Wow, the world’s kind of intent on doing itself in, isn’t it? Brrrrrrr…. Okay movies, movies… Uhh, this award season is shaping up to be the least interesting in quite a while. We’re post Golden Globe nominations and there still isn’t an Oscar front runner. That’s pretty staggering, no? Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Let’s look at some of the contenders:
(Besides ‘Get Out” and “Dunkirk”, frontrunners from earlier this year which I’ve already reviewed, I’m also hoping to see the underrated “Detroit” and “The Big Sick” – woefully overlooked by the Globes- make a comeback when the Oscar noms are announced in January.)
“Lady Bird” is quite good. Saoirse and Laurie Metcalf are locks for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress noms. It’s no “Juno”, but a moving film with great dialogue and well drawn out teenagers just trying to make sense of adulthood, and you can tell Greta Gerwig has been yearning to tell this story all her life. I love what Saoirse’s career has been (“Brooklyn” was one of my favorites in 2015) and hope she continues to mesmerize.
– “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” is fucking good. A real bounce back for Martin McDonagh after the overly meta “Seven Psychopaths”. There’s a weird narrative starting to surface regarding the character arc of Sam Rockwell’s overtly racist cop in the film but I think they’re misinterpreting where his character ends up… hmmm, this is hard to discuss without getting into spoilers. Frances Mcdormand is an acting powerhouse.
– “Mudbound”… right after Sundance I had this on my radar. Intriguing cast and most importantly directed by Dee Rees who made one of the best coming of age tales I’ve seen, in 2011’s “Pariah” (also on Netflix, if you have a chance, check it out). “Mudbound”‘s full of stellar performances (MARY J BLIGE is almost guaranteed a Best Supporting Actress nom) and really pulls you into the American South circa 1940’s, but there’s something too literary, too poetic about this film that plays more like a novel than a movie. I’m in the minority on this one however as both critics and viewers have it rated pretty highly.
-“Roman J Israel” is better than critics or box office might suggest. I think we continue to take Denzel Washington for granted and write him off as the Best “Black” actor when really he’s the Best Actor period, no qualifiers, for the last 3 decades. How is he still turning out entirely new, mesmerizing performances like the lead character in this legal thriller unlike anything he’s given us in his 40 year career? For me Denzel is right up there with Daniel Day Lewis and Jack Nicholson as far as continually challenging themselves and basically giving acting classes with each successive performance.
– Speaking of DDL, I’m yet to see his final film performance in “Phantom Thread” but it’ll be a huge blow if he truly sticks with his plan to retire. I mean how does the same actor go from the menacingly obsessive Daniel Plainview to playing the most lovable portrayal of an actual U.S. president in film history (LINCOLN)?
– “Blade Runner 2049” was astounding. I’m still not over it. It feels like Villeneuve took $150m and fashioned a mesmerizing sequel to a cult classic sci-fi film JUST FOR ME! I guarantee 20 years from now a new generation of directors will cite this film as their primary inspiration to get into the biz. In a strange way I’m glad it was a financial disappointment cos it made just enough that it can’t be used as an excuse to never attempt large scale, challenging, sci-fi blockbuster fare but too little for them to justifiably pimp out and franchise the “Blade Runner” universe with sequels that don’t live up to what’s come thus far. Maybe in another 35 years we get a third one from the auteur of the day that lives up to what Ridley and Vlileneuve have graced us with.
– Also how crazy is Villeneuve’s filmography at this point? In the last 6 years he’s directed “Blade Runner 2049” (amazing), “Sicario” (brutally glorious), “Arrival” (widely hailed as an instant classic), “Prisoners” (currently in the Top 250 films of all time), “Enemy” (which was almost great) and “Incedies” (which was devastatingly brilliant). Within 6 years. *Kanye meme HOW?*
– Wouldn’t it be great if “IT” scored some nominations? That was a once-in-a-generation good movie. Not that it needs Oscars at this point. This little YA horror movie based on a 30 year old novel, starring a bunch of mostly unknown teenagers has made more money than THE FUCKING JUSTICE LEAGUE MOVIE, aka the teamup of the world’s most celebrated superheroes in what has been the biggest year for superhero movies ever. and that’s insane! ($35 million budget Vs $300 million budget).
– How good is Dave Bautista as Drax in the “Guardians of The Galaxy” movies?.. I was suuuuuper skeptical when they picked him over Jason Momoa (who’s himself fuckin badass as Aquaman) but Bautista has proven to be one of the best parts of these awesome movies.
-While I feel the Disney/Fox merger is the beginning of the end of this industry as we know it and is NO GOOD for anyone but Disney shareholders and the Murdochs (what a miracle if the FCC could stop it), it has to be said: Disney is consistently putting out the most attractive product right now. It’s scary how successful they’ve been given how homogenous and risk-averse their output is (besides the “Guardians” or Pixar movies).
-Speaking of Pixar… “Coco” wow! What a glorious celebration of Hispanic culture mixed in a truly romantic musical coming of age story! I fucking cried within the first two minutes knowing how much this film will mean to all the brown babies across the world, really ALL children. Literal tears flowing down my cheeks in the dark. Pixar is so far better at what it does than the other animation studios. How much care they put into every pixel, every character, every beat of the story… it truly is next level story-telling. I know Disney has them churning out sequels to all their properties but as long as they continue to come back to originals like this, generations upon generations of future story-tellers are going to keep finding inspiration to dazzle us.
Got a couple more contenders to check out… “The Post”, “Disaster Artist”, “Florida Project”, “Darkest Hour” and “Call Me By Your Name” which better NOT be about the relationship between an adult and a 17-year-old. There’s just no momentum this awards season, but I guess that’s in line with the general vibe of 2017.
I’ll post my annual scorecard soon. What does yours look like?