Looking at the Weekend: Dec. 9-11, 2016

Another weekend with only one major new release. Office Christmas Party will be that top release and, depending on how its popularity shakes out, it could top Moana in its third weekend, but it might be close. A separate note: this is the first time in my memory (not entirely reliable) that a film has earned perfect tens from our contributors for both personal viewing rating and Oscar rating.

Our Highest Rated Films: La La Land
Our Best Awards Ratings: La La Land (Oscars)


Harry Benson: Shoot First
Miss Sloane (Expanding) (see our original preview here)


This Day in Oscar History: December 7 (2016)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.





89th Oscars: Documentary Feature Shortlist

The short-shortlist is the final round before Oscar nominations are announced. Although the Academy usually issues press releases on these things, they have not done so yet. However, this is being heavily reported, I will post the list without the full press release.

  • Cameraperson
  • Command and Control
  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Fire at Sea
  • Gleason
  • Hooligan Sparrow
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • The Ivory Game
  • Life, Animated
  • O.J.: Made in America
  • 13th
  • Tower
  • Weiner
  • The Witness
  • Zero Days

Film Preview: Free Fire (2017)

Page Revisions:

(December 4, 2016) Original

Release Date:

March 17, 2017


From IMDb: “Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.”

Poster Rating: C+ / C / B+ (10)

Review: (#1) Guns, guns, everywhere. Everyone’s pointing them somewhere. Once you know the film’s premise, this makes sense. Otherwise, it’s just an interesting design of many arms and no bodies. (#2) I would say this is a Mexican Standoff with five people, and that would certainly match the film’s narrative, none of these characters are positioned so that they are pointing at each other, meaning it’s a rather lame tandoff. (#3-#12) Although the background and overlay is identical (with slight variations on title and scoring card placements), the different poses and inventive colors make this set of character posters a compelling grouping.

Trailer Rating: B+

Review: A delightfully crazy premise is supported by a group of actors who look incredibly excited to be a part of the film. There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of plot, but the ongoing antagonism and dark comedy more than make up for any deficiencies in story.

Oscar Prospects:

The festival buzz was decent, but the early-year release suggests little confidence in the film.

Trailer #1


Oscar Preview: Weekend of Dec. 2-4, 2016

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

La La Land

Musicals once dominated the Oscars like few genres could. In the 1960s, musicals were more popular than any other genre, both at the box office and in terms of Oscar’s glory. My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Oliver! all won the Oscar for Best Picture among other accolades. Although, there were several semi-popular musicals through the 1970s, the Oscars were no longer interested. It would take 34 years for another to make it to the top spot, Chicago in 2002. It’s now been 14 years and no sign, until now, of a musical capable of competing.

Conjuring fond memories of the MGM musicals of the Golden Age of Hollywood, La La Land is a singing, dancing romantic musical that has captured the hearts of critics and audiences who’ve seen it. The film, starring Oscar nominees Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, won the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival. In the prior eight years, seven films have won the TIFF prize and gone on to Oscar nominations. Three of those eight also won Best Picture. That positions Damien Chazelle’s original musical as a strong contender for the win.

Mix in the early precursor prizes and nominations and it’s certain the film will be nominated in upwards of ten categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and probably two Original Song nominations) are almost assured Cinematography and Production Design are also distinct possibilities with Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Sound Editing its weakest options.

The DVD Report #493

The BFG PosterDisney continues to rake in the big bucks for many of its films, but two of its highly hyped 2016 releases underperformed at the box-office so much so that in their first week of release on DVD and Blu-ray, neither The BFG nor Pete’s Dragon gets the spotlight at Walmart and other retailers, which are showcasing the creepy horror movie Don’t Breathe instead.

It’s difficult to say what exactly went wrong with the theatrical release of The BFG, a film directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial‘s Melissa Mathison from a children’s classic by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory‘s Raold Dahl starring recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance.

We can start with the unappealing title. Had it been called simply BFG, we could deduce that it was someone’s initials, but The BFG conjures up all kinds of off-putting interpretations of which “Big Friendly Giant” is not the first to come to mind. Add to that the fact that Dahl’s story is not as well known in the U.S. as it is in the U.K. and other Western European countries. Anyone trying to obtain information about the work would first learn that it is about a giant who kidnaps a 10-year-old girl, not something most people would want to rush out and take their kids to see. Delving into it a little further, one might discover that it’s OK, because unlike his fellow giants, he doesn’t eat children. That’s supposed to ease a parent’s concerns?


Precursor: 59th Grammy Awards Nominations (2016)

Grammy rules set the eligibility period from October through September, meaning their list includes releases from 2015 and 2016. This particularly frustrates Oscar observers because the Grammys are one of the few music-industry awards that recognize scores and songs. As such, we look to what shows up on this list to give us an idea of what’s contending for Oscar even if typically three-fifths of the nominees aren’t even from the current Oscar eligibility period.

That said, we include all of the Grammy categories here that relate to film itself. Best Music Film won’t apply to Oscar at all and neither will Best Compilation Soundtrack. The two categories we look at are Best Score and Best Song. This year, the list is incredibly strange. The four films nominated in Best Score were 2015 releases, thus ineligible for Oscar this year. The fifth nominee is a television score, thus immaterial. The Best Song category, by contrast, is filled with 2016 releases only. I’m not sure if this exact split has ever occurred before.

From that list, I can only see “Can’t Stop the Feeling” carrying over to the Oscar nominations, but that’s because it’s the only one of the songs currently in conversation for a nomination. Others could appear. We’ll have to wait for the Oscar eligibility list because depending on when the Suicide Squad songs appear in the film, they may not be eligible for Oscar (as in not during the film itself or as the first musical cue of the credits.

Nominations Tallies

(3) Suicide Squad

The Nominations


This Day in Oscar History: December 6 (2016)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.





89th Oscars: Jimmy Kimmel to Host Academy Awards

Through decidedly different channels, it was announced today that Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s late night program will host this year’s Oscars, his first time doing so. The announcement is/was being made on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Here’s the Academy’s press release on the announcement.


To Host Live Global Event on Oscar® Sunday, February 26 on ABC

LOS ANGELES, CA –Late-night talk show host, producer and comedian Jimmy Kimmel confirmed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that he will host the 89th Oscars® to be broadcast live on Oscar® Sunday, February 26, 2017, on the ABC Television Network. This is Kimmel’s first time hosting the global telecast.

“Mike and Jennifer have an excellent plan and their enthusiasm is infectious,” said Kimmel. “I am honored to have been chosen to host the 89th and final Oscars.”

“Jimmy’s ability to connect with people is what makes him a singular choice for this job,” said producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd. “His frank observations, relatable persona, wry humor and love of all kinds of film make him a natural fit for the Oscars stage.”

“Jimmy has the qualities of all the great hosts,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “He knows who he is, he knows the audience and he knows how to captain a ship with many moving parts. We’re thrilled he has agreed to host our show.”

“The Oscars are in great hands with Jimmy,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “He is razor sharp, funny, and unpredictable, and has proven himself a master of live event television, which is perfect for our audience around the world.”

Channing Dungey, President ABC Entertainment said, “Jimmy is the perfect choice for us. He is deeply rooted in the Hollywood community and gifted at connecting with an audience as the consummate emcee. We expect the evening will be filled with great fun while honoring the best in the movie business.”

Kimmel serves as host and executive producer of the Emmy®-winning “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” ABC’s longest running late-night talk show. Now in its 14th season, “JKL” has earned six Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Variety Series Talk category, the Writing for a Variety Series category, and the Variety, Music or Comedy Series category.

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Poll: Now That You’ve Seen “Incarnate”

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Trailer Watch: Fences (2016) Updated

New Trailer (#2) / New Poster (#1)

Fences, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for all of the new content as well as the original.

Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 2

As the precursor awards continue unabated until Oscar night, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).

A small raft of precursors were handed out this week, both in terms of actual award and nominations. These announcements will steamroll across the next two weeks with a boatload announcing next Monday.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 3

Tuesday, Dec. 6 – Grammy Awards Nominations (Official)
Thursday, Dec. 8 – Golden Globes Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Thursday, Dec. 8 – St. Louis Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Thursday, Dec. 8 – American Film Institute Awards (Official)
Friday, Dec. 9 – Detroit Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Friday, Dec. 9 – San Diego Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Saturday, Dec. 10 – San Francisco Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 11 – San Francisco Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 11 – Toronto Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 11 – Boston Critics Awards (Official)
Sunday, Dec. 11 – Broadcast Critics Awards (Official)
Monday, Dec. 12 – Vancouver Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 12 – Chicago Critics Nominations (Official)
Monday, Dec. 12 – North Carolina Critics Nominations (Official)
Monday, Dec. 12 – Dallas Area Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 12 – Indiana Film Journalists Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 12 – San Diego Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 12 – Southeastern Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 12 – St. Louis Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)

Big Winners


The Morning After: Dec. 5, 2016

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck stars as a Boston transplant brought to his home town of Manchester to deal with the passing of his brother and the son he leaves behind. As he tries to cope with his own inadequacies as a parent, he struggles to find a way to help his nephew endure the pain of loss while having locked his own deep inside.

While the story is simple, the complexity of emotion is immense. You have a son grieving his father and avoiding his feeling any way he possibly can; you have a brother plagued by memories of his past that directly prevent him from forming the type of connections that would enable him to overcome his grief; and you have a pair of ex-wives, both with demons, who must find ways to handle their own losses and frailties.


Precursor: 15th DC Critics Awards (2016)

The Washington D.C. Area critics were over the moon for La La Land, handing the film a staggering 7 awards. This is the first blow-out the film has received this season and suggests it will be a much stronger player than previously thought. Natalie Portman and Viola Davis notch their first wins on what is likely to be a strong showing for the two. I suspect that three, or even four, of these acting winners will carry over to the Oscars. Matter of fact, I’m tempted to call it now: this is the group that will best match the Oscars this year. Also, kudos to Kubo as it picks up its first major trophy of the season. I hope it’s more. Apart from Zootopia, the two other winners, The Red Turtle and Your Name. aren’t the kinds of films the Academy tends to recognize in Best Animated Feature, so as many wins as Kubo can muster could help it win an Oscar.

Award Tallies

(7) La La Land
(2) Jackie, Manchester by the Sea

The Awards


89th Oscars: Screener Watch: Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016

This week, eight new films arrived in my mailbox. Three were from Netflix Studios; three were from Focus Features; one was from Cohen Media/Amazon Studios; and the other was from regular Amazon Studios. Here is what arrived.


Oscar Chances: Excellent: Ava DuVernay’s Selma scraped by with a small number of nominations, winning Best Original Song. However, it seems likely this film will be a major player for Best Documentary Feature. A nomination seems guaranteed. A win is also a strong possibility.
Campaign-Proposed Categories:

  • Best Documentary Feature (Ava DuVernay, Howard Barish, Spencer Averick)
  • Best Director (Ava DuVernay)
  • Best Cinematography (Hans Charles, Kira Kelly)
  • Best Film Editing (Spencer Averick)
  • Best Original Score (Jason Moran)
  • Best Original Song (“Letter to the Free” – Common)


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