Feb 212019
  February 21, 2019

oscar600” indicates Best of the options given. “oscar600oscar600” indicates actual Best when the best wasn’t nominated.



oscar600Christian Bale (Vice)

Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)



oscar600 Adam Driver (Blackkklansman)

Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)



oscar600 Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa Mccarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

oscar600oscar600Emma Stone (The Favourite)



oscar600 Emma Stone (The Favourite)

Amy Adams (Vice)
Marina De Tavira (Roma)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

oscar600oscar600Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

(This oddness is because they wrongly classified Emma Stone in a supporting role instead of the lead)



oscar600Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Incredibles 2
Isle Of Dogs
Ralph Breaks The Internet



oscar600Never Look Away

Cold War
The Favourite
A Star Is Born

oscar600oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs



oscar600Black Panther

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen Of Scots




Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

oscar600oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs




Mary Queen Of Scots

oscar600oscar600Black Panther



oscar600Shallow (A Star Is Born)

All The Stars (Black Panther)
I’ll Fight (RBG)
The Place Where Lost Things Go (Mary Poppins Returns)
When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings (The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs)

oscar600oscar600Hollywood Ending (Anna And The Apocalypse)



oscar600Black Panther

The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns



oscar600Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story



oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

oscar600oscar600Death Of Stalin



oscar600The Favourite

First Reformed
Green Book



oscar600Blackkklansman {Spike Lee}

Cold War {Paweł Pawlikowski}
The Favourite {Yorgos Lanthimos}
Roma {Alfonso Cuarón}
Vice {Adam Mckay}

oscar600oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs {Ethan & Joel Coen}




Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

oscar600oscar600Death Of Stalin



Not included: Sound Mixing/Editing, Live Action/Animated Short Films, Documentaries, Score, and Foreign Film.

Feb 202019
  February 20, 2019

oscar600I have a few days to dwell on the Oscar best picture race in different ways (Lying “True” Stories, What the Oscar Bigwigs Want.) and todays will be: #OscarNotSoWhite.

oscar600The first thing to note is that #OscarNotSoWhite does not involve Asians. You see all those Asian led films being nominated? No? Yeah, no one does. Well, the reasonable explanation is that almost no Asians are leading films, so there are none to choose from… Yeah, that makes it so much worse.

oscar600This is the USA, and Asians continue to be invisible in all racial issues. OK, well, what did we get?

oscar600The powers that be were stung by #OscarSoWhite and as people frowning at them leads to poor viewing numbers, they wanted to do something about it. And we’ve got 3 movies (we’ll get to the 4th in a moment) from that: Green Book, BlacKKKlansman, and Black Panther. Are all these films just around as a reaction to the glaring Whiteness? Well, partly and for today I’m talking about that part. Spike Lee pointed out he’d never gotten a directing nom before, and the reason he did this time, as well as his film being nominated, is purely due to that reaction. The Academy tried to patch things by adding some Black members and that diversity got him a nomination. I’m not going to argue with that line of thinking as I see it either as mostly or the very least, partly the truth of things.

oscar600Then the Academy enlarged the number of nominees, mainly to fit in a few films that were popular but won’t win, but that also left some room for “Black” films.

oscar600So let’s look at those 3, starting with Green Book. This Black-led film… Wait… the director is a White guy? Huh. And he did Dumb and Dumber and Something About Mary? OK. Well, at least it is about racism in the country and the star is a Black man… Wait… The star is Viggo Mortensen (White guy) while the Black man (Mahershala Ali) plays his supporting character. OK. The film is based on a true story of a Black pianist being driven through the South… Wait… The story is based on the accounts of the relatives of the White guy. The Black guys family were not consulted and have said the whole thing is a pack of lies. Well, this isn’t looking good. And what is the theme of this film? It’s that racism has nothing to do with institutions, but is purely a personal thing, and if racists (no matter how extreme) and Blacks can just both compromise and meet in the middle and chat a bit, everything will be fine. Oh God. Yeah, this is your 1980s film on racism. Or it’s the film on racism that your Republican Uncle can accept now. This film has little to do with #OscarSoWhite as this this exactly the type of film out-of-touch White people make and have made for years. It’s embarrassing.

oscar600OK, lets get to the ones that are significant. Black Panther is inspirational for Black children. It is a blockbuster, superhero film for the masses with a Black director and a Black cast… none of whom got any nominations… So… yeah. And outside of being the right film at the right moment in time, it is…nice. It is. Is it, outside of it’s significance for diversity, a good enough film for an Oscar nom? Well, some pretty rotten films have gotten noms, so sure. It’s fine. It’s message is aimed at the masses, or at the children of the masses, so everyone can get it, without, you know, thinking. It’s nice. And everyone knows it is an Oscar Best Picture nom because of #OscarSoWhite and because they really wanted a blockbuster. Is it there because it is really good? I’d say no, both to it being that good and to it being there for being that good, but the second is the important part while the first is just my review.

oscar600Which leads us to BlacKKKlansman. This is a great film with something more interesting to say about racism while still making it understandable to the masses. It’s brilliantly performed and directed, and that director is Spike Frickin’ Lee, who’s been ignored forever. It’s funny, emotional, and meaningful, and according to Lee, it got here because the Academy didn’t want more bad press about racial issues. And according to the odds-makers, it doesn’t have a chance of winning. Lee has a decent one for Best Director purely as an “Ooopsy, we forgot you for 30 years” award, but not the film.

oscar600Black Panther, on the other hand, has a chance. Not a good one, but a chance, mainly because of how Oscar voting works. Getting a 2nd or 3rd place vote on a ballot is nearly as good as 1st, and Black Panther could make a lot of 3rd places. Still, unlikely, but possible. And if it wins, it wil be beating Spike Lee and BlacKKKlansman, and that is just sad. Black Panther doesn’t need this win, but BlacKKKlansman could use it, to push it a bit higher in the public consciousness. Black Panther will always be the first Black-led blockbuster to receive a nomination, but once we have a 2nd and a 3rd, it will be seen less for its cultural moment, and more for its storytelling, and it will fade, while BlacKKKlansman will always be great.

oscar600Of course a far more likely option is that all those elderly White voters who are trying to be with it will pick Green Book. Yeah. So, there’s that.

oscar600Which means it’s time to bring up the current favorite for Best Picture, the non-Black #OscarNotSoWhite film, Roma. And that’s a weird one. There’s lots to talk about with it (as an anti-Blockbuster, we’re ARTISTS statement, as a plug for new technologies, as a crushing rebuke of what the Oscar bigwigs have been trying to do, etc), but that’s for a different post. For this one, I’d say that Roma stands in a different area as it is a Foreign film. It’s not an American film made by Hispanics as we don’t have those. And it isn’t being looked at the same way. It doesn’t seem to be part of any American racial statement (oh, its nomination is a statement, just not a reaction to #OscarSoWhite). It’s part of other conversations.

oscar600So for this year, looking at the three films that are part of this conversation, Green Book is embarrassing, but as long as it doesn’t win, it is only a little embarrassing. It is wonderful that Black Panther was nominated, but it needs not to win. And BlacKKKlansman should win for multiple reasons, but it looks like it won’t.

Feb 152019
four reels

High schooler Anna (Ella Hunt) is in a dark place after the death of her mother, being dumped by her asshole boyfriend Nick (Ben Wiggins), and attending a school presided over by a near psycho teacher (Paul Kaye). She just wants to escape her small Scottish village. Her ennui is interrupted by the zombie apocalypse. She teams up with other teen survivors, including her best friend and wannabe boyfriend John (Malcolm Cumming), school activist Steph (Sarah Swire), geek photographer Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and her ex to fight their way to the school to rejoin loved ones trapped there after a Christmas talent show, including Anna’s father (Mark Benton) and friend Lisa (Marli Siu). Well, it’s a zombie musical, so things get bloody, and occasionally tuneful along the way.

It’s a Scottish, Christmas, high school musical with zombies. Why didn’t everyone go to see this? It’s funny, dark, gory, and joyous about its genre mashup. It doesn’t try for new ground with those genres because mashing up high school musicals with zombies IS the new ground. Really, what more do you want?

Things start in standard teen-angst-film-style, but that standard introduces us to our quirky ensemble and they’re worth getting to know. Then things shift gears when the zombies arrive with a surprising amount of viscera. We’re not in PG-13 land Toto. Hunt treads through it all with charisma to burn, plus a fine voice, and her supporting cast is nearly as good, with Ben Wiggins and Marli Siu as standouts, but there are no weak links.

The best moments come when the songs move the story along or fill out the characters. Break Away and Hollywood Ending present the characters better than any info dump, and slyly foreshadow what is to come, while Soldier At War is a zombie-killing douche bag anthem. And nothing beats Turning My Life Around, which isn’t as hummable as those other songs, but the context is pure joy to cult film fans (I won’t spoil it; just see it).

No, it’s not perfect. A bit too much time is spent with the wannabe boyfriend, whose troubles wouldn’t be all that interesting in a typical film and are less so with zombies all around. The movie wants our sentiments to be with John at times when it would have been better to dial up the irony. And not all the songs are winners, and when such a number stops the action, as is the case with Human Voice, the lack of inertia is palpable. But when the emotions are real, the blood and humor are flowing, or Anna and Nick are front and center, those problems fade away.

Anna and the Apocalypse is the best film you didn’t see last year. Well, you can still stream it.