Archive for the ‘This Weekend in Cinema’ Category

Reviewing Silence resulted in bumping this segment back a few days, but today we’re dealing with that constantly nagging voice that whines that there’s nothing original left in Hollywood.

Its not the movie studios’ fault if folks choose to ignore good films they are not familiar with. Known commodities will nearly always win box office battles, because its easier to get people in the seats, but profit and box office receipts don’t equate to quality, and in this age there’s honestly no excuse for not seeing the amazing new films and ideas out there.

You’ll note that a star * = still in theaters, and +/- signs indicate how much more or less money the film made to its counterpart on this list last year.

Where Did They Come From?

There are four categories: Originals, Adaptations, Sequels (which include prequels and spin-offs), and Remakes.

To be fair, I’m only listing films that made it to wide release. If I counted limited release films as well, the original films would trounce the other categories in a landslide.

Originals

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Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, plays, television shows, etc. Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage.

Films based on events, but not creative works, are still original films. In 2015 there were 61 original films released. This past year (2016), there were 68.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2016 were:

  1. Zootopia – $1.02B+$144M {Inside Out}
  2. The Secret Life of Pets $875.5M/ +$401.7M {San Andreas}
  3. Moana$555.2M/ +$311.4M {The Good Dinosaur}
  4. Sing – $488.2M/ +$250.5M {Spy}
  5. Passengers $292.9M/ +83.9M {Tomorrowland}

 

Adaptations

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Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Legend of Tarzan), comic books (Dr. Strange), plays (Fences), TV shows, etc.

Reboots are classified as adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material.

The emergence of shared universes is making classifying some films tricky. My guide is that if the focus of the film is on a character or characters that have not headlined a film before (Suicide Squad and Dr. Strange for example), then it is an adaptation.

In 2015 there were 38 adaptations, this year that number is 44.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2016 were:

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them$810.6M/ +$214.3M {The Martian}
  2. Deadpool$783.1M/ +$147.2M {Mockingjay, Part 2}
  3. Suicide Squad$745.6M/ +$202.9M {Cinderella}
  4. Doctor Strange$670.2M/ +$150.9 {Ant-Man}
  5. Warcraft$433.7M/ +19.3M {Kingsmen: The Secret Service}

 

Sequels/Prequels

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In this category are films that are sequels or prequels to other films. There were 30 sequels in 2016, that’s an increase of seven from the previous year.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels in 2016 were:

  1. Captain America: Civil War$1.15B/ -$547M {Jurassic World}
  2. Rogue One$1.04B/ -$499.9M {Furious 7}
  3. Finding Dory$1.03B/ -$470.1M {Star Wars: The Force Awakens}
  4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice$873.3M/ -$526.7M {Avengers: Age of Ultron}
  5. X-Men: Apocalypse$543.9M/ -$656.1M {Minions}

 

Remakes

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This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 4 remakes in 2016, up one in number from the year before. Here are their international totals.

  1. The Jungle Book$966.6M/ +$871.1M {Poltergeist}
  2. Ghostbusters$229.1M/ +$148.9M {Point Break}
  3. The Magnificent Seven$162.4M/ +$152.4 {The Loft}
  4. Pete’s Dragon – $143.7M

 

In Conclusion

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Though the sequels brought in the most money in 2016, it was less than the previous year, with most of that shortfall moving to original films (especially the animated variety) and The Jungle Book.

Once again, the myth of Hollywood losing its creativity is debunked.

Now that January 2017 is past, and I’ve had some extra time to see more of last year’s films, its time to look back at 2016 in the movie world. Later, you’ll be hearing from “Where Did They Come From?” – detailing the source material for all of 2016’s films, and Friday brings “Oscarwatch,” my first round of Oscar winner predictions.  will be the 10 films I’m most looking forward to in 2016.

 

Today though, its my ten favorite films from 2016, and (as a bonus) the ten films I’m most looking forward to this year.

10. Eye in the Sky

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The acting is a little thin as you go down the cast list, but Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman (R.I.P), and Barkhad Abdi do more than enough to carry this very topical film. Forced to choose between letting a suicide bomber go free and saving the life of an innocent family, a seasoned military commander (Mirren) must navigate through both political bureaucracy (Rickman), and agents on the ground (Abdi), as she decides whether or not to push the button and blow up a Middle-Eastern compound.

9. Kubo and the Two Strings

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One of the most beautifully animated films to come along in years, Kubo is another chapter in the amazingness of stop-motion film-making. The story is pretty standard, but the beauty of the film will take your breath away. Oh…and Matthew McConaughey voices a giant anthropomorphic beetle.

Of significance is also this films Best Visual Effects Oscar Nomination. It is only the second animated film ever to garner such a nomination, and the first since The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993.

8. Green Room

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In the “you learn something new every day” category is Green Room. I had no idea that a green room was a real thing (it’s where bands/singers/etc hang out and wait to go onstage).

Anyway, this is a great indie film. A small-time punk rock band find themselves performing in an isolated, neo-Nazi, bar. They see something they shouldn’t, and end up in a battle for their lives. This is one of those “real-life” horror films that shakes you up a bit.

 

7. The Jungle Book

12891156_1173244646027634_7360654356410055621_oI’m a sucker for Kipling and the animated version of this story is one of my favorite films, so of course this film makes the list.

Not only does this version end better than the classic one, but there’s Easter eggs galore, if you know Kipling’s original work, and the cast is priceless. Who wouldn’t want to hear Bill Murray sing “The Bare Necessities?” And mad props to Neel Sethi, who played Mowgli and was the only actor physically on set during filming.

 

6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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This film, fresh from New Zealand, hits all the right buttons. There’s humor, tragedy, a great villain, compassion, a fun car chase, and a talented youngster (Julian Dennison) that carries the film, with help from Sam Neill. The comedy might be too dry for some folks, but if you’re a fan of that sort of humor, make sure you see this one.

5. Hell or High Water

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This is a film that sneaks up on you, both in real life and on screen. I was one of the few folks who had this film on their Oscar list going into last October (I was able to snag 100/1 odds on it on GoldDerby), and it surprises plot-wise as well.

Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges are the driving forces here, but what really makes the film is the slow burn of a story. This modern-day western only gives scraps of motivation and back-story at the start, but when you get to the finish line, everything comes together and hits you between the eyeballs.

4. Doctor Strange

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Although it suffers a little bit from “origin-story-itis,” the latest addition to the big screen portion of the MCU is a resounding success. The cast of this film may give the best combined performance in an MCU film since The Avengers, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Benedict Wong all perfectly cast.

Of course, the visuals are what separates this film from every other film made this year. Anyone who missed seeing this on a theater big screen is really out of luck.

3. Captain America: Civil War

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Spider-Man was in it. ‘Nuff said.

2. Hacksaw Ridge

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You can read my review here for why exactly I liked it so much. In this space, it can just be said that you will very rarely find a film like this. A true story of sacrificial heroism that will tear at your heartstrings and bring you to applause.

1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ha ha. Just kidding. No way.

1. La La Land

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It wasn’t the suburb acting chops of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the gorgeous cinematography, the catchy music, or even the fulfilled dreams that made this film the best of the year. Instead, it was how well the story can relate to our own lives. It’s a Hollywood story without a “Hollywood ending,” a reality wrapped up in a fiction for most of us, whether we are in La La Land or not. And even if we do reach our dreams, we never forget what we lost along the way.

BONUS!!! The 10 Films I’m most looking forward to in 2017. BONUS!!!

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  2. Thor: Ragnarok
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. My Friend Dahmer
  6. Logan
  7. It
  8. Murder on the Orient Express
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. Marshall

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“I’m not gonna kill you…I’m just gonna hurt you…really, really bad.” – The Joker

That line really encapsulates Suicide Squad. After the Batman v Superman mess, DC/WB delivers us this film, which spares the DC Expanded Universe the bullet to the head, only to riddle it with the pain of knowing that folks in high places don’t know what they are doing.

First of all, Suicide Squad is miles better than Batman v Superman. Not even close. Suicide Squad actually gives us characters we care about, some awesome big screen debuts of iconic comic book characters and clear character motivations (mostly). The acting is also generally solid (like BvS). But that all gets bogged down in issues that come from the top down, namely the directing, editing, and writing. But good before bad, right? SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Good Stuff. 

  • Acting. Will Smith’s Deadshot was the best part of this film. We get some great scenes, including an amazing background flashback and some awesome action sequences. The script really undercuts his performance at times, but that’s not Smith’s fault. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is gold at times, and the voice she uses actually works, minus the couple times her British accent gets in the way. Everyone else does their job well, although the jury is still out for me regarding Jared Leto’s performance as Joker. Sometimes it was brilliant, and sometimes not.
  • Easter Eggs. As we all knew, Batman’s around for a little bit of the film, and another hero drops by as well. That hero’s interaction with a particular Suicide Squader is direct from the comics in its feel, look, and atmosphere. Also, seeing Joker dancing with Harley in her red and black harlequin outfit was magical. One of those “This is straight from the comics and I can’t believe how it is on screen!” moments.
  • Effects. Ok, no. Not the SFX used in actual action. Those were cheesy as all get out. The opening montage of sorts kicked off the film just how you want it to, with attention grabbing backstories and flashy letterings. We get to see where some of the Squad came from, and their run-ins with their superhero counterparts. Harley’s origin wasn’t her classic one, which was lame, but that didn’t take away from the film.
  • We Actually Care! In BvS we didn’t care about anyone on screen. Superman is mopey and broody and he dies…for no reason…because Wonder Woman could have been the one to kill Doomsday. Lois is a jerk, Batman wants to kill people, and well…you get the idea. In SS, the story and characters give us enough to care about. Yes, these are bad guys, but we actually can sympathize with their struggles, we care about Deadshot primarily, but also El Diablo, Harley, and even a bit for Flagg and Killer Croc. Its not just a bunch of villains running around that we have no emotional attachment to.

The Bad Stuff. 

  • The Script. I get that Ayer only had six months to write this (for some inexplicable reason), but boy is this screenplay a stinker. You can tell that they tried to shoehorn some comedy in, because almost every one-liner sticks out like a sore thumb. This is unfortunate, especially when Harley Quinn’s character should have made this easy. Robbie’s comedic timing actually seems pretty good, but there are some spots where a poor script and choppy editing render that skill useless. There are several groan-worthy lines that feel like they were written by a 5th-grader, and they are bad enough to take you right out of the film.
  • The Editing. Very jumpy. It chops up the story rather than progresses it.
  • The Pacing. There are several scenes that could have been used for emotional gutpunches and or profound moments, but these scenes were really rushed through way too fast. There was very little time to process things before the next scene was already there.

The other problem, the main problem, is the plot. Though generic, it made sense as it stood. But once again, motivations and decisions made by characters within that plot too often make little to no sense. This causes a real lack of depth that really twists things into nonsense way too much, because there’s nothing beyond the surface activity. This is a carryover from BvS (although it was much more handicapping in that film. Nobody even knows why Lex Luthor was motivated to do anything in that film). So here are some questions this lack of depth caused.

#1) Why send the SS into an American city under a blatant super-human attack?

The main concept behind Task Force X is using super-villains instead of soldiers so that other countries will believe the U.S. government when they say “we had nothing to do with this action that would be usually interpreted as an act of war.” Basically, they are black ops mission runners who are expendable. So why send the SS into an American city under a blatant super-human attack, when none of the Suicide Squad members actually have powers that would be better than ordinary soldiers? Deadshot, Katana, Captain Boomerang, yeah, they are good with their weapons, but are they really any better than just sending in more soldiers. The only one that actually has superpowers is the only one that refuses to use them. I know Waller wants to hide her connection to the Enchantress, but she already sends in ground troops with the SS! Its no secret that there’s tons of debris floating above one of the biggest cities in the U.S. No reason to choose volatile criminals in this case.

#2) Why didn’t Waller destroy the Enchantress’ heart?

She specifically finds and keeps the heart to control the Enchantress. The understanding is that if the Enchantress steps out of line, the heart gets destroyed. So why does Waller just stab the heart instead of destroying it.

#3) Why did Waller kill all her “co-workers.”

The obvious reason is that it would make her look more like cold, cruel, BA woman. The reason Waller gives is that they have seen too much. But Waller brought those very same people in. The room is militarily labeled in the building. This all goes back to the fact that if all Waller wanted was an extraction, why send in Task Force X? And there are plenty of folks that work for top secret military functions. They all don’t get shot.

#4) Why didn’t Enchantress notice that the only weapon that could cut her heart out was sitting right in Harley Quinn’s reach?

#5) Why does the Joker get jealous of the guy he “gives” Harley to when he’s the one who “gave” Harley too in the first place?

Yeah, I dunno the answer to either of those either. Basically, this films could have been great, but suffers from way too much dumb decision making. The actors did their best with what they could, but it wasn’t enough to make a flawed film great.

Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars.

(The remainder of this post is the usual weekly TWIC features.)

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Suicide Squad: Adaptation of the DC Comics comic book series.
  • Nine Lives: Original film written by Dan Antoniazzi and Ben Shiffrin.

Original: 34

Adaptation: 22

Sequel/Prequel: 23

Remake: 1

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY.

This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Zootopia ( +2 )
2) Sing Street ( – )
3) Love and Friendship ( –2 )
4) Hunt for the Wilderpeople ( – )
5) Captain America: Civil War ( – )
6) Finding Dory ( – )
7) The Jungle Book ( – )
8) Indignation (NEW)
9) Eye in the Sky ( -1 )
10) Don’t Think Twice ( -1 )

 

 

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I was shocked to learn that its been since April that I last posted a TWIC article. Then I reviewed the slate of films for this past summer. Yuck. Honestly, we haven’t had a big hit film since Captain America: Civil War, and, although there’s been some decent movies released, it really hasn’t been that exciting a summer, even on the indy film circuit.

Unfortunately, that trend won’t be changing this weekend. The big headliner is Jason Bourne, which join many of this summer’s blockbusters in the realm of the forgettable, not bad or good.  Bad Moms is the other film being released nationwide this weekend, and lets just say that one’s certainly not worth your time.

Your best bets will be the limited release films. Especially Gleason, a heartwrenching Sundance documentary about former NFL athlete Steve Gleason. Diagnosed with ALS at 34, Gleason set out to compile a film diary for his unborn son, while he still could. It ended up much more, as this documentary chronicles Gleason’s fight against the disease that ravaged his family’s life.

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Jason Bourne: Sequel in the Bourne franchise.
  • Bad Moms: Original film, written by  Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.

Original: 33

Adaptation: 21

Sequel/Prequel: 23

Remake: 1

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY.

This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Love and Friendship ( – )
2) Sing Street ( – )
3) Zootopia ( – )
4) Hunt for the Wilderpeople (NEW)
5) Captain America: Civil War ( -1)
6) Finding Dory ( -1 )
7) The Jungle Book ( -1 )
8) Eye in the Sky ( -1 )
9) Don’t Think Twice (NEW)
10) 10 Cloverfield Lane ( -2 )

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Seems like the House of Mouse can do very little wrong these days. In the midst of its Marvel and Star Wars ownership, its own properties have been feeling a bit neglected, and this is the second year in a row (after last year’s Cinderella) that we’ve gotten a really solid new rendition of an old classic tale. And this live action version of The Jungle Book does all the right things to improve on the “original” animated film.

First of all, the casting is perfect. From Idris Elba as the bloodthirsty Shere Khan, to Bill Murray’s goofy but loyal Baloo, to Ben Kingley’s severe but kind Bagheera, the voices fit their roles perfectly. The best of them all might be Christopher Walken, who brings a bit of mob boss to King Louie. Neel Sethi, virtually the only human actually onscreen, turns in a great performance as Mowgli, especially considering he was working with CGI backdrops and characters the entire time.

Director Jon Favreau and company do a great job of flushing out the story without changing the essentials. He does this mostly by drawing in more of Rudyard Kipling’s original novels. Ikki the porcupine plays a key role in the story, King Louie mentions the Bandar Log (his kingdom of monkeys and apes), and we see a cobra and hear talk of a mongoose, which could have been references to the famous Rikki Tikki Tavi story, also from Kipling’s set of jungle tales. Grey Brother appears, instead named “Grey,” and the elephants are portrayed as the rulers and masters of the jungle, like Kipling intended.

The different species of animal have also been defined more specifically, both in name, and in look, than in the cartoon. Baloo is a sloth bear, and King Louie, rather than being an orangutan, a species who never really existed in India, is a Gigantopithecus, a giant ape from millions of years ago. This accounts for the change in Louie’s size.

Speaking of Baloo, he’s really the star of the show. When he first appears, the film, which takes a while to get moving, seems like it’s headed towards the Batman v Superman school of filmmaking, with a bunch of establishing scenes that don’t really go anywhere. To be fair, we hear the real history of Shere Khan’s hatred of man from Kaa, but Baloo really saves the day, in more ways than one. Not only does his appearance allow things to settle from a pacing standpoint, but he’s a much stronger character than in the animated film. Although he’s still a bit lazy (he is a sloth bear after all), he and Bagheera are on more equal footing. Baloo is the one who comes up with a plan to rescue Mowgli, and he’s just as quick to jump into action as Bagheera and the wolves. In fact, when Shere Khan returns to kill Mowgli, it’s Baloo that leads the charge against the tiger.

Finally, it’s really the moments of nostalgia that put this film over the top. Baloo and King Louie get to sing their trademark hits: “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You.” The themes from these two songs are worked into the score as well, and the songs fit into the film and don’t seem out of place. All in all, this new endeavor is a welcome adventure back into the jungle, and even ends with an awesome, much needed twist that differs from the animated film. The CGI is a little off at some points, but not enough to really ruin anything. And make sure you stay and watch the credits! King Louie returns to deliver a complete version of his song that’s really a blast to watch.

Final Grade: 4 out of 5 stars.

(The remainder of this post is the usual weekly TWIC features.

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • The Jungle Book: Ok, I’m not sure to classify this as an adaptation or a remake. I’m going to say remake. While it is based on Kipling’s works, it is based more on the original animated film.
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut: Obvious sequel is obvious.
  • Criminal: Original. Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg.

Original: 19

Adaptation: 12

Sequel/Prequel: 9

Remake: 1

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY.

This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Zootopia ( – )
2) Eye in the Sky ( – )
3) 10 Cloverfield Lane ( – )
4) Midnight Special ( – )
5) The Invitation (NEW)
6) Hail Caesar ( -1 )
7) Hello, My Name is Doris ( -1 )
8) Kung Fu Panda 3 ( – )
9) Eddie the Eagle ( -2 )
10) Louder Than Bombs (NEW)

 

 

Well, that was awful. So much for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice kicking things off in style. Anyway, moving on to better cinema!

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My Film to Catch this week is Eye in the Sky. It is expanding to wide release this weekend, and for good reason. It currently sits at #2 on my Oscarwatch listing. Will it be there at the end of the year. Probably not, but it’s still a good film. Helen Mirren is the lead, which is always awesome, plus we get to see Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and the late Alan Rickman.

God’s Not Dead 2 (wide release) and Everybody Wants Some (limited release) are also out this weekend, and while GND2 may be of interest to some folks, it’s really not worth a trip to the theater. Folks that are fans of Richard Linklater will likely enjoy Everybody Wants Some, billed was a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused.

Finally, Don Cheadle turns in a great performance as the legendary Miles Davis in the biopic Miles Ahead.

Must See (5 out of 5 stars): None

Worth Your Time (3 to 4 stars): Eye in the Sky

Just Ok (2 to 3 stars): God’s Not Dead 2, Miles Ahead, and Everybody Wants Some

Stay Away (0 to 1 stars): None

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Eye in the Sky: Original screenplay by Guy Hibbert.
  • God’s Not Dead 2: Obvious sequel is obvious.

Original: 15

Adaptation: 12

Sequel/Prequel: 8

Remake: 0

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Zootopia ( – )
2) Eye in the Sky ( – )
3) 10 Cloverfield Lane ( – )
4) Midnight Special (NEW)
5) Hail Caesar ( -1 )
6) Hello, My Name is Doris ( -1 )
7) Eddie the Eagle ( – )
8) Kung Fu Panda 3 ( -2 )
9) Race ( -1 )
10) Risen ( – )

 

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At last, the first edition of TWIC in 2016. The Oscars are done, and so are the doldrums of January and February. We’re gearing up for some good films!

This weekend, my Film to Catch is 10 Cloverfield Lane. The buzz for this one has been rising since its Super Bowl ad, and its well worth it. The film has been shrouded in mystery, so I’ll leave it that way. Go see it if you’d like to know more!

Another film of note is Young Messiah. Its the story of Jesus as a 7 year old. It’s gotten middling reviews so far. It’s pretty much uncharted territory in Christian film, but not done incredibly well. Decent is a good word.

The Brothers Grimsby is another disaster that Sacha Baron Cohen can add to his resume.

There’s a plethora of limited release films out this weekend, so here’s a listing of the best ones available: Eye in the Sky (a wartime thriller starring Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman), Hello, My Name is Doris (a quirky dramedy starring Sally Field swooning over her new boss), and Boom Bust Boom, (an economic documentary told with puppets).

Must See (5 out of 5 stars): None

Worth Your Time (3 to 4 stars): 10 Cloverfield Lane;  Eye in the Sky; Boom Bust Boom

Just Ok (2 to 3 stars): Young Messiah; Hello, My Name is Doris

Stay Away (0 to 1 stars): The Brothers Grimsby

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: (Pseudo)Sequel to Cloverfield
  • Young Messiah: Adaptation of the Life of Christ, as told in the Bible.
  • The Brothers Grimsby: Original screenplay by Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston.

Original: 13

Adaptation: 10

Sequel/Prequel: 5

Remake: 0

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Zootopia
2) Hail Caesar
3) Kung Fu Panda 3
4) Eddie the Eagle
5) Race
6) 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
7) The Witch
8) The Finest Hours
9) Risen
10) A Perfect Day

Down to the wire this year! Here are my much awaited predictions. I was 100% correct on my Independent Spirit Award predictions yesterday, so here’s hoping these are as good!

Predictions are listed in the order I think they are likely to win. Bold indicates the predicted winner.

Edit: Rather than posting an entire new article about them, here are my results. I was 18 for 24. 18 for 21 not counting those pesky short film categories. I picked the two big upsets of the night correctly: Spotlight for Best Picture, and Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor.

Green text means the prediction was correct. Red text with a strikethrough means it was not. The actual winner will be bolded in that case. 

Best Picture 

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  1. Spotlight
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Big Short
  4. Room
  5. Brooklyn
  6. The Revenant
  7. The Martian
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Bridge of Spies

Wow. What a close race. Spotlight is not the current favorite, but I’ll pick it regardless.

Best Director

An Alternative View Of The Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "The Revenant"

  1. Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)
  2. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  3. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
  4. Adam McKay (The Big Short)
  5. Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Best Actor

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  1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  2. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
  4. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  5. Matt Damon (The Martian)

Best Actress

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  1. Brie Larson (Room)
  2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
  3. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
  4. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
  5. Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Best Supporting Actor

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  1. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  2. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
  3. Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  4. Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
  5. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

I may regret not going with Stallone, but history is against him. He didn’t get a SAG or BAFTA nomination.

Best Supporting Actress

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  1. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
  2. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
  3. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful 8)
  4. Rooney Mara (Carol)
  5.  Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Spotlight
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. Inside Out
  4. Straight Outta Compton
  5. Ex Machina

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Big Short
  2. Room
  3. The Martian
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Carol

Best Animated Feature Film

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  1. Inside Out
  2. Anomalisa
  3. Boy and the World
  4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  5. When Marnie Was There

Best Documentary Film

  1. Amy
  2. The Look of Silence
  3. Cartel Land
  4. Winter on Fire
  5. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Best Foreign Film

  1. Son of Saul
  2. Mustang
  3. Theeb
  4. A War
  5. Embrace of the Serpent

Best Cinematography

  1. The Revenant
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Sicario
  4. Carol
  5. The Hateful 8 

Best Costume Design

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Cinderella
  3. The Danish Girl
  4. The Revenant
  5. Carol

Best Makeup and Hair

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant 
  3. The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Best Production Design

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  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. The Martian

Best Film Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Spotlight
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Big Short

Best Visual Effects

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Martian
  5. Ex Machina

Best Original Score

  1. The Hateful 8
  2. Carol
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. Sicario

Best Original Song

  1. “’Til it Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground)
  2. “Writing’s on the Wall” (Spectre)
  3.  “Manta Ray” (Facing Extinction)
  4. “Simple Song 3” (Youth)
  5. “Earned It”

Best Sound Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Martian
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5.  Sicario

Best Sound Mixing

  1. The Revenant
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. The Martian
  5. Bridge of Spies

In both sound categories, its so close. Almost a tie between Revenant and Mad Max. I picked one for each to cover my bases.

Best Live Action Short (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Shok
  2. Ave Maria
  3. Everything Will Be Okay 
  4. Day One
  5. Stutterer

Best Animated Short 

  1. World of Tomorrow
  2. Sanjay’s Super Team
  3. Bear Story
  4. Prologue
  5. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

Best Documentary Short  (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Chau, Behind the Lines
  2. Body Team 12
  3. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  4. Last Day of Freedom
  5. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

oscars

To conclude coverage of 2015’s film slate, here are my predictions for Oscar nominations.

Oscar nominations are not announced until the 14th. However, with the Golden Globes this weekend, I’m releasing my predictions now. This is because, in years past, folks at sites like IMDB, Gold Derby, and the now-defunct Rope of Silicon always found themselves changing their picks drastically after the Golden Globes. This happens for two different reasons. The first is that they are eager to jump on bandwagons created by Golden Globe wins, which actually aren’t always that great of a predictor. The second is that they have to stop themselves from looking silly by distancing themselves from stupid picks they previously made which had very little chance of actually being correct.

This isn’t to say that it is somehow not kosher to change picks. Everyone’s free to do so. If I do, they will be noted here. The important part is transparency, to see how accurate things are as time goes by.

Here we go! Bold picks are ones I consider to be locks.

EDIT: The Oscar Nominations have been announced. I picked 75% correctly. Below, you’ll see that my correct predictions are in bold, and my incorrect picks have been crossed out, and replaced by the actual nominees. 

Best Picture 

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  1. Spotlight
  2. Room
  3. Brooklyn
  4. Carol
  5. The Revenant
  6. The Martian
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road
  8. The Big Short
  9. Bridge of Spies
  10. Sicario

As I said below, this category can have from 5-10 nominees. Carol and Sicario were not nominated, but all other films were accurately picked.

These past few years, the nomination race has been very fun to watch. This year, there are three films that intrigue me. The first is Mad Max. Usually action films like this get passed over by the Academy. But with nominations by the Golden Globes and Critics Choice circles, I can’t count it out. Not only that, its looking pretty good for a nomination.

Beasts of No Nation is so hard to get a read on thanks to its Netflix-only release. Its as good as the last few films on here, but I think it doesn’t quite make it.

Finally, there’s Creed. I think it can sneak in, but I’m wondering if nostalgia is kicking this one up the ladder a bit. On the bubble perhaps.

Also, remember there doesn’t have to be 10 nominations, so we could see some fall by the wayside.

Best Director

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  1. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
  2. Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)
  3. Ridley Scott (The Martian) Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
  4. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  5. Todd Haynes (Carol) Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Best Actor

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  1. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  2. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
  3. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  5. Johnny Depp (Black Mass) Matt Damon (The Martian)

On the bubble: Matt Damon (The Martian)

Best Actress

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  1. Brie Larson (Room)
  2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
  3. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
  4. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
  5. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

On the bubble: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Best Supporting Actor

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  1. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  2. Paul Dano (Love and Mercy) Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  3. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
  4. Michael Shannon (99 Homes) Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
  5. Idris Elba (Beasts of No NationMark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

On the bubble: Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Best Supporting Actress

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  1. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
  2. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful 8)
  3. Rooney Mara (Carol)
  4. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
  5. Helen Mirren (Trumbo) Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

On the bubble: Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Spotlight
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. Inside Out
  4. Sicario  Straight Outta Compton
  5. The Hateful 8 Ex Machina

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Martian
  2. The Big Short
  3. Room
  4. Steve Jobs Carol
  5. Brooklyn

On the bubble: Carol

Best Animated Feature Film

  1. Inside Out
  2. Anomalisa
  3. The Peanuts Movie Boy and the World
  4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  5. The Good Dinosaur When Marnie Was There

On the bubble: Home

Best Documentary Film

  1. Amy
  2. The Look of Silence
  3. Going Clear Winter on Fire
  4. Listen to Me, Marlon What Happened, Miss Simone?
  5. Cartel Land

Best Foreign Film

  1. Son of Saul
  2. Mustang
  3. Theeb
  4. A War
  5. Embrace of the Serpent

On the bubble: The Fencer

Best Cinematography

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Sicario
  4. Carol
  5. The Hateful 8 

On the bubble: The MartianBridge of Spies

Best Costume Design

  1. Cinderella
  2. The Danish Girl
  3. Brooklyn
  4. Carol
  5. Far from the Madding Crowd

On the bubble: Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Assassin

Best Makeup and Hair

  1. Black Mass  The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  2. The Revenant 
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Production Design

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Carol The Revenant
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. The Martian

On the bubble: BrooklynCrimson Peak

Best Film Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Martian Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Spotlight
  5. The Big Short

Best Visual Effects

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Walk The Revenant

Best Original Score

  1. The Hateful 8
  2. Carol
  3. Spotlight Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Inside Out Bridge of Spies
  5. Sicario

Best Original Song

  1. “See You Again” (Furious 7) “Manta Ray” (Facing Extinction)
  2. “Writing’s on the Wall” (Spectre)
  3. “’Til it Happens to You” (Hunting Ground)
  4. “Simple Song 3” (Youth)
  5. “Better When I’m Dancing” (The Peanuts Movie)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Sicario
  3. The Martian
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Revenant 

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. The Revenant
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Live Action Short (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Ave Maria
  2. Shok
  3. Everything Will Be Okay 
  4. Winter Light Day One
  5. Stutterer

Best Animated Short  (Total Crapshoot)

  1. World of Tomorrow
  2. If I Was God Bear Story
  3. Sanjay’s Super Team
  4. Carface Bear Story
  5. Prologue

Best Documentary Short  (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Chau, Behind the Lines
  2. My Enemy, My Brother Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  3. Last Day of Freedom
  4. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  5. Body Team 12

Its safe to say that what you should probably be watching this weekend is all the San Diego Comic Con footage, which includes a new Batman v. Superman trailer, because the new releases this weekend aren’t much to speak of.

The Minions prequel to Despicable Me is mostly fun, but leaves much to be desired. Ryan Reynolds’ new film, Self/less has an intriguing plot, but is poorly written and lacks the punch needed to make it a hit. And The Gallows is found footage horror that was better off lost.

Unsurprisingly, especially for this year, the Film to Catch this week is a limited release movie: What We Did On Our Holiday. Starring Rosamund Pike and David Tennant, it freshens up the standard “family-is-falling-apart-because-of-a-difficult-divorce” plot with clever comedy and solid acting.

Another limited release film of note is Boulevard, starring the late Robin Williams.

Must See: None

Worth Your Time: What We Did On Our Holiday

Ok: MinionsBoulevard

Stay Away: Self/less, The Gallows

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Minions: Prequel in Despicable Me franchise.
  • Self/less: Original, written by David and Àlex Pastor
  • The Gallows: Original, written by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing

Original: 33

Adaptation: 15

Sequel/Prequel: 16

Remake: 1

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

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