2018 Oscar Nominations Preview

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve spent the last month or so catching up as much as I could with movies that I missed throughout the year. I ended up watching about 70 new releases from 2017, and probably still didn’t see a lot that I should have. I will try now to predict the Oscar nominations for the top categories just to see how close I can get. The listing will be in the order of my confidence that they will be nominated, not necessarily how I think the film will finish in the voting.

Best Actor

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Tom Hanks, The Post

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sally Hawkins, The Shape Of Water

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

Margot Robbie-I, Tonya

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Richard Jenkins, The Shape Of Water

Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name (though I’d prefer Michael Stuhlbarg)

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Allison Janney-I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Octavia Spencer, The Shape Of Water

Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Best Original Screenplay

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape Of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Phantom Thread

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Disaster Artist

Molly’s Game

Call Me By Your Name

The Beguiled


Best Animated Film


Loving Vincent

Boss Baby

The Breadwinner



Dan Laustsen, The Shape Of Water

Hoyte Van Hoytema, Dunkirk

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name

Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread


Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread

Alexandre Desplat, The Shape Of Water

Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Michael Giacchino, Coco

Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape Of Water

Lady Bird

Call Me By Your Name

Get Out


Phantom Thread

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All The Real Girls (Review Rewind)

Been a long time since I posted anything here, but I just remembered that I used to write reviews over on Movie Vault and wanted to see what was there. Turns out they deleted all my stuff off the regular site, but I was able to find this in the cached version. It’s from a time before Zooey Deschanel was the New Girl and David Gordon Green went commercial. Still think this is Gordon Green’s best movie.


“Why haven’t you kissed me?” is the first line of dialogue we hear in All the Real Girls. The answer is simple: love. That isn’t the answer Paul gives to Noel, though. His answer is much easier to understand. “I’m scared that when Tip asks me if I kissed you, I’ll have to say…yep.” This line provides about half the plot to this beautiful, lyrical movie about young love in a small southern mill town. Tip is, conveniently, not only Noel’s older brother, but also Paul’s best friend.

Noel has just returned from a life at an all-girl boarding school and Paul has been with every girl in town since she left. Tip, being Paul’s best friend, knows all about his relationships with these girls and disapproves of Paul seeing his sister. Noel has never been with a boy and feels very special when she’s with Paul. Paul has been with lots of girls, and treats Noel with a different kind of respect than he usually does. The movie deals with their relationship in a very natural way that never feels forced or out of the ordinary. Every detail of their lives throughout the film makes them feel like very real people, which is something a lot of romantic films lack.

David Gordon Green has made it his specialty to make films that look very realistically on the lives of his characters. His first film, George Washington was the story of young kids growing up in the south and the summer that changed their lives. In that film and in All the Real Girls he allows us into a world that most of us don’t know. He shows us very everyday situations in these characters lives. Sitting around talking about life and love.

Green wrote and directed All the Real Girls with a very minimalist view. The dialogue is rich in meaning, but short on words. His scenery consists of everything you would see if you went to a small rural town in North Carolina, where the story is set. Trees, water, a bar. There is no stylization in his direction. Much of the film is a camera set on two characters, no music. Just talking. Looking into each other’s faces and saying what they are thinking. Green always focuses on faces. The background is just that, background. By doing this he allows viewers to focus on the emotions coming from the face, allowing us to feel what the characters feel.

Much of the dialogue is improvised, which is, I assume, why a lot of it sounds so natural. The actors do a good job of creating lines of dialogue that fit perfectly to their character. I was impressed with the work of Paul Schneider in the lead role. I have seen him once before, in a small part in Green’s first picture. Here he has to hold the whole movie on his shoulders and he carries it well. The way he recites dialogue is interesting. He has a kind of hesitance about it. Like he wants to say the lines, but can’t. Maybe he just couldn’t remember his lines and this was his device to give him time to remember. Whatever it was, it worked for me. He nailed his part.

The other lead, Zooey Deschanel, continues to do strong work here. Her first big film, Almost Famous, was a nice starting point for her and in her more recent films, Elf, and The Good Girl she has continued to shine. In All the Real Girls she conveys a feeling of uncertainty and vulnerability that some actors may have taken too far. It was important in this film, more than others, that nothing goes over the top. If anything had been too sad or too happy it would have ruined the atmosphere of the picture and the actors seem to respect that idea.

The supporting players were excellent as well. Paul’s mother, the always exceptional Patricia Clarkson, provided a few great scenes that make you wish the movie had focused on her character instead of the young lovers. Benjamin Mouton, who plays Paul’s Uncle Leland, is the saddest of the characters. His wife has passed and he is raising their daughter on his own. The dialoge that Paul and Leland have together is poetic. Leland’s remembrance of his wife and his thoughts on love drive the narrative to its conclusion.

All the Real Girls is far from perfect. That doesn’t mean that it is bad. Nothing is perfect, love isn’t perfect. A person who wants to be loved and another who wants to love are not perfect alone, but when they come together they can form something thats pretty close.

Interstellar **** (Out Of *****)

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

IMG_1191.JPG“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

As the lights went up and the credits rolled on Interstellar last night, I heard more than one person complain that they felt like it was a three hour science class. To that, my reply is “Good!” I’m so sick of science fiction movies that leave the science out of it. Yes, at times the characters talk about concepts and theories that I, and most people, won’t fully understand. But I’d rather have my mind racing trying to figure things out than watch another sci-fi flick where the same boring formula is very clear from the beginning. And with the long run time of Interstellar, boredom would’ve been brutal.

Christopher Nolan’s film takes place in a future where the food…

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CIFF Capsule Review: Still

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Simon Blake’s debut feature is a slow burn thriller with enough heart to match its white knuckle adrenaline. The director pays homage to many classic noirs throughout his movie, while keeping the story and the characters fresh and real. Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones) gives a heartbreaking performance as a not-so-successful photographer grieving the loss of his teenage son and his marriage.

Still is a dark film, both in tone and in image itself. Most of the film takes place in the King’s Cross home of Gillen’s character where the shades are always pulled tight. His life is turned upside down when a group of teens called the Under-5’s start messing with him. He tries to look the other way, but when those close to him become entangled in this dangerous web…well, a man can only be pushed so far.

Based on a play written by Blake himself,

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CIFF Capsule Review: Force Majeure

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment


Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure already won over many critics at this years Cannes Film Festival. Now it’s set to play here in Chicago for one of the most prestigious festivals in North America. Certainly a very European film, I think the darkly comic tone may help provide a foothold for American audiences to get lost in the story.

Östlund could not have chosen a better setting for this story. The idyllic ski resort is one of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen on film in quite a while. The snow-covered mountains evoke a heavenly atmosphere, though we quickly learn that this family ski vacation will be anything but.

The camerawork is phenomenal, but the two lead actors really drive the film. Lisa Loven Kongsli, as Ebba, gives a particularly special performance as a wife and mother holding things together by the skin of her teeth.

The film has two showings…

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CIFF Capsule Review: Miss Julie

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment


The opening night film at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival is Liv Ullmann’s production of Miss Julie. It plays like an upstairs/downstairs version of Who’s Afraid Of Virgina Woolf?, with Colin Farrell as the valet of a Baron and Jessica Chastain the Baron’s daughter. The whole thing takes place over one night in 1890, as the two work their way through a power dynamic of sexual desire and class relations.

The film starts off a bit slow, barely moving at all. Once the bottles start popping open and Chastain and Farrell start going at one another it becomes quite entertaining.

The film opens the festival on October 9th at 7pm. Director Liv Ullmann will be in attendance. You can purchase tickets in advance here.

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CIFF Capsule Review: Timbuktu

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment

IMG_0589.JPGIn Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, we get a long look at events we’ve only seen a glimmer of here in the states. A small group of militants take over the town, changing the laws as they see for based on their interpretations of the Quran. The leader of the local mosque claims he has no problem with their proclaimed jihad, but he does have issues with the way they are going about it.

About half the story is told through a family living on the outskirts of Timbuktu, away from most of the horrors this group is forcing on the city. They fled the town because the patriarch, Kidane, is a guitarist and singer. Music has been banned altogether. Those found playing music are punished with lashes. They live in a tent and get by with their small herd. Tragedy strikes them when someone kills one of their cattle.


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