90th Academy Awards: Ranking & Predictions

It’s Oscar Night! Before I get into my predictions, I want to triumphantly say that I’ve watched the most movies before this year’s ceremony than in any previous year. Overall, I’ve seen 22 of the nominated movies, 12 in this past week alone.

I’d rank them as such (with the 9 Best Picture nominees in bold):

  1. Darkest Hour
  2. The Post
  3. The Disaster Artist
  4. Mudbound
  5. The Greatest Showman
  6. Get Out
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  8. Blade Runner 2049
  9. Beauty and the Beast
  10. The Boss Baby
  11. Heroin(e)
  12. Icarus
  13. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  14. The Shape of Water
  15. The Big Sick
  16. Dunkirk
  17. Baby Driver
  18. Logan
  19. Lady Bird
  20. I, Tonya
  21. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  22. Phantom Thread
  23. Call Me by Your Name

Predictions:

Best Picture
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Actor
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Actress
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Original Screenplay
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

Animated Feature
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Animated Short
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Best Documentary Feature
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Documentary Short Subject
Edith+Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Best Live Action Short Film
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

Film Editing
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Original Score
Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

Original Song
“Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair
Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul
Wonder

Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

– FLIPP

Featured image CC0 via Pixabay

2018 Golden Globe Predictions

MOVIES

Best Picture — Drama

Call Me by Your Name

Dunkirk

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture — Comedy or Musical

The Disaster Artist

Get Out

The Greatest Showman

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread

Tom Hanks, The Post

Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Meryl Streep, The Post

Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Steve Carrell, Battle of the Sexes

Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Willem DaFoe, The Florida Project

Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All The Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Hong Chau, Downsizing

Alison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Director — Motion Picture

Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World

Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture

Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game

Best Motion Picture — Animated

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

Best Picture — Foreign Language

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)

In the Fade (Germany/France)

Loveless (Russia)

The Square (Sweden, Germany, France)

Best Original Score — Motion Picture

Carter Burwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water

Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread

John Williams, The Post

Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Original Song — Motion Picture

“Home,” Ferdinand

“Mighty River,” Mudbound

“Remember Me,” Coco

“The Star,” The Star

“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

TELEVISION

Best Television Series — Drama

The Crown, Netflix

Game of Thrones, HBO

The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu

Stranger Things, Netflix

This is Us, NBC

Best Television Series — Comedy

Black-ish, ABC

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

Master of None, Netflix

SMILF, Showtime

Will and Grace, NBC

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Big Little Lies, HBO

Fargo, FX

Feud: Bette and Joan, FX

The Sinner, USA

Top of the Lake: China Girl, Sundance TV

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander

Claire Foy, The Crown

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Deuce

Katherine Langford, 13 Reasons Why

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Kevin Bacon, I Love Dick

William H. Macy, Shameless

Eric McCormack, Will & Grace

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Comedy

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Alison Brie, GLOW

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Issa Rae, Insecure

Frankie Shaw, SMILF

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Jessica Biel, The Sinner

Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan

Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies

Jude Law, The Young Pope

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks

Ewan McGregor, Fargo

Geoffrey Rush, Genius

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

David Harbour, Stranger Things

Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan

Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Alexander Skarsgaard, Big Little Lies

David Thewlis, Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us

Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies

Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies

25 years/25 films

Around 1 in the morning the other night on Twitter, I came across this article in which a few of the AV Club film critics compiled lists of their favorite movie of the year for each year since they were born. Instead of going to bed like a normal person on a work night, I proceeded to sacrifice much-needed sleep for what one could say was a masochistic, utterly pointless cause: I had to make my own list, right then and there.

Why, you might ask?

Because there are few things in life better than making movie lists and ranking movies, especially in new and creative ways.

It’s just science. 

fbd

My list of my 25 films for 25 years on this earth:

1992 – Aladdin
1993 – Jurassic Park
1994 – Pulp Fiction
1995 – The Usual Suspects
1996 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
1997 – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
1998 – The Big Lebowski
1999 – The Mummy
2000 – Gladiator
2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2005 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
2006 – Casino Royale
2007 – Sunshine
2008 – Gran Torino
2009 – Inglourious Basterds
2010 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I
2011 – Drive
2012 – Les Miserables
2013 – The Wolf of Wall Street
2014 – Edge of Tomorrow
2015 – The Martian
2016 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

What does this list say about me? Generally, it says I like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, sci-fi epics and black comedies, and movies with great music, especially French-themed musicals. It also made me realize that I like more movies from before I was born than came out during my lifetime. This is especially true when considering my favorite movies from the last decade or so; these years simply pale in comparison to years that came before, and it was a struggle to think of a film that was truly a favorite of mine after the year 2009.

The first decade and a half of my life did have some intense competition though, so I wanted to also include 5 honorable mentions of movies that are nearer and dearer to my heart than many of the others on the list that just missed out. And let me say, 1999 was a squeaker:

Office Space (1999)
The Matrix (1999)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
The Departed (2006)
Atonement (2007)

What does your list look like?

-Flipp

Featured image: Ba’Gamnan, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

2017 Oscar Predictions

Another year, another Oscars ceremony. After last year’s #OscarsSoWhite debacle, this year’s nominees include many non-white actors, actresses, directors, and movies. That being said… this year’s movies were sort of under par. Maybe I’m just not enlightened enough for this world, but out of the 9 Best Picture nominees, I can say I’d watch one, maybe 2 of them again. The rest… once was more than enough. Especially La La Land. I didn’t hate the clear frontrunner, but I do hate the hype it’s received. 14 nominations? And a guaranteed 6-8 wins?? Nah.

Here are my picks for tonight’s Oscars.

Best Picture:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”

“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis, “Fences”

Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director:
“Arrival,” Denis Villeneuve
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle

“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan

“20th Century Women,” Mike Mills

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Land of Mine”
“A Man Called Ove”
“The Salesman”

“Tanna”
“Toni Erdmann”

Best Cinematography:
“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

Best Costume Design:
“Allied”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Jackie”

“La La Land”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”

“Suicide Squad”

Best Original Score:
”Jackie,” Mica Levi
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz

“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Best Animated Feature Film:
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Best Animated Short Film:
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Pearl”
“Piper”

Best Documentary Feature:
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

“13th”

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Extremis”
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best Film Editing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

Best Original Song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls”
“City of Stars” from “La La Land”

“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”

Best Production Design:
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land”

“Passengers”

Best Live Action Short Film:
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La femme et Le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing”
“Timecode”

Best Sound Editing:
“Arrival”
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”

“La La Land”
“Sully”

Best Sound Mixing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Best Visual Effects:
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“The Jungle Book”

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

2017 Golden Globe Predictions

Tonight is the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards. I haven’t seen too many of the nominees this year (I know, bad cinephile, right? Between transitioning jobs, commuting to work, and diligently following the political cluster-you-know-what since November, my movie/TV intake has been quite low), but I have been following critics and have some inklings as to how tonight will go. My plan is to watch most of the nominees in time for the Oscars in February. As of this writing, I’ve only seen Hacksaw Ridge (great), Arrival (good), and La La Land (good).

The only thing I am certain of about the broadcast is that there will be PLENTY of jokes at the expense of, and much ire directed toward, one Donald J. Trump.

MOVIES

Drama
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Comedy or musical
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

Actor, drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Actress, drama
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie

Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Actor, comedy or musical
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Actress, comedy or musical
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Supporting actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Supporting actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Foreign language
Divines
Elle
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Animated film
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as A Zucchini
Sing
Zootopia

Screenplay
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Original score
Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Johann Johannsson, Arrival
Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch, Hidden Figures

Original song (songwriter’s award)
Can’t Stop the Feeling! (from Trolls)
City of Stars (from La La Land)
Faith (from Sing)
Gold (from Gold)
How Far I’ll Go (from Moana)

PRIME-TIME TELEVISION

Drama
The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This Is Us
Westworld

Series, comedy or musical
Atlanta
Black-ish
Mozart in the Jungle
Transparent
Veep

Actress, drama
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

Actor, drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath

Actress, miniseries or TV movie
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation

Actor, miniseries or TV movie
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
John Turturro, The Night Of
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Supporting actor, series, miniseries or TV movie
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Supporting actress, series, miniseries or TV movie
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld

Miniseries or TV movie
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Actress, comedy or musical
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Actor, comedy or musical
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Featured Image: jdeeringdavis, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Eh.

I’ve refrained from writing this post for months, unsure of what exactly to say and afraid of the backlash. However, with the release of its Blu Ray and DVD, I finally want to publicly say, completely forward and without nuance…

I did not like Star Wars: The Force Awakens

george bush shoe

Now, I didn’t hate Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I will gladly admit that I was brought to tears of utter joy by its initial trailers (that music!) and was fairly entertained by many parts of the movie, especially the scenes involving Han Solo. However, I wasn’t swayed emotionally one way or another by the movie as a whole. My one word response to the film as that final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams” was…

“Eh.”

But then I let the dust settle. I watched the film again, a few days later, and while I enjoyed myself slightly more, I also hated the parts I disliked the first time upon seeing them again. If anything, my opinion got a little worse. This, combined with the outrageous level of hype and love shown for the movie by practically everyone has made me want to go all Kylo Ren on my computer. I’m all for being excited by a new movie, especially a new Star Wars movie. But once that movie is viewed by millions of people, I would hope and expect legitimate criticism, not blind loyalty and exclamations that because it is Star Wars and  because it wasn’t made by George Lucas, therefore it has to be the GREATEST  STAR WARS MOVIE SINCE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. (The same crazed, irrational fervor surrounded the most recent Jurassic Park film, which was awful.)

I find that statement (about Force Awakens being the best since Empire) extremely wrong because it begs the question that Return of the Jedi isn’t good. I have also come to like Episodes II and III, and to me, both of these prequel films are worth more than The Force Awakens ever could be. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

george bush shoe

The Good.

  • Han Solo. Harrison Ford was great. His old Han was so much better than his old Indy. This was incredibly surprising because it’s basically a fact that he likes Indiana Jones so much more than Star Wars (hello, Indy 5!!) His interactions with Chewie and Rey were hilarious and sweet, and he got his wish that Han would be killed off, albeit 32 years later…
  • BB-8 because he was cute and reminded me of my cat.
  • Finn’s fight with that Stormtrooper (named by the Internet TR-8R), and the Resistance’s surprise attack on the First Order. That was an exhilarating scene, and that is probably the highest praise I have for anything involving the production of the movie.
  • Rey’s vision when she picks up Luke’s lightsaber because it reminded me of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • …and when she uses the Force to get his lightsaber in her fight with Kylo Ren. (Again, just like in the trailers, it’s John Williams’ use of an OLDER theme that sells it for me.)
  • That final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland that circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams.” And I actually liked that Luke was in it for less than 30 seconds and remained speechless. It (and this is the only thing, really) made me want to see Episode VIII.

The Bad.

First and foremost, The Force Awakens was not written well. In fact, I’d say it was written fairly poorly. For all the hype surrounding the knowledge that the writer of Empire and Jedi (and Raiders of the Lost Ark) was returning after three straight George Lucas-penned screenplays, Lawrence Kasden failed to impress me. In fact, some of the dialogue was so wooden and flat at times that I actually missed the nostalgia of the Prequels and their clunkers. The plot of Force Awakens was a reboot/remake of A New Hope with some Empire beats thrown in for good measure. The Snoke scenes should have been mysterious and engrossing but instead seemed like transplanted Thanos scenes from the various Marvel movies; they just didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. And the rules of Star Wars were seemingly thrown out the window… How did Rey manage to use a Jedi mind trick if no one ever taught her what it was, and after the film made it clear that she didn’t even know Jedi were real? Usually, McGuffins are simple and subtle enough where their existence in the story isn’t brought into question… Except the plot device that drives The Force Awakens made no sense. Why was there a map to find Luke? He’s not an object. He’s a person. Who leaves a map when they don’t want to be found? And how could no one figure out from either piece of the map (in BB-8 and in R2-D2) where it led? Most the the plot points in this movie just seemed like sloppy, lazy writing.

The movie itself started out on a terrible footing. The opening scene was filled with as much exposition-heavy dialogue as anything in Phantom Menace, and was awkwardly staged and awkwardly filmed. The dialogue never got better after that, with constant references to the Resistance and First Order throughout, but without any clarification or history to give the audience a clue as to what was going on. Expositionary dialogue is a necessary evil, especially in a sci-fi world, but it is at its best in small doses. When it consumes a film and also confuses more than it than explains, the movie suffers greatly. I still have no idea what was going on; the only clarity in the film was that we’d all seen the plot and characters and beats before… in the Original Trilogy. Disney played it safe (you could argue killing Han wasn’t safe, but as it was long overdue and foreshadowed heavily, it was also the easiest shock they could go for while not doing anything too controversial), and as they pleased the most Star Wars fans because they went in the opposite direction of the Prequels, they largely succeeded. Two billion dollars is worth a lot more than my petty criticism.

The Ugly.

But the worst two aspects of The Force Awakens weren’t deus ex machina Force tricks or the random CGI bartender who could have easily been a person in a mask or the lack of a noticable original score… it was the characters of General Hux and Kylo Ren. Both villains were clearly based on Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader, but lacking their gravitas or imperious nature, they were laughably bad. It was as if J. J. Abrams REALLY wanted to impress Star Wars fans so he cast the two nerdiest, unassuming fans who came up to him at whatever convention he was attending to play the two villain roles, and then felt bad about his choice after seeing their acting but convinced himself that no one would ever notice because STAR WARS IS SO COOL.

Anyway, Hayden Christensen has been called wooden…out of his league… a terrible actor (among many, many worse things), but Kylo’s temper tantrums and moody attitude made Christensen look like Laurence Olivier. I know for a fact that statement will anger some people, but not once during Awakens did Kylo Ren make me feel anything at all other than annoyance. Even when he killed Han, it was broadcast a mile away because no one in Hollywood knows anything about subtlety, and I was more peeved at the story-telling than at the death of my favorite Original Trilogy character. And then he lost in a fight to a Stormtrooper-dropout who spent the entire movie getting beat up and a girl with no Force training (who obviously has a major connection to the Force, duh, I know!!! but still. Sloppy writing: it happened because the plot needed it to happen). Like I said, laughable.

And then there’s Hux. I don’t know who gave the okay to have the main military leader SCREAM to his troops with the most cliched, unoriginal dialogue imaginable, but I bet they  thought they were doing something really friggin’ clever. I hate comparing things to Hitler, but I bet they figured their military general would give off a Hitler vibe if he yelled with the burning hatred of a thousand suns at his troops.

Except they cast a Weasley, so he gave off a Weasley-trying-to-be-Hitler vibe, and it was one of the worst acting performances I’ve seen in a mainstream movie in ages. (To get political for a moment, Hux is the Hitler that everyone thinks Trump is/will be.) Give me Hayden yelling about slaughtering Sand People like animals any day. Where is Dexter Jettster’s buttcrack when you need childish, idiotic filmmaking? Oh, right… It was in a better movie.

george bush shoe

I am excited for Episode VIII. I want to know what happens next in the Star Wars universe. I want to see Rey’s journey. I want to see more of BB-8. I want to see Luke speak and be an Obi-Wan Kenobi to our new Jedi hero.

And I want to see LANDO. Please, Disney. At least bring him back in the next go round. He can even drink some Colt 45 on set. It’s gonna be great!

For everyone who loved The Force Awakens, I seriously am happy for you. And slightly envious that I can’t, so enjoy your Blu Ray and deleted scenes for me.

-FLIPP

 

2016 Oscar Predictions

For the first time in 3 years, I’m heading into the Academy Awards without having seen all of the Best Picture nominees. Luckily, I’ve seen all but one of them (Spotlight), which means I’m not going in totally blind.

Before my predictions, I just want to say that in addition to the 7 Best Picture nominees that I saw, I also watched Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Out, and Creed, all up for at least one Oscar outside of the Best Picture race. I would rank these 11 films as such:

  1. Creed
  2. The Martian
  3. Mad Max:Fury Road
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Room
  6. Spectre
  7. Inside Out
  8. Bridge of Spies
  9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  10. The Revenant
  11. The Big Short

In a perfect world, Mad Max will win all of the undercard awards as well as Best Director and Picture, but we do not live in a perfect world. Instead, these awards will mostly belong to The Revenant, though if there is to be an upset, The Big Short will be walking away with these awards. To both: yuck. The night will be an overall win, however, if Sly Stallone walks away with that Best Supporting Actor Oscar. (Yes, this is more important than Leonardo DiCaprio getting his…)

Anyway, here are my predictions for the 88th Academy Awards:

Best Picture
Spotlight

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Director
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Best Animated Film
Anomalisa
Boy and the World

Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang

Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn, Nick Hornby

Carol, Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, Drew Goddard
Room, Emma Donoghue

Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight, written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina, written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Straight Outta Compton, screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman

Carol, Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams

Best Cinematography
Carol, Ed Lachman

The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario, Roger Deakins

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Song
“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song 3,” Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til it Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best Documentary (Feature)
Amy

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Costume Design
Carol

Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Ave Maria

Day One
Everything Will Be Okay
Shok
Stutterer

Best Short Film (Animated)
Bear Story

Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow 

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Lasy Day of Freedom

Best Film Editing
The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

-FLIPP