concerto Is a Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“Hunger Ward”
“A Love Song for Latasha”
Who will win: Hunger Ward
Who should win: A Love Song for Latasha
I hated Hunger Ward but it's totally something the Academy will go for. A Love Song for Latasha was the strongest of these for me.

Best Animated Short Film
“Burrow”
“Genius Loci”
“If Anything Happens I Love You”
“Opera”
“Yes-People”
Who will and should win: If Anything Happens I Love You
Opera was the only one of these I haven't seen as of this posting, but If Anything Happens I Love you easily packs the biggest punch.  

Best Live Action Short Film 
“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
“The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”
Who will win: The Present
Who should win: That or Feeling Through
I saw all of these as well and I think The Present has the best shot of winning. It's very well made. I think I preferred Feeling Through over all.

Thursday Movie Picks: Female Cinematographers

 

This week's them from Wandering Through The Shelves is a suggestion from me. Female Cinematographers! The Academy needs to do better at nominating these extraordinary women. Last year when Cinematography was a theme, I chose only female cinematographers there. So this year my rule was to not reuse anyone I did there.


1) Charlotte Bruus Christensen, A Quiet Place -
I loved how this movie was shot. For a film that doesn't have a lot of spoken dialogue, the cinematography has to stand out and this very much does.


2) Ellen Kuras, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -
How she was not nominated for an Oscar for her work here is beyond me. Eternal Sunshine is a very unique film and the whimsical way Kuras shot this enhances that.


3) Rain Li, Paranoid Park -
This is a Gus Van Sandt film that doesn't get talked about a lot. While Li was technically a Co-DP on this film, I chose it because it's one I still think about often. It's just shot in such a melancholy way. I really enjoyed it. 

Review: News of the World


Civil War vet Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) travels from town to town bringing anyone who pays 10 cents news of the world. He reads various newspapers and tells stories, and is perfectly content with this way of life. Then he meets Johanna (Helena Zengel) a German girl raised by the Kiowa tribe. She speaks no English, and her tribe was slaughtered. She's hostile to the world around her, but has papers showing her last living relatives are alive in Texas. When no one else will take her, Kidd takes it upon himself to escort her.

When the trailer for this first dropped, I could not have been less interested. Westerns just aren't my thing. Then I saw Helena Zengel's wonderful performance in System Crasher and see alone is the reason I decided to press play on this one. And turns out....it was a lot better than I expected.

Having rock bottom expectations helps, but compared to the last few Westerns I've watched this film was an absolute breeze. Not having any sexual violence against women to further a man's plot helped. (looking at you The Kid) Kidd has a troubled past, like Johanna does. While details are scarce, it reads on their faces and interactions with others. Despite not speaking the same language, they understand each other.  Thankfully, the actors have wonderful chemistry considering the majority of the film is just those two on screen.

It is rather predictable, but in a way I appreciated that it didn't try to turn this on its head and just offered a straightforward movie with a happy ending. Sometimes that's needed.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "To go forward, we must remember." - Johanna (Helena Zengel)

Review: The Father


Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) suffers from dementia and refuses to have an in home nurse, though his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) insists. He needs the help, and she can't always be there to provide it. Anthony struggles to cope with his ever changing circumstances.

Movies surrounding dementia rarely work for me personally. I hated Amour, and was underwhelmed with Still Alice and Away From Her. Because of my previous track record, I wasn't in a rush to see The Father. Alas, this was the finally Best Picture nominee I had to see, and everyone is raving for Hopkins performance. So I forked over the PVOD rate and gave it a watch.

From a technical standpoint, there's much to admire about this. The film really puts you in Anthony's shoes and makes you question everything. The sets, and sometimes even the people change. You're never sure what's real and what isn't. I thought the film was spectacular in that regard. The majority takes place in a singular flat, put the production design is expertly crafted and never makes it feel boring. 

Hopkins is as wonderful as everyone says he is. It's a very heartbreaking performance, as is Colman's. I remarked once how every time I see Olivia Colman, I just want to give her the biggest hug ever and I felt that way even more so while watching this. But as relentless as this film is, I felt a little cold towards the end, which was not what I was expecting. I was prepared to be devastated. Old men crying is such a huge weakness for me and I was ready to be an absolute baby about this but when it ended, I was just like "Oh, that's not what I was expecting." It lacked a bit of closure.

Or you know, maybe that anxiety medication I started taking is finally working. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I used to be a dancer." - Anthony (Anthony Hopkins)

2021 BAFTA Winners


I never get to watch the BAFTAs, but I've always got something to say about them. Here's a list of the winners + my thoughts.

Best Film
“The Father”
The Mauritanian”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“The Trial Of The Chicago 7”
Even with Trial's SAG win, I don't think Nomadland will be stopped on its way to Best Picture. 

Leading Actress
Bukky Bakray, “Rocks”
Radha Blank, “The Forty-Year-Old Version”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces Of A Woman”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Wunmi Mosaku, “His House”
Alfre Woodard, Clemency”
I like Frances McDormand but I didn't think she was outstanding in Nomadland. It was just a typical solid performance from her. Radha Blank is my favorite in this category but I was hoping for Kirby to win just because I can't believe she's only won two things for Pieces of a Woman. 

Leading Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound Of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Adarsh Gourav, “The White Tiger”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Mads Mikkelsen, “Another Round”
Tahar Rahim, “The Mauritanian”
I'm not too surprised by this because the BAFTA's didn't appear to love Ma Rainey, but Chadwick is still winning that Oscar. Hopkins was great in The Father, so good for him to have something to show for it. 

Supporting Actress
Niamh Algar, “Calm With Horses”
Kosar Ali, “Rocks”
Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Dominique Fishback, “Judas And The Black Messiah”
Ashley Madekwe, County Lines”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
This makes Yuh-jung the frontrunner! 

Supporting Actor
Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas And The Black Messiah”
Barry Keoghan, “Calm With Horses”
Alan Kim, “Minari”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night In Miami…”
Clarke Peters, “Da 5 Bloods”
Paul Raci, “Sound Of Metal”

Outstanding British Film
“Calm With Horses”
“The Dig”
“The Father”
“His House”
“Limbo”
“The Mauritanian”
“Mogul Mowgli”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Rocks”
“Saint Maud”

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
“His House,” Remi Weekes (Writer/Director)
“Limbo,” Ben Sharrock (Writer/Director), Irune Gurtubai (Producer) [Also Produced By Angus Lamont]
“Moffie,” Jack Sidey (Writer/Producer) [Also Written By Oliver Hermanus And Produced By Eric Abraham]
“Rocks,” Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson (Writers)
“Saint Maud,” Rose Glass (Writer/Director), Oliver Kassman (Producer) [Also Produced By Andrea Cornwell]

EE Rising Star Award
Bukky Bakray
Conrad Kahn
Kingsley Ben-Adir
Morfydd Clark
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù
Apparently I need to see Rocks.

Film Not In The English Language
“Another Round”
“Dear Comrades!”
“Les Misérables”
“Minari”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”
FINALLY! I love this movie so much. Please let it repeat at Oscar. 

Documentary
“Collective”
“David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet”
“The Dissident”
“My Octopus Teacher”
“The Social Dilemma”

Animated Film
“Onward”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”
For the love of God LET WOLFWALKERS WIN SOMETHING!

Director
“Another Round,” Thomas Vinterberg
“Babyteeth,” Shannon Murphy
“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“Quo Vadis, Aida?,” Jasmila Žbanić
“Rocks,” Sarah Gavron
Zhao is unstoppable and I'm okay with it. 

Original Screenplay
“Another Round,” Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
“Mank,” Jack Fincher
“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell
“Rocks,” Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
“The Trial Of The Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin
This is winning the Oscar. Ugh.

Adapted Screenplay
“The Dig,” Moira Buffini
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
“The Mauritanian,” Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani, M.B. Traven
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani
I still think Nomadland will win the Oscar but now it has some competition. Also, The Dig...god, what a bore.

Original Score
“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
“Minari,” Emile Mosseri
“News Of The World,” James Newton Howard
“Promising Young Woman,” Anthony Willis
“Soul,” Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Casting
“Calm With Horses,” Shaheen Baig
“Judas And The Black Messiah,” Alexa L. Fogel
“Minari,” Julia Kim
“Promising Young Woman,” Lindsay Graham Ahanonu, Mary Vernieu
“Rocks,” Lucy Pardee

Cinematography
“Judas And The Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt
“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt
“The Mauritanian,” Alwin H. Küchler
“News Of The World,” Dariusz Wolski
“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

Editing
“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval
“Sound Of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
“The Trial Of The Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten
Let this win at the Oscars too, please. 

Production Design
“The Dig,” Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
“The Father,” Peter Francis, Cathy Featherstone
“Mank,” Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale
“News Of The World,” David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan
“Rebecca,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
I just finished watching The Father and that should have won.

Costume Design
“Ammonite,” Michael O’connor
“The Dig,” Alice Babidge
“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
“Mank,” Trish Summerville
Ma Rainey feels like a lock for Make Up but I would not be mad at it taking costume either. I had assumed Emma would win this.

Make Up & Hair
“The Dig,” Jenny Shircore
“Hillbilly Elegy,” Patricia Dehaney, Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Matiki Anoff, Larry M. Cherry, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal
“Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams
“Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier

Sound
“Greyhound,” Beau Borders, Christian P. Minkler, Michael Minkler, Warren Shaw, David Wyman
“News Of The World,” Michael Fentum, William Miller, Mike Prestwood Smith, John Pritchett, Oliver Tarney
“Nomadland,” Sergio Diaz, Zach Seivers, M. Wolf Snyder
“Soul,” Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce, David Parker
“Sound Of Metal,” Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Phillip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, Michelle Couttolenc

Special Visual Effects
“Greyhound,” Pete Bebb, Nathan Mcguinness, Sebastian Von Overheidt
“The Midnight Sky,” Matt Kasmir, Chris Lawrence, David Watkins
“Mulan,” Sean Faden, Steve Ingram, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury
“The One And Only Ivan,” Santiago Colomo Martinez, Nick Davis, Greg Fisher
“Tenet,” Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley

British Short Animation
“The Fire Next Time,” Renaldho Pelle, Yanling Wang, Kerry Jade Kolbe
“The Owl And The Pussycat,” Mole Hill, Laura Duncalf
“The Song Of A Lost Boy,” Daniel Quirke, Jamie Macdonald, Brid Arnstein

British Short Film
“The Present,” Farah Nabulsi
“Eyelash,” Jesse Lewis-Reece, Ike Newman
“Lizard,” Akinola Davies, Rachel Dargavel, Wale Davies
“Lucky Break,” John Addis, Rami Sarras Pantoja
“Miss Curvy,” Ghada Eldemellawy
The Present get a nice boost going into the Oscars where it's nominated for Live Action Short. I was so worried watching this.

2021 Blind Spot Series: It Happened One Night

 

What I knew going in:...nothing, actually.

Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) is a spoiled rich girl who defies her father and jumps off their yacht to head to New York City. With no money or means to travel, she has to team up with a former reporter, Peter Warne (Clark Gable) in exchange for her story.

Admittedly, I only picked this because it's a title I was familiar with, and a Best Picture winner. I didn't know anything about it at all. I wasn't expecting it to be the blue print for every romantic comedy every made. It was really delightful, especially since I assumed it would be more serious.

I have to laugh at most summaries of this movie calling Ellie the crazy one, and Peter easily out-crazies her by a long shot. The craziest thing Ellie does is jump off a boat and swim like a damn champ. 

Claudette Colbert was the biggest standout for me. I thought she was wonderful and in my unpopular opinion she made Clark Gable better as well.

It's nice to be surprised by a film like this, and to watch something a bit lighter than one is expecting.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Behold the Walls of Jericho!" - Peter (Clark Gable) 

Thursday Movie Picks: Amateur Sleuths

 

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is all about those amateur sleuths. This was actually kind of hard for me, because I could only think of one movie right off the bat. I kept thinking of TV shows instead. I may have to reach a bit, but here's what I came up with.


1) Harriet The Spy  -
This is the one that came to mind immediately. I loved this movie when I was a kid. I have memories of my friends and I out playing in the summer, pretending to be Harriet, using compact mirrors to spy on random people and writing down mundane things in our notebooks.


2) Rear Window -
Jeff is a photographer, but he turns into somewhat of an amateur sleuth when he eavesdrops on his neighbor who he thinks has committed a murder.


3) In The Fade -
In this German film, Katja loses her family to a terrorist attack, and when she doesn't like the outcome of the trial she begins following the person who did it to carry out her own revenge. Diane Kruger is amazing in this movie.