If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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2016 Rising: The Grand Finale and Predicting My Awards

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I like the poster. I liked the trailer. Will I like the film? (Source)

Let’s talk about 2016. Though you may understandably be reluctant so to do.

I don’t think many will disagree when I say this has been a bad year. They might take exception to the word “bad.” Which is fair. It might be better to say this year has been so crushingly weak.

But do the next two months offer some hope of salvation? That’s what I hope to determine.

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THE GAMBLER Review – ***

The prestige picture that wasn't. (Source)

The prestige picture that wasn’t. (Source)

That The Gambler was released at Christmastime (after premiering at the AFI Fest) suggests that Paramount expected the Academy to take notice. In return, they got middling reviews (just 47% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing) and unremarkable financial returns. It’s at once fitting and a bit unfortunate.

Unfortunate, because it’s not a bad film. It’s pretty well-directed, the acting is solid, and on the whole, it’s a decent watch. Fitting, because it wastes most of its cast, adds up to little, and ultimately shows no reason for existing (and because it plays into some tiresome stereotypes, but we’ll get back to that). It’s not a bad film. It’s just not that good either.

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TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Review – *½

The extinction of what, though? Entertainment? ()

The extinction of what, though? Entertainment? (Source)

For some cinephiles, Michael Bay is their bête noire, the embodiment of all that is wrong with movies today and a consistent source of over-edited, lowest-common-denominator garbage. I’m not quite one of them. Yes, Bay has made some awful films, but don’t forget that two of his films are in the Criterion Collection–The Rock and Armageddon. And the first Transformers movie was, all things considered, a pretty fun film. The second was much shakier (the story was messy, the humor was stupid when not offensive); I never bothered with the third, although it was less critically shredded than the second or fourth films. But, admittedly looking for a likely bad film to round out what has been a mostly good year, I took advantage of a discounted ticket and soldiered forth (ha ha); 165 minutes later, I emerged, sadder and wiser. Though not the worst film I’ve seen this year (Winter’s Tale is a bigger trainwreck), it comes close, an ugly, often boring film with ugly, off-putting characters.

It moves me to ask: how much robot fighting do you really want? Isn’t this just a little tedious by now? But first, let’s review the movie.

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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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Longlists to Nominees: Supporting Actor

You cannot make bricks without clay, and we’ve got a shit-ton of clay to work with here; 14 actors representing 16 performances. I think I know what I want to do here…but there might be some surprises along the way.

Side note: Am I the only one who’s surprised NO ONE nominated Clooney for Gravity? Everyone goes nuts for that movie and they don’t they nominate the ONE other person in the cast? Not saying he should’ve been nominated, but the totality of his exclusion surprises me. (All he got was “Favorite Movie Duo” with Sandra Bullock from the People’s Choice Awards. Which…no.)

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Daniel Brühl (Rush)
  • Chris Cooper (August: Osage County)
  • Paul Dano (Prisoners)
  • Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • James Franco (Spring Breakers)
  • John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Mud/The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • David Oyelowo (The Butler)
  • Sam Shepard (Mud/August: Osage County)
  • Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12)
  • Jiang Wu (A Touch of Sin)

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