Saturday, October 1, 2016

Oscar 2017

Viola Davis is officially being campaigned as Supporting Actress, so we have taken her off the Actress contenders. Taraji P Henson, lead for "Hidden Figures" has been added to Actress list.

Updated 10.23.16

Best Picture
1) "La La Land"
2) "Manchester By The Sea"
3) "Fences"
4) "Silence"
5) "Sully"
6) "Lion"
7) "Loving"
8) "Jackie"
9) "Arrival"
10) "Moonlight"

1) Casey Affleck, "Manchester By the Sea"
2) Tom Hanks, "Sully"
3) Denzel Washington, "Fences"
4) Ryan Gosling "La La Land"
5) Joel Edgerton, "Loving"
6) Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
7) Andrew Garfield, "Silence"
8) Dev Patel, "Lion"
9) Miles Teller, "Bleed For This"
10) Michael Keaton, "The Founder"

Best Actress
1) Emma Stone, "La La Land"
2) Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
3) Amy Adams, "Arrival"
4) Ruth Negga, "Loving"
5) Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
6) Meryl Streep "Florence Foster Jenkins"
7) Jessica Chastain, "Miss Sloane"
8) Marillon Cotillard, "Allied"
9) Annette Benning, "20th Century Women"
10) Taraji P Henson, "Hidden Figures"

Best Supporting Actor 
1) Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight" 
2) Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals" 
3) Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
4) Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By the Sea"
5) Liam Neeson, "Silence"
6) Ben Foster, "Hell or High Water"
7) Hugh Grant, "Florence Foster Jenkins"
8) Aaron Eckhart, "Bleed For This"
9) Stephen Mckinley Henderson, "Fences"
10) Timothy Spaal, "Denial"

Best Supporting Actress
1) Viola Davis, "Fences"
2) Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"
3) Nicole Kidman, "Lion"
4) Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures"
5) Michelle Williams, "Manchester By the Sea"
6) Felicity Jones "A Monster Calls"
7) Margo Martindale, "The Hollars"
8) Molly Shannon, "Other People"
9) Helen Mirren, "Eye in the Sky"
10) Lupita Nyong'o, "Queen of Katwe"

Best Director
1) Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
2) Ang Lee, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
3) Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester By the Sea'
4) Denzel Washington, "Fences"
5) Martin Scorsese, "Silence"
6) Pablo Larrain, "Jackie"
7) Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
8) Paul Verhoeven, "Elle"
9) Clint Eastwood, "Sully"
10) Jeff Nichols, "Loving"

Best Foreign Language Film
"Toni Erdmann"
"The Salesman"
"Under the Shadow"
"From Afar"
"Fire At Sea"
"The Age of Shadows"
"Land of Mine"

Best Animated Film
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"Finding Dory"
"The Red Turtle"

Best Documentary Feature
"OJ: Made in America"
"The 13th"
"Lo and Behold"

"Before the Flood"

"Jim: The James Foley Story"
"Amanda Knox"
"Zero Days"

Jim Jarmusch's "Paterson" is the best movie of 2016 so far ...

I saw Jim Jarmusch's "Paterson" at the Cannes Film Festival back in May, but it still lingers in my mind. Its hypnotic, moody atmosphere is unique and the masterful direction by Jarmusch possibly a career best. The film is a poetry of people, places, lives that seem superfluous and without much purpose. In Jarmusch's world people come and go, words gets written down and erased, but there always exists memory. It raises it glass to the small details in life, those that we take for granted. 

Notes on The Playlist's 'Best and Most Exciting Directors Working Today' List

It is an ambitious thing to do, isn't it? "Best" and most "exciting" directors working today in the business. A tough call, and to make such a list you probably have to set a few biases aside and look at the bigger picture. I put down a few notes on the list. The full article can be found HERE and my own concocted list if you scroll down. At least we can agree that Paul Thomas Anderson is the man and current master of the art form.

Image result for paul thomas anderson

Friday, September 30, 2016

Great movies with "rotten" Tomato scores

Image result for the life aquatic

For a film to be "rotten" it has to have a score of under 60%. Even films that were at first critically reviled, but aged like fine wine, have - for the most part- had their scores boosted above 60% by present-day reviews and sreconsiderations. Because of that, it was actually tough to find 10 films that are "great," again not just good, but great. These are all still below 60%, but as time passes they will more than likely hit that coveted 60 percent and end up fresh. For now, they belong on this list.

Daniel Radcliffe on Swiss Army Man: 'People fixate on the farting'

From a recent The Guardian interview"

"You can’t give an accurate impression of Swiss Army Man in three minutes. And people fixate on the farting, which makes you want to go: “Yeah, but it’s also really beautiful and weird, and there’s nothing else like it.”

To tell you the truth, I completely forgot about the film since I first saw it back in Park City. It did end up getting a release date this summer and was met with lukewarm reviews. Take away and you still have a somewhat original concept, a talking corpse movie - but with not enough substance to truly warrant a directing award at Sundance. I met the directing team behind it, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinbert, quirky, cool guys that supposedly want to remake "White Chicks." By the way, I'm all for that idea.

Christopher Nolan is said to be getting $20 million upfront and 20% of the gross for World War II epic "Dunkirk"

Image result for christopher nolan

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan's earnings for "Dunkirk": $20 million upfront and 20% of the gross. The most lucrative deal since Peter Jackson's equal earnings for "King Kong." Nolan has a very large and loyal fanbase, the biggest of any mainstream director I can think of. He also enormous power in terms of creative freedom, which could be a blessing and a curse at times, especially if you've seen his flawed, but fascinating 2014 Science Fiction opera "Interstellar."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Martin Scorsese's 39 essential foreign films

"This list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf."

A look at Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas' "Personal Shopper"

I was hoping it'd come out this year, but, alas, we will have to wait until next spring it seems if my conversations with its publicist at TIFF are any indication. They have decided to, in his words, "follow the same plan as what what was done with Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria," which also starred Stewart.

In the meantime we have this just released trailer to wet our appetites a bit.

EDIT: one look at IMDB says it has an official release date of March 17th, 2017.

Excerpts from my Cannes review:

Nate Parker to appear on 60 Minutes

Thanks Jefferey Welles over at Hollywood-Elsewhere for the heads-up:

EDIT: It seems like he will not apologize in this interview. From a just released clip we have Parker saying that he got exonerated and found not guilty and doesn't need to apologize ...

So here's my history with Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation"
I reviewed it at Sundance this past January with very mixed feelings.

Capsule Reviews: "American Honey," "Deepwater Horizon," "Miss Peregrine's School For Peculiar Children," "Masterminds"

American Honey (R)

"Andrea Arnold’s American Honey will be a polarizing film. A 160 minute road trip to Americana hell, if you will. An "On the Road" for and about millennials. Cannes is not the last we’ll hear about this movie and I’m perfectly fine with that. No one should dismiss it, for it has so many great moments in its scattered running time that one might have to look through a bit of rambling incoherence to find them."

"Dark Night" tackles the Aurora shooting

Dark Night Movie

The 2012 Shooting in Aurora, Colorado - at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" - was a tragedy that will likely not be forgotten anytime soon. The gunman ended up killing 12 people and injuring 70. The remnants of that horrible act are still being felt to this day, but, just like most of the mass shootings we have witnessed this past decade, filmmakers have refused to tackle the topic. Are we ready to deal with this through art? I can't really tell you, but Paul Greengrass' "United 93" is proof that, when done right, art can truly transcend tragedy and put things into perspective. The best example being Gus Van Sant's prophetic "Elephant" which was released only a few years after its targedy, Columbine, occurred.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Underwhelming Cannes entry "Mean Dreams" gets a trailer

I saw "Mean Dreams" at Cannes as it was part of the Director's Fortnight. I can't really say I very much liked it. Most of it felt cliched and inauthentic. What did stand out was first-time Filmmaker Nathan Morlando's visual style which was very much influenced by, who else, Terrence Malick. Malick is really becoming a go-to name these days for many young filmmakers. I guess him coming back from retirement in 1998 for "The Thin Red Line" was something of a blessing for all of us as it really added his important and integral name back to the forefront of cinema. There have been cheap Malick ripoffs since then and, at times, "Mean Dreams" does feel like that. It's a teenagers on-the-run film that recalls Malick's "Badlands," but has none of the verve or audacity of that 1973 masterpiece. In the film Casey (Sophie Nelisse) and Jonas (Josh Wiggins), both part of separate broken homes, decide to make a run for it. Where are they going? They're not too sure, neither is director Morlando [C]

Has there been a better cinematic year than 1999?

Image result for 1999 movies

"Being John Malkovich," "American Beauty," "Magnolia," "Election," "The Sixth Sense," "Boy's Don't Cry," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Fight Club," "The Limey," "Three Kings," "The Iron Giant," "Toy Story 2," "Bringing Out the Dead," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "The Insider," "The Matrix," "Summer of Sam," "Office Space," "South Park," "The Blair Witch Project," "The Dreamlife of Angels," "American Pie," "Bowfinger," "Payback," "Man on The Moon," "Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me," "All About My Mother," "Go," "Rosetta," "The Straight Story," "The Green Mile," "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai," "Run Lola Run," "Dick."

EDIT,'s Susan Wloszczynya and's Christopher Bumbray mentioned on Facebook the year 2007, and, I must agree, it gives 1999 a hell of an argument as an equal and, if not, better contender: 

"No Country For Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Zodiac," "The Assassination of Jesse James," "4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days," "The Lives of Others," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Ratatouille," "Eastern Promises," "Michael Clayton," "Sweeney Todd," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "Superbad," "American Gangster," "The Darjeeling Limited," "Black Book," "Death Proof," "The Mist," "Knocked Up," "Lust Caution," "Rescue Dawn," "Into the Wild," "The Lookout," "Live Free or Die Hard," "The Simpsons Movie," "Breach," "A Mighty Heart," "Rescue Dawn," "Bug."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Paul Schrader's deliciously subversive "Dog Eat Dog"

I saw this one at Cannes and also interviewed its Director Paul Schrader and Writer Matthew Wilder. Interview can be found HERE. Excerpts from my Cannes review:

"The opening scene to "Dog Eat Dog," a little backstory about Willem Dafoe’s wildly erratic Mad Dog, is an open invitation for the audience to accept the nasty gravitas of this wholly terrifying and violent movie.  There were a few walkouts during my screening at Cannes, but director Paul Schrader and screenwriter Matthew Wilder wouldn’t want it any other way."
"Based on the novel by Eddie Bunker, “Dog Eat Dog” is Paul Schrader’s latest movie and it’s a doozy. The three main guys in the story, Troy (Nicolas Cage), Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), and Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe), have been released from prison and find themselves trying to adapt to everyday life. The California “three strike law” is very much on their minds, but they are hooked on the visceral aspect of violence. They claim one more hit, one more jackpot, that’s all they want, but we know their high is never-ending. "
"There isn’t an ounce of fat in Wilder’s wildly inventive screenplay. The film is an amalgam of everything that’s come before it in the gangster genre and yet it feels fresh, new and revitalized by stinging exuberance. Schrader’s direction is possessed - he hasn’t been this energized by a film since 2002’s great “Auto Focus.” It's a high-octane comeback for a filmmaking maverick that we badly need today in these dismal cinematic times"

Comparing Terrence Malick’s Two Different Versions Of Epic "Voyage Of Time" Passion Project

More or less a work in progress since years before "The Tree Of Life" was released back in 2011,Terrence Malick's much delayed "Voyage of Time: A Life's Journey" has been a near odyssey to reach the screen. Even years even before ‘Tree of Life’ masterwork, Malick had tried to develop a film about the origins of earth for Paramount in the 1970s entitled "Q." He eventually abandoned the project, but some of the footage, some of it shot nearly 40 years ago from "Q" is employed in "Voyage of Time."  But at least for ten years during the making of “Tree of Life,” Malick and cinematographer Paul Atkins have tried to achieve the impossible with this film: make a movie about the beginning, the middle, and the end of time. With such an ambitious concept, it’s not surprising “Voyage of Time” took forever to make and complete. What is surprising is that Malick finally ended up with a scant 90 minute running time for his movie, narrated by Cate Blanchett, and a 40 minute IMAX version, narrated by  Brad PittBoth versions are very different in terms of goal, scope and ambition and so we attempt to break them down here. Note: you can read our Venice solo review of "Voyage of Time: A Life's Journey" here.

Something feels off with Denzel Washington's "Fences"

Monday, September 26, 2016

Notes on "The Accountant" starring Ben Affleck

Image result for the accountant

The film is currently under embargo and, like all embargoed films, I can only be vague and abstract about my feelings for the film (which I caught this afternoon). A full review will have to come at a later date, most probably around its October 14th release date, but think of this as Affleck's action star movie, quite similar to Liam Neeson in "Taken" or Keanu Reeves in "John Wick." Affleck's film is really just an old-fashioned action movie with not much on its mind, but to entertain.

Courtesy of IMDB:

"Christian Wolff is a math savante with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King, starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise."

Scorsese's "Silence" coming out December 23rd

FINALLY. The savior has cometh to save the movie year! I REPORTED last week that the film would indeed be released this year and now we have an official release date: December 23rd, 2016.

I'm hearing it will get screened for press in November. Now, where's the trailer? I mean, this is too good to be true. We want actual footage of the damn thing. Variety has the whole story HERE.

Toughts on SXSW Winner "Tower"

Excerpt taken from my SXSW review:

"What Keith Maitland has created in "Tower" is a singular technical achievement, but also, for its first hour or so, a bracing indictment of quite possibly the very beginning of the mass shooting phenomenon that is still occurring to this very day in the United States. Maitland creatively combines still photos, 8mm footage from the tragedy, and rotoscopic animation, much like Linklater's "Waking Life" to create a fully fleshed-out depiction of that fateful day in 1966 when a lone gunmen rode an elevator to the 22nd floor in the University of Texas tower and started randomly shooting at innocent by-standing students and staff. It feels like the most visceral action movie in quite some time, but also showcases an immaculate example of true heroism. Although its last half hour doesn't come through as expected and the film changes its tune dramatically by looking at the aftermath of the event, the first hour is well worth a watch. "

Ava DuVernay tackles black incarceration in first footage of "The 13th"

Oh Ava, you can do no wrong. Here's a smart, articulate black woman that really cares about her own people.

I sadly won't be making the New York Film Festival this year. I've been to Cannes, Toronto and Sundance  so I have seen about 95% of the NYFF programming already, but there are 4 film premieres there that had me contemplating a trip to the "Big Apple": Ang Lee's "Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk," James Gray's "The Lost City of Z," Mike Mill's "20th Century Women" and DuVernay's "The 13th" an in-depth look aat the country's incarceration system and specifically its target of African-Americans. Fascinating stuff, but also relevant stuff. So much so that I added it to my "What's Left" column for 2017. It's one of only 10 unscreened movies left in the year that I truly believe can leave a notably important artistic mark.

It will premiere on Netflix October 7th and get a limited release that same day. The trailer is now available and it does look like something that could really open up minds and cause change. DuVernay is a very important artist in the black community and outside it as well, so this is an important movie as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Terrence Malick will be making a rare public appearance in October

Malick is such a mysterious man, I've heard stories about him showing up at Cannes during the premiere of "Tree of Life" and just sitting in the back incognito. He is supposedly shy, socially awkward, not really a public kind of man. That's fine, I understand that, but what made him decide to finally appear next month, at Jersey's Princeton Garden Theater, to discuss Roberto Rossellini's seminal 1954 classic "Journey to Italy?" I still don't believe it's going to happen. He will cancel or just not show up. The man can't possibly be doing this? or is he really going through with it?

Courtesy of the A.V. Club:

"Tree Of Life" and "Badlands" director Terrence Malick is a notoriously hard man to catch in the wild: he doesn’t appear in making-of features for his own films, grant many interviews, or even allow photographs of himself to surface in the public realm. (To say nothing of his 20-year hiatus from film-making, between 1978’s Days Of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line.) Fans of the celebrated director (and Italian cinema) might want to make their way to New Jersey next month, though: Malick has apparently been scheduled to speak at the Princteon Garden Theater, as part of a discussion on Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 masterpiece Journey To Italy. According to the theater’s web site, the October 21 showing of the film will be followed by “a live conversation with acclaimed director Terrence Malick.” Tickets don’t appear to be on sale for the event at the moment, although it’s not clear if they’re not available yet, or if fanatical Malick fans—hoping to get a glimpse of their hero beyond the occasional on-set photo—have already scooped them up."

Full article can be found HERE

I know he has a small, almost invisible cameo in "Badlands." I don't think I've ever heard him speak to tell you the truth. His whereabouts unknown in the "making of" docs of his feature films. There's also this strange moment that happened  when he and Benicio Del Toro were walking out of a restaurant in L.A. - Check out the Malick's reaction when he sees the camera.

I have already written a review of "Voyage of Time" his latest film, this one about the beginning, middle and end of time. I dug it for the most part. Review should get posted in the coming week. I'll be comparing the differences between the 45 minute Brad Pitt narrated IMAX version and the 90 minute Cate Blanchett narrated feature-length version.

"The Magnificent Seven" opening #1 at the Box Office spells a forthcoming deluge of reboots/remakes

As predicted "The Magnificent Seven" has opened with a 35 million dollar weekend intake at the Box Office, overtaking "Sully" for the top spot. The latter movie starring Tom Hanks is close to the 100 million dollar mark and that's something to celebrate. It constitutes one of the few times in 2016 a smartly written, adult-oriented story has been this successful at the box office.

As for "The Magnificent Seven," I was not a fan of the film, my review can be found HERE. As for "The Magnificent Seven," I was not a fan of the film, my review can be found HERE. Also, what's the deal with a black cowboy riding around in the, primarily white, old west and no racial slurs or remarks ever being uttered towards him? That just wouldn't happen. Tarantino got it right in "Django Unchained" when Jamie Foxx's titular character rides into town with a horse and the whole town's jaws just drop ... of course there's that famous LINE.

This again proves the mainstream popularity Denzel has, I'm not complaining although him picking better movies would make things much easier to swallow. The success of "Magnificent" does also spell possible greenlight for many more remakes of classic films to come. To me, that's almost as bad as any terrible superhero movie. As reported last week Will Smith is already working on a "High Noon" remake. Also being remade "The Orphanage," "Rosemary`s Baby" "Starship Troopers"  "Scarface," "The Naked Gun," "Videodrome" and "The Harder They Come." YIKES. That's from not much research, I'm sure there are plenty more titles that I missed, but it's almost too pain-inducing to look for them.

EDIT: I gave in. Here are others that are about to begin shooting. Some personal favorites of mine which are about to get butchered include: "Akira," "A Prophet," "The Birds," "Cabin Fever," "Cube," "Das Boot," "Don't Look Now," "The Seven Samurai," and "The Fugitive."

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