Oscar Predictions and New Blog Series Poll

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetHey guys! So the Oscars are coming up next week and so I thought I would share my predictions and what I would pick if it was left up to just me. I don’t plan on watching this year because I think all of the political speeches will be completely insufferable and I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel is funny. I’ll just find out winners online.

Also, I realized I haven’t done a series on this blog for a long time. I was so overwhelmed with my Disney Canon Project over on my youtube channel last year that aside from the monthly blindspot picks I let that slide. I want to make sure to always provide content for both my channel and blog, so I am interested in doing another series. I have a poll so please vote on what you would like me to write about:

Anyway, here are my predictions/picks. Also I warn you I am notoriously awful at this. I have seen almost everything except for no documentary shorts, Elle and a couple docs/foreign films.

Best Picture- Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land. My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director- Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Winner- Damien Chazelle (La La Land). My Pick- Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Actor- Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Winner- Denzel Washington (Fences), My Pick- Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Winner- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), My Pick- Ruth Negga (Loving)  (I have not seen Elle but my gut tells me they will go with the veteran who had 2 critically lauded films this year)

Best Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges in (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges ((Manchester by the Sea)), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Winner- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), My Pick- Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

Best Supporting Actress- Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Winner- Viola Davis (Fences), My Pick- Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay- Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

I have not seen 20th Century Women.

Winner- Manchester by the Sea (please, please, please. La La Land does not deserve best screenplay!) My Pick- Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay- Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight,

Winner- Moonlight, My Pick- Fences

Best Animated Film- Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Winner- Zootopia, My Pick- Moana

Best Foreign Language Film- Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Winner- Toni Erdmann, My Pick- (Only one I’ve seen) A Man Called Ove

Best Documentary- Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, OJ Made in America, 13th

I haven’t seen Fire at Sea but seen the rest.

Winner- OJ Made in America, My Pick- Life Animated

Documentary Shorts- Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets

I haven’t seen any of these shorts but the one I hear the most buzz about is Joe’s Violin

Live Action Short- Ennemis interieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode

Winner- Silent Nights, My Pick- Sing

Animated Short- Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper

Winner- Pearl, My Pick- Piper

Best Score- Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Moonlight

Best Original Song- Audition (La La Land), Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls), City of Stars (La La Land), Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story), How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Winner- City of Stars (La La Land), My Pick- How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Best Sound Editing- Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, 13 Hours

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- 13 Hours

Production Design- Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail Caesar, La La Land, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Cinematography- Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Lion

Make Up- A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Winner- Star Trek Beyond, My Pick- Star Trek Beyond

Costume Design- Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

Winner- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, My Pick- Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Film Editing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects- Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Jungle Book, Kubo and the 2 Strings

Winner- Jungle Book, My Pick- Jungle Book

So there you have it! Hope you enjoy my predictions. What do you think of them? And thanks for voting in the poll

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Great Wall Review

great-wall2The B movie is a tricky thing. The name came when people used to go see double headers. One film would be a big budget more serious movie and the 2nd or B movie would be a lower budget more campy film like a low grade monster or cowboy movie. While The Great Wall has a large budget ($150 million but it has already made $224 million in China) it has the feel of a B movie and I think it is enjoyable on that level. It’s not a great movie but B movies never were. They were just silly, over-the-top movie going experiences.

In truth, The Great Wall is a monster movie (again in the spirit of B movies). It is directed by Zhang Yimou who received an Oscar nomination for the 2002 film Hero and is famous for directing House of Flying Daggers. In The Great Wall he puts down martial arts entirely and makes, like I said, a monster movie.

great-wallMatt Damon is admittedly wildly miscast in the lead role with a wandering Irish (I think) accent (It’s the kind of role Arnold or Stallone would have played in their hey-days). But he plays William, a man who has journeyed to China to find ‘black powder’. He and his buddy Tovar (Pedro Pascal who has a different accent that is never explained) are attacked one day by a mysterious monster with green blood. They take the hand of the monster and present before a castle at the Great Wall of China. The wall is ruled by an army called the Nameless Order who are skilled fighters including Zhang Hanyu, Andy Lau and Jing Tian.

the-great-wall-11It turns out the order is preparing to face off against the monster that William beat. They are kind of like zombies or orcs and there are a lot of them and they don’t shy away from the non-bloody PG-13 killing and warfare. The 3D is very effective in these scenes with arrows flying at your face and monsters coming towards you. It really is a lot of fun.

great-wall3They also have clever warfare strategies like women hanging on ropes and swinging with their bow and arrows. A lot of people are going to be concerned if this is a white savior film and it has its moments for sure but it wasn’t as bad in that regard as I thought it would be.  For the most part the Chinese are equally great at fighting monsters as Damon. I also appreciated that there isn’t really a love interest. It’s hinted at but never really materialized. The women are there to fight monsters just like everyone else.

Is this movie cheesy? Of course it is but that’s part of the B movie fun of it. The dialogue is campy and the action is over-the-top.  There were some boring sections and the William Defoe character is completely unnecessary but I think if you go in with the right attitude you can enjoy The Great Wall. It’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but in the spirit of B movies it’s an entertaining movie. It’s certainly a million times better than the ponderous tombs we got last year in films like Warcraft.

If you decide to give The Great Wall a shot let me know what you think. See this in the theaters because I don’t think it will be as fun at home.

Overall Grade- C+

Lego Podcast and Happy Valentines Day!

Hey guys! Quick post today but just wanted to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day.  Each year I create a custom valentine to make the holiday a little bit more fun. My friend Joan at Bitsy Creations does the design work but it is my concept.  I hope you all have a wonderful day and feel loved!

valentine-2017I also got to do a podcast today with my friend Eli on both The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. We had a lot of fun talking about both films and would love your thoughts on what we have to say.

2016 Rachies Awards

Well, my friends, the Oscars are coming up and most likely they will get a few things right but most things wrong. I don’t know if I’m even going to watch this year because the political speeches are going to be so obnoxious. Instead, I would like to point you to a much better annual awards offering- the Rachies. Yes, for the last 3 years I have given my nominations and winners for the best of the year. I include all the categories from the Oscars but then offer a few of my own into the mix. So, sit back and enjoy the 2016 Rachies Awards!

Best Animated Film-

your-name-2Moana

Your Name

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Live Action Film-

sing-streetHacksaw Ridge

Sing Street

Love and Friendship

Lion

Things to Come

Best Directing-

lion-sunny-pawar

Mel Gibson- Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins- Moonlight

Ron Clements and John Musker- Moana

David Mackenzie- Hell or High Water

Garth Davis- Lion

Makoto Shinkai- Your Name

Most Underrated/Underseen

april2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

April and the Extraordinary World

Ethel and Ernest

London Road

Best Animated Short

piper disney pixar finalFoxed

Piper

Inner Workings

Borrowed Time

Pearl

Best Actress in Leading Role

fences-movie35

Isabelle Huppert- Things to Come

Kate Beckinsale- Love and Friendship

Viola Davis- Fences

Ruth Negga- Loving

Rebecca Hall- Christine

Best Actor in Leading Role

sullyCasey Affleck- Manchester By the Sea

Tom Hanks- Sully

Denzel Washington- Fences

Taron Egerton- Eddie the Eagle

Rolf Lassgard- A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actress-queen-of-katwe-scene

Chloe Sevigny- Love and Friendship

Nicole Kidman- Lion

Taraji P Henson- Hidden Figures

Lupita Nyong’o- Queen of Katwe

Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actorjack-reynor

Ashton Sanders- Moonlight

Jack Reynor- Sing Street

Tom Bennett- Love and Friendship

John Goodman- 10 Cloverfield Lane

Chris Pine- Hell or High Water

Best Ensemble Filmhacksaw-ridge-ensemble

Hidden Figures

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Captain America: Civil War

Everybody Wants Some

Best Voice Actingzootopia100

Auli’i Cravalho and The Rock- Moana

Jim Broadbent and Blenda Blethyn- Ethel and Ernest

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman- Zootopia

Ellen Degeneres- Finding Dory

Art Parkinson- Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Production Designallied2

Rogue One

Allied

Passengers

La La Land

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Visual EffectsTHE JUNGLE BOOK

A Monster Calls

Pete’s Dragon

Jungle Book

Doctor Strange

The BFG

Best Documentary

tower2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

Life, Animated

OJ Made in America

The Eagle Huntress

Best Costumesdressmaker6

Florence Foster Jenkins

Love and Friendship

The Dressmaker

Cafe Society

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Best Makeup and Hairjackie2

Star Trek Beyond

The Dressmaker

Jackie

Nocturnal Animals

Allied

Best Editinghacksaw-ridge-poster-part

13 Hours

The Shallows

Hacksaw Ridge

Nocturnal Animals

Hell or High Water

Best Cinematographyhunt-for-wilderpeople

Lion

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Knight of Cups

La La Land

Pete’s Dragon

Best Original Score

La La Land

Moana

The Red Turtle

Your Name

Moonlight

Best Original Song

How Far I’ll Go- Moana

You’re Welcome- Moana

Drive it Like You Stole It- Sing Street

Up- Sing Street

Sparkle- Your Name

Best Original Screenplayhell-or-highwater

Things to Come

Sing Street

Hell or High Water

Everybody Wants Some

Manchester By the Sea

Your Name

Best Adapted Screenplaylove and friendship2

Lion

Fences

Moonlight

Love and Friendship

Queen of Katwe

Best Sound Design and Mixing

13-hoursRogue One

Hacksaw Ridge

13 Hours

Patriot’s Day

Allied

Biggest Surprise

10_cloverfield_lane_paramount_winstead-0-0Hell or High Water

10 Cloverfield Lane

Pete’s Dragon

Hidden Figures

Bridget Jones Baby

So that is my Rachies Awards!  I hope you enjoyed them. Please let me know what you think in the comments section and check out some of these movies if you haven’t had a chance!

Lego Batman Movie Review

lego-batman-logoBack in 2014 there was a surprise little movie that took the world by storm called The Lego Movie. Going into it I thought it would be a pun-filled toy movie but it actually was a visually gorgeous, funny, heartfelt treatise on the way children play and think. The Lego Movie showed the randomness of a child’s brain and it had an emotional story between a father and a son that nobody was expecting. It was also so beautiful the way everything flowed like a world of legos really would. In my opinion, The Lego Movie is one of the best animated films of the last 5 years.

So, it was with great anticipation that I went to see the spin-off film The Lego Batman Movie today. The trailers have been hilarious and as I am not the biggest Batman fan I was looking forward to seeing everyone else’s sacred franchise taken down a few pegs. And the result?  While I do not think it is as good as The Lego Movie, it is still an entertaining spoof comedy movie that I think any animation or comic book movie fan will enjoy.

lego-batman5The best thing about Lego Batman Movie is the pacing. The jokes start literally before the WB logo and they never stop. This version of Batman is dry, sarcastic and lonely. Most of the movie is various characters like Robin, Barbara Gordon and Alfred trying to get through to him and make him lower his pride to admit he needs help. Robin voiced by Michael Cera is Bruce Wayne’s ward Dick Grayson and is energetic and clingy. Of course, this rubs Batman the wrong way!

lego-batman4But the main thrust of the film is from Zach Galifianakis’ Joker who is upset with Batman because he won’t admit they are arch-rivals and need each other. You get some especially good jokes about Batman v Superman and other Batman versions within the interactions with Joker.

legobatman2The jokes come quick in Lego Batman Movie and Will Arnett is amazing in the role but they also pack in quite a bit of story into the 104 minute run time. There’s a lot of action and literally every Warner Bros character I could think of.

The animation was also bright and colorful and a lot of fun to watch. The only problem is it lacked the flow of legos that we had in the Lego Movie. When Emmet in Lego Movie would dive into water the waves looked like legos. You don’t really get that here. I guess that’s fine because it is a comic book world where Lego Movie was more of a fantasy world, but I was more dazzled by Lego Movie’s animation.

lego-batman3Also, there’s something about The Lego Movie that felt more memorable. Maybe it’s partly me not being that big of a Batman fan. It felt enjoyable but not something that will stick with me for years to come like Lego Movie did. It’s more of a solid entertaining animated comedy rather than a game changer.

But those are a small criticisms to a very good film. Your entire family will like it and it was certainly nice to see something self-aware and humorous from the world of comic book films and DC.

If you see it let me know what you think. How does it compare with Lego Movie to you?

Overall Grade- B+

Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania Review

surfs-up2-3There are some projects that are just bad ideas. You get the most brilliant writers around and they might be passable films but the ideas are bad. Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania is one of those films. It’s just a bad idea from beginning to end. It’s such a bad idea that Sony, the studio behind Smurf’s 2 and the Emoji Movie, didn’t even have the confidence to release it in the theater.  It is an absolutely atrocious film in every way including the fact it stinks up a charming original film.

After all, Surf’s Up was nominated for an Oscar back in 2007. It was a unique little animated mockumentary about a Antarctic penguin who dreams of becoming a professional surfer. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but for what it is, it is an enjoyable watch. The writing is particularly good as it pokes fun at sports documentaries and movies.

Unfortunately all of the appeal of the original film is lost in this terrible sequel. The problems start with the premise. WWE stars play a group called The Hang 5 that Cody idolizes. This doesn’t jive with the original documentary because then his motivation was surfing not the Hang 5.

surfs-up2Even if I ignore that continuity problem, the premise is terrible. The Hang 5 are voiced by WWE wrestlers including John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H and more. This stunt casting does nothing for the story except for to provide a couple of inside jokes that I did not understand.

Cody does hardly any surfing in the movie and it feels like it keeps reinventing itself every 10 minutes. One minute it is Indiana Jones, another it is Mission Impossible or Point Break. The list  could go on.  None of these characters have any charisma or personality

Jeremy Shada steps in for Shia LaBeoulf as Cody and you can tell. All of the voice acting feels bored but it is tough since the characters aren’t written in an interesting or satisfying way.

About 1/3rd of way through they are in the desert looking for some clue and I had no idea what they were doing with it but not in a good way. For most of it I was extremely bored and disengaged and I didn’t laugh at all

Normally I would be able to recommend something like this to kids but I really can’t here.  There is absoloutely nothing for a child’s intellect or creativity in all of this nonsense.

The animation isn’t even very good. It looks cheap because it was cheap.

I feel like I should have more to say on Surf’s Up 2 but I honestly don’t. It wasn’t funny, engaging, well executed or anything like the original film.

I just have to say to the WWE= get the heck out of my animated film!

Overall Grade- D-

Sundance 2017 Recap

So, last week I attended the Sundance Film Festival for the first time. Last year I went to one movie at the festival but this was my first year actually attending. I would have updated you guys sooner but I’ve been very sick.

As far as the festival as a whole it was a good experience. I’m not sure if I will want to do it again because all the driving definitely got old. I’m not used to driving into Salt Lake every single day and it gave me a renewed appreciation for the people do that commute each day.  It would make me nuts!

I ended up seeing 10 movies. One film, Band Aid, that I wanted to see I arrived within the 15 minute window before the movie starts and they had given my spot away. This was very frustrating as I had left plenty of time but there were 3 accidents slowing things down.

The 10 movies I did see break down like this:

  1. My Life as a Zucchini- I reviewed this film so you have a pretty good idea of what I thought. It’s a very unusual film. Most adult animation isn’t as adorable as this one, which make it feel different. There are shocking story elements but also sweet moments. I can see why some love this film because the animation is amazing and it is refreshing to see something so unique. Still, I personally didn’t love it but liked it. Overall Grade- B
  2. Lady Macbeth- This movie was glossy garbage. Set up as a corset ripping gothic thriller it was laughably bad.  The cinematography is beautiful and the lead performance isn’t half bad but there is no chemistry between her and the man she is with. They keep making nonsensical choices and the direction makes odd choices in the guise of art. Like a tense scene will be punctuated by a long look at a cat staring at the camera. Even the fact these 2 people are together makes no sense. Tough to like a romantic thriller with little to no romance. My audience was laughing at supposedly tense scenes. Overall Grade- D-
  3. STEP- The highlight of the festival. This amazing documentary tells the story of 4 high school seniors who have been part of a special inner-city Baltimore charter school. The step competition is merely a footnote to the journey the girls go on. You get to know their families and love the girls so much. The school counselors and teachers work together to save each of these young women. It was inspiring and will make you feel good about the world for a change.  I LOVED it! It reminded me of Hoop Dreams. Put it on your calendar for this year.  Overall Grade A+
  4. RISE- This was actually 3 episodes of a docu-series about the Native American struggle particularly with the Dakota Pipeline. It was fine and they had good intentions; however, it felt pretty propagandish to me and these kind of political message documentaries aren’t my favorite. It was neat after the screening to hear from the participants and one man sang a Native song. That was better than the movie! Overall Grade- C
  5. Animation Spotlight- I was kind of disappointed by these animated shorts.  There were a couple clever shorts but for the most part they were underwhelming and felt derivative of other surrealists like Don Hertzfeldt. They all felt like I had seen better versions by better artists, and so it just ended up being boring.  This was a big disappointment as I love animated shorts. Overall Grade- C-
  6. The Good Postman- A wonderful documentary about a man in Bulgaria who decides to do something about the Syrian refugee problem he sees all around him, so he decides to run for mayor. His opponent is hilarious and the characters are delightful. It manages to make important points while still remaining light and cheerful. Could be tighter but still very enjoyable documentary. Overall Grade- B+
  7. Wilson- I was nervous about seeing this because of the content, which is quite strong. However, it’s not one of those comedies that has profanity just to be shocking. At its core it’s actually kind of a sweet story about a man with some seriously strange quirks! Great performances by Laura Dern and Woody Harrelson make it a heart-warming experience. It was  lot better than I thought it would be.  Overall Grade- B+
  8. The Hero- This is a film where the lead performance is great but the movie he’s in is average. Sam Elliott is terrific as an aging Western movie star (brilliant casting) who finds out he has cancer. The dialogue is well written particularly between Nick Offerman as his best friend and Sam. The romance; however, did not work for me at all and felt extremely contrived and predictable with no chemistry between the couple. Overall Grade- B-
  9. The Yellow Birds- This movie tackles a lot with a brutal story about a group of soldiers in Iraq. Alden Ehrenreich and Ty Sheridan were both great and the cinematography is stunning. It is very impressive how they pulled off the war scenes on such a small budget.  Jennifer Aniston is also fantastic as Sheridan’s mother. Unfortunately the movie is held back by using a non-linear timeline so it jumps all over the place from when they first met to overcoming PTSD.  The big reveal was shocking but I think it would have been more so with a traditional timeline. Overall Grade- B-
  10. Rebel in the Rye- Fairly standard but impressive biopic about JD Salinger. Nicholas Holt is very good in the lead role and the journey of his writing is well portrayed. His personal descent into isolation was less well done and didn’t feel accurate. Kevin Spacey is fantastic as his teacher who inspires him to write Catcher in the Rye. Overall Grade- B

So the highlight of the festival was definitely STEP and low point Lady Macbeth.

On Thursday I went and saw Silence because I didn’t get into Band Aid. I hated Silence and can read my review of that film here.

Do any of these films sound interesting to you? There were a bunch at Sundance I didn’t get a chance to see but heard great things about like Wind River, Ghost Story and Mudbound. It will be great to see those when they get released to the mainstream.

Blind Spot 14: THX 1138

This month for my blind spot pick we are diving back into the mind of George Lucas. After watching Attack of the Clones and Indy 4 I lost faith in the guy to tell a good story. So this month I decided to check his debut film THX 1138 off of my list. Who knows maybe I’d like young George better than old George?

thxYou know what I think I do! THX 1138 isn’t a perfect sci-film but it is solidly entertaining and very unique.

THX 1138 is set in a black and white dystopian world. (It feels a little bit like Tron but more stark). Every part of the people’s lives is controlled including mating and emotions. They all kind of work in these giant factories and have brief names like SEN and LUH. By changing out his drug, LUH is able to convince THX to have sex with her.

thx5The couple is then chased by an agent named SEN and the entire corporation that runs the world and forced to separate. I don’t want to give any more of the story away for those that are spoiler sensitive.

thxThe acting is pretty great especially for a George Lucas movie (who is notoriously bad at working with actors). I particularly liked Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance and Maggie McOmie as the 3 main leads.

Visually the movie is stark, glaring and always interesting ot look at. That is probably it’s greatest strength.

thx4There are some problems, however, with THX 1138. I found the story to be kind of hard to understand at first. It does not take any time to give backstories or explain the world or the character motivations at all. The dialogue is also very simple.  It’s really a movie all about the visuals and the overall broad mess.

For those sensitive there is also a fair amount of nudity in the film, so be aware of that. It is only 95 minutes but it felt longer than that.

But problems aside, if you want to watch something that is different, that a million people could all get different interpretations on give THX 1138 a shot. I think you will really enjoy it.

 

Overall Grade- B