If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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HIGH-RISE: Final Review – ***½

“We want you to lead a delegation.” “To where, the United Nations?” “To the supermarket.”

As of this writing, High-Rise ranks very highly in several of my awards categories, and for good reason: in certain particulars it’s an unqualified success. It’s superbly directed, gorgeously designed and photographed, and well acted. Its best scenes can be treasured by the keen viewer.

And yet, it is not even in my top 10 films of the year to date, and a lot of it comes down to the story. Based on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel, I am not entirely sure how much High-Rise has to offer a contemporary audience. But is the issue the source material, or the way director Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump brought it to the screen?

I previously published my initial thoughts on the film with the proviso that they would be incorporated into my final review. That is precisely what I have done here.

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2016 Rising, Actus Tertius: Reflections

It’s time to close the door on 2015. Past time, even. But I wanted to round off this awards season, as patchy as my coverage of it may have been, with a poll (seen above), some statistical fun, and some reflection on my awards past.

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Wrapping Up the 88th Academy Awards

Spotlight team meeting

Everyday people, simply doing their jobs…and winning the big one to boot.

I don’t even know where to begin with this night.

Actually, I do.

Can we all agree the hosting was on fucking point tonight? Chris Rock has been one of my favorite stand-ups for a long while, and damned if he wasn’t firing on all cylinders, tackling the thorny issue of #OscarsSoWhite without ever becoming preachy. I won’t say there weren’t some lulls–I don’t know if Jared Leto entirely knew where he was–and the omission of Abe Vigoda from the In Memoriam segment was pretty inexcusable; also, much as I enjoy Zoolander, I really wish they’d used The Man Who Fell to Earth for Bowie’s clip.

Those issues aside, this was one of the better telecasts I’ve seen in quite some time. It felt like a certain layer of bullshit had been stripped away, and if it ultimately became a showcase for Hollywood liberalism, I’d honestly rather see that than another pointless montage or asinine skit.

But there’s also the awards to consider. And my God, did we have some upsets. It was a precedent massacre out there, and I’ll just do my best to note all of the breaches.

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Final Oscar Predictions: 2015

It’s almost time. Let’s review the evidence.

Best Picture:

One of the most wide-open Best Picture categories I can remember. Three strong contenders to win and a possible spoiler. And had Carol not been fucked over, it might be even worse. Ditto Ridley Scott.

  • The Big Short (#2) – I’m really torn as to how I feel about its chances. It won the PGA, and since the expansion of the Best Picture category the PGA winner has always won Best Picture. It also won at the WGA and the ACE, but it lost the SAG Ensemble award, the DGA, the Globe, and the BAFTA. So let’s not pretend it isn’t in a precarious spot right now. I want to predict it to win in good faith. But I can’t. I think at the very least it’s a very close second, but if you want to call it the front-runner, accept that its status as such is not secure.
  • Bridge of Spies (#7) – It’s a great film and I’m glad it was nominated. But it missed out on Director and Editing, rendering its chances virtually nil. So it’s just happy to be here.
  • Brooklyn (#14) – It got three nominations. I’m a little shocked it got on at all (especially over Carol). It’s a sweet film and hardly a bad choice for a nomination…but it might actually be the least likely film to win. Its other two nominations are a different matter, but Picture is completely out of the question.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – Sadly, I think its best hope is that the three front-runners cancel each other out and it rises to the top. But it hasn’t done that all season, and since the NBR has mostly won Picture only from local critics’ groups. As much as I love it, I knew going in that I’d be happy if it just got nominated. Once it was, I was all right with it not winning. And I still am.
  • The Martian (#12) – I’m just glad this was good enough to deserve the nomination. It’s a shame Ridley Scott got snubbed, though, since without a nomination for him, there’s no way in hell this would ever win. Not that it was likely to, since it had already peaked some time ago. But it tightens up what may be the most open Best Picture race I can recall.
  • The Revenant (#8) – It won the Globe, BAFTA, and DGA. It’s come a long way in a short time. That it didn’t get SAG Ensemble or Screenplay nominations, or win the PGA, makes me hesitant to predict it to win (and if Iñárritu pulls it off he’ll be the first director ever to win Best Picture in consecutive years), but…it’s really hard for me not to. It’s this or The Big Short.
  • Room (#16) – Someone on IndieWire was saying this might be a surprise winner (probably given the surprise Director nomination), but I don’t see it. It has no traction for a Picture win. It’s just happy to be here. There’s a very definite split the possible winners and the happy-to-be-heres this year.
  • Spotlight (#40) – For a while it looked like this had Best Picture in the bag. And then it started losing. It lost BAFTA and DGA to The Revenant, and the PGA to The Big Short. It did win the SAG Ensemble award, but that doesn’t mean as much as you might think. American Hustle won SAG Ensemble and went 0-10 at the Oscars. So I’d put this as third-likeliest to win. Normally, that’d be pretty damning, but given how weird this particular year is, it means it still has a shot.

So…is it The Big Short, The Revenant, or Spotlight?

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My 5th Annual Film Awards: Your Winners, My Winners, and My Rankings for Each Category

It’s time.

I was going to have a survey here, but I’ll save that for Monday.

A quick thanks to all of you who voted and all of you who got the vote out. The turn-out this year was lower than last year’s, but I must attribute some of that to my getting the polls up so late. I’ll see if I can’t do better next year.

Click that button to see our results.

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My 5th Annual Film Awards: Open Voting!

2015 Best Picture

Have at it, my friends.

But please, PLEASE, vote in all categories.

If you wish to write in a different choice, please do so in the comments.

To review the nominees, go here.

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My 5th Annual Film Awards: The Nominees

On the left, a film which made $150 million in the U.S. alone and which nearly everyone has heard of. On the right, a film which made about $110,000 in the U.S., and which comparatively few have heard of (and fewer have seen). But they're both up for my Best Picture award.

On the left, a film which made $150 million in the U.S. alone and which nearly everyone has heard of. On the right, a film which made about $110,000 in the U.S., and which comparatively few have heard of (and fewer have seen). But they’re both up for my Best Picture award.

And so it begins.

Apologies for not illustrating this post as elaborately as I might have, but it’s been a busy weekend.

In fact, because of time pressures, I’ve decided the open voting will actually commence tomorrow–President’s Day. An appropriate day for voting, no? (A neat rationalization of my own procrastination…no?)

Picture:

  • Anomalisa
  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • Creed
  • Ex Machina
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Inside Out
  • The Look of Silence
  • Love & Mercy
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Mr. Holmes
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Son of Saul
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Tangerine

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