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Oscar Best Picture Nominee Round-up 2021

Well, it’s that time of year again. The end of April, that fabled time when the Oscars were 2 1/2 months ago unless there was a pandemic. Okay, obviously the big event this week is MORTAL KOMBAT coming out on Friday. But I’m still gonna enjoy watching the Oscars on Sunday.

As is my tradition, I made sure to watch all of the best picture nominees. Due to the pandemic I had seen fewer of them than usual when the nominations were announced, but it was easier to catch up since they could all be streamed. That was nice, though I will always treasure the time I had to take a ferry to the only theater in my area still playing HACKSAW RIDGE.

I had intended to do full reviews of more of these, but you know how it is – I decided to write about Godzilla movies and BLOODSPORT sequels and shit instead. It happens. So here are links to the ones I’ve reviewed and some thoughts on the ones I haven’t.

THE FATHER

I didn’t even know what this was when it was nominated, but it’s an English language movie from French playwright and first-time director Florian Zeller, based on his own play about a woman (Olivia Colman, LOCKE) struggling to get care for her father (Anthony Hopkins, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2) as he fails to understand that he has dementia.As I’ve mentioned many times before I lost my own father to Alzheimer’s, so I knew this could be painful, and honestly wouldn’t have watched it if not for my Oscar completism. But somehow it managed to be not too traumatic for me while also being the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen, at least in terms of Hopkins’ performance.

It’s cleverly written to make us as disoriented as the character. We see things happen and then when he brings them up later people try to explain to him that he’s mistaken. Time and situations shift unexpectedly. At one point his daughter is played by a different actress named Olivia, in this case Olivia Williams (THE POSTMAN). The daughter’s husband Paul (Rufus Sewell, GODS OF EGYPT) is a dick to him and we’re not sure if that’s all real or just his perception.

What is incredibly accurate to my experience with my dad is the way the father will be faced with these situations where he realizes he’s been talking about some delusion, or this person he’s been talking to as a stranger is actually a family member, and he’ll try to save face with a little joke and laugh and then move along like he knew all along. Of course I also recognize the anger and the sudden sobbing out of nowhere. And when he made accusations of being hit it reminded me of something that happened with my mom, who had so many other medical issues that we didn’t know until after she passed that it was Alzheimer’s causing her confusion. She believed a caretaker at a physical rehab facility had done something horrible to her, and obviously we had to take it seriously, so we moved her and the place put the employee on leave, but, you know… she’d also been telling us there were beehives on the side of her bed and that I had been killed in a street racing accident. This movie leaves you the same way – not wanting to assume he’s wrong, but also knowing he doesn’t know.

Anyway, obviously Anthony Hopkins is always good, but this is something extra special from him.

I’m actually surprised this didn’t trigger me much. Maybe I can have some distance from it because my dad was pretty damn far from an Anthony Hopkins type, and we managed to find good places to take care of both of my parents, and mainly because it wasn’t all on me like it was the daughter in the movie. But also maybe the passage of time and my attempts to talk about and process it all and say upsetting things about it in a fuckin Oscar preview have provided some healing. (Sorry.) Anyway, it can be scary to confront these things, but in this case I did it and I found out this is indeed a good movie.


JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

This is one of the better ones. My take is that it uses the format of the undercover cop movie subversively by getting all the usual drama out of it but the people being investigated are the good guys and the investigators are the bad guys.

Also, shout out to Scott Thorough of Zebras of America, who had nothing to do with this but did score the previous movie by director Shaka King, who is also nominated for best original screenplay.

(see review)

 


MANK

This one I was intimidated to write about because I’m no scholar of old Hollywood, and haven’t seen CITIZEN KANE since I was in my twenties, and I saw MANK kind of late after every more qualified smarty pants in the world had already written about it and moved on.

So my brilliant take on it is that I was surprised how fun it was. About all I knew about Herman J. Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman, QUEST FOR CAMELOT) is that he wrote CITIZEN KANE and was an alcoholic. But the movie portrays his alcoholism in the old fashioned way: he always has a bottle around and you worry about him but he seems to manage, so why shame him? This is not a realistic or healthy way to look at it, but I didn’t have my heart set on wallowing in any muck.

I’ve heard pretty mixed opinions, but luckily the main criticisms are beyond my knowledge level. #1, it’s not different enough from RKO 281. (I haven’t seen it.) #2, the digital cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt (Mindhunter, Legion, Fargo, Raised By Wolves) is absolute trash because it looks nothing like the 1940s Hollywood movies the black and white is meant to mimic. Yeah – okay. Maybe? I guess my eye is not sophisticated enough. I thought it looked nice. I liked the use of outmoded pacing, like the car crash that lays him up that happens and then we’re immediately rushed away with a goofy wipe.

It’s an interesting look at a different time in Hollywood, at a perspective on authorship, on the responsibilities of an artist to their beliefs, and a reminder of how long variations of the same political shit we hear today has been swirling around this country. But I didn’t come away feeling like it was anything big or important. It was just a fun time. And I like seeing an obsessive dude like Fincher put this much work into just a fun time.

SPOILER FOR TINY BIT PART: Is it fucking crazy or what that Bill Nye the Science Guy has a small part as Upton Sinclair in a David Fincher movie? It sure is if you’re from Seattle and knew him from Almost Live! before he was a national figure.


MINARI

This type of movie is also hard for me to write about, because it’s a straight ahead drama. It’s just about a family going through normal stuff. Yes, they’re Korean immigrants trying to start a farm in rural Arkansas in the ‘80s, so it’s very specific to their experiences. But mostly it’s just – here is a family. Here’s what they’re up to. We understand this dad (Steven Yeun, OKJA)’s stubbornness in trying to do what he wants to do, and also the mom (Hen Ye-ri, ILANG: THE WOLF BRIGADE)’s absolute frustration with him dragging her to live in a shitty mobile home working a shitty job checking the gender of baby chicks when she was reasonably happy with what they had in California.

And we know these kids David and Ann (Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho) are hilarious, especially in conjunction with their wonderful Grandma (Oscar-nominated Youn Yuh-jung, THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG), who David feuds with because she doesn’t fit his idea of what a normal grandma is supposed to be like. He rejects her so much he doesn’t even want the candy she brought from Korea. That’s cold. One of the big episodes in this saga is when David tricks her into drinking pee, but when he’s being understandably punished for it she feels bad and stands up for him. She loves that goofy little jerk.

Sure, there’s drama. Some major things happen. It’s emotional. Everyone is flawed. There’s a very real, very “I bet this is autobiographical” moment when the parents start fighting and the kids rush to their bedroom and start desperately making paper airplanes, which they use to throw a note to them to stop fighting. It’s clear that they’ve been through this so many times and this is their much-discussed emergency plan being put into action. The kid logic of it would be cute if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.

But overall it’s just kind of this beautiful slice of life where you get to know these people and this little place and you hang out with them as they try to figure things out. It has plenty to say about life without feeling like it’s trying to be about The Issues.

See, I have an okay start on writing a review right here, but I was afraid because, like with MANK, all the smart people who are more skilled at writing about something like this had already done it months before I saw it. But I do feel a little bit of a responsibility because I think it’s important to let people like me who are more of the MORTAL KOMBAT persuasion know that there are movies like this that we absolutely would love and should see. I actually had a pretty good angle I was gonna try if I hadn’t run out of time: I also watched Joe Lynch’s MAYHEM, in which Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving murder their way through an office building full of rage-virus infectees, and I was gonna try to do a double review.

The important point there is that Yeun is great and I love that he’s now an Oscar-nominated actor. Like many, I knew him as one of the longest-running characters on The Walking Dead, until his brutal, gory exit. On a show not exactly known for lovable characters, many viewers took his fictional death so poorly they entirely abandoned the show. But it was the right thing for him to do because he already has built up a really interesting body of film work, and he’s only getting better. MINARI gives him a complex character who has to shine through as likable despite his bull-headedness, and in MAYHEM he has to do it while being a douchey asshole businessman guy trying to regain his soul. In that one he also gets to go a little mega. There are many dimensions to Steven Yeun and I think we’re gonna see more of them.. He’s a movie star.


NOMADLAND

There is some truly great stuff in here, Frances McDormand (DARKMAN) is always good, and though maybe it doesn’t go into detail about all the ways working for Amazon can be horrible (which some people have criticized it for) I think you would have to be some kind of ghoul to watch it and come out thinking “Hey, that company is great, I’m so glad human beings are able to work for them!” In other words, don’t get mad at a movie for assuming you’re not a fucking idiot and have to have everything explained to you all the god damn time. Subtlety and understatement are not crimes.

However, I have plenty of issues with the particular way the movie combines fiction with real nomads portraying themselves, so I am not fully onboard the Nomadland Express. I’m just kind of half-heartedly jogging next to it.

(see review)


PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Another one with many controversies. I love it though. This is the hippest and most “that was nominated for best picture?” of the bunch. It does deal with Important Issues, but in a dark comedy sort of way that is not normally rewarded by the very serious Academy people. In my review I compared it to HEATHERS. Did HEATHERS get nominated for best picture? In my opinion, no, no it did not. So I consider this to be justice for HEATHERS, somehow.

It definitely for sure has no fucking chance of winning in my opinion, but it’s cool that it somehow got nominated.

(see review)

 

SOUND OF METAL

I saved this one to watch last specifically because I thought THE FATHER was gonna be so heavy, and somehow I thought this would be more…. I don’t know. Rockin’ or something. But of course the idea of sudden hearing loss is terrifying, and I think this was the only one out of all the best picture nominees that got me crying at one point!

It’s not necessarily an all around bummer though. Very good movie. I recommend everybody see it. If you refuse to see it though you should still read my review of it because, you know. I work hard.

(see review)

 


THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Have you heard about these Chicago 7? They were various left wing activists who organized anti-war protests near the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The police beat the shit out of the protesters, as they do, then the scumbag D.A. John Mitchell (John Doman, MERCURY RISING) – who later had FBI agents hold his wife captive and beat and sedate her for talking to reporters about Watergate – charged these guys with conspiracy to incite a riot. This is their story as told by Aaron Sorkin (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, STEVE JOBS, MOLLY’S GAME), who originally wrote it for Steven Spielberg, but ended up directing it too. It’s the kind of thing Sorkin excels at: a play-like format (being a trial and all), a ton of characters who get to talk constantly and be witty and tell stories and explain and explain and explain. I watch this kind of thing and I’m very conscious of how formulaic and corny it is and also that in his hands it can be very entertaining.

But this is not his best, in my opinion. It’s not as focused or consistent as those three listed above. Sasha Baron-Cohen (TALLADEGA NIGHTS) has been nominated for best supporting actor for playing Abbie Hoffman, and I think he’s one of the funniest people in the world, but I also think he’s kind of bad in this, with a distractingly weird accent. Luckily the character is kind of a clown anyway, so it mostly just hurts in a few moments where you’re supposed to question your previous assumption that he’s an attention-seeking dickhead. I did like Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden – I thought he was great in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, kind of terrible but sort of in a good way but maybe not in JUPITER ASCENDING, and virtually unwatchable in THE FANTASTICAL BEASTS OF WHIMSICAL WHATZIT LAND, so my views of him are not set. But he does a good uptight-but-pretty-much-right-frustrated-with-these-other-idiots-not-taking-this-seriously kind of dork.

Mark Rylance (THE B.F.G.) is the undeniable MVP, Mark Rylancing the shit out of it in the way that of course Mark Rylance fucking would. Whatever problems I have with the movie go down pretty easy after watching his frustration trying not to say what a fucking idiot asshole the judge (Frank Langella, BRAINSCAN) is being. (And then saying it.)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER) also deserves credit for pulling off the sort of honorable assistant federal prosecutor. He clearly is skeptical of the assignment from the beginning, but takes the job seriously, then does that thing where you notice a little glimmer of righteousness in him and he makes a small gesture of being a good person and recognizing what’s right at the end. I’m pretty sure that and the whole Stick It To the Man feel good climax are mostly horse shit, but Sorkin is good at sculpting in this specific medium of horse shit.

The most compelling part of the story to me is the stuff about Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, AQUAMAN), who is not numerically calculated into the title because he insisted that he had nothing to do with these guys and was added to the trial to give the jury a scary Black guy that they can feel good about judging guilty. Although I watch more stuff about the Black Panthers than some and I’m about to complain about being inundated with ‘60s counterculture worship I actually was ignorant of this story of him being literally bound and gagged in the courtroom. I understand that there is some license in the way it was depicted, but this is close enough and it’s such a fucking forehead-vein-popping fury you get watching it. You can feel the helplessness of all the people in the room, even some of the people who kind of suck, knowing what this is, not being able to stop it.

By the way, the timeline is not accurate, but this ties in with JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH in that Fred Hampton is a character in it, sitting behind Seale in court to support him. Here he’s played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. (who will also play B.B. King in Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS movie). Interestingly I thought Harrison seemed too young to play Hampton but I looked it up and he’s about 5 years older than Hampton was at the time, while Daniel Kaluuya is about 10. I guess it goes to show that age ain’t nothin but a number.

To me a weirdly bad part of the movie is a laughable score that seems to try to rock out in such a way as to imply ‘60s rock ’n roll. I understand wanting to avoid the FORREST GUMP needle drops or whatever, but you can’t fake that shit, it makes it seem like a clueless TV movie. The protest re-creations already don’t look very authentic, and then the music makes them a joke. I was shocked to realize that it was a composer I normally think is brilliant, Daniel Pemberton (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, BIRDS OF PREY). But I have been told this is because Sorkin has bad taste in music. I’ll buy that.

I feel the need to say something about ‘60s nostalgia. I’m a middle aged man now, so if you do the math you can see I grew up during the ‘50s nostalgia era (watching Happy Days and Sha-Na-Na) and then the much more involved ‘60s one. I heard about the Vietnam War protests and the civil rights movement. I heard all about Woodstock, saw the ads for Freedom Rock, learned how right they were about Jimi Hendrix being great. I watched The Wonder Years, I saw THE DOORS, 1969, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, all that shit. I took their word for it that that was the most important shit that ever happened, the beginning of it all, the origin story of a new society, when the weirdos and long hairs and artists of the counterculture struck back and put this country on a path away from war and racism. Which hasn’t really panned out entirely, but still. Some improvements. On some fronts. Surely.

Since then there has been nostalgia for the ’70s, ‘80s, even ‘90s, but it doesn’t seem to me as adulatory, as ambitious in its claims of importance. That stuff usually seems more interested in pop culture references than in assigning meaning. But I might not be watching the right stuff, or I might just be irrevocably programmed by that ’60s stuff to take it for granted that that was canonically the most important modern era of American history and culture. I don’t know. Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur have certainly been elevated as tragic poets of their generation the way, say, Jim Morrison was. But I don’t see people of my rough age group trying too hard to shove our youthful views about selling out and shit on future generations. Whenever I start to write about it I have some kind of “nobody cares about this, old man” gag reflex that pukes up a bunch of shame. So maybe that’s part of it.

But all this is to say that other than the much needed civil rights era movies made by Black filmmakers, I’m getting over this ‘60s shit. To be fair, Sorkin is only about 4 years too old to be Gen X, and has said that he had to look up what the Chicago 7 was when Spielberg told him he wanted to make a movie about it. But he’s applying his center-left history buff smartypants mythmaking talents to the same orthodoxy as the older guys. He’s a very smart, very talented, very full of himself blowhard who yes, of course has become convinced that a key to everything going on in this world right now is the story of the trial of the Chicago 7. A story that has until now only been told in the 1970 BBC program THE CHICAGO CONSPIRACY TRIAL, the Herschell-Gordon-Lewis scripted CHICAGO 70, the 1987 HBO film CONSPIRACY: THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 8, the 2010 animated documentary THE CHICAGO 10, and the 2011 film THE CHICAGO 8, plus several plays and books by historians and the people involved and stuff like that.

I haven’t seen those other ones, and I can buy that this might be the best narrative version. I kinda liked it. And certainly it has parallels to current events and things that ring true, whether through artistic design or universality. So I don’t blame them for making it. But it’s starting to feel like continuing to worship at the altar of these ‘60s paradigms can only hold us back. It really hasn’t saved us so far.

* * *

Okay, so what am I rooting for on Sunday? I don’t even know. This is a respectable batch of best picture nominees. CHICAGO 7 is the worst of them and it’s fine. My favorite is either PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN or MINARI, but I don’t feel strongly about which deserves to win.

I think despite all the incredible performances in the best actor category, it will be nice (and very emotional) to see the late Chadwick Boseman win for his great work in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. It’s interesting that for this rightfully acclaimed final role, one of this era’s most regal super heroes gets to play a dick. A humorously cocky, very anguished, complicated dick. I haven’t seen all the nominees in the best actress category, but I think Viola Davis (OUT OF SIGHT) is incredible even for Viola Davis in that one. Her character is interesting in that she’s a huge pain in the ass and the more you get to understand where she’s coming from the more you start to think you know what? Good for her being such a huge pain in the ass.

I also want to mention that although ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI wasn’t nominated for much, it’s one of the movies that you hear about around awards season and then might forget afterwards but that you really owe it to yourself to check out if you’re interested in the subject. The whole ensemble deserves recognition, but I’m glad Leslie Odom Jr. (who not only gives a great dramatic performance, but convincingly sings as Sam Cooke) got a nomination.

In supporting actress I’ve seen all the nominees except HILLBILLY ELEGY, and I love all of them, but I’m kind of rooting for Maria Bakalova, because she just came out of nowhere and was so funny in such insane situations in the BORAT sequel, and you’re wondering who the fuck is this person, where did they find her, how did she do this? Of course, Youn Yuh-Jung (the grandma from MINARI) would also be a great choice, and she may have a more legitimate chance of winning. I’d be happy for that too.

Also DA 5 BLOODS, and specifcally Delroy Lindo, was robbed. So give it the best original score Oscar since that’s the only thing it was nominated for.

Anyway have fun watching the Oscars if you’re not just watching MORTAL KOMBAT over and over all weekend.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

40 Responses to “Oscar Best Picture Nominee Round-up 2021”

  1. While it’s great that niche, smaller, indie and less mainstream fare has been the focus of the Oscars the last few years, I kinda sorta miss the days when stirred into the Nominee Mix was some HUGE Blockbusters. I’m a little nostalgic for the days when THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, DANCES WITH WOLVES, LOTR: RETURN OF THE KING, THE LAST EMPEROR and TITANIC were up for Best Picture. Although BLACK PANTHER was nominated the previous year, but it seems more the exception rather than the rule these days.

    And agree about Delroy Lindo. Fucking travesty. He owned every minute of DA 5 BLOODS.

  2. This might be the first time that I really don’t root for anything or anybody. Not even in the technological categories. Mostly because I think the only one one that I’ve seen was BORAT. So yeah, in a way I root for Maria Bakalova, but there is no way in hell that she’s gonna win, so why bother?

    Really weird is how completely out of the loop I am this year. This is the first time that I actually heard of THE FATHER (Maybe because of its generic title?) and up until you posted that review, I thought SOUND OF METAL was a documentary. One should think that this year most movies went DTV, should’ve made it easier for me to catch up on, but stuff like MANK went on my “Nah, I watch it later” pile and then I forgot about it. (Content…)

    Disclaimer: I’m gonna sound like the most ignorant Honky for a bit! Watching them will most likely fix that, but also the big black themed movies from this season all seem to blur together for me. Don’t know which one is about a Black Panther, stars the Marvel Black Panther and in general they all seem to be more or less focus on historical figures from the same time period.

    But I will most likely watch the show anyway, because why not? They are always fun (if you record them and are able to skip the commercial breaks) and I think Soderbergh is producing it this time, so that should be cool.

  3. I feel like Palm Springs should totally be up for Best Original Screenplay.
    It was an amazing surprise!

  4. CJ, the confusion is understandable. You have an actress nominated for a BORAT movie, BORAT himself is in another nominated movie, the lead actor of BLACK PANTHER is in one nominated movie, while his BLACK PANTER co star is in another nominated movie playing…a Black Panther. It all bleeds into one another at some point. JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH , about an FBI Agent infiltrating the Black Panthers reminds me of BLACKKKLANSMAN which was about a cop infiltrating the KKK, a Spike Lee joint I liked, but not as much as I liked the next Spike Lee joint DA 5 BLOODS, which didn’t even get nominated for anything major.

    Comes to my point about how nice if you had some movies in there a little bigger, more mainstream, which a lot of people have watched, so when they play clips off it, there’s a pleasant sense of recognition, that “Hey yeah I remember this scene, and liking it ” kinda vibe, which was what always attracted me to the Oscars, which is becoming increasing rare.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think many of these smaller movies deserve a look and it’s good when Oscar Buzz gives them some much needed time in the spotlight, but with this God-Awful Pandemic, my appetite for them has shrunk. I really need to be in a proper headspace to enjoy them.

    Like, I’ve been thinking, I really liked FENCES, and so I should check out MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, but am I in the mood for a very talky filmed August Wilson stage play now? Then again, I saw ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, a filmed stage play and enjoyed the heck outta that one.

    MANK achieved what I thought was impossible. A David Fincher movie that….bored me.
    I just have ZERO investment in that particular period of Hollywood History. And while I do respect a son’s labor of love in filming his late father’s script, truth is, the idea that Herman Mankiewicz was the true brains behind CITIZEN KANE has been debunked quite awhile ago.

    I will get around to PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH AND MINARI eventually. TRIAL OF CHICAGO 7…maybe, Sorkin is a little hit or miss with me.

    Now, when it comes to THE FATHER and THE SOUND OF METAL… I’m really not sure if I’ll see them for a long long time. Apologies in advance for indulging in some personal shit…..

    As the sole child in a position to provide Parental Care to 2 Octogenarians, the above 2 films are hitting a little too close to home now.

    My Mum, 81, has been hard of hearing for years. After much persuasion, I got her a hearing aid. And this last year, I’ve had numerous arguments with her when she’d simply not wear it, especially when we go out and I’d still need to repeat everything twice. She’d keep saying..”But it’s really loud, everything is so loud” and I’d keep ignoring her. Reading Vern’s review of SOUND OF METAL and THAT scene, I suddenly felt like a lump of shit. Like, I’ve been completely unable to put myself in her shoes and see how SHE processes sound and how that impacts her.

    My Dad, luckily, is still in full possession of all his mental faculties, but the physical deterioration is evident. At 84, he’s almost blind in one eye, he’s walking far more unsteadily and a compromised spatial awareness owing to only having one good eye has resulted in 2 recent falls, within a span of 5 days. So, THE FATHER would at this stage just bring too stark a realization for me, that life is coming full circle. The child has become the parent, the parent the child. I’m fussing over them, holding their hands as they walk, driving them to doctor’s appointments etc.

    So at this stage….yeah MORTAL KOMBAT or ARMY OF THE DEAD is a little more my speed.

  5. I would like to thank the pandemic for making blatant Oscar-bait scarce this year. “What’s the point in making pandering middlebrow pap about a blue-eyed honkey who teaches black people how to live again or vice versa if nobody’s going to see it?” say careerist hacks. “What am I, an artist or something?” Good for all these little movies that would have existed with or without the hope of Oscar gold. I won’t see them either but they seem ever so much more sincere than the tryhard garbage that usually gets nominated. I thought this was the first year in my lifetime when I saw not a single one of the nominees, but then I noticed that fucking TENET got nominated for Production Design (for what? Some hallways?) and Visual Effects (I don’t think the Academy knows what visual effects are) and that ruined my clean sweep. Damn you, Nolan!

    Anyway, I hope PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN gets robbed because I want to see it and I don’t think my rep can withstand willingly watching a Best Picture winner. It’s just not part of my brand.

  6. Hang in there KayKay. As hellish as it was I’m grateful that I got to spend some time with my parents later on and learn about life in a profound way. But yeah, it helps to send your mind to other places to deal with it. Perhaps Outworld.

  7. Thank you Vern

  8. I’ve seen 3 of the Best Picture nominees, which is probably more than usual for me in a given year– sometimes I catch up later, and sometimes I don’t get around to it (still haven’t seen Parasite). I also have no desire to pay for Amazon Prime, so maybe I’ll never see Sound of Metal, though I want to.

    Of the films I’ve seen, I more or less loved Nomadlad, liked Judas and the Black Messiah, and did not like Mank.

    I do enjoy trying to predict the winners each year. The odds are leaning toward Nomadland this year. If it wins, it’d be the best Best Picture winner for me in decades (though, again, still haven’t seen a few, such as Parasite). Usually the Academy seemed to go for something more middle-of-the-road, more geared towards the general audience– so maybe Chicago 7 will win (Michael Keaton is an Oscar good luck charm).

    Chloe Zhao for director and Chadwick Boseman for actor feel like locks. Viola Davis gave my favorite performance of the year (outside Elisabeth Moss in Invisible Man), so I’d like to see her win, but Best Actress is anyone’s game. Glenn Close might get her apology Oscar for Supporting here, but I’m not aware of anyone who liked that movie.

  9. Movies like PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN don’t come around too often, gang. To make excuses for why you’re putting off seeing it is to march in lock-step with the rest of mainstream society, Oscars or no Oscars. It is a challenging, necessary movie geared towards *precisely* the type of person who thinks it has nothing to teach them. Unless you’re trying to revoke your Guy Who Gets It card for 2021, give it a watch.

  10. Has scolding someone into watching a movie ever worked one time ever in the history of the world? I know it’s never worked for me. I want to watch it 15% less every time I hear how important it is for me to watch it. Maybe that’s just me, but I suspect it’s just human nature. You want to get people interested in a piece of entertainment, the last thing you want to do is try and force them to eat their vegetables.

  11. Oh, I’m sure I’m gonna watch it at some point. But not now. There are so many other movies that I haven’t seen yet.

  12. I’m giving advice, Mr. M — if I wanted to scold you, I’d just tell you to get over yourself. “I won’t see this movie because it’s associated with the Oscars” isn’t the principled take you seem to think it is and I’d say PYW is as much of an “eat your vegetables” movie as McKee’s THE WOMAN is, but to each their own/it’s your loss/etc.

  13. I made a self-deprecating joke, man. If anybody here is taking themselves too seriously, it sure as hell ain’t me.

  14. I dont want to fight, dude. Seriously. I’m not actually going to skip the movie because of its Oscar assocation. I was kidding. I mentioned my “rep,” for God’s sake. Who says the word “rep” in 2021 and expects to be taken seriously? I was just making a joke about my own kneejerk antipathy to awards-y type movies.

    I wish you’d led with the THE WOMAN comparisons, though, because that sounds pretty awesome. If we’re exchanging unsolicited advice here, I’d say you’ll have better results recommending things if you say why they’re good, not why anyone who doesn’t partake of those things is bad.

  15. I appreciate that, Mr M, and you’re right, I should have led with THE WOMAN comparison. Apologies for taking a shit-over-honey approach in my pitch– my intention was the reverse, but I can see how it could read as negative and condescending, and that tone was not intentional. I realize, as well, that when I say an Oscar-nominated movie is “challenging” and “necessary” I probably make myself sound like the ghost (?) of Owen Gleiberman singing the praises of AMISTAD. I’m not sitting here sternly clapping for any movie that notices society has room for improvement. I only meant to point out how avoiding the “righteous lady takes on patriarchy, one asshole at a time” movie is not exactly a unique move in our culture, in that it’s what all of America tends to do when this type of movie (which is barely even a type of movie for how few there really are) comes along. So, if I’m guilty of taking seriously my opinion that PYW is a good movie, that’s only because the movie itself is worth taking seriously too.

    Are there dudes out there for whom watching PYW would be like eating an entire root cellar? Absolutely! But I don’t think you’re one of them any more than I am. Honestly, I think my rationale in trying to motivate you to see it is really just born from the fact that I have such respect for your ability to express your opinion that I hope you see it just so you can tell other people that it’s worth it!

  16. Almost Live! got a little circulation outside of the Seattle area as it was picked up for a year or two by Comedy Central. The only things I remember about it are the look of the host (John Keister by that time) and one recurring skit; the “Lame List”. I don’t recall Nye at all, but that may be why he seemed a little familiar the first time I remember hearing of him…

  17. Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry if I was confrontational. I’ve certainly chosen being self-righteous over being persuasive more times than I can count so I can’t in good conscience hold it against anybody.

    For the record, I’ve wanted to see the movie since I first heard about it, but I don’t do rentals (feels like a waste of money to me) so I’m waiting for it to come out in a form where I can see it. Which will probably be when it’s on sale at a Redbox, which is just about the only place I’ve gotten new movies since the pandemic started.

  18. Right on man. Please feel an equal absence of worries. To be honest with you, I was downright skeptical when I first read my first glowing review of it because it sounded like the kind of movie that would have to pull its punches to garner the buzz it was getting and/or get a star like Carey Mulligan to sign on — without Vern’s review I might have let that remain my impression. I was wrong! It was the first “theatrical” release I’ve paid to get online since the pandemic began also, and I’m glad I took a chance on it. Hope you get something out of it whenever you see it too.

  19. Bill – Criterion is putting out Sound of Metal, which I think is cool just for the purposes of physical media continuing to exist, but I wouldn’t expect you to buy it sight unseen. I think you can just pay to rent the one movie VOD style and not get the service, but I could be wrong. (I only recently starting using it because a very generous friend lets me use his password.)

    psychic – I’m glad I’m not the only one who still talks about THE WOMAN as one of the greats. I loved it at the time but watching it more recently it seemed so ahead of its time as far as the things that we talk about now. It’s even funnier in retrospect to remember the big story about it was the guy standing up at Sundance and yelling that it was misogynistic, because it’s such a powerful movie about that exact topic that if the guy was into extreme horror it would probly be his favorite movie.

  20. That’s very cool, I didn’t know about the Criterion connection.

    Caught Trial of the Chicago 7 this weekend and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Though if I were to pick one of the cast to give an Oscar nom, it’d be Frank Langella.

    Also watched foreign film favorite Another Round, which was great. It definitely captures the experience and spectrum of drinking, displaying its positive and negative effects. Remarkably humanistic and bittersweet. I expect it to get remade as a terrible Vince Vaughn comedy.

  21. Vern – yeah, THE WOMAN is another one I have you to thank for reviewing back in the day! Been a few years since I last saw it but it’s a totally unique and indelible movie.

    Plus, knowing Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman gives Jadis on The Walking Dead an appeal that, for me, the character would be nothing without her playing it. She rules! I ought to watch DARLIN one of these days; if that movie isn’t for people who love THE WOMAN then I don’t know who else it’s for.

  22. Switching up the order so they can do the Chadwick Boseman finish failed spectaculary.

  23. Is there a secret club where Chloe Zhao, Tom Hooper, and Ron Howard get to hang out at? I can see it. All of em arguing over who’s richer. Not an interesting film between them.

  24. Um. If that’s what it takes to interest you, go for it.

  25. Can’t comment on Chloe Zhao, and I do agree I fail to see what’s so Hot Shit about Tom Hooper (although CATS may have effectively removed the “Hot” ) but I can’t find it, even in the depths of my curmudgeonly soul, to work up any derision for Ole Opie, given my soft spot for journeyman directors.

    COCCOON, SPLASH, WILLOW & PARENTHOOD all reside in my 80s Nostalgia Sweet Spot. I can literally watch BACKDRAFT every year, believe CINDERALLA MAN to be underrated, APOLLO 13 to be pretty good and THE MISSING, RUSH AND FROST/NIXON to be flawed but interesting. I’ve only watched FAR AND AWAY and RANSOM once and suspect they won’t hold up. But all 3 DA VINCI CODE flicks can be safely relegated to the scrap heap.

  26. I do agree that Howard’s movies are handsomely mounted, and the involvement of top dollar craftsmen takes his movies up from McDonald’s into solid Chili’s and Applebee’s territory.

  27. If we’re taking “handsome” literally, then one important exception to the “handsomely mounted” characterization of Ron Howard’s work is SOLO. Full disclosure, I really enjoy SOLO on about every level and think it’s profoundy underrated. But the lighting is terrible. I’m usually far less tuned into the cinematography, framing, and lighting stuff as a lot of people here (I’m the guy who defends GODZILLA: KOTM!), but in SOLO, it’s difficulty to clearly make out faces a lot of the time. It’s just bizarre. Still well worth a watch and in my view easily the most enjoyable of the Disney-era STAR WARS films.

  28. On the Zhao front, I think The Rider is an incredible, beautiful movie. I think she absolutely is worth talking about as one of the most interesting voices in the industry – maybe just a pity Nomadland rather than TR heralded her breakthrough. Think some are writing her off as a much more conventional director than she is.

    I like Nomadland fine (though i think i’d feel a lot more ambivalent about it if I hadn’t read the book) – but I think swapping out her non-prof leads for McDormand diminishes the power the style of filmmaking (as much as it opens the door for awards) she used in her first two films. Does also lead to an odd meta power imbalance that works against the project to some degree.

    But I don’t think Hooper/Howard is a fair comparison at all really, like that sort of soft-focus normie awards bait stuff. That’s so far from CZ’s mode to this point. Would encourage haters to check The Rider out, genuinely think it’s a masterpiece. One of the most distinctive films of the last few years.

  29. i think Howard is the ultimate lawful neutral filmmaker. Hooper’s chaotic evil.

  30. Ransom kicks ass

  31. Watching Glenn Close shout out a DC gogo band (and not even one of the most well-known!) has made me completely forgive her for for whatever role in whatever movie –who can even remember what, or how embarrassing it might have been?– brought her to that spot to begin with.

  32. I think my favorite part of the broadcast was, with the re-ordering of the awards, you could feel the build towards a big emotional end moment with a posthumous Chadwick Boseman best actor win. And then… Anthony Hopkins… Who wasn’t even there. I was cackling and clapping at that point and I bet, gun to head, Soderbergh would admit that was the most amusing part to him too. (And I like Boseman well enough, it was just such a curve that it tickled my funny bone).

  33. Speaking of which, hey Vern, I don’t think I ever asked before — I know you’re a funk guy, you ever delve into the world of go-go? If so (or if not!) you should try and review 1985’s GOOD TO GO (called SHORT FUSE on video) which was a deliberate attempt to make a Go-Go version of THE HARDER THEY FALL, with a bunch of local artists playing themselves and, for some reason, Art Garfunkel as the main character. Obviously we know now it should have been Glenn Close. An interesting time capsule of an oft-forgotten local music scene.

  34. I know almost nothing about gogo.I didknow that movie existed, but thought it was some kind of Art Garfunkel tough guy movie. Art Garfunkel gogo movie sounds even more worth watching.

  35. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    April 26th, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    I would like to hereby be the last person to ever mention MANK.

  36. Right, Inspector. But I’d gladly go arm in arm with you 20 years from now to that film school screening of Menari.

  37. Since this will be the last chance to talk about these non-cape movies, I’ll offer my own quick rundown:
    THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7: Bad TV movie.
    JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH: Good TV movie
    MENARI: Like it was timecopped to 2021 from the 1991 Sundance film festival.
    NOMADLAND… Oh Nomadland… Someone earlier mentioned “eating your vegetables” and that’s a good way to describe most oscar-ass movies. So in the case of Nomadland, imagine, if you will, a blank empty plane. We could put broccoli on it for your veggies, or we could put a 12 oz porterhouse on it, for your filmic proteins. What the makers of this film put on that vacant plate: a big ol pile of shit.

    There were two movies (of this awards season crop) that were actually inspiring for their directorial chops: MANK by Fincher and ANOTHER ROUND by Vinterberg. The others, to quote Abraham Lincoln, “fuckin stupid.”

  38. Really hope you check it out, Vern. In the meantime, since I suspect this will be right up your ally, a little Go-Go primer; Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers with their biggest hit, Bustin’ Loose — gives you a good sense of the mix of funk and complex percussion Go-Go is known for… a whole Trouble Funk show from 1988 (when people still thought Go-Go might be the Next Big Thing) so you can see the distinct way the songs weave together without a bunch of breaks where you might lose the crowd (hence “go-go”)… and finally the one Glenn Close apparently loves so dearly, which you probably heard in SCHOOL DAZE, E.U.’s “Da Butt”

    CHUCK BROWN & THE SOUL SEARCHERS, BUSTIN' LOOSE

    CHUCK BROWN & THE SOUL SEARCHERS, BUSTIN' LOOSE FROM THE 1978 LP BUSTIN' LOOSE,SOURCE RECORDS

    “]”]

    Trouble Funk Live in Japan 1988

    Trouble Funk Live in Japan 1988

    E.U. (Experience Unlimited) - Da Butt (Video)

    FROM THE SOUNDTRACK "SCHOOL DAZE" (1988).

  39. The first time I heard “Single Ladies” by Beyonce I was in the DC area. I thought “Wow, DC radio stations are still playing local Go-Go, that’s downright heartwarming.” Then the vocals came in, and I still thought a local band had somehow got Beyonce to sing on one of their songs. Which again, I found heartwarming.

    There was about a month of me telling people about this big Go-Go song they were playing in DC that Beyonce sings on.

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