Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.
(December 10, 2017) Original
June 22, 2018
From IMDb: “Plot unknown.”
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Review: A very warm trailer, though the tagline doesn’t quite fit the film’s theme.
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Review: As derivative as the first film felt to me, the sequel looks unique enough to be interesting and the impending secondary extinction concept could be quite engaging.
A tech contender in Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects, but nowhere else.
A new year brings a new string of potential blockbusters and looking over the list for January, February, March, and April, the Spring Season, there are plenty of possible contenders. In January, there’s Commuter, Proud Mary, 12 Strong, and Maze Runner. In February, you have the new Cloverfield sequel, Fifty Shades Freed, Black Panther, and Annihilation. In March, we get Game Night, Red Sparrow, A Wrinkle in Time, Tomb Raider, and Pacific Rim: Uprising. In April, things seem a bit weaker, but it includes New Mutants and Rampage.
It’s hard to know which of these will be the biggest. I’d guess that the battle will be between the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther, and the Disney adaptation of the literary legend A Wrinkle in Time, though New Mutants may be much bigger than anyone expects due to its blend of Marvel mutants and horror elements. We will look at it all more in depth starting next week when we explore January in detail, then again in each of the successive three months.
To introduce you to the upcoming films, there will be two preview articles every month and this introduction every four months. The Season Preview article will focus on one of three seasons Spring Season (January through April), Blockbuster Season (May through August) and Oscar Season (September through December). In these introductory articles, I will give you the current release schedule for the specified season, which may change as the release dates get closer.
Two year ago, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh film in the most vaunted franchise in film history, opened to a staggering $247 million. Although I would be astounded to see this ninth film (Episode VIII) do the same, there is no question it will top $200 million and there are no forces outside of nuclear annihilation that will stop it from opening at number one.
Our Highest Rated Films: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Our Best Awards Ratings: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Oscars); Ferdinand (Oscars)
Miss Kiet’s Children
The Thousand Faces of Dunjia
I can’t believe I managed to miss the nominations this morning. Got too busy, I guess. Anywhere, here they are. There are a lot of winners and losers with this list, so, as I usually do, I’m going into each category individually, starting with the individual acting categories.
Best Actor: Tom Hanks took a major hit in the Oscar derby by failing to get a citation here. There are few actors as beloved as he and no nomination suggests that either voters didn’t get to see the film or they just didn’t love it. Also hurt by these nominations, Jake Gyllenhaal who needed a high profile nomination to make up for the random citations he’s received so far. Helped by these nominations are James Franco, Daniel Kaluuya, and Denzel Washington. None of them were considered slam-dunk Oscar nominees, but they’ve been showing up periodically during the precursors. Franco desperately needed this for validation for a film that seemed destined not to play. Kaluuya seems like a solid potential Oscar contender and Washington may have benefited from leftover goodwill from last year as his film was widely rebuked.
Best Actress: How could they not nominate Streep after her umpteen other nominations? I’m beginning to suspect that The Post didn’t get out soon enough and thus didn’t get seen like it needed to. Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Winslet also needed representation here as their films have been doing disappointingly so far this Oscar season. The only real winner in this bunch, as she was the only one whose star had faded in recent weeks was Judi Dench. Her campaign had been on life support, but now gets a solid bump going into the final push.
Best Supporting Actor: The Call Me by Your Name boys, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, were injured by these selections, especially with Steve Carell coming out of nowhere for a nomination. Carell may have benefited from his vast television presence considering the heavy TV population of the SAG voting membership. Patrick Stewart, Idris Elba and the supporting cast of Mudbound also suffered setbacks. None were exactly on the tips of prognosticators tongues, but a highly visible citation like this might have given them a boost. Carell did get a jolt in the arm from this, but I suspect the bigger winner is Woody Harrelson. Sam Rockwell has been on nearly every list this season, but Harrelson has only gotten sporadic attention. That, coupled with his film’s Best Cast nomination suggests he could be securing another Oscar nomination.
Best Supporting Actress: Tiffany Hadish suffers another setback. If the Golden Globe snub wasn’t enough, the Girls Trip star had certainly needed the SAG nomination to bolster her flagging campaign. Now, she’s likely dead in the water. The same could be said of Melissa Leo in Novitiate. The film has gotten mediocre recognition and would have been boosted by a nomination here. It wasn’t to be. Acting legends Lois Smith and Michelle Pfeiffer also got bad news from this announcement. Mary J. Blige, Hong Chau, and Holly Hunter have been seen throughout the season, but until now, their candidacies seemed almost ephemeral. All of them move into solid positions for Oscar nominations. The same couldn’t be said for Octavia Spencer. Spencer has been in the mix for some time, but got left off suggesting her film wasn’t as beloved as the critics have suggested it is.
Best Cast: Some chide about referring to this as the Screen Actors Guild’s Best Picture category, but a nomination here can often presage Oscar consideration where it might not have otherwise been. As such, the current Best Picture contenders that are damaged by a failure to be cited here (among those with sizable casts): The Post, Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, and The Shape of Water all missed out on potential nominations while The Big Sick made a huge comeback and the cases for Best Picture nominations for Get Out, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards have solidified. Mudbound is the only film that no one thought had a reasonable chance at an Oscar nomination. Its chances are still weak thanks to the makeup of Academy membership versus the makeup of SAG membership and their relative levels of embrace for Netflix. It could prove to be a major spoiler this year or it could go to show that Netflix still has a long way to go to earn Hollywood’s respect.
Best Stunt Cast: There aren’t a lot of films that could have competed here and done better than these, so I can’t say any particular film was surprisingly excluded, though Blade Runner 2049 and Thor: Ragnarok do come to mind.
(4) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(3) Lady Bird
(2) The Big Sick, Get Out, I, Tonya, Mudbound, The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro’s period fantasy stormed the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics awards, taking a staggering five prizes, including Best Actress. The rest of the selections have all been seen elsewhere before, so there isn’t much new here.
(5) The Shape of Water
(2) Lady Bird
Chicago has gone gaga over Lady Bird, giving it their Best Picture prize. Several of the big names of the year were also cited, so there’s not a lot of shock going around.
(4) Lady Bird
(3) Call Me by Your Name
(2) Blade Runner 2049
A big day for The Shape of Water as it tops its second slate of nominations today. Fourteen nods is a huge number, especially when the nearest competition (Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk) only have eight each. There were a couple of unusual selections from this group, but most of their slate has been on the radar for some time.
(14) The Shape of Water
(8) Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk
(6) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(5) Lady Bird
(4) Beauty and the Beast, Get Out, Mudbound
(3) The Big Sick, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, The Florida Project, Gifted, I, Tonya, Logan, Murder on the Orient Express
With a solid performance down ballot, The Shape of Water easily topped Call Me by Your Name and Lady Bird for most nominated. A lot of names here we’ve seen before, so no major surprises.
(9) The Shape of Water
(5) Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird
(4) Dunkirk, Get Out, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(3) The Big Sick, Blade Runner 2049, The Florida Project, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes
(December 10, 2017) Original
March 16, 2018
From IMDb: “Everyone deserves a great love story. But for Simon it’s complicated: no-one knows he’s gay and he doesn’t know who the anonymous classmate is that he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, scary and life-changing.”
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Review: While it uses the tired red motif that’s dominated recent poster designs, the tagline and “coming out 2018” note are clever enough.
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Review: It’s not often you see a coming of age coming out story that looks as fun as this one is. Although the last scenes of the trailer feel utterly tacked on, they are completely hilarious, which could mean a movie that is worth the time to watch.
The Abacus bank is not one of the mega-banks that was deemed Too Big to Fail in the mortgage crises of 2008; the family-run bank at the center of Steve James’ remarkable new documentary is instead Small Enough to Jail, in the words of one expert interviewed in the film, which means that prosecutors could go after it and try to shut it down. The bank, and the family at the heart of both the company and the film, was caught up in a five-year legal battle after it was found that many lenders in the bank were falsifying documents in an attempt to garner loans for immigrant customers with no credit scores or reliable income. It is a story filled with sparkling characters and memorable images — one moment where the prosecution handcuffs all the players together like a chain gang to lead them into the courtroom has to be one of the indelible cinematic moments of the year.
It is also a story that could feel dense in anyone else’s hands, though. James delves deep into the story, bringing in major players from all sides and giving them all time to lay out the story. While it becomes clear by the end of the film where its sympathies lie, that doesn’t mean that it can’t honor everyone’s opinions and weigh them equally. James is too much of an assured hand to let the film skew in any one direction. The film is clear and complete while never being confusing. It is one of the most entertaining and easy-to-follow films about the financial crisis to yet come out, and reminds us what a great documentarian can do with a wonderful story.
Auntie Mame, everybody’s favorite relative, was based on novelist Patrick Dennis’ real-life eccentric aunt who first came to the world’s attention in his 1955 bestselling novel, quickly followed by the 1956 Broadway smash hit starring Rosalind Russell and then the Oscar-nominated 1958 film that became the biggest box-office hit of 1959. Filmed in Technirama, a process in which the frame is twice as large as the frame in CinemaScope, the eye-popping colors were some of the loveliest ever put on film. Muted in past home video formats and TV broadcasts, the film has been restored to its original rich palate on Blu-ray with crystal clear sound picking up every nuance of the non-stop comedy.
The character would be revisited again with the incomparable Angela Lansbury taking over as a singing Mame on Broadway in 1966. Alas, Lansbury’s full-of-life performance was not transferred to the screen in the flop 1974 film version that starred a barely moving 62-year-old Lucille Ball. But, we still have the original with the fabulous Rosalind Russell at her peak, supported by a gallery of top-notch supporting players including Coral Browne as Vera Charles, Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch, Jan Handzlik as the young Patrick, Roger Moore as the older Patrick, Forrest Tucker as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, Patric Knowles as Lindsay, Fred Clark as Babcock, Henry Brandon as Acacius Page, Robin Hughes as O’Banion, Joanna Barnes as Gloria, Pippa Scott as Pegeen, Willard Waterman and Lee Patrick as the Upsons, Connie Gilchrist as Norah Muldoon, and Yuki Shimoda as Ito. They’re all marvelous no matter how many times you see them.