If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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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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Screen Actors Guild Nominations: 2015

Trumbo poster

A stronger showing than anyone could’ve expected.

SAG announced their nominations today.

Historically, the film that wins Best Ensemble here has to be considered the Best Picture frontrunner. Looking at that category, it seems pretty likely.

But as far as the individual acting categories are concerned…things can get strange. Sometimes SAG nominates actors who seemed primed for an Oscar nod and failed to connect (Oprah in The Butler, for one), and other times they nominate someone seemingly out of the blue (Naomi Watts in St. Vincent, Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy).

I can’t speak about the former, but the latter is surely on display today.

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THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Review – **½

"This is the way The Hobbit ends; Not with a bang, but with a whimper..." (Source)

“This is the way The Hobbit ends;
Not with a bang, but with a whimper…” (Source)

The Battle of Five Armies is a suitable finish to a trilogy which had no business being a trilogy. It’s kind of a mess, kind of boring, occasionally spectacular, possibly offensive, and ultimately forgettable. If it is less absurd than the first film in the series (and then, not by much), it lacks that film’s cozy tedium. And it lacks really likable characters–but they shall receive theirs in due time.

Maybe my seeing it at an evening showing (on top not only of an afternoon viewing of Into the Woods, but also of Christmas dinner) didn’t help. But a battle of this scope and ostensible importance should’ve jolted me awake. Instead, I realized for most of the running time that I simply didn’t care.

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KNIGHT OF CUPS Trailer

Taking a quick break from the deluge of awards news to bring you what will probably be one of my top films of next year.

Malick will always have a weakness for pretty people taking long slow walks in fields or beaches or wherever, but it looks like he’s adding a nice little dose of crazy to the mix this time. Bring it on, Terrence.


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THE MONUMENTS MEN Review – **½

I like the UK poster design better than the American version, but points off for not including Dujardin.

I like the UK poster design better than the American version, but points off for not including Dujardin.

Some spoilers.

Once this was pushed back from a holiday release date to February, despite early rumors that it would be a major Oscar contender, I knew something was not quite right. And sure enough, while not a bad film, The Monuments Men is nowhere near the level of an Oscar contender, and even the weakest Best Picture nominee (Dallas Buyers Club) is a more successful film. Taken on its own, Monuments Men has its moments, but is overall too serious to be a romp and too light to be an effective war film. What George Clooney was trying to say with this film is not clear, as murky as it is.

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Oscar Wrap-Up

The moment of triumph.

Well, let’s look and see what went down, shall we?

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave

Absolutely spot-on. The best of the nominees, basically the best film of the year, an important milestone in Academy history…there was some speculation that Gravity might take this at the last minute, and reports of Academy members who found the film too painful to watch gave cause for concern, but really…doesn’t this feel like the best choice? It does to me. It did to them. Plus, I got to see Steve McQueen literally jump with joy. Perfection.

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Some last-minute Oscar thoughts:

You can get this one right, Academy. Don’t be foolish, now.

Best Picture:

  • American Hustle: Not a bad movie–a pretty good one, to be honest–but it’s “edgy” and “wacky” only by the most white-bread metrics. This winning might be worse than Argo winning, and that was a ridiculous choice.
  • Captain Phillips: A fine thriller. Would’ve actually been a decent contender had they given Greengrass the nomination. But I’m glad it got in.
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Easily the weak link in this category for me. I wasn’t in love with Inside Llewyn Davis, but it should’ve gotten this slot instead.
  • Gravity: I still say it’s basically a theme-park ride classed up a little, but I won’t deny how well-made it was. So I can let it slide.
  • Her: There was actually some concern this wouldn’t make it on. But thankfully, this was one of those years where the best films were so obvious even the Academy couldn’t fuck it up too badly. So they gave this lovely film some attention. Already, with two **** films in the lineup, this year is as good as 2011 and 2012 put together.
  • Nebraska: And baby makes three. After a rough start, it becomes a funny, deeply touching allegory for the death of the small-town Midwest, and a fine showcase for Bruce Dern.
  • Philomena: What seemed on the outside to be a trifle meant to showcase a cutesy Judi Dench performance instead was an effective true story of a woman trying to right a long-buried wrong. It should never win, but I’m cool with it being here.
  • 12 Years a Slave: This is the film that should win. Why? Because it’s the best.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Another film that some people thought wouldn’t make it, because it was “too much” for the older members of the Academy (or, really, anyone who liked American Hustle). Thank God it did, though, because it’s vintage Scorsese–and, if you ask me, much better than Hugo. I just wish it had a little more of a chance to win.

5 **** films in one lineup. That’s pretty damn good. And really, as long as American Hustle doesn’t win (or Dallas Buyers Club, but that’s incredibly unlikely), I could live with any outcome. But they really should take 12 Years.

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