Tag Archive: oscars 2018



Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Who Should Win: Hmmm.  I thought the most standout of these five was Dafoe.  A completely different turn than his trademark roles.

Who I’m Cheering For: Dafoe, for the reason above.  Plummer getting nominated is already quite a ‘F*** You’ to Spacey, isn’t it?

Who Will Win: There’s a 10 percent chance that two nominations for Ebbing will split the vote for him, but based on momentum you got to thank Sam Rockwell completes his victory tour.


‘Strong Island’



‘Strong Island’ is another film that’s compelling both for what’s on screen, and also for how perfectly timely it is with larger discussions happening in 2018 America.

Nominated this year in the Best Documentary – Feature category, the skeleton of the story is way too familiar to everyone now: a young black man is murdered, the local police look at the evidence and drift toward the attitude of ‘Well, he wasn’t an angel…’

Yance Ford (the director, the sibling of the victim, and if I’m not mistaken, the first transgender person nominated in this category) gives us enough time with all the judicial elements of the story to upset anyone with a conscience.  The true gift of the film is in the time spent (and the focus) on how a crime like this, the sudden, unnecessary death of a young man, implodes the whole family unit.  (There’s a larger metaphor in there for the black experience in America if you wanted to go there.)

Powerful film.  Now streaming on Netflix.





Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, ‘Icarus’ is one of those films where the larger implications stick with you a little more than what you see on the screen.  Especially right now…

Doing well but never really excelling as a cyclist, Bryan Fogel (also our narrator) hooks up with Girgory Rodchenkov, a leading Russian scientist in the field of ‘sports medicine’.  What starts out as a ‘wink wink nudge nudge’ light hearted relationship (with Fogel using my needles on a daily basis than I ever want to see in my life), first turns a little more serious as the Russian team (the ENTIRE Russian team) is briefly banned from competing in the Olympics, then turns legitimately scary as Grigory escapes Russia (leaving his wife and family behind), and eventually ends up in witness protection in America as he goes into detail, on the record, with how Russia has essentially, a state sponsored doping program, and uses the former KGB to make sure its athletes don’t get caught.

Fascinating for what it is, as a documentary on 21st century sports.  Interesting because of what else we’ve essentially proven about Russia bending and breaking all protocols to get what it wants and end up on top.

Now streaming on Netflix.


‘Call Me By Your Name’



Liked it.  Didn’t love it til the end.

In recent memory, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is an excellent story of forbidden love; ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ feels more three dimensional (and more explicit sexually).   ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is strong for what it is; a young man discovers his sexuality and comes of age in the 80s when his father’s attractive grad assistant comes to town.  But, to me at least, it’s more about their physical connection than a deep emotional one.  Timothee Chalamet is fully arrived as a kid who can own a movie, Armie Hammer unfortunately seems to be stuck in that ‘Looks like a movie star, sounds like a movie star, but is he a movie star?’ box.  It’s a solid film for 100 minutes.

Then, and I’m not the first to say this, Michael Stuhlbarg puts a button on the story of the film with a speech so perfect in expressing the unconditional love of a parent, the rareness of experiencing a white hot passionate love (and how most people settle), how love changes over time as your mind gets smarter but your body gets weaker…I was irrationally upset he didn’t get a Best Supporting Actor nomination just for that speech.  It was that good.

So worth seeing this movie just for the ending.




First, Rest in Peace Reg E. Cathey.  From ‘Oz’ to ‘the Wire’ to ‘House of Cards’, Cathey was a fantastic, Emmy winning character actor.  More importantly, judging by the words of those who knew him and worked with him, an even better human being.  He will be missed.

Speaking of character actors.  Lee Harvey Oswald.  Commissioner Gordon. Dracula.  Gary Oldman owned these roles and numerous others in movies big and small over the years. But no Oscar.  That’s probably changing next month.

‘Darkest Hour’ benefits not just from having Gary Oldman in the leading role (barely recognizable under all that makeup), but also from living in a world where its target audience has been given ‘the Crown’ and ‘Dunkirk’ over the past 12 months.  Knowing so much more about World War II era London helps a movie we’re so much of the conflict is cerebral and hard to visualize.

None of this is to take away from what Oldman does here.  You expect dialect expertise, you expect a few outbursts of anger, you expect a great monologue from two if for no other reason than it’s Winston Churchill.  And you get all of that and a little more.

It’ll be a surprise if Gary doesn’t get his ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Oscar for this.




Funny, I was just watching this last week for acting purposes…

But since Quincy Jones felt the need to throw the 1960s under the bus this week, let me post this…

More serious people, who are more directly affected by homophobia than I, can speak to some of the uglier comments around Q’s revelations about Marlon’s bisexuality.  Brando was my acting idol when I started, so in my own research, that aspect of his life I knew about years ago.

The name dropping was new information though!

Aside from that (and on a much lighter note), among film geeks, among actors, a phrase I’ve heard more than once is, ‘I don’t swing that way, but young Marlon Brando in peak physical condition in ‘Streetcar’…I understand.’

Next Best Picture review Sunday night.


‘I, Tonya’



Someone called this ‘Goodfellas for the ice skating world’.  That’s actually, pretty accurate.

Beyond the blond bombshell stuff, I knew Margot Robbie could actually act.  So I wasn’t shocked to see how well she took to the accent and (I don’t even know if this is the best way to phrase this) ‘toned down’ the hot girl act to play this woman who I’m old enough to remember as being the biggest villain in America for a news cycle when I was younger.

As is often the case with movies like this, the thrill comes in the supporting cast (of idiots) that made this woman’s life and career fall apart.  Mark Hamill clone Sebastian Stan gets to do more acting than I can remember him doing outside of a Marvel movie as Jeff Gilooly, playing both hero and villain, depending on who’s narrative we’re listening to at that moment (one of the filmmaking tricks I enjoyed most here).

Part of the awards season storyline this year though is Alison Janney, the career character actress going villain here to play Tonya Harding’s mother.  Just enough sympathy to not be a one note character, and still despicable at almost every turn.  Like most TV/film people, I’ve been a fan of hers since the West Wing.  I’d love to see her win.

Doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but fun film nevertheless.




At least as far as the acting awards go, the frontrunner for a lot of Oscars is still ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.  Out of what I’ve seen so far, this one isn’t as showy (visually) as ‘The Shape of Water’ but I found myself more engaged story wise.

The setup: when a young girl is raped and murdered in a small Midwestern town, her mother buys up three billboards on the city limits to embarrass the local police chief, who hasn’t brought anyone to justice for the crimes.  Frances McDormand is pitch perfect as the mother, Sam Rockwell is a hotheaded young cop who probably doesn’t deserve his badge, and Woody Harrelson is the police chief in the middle who wants to do the right thing but has his own personal problems.

Before I saw this one, I heard ‘racism’ thrown out there so my guard was up.  In truth though, its racism as a function of the world these people live in, which doesn’t bother me if it’s the truth of these characters (Google Lawrence, Kansas from this past weekend if you don’t have any ideas about what can go down in Small Town, USA.)

Back to the film itself, super casting again on down the call sheet.  Even Tyrion Lannister and Lester Freamon are perfect fits as essentially bit players to the larger story being told here.

I’ll be genuinely surprised if Rockwell and McDormand don’t win for this.




The weekend, and a new month!

The playlist gave me a couple of my favorite ‘hood’ jams: ‘I’m a Thug’, and ‘Ambitionz az a Ridah’.

But, I just refuse to start Black History Month posting one of those.

So we’ll start the weekend with New Edition.

Enjoy gang, next Best Picture review Super Bowl Sunday.


‘Lady Bird’



It’s exciting (and a little sad) to think of how much good territory there still is to cover in genre films, simply by seeing these stories through the eyes of different storytellers (and by extension, different protagonists.)  I personally feel ‘Get Out’/horror was the best example this awards season, but ‘Lady Bird’/coming of age is a fresh take in its own way too.

A California teenager butts heads with their parents (and everyone else).  They take their first real steps into love and sex. We’ve been seeing this genre since…’Rebel Without a Cause’ right?  And yet, off the top of my head…I can’t tell you when was the last time (if ever) I’ve seen it told through the eyes of a teenage girl.

Saoirse Ronan is the real deal if you didn’t know.  She NAILS the accent, she nails all the insecurities of the teenage years, she’s carrying movies and I don’t think she’s 25 yet?  And Laurie Metcalf carries her share of what’s essentially a ‘two-hander’;  probably a little harder on her daughter than necessary, but with good intentions.  The working title of this was evidently ‘Mothers and Daughters’; that may not be as marketable, but it’s definitely a perfect fit.