Sunday, September 17, 2017

REVIEW: IT

What really scared you as a kid? Was it giant monsters, the dark, a scary house across the street? For me, it was always the nontraditionally scary things that spooked me. I couldn't watch Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka because of how badly the ubiquitous Oompa Loompas sang in their monotone, dead-faced way.  There was the donkey transformation in Disney's Pinocchio (that also served as a great anti-smoking ad). I wasn't allowed to watch any horror films, but my peers in daycare and elementary school sure were, and the biggest show/event that they talked about being the most terrifying thing you could ever see was "It." Someone brought in a copy of the VHS, with Tim Curry's bulbous egg dome and blood-red Ben Franklin side-do greeting you in the upper right corner. It is creepy. But watching it about ten years later, on Spike TV, I can sum it up with a one-word review: "campy." Curry has a ball with Pennywise, and you're always waiting for him to pop back onscreen. When I caught wind of the remake, way back in 2015, I wondered if the filmmakers were going to be able to walk that fine line of camp and horror like Tommy Lee Wallace's version had.

After seeing It on opening weekend, in a theater full of people, prepared to be spooked, I will say the heart of the 90's miniseries is there and then some, and the camp has attempted to have been strained out. Curry's Pennywise appearance-wise was scary because he looked like a normal clown, with perhaps more exaggerated features. There is no mistaking Bill Skarsgård's interpretation of the Dancing Clown for anything less then evil. It's a more juvenile conception, a big, evil kid in make-up compared to Curry's chain-smoking New Yorker vaudevillian. Curry's role will forever go down in history along with Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance and Michael Clarke Duncan's John Coffey as the best adaptations of King characters, but Skarsgård certainly gets the job done, and with the help of some updated CGI is sure to land in several more impressionable kids' nightmares.

The clown, I am happy to say, is not the actual focus of the film. It's what gets butts in seats, but the story is pretty determined to try to show a Stand by Me portrait of 80's high school losers. Some more than others get the spotlight (RIP to the character development of Wyatt Olef's Stan, who all we know is Jewish). Finn Wolfhard of "Stranger Things" fame plays motormouth Ritchie, and he created one of my biggest problems of the feature. Of course we all grew up with someone as obnoxious as Ritchie, but I ask where does the function of the character being obnoxious start and the character actually becoming obnoxious begin? I suppose the studios were fearful of having too much emotional depth to an evil clown movie, and right when a stunned silence would've beautifully sufficed, Ritchie's in there with a one-liner about one of the boy's mothers. I could have done with a lot less of him, or at least his mouth.

When the film does decide to wear its heart on its ruffled, circus clown sleeve, it goes all out. I think part of the reason critics have been giving It applause is because it actually cares about its characters. No one is expendable in It, not even the African-American character, which horror movies are so quick to axe first. Everyone gets a turn to have their fears explored, giving us at least a little bit of insight into who they are. Sophia Lillis' Bev was my favorite, and though the reluctancy for this film to really show its teeth (hey, at least we got an R rating, which comes mainly from the potty mouths of the kids) her backstory is the most fleshed out, and the 15-year-old actress's handling of the adult material was admirable. Bev is already an adult in high school, and the loss of innocence the movie portrays is a gut punch.

It never scared me like I wanted it to, or the like the movie wanted to. In a crowd full of people, there was only one huge reaction, and it was a jump scare. An efficient jump scare, but still. The use of CGI opened up Pennywise's abilities to produce some horrifying imagery (he lives up to his name of "the Dancing Clown" and it is a hybrid of campy hilarity and nightmare fuel), but it takes away from the charm of the miniseries had. Tim Curry dissolved into a stop motion clown draining into the sink, and I preferred that over some of the visual effects It had to offer. It was made for a cool $35 million, and with how well it did opening weekdn, I hope the sequel at least doubles that. People want to be scared by an updated version of something that soiled their trousers in their childhood. The chemistry of the cast is seamless, but It needs to not be afraid to go even further. Leave the fear to the audience to conjure up.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars

Friday, August 11, 2017

REVIEW: DUNKIRK

Picture this wintery image to help you stay cool this summery day: 2012-era Travis going on to Crackle, the (legal!!!) free movie streaming site and picking Joe Cornish's amusing Attack the Block as a snow day diversion. The sci-fi comedy about South London teens experiencing an alien invasion was notoriously difficult for us Americans to comprehend, which led to the distributors pondering if they wanted to include subtitles. I think Warner Bros., the producer of Christopher Nolan's latest Dunkirk, should invest in captioning the war picture, because my inability to decipher at least 50% of what the soldiers in the film were saying diminished the enjoyability of the product.

We start with...well, in all transparency, you won't remember any of the names of the soldiers in Dunkirk, so I'm employing IMDb to its fullest. I remember George because his name was said about 50 times in the movie, and once you'll see it you'll understand why. But we start off with Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and a fellow soldier (Damien Bonnard) trying to save an injured man from the beaches of Dunkirk. It's at the height of World War 2, and British forces are surrounded. From there, Nolan doesn't let the tension go for a second, an actual clock in the score ticks for the film's entire duration. Strangely, the movie it reminded of in that sense is Mad Max: Fury Road. It's Nolan's frequent collaborator Lee Smith who deserves the credit here. Three story lines are simultaneously occurring, which I won't go much into, because I wasn't expecting it in the theatre, and it was one of the most pleasant surprises of my moviegoing experience in 2017 thus far!

I wanted to try not to focus on exclusively just Nolan in this review, but the man is a bonafide "blockbuster auteur." After his Batman trilogy, Warner Bros. gives him as much budget as he wants for basically whatever it wants, and it gets solid reviews and beaucoup box office returns. He is hard to pull away from his art, because the style is always so...Nolan. I've watched The Dark Knight twice, its sequel twice, and Inception thrice. Repeated viewings of Nolan films shouldn't be recommended, they should be mandatory!

Things I'm positive I liked about this film: Hans Zimmer's hopefully award-decorated score, Hoyte Van Hoytema's gorgeous, landscape-engulfing war photography, and the performances of Mark Rylance and Harry Styles. Rylance is as subtle and commanding as he was in his Oscar-winning turn in Bridge of Spies, and Styles really took me back with his dramatic chops. But as engaged as I was by these men's performances, we get absolutely no character development, little motivation (besides George!), so it was hard for me to root for characters like Tom Hardy's pilot Farrier. He plays a pivotal role, but he's harder to understand than he was in the Bane mask, and though his eye-only acting is superb, I beg the filmmakers why I should care about him? In this particular instance, I believe Nolan failed to see the trees for the forest. Depicting the grand scale of the Dunkirk evacuation was prioritized more so than giving us gripping characters to relate to.

I didn't review his 2014 space odyssey Interstellar because frankly I don't know what I watched. There are videos on the internet dedicated to decoding it, and I knew I could not do it justice, and in my lifetime, I'll likely re-watch it. I have a friend who's seen it five times, and called it the best movie of that year. I look forward to seeing Dunkirk again, probably next summer, unfortunately on a screen much smaller than I did initially. But going off what I have, I would still recommend seeing this movie in theaters, just opt for some headphones for the hearing impaired. You'll thank me later.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars

Saturday, July 29, 2017

REVIEW: THE BIG SICK

Between my English major and my Film Studies minor, there is a lot to be said about formula, specifically film formula. The formula of the romantic comedy is what is used as an example of something simplistic, a boy meets girl, meet-cute, conflict, big conflict, resolution, happy ending. Also in college, I've found that this genre has the most return value for people my age. There's something safe in a romantic comedy, like a chocolate bar, without nutrition, but you eat it and you feel good. I'm not a fan of this type of movie, which is not to say I dislike the rom-com, but I dislike what a lot of rom-coms represent, and if you scroll through the rest of this blog you might not find one reviewed for a while. Michael Showalter's The Big Sick is technically a romantic comedy, but it dives well out of its generic boundaries to deliver one of the year's most timely stories.


On the poster alone, with star Kumail Nanjiani posing with co-star (but she's not really in it that much) Zoe Kazan. Immediately your mind may jump to the worst possible scenario; Nanjiani having to marry Kazan for a green card to stay in the country. But the tale is autobiographical, more a look into a modern couple's interracial relationship. The conflict doesn't come from the two, who have an instant chemistry, in service of the story and as their characters, but rather from Kumail's (also his name in the movie) traditional, Pakistani parents. The movie, and I don't say this simply for the fact that both of the leads are Indian, can be wonderfully compared to Aziz Ansari's masterful show "Master of None." Both Kumail and Ansari's Dev are sweet , trying to live their best, if hedonistic, American lives in a big city. Ansari has had twenty episodes to give us fresh takes on traditional Indian parents, dating and making it in an industry where you don't see a lot of people of his color in the front and center, but even with two hours the movie is a success. Kumail and Emily (Kazan) hit it off, until she realizes he hasn't told his parents they're dating, in fear of being ostracized for not dating a Pakistani girl. And then...cue the title.



I'll keep that vague for your viewing sake because it doesn't make sense until about halfway in. That's when we meet Emily's parents, Beth and Terry, who very well threaten to steal the film if Nanjiani wasn't such a charismatic lead. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are just about perfect in their roles. Resisting the stereotypes these characters might have been (determined mother, clueless dad), they're just humorous, if exaggerated versions of what any parent would be in this situation. "Why go on the internet," Romano's Terry wonders aloud, "there are people out there who hate Forrest Gump. That's like, the best movie ever." After watching Romano play a bumbling dad on reruns all my life, this father is a truly original creation. Hunter is brilliant in her role as the rip-roaring mother, making a memorable ruckus defending Kumail at one of his shows.

Here's where I have to give Showalter credit, and this isn't the first time I've said this and not the last; it is the most impressive thing to me when drama and comedy can be mixed so effortlessly. It's one thing Judd Apatow, wearing his producer's hat here, strives for in his work. But walking out of the theater, I realized how little Big Sick relied on sex humor and flatulence jokes. I wouldn't have been surprised to see Apatow's name under the director's billing, but the fact that Showalter, who also wrote the hysterical, absurdist Wet Hot American Summer, shows a leap of maturity in both filmmaking abilities and subject matter. I hope the Academy takes note of his film, despite this being a summer release, and I wish they would make an Oscar category for casting. Besides the main four here, Kumail's entire family cracked me up, Aidy Bryant and Bo Burnham are basically mirrors of their characters, but their banter as Kumail's friends really kept the humor front and center. Because like stand-up, this film asks, "Why wallow in your misery?" The Big Sick is a joyful movie disguised as a wisecracking rom-dramedy, but expect to see it on my best-of list at the end of 2017.

Rating: 3.5/4 stars

Friday, July 21, 2017

REVIEW: THE BEGUILED

"I'm wild again,
beguiled again,
a simpering, whimpering child again..."

goes the 1940 show tune from the musical "Pal Joey. Going into this movie, to be shamefully honest, I was more familiar with the director's body of work than the actual title. Sofia Coppola was one of the filmmakers I studied this past year in college for my Film Studies minor. Distinctive in her slow burning, female-centric film style, Coppola's been called an auteur director, and if she keeps making movies like these, I'll be on my path to forgiving her for Godfather III and that unfunny Bill Murray Christmas special from a couple years ago.

"Beguiled" basically means smitten, but said in the 1864 Virginian (represent!!!) accent, it's a much more fun synonym to say. Of course, no one actually says the word on film, it's not Coppola's style to be that on the nose. But the term is certainly written on the faces of the women in Miss Farnsworth's girls school, which is mostly vacated. Farnsworth herself (Nicole Kidman) is the film's symbol of repression, a beautiful woman hidden under the oppressive dress of the era with an absent sense of humor and overwhelming hints of repression. It's no coincidence the women, including fellow teacher Edwina Morrow (Kirsten Dunst), blossoming adult Alicia (Elle Fanning) and lovingly naive Amy (Oona Laurence, whose performance hasn't been talked about enough) wear white. When Yankee soldier Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrall) limps his way back to the girls' school with Amy's help, the pent-up girls begin loosening up. But then things take a fall...

At her least interesting, I wanted to fast forward through Lost in Translation and The Bling Ring, not because they were terrible movies, but to alleviate the agony of the molasses pace. In this film, it unfolds beautifully. I was surprised to see no one adapted The Beguiled into a play, because the film's minimal setting of location and characters could easily lend itself to a stage version. But Phillipe Le Sourd's muted cinematography perfectly compliments the quiet, if spooky southern plantation house. Especially for Dunst's Edwina, who itches to be away from this isolated world. McBurney is a completely neutral agent for the better first half of the movie; he gets attributed traits from the psychology from each woman. To repressed Alicia, he's a heartthrob, to Edwina, he's an escape, to Farnsworth, he provides needed levity into her tightly restricted world. Because of the lack of a huge ensemble, no actor can afford to feel out of place, and they don't. Kidman is a great foil to Dunst, Fanning (though her role isn't that sizable here) is fast developing into one of indie's greatest talents, and I think this might be the best I've seen Farrall since In Bruges. There's no fast-talking Irishman here, just a very layered man who begins to show his true character much later in the movie.

At only a little over 90 minutes, the film snuck up on me how fast it went, and through seeing much of Coppola's filmography, let me just say that that...is not typically the case. There's no gimmicks here, just honest, straightforward storytelling that pays off after the slow burn of introducing McBurney to the school. I was informed that the trailer to this lets on a little too much, so I would avoid it if possible before going in. If the studio had a little more faith it could've been a contender for the Oscars if a November release date had been planned, but I still think the Academy should consider this film when they're filling out their ballots, because the ending has definitely burned itself into my memory.

Rating: 3.5/4 stars

Thursday, July 13, 2017

REVIEW: BABY DRIVER

It seems to me Edgar Wright is incapable of making uninteresting films, and the film he tried to make interesting, 2015's Ant-Man, well, he got let go of. Peyton Reed did a serviceable, if anonymous job on the project, a true Marvel crowd-pleaser, but one can't wonder what hyper-fast superhero treat Wright could have served to the masses. But if it means he keeps making films like Baby Driver, let us all hope Mr. Wright never makes another big studio movie.

First off, kudos to was involved in the casting of this film, because budding talent Ansel Elgort alongside villainous turns by Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm was a stroke of genius. Perhaps it was just the inner cinephile in me yelping for joy, but this is one of the best ensembles all year. In a nutshell, Baby (Elgort) is a getaway driver for Doc (Spacey), who masterminds heists in sometimes very dangerous plans. Baby has tinnitus, resulting from an injury when he was a child, and listens to an audiofile's dream smorgasbord of music to drown out the ringing. For no good reason, other than many of the criminals Doc enlists are hot-headed and temperamental, this leads to a distrust of Baby, a conflict that lasts throughout the film that he's better than them. This includes Jon Bernthal as Griff, said hot-head who interrogates Baby after a perfect getaway...and then disappears for the rest of the movie. After watching the second season of "Daredevil," it was disappointing to get five minutes of Bernthal after seeing him work wonders as a much better hot-head for twelve episodes.

And that's really where the critiques stop. Editors Paul Macliss and Jonathan Amos should be splitting an Academy Award come the top of next year, because it absolutely makes the movie. After watching Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the whipfast cutting and stylish transitions made for quick, rapid-fire comedy, but here it elevates the pace of Baby Driver to where you're nearly breathless with trying to keep up...but that's how you should feel! Baby is trying to balance escaping from Doc's crime world, take care of his deaf foster father Joseph (a wonderful CJ Jones, who hasn't been talked about as much as he should be) and peruse a possible romance with waitress Debora (Lily James, who has wowed me over since I haven't seen Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or the latest Cinderella reboot). Baby and Debora have palpable chemistry, even if their desire to "leave with nothing but the road and music" is painful movie idealism, but you learn to see past those flaws since Wright is trying his hardest to wow us.

So, consider me wowed. The playlist and the A-list actors (Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm round out some wildly memorable and charismatic villain turns) could've ballooned this movie to $100 million in a studio's hands, but at a modest $32 million, I don't know how Wright got licensing to the onslaught of songs that drown out Baby's demons and keep the audience enthralled. Sony (no surprise) is already having sequel talk with Wright, but Baby Driver is perfect as one-off, pulpy entertainment, edited and choreographed to the T. It's box office success has already prevented it from being labeled as "the most underrated movie of the year," so go see it and help contribute to its success.

Rating: 3.5/4 stars

Thursday, June 29, 2017

REVIEW: ALL EYEZ ON ME

In his heyday, before being slain in still-mysterious circumstances, the legendary (and thoroughly, posthumously overexploited) Tupac Shakur declared only God could judge him. Since his death Shakur has become a god of sorts, or at the very least a Christ figure, crucified by an unknown opponent and destined to be hip-hop's savior that left too soon. Despite the negative reviews surrounding the film before I saw it last week, I was still insistent on seeing it; 2Pac (note the name change to differentiate the man from his music) is certainly one of the greatest rappers, but he was a very flawed god if he ever was one. Instead of healing the blind he had rape allegations, and this clip I found a few years ago shows his famously hot temper when he comes across a New Yorker bootlegging his music. With George Tillman Jr.'s Notorious, concerning Biggie Smalls, a big fault of the movie was exploring the rapper's faults, his downfall. I was afraid they might polish his image to appeal to the crowd of Pac worshippers. I'm glad to report that isn't an issue, but alas, the film is as flawed as its protagonist.

Demetrius Shipp Jr. bears an uncanny resemblance to the late rapper, more so than the Coachella hologram that debuted a few years back. I eagerly hope Shipp Jr. gets remembered for this performance. Besides being a dead ringer for the man, Shipp Jr. captures a lot of Tupac's hotheadedness. Early in the film, while creating "Brenda's Got a Baby," a definitive ghetto anthem, Pac screams at the producer to get it just the way he wants it. It's an unflattering moment for the character, who up until then was shown to be a victim of circumstance; an eventually crack consuming mother, a move to the non-touristy part of California, getting the lead in the school play. Up until then I fretted director Benny Boom was going to risk canonizing Tupac just to risk demonizing him, but Shipp Jr. carried a lot of weight on his shoulders successfully. Unfortunately, the flaw lies within the structure of the film.

I'll wait for the Pac-Jada spinoff 
The movie is framed as Tupac recalling life behind bars to an anonymous interviewer. This is the equivalent of listening to a 2Pac Greatest Hits album versus listening to his chronological catalogue; you get the highlights that would be featured on a Behind the Music special, but you don't get to dive too deep. For the three or so scenes they share, Shipp Jr. and Kat Graham have some bubbling chemistry as the famous friendship of Pac and Jada Pinkett(-Smith). Writing this I wonder if the movie couldn't have just been about their friendship. Focusing and digging into one specific slice of Shakur's life would have been more rewarding than All Eyez on Me, which aims to capture this extraordinary man's twenty-five years. With such a goal, it's a shame the movie devotes a sizable section about his rape allegation, definitely choosing what side it is on. If you've ever wanted to see a reenaction of Tupac Shakur receiving a sexual favor...I guess this is the movie for you? Additionally, as nice as it is to see Jamal Woolard, who I haven't seen since Notorious, the sensational East and West Coast beef is barely touched upon, and the Notorious B.I.G. ends up in the film's peripherals.

One of the biggest compliments I can give the movie is its attempts at reconstructing reality. Before getting slain in Las Vegas, Pac performs for a crowd that know all of his words, and if the movie could've copied this electricity outside of the stage it would have been all the better for it. Dominic L. Santana looms large as Suge Knight, one of music's most despicable characters. Danai Gurira overcooks it as the late Afeni Shakur, but then again, I have no idea what the real woman looked/sounded like. I compare Gurria's raving, screaming mother to Naomie Harris' heartbreaking portrayal of a crack-addicted mom in Moonlight, and nuance seems to be all but absent. Together, it's hard not to see why the movie has been panned by critics; the structure is fundamentally flawed. But perhaps it is watchable just to see America's favorite martyr rapper explode with charisma, reciting the "California Love" verse we all still get down to. Tupac, if you are in Cuba, the Illuminati's HQ, anywhere, we miss you. And sometimes we still make movies about you just to fill your void.

Rating: 2/4 stars

Sunday, January 22, 2017

OSCAR NOMINATION PREDICTIONS 2017!

#OscarsSoDiverse? I'm hoping the Oscars will set the correction straight on this one, hopefully rewarding the actions of people of color like Barry Jenkins, Ruth Negga and Mahershala Ali. That's just amidst others, Ali and Fences frontrunner Viola Davis are on their way to supporting actor glory. Octavia Spencer and Denzel Washington, already Oscar-winners, are poised to be nominated once again! But the film that I predict will get nominations in the double digits goes beyond color to deliver one of the century's finest musicals; I've called it since I saw it on December 27th that La La Land will make a clean sweep, hold for Ryan Gosling, who'll deservedly lose to Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Check out the rest of my picks for this coming Tuesday morning in all the major categories.

BEST DIRECTOR: Chazelle is the clear frontrunner, but it'll be nice to see Jenkins, who might be only the fourth black director nominated in this category. Let's hope the Academy doesn't pull an Ava DuVernay.
  • Damien Chazelle- La La Land
  • Barry Jenkins- Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan- Manchester by the Sea
  • Denis Villenueve- Arrival
  • David Mackenzie- Hell or High Water
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Whit Stilman's Jane Austen adaptation certainly deserves to be here, and has been getting some love in the critic's circles. Love and Friendship should be getting more attention than just that, including Kate Beckinsale's diabolically polite performance. The rest have been staples in this field, including the late August Wilson for Fences, Tom Ford for his Hitchcockian yarn and Barry Jenkins' innovative script, that was deemed adapted from Tarell Alvin McCraney's play earlier this year, leaving the Original field more wide open.
  • Fences
  • Arrival
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Moonlight
  • Love and Friendship
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: My heart wants Manchester by the Sea to win, for the way it unraveled a devastating story, but after the Globes sweep I don't doubt that Chazelle's take on the Golden Hollywood musical will take the prize. Lobster and HOHW are the indie favorites, and Toni Erdmann might be that wacky foreign movie that'll get nominated for this and Best Foreign Film, and my money is for this movie to win the latter.
  • Hell or High Water
  • The Lobster
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • La La Land
  • Toni Erdmann
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Zootopia has been cleaning up here, and I predict its inevitable victory on February 26th. But the Oscars love picking these oddball, left-field foreign cartoons along with the Disney mammoths. Brazil's Boy and the World and Japan's When Marnie Was There was that last year. Now I'm thinking the French-Swiss Zucchini and the Japanese-French-Belgium co-production Red Turtle will be those picks.
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini 
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: I thought Ali had a lock on this until the Globes turned a 180, rewarding Taylor-Johnson for his menacing turn as the white trash Ray Marcus as the best supporting actor of the year. Coupled with a BAFTA nomination, I think the tides have turned from Michael Shannon's role as a determined lawman getting nominated to Taylor-Johnson getting his first nomination. I still think Ali will win, but I wouldn't call him a frontrunner anymore.
  • Mahershala Ali- Moonlight 
  • Jeff Bridges- Hell or High Water
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson- Nocturnal Animals
  • Dev Patel- Lion
  • Lucas Hedges- Manchester by the Sea
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: It's mostly been this group of five ladies throughout the campaign, with three women of color likely to get nominated. Much has been said of Williams' performance, but I thought it was substantially shorter than what the advertisement promised!
  • Nicole Kidman- Lion
  • Naomie Harris- Moonlight
  • Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea
  • Viola Davis- Fences
  • Octavia Spencer- Hidden Figures
BEST ACTOR: Like Leo before them, the rest of these nominees must know that this nomination is just brownie points, because it's been Affleck's gold from the start. This is the cateogry I'm least sure about; it was a strong year for leading men. These men have garnered lots of attention, but so as Tom Hanks in Sully, Joel Edgerton in Loving and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals (who just got a BAFTA nomination in a really underrated role).
  • Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea
  • Viggo Mortensen- Captain Fantastic
  • Ryan Gosling- La La Land
  • Denzel Washington- Fences
  • Andrew Garfield- Hacksaw Ridge
BEST ACTRESS: Hupert pulled off one of the night's biggest surprises at the Golden Globes, beating Hollywood favorites like Adams and Portman. But, despite the latter getting major attention for Jackie, she's already won in this category before, and everyone is talking about Emma Stone's performance. It's not that it's star-making, because we already knew she had the talent. It's star-solidifying, a role that may go down in history as her signature. Rewarding a role about one of the world's most celebrated woman is easy, rewarding a female leading role in an original musical would be stellar, something that hasn't been achieved since Julie Andrews won for Mary Poppins.
  • Ruth Negga- Loving
  • Natalie Portman- Jackie
  • Isabelle Huppert- Elle
  • Emma Stone- La La Land
  • Amy Adams- Arrival
BEST PICTURE: What do a sci-fi, a western, a musical, a war movie and two all-black cast movies have in common? They're a part of a diverse, eccentric and strong list of potential nominees. La La Land will dance away with the trophy, but 2016 was a fine year for the movies, and this year will prove it. My only iffy one here is Scorcese's Silence, which I'm throwing in just to round out the ten nominees, which of course never get used to the full potential. I've bolded the ones I think would be nominated if this were back to the simpler times of 2008, when five was the norm.

Check back on Tuesday to see how I did!
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hidden Figures
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Silence