Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Coming Attraction, 2021 Edition

OK, let's get back to blogging...

Later this month, Oscar predictions - both this year's winners and next year's nominees.




In May, we're looking at the films of 1972, featuring Best Picture nominees Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants, The Godfather and Sounder.




In June, it's the films of 1985, featuring Best Picture nominees The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider WomanOut of Africa, Prizzi's Honor and Witness.





In July, it's the films of 2021 so far.

And that's what's to come...soon.


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Monday, March 15, 2021

The 93rd Oscar Nominations: Surprises, Etc.

Forty-one feature films nominated this morning, led by Mank with ten. By my count, there were five big surprises this Oscar Nomination morn. In order of shock:

1) 
Lakeith Stanfield nominated in Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. A shocker for two reasons: first of all, he was not tipped in any previous awards ceremony before this; but more importantly, he wasn't even campaigned as Supporting by Warner Bros.! So as not to compete, Stanfield was pushed for Lead and Daniel Kaluuya for Supporting. Both made it in Supporting, which makes me wonder how close Kaluuya came to pulling a Kate Winslet in The Reader-style category switcheroo. It's worth mentioning: I predicted Stanfield's nomination here back in April.

2) 
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom under-performs. Nominated by almost every guild, leading the conversation in Best Actor, and my second favorite movie of 2020, Ma Rainey managed only five nominations - Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman), Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling - getting shut out of Best Adapted Screenplay (madness) and Best Picture (lunacy). 

3) 
Da 5 Bloods gets a nomination! I had feared that it would be completely shut out (certainly its absence in Best Editing and Best Actor makes one wonder how voters define "Best"), but fortunately, this top-tier Spike Lee joint will not go down in history as a This Had Oscar Buzz entrant. Lee's longtime collaborator Terence Blanchard was nominated for Best Score.

4) 
Only eight nominees in Best Picture. Many of my friends were predicting as many as ten, I predicted nine. The aforementioned absence of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom broke my heart; the absence of One Night in Miami..., which for a time looked to be a big contender for Best Director as well, was also pretty surprising. Nothing shocking included.

5)
Another Round's Thomas Vinterberg nominated for Best Director over Aaron Sorkin. An alternate choice for many predictors (my Oscar trivia teammate recently made this very prediction on Facebook, you'll have to take my word for it). Still, I'm surprised that he unseated Sorkin instead of David Fincher or Emerald Fennell. 

The final roster of nominees after the jump:

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Oscar Nomination Predictions

Like it says on the box - or, in this case, the headline - these are what I think may be announced Monday morning when Nick and Priyanka Chopra Jonas present the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards. A lot of guesswork this year, especially when it comes to the acting and writing categories, but I'd rather a hard-to-predict year than a trudge towards the inevitable, ya know?

My predictions, after the jump... 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards: Part Two

Nine films were honored yesterday in the first day of awardage. Take a look at what I said there, what I said about my Top Ten, at the full slate of nominees...then come back here and see if you saw any of this coming. You probably did! Anyway, day two begins.....now:

Best Original Screenplay
Miss Juneteenth
Channing Godfrey Peoples
2. Ainu Mosir, 3. Promising Young Woman, 4. Driveways, 5. A Sun

Miss Juneteenth really just missed my Best Picture lineup. Peoples' writing is specific and intimate, and while it makes sure we know exactly what Turquoise's situation is, a former beauty queen on trying to make ends meets, unable or unwilling to shake her ex, trying to make a better future for her daughter, it never feels blunt, never underlines unnecessarily. And it doesn't pull punches either, throwing realistic obstacles that aren't always overcome. Things get a little better, maybe; people get stronger, definitely. I can't wait to see what Peoples has in store for us.

The remaining eight, including Best Actor and Best Picture, after the jump...

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards: Part One

You've had a week to look at my Top Ten and my nominees, a week to disagree and process. Today, we begin. It's Day One of the 2020 Hollmann Awards in 2021, with our first nine categories:

Best Supporting Actor
Brian Dennehy as Del
Driveways
2. Glynn Turman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. Paul Raci in Sound of Metal, 4. Colman Domingo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 5. Courtney B. Vance in Uncorked

Dennehy's swan song is a beautiful performance delivered with a light touch. Through glances and subtleties of bearing, he communicates Del's loneliness, regrets, and care for others. Like the bingo game,  the seemingly offhanded way he gets nine-year-old Cody to help out Roger, a friend increasingly displaying symptoms of dementia, welcoming one person into the fold and helping the other without embarrassment. A tender portrayal. 

Eight more, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, after the jump:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards in 2021!

120 films qualified. You saw the Top Ten. Now, here are the 42 films nominated for the 2020 Hollmann Awards across 18 categories. That is the highest number of nominated films in the 15 years I've been doing these - and I still feel bad over what I didn't include!

In no particular order (truly - each category is on scraps of paper that I ball up, toss around, then select from at random to determine the order), the nominees are:

Monday, January 25, 2021

Top Ten of 2020

From the 120 films that qualified, here is my Top Ten of 2020! Apologies to the films that just missed the cut: Ammonite, Dear Comrades!Driveways, I'm No Longer Here, Minari, MisbehaviourA Sun.


And now....the Ten!

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Films of 2020

The films I saw, released in the United States between January 1, 2020, and December 31st, 2020. Top Ten on Monday:

Monday, January 11, 2021

These I Like: 2020, Day Eighteen

And we're back, with five more 2020 releases, and filks - all of these are at least a 3.5/5 for me. Recommended!

Vitalina Varela
dir: Pedro Costa
pr: Abel Ribeiro Chaves
scr: Pedro Costa & Vitalina Varela
cin: Leonardo Simões

An Ivory Coast woman arrives in Lisbon to find her husband's died; she remains to piece together who he was and what now. Based on a true story, played out by the people who lived it. Predominately set in an endless night, buildings and people lit like they exist in an infinite void - I've not seen a Costa film before, but it appears to be his "thing," and it's very effective in visualizing the feeling of loss and of trying to get your bearings after. A waking dream, one that's stuck with me since I first watched it. On Criterion Channel.

Mank
dir: David Fincher
pr: Ceán Chaffin / Eric Roth / Douglas Urbanski
scr: Jack Fincher
cin: Erik Messerschmidt

Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz reflects on his years in Hollywood and possible influences he can use while writing Citizen Kane. The story of a man in search of redemption, and all the reasons why. Thrilling when focused on the 1934 gubernatorial race and the insidious ways in which people with resources can manipulate information to sway things their way. Beautiful depiction of "platonic romance" between Mank and Marion Davies. Great performance, glowing cinematography, dazzling costumes, sets, makeup... Ironically, for a film about one of the greatest screenplays ever crafted, the writing is the weakest element: it limps to a conclusion, clumsily interrogates Welles' contributions, undercuts a tale of humility and close-enough redemption. On Netflix.

The Personal History of David Copperfield
dir: Armando Ianucci
pr: Armando Ianucci / Kevin Loader
scr: Simon Blackwell & Armando Ianucci
cin: Suzie Harman / Robert Worley

Young man's life from destitute orphan to success. Gets into the details not just of the author as a writer, but the then-practice of author as public speaker. Energetic, almost manic, at times; through that, it conveys a breathless joy of life, always moving yet never missing a detail, seizing the cup of life and drinking it in one go, memorizing the rich flavors passing the tongue. Dev Patel's at his floppy-haired winningest. Great fun.

Let Him Go
dir/scr: Thomas Bezucha
pr: Thomas Bezucha / Mitchell Kaplan / Paula Mazur
cin: Guy Godfree

A retired couple go to save their newly-married former daughter-in-law and grandson from an abusive family. Patient, reflective of the sturdy performances from quiet Kevin Costner and watchful Diane Lane. Uneasy throughout, a thriller of set jaws and cautious conversation, of violence and terror waiting to strike. Doesn't rest on rescue and revenge, either, but observes the strains of family and survivors of tragedy and trauma. Subtle period detail. Meat-and-potatoes filmmaking.

Ammonite
dir/scr: Francis Lee
pr: Iain Canning / Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly / Emile Sherman
cin: Stéphane Fontaine

Fossil hunter Mary Anning trains a wealthy young married woman in her work; they end up having a steamy affair. Kate Winslet's giving one of her best performances: she's focused in her work, possessed of an intense but highly-guarded well of emotions, not what you'd think of as happy but there's a certain steadiness to her, a kind of...well, she's more than you expect, let us say. Camera captures a prehistoric, perhaps even alien beauty in the slate and mud of the Dorset coast, reflected in the deceptively simple production design of the village: sparse, off-white, one with the rock. Adore the costumes. 

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Monday, January 4, 2021

The Beginning of the End of 2020 in 2021

The events of 2020 have led to some interesting developments in the world of cinema, from the shuttering of theaters to year-long delays for potential blockbusters to big studio films moving to streaming. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences even pushed their ceremony back to April and extended their qualifying period to the end of February 2021, a decision resulting from knee-jerk panic that seemed to confirm that most members don't pay attention to movies until it gets closer to nomination time. That extension has a lot of us movie-loving writer folk talking amongst ourselves about wether or not to follow suit: when we make our best-of lists, do we go by the 2020 calendar, do we go by the Academy's calendar, do we include festival screenings, how should we consider streaming titles? 

Speaking for myself, I have had my Hollmann Awards at the end of January since 2016, and I see no reason to change that. Starting tomorrow, I'm writing up the films I've been watching since September, five a day, weekdays only, running through the 22nd (I did this before, of course, back in August, and you can catch up with my takes on those 65 films by hitting the 2020 tag). Then, of course, my Top Ten on the 25th, nominations the 26th, awards the 28th and 29th.

It begins tomorrow!

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