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March 13, 2021 at 5:59 pm #1204118325
Uncle Frank (2020)
Paul Bettany imo should have been in the awards conversation if Amazon actually campaigned it.March 13, 2021 at 6:30 pm #1204118371
Uncle Frank is being campaigned for Emmys not Oscars.
FYC Emmys: "The Crown" in all categories, "I May Destroy You" in all categories, "It's a Sin" in all categories, "Small Axe" in all categories, Billie Piper ("I Hate Suzie"), Yvonne Strahovski ("Stateless") and Ruth Wilson ("His Dark Materials")March 13, 2021 at 7:22 pm #1204118456
Raya and the Last Dragon was pretty good. We already have a lock in Animated Feature for the next season.March 14, 2021 at 5:06 am #1204119266
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (2021): I’ve seen three Billie Holiday interpretations now with Diana Ross, Audra McDonald, and Andra Day. Each performance had different strengths and approaches, but all of them showed Holiday’s singular musical talent and long-standing addictions that led to her untimely demise. Day is very impressive here in a film that’s more of an impressionistic take on Holiday’s life. It takes a lot of directorial skill to pull that off, and I don’t think that Lee Daniels accomplished that well enough. The film is actively working against Day in many stretches, from a wholly unnecessary framing device with Leslie Jordan in one of the worst wigs I’ve ever seen, to a scattered fragmentation of Billie’s musical rise contrasted with the US government’s dogged approaches to silence her voice. It seems to all center around her performance of “Strange Fruit,” Holiday’s signature song lyrically detailing the abhorrent practice of lynching in the South. The supporting cast weave in and out in terms of effectiveness, though I guess the standouts there were Tyler James Williams, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Miss Lawrence. Natasha Lyonne was completely wasted in a nowhere storyline, and Garrett Hedlund’s antagonist was terribly one-note. The writing for Trevante Rhodes’s character was seriously muddled, and he brought little clarity to what could have been a needed counter to Billie’s volatility. Stay for the performances, b/c that’s where Andra Day really shines. “All of Me,” “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “Gimme a Pigfoot & a Bottle of Beer,” & “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” are all standouts. “Tigress & Tweed” should have been better featured in the end credits. It might have been deemed outright ineligible from making the longlist. Regardless, Andra Day deserves an Oscar nomination for this role, so I’ll cross my fingers for her tomorrow morning.March 14, 2021 at 9:03 am #1204119765
Rewatched The King of Comedy.
A prophetic masterpiece, not a single wasted scene, a perfectly paced film.
A timely and and at the same time timeless dark satire about the worship of celebrity culture.
Clearly the blueprint for Joker, but Joaquin Phoenix wishes in his wet dreams he was as good as DeNiro in this film.
Among Scorsese’s top 4 greatest films ever alongside Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas.March 14, 2021 at 10:53 am #1204120032
Just watched Another Round. Aha haha … whoa. Heaps going on and a lot of personal yikes moments.
Fantastic ensemble. Magnus Millang was a joy to watch, he stole every scene.March 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm #1204120404
Wolfwalkers. I usually don’t do animated films but seeing that it’s getting nominated everywhere I decided to give it a try plus it’s an Irish film and I love Irish movies. Really good, if you haven’t seen it I would recommend itMarch 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm #1204135670
“Welcome to Chechnya” (2020): The Academy really fumbled the ball in snubbing this thrilling and immersive documentary, but hopefully enough people will have interest to discover it in time. HBO is thankfully repeating it on a loop this month, so no excuses, people lol. I’ll keep beating the drum as long as I can, b/c I believe in it that much. It’s about a group of LGBTQ+ activists in Chechnya who fight to protect those who are outright beaten, victimized, and in some cases, killed, by a corrupt regime that’s on a mission to “cleanse” gays and lesbians outright from Russian society. Some of the footage was so harrowing that I had to pause it and focus on something else for awhile. Archival footage and hand-held camera work both give this a sense of immediacy and impending dread. The longlisting in Visual Effects (the first time ever for a documentary feature) also had me curious. This would be labeled as “supporting visual effects,” I think, but nevertheless, I was gooped and gagged by what will probably be the most memorable film scene from 2020 for me. I’ll give no more details, b/c it’s best to experience cold. These activists are true heroes, and the individual stories helped to illuminate an issue I knew nothing about. That’s probably b/c the Trump administration banned Chechnya refugees from entering the US, so they had to flee to Canada instead. Highly recommended viewing.March 19, 2021 at 3:43 pm #1204145714
I’m so done with heavy Oscars fare. In recent days I have seen Coming 2 America, Singles and Always Be My Maybe. What a palate cleanser! I was laughing like a seal all the way through Coming 2 America. Wesley Snipes and Arsenio Hall are peerless. You need to be familiar with Coming to America for the sequel, but it’s one of my most seen movies, an absolute all timer for me. Singles was a breath of fresh air from a forgotten era even though regrettably Kyra Sedgwick annoys me in everything (probably jealous of her marriage). Always Be My Maybe has been on my Netflix list for ages and felt like a proper by-the-book rom com and it was pretty good. Love Ali Wong and Randall Park. Supporting cast was great especially Michelle Buteau and Karan Soni. Oh and Keanu Reeves.
I did watch one more Oscars movie – Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon. Holy moley, the absolute talent of these guys, the jokes, the soundtrack (I dare Pixar to use Chemical Brothers in one of their movies), the animation is next level. I’m always in awe of Aardman.March 28, 2021 at 7:07 pm #1204163058
“My Octopus Teacher” (2020): Superb and immersive photography, so on that level, I can see why this documentary has generated so much attention. It’s nice to think of something like this growing an audience organically through word-of-mouth on Netflix during lockdown and then having clear industry impact. It’s perfectly fine, visually appealing, and narrative-focused, but beyond that, not too much is there there. The criticisms of excessive talking heads from its rambling narrator guy and all of the anthropomorphizing with the octopus are apt. Just about any “Our Planet” episode does this kind of exploration in greater detail. Weird that this is the new Oscar frontrunner, but I guess it’s the apple in a sea of oranges. The documentary branch was supposedly shifting away from awarding this sort of thing, I thought, but I guess not. I’ll never get over “Welcome to Chechnya” being snubbed, and even “All In: The Fight for Democracy” was better than this was. Regardless, it’s short and sweet, and I easily see why it’s so popular.April 4, 2021 at 2:00 am #1204174468
The Father is a feat in making a play cinematic. Bravo to Florian Zeller for the vision. The technicals across the board are an achievement with my favorite being the production design. My God! The world is minimal, yet grand in scope. Anthony Hopkins is indeed brilliant. Haven’t seen his competition yet, but the performance is sweep material. Olivia Colman is great also, but I don’t know Oscar number two great. Fantastic film!April 5, 2021 at 10:43 am #1204179724
Judas and the Black Messiah is electric! From start to finish, it’s a thrilling biopic anchored by the towering performances of Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. The ensemble is on their level with the younger black cast and Jesse Plemons (who is a future Oscar winner!). The story of Fred Hampton is one I have known of, but not known if that makes sense. A hero and I’m glad his legacy got the cinematic treatment by such a great team.April 5, 2021 at 12:31 pm #1204180130
“Mank” (2020): I’m blown away by how great this film was, from its 1930s-40s rat-a-tat-tat rhythms to the gorgeous production design to Reznor’s and Ross’s dazzling original score to Erik Messerschmidt’s black-and-white cinematography, and on and on. I shouldn’t have waited so long to climb this mountain, mainly b/c I haven’t seen “Citizen Kane” yet and thought it would be too difficult to parse this not having that behemoth as a reference point. Gary Oldman has never been like this onscreen before, and he anchored the film beautifully. The fractured storytelling mirroring with the screenplay chyrons was brilliant, and I couldn’t wait to see where things were going next. I’m guessing the cold reception of the film came from modern audiences having such a distance from classic films or the history of Hollywood that it all seemed off-putting. I reveled in the lore surrounding the writing of this landmark script, and then the detours of the Merriam/Sinclair California gubernatorial election that had some striking parallels to our present-day, contentious political climate. I think a supporting actor could have broken through with a tad more screentime. Charles Dance would have fit the bill nicely in earlier times, but the bench was deep here: Tom Pelphrey (I get the fuss with him now), Arliss Howard, Sam Troughton, Ferdinand Kingsley (had no idea who he was, but after looking him up, realizing that he’s Sir Ben Kingsley’s son, and it all clicked), Tom Burke (a fiery Orson Welles), Jamie McShane, etc. As for the ladies, I’ll say that Lily Collins ever-so-slightly redeemed herself for the abomination that is “Emily in Paris.” Second, and most importantly, Amanda Seyfried stole every scene that she was in as Marion Davies. Her Oscar nomination was more than earned, and frankly, should have been her second one after “First Reformed.” She lit the room up with her charisma and star presence, which accomplished a great deal in a sea of dudes. This served a similar function to what Kim Basinger’s role in “L.A. Confidential” was, but she did it better, TBH. I can’t wait to see where her career takes her with this newfound industry recognition. David Fincher’s direction was assured and vibrant, and Jack Fincher was robbed in original screenplay. I’ll revisit this again and again in the future, as it’s the kind of film that I think will grow in estimation over time, regardless of Academy validation.April 8, 2021 at 1:30 am #1204185448
Sound of Metal is the classic case of those indie films that are well done, but not for me. Riz, Paul, and Olivia are of course fantastic, but I have to say the deaf actors I was more impressed with. That section of the movie I was the most interested in. Glad that this got the recognition and hopefully more stories like this will be told.April 8, 2021 at 11:02 am #1204186491
“Da 5 Bloods” (2020): This was a tough film to get through, but I finally did it! It was Spike Lee at Level 10, and maybe that was the issue. His films are becoming more and more self-indulgent, and at a runtime of over 150 minutes, I think a shorter film would have been more impactful. It was so plot-heavy with many asides that I thought would have been better served in documentary format. I’m guessing there was little Netflix oversight here just like Scorsese, which normally I’d applaud, but I know there’s a director’s cut out there somewhere that’s probably four hours long lol. Loved the ensemble, and Delroy Lindo would have made an incredible Oscar nominee. Being sixth place is not the position to be in, but at least he won some recognition for this searing performance with critics prizes. Playing a tortured black Vietnam veteran (and Trump supporter, natch) couldn’t have been easy, and Lindo is so overdue for his first nomination. Clarke Peters was another standout. It would have been nice to see character actors like Peters and Glynn Turman make the cut this year, but that wasn’t meant to be. I’m somewhat torn about Chadwick Boseman. Perfectly fine penultimate performance, and “Stormin’ Norman” is the backbone of the film’s story. Was it enough for a nomination? Lesser roles with shorter screentimes have made it in previously, but for this year’s work? Not sure. It helped matters that his character was referenced so much even when he wasn’t physically present. I’m glad that all of Boseman’s Oscar attention is focused on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” where it belongs. I was moved at times, shaken at times, and exasperated at times. That’s what I’ve come to expect from Spike Lee joints, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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