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.


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.


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)



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.


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.


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)


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)



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)



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.

120 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:
    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”




    Trouble Funk Live in Japan 1988

    Trouble Funk Live in Japan 1988

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


  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.

  40. Subtlety – Last weekend I did my first vaccinated record shopping, and I bought the soundtrack to GOOD TO GO just because it looked promising. I just put it on and was looking at the back and realized it was indeed the go-go movie you told me about. So I will be renting it soon.

  41. Hey, that’s awesome Vern! Both a properly funky album, and a nice little snapshot of the music scene in a very particular time and place. The movie is not necessarily great entertainment, but I think you’ll find a lot of interesting things in it, particularly its pretty much unapologetic portrait of the cops as the bad guys, and the way the white journalist at the movie’s center comes to realize just how much of his quietly segregated city he doesn’t know. Plus, tons of great local color from a city that has served as a backdrop in countless movies, but which you almost never see depicted as a vibrant, living community rather than just a few blocks of government buildings and fancy hotels. It’s certain to make you hopping mad that even though WONDER WOMAN 1984 is five hours long and she lives in DC in 1984, she never goes to a Go-Go show and never interacts with Art Garfunkel’s character.

    (It would make a great pairing with DC CAB, the 1983 Joel-Schumacher-directed (!) comedy starring Mr. T along with a weird ensemble that includes Gary Busey (who sings on the soundtrack!) Whitman Mayo, The Barbarian Brothers, Bob Zmuda, and others, which is also a great little time capsule of the area.)

  42. I know it bums Vern out when I do this, so I’m gonna do my yearly snarkfest about The Fucking Oscars For Christ’s Sake here, so as not to distract from his upcoming Best Picture recap, which I honestly look forward to every year. It’s the only thing in my little internet bubble that even attempts to explain the appeal of any of these movies.

    This year, I’m not gonna get into a big rant. All I have to do is describe the Best Picture nominees and they can speak for themselves.

    1. A smug, unfunny limosine-liberal message movie in which the biggest, most glamorous movie stars in the world scold the rest of us losers over shit we have no power over.
    2. A four-hour Japanese drama about rehearsing a 125-year-old Russian play.
    3. A black-and-white wankfest eulogizing the childhood of one of cinema’s most shameless self-fellators.
    4. A plotless period comedy with an inexplicable title and a queasy stance on pedophilia. (To be fair, I’m having a hard time working up the snark on this one, which I could see myself maybe enjoying someday, but I’m committed to the bit at this point.)
    5. Your typical Sundance pap about how people with disabilities are here to inspire us while we fall in love and stuff.

    This unappealing plate of unseasoned vegetables apparently represents the very finest that modern film has to offer. But yeah, it’s Marvel that’s killing cinema.

  43. Don’t forget the new adaptation of a beloved SciFi book, that goes through ridiculous length to let us know that it is “real cinema” by giving every actor at least two scenes where they stare emotionless into the camera (not that any of them except one was allowed to show emotion at all anyway), let the whole cast whisper their dialogue, the only colours that exist are grey, black and brown, every room is so big, it could fit a a whole army in but there are rarely less than 3 people at once in it (because it’s an EPIC!!!), and then insults you by ending at a random spot, making you realize that you weren’t watching a movie, but a trailer for the next one.

  44. Oh right. I knew I missed one.

  45. I can’t help thinking y’all are picking the low-hanging snark fruit.

    What about that (other) one with the guy who’s famous for playing a raccoon? In his continued quest for Oscar glory – having failed to win big with (a) Oscar magnet Eastwood, (b) nomination magnet Russell, and (c) himself – Cooper teams up with the Academy(TM)’s pet horror director in a “noir-inflected psychological drama” that takes a full 40 minutes longer than the previous version of this story to catalogue a man’s descent to a hellish fate that has shocked and surprised everyone who never saw a movie before. Blah, blah, blah a characteristically sumptuous visual feast.

    Sorry, that’s all I got. My heart’s not really in it.

  46. Let me try. How about the one, whose title raised my hopes it would be an adaptation of my favorite Don Winslow Epic Crime Novel, then dashed it by being a super slow burn Western about repressed homosexuality and generally Asshole-ish behavior?

    Brokeback Psychopath

  47. Honestly, my only beef is with DUNE. It’s really the only movie of this Oscar show, that I have seen. I’m okay with letting it win every technical award (Hey, it might have looked dull and grey, but at least it was professionally dull and grey!), but by giving it a Best Picture nom, I fear that they are legitimizing unfinished movies, just like they did with shitty action scenes, when the BOURNE sequels won all those cinematography and editing awards. I mean, they didn’t even tell you it was DUNE PART 1 until you started watching it! And when a studio decided to finance it, they thought “Hey, 2 1/2 hours of build up, then we just end it here and cross our fingers that it will make money and audiences can see the conclusion”. It’s like Peter Jackson would’ve shot FELLOWSHIP, but cut to the credits when the Balrog shows up. Or that time that ALITA movie ended with her just pointing at the bad guy.

    You know my hate for cliffhanger endings in movies, but that shit is getting ridiculous now.

    (Apart from that I didn’t like much about it either. It’s weird how the David Lynch version is suddenly the LESS ridiculous one, just because of how hard Villeneuve tried to convince us with every frame, that his is mature movie and not some silly comic book popcorn fun.)

  48. DUNE is like a film written by someone who wanted to stay true to the story of the book, but directed by someone who only knows that DUNE by its reputation as “important”. Yes, Herbert had a lot on his mind and it has substance, but DUNE has a pulpy, adventure quality at its core, even I dare say with a touch of the Boy’s Own adventure to it. It’s only “important” in the sense that it means a lot to people, and has been very influential .

  49. It’s weird that DUNE is only the first half and they allegedly hadn’t greenlit the second until after the first one was a success, but that was known that was what they were doing like 2 or 3 years before it came out. You really hadn’t heard that when you saw it?

  50. I’m not a DUNE-head (or whatever the fans are calling themself), so I didn’t follow the news about the movie that close. And when I heard “This is gonna be part 1” I thought “They film the whole first book and the next movie will be the 2nd book”, not “We spend 2 1/2 hours on an epilogue, then cut to the credits when the story actually starts”. They didn’t even put “Chapter 1” into the marketing, so I was expecting to see a full movie. Because what dumbass studio would dare to piss their audience off with an unfinished story that might never get a conclusion? Good for them, that their gamble paid off and I seem to be in the minority whith that opinion, but sheesh! What a rip off! If it would’ve been at least structured with a satisfying ending like the LOTR movies, but nope.

  51. CJ I would normally be in agreement with you but for some reason it didn’t bother me in DUNE. No idea why not. I think maybe because I wasn’t invested or expecting anything. For some reason I just liked the feel of it and went with the flow. It’s also possible I’d taken an edible before hand. I don’t remember.

  52. Funny that a complaint of Dun is it stopped at a random point instead of Fellowship of the Tring…I remember seeing that in the theatre and when the credits started there was a chorus of, essentially, “WHAT THE FUCK?” Dune had as solid an endpoint as that flick…dude joins the freedom fighters and His Journey Begins. I felt like they were making a serious movie, but it still had more jokes than Lynch’s and lots of kung fu. I’m not a sci-fi guy but I enjoyed it.

    And Nightmare Alley was FANTASTIC. I’ve always been so-so on Del Toro, I LOVE the guy and admire his shit, but it doesn’t usually grab me much…but this one did. Loved the acting, the production, the story, everything and didn’t have to have the ballless ending like the original film.

    I liked West Side Story, and those are the only ones I’ve seen. Shocked that The Last Duel wasn’t on there which is a crime.

  53. I would like to stress that I am not saying these movies suck or shouldn’t be made or that there aren’t people who enjoy them. What I am saying is that when these obviously, blatantly fringe works that are likely to speak to only a very select few are touted as the best that cinema has to offer, it is not surprising that the public at large digs deeper and deeper into the kind of populist entertainment that deigns to speak to them on a level they can understand. The poles of cinema are getting further and further apart: purposefully inpenetrable art on one end and and shameless pandering product on the other, with almost nothing in between. I’ve never particularly been a fan of the kind of middlebrow dramas the Academy used to bolster (and occasionally still do–that Will Smith tennis bio is as naked an Oscar bid as I’ve ever seen), but at least the average viewer could get something out of them. At their best, they have dramatic subject matter and expert execution. I don’t think an art form can long sustain without a middle ground of work that satisfies both aesthetes and regular consumers. It happened to theater. It happened to jazz. It’s happening to rock. It keeps nearly happening to the novel. And it’ll happen to movies if we can’t get some popular auteurs who can speak both to their own muse AND to the masses.

  54. Mr. Majestyk: The hell are you talking about? How are any of the nominees “impenetrable art”? Granted, I’ve only seen about half of them, but I have no idea what this could be applying to. It’s largely middlebrow crowdpleasers (BELFAST, and I’m assuming CODA and KING RICHARD). LICORICE PIZZA and DON’T LOOK UP are comedies! The least accessible, I guess, is DRIVE MY CAR, given that it’s half an hour longer than the latest Spider-Man movie and not in English, but it’s otherwise no more challenging than half the dramas that racked up nominations in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s not like they’re handing out statues to Pedro Costa.

  55. Yeah these aren’t a bunch of art films. A lot of these ARE middle of the road films.

  56. Perhaps that was not the best umbrella description of this crop, but I think you’d have to really stretch to find anything the least bit intriguing to the average viewer on that list. These are not transcendent dramas or grand spectacles. Ain’t no LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or even a RAIN MAN on there. Just a bunch of movies guaranteed to mean almost nothing to almost everybody, if you could even get them to see them, which you can’t because they all sound like homework. (I once again grant some leniency to LICORICE PIZZA, the only movie on the list that seems to aim to entertain.) Is it any wonder there are millions out there declaring without shame that the eighth Spider-Man movie in 20 years is the best film of the year? At least it made audiences feel SOMETHING.

    I’m just saying that movies are a popular art form. If they want to stay that way, they’re gonna have to do a better job than this of speaking to the populace.

    Then again, I don’t know if it’s ever really been any different, at least not in my lifetime. Look at 1985. A year that produced classics that changed genres forever and continue to influence filmmakers to this day. What wins Best Picture? OUT OF FUCKING AFRICA. I recognize that critics, awards organizations, and other gatekeepers have their role to play, but is it any wonder that most people have decided that they’re the enemy? You can only get it totally wrong for so many decades before nobody believes you anymore and they ignore your recommendations altogether. So then what you end up with are two classes of cinema: one made by artists and the other by showmen. The best movies have always combined both, but I don’t see a lot of reaching across the aisle these days.

    Maybe I’m totally off base. Maybe this is just my personal dark cloud talking. In the best of times, I still hate the Oscars. If it were up to me, they would be handed out a decade later. That’s when we’ll really know what the best work of any particular year was. Until then, it’s all politics and posturing that adds nothing to the medium except arguments like this.

  57. I loved Dune. Everyone I know in real life who watched it also liked it, but they were very surprised by the sudden ending. Going in, you’d have to have done your own research to know that was coming.

    It’s a shame Villueneve and co. had to do that without even knowing for sure they’d get the chance to finish the story. It wasn’t their call, I blame the studio and not the filmmakers, but it just sucks. It’s one thing to end on a cliffhanger when the next movie is already done and coming out in sixth months (Matrix) or even a year (Infinity War/Endgame, many other examples) but ending half-way through a story when part two is at least two years out best case scenario, that’s unfortunate.

  58. The biggest mystery on this site is the enduring belief, based as far as I can tell on no evidence at all, that critics hate genre films. Try reading a few! They love them!

    And OUT OF AFRICA, which was famously much more popular with general audiences and the Academy than with prominent critics, is an especially weird example to focus on.

  59. I haven’t seen them all yet but I think the vast majority of people who saw WEST SIDE STORY or LICORICE PIZZA if their friends got them to go or whatever would be entertained, and I think almost anyone would enjoy CODA. It’s an artfully made but pretty traditional feel good crowdpleaser. DUNE is weirder but was a big mainstream hit even during a pandemic, so it doesn’t seem to be alienating many. And yeah, KING RICHARD seems pretty middle of the road (haven’t seen it yet). This crop even seems to be lacking in the obviously political ones that people get mad about because they don’t want things to be political. So I don’t agree with Majestyk’s thesis in this case. But Bob Odenkirk should’ve been nominated for best actor.

  60. Here’s a hint about Lawrence of Arabia…no one has seen it in 40 years cause no one wants to watch a guy in the desert for three hours. I’ve never seen it but I’ve seen Psycho maybe 20 times.

    But at least Dune, I know a ton of people who saw it and most seemed to like it. What SHOULD have been nominated if not for these movies? What were the big snubs? Venom? The eighteen hour long Justice League movie?

    Regarding 1985…Out of Africa made as much worldwide as Back to the Future (which I would have nominated) and MORE than Witness, which also could have gotten one. I didn’t look up Rocky 4 though.

  61. Mug, re: Lawrence of Arabia, if you actually haven’t seen it.

    Your loss, my friend. Your huge, huge loss. I urge you to give it a fair shake sometime. You may be very pleasantly surprised. The bigger the screen and sound, the better, of course, but even an ordinary tv would do.

  62. Sorry, autocorrect.

    Muh, not Mug!

  63. Among English-language films, the big critical favourites in 1985 were BRAZIL (science fiction) and PRIZZI’S HONOR (mob movie).

  64. Johnny I actually have planned to watch Lawrence one day but never got around to it. But Majestyk called a Spielberg musical, a kung fu sci fi movie and a seedy crime drama “homework,” but called Lawrence transcendant and that seems more homeworky than any of those. I know this because I have to gear up to want to see it.

    Prizzi was up for tons of Oscars. I’m not sure of Brazil was near a favorite, it had a mixed reaction and didn’t make money either.

    Last year’s Oscars wasn’t super notworthy but also the movies released were fewer because of covid. But look at the selections from the year before: Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Irishman, Ford vs Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women…a lot of hits and populist movies. Joked made a BIL. And shit in 2019 they actually nominated a real comic book movie in Black Panther, and their ratings were still down…like everything else. Time has changed for movies and tv, and these things aren’t events anymore.

  65. BRAZIL won the L.A. Film Critics’ award, but Universal, who never wanted to release it in the first place, tried to bury it. PRIZZI’S HONOR also underperformed at theatres, but at least it got a bit of a marketing push. Unlike BRAZIL, it’s not spoken of much nowadays, which is a shame — it clearly paved the way for THE SOPRANOS.

    You should see LAWRENCE, Muh. It’s incredibly entertaining, and every time I’ve seen it revived, the cinema’s been packed.

  66. Out here, Lawrence screens frequently, often in 70mm and often sells out.

  67. Maybe my standards are slipping, but I think the Academy Awards are getting better. Obviously, they’re gonna keep ignoring cult genre stuff like MONSTER HUNTER and MALIGNANT, which is an outrage, but the nominations across the various categories are a pretty fair sampling of the best status quo movies last year. I only care about the Oscars to the degree that it keeps me updated on what the establishment considers good. But it remains that I like most of these Best Picture nominees, which wasn’t the case five years ago. There’s way more international recognition now, too.

  68. Not that anyone cares, but here are my favorite films of last year: BENEDETTA, LICORICE PIZZA, THE CARD COUNTER, NO SUDDEN MOVE.

    So, uh, I guess deal with that.

  69. I was shocked to hear that DRIVE MY CAR is the first ever Japanese movie nominated for best picture! What the fuck? And would that even have happened without South Korea breaking through first?

  70. I don’t care for the Oscars and sort of see them mostly as Hollywood performing a very elaborate high-five to itself, so I think the best picture nominees should just be the top 10 highest grossing movies at the American box office and then best picture always goes to the #1 grossing movie. The Oscars aren’t particularly adept at rewarding great art or predicting which popular movies will stand the test of times, so this would really simplify things.

  71. I guess we should also figure out how to calculate how the popularity of streaming movies compares to box office numbers. Bottom line, just make the best picture winner the prom queen.

  72. But….until PARASITE got included in the Best Picture category, weren’t ALL Foreign Language (non-English) movies ONLY being nominated in the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film category?

    Even the marvelous CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON could only bag the best foreign movie statue. Released today, it would have been a shoo-in for BEST PICTURE:

    Sweeping Period/historical/costumed epic which traditionally get most Oscar Voters creaming their pants? Check

    A layered, complex character driven and even feminist take on the popular wu xia genre? Check

    A stunning action movie with amazing fights, gorgeous cinematography, lovely score and anchored by some absolute fucking icons of HK cinema and directed by a director with some serious Art House cred? Check

    Ladies and gentleman, the Oscar goes to…..

  73. Actually my last point should be amended to read:

    A stunning action movie with amazing fights, gorgeous cinematography, lovely score and anchored by some absolute fucking icons of HK cinema and directed by a director with some serious Art House cred and which enough people saw, making it one of the highest grossing Movies in the US requiring subtitles? Check

  74. They never used to nominate non-English films for Best Picture, period. It’s only happened 14 times in history, and some of those were American movies in another language, like MINARI or LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. They’d occasionally give a Best Director nomination as a consolation prize; Teshigahara got one for WOMAN IN THE DUNES, and Kurosawa got one for RAN.

    Of course the Oscars are superficial and crass, but I still wouldn’t want them to pivot to a prize for the biggest box office. We need more Hollywood films, especially nowadays, that aim for a bit of artistry together with popular appeal. And yeah, they’re not always great at telling the difference between artistry and bland dramas in period costume, but at least it makes a change from this year’s version of HOLY SHIT III. They’ve actually been making good choices lately. Looking over the winners for the past ten years, I don’t see many outright duds — GREEN BOOK, maybe ARGO. But meanwhile, MOONLIGHT won. PARASITE won. All the bullshit pageantry is worth it if it encourages the production and distribution of more films like that.

  75. I’m not sure what the difference is anymore between Best Picture and Best Foreign Film and at this point I’m too afraid to ask.

  76. Yeah, I’m no great fan of awards, but the Oscars and Awards in general have probably resulted in a lot of the more interesting US films of the past however many years, that didn’t even get near the Best Picture nominees list, being funded, because someone had some kind of award in their eye when they heard the pitch. They’re an incentive, and we need more incentives around then “this is known IP and has the potential to become a shared universe” and “will be in the Top 10 on Netflix for a week”. A necessary evil.

  77. I have always been under the impression that a good mixture of BIG movies that put a lot of bums on seats and smaller niche ones which can gain from the exposure is the way to get people back to the Oscars.

    But as pointed out in a comment above, Oscars 2020 had Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood….I mean that’s a great fucking mixture there comprising bona fide hundred million grossers and Indie Darlings and it still couldn’t pull in the ratings.

    So maybe the era of people tuning in for a 4 hour back-slapping self congratulatory extravaganza to gawk at their favorite movies stars dressed to the hilt, is rapidly coming to an end?

  78. Well the Oscars were created when we lived in a movie world driven by Movie Stars and Super-producers, now we live in a world driven by fictional characters and worlds. And more significantly, fewer and fewer people watch TV live, and it’s unlikely many people are going to be interested in watching a pre-recorded ceremony when they could read the winners in a few seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if viewership took a dip when VHS got popular too.

  79. THE GRAND ILLUSION was a BP nominee clear back in 1937, so it’s hardly unprecedented. THE EMIGRANTS and CRIES AND WHISPERS were as well in the 1970s, though that was probably at a time when (I’d guess) distribution and publicity for foreign films was at its peak in the USA. THE EMIGRANTS was part of the 1972 BP roster, which might be my favorite ever – if I’m in the Academy in ’72 and I have to chose from that movie, THE GODFATHER, CABARET, DELIVERANCE, and SOUNDER I’m probably just doing a series of coin flips.

  80. Times have just changed. There was a time when simply putting Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington TOGETHER in a MOVIE was a big noteworthy event. Or Mel Gibson and…Julia Roberts. Now you can see huge stars in fives doing tv shows together, or movies where they’re getting together to fight CG demons again. And there’s not the mystique of stars, now you can go check out The Rock’s Insta and see him at the pool and trying to sell you something.

    Back in the day when the Oscars were huge, there was that tv show that Dana Carvey did which had this reputation of being a GIGANTIC DISASTER. Because it only pulled in 20 million viewers. Today that show would be the hugest hit on tv by three times.

    Funny thing is, calling this year’s batch of movies dull homework dramas works with anything, let’s look at that list I provided before, mostly just DRAMAS with hardly and punching.

    Joker…Jesus CHRIST okay okay we take comic book movies seriously, do we need to see Phoenix playing a depressed comic book character who’s not even the real Joker and there’s no Batman? Guess they want an Oscar. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…hey another 18 hour long Tarantino movie where he sniffs his old farts and tries to convince us some shitty tv westerns were good. Jojo Rabbit…oh good, FINALLY someone is tackling the subject of Nazi Germany. But this time with whimsy! The Irishman…yay, another movie that lasts three days telling us politics is dirty and the lead gangster dies of OLD FUCKING AGE? Little Women…just what I like to see, more dramas that end with someone dying.

    It’s fun and easy!

  81. I may have misread an earlier comment, but just to set the record straight, CROUCHING TIGER was up for Best Picture in 2001. There was also IL POSTINO in 1995, which to me feels like the most forgotten nominee that whole decade, at least in North America. But yeah, it happens more regularly now. They’re starting to nominate actors from Almodovar movies and stuff.

  82. Yeah, the non-English movies that wangled Best Picture nominations in the ’90s were IL POSTINO and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. Both Italian, both from Miramax, neither anything remarkable. Miramax wasn’t too interested in anything Japanese, or Asian generally, except for martial arts movies they could shorten by 15 minutes and ship out with dubbed voices and a hip-hop soundtrack. The poster for SHALL WE DANCE? showed only the main characters’ legs, so that customers wouldn’t catch a glimpse of a non-white face.

  83. Palermo, thanks for the clarification. I stand corrected. Checked Wiki, and CROUCHING TIGER was up for BOTH Best Picture (which it lost to Maximus Decimus Meridus) and Best Foreign Language Picture (which it won). Not sure why it ended up in both categories, maybe because it was partly funded by Columbia Pictures, which made it partly an American Movie? Either way, the rules seemed to have been all over the place, so I’m fine if they just scrap the Foreign Picture all together and just open the Best Picture field to everybody.

  84. Yeah for all the fucking things he did, purchasing great Asian movies, then sitting on them before releasing them much later with a cut version and a different score is yet another reason to add to the other 55 why Scissor Hands is going to straight to Hell.

  85. This discussion has given me time to think about what really bothers me about this particular slate of Oscar crap. It’s not the movies themselves. They’re not my kind of movies but if they are somebody else’s, good for them.

    I think what bugs me is the fact that the Oscars, for all their pomp and bluster, are simply trade awards. It’s an industry patting itself on the back for a job well done. The only difference is, when the vacuum cleaner industry gives out the award for Salesman Of The Year, they give it to a recipient who represents what that industry actually cares about: sales. They don’t give it to the guy who sold two vacuum cleaners all year but dressed real nice while he did it.

    The film industry, however, spends the rest of the year proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they give zero fucks about any of these movies. They don’t market these movies. They don’t promote these movies. They barely release these movies. Consequently, few of us have even heard of these movies. But then here come the Oscar nominations, saying, “Hey guys, I know we have spent billions of dollars shoving comic book movies, IP reboots, and mediocre Duane Johnson movies down your throat, but ACTUALLY these artsy fucking dramas we have done our level best to ensure you have never heard of and did not get to see is what we’re all about. You’re welcome.”

    Its the hypocrisy I can’t stand. These fuckers do not give a fuck about these movies. If they did, they’d make them. They’d market them. They’d do everything they could to get eyeballs on them. But they don’t. They care about Spider-Man. So they should just give fucking Spider-Man the Oscar. Dan’s idea is spot-on. If you’re gonna do an industry circle jerk, be honest about what gets you all hard: selling as many vacuum cleaners as possible.

  86. And at the same time people criticize the Grammys for basically just awarding the artists and records that sold the most, and not the ones that actually were the best.

    Here is an idea: You don’t like awards? Shut the fuck up! You don’t hear me bitching every year about the MTV Movie Awards. And that’s an award show that was never meant to be taken seriously and just a few years ago advertised itself with “The only award show with movies that you have actually seen!”, yet still somehow managed to became so shitty and irrelevant, I haven’t watched them in at least a decade.

    Personally I think the bigger hypocricy is when people dismiss the Oscars and other awards as some empty circle jerk, but somehow get a monster boner because they think they “cracked the code”, know which movies should win, will win and in general believe that their empty rant, that they have to repeat EVERY! SINGLE! YEAR! will somehow open everybody’s eyes and the world suddenly realizes: “Oh god, now we get it, the drama about lesbians in a concentracion camp is NOT the best movie of the year! Thanks for saving us! Thanks for saving the movie industry!” and fuck all that I’m tired and angry and I didn’t shit in three days, so I’m literally butthurt right now.

  87. Majestyk, I don’t think what you’re saying is entirely accurate, because the largest guild in the Academy is actors, and most actors are not just trying to make Spider-Man. Even if you’re talking about producers, there are way more of them making movies that are not giant super hero movies than there are who are. And the producers of these movies sure as hell wish the studios were marketing their movies as much as they are Spider-Man.

    But regardless of that, what you’re describing is the only reason the Oscars are important, as much as we all understand their inherent flaws. If there weren’t conversations about awards, I would not have known CODA existed. Since there were, I watched it and I loved it. I would’ve known about DRIVE MY CAR only because my wife loves the author of the book. I don’t think it would’ve been playing in a theater long enough for me to see it, though. There are a couple more I’m going to watch only because they’re nominated for best picture, which may or may not pay off (as that occasionally has for me in the past). It’s possible, maybe even likely, that some of these movies (and other ones that didn’t even end up getting nominated) would never have been financed without somebody thinking there was a possibility of an award. I haven’t seen Del Toro’s weird noir movie yet but I don’t think he’d have gotten money for that without his previous Oscar success. If it’s a circle jerk for them to congratulate themselves for making movies that aren’t Spider-Man then for god’s sake let them jerk off so we can still have some movies that aren’t Spider-Man.

    The “give it to the highest grossing movie” argument has been made more than usual this year, and from people with very different tastes than you, I assume. Kevin Smith is one of them. They always mention the same thing you did about the ratings, which I don’t buy at all. Can you imagine a single human being on earth who would be more likely to watch the Oscars because they nominated Spider-Man? If so, would they watch it live and would they be in a Nielsen family? Live TV events just don’t have the same place in our culture that they used to, nor do movies, and many people don’t even use broadcast television anyway. It’s just not gonna happen. Yet all this discussion has pushed the Academy into humiliating themselves with a dumbass #OscarFanFavorite campaign where you can vote for Spider-Man using that hashtag on Twitter or submitting to their websight so they can have some dork present an award to Spider-Man and say that they tried. So please join me in voting for the true #OscarFanFavorite TITANE.

  88. The biggest circle-jerkers are people like Smith who just want to talk about their funnybook and Star Wars movies on his 18 podcasts. Just listened to a four hour podcast with Quentin Tarantino and it was nice that they not only talked about good exploitation trash, but also some regular quality dramas that aren’t made for people to squee about on Twitter before they go back to talking about how they can’t finish a book because of their self-diagnosed OCD.

  89. Let’s split the difference and make the Oscars for nerd movies that nerds don’t like that much. Chronicles of Riddick, Best Picture.

    I want a Billy Crystal musical number about Furyan culture and I want it NOW!

  90. But…but…Smith’s nerdy circlejerk podcasts are POPULAR and listened to by MILLIONS! Shouldn’t we shower them with awards? What kind of snobbery is this?

  91. The Norwegian movie THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD is nominated for both best foreign movie and best screenplay. And it looks like it will become a financial success because of it. So in that respect I guess the Oscars have a mission.

  92. I dunno Majestyk, do you think it’s possible that you just don’t like award shows and that you don’t like most of the movies that get nominated for these awards? I think there’s at least a good chance that it’s that simple. (It’s that simple for me.) Your initial thesis (that the Oscars aren’t populist enough) was pretty decisively rebutted and this new one I don’t think I all the way understand. Are the academy voters the same people that are making marketing decisions for movie studios? Probably not, right?

  93. I am not actually advocating that the Oscars should go to the top-grossing films of the year. This is merely Swiftian hyperbole to illustrate my cynicism about the entire Hollywood ecosytem.

    Nor am I advocating for today’s IP trash, as enjoyable as much of it regretably is, to be nominated. If a movie with three Spider-Men in it is the best of the year, we should just not have Oscars this year.

    What I AM advocating for is for the industry as a whole to begin making films that are both of high artistic quality AND can be watched and enjoyed by more than a handful of people without putting a fucking gun to their head, because otherwise the public will lose interest in the medium and it will be replaced by something that speaks to them. This batch ain’t it. I can’t say what should replace them, though, and that’s the problem. These may really be the best films of the year. How sad is that?

    I know y’all think I’m crazy, and I’m okay with that. I’m glad you guys stll have hope. But I don’t. I truly think that without some kind of major renaissance we are at the beginning of the endgame for cinema. The Oscars are not the problem, but they are one of the canaries in the coal mine warning us of impending doom. If this is the best an art form can come up with, then it is not long for this world.

  94. Look, the discussion should really be WHY THE FUCK WASN’T NICOLAS CAGE NOMINATED FOR PIG?!? I mean, I know the Oscars have a history of nominating the lovable A-lister making a dramatic comeback, then not giving the Oscar to him (Travolta, Murray, Murphy, Rourke, Keaton, Stallone), but they could have at least thrown a nomination Cage’s way, amirite? It may be his career-best performance which is really saying something. (And look, if he did get nominated and more people saw Pig and came away thinking “holy shit Nicolas Cage is still a good actor!”, then I think we would all be in agreement the Oscars are a good thing)

    Side discussion: I still don’t get people turned off by Dune’s ending, especially when I’m pretty sure a few LOTR movies, Harry Potters, and Hunger Games ended at weirder, more random points. It’s like people have forgotten the last 20 years of franchise filmmaking. Maybe because I haven’t read the book and don’t remember anything about the ’84 movie, but it seemed to end at about the point I figured it would. *SPOILER* – The whole thing plays like a riff on Matrix 1 where the movie tells you over and over Paul is going to die at the end and be reborn, Neo-style, as this mythical hero. And then the big moment arrives and he chooses to kill (a fellow good guy!) instead of die, and maybe because “alternate timelines” are such a big thing now, I immediately started wondering if he did what he was supposed to do, or did he just begin going down a new dark path that never should have started? I kinda thought it was a perfect ending but maybe I’m alone there.

  95. I still find PIG underwhelming. It’s a performance Cage could give in his sleep.

  96. But I will still put that one on the Oscars, not the industry as a whole. That’s a movie that got a lot of people excited, that meant something to people and stuck with them throughout the year. It’s not for me but that’s the kind of movie that should get nominations.

  97. I have not seen the recent DUNE, nor have I read any of the books, but I have seen the Lynch movie on first release and subsequently. I think it holds together really well up to the point where Paul and his mother escape the Harkonnens and meet the Fremen. After that the movie becomes a mess of montages, ellipses and narration, surely the result of cutting the movie down to a reasonable run time. My impression is that Villeneuve’s PART 1 ends at around this point, and I don’t struggle to imagine that anyone who had seen Lynch’s movie would say “Let’s end the first movie there, and give more space to the next part of the story in a second move.”

  98. As a fan of Lynch’s version my first thoughts when watching the new movie where “where’s the slime, where are the redheaded bad guys, where’s the pimple popping, the violent sexual threats and the gore?”. Even with one third of the running time it’s quite interesting that Lynch managed to pay so much attention to details Villeneuve completely overlooks.

  99. A lot of that shit was also stuff Lynch totally added…but it’s the best stuff in the movie. I do think the villains were underused in the new version but I hear there’s a crazy long cut that will surely come out and I bet they have a lot more. But Lynch does take these scheming guys and turns them into braying clowns, cartoony and goofy. And to spend all that real estate on them, he just has to use lots of annoying voiceover to quickly move along his “story.”

    I do like how Lynch’s movie feels more alien though. I wish the production design in the new Dune was more interesting. It all looks good, but just so normal. Like the bad guy ninjas look like astronauts? Not to say the movie should look so cartoony, but something more like The Fifth Element with crazy designs. Like if the lady who designed Coppola’s Dracula did the costumes and sets.

  100. I don’t want to live in a world where “some kind of major renaissance” saves us from movies like Licorice Pizza. That’s the only one of the BP noms I’ve seen, but it is everything that Majestyk is claiming the noms are not. It’s basically like “what if ‘Dazed & Confused’ was even better?” D&C is a hugely entertaining and popular movie that has resonated with multiple generations now; I assume Majestyk has 6-10 bulletpoints prepared on why it sucks.

  101. Last time I tried to make a funny comment on the subject I was laughed at for using old and obscure references. This time I will use the medium of song. Here some lyrics Bob Dylan wrote with Sam Shepard:

    “Well, there was this movie I seen one time
    about a man riding ‘cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck
    he was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make a name for himself
    the townspeople wanted to crush that
    kid down and string him up by the neck
    well, the marshal, now he beat that kid to a bloody pulp
    as the dying gunfighter lay in the sun and gasped for his last breath
    turn him loose, let him go, let him say he outdrew me fair and square
    I want him to feel what it’s like to every moment face his death
    Well, I keep seeing this stuff and it just comes a-rolling in
    and you know it blows right through me like a ball and chain
    you know I can’t believe we’ve
    lived so long and are still so far apart”

  102. Ah, the DANGEROUS MINDS method.

  103. I specifically mentioned LICORICE PIZZA as the one nominated movie I might someday see and even enjoy.

  104. I’ve shared my thoughts on SPIDER-MAN:NWH, but I will offer this brief refresher. It is very fun ride with top tier actors and some emotionally resonant themes, but it is a triumph of fan servicey bloat over compelling stand-alone story-telling, and its ultimately pretty shallow and dehumanizing in how it approaches most of its characters and its core themes villainy and redemption. It’s incredible box office success is understandable and even justified, but in no universe of this multi-verse is it a best-picture calibre film.

    Now, as for the Oscars, I have never much liked them, and many of their best picture choices have been pretty lame, though there are some good ones. I don’t think the continuing popularity of the Oscars will have much of an effect on the future prospects of interesting films getting made — the declining popularity of the Oscars is entirely a sign and a symptom of cultural and industry trends and in pretty much no way a driver of those trends.

    With that said, it would be both dumb and craven for the Oscars to ever consider nominating a film like SPIDER-MAN:NWH for best picture. That is tantamount to selling out your historical identity and brand as a desperate grab for relevance. That’s why the People’s Choice and MTV Movie Awards were created – to honor fun, poppy, teen-friendly stuff. Don’t do ever go that route, Oscars. Accept your fate and face it with honor and dignity.

  105. But how different would it really be from nominating THE FUGITIVE, GLADIATOR, all three LORD OF THE RINGS, AVATAR, DISTRICT 9, TOY STORY 3, INCEPTION, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN, BLACK PANTHER and JOKER to name only what I would consider broadly (*very* broadly in some cases granted) comparable films from the last three decades? I mean I personally would take most or all of those films over FAR FROM HOME and I’m kind of glad it’s not nominated for petty and irrational reasons, but how different would it be *really*?

  106. The only one that seems really in the ballpark is BLACK PANTHER, and I think BLACK PANTHER is extremely overrated (I don’t even put it in the top tier of MCU films, much less and Oscar nominee-calibre film).

    The thing with a lot of these films is that they are considered legitimately good dramatic films. For most of these films, the common core is that they have to work as dramas or have a substantial dramatic counterpart that is not overwhelmed by deliberate zanyness. There are three sets of films that cannot be best picture: straight-up comedies, straight-up horror films, and straight-up action films. Any film that is going to have a shot has to be either a conventional drama, an indie drama, or a film with some “genre” (comedy, horror, sci-fi, action) elements but with a strong dramatic or “epic” core and with pretensions of highbrowness. So, for instance, LOTR is actiony, but it’s also an epic with lots of dramatic actors, making dramatic speeches and whatnot. DON’T LOOK UP is an example of the kind of comedy that can work, because of its status not as just comedy but as “satire” with all sorts of pretensions of grandeur.

    The film has to be a drama, have a strong dramatic core, and/or aspire to be “epic,” and it can’t be silly, schlocky, or exploitationy, *unless* this is explicitly presented as high-minded satire or avant gardery.

  107. Sorry, I meant to say “dramatic component,” not “dramatic counterpart.”

  108. Also, this is precisely what makes the Oscars stupid. Shit like CRASH has an automatic edge just by virtue of being a straight drama that is about “important issues.” My reasons for excluding SPIDER-MAN are that it is a silly action franchise movie, and there are lots of much better silly action movies that have never been nominated for best picture, because silly action franchise movies can’t win best picture just like straight-up horror films can’t win best picture. It’s an unwritten rule, and if you go re-writing the rules, then it undermines the Oscars even on the Oscars’ own terms of awarding best picture to “important” films that are “about something” or, failing that, are simply well-reviewed straight dramas. The reason BLACK PANTHER could be nominated is because it checks the “important” box by virtue of being considered a breakthrough African-American film, and one of the Oscars favorite historical things to do is use Best Picture to do a bad job of pandering on social issue films, or films that can be regarded as social issue films, and BLACK PANTHER can be regarded as a film about “blackness,” and so it checks that social issue / pandering box.

    SPIDERMAN:NWH checks no such box and, what’s more, it’s not better than BLACK WIDOW or ANT-MAN, both of which are perfectly entertaining MCU films, but neither of which is some “important film” on the artistic merits.

  109. In conclusion, the Oscar parameters for best picture have always been silly and arbitrary, and have frequently resulted in a lot of dubious picks — inclusions and exclusions that are driven by pure prejudice against straight genre films and prejudic for straight-ahead dramatic films (especially period pieces, biopics, or historical films), “epic” films, films with a strong drama/tearjerker quality, and/or important social issue or social issue-adjacent films. The more you check those boxes, the better off you are. However, that basic set of prejudiced inclusion/exclusion criteria has been mostly clear and consistent over the years and is definitive of what can be a best picture. To change that now just further undermines them. Like if Chipotle started offering pizza and also cake: I like pizza, and cake is fine, but it’s not what Chipotle does.

  110. And speaking about not giving pop films a win, when suddenly something like Gladiator does…and it may have sandals, but it’s an action movie that ends when the bad guy gets killed. And people bitched about THAT. How could such a weightless movie win?

    Basically people will bitch and moan no matter what. Shit I would have replaced Chocolat with Memento or, if the REALLY had balls, Battle Royale.

  111. And to Pacman2.0, the big difference between those movies you listed and Spider-Man is there’s a real unique stamp to each of them. I mean LOTR was an insane bet to make, basically as nuts as Amazon is doing now. NO ONE else would have done it. And a bunch of the others are either dramatic enough, or have an autorial point of view. But tell me eighty different guys made Spider-Man 3 I’d believe you, it may be a good movie but it’s out of the factory and is based on “hey remember how you liked the other Spider-Men?” I actually think it’s a pretty amazing idea for a movie but I can tell you what makes LOTR way different from Spider-Man, but I’d be sort of hard pressed to tell you what makes Spider-Man 3 so different than Thor 3 or Avengers 4.

  112. Hmm, good point. I agree (Possible exception; TOY STORY 3, unless we say “Pixar” is the auteur. But then we could say “the MCU”, or even Feige, is the auteur of FAR FROM HOME)

  113. That reminds me of a tweet that gained some attention a while ago, where someone said: “Remember when a few years ago the Oscars picked a movie about a mute woman fucking a cat eating fishman and people complained that it was ‘the safe choice’?”

  114. Right, CJ, but SHAPE OF WATER has the kind of heavy-handed “the man is bad” / “the other is good” political subtext that is an Oscar favorite. Pixar definitely has a historical kind of auteur status that it has maybe gradually lost a bit. But then the other aspect is the “overdue” / retrospective aspect of these things, where the Oscars decide that a director, actor, or even a film series is due. Like how RETURN OF THE KING is the LOTR with the best picture Oscar even though FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING is considered the best.

  115. LOTRs, Avatar, Gladiator, Gravity, The Fugitive, The Martian have one distinct thing that “Spider-Man NWH” lacks – a distinct authorial vision – each (even the movies that are also, for lack of a better term ‘effects’ heavy movies like Avatar or Gravity) are quite obviously the work of the director – the single ‘author’ of the work/film. In this case there is clear evidence that one person is responsible for the work – not a committee of people. That is what really separates them from nearly any MCU/Marvel film (and a lot of other modern movies.)

  116. I think Fellowship is the best LOTR too…but you can’t give it the award with two other movies coming. Cause if you’re gonna give it one it has to essentially be for all of them since it’s all one story…and what if the other two were real shit? So best to wait it out and make sure it doesn’t pull a Game of Thrones.

    And CJ…true!

  117. I’m gonna put my hand up and say that I liked the black-and-white wankfest from the shameless self-fellator. I’ll save my comments for Vern’s pre-Oscars review. But yes, it is unashamedly hokey, and it worked for me.

  118. For a vaunted “personal” project, BELFAST just felt … impersonal. I believe Branagh still has strong memories of playing with his toys as a nine-year-old boy in his working-class home. I don’t believe he has strong memories of UVF militias, or how his parents dealt with them. And so there are scenes here and there with touches of telling, interesting detail, and the bulk of the movie feels like a second-hand pastiche of other films and books about the Troubles.

    I will say this: I liked all the shallow-focus shots from unconventional camera angles, and don’t understand why people have been complaining about them. It mostly looked great.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>