Jul 092019
 
four reels

After the events of End Game, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) wants a break from being a superhero, and more, the idea that he is supposed to replace Tony Stark, so he heads to Europe on a school field trip, along with best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) and potential girlfriend MJ (Zendaya). But there’s no escaping his job. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) show up with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) in tow, wanting him to join in their fight against mysterious elemental monsters that are attacking the world. The only other superhero on hand is Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has come from a different Earth that has already been destroyed by the elementals. Fury also hands him Tony Stark’s last gift: a pair of glasses that gives him control over a powerful world-wide surveillance and defense system, one that Peter doesn’t feel he’s ready for.

The MCU course-corrects in a big way with the best Spider-Man film to date. The action and adventure are a step up from Homecoming, the angst a touch lower, the comedy even better, and it all fits together effortlessly. Holland continues as the #1 Spider-Man, and the only one in a live-action film that’s pulled off appearing to be a teenager. Zendaya is likable and fun and has substantial chemistry with Holland, elevating the teen comedy parts of the film, though the best bits in those sections belong to Ned and his sudden relationship with queen-bee Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), one that’s both amusing and refreshing.

Things get even better when we aren’t in high school mode. It’s not just the special effects and fabulous action scenes, but Spidey mixing it up with an irritable Nick Fury, dealing with Fury’s rough looking henchman turned tour-bus driver, and having some moving moments with Mysterio. Gyllenhaal is extremely effective, taking a very comicbook-y character and making him believable. I’ve never seen him better.

This is a smarter film than a pair of recent MCU entries. Here, if something doesn’t seem right, if there’s apparent inconsistencies in the story or in the characters, there’s an underlying reason; it isn’t just a mistake. Feel free to dig deep into what things mean. You’ll be rewarded. You’ll need to wait till a post-credit scene to see if you’re right in one case. It’s smart in another way. It doesn’t try to look at the after effects of Infinity War/Endgame on a world-wide scale. Instead, we see things only through the eyes and priorities of high school students. That makes it complete, in a narrow view, without giving us hours of melodrama. Economic volatility isn’t going to mean as much as a little brother now being a class ahead.

This is a careful review as it’s a hard film to discuss without touching on some major spoilers and while you’ll figure out a few things before they happen (if you haven’t already), it’s more fun figuring it as you go along. So staying vague, Far From Home is yet another success for the MCU. Everyone is good, and I haven’t even touched on great stuff from Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) with his best appearance in the series.  It doesn’t have the heights of The Avengers or Ragnorak, but there’s never a slip, never a fault, and it’s always a lot of fun.

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Jun 232019
  June 23, 2019

GoodOmensI enjoyed the Neil-Gaiman-Terry-Pratchett-based mini-series Good Omens well enough, but I was filled the entire time with the feeling that it should be more. Crowley, the not-so-evil demon is delightful, and David Tennant’s performance even more so. The interaction between Cowley and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) is a good time, though it’s mainly Cowley, and those two are the heart of the series.

The story is fine. It goes pretty much exactly where you’d expect it to go with the setup and the fluffy sitcom tone. With a darker, more satiric edge—with the Antichrist being truly evil and more insightful commentary—it could have been more interesting, but that’s not what they were going for. So, there are no surprises and it’s…fine. Which means it’s all up to the characters to carry the show, that and the jokes. And Crowley and Aziraphale do an excellent job. Cowley rules every scene he’s in, being both hilarious, heartwarming, and a touch scary. Aziraphale makes for a reasonable partner with some nice development moments.

The problem is we leave them. A good deal of time is spent with the four children, and with the witch and witchhunter, and with the witchhunter-sergeant and faux-psychic, and with the four horsemen, all to give us plot points that are obvious. And none of it is funny. Cowley and, to a lesser extent, Aziraphale have tons of great gags. The children have none. The two couples have none. The four horsemen have potential, but again, aren’t funny and give us nothing which isn’t obvious.

And there’s a lot of time spent with these “side” characters—hours. For the most part they aren’t terrible, although the insults of the witchhunter-sergeant do get old quickly, but they add nothing and aren’t amusing on their own. The omniscient view also puts us ahead of all of the characters, and we’re stuck waiting for them to catch up. Sticking to the more limited view of Cowley and Aziraphale would have made for a funnier, more intriguing, and fast moving show. It would have been better to be with Cowley and Aziraphale as they discover they have the wrong Antichrist and join them in their discoveries, instead of us knowing from the beginning exactly what happened.

I’m sounding more negative then the overall series deserves, but the negative stands out. You could even now trim out an hour of the side characters and effect nothing except making the show flow better. If done in production, giving us more of our demon and angel heroes, this could have been great. Instead there’s a lot of filler, and it is passably good.

May 312019
  May 31, 2019

Since I already have a page describing Godzilla’s film career, as well as reviews of each of these films (click on the titles to get to the reviews), I can just dig in. There are 33 films: 29 Japanese live-action, 1 three-part anime, and 3 American remakes. So here we go, starting with the worst:

 

#33 – Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)

An embarrassment to the six-year-olds it was intended for, there is nothing good about this cheap clip show. It is a successful argument against you ever claiming that Godzilla movies are cool. This is everything wrong with children’s entertainment splatted together into pablum.

 

#32 – Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

The ’70s were not a good time for Godzilla. The films were all childish in the worst way, the suit work was…poor, and the stories were even worse than the wrestling movies. And this is the worst of them. Godzilla is an after-thought in his own film which is really a pilot for a rip-off giant robot TV show.

 

#31 – Son of Godzilla (1967)

Yet another of he anti-bullying kids films that has a giant Muppet teaching a toad-man how to stand up for himself. The human side plot is actually the best parts. The money was gone from the franchise, so this was made on a budget and it shows. It takes place on an island because it’s a lot cheaper to have your monster walking around on the ground then to have cities to smash.

 

#30 – Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

The second worst in the run of bad ’70s films (the others are coming soon), this one has intelligent space cockroaches (disguised as humans, of course) controlling an evil monster double-team is a plastic model of Ghidorah and a turkey with a dull spinning blade in its tummy. It looks as stupid as it sounds, and is not helped by the ever-changing appearances of the monsters, that depends on which previous film they swiped the footage from.

 

#29 – Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

The franchise closed down for nearly a decade after this. So would I. A direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, it continues the trend of aliens (space apes here) controlling monsters to fight Godzilla. There’s nothing good here, but it is less bad than Gigan and Megalon, and that’s some kind of victory for the ’70s.

 

#28 – Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

The main thing this has going for it is Mechagodzilla. He’s significantly less sill than anything Godzilla had faced in the last decade. The guy in the dog costume who helps Godzilla, he’s every bit as silly. The human story doesn’t mess things up as much as usual, and the aliens controlling Mechagodzilla aren’t good, but aren’t any worse than the previous films’ aliens.

 

#27 – Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994)

The ’90s Godzilla films were a step up, except for this one. A team of first-timers to the franchise slavishly repeated recent errors while bringing back the mistakes of the past.  We’ve got the overly complicated plots of boring humans from the “Heisei” era merged with the poor FX and heroic Godzilla from the earlier “Showa” era, all tied together with a cheap ribbon.

 

#26 – Godzilla (2014)

The worst sin any film can commit is to be boring, and this American reboot is so boring. Godzilla is barely in the film. Instead the runtime is filled with exceptionally uninteresting humans doing things I didn’t care about. It goes on and on and I just wanted the damn “lead” to get squished so he’d be out of the film. So…boring. And this is a color film. Use some color! Every frame is murky teal.

 

#25 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

Well, it could have been fun, had they been able to make a decent ape suit, but this is one of the worst in a long line of pretty bad costumes. There’s no fun to be had with the giant monsters outside of laughing at them, and thing don’t improve with the “zany” comic relief humans who fall down a lot. But where else can you see Asians in Black-face with Afro-wigs? Is that something you want to see?

 

#24 – Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966)

Cheap was the word in the second Godzilla on an island movie. It’s also a film designed for King Kong that only uses Godzilla due to licensing problems, which explains why Godzilla suddenly has the hots for a beautiful girl. There’s also a giant lobster, which doesn’t really hurt anything. The result is OK. This is an OK film.

 

#23 – Destroy All Monsters (1968)

If only all the coolness of a giant monster rumble would be a bit less stupid and look less terrible. Well, then it would be Final Wars. There’s lots of monsters, and aliens, and there is a big battle, though most of the time is spent with those annoying humans. I saw this at the theater when I was 7, and enjoyed it, but even then I knew it was dumb as a bag of rocks and wanted better.

 

#22 – Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

This is essentially a B&W film, with teal taking over for white. But then you can’t see much of anything anyway. Pull back the camera, lay off the fog, and turn on a light other than teal! Besides the look, the tone is deadly. This is a big adventure popcorn movie. And those should be fun. But this is solemn and completely humorless. It’s not thoughtful, so why does it all have to be so grim? There’s a few moments which will get giant monster fans’ blood pumping, but that’s it.

 

#21 – Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)

The first of the space opera Godzilla films that would dominate the ’70s, it’s very campy and fun. Most of our time is spent with two humans; what’s new is that one is American. Toho started sticking one American actor in their monster films to try and sell some tickets State-side. Well, Nick Adams isn’t good, but he isn’t the worst 3rd-rate actor they got for a film (see Russ Tamblyn). This means there is no undubbed version of the film as Adams was dubbed for the Japanese version and everyone else for the English one.

 

#20 – GMK: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

After his success in revitalizing the Gamera franchise, Toho brought in Shusuke Kaneko to do the same for Godzilla.  It didn’t work. The idea is that Godzilla is no longer a radioactive dinosaur, but instead is infused with ghosts. Yeah, he’s supernatural, and to beat him, you need guardian spirits, like Ghidorah, because he’s a good guy.  I suppose this all could have worked, making some grand statement, but it doesn’t. As a serious picture (and this is that), there needed to be a focus on the suffering of some relatable humans, but none are available. All the fighting could be good in a light adventure flick, but this isn’t one of those.

 

#19 – Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

This reboot (yes, again) is mild fun that avoids many previous problems but never jells. The humans stand around and comment on the action, which is better than them dominating a movie when they’ve got nothing to do. Godzilla himself had never looked better, which is great as this film is all about the monster fighting. Unfortunately, the giant mosquito leaves much to be desired.

 

#18 – Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)

Godzilla vs Mothra didn’t need a loose remake, but it got one, with the addition of an evil caterpillar. Godzilla wasn’t even in the first draft but Toho figured their Mothra movie would sell more tickets with Godzilla in it, so there he is. It isn’t bad, but if you want the basic Mothra story, there are several better films to choose from.

 

#17 – Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

This may be the stupidest Godzilla film, which really means something. Future evil-doers travel through time, bringing at least one not in on their plan, stop in present day to grab a few folks for no good reason, then travel back to WWII to stop Godzilla from being made and instead, turn 3 bad Muppet puppets into Ghidorah. Helping them is an android that either rollerskates or moves by having the film speed change. It’s all ridiculous, but kinda fun.

 

#16 – Gojira (1984)

For their first official reboot, they wanted to take Godzilla back to his serious and dangerous roots. They went for grim and they succeeded. I assume they also wanted an emotional message and top notch filmmaking as in the ’54 original. There they didn’t do so well. Well, it isn’t fun, but it also isn’t embarrassing, so that’s something.

 

#15 – Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

A new Godzilla arises, mainly around an area of Styrofoam cubes, and has his first battle with another giant monster. The second Godzilla film is very much like the American atomic monster films of the same time. And like most of those, it is enjoyable without being memorable or anything special.

 

#14 – Godzilla Anime Trilogy (2017-19)

There’s so much good here and so much to think about. Unfortunately, there’s also so much talking. And yelling. There are great ideas here, but it needed at least an hour less chatting and arguing.

 

#13 – Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

The one Godzilla film of the ’70s worth seeing and it’s a trip. Godzilla stands up against pollution, represented by a giant glob. Why is there a love-in at the top of a mountain? Why are there inserted animations? Why do all the dancers suddenly have fish heads? This one is meant for those of you who are one toke over the line.

 

#12 – Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

In yet another reboot, the government builds a giant robot from the bones of the dead Godzilla from ’54 to fight this new one. While they are fighting, this is great. When not, the focus is on on the awkward and unfulfilled romance, the trials of the drab pilot, a child that blurts out pointless moral mumbojumbo, and the planning of the prime minister and science minister, and none of that is good. But hey, Godzilla is looking good.

 

#11 – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

The only film in the 2000s to carry continuity, we’ve still got Godzilla and Mechagodzilla battling it out. They are joined by Mothra in yet another telling of the basic Mothra story. The human characters are even worse than in the last film, but the monster fights look good, and that’s what you are here for.

 

#10 – Godzilla Resurgence [Shin Godzilla] (2016)

Well, for yet another reboot, this was odd. In the most radical redesign of the monster and its history since the “host of ghosts” version, Godzilla starts out as a string puppet who morphs into a more familiar form, but now with lasers shooting out from all over his body. It’s disco ball Godzilla. He’s also only in the film a few minutes, and could have been cut and replaced by any generic disaster. This film is about how old-school politicians are ineffective, and it is up to a re-energized and right-wing nationalistic youth to save the future.

 

#9 – Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Godzilla really did fight a lot of Godzilla robots. And those fights are solid and particularly good for their time. The Godzilla side of this film is really good. The human side is particularly weak.  Don’t pay too much attention until the 20 minute big battle and you’ll be happy.

 

#8 – Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)

Who’d have thought a giant rose would have been one of Godzilla’s best adversaries? She’s interesting and engaging, which are not words one generally uses for these films. There’s more humans vs humans and humans vs Godzilla than Godzilla vs plant, but the side stories are not as problematic as they often are.

 

#7 – Ghidrah, the Three Headed Monster (1964)

It’s all about Ghidrah. The rest isn’t great, but with a golden, three-headed, lightning breathing, planet-destroying dragon in the wings, nothing else matters. Toho was changing the focus from family fun to kids-only, so things got worse rapidly after this. But those films are higher on this list, and this one is a lot of fun.

 

#6 – Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995)

The end of the Heisei series (’84-’95), Toho decided to kill off Godzilla and do it in as spectacular a fashion as possible. They kept the human side-stories to a minimum and kept the focus where it needed to be: on the giant beast who was about to explode. Destroyah, the villain monster, is lacking, but that’s been true many times before.

 

#5 – Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

If you want stupid fun, this is it. Essentially a remake of 1968′s Destroyed All MonstersGodzilla: Final Wars is less a movie than it is a celebration of 50 years of Godzilla, as well as genre filmmaking in general. There’s too little Godzilla and way too much time spent with uninteresting humans, but that’s often the case in Godzilla films. This is a fun if nonsensical ride for geek fans, and an overly kinetic mess for anyone else.

 

#4 – Godzilla 2000 (1999)

Godzilla returns after a brief hiatus, in a film that offers nothing new, but does all the old stuff a little better. The effects are snazzier, the acting is less amateurish, the child is less annoying, the buildings and military vehicles are far more realistic, the monster fights are cooler, and the story…well, the story isn’t any stupider.  As a meaningless, fun Godzilla movie, this is one of the best.

 

#3 – Godzilla (1998)

Here I’ll run into trouble. This American reboot gets way more hate than it deserves, mostly for the dumb-ass reason that “That’s not my Godzilla,” a phrase I wouldn’t take seriously from a four-year-old. You know the Japanese Godzilla was once a huge collection of vengeful WWII ghosts. Is that your Godzilla? If you can’t get over the name, just call it something else. This is a fun, light monster romp, It’s not great art, but there aren’t many giant monster movies that are, and only one on this list. It’s well-made FX dinosaurs in New York. Relax and enjoy it.

 

#2 – Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964)

This is how you make a fun, family, adventure film. The humans don’t get in the way, Godzilla is still a monster and not a friend, and Mothra is a god. There’s a message, there’s combat, and it joyful. If you want the best of diakaiju without being deeply serious, this is your place.

 

#1 – Gojira (1954)

And here is were we switch from “fun” films, to genuinely brilliant filmmaking. Great acting, great score, and a powerful theme. Forget every war movie, drama, or documentary you’ve ever seen connected to the atomic bomb. Want to know what it is like having one dropped on your country? Watch this. It’s so good that the butchered American version is still a decent film and would come in 3rd on this list.

May 222019
 
2.5 reels

Giant monsters rose up all over Earth, with the final one being Godzilla, and destroyed human civilization. Two alien races arrived at the last minute to help—the highly religious Exif and the engineering-obsessed Bilusaludo—but they failed. A single spaceship escaped, with a mixed crew, looking for a new world. Twenty years later, with things looking bleak on the ship, the overly emotional and disgraced Haruo throws a tantrum, and follows that up with a plan to defeat Godzilla. As the crew can’t find a new planet, they decide to return to Earth, where 20,000 years will have passed. After arriving, they find Earth has changed wildly, and worse, Godzilla is still alive. A team, including Haruo and other humans, along with a few of each of the aliens, lands with the intension of killing Godzilla. One plan leads to the next, which leads to the next as the continuously unpleasant Haruo and company attempt to survive and destroy Godzilla. While the human’s plans are overly clear, that’s not the case for the Houtua (naturalistic descendants of humanity that live in caves and worship an egg), who have a different way of looking at things, nor for either the the Exif or the Bilusaludo, both of whom have secrets.

This is a rough one. The story, once you put it all together, is excellent. The theme is strong, the viewpoint interesting, and I suspect it will stick with me for some time. But man, is it a slog to get there. You pay for every worthwhile moment and concept with annoyance and boredom and stupidity. I can’t tell if this is brilliance as told by a clod or idiocy sculpted by a genius, though the first seems more likely. I prefer films to give without taking. This one makes you earn it.

May 222019
 
2.5 reels

Giant monsters rose up all over Earth, with the final one being Godzilla, and destroyed human civilization. Two alien races arrived at the last minute to help—the highly religious Exif and the engineering-obsessed Bilusaludo—but they failed. A single spaceship escaped, with a mixed crew, looking for a new world. Twenty years later, with things looking bleak on the ship, the overly emotional and disgraced Haruo throws a tantrum, and follows that up with a plan to defeat Godzilla. As the crew can’t find a new planet, they decide to return to Earth, where 20,000 years will have passed. After arriving, they find Earth has changed wildly, and worse, Godzilla is still alive. A team, including Haruo and other humans, along with a few of each of the aliens, lands with the intension of killing Godzilla. One plan leads to the next, which leads to the next as the continuously unpleasant Haruo and company attempt to survive and destroy Godzilla. While the human’s plans are overly clear, that’s not the case for the Houtua (naturalistic descendants of humanity that live in caves and worship an egg), who have a different way of looking at things, nor for either the the Exif or the Bilusaludo, both of whom have secrets.

This is a rough one. The story, once you put it all together, is excellent. The theme is strong, the viewpoint interesting, and I suspect it will stick with me for some time. But man, is it a slog to get there. You pay for every worthwhile moment and concept with annoyance and boredom and stupidity. I can’t tell if this is brilliance as told by a clod or idiocy sculpted by a genius, though the first seems more likely. I prefer films to give without taking. This one makes you earn it.

May 222019
 
2.5 reels

Giant monsters rose up all over Earth, with the final one being Godzilla, and destroyed human civilization. Two alien races arrived at the last minute to help—the highly religious Exif and the engineering-obsessed Bilusaludo—but they failed. A single spaceship escaped, with a mixed crew, looking for a new world. Twenty years later, with things looking bleak on the ship, the overly emotional and disgraced Haruo throws a tantrum, and follows that up with a plan to defeat Godzilla. As the crew can’t find a new planet, they decide to return to Earth, where 20,000 years will have passed. After arriving, they find Earth has changed wildly, and worse, Godzilla is still alive. A team, including Haruo and other humans, along with a few of each of the aliens, lands with the intension of killing Godzilla. One plan leads to the next, which leads to the next as the continuously unpleasant Haruo and company attempt to survive and destroy Godzilla. While the human’s plans are overly clear, that’s not the case for the Houtua (naturalistic descendants of humanity that live in caves and worship an egg), who have a different way of looking at things, nor for either the the Exif or the Bilusaludo, both of whom have secrets.

This is a rough one. The story, once you put it all together, is excellent. The theme is strong, the viewpoint interesting, and I suspect it will stick with me for some time. But man, is it a slog to get there. You pay for every worthwhile moment and concept with annoyance and boredom and stupidity. I can’t tell if this is brilliance as told by a clod or idiocy sculpted by a genius, though the first seems more likely. I prefer films to give without taking. This one makes you earn it.

So let’s start with the basics. The Trilogy is Japanese anime, made with uneven animation (it’s better with monsters and explosions than with people). The three parts are Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, and Godzilla: The Planet Eater, and none of those are standalone films. This is one film, and that’s the way to watch it, in a 4½ hour block. Each piece is made to match the others structurally, with an hour (or more) of excessive talking before finally getting to a single blow-out fight. This makes for a plodding viewing experience.

So why all the talking? Well, Toho wanted more females to watch Godzilla films, and they figured that girls don’t like monsters fighting. Instead, girl like lots of emotional talking. They also like deep themes and character development, but mainly emo-ladened exposition. I can’t say I think much of Toho’s R&D department. So, the idea was to make a 3-part Godzilla film with as little Godzilla in it as possible, instead using space opera as the background, but also limiting the science fiction action in favor of demonstrative chatting.

So a majority of the movie(s) is unpleasant or uninteresting humans (and near-humans) talking, or more often, yelling. Most of the characters are both stupid and angry, ranting for little reason. During one monster-action scene, we keep cutting back to a band of humans, who, for ten minutes, between describing exactly what we can see, yell:

What the hell are they?!
That’s impossible!
They’re all unresponsive!
Impossible!
What?
A malfunction?!
It isn’t working here!
What?!
It’s not working!
There’s no response!
What’s going on?!
No, it can’t be!
Are you saying it’s a hallucination?!
It makes no sense!
It’s a contradiction!
Then what’s happening?!
What’s going on?!
Still nothing is showing up on the sensors!
It still shows nothing!
Etc.

It gets very tiring.

And no one is angrier and yells more than Haruo. I imagine Haruo getting up each morning and stabbing his eggs while he screams at them that they don’t understand. Unless you love toddlers kicking and screaming, he is the definition of non-entertaining.

Occasionally the characters do calm down enough to spit out exposition. There’s nothing they like to do more, beyond yelling that other people’s ideas are insane, than describing their plans, and then new plans, and then altered plans. Carrying out those plans? That only fills a few minutes. It’s talking about the plans that takes up time.

Which makes it a miracle that I’m giving this even a slight recommendation. But the story is interesting, eventually. There are rich ideas here that could have made a spectacular film, if an hour of talking had been cut. The world, with Mechagodzilla city and strange life forms is a great foundation. The politics of the ship is tense and compelling (at least in theory). And the Bilusaludo’s plans and Houtua’s actions are all solid material for a movie. But what really elevates it is the cult subplot. Everything dealing with religion works, particularly statements about humanities willingness to embrace and celebrate lies. Once the focus becomes worship, the slow pace even stops being a problem (and Haruo shuts up for minutes at a time, which really helps). It even makes some of the boring sections intriguing, and one character easier to deal with, retroactively.

The Godzilla Anime Trilogy is a movie where it is preferable to already have seen it, then to be watching it. But that means it is worth watching, with the right mindset. If you are a Godzilla fan in search of monster mayhem, you’ll be disappointed (unless you’ve gotten used to little Godzilla in your Godzilla movies). And if you don’t like Godzilla canon mangled, you’re going to be miserable.

I tried both the English dub and in Japanese with subtitles. The Japanese is better, but not significantly so, and I suspect if you are going to watch this, it will be the dubbed version on Netflix.

Apr 302019
 
2.5 reels

Following from the events in Avengers: Infinity War, half of the population of the universe is gone, and the remaining Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), as well as Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Rocket (voice: Bradley Cooper), are dealing with the results, and often, not dealing that well. That changes when Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who was thought to be dead, shows up, and offers a possible course of action to undo “the snap” and defeat Thanos. Their quest takes them through a surprising number of past movie clips before reaching a very big battle.

And so the saga of the original Avengers ends with a…  No, not with a whimper. As far from a whimper as is possible. It’s sound and fury, and hopefully we’re all literate enough to know what that signifies and who it is told by. For someone like me, who has loved the MCU—finding it one of the great movie franchises, that time after time rose high in myriad ways—it is disappointing. I wanted great, and I didn’t get it. I wanted character studies and action that followed from those characters and emotions that came naturally from the characters and the situations they were placed in, and I didn’t get any of that.

What I did get was fine acting, huge spectacle, and tons of cool fan-servicey moments. If that’s what you are looking for, than you may be satisfied. But then you might as well watch Aquaman (except for the acting). Infinity War is good…-ish. It should have been more, and in so many ways it is shocking where it fell down.

I’m staying vague in this review so as not to give away spoilers as I don’t recall a film where people were this worried about them. But the joke is, it doesn’t matter. There are no big surprises, no twists, and no shocks. Take the simplest story you could have deduced (after seeing the last few films, and if you haven’t seen those, then skip this one as it’s for fans only), and that’s what you get. The only surprise is how unsurprising it all is. But still, I’ll play nice and be vague.

So, what works? If you know the MCU, you know the answer to that. We’ve got a lot of good characters, performed skillfully, who spout decent dialog that occasionally is quite good. There are a few solid emotional moments and a few good laughs. And then there is the action, which is amazing. You want a magnificent (if confusing and sometimes silly) battle? You’ve got one of the best. And as for those fan service moments, there are a bunch, including one that is as good as anything offered by the MCU up to this point. Specifics would get into spoilers, but there are quite a few engaging or thrilling scenes. The art design is a big drop from past films and it often looks a bit drab, but the film is shot well.

But everything is tugged down by what I’ll call editing. Little of the story is given any build up. Like Infinity War, this is a movie of jumps. “Hey, we need some wild tech.” Next scene it exists. “Hey, we need to find Bob.” Next scene they’re with Bob. “Hey, we need to cross vast distances.” Next scene they have. Endgame doesn’t flow. It’s a collection of scenes stitched together. And often those scenes exist only to be cool, not because they fit. There is a marvelous girl power moment, and it is marvelous and should be in the film. But they didn’t bother filming anything leading up to it. There’s no reason for it to happen and a whole lot of reasons why it shouldn’t, but there it is, stuck in, no doubt, because the Russo brothers decided it would be cool to have the scene, but they lacked the skill to fit it into the story.

And that jerking nature also plays havoc with the wrapping-up of characters’ storylines. We don’t see shifts in those characters. One will simply say “I’m going to do this” and then does it, even if it isn’t something that character would ever have done before. They end up where they end up because the Russos (or Kevin Feige) just decided that’s where they wanted them to be, not because the story led them there. And that problem messes up previous films too. Apparently the character development which was key to multiple MCU films didn’t really happen or the characters just changed when we weren’t looking.

Sounds like some substantial problems, but there are so many more. The Avengers make odd or downright stupid choices (keeping it vague, they should have gone to pick up some relatively easily attainable supplies before setting off on their main quest; also, not bothering to wait for a few other characters is simply insane and pointless). And the way they break up into teams is just bizarre (Ok, minor, minor spoiler: wouldn’t you think you’d put one of the people who knows how to fly a spaceship with the spaceship?). Sure, these characters have made stupid decisions before, but never has the gears of the franchise been so visible behind those decisions. It took over a decade, but the mega-corporation that has been behind these films is now front and center.

We also have the power-level problem that was so prevalent in Infinity War. Everyone’s strength changes moment to moment. Sometimes a punch or stab or ray does nothing and sometimes it is devastating. Is it bad to be shot? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s no big deal, and there’s no way to tell during the battle which attacks are actually dangerous.

Then there’s the tonal shifts (for the first time in an MCU movie, some of the humor feels out of place) and awkward pauses (the writers don’t have Joss Whedon’s skill at integrating important moments into exciting ones, so instead the film grinds to a halt whenever someone has something “deep” to express). And since this is a sequel, it has the often seen sequel problem: Things that were difficult or nearly impossible before are now easy. That gets into spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.

Even with all those flaws I can’t say to skip it. The whole may be weak, but some of the parts are excellent. So for the thrilling moments, and the humorous moments, and the emotional moments, I recommend it. Those moments aren’t as thrilling or as emotional as they should have been (and easily could have been) with proper context, but they are still exciting. And if you’re going to see it, you really want to see it on the big screen where that giant battle shines.

But as the ending of the three phases of the MCU, I wish the two part film of Infinity War/Endgame hadn’t been made. These characters deserved better.

 Superhero Tagged with:
Apr 222019
 

david-nivenDavid Niven looked and sounded like the ultimate English gentleman. And he may have been. He was one of the wild young Hollywood boys, along with Errol Flynn, who partied, drank, bedded lots of women, and fought. He was in the military twice, first after college and again when Britain went to war in WWII. Of the second stint he is known to have been part of a behind the lines unit that saw a great deal of action, along with spending time making propaganda films. His rebellious side did not counter his charm, and unlike many of his colleagues, he was known to be easy to work with, professional, and friendly on set.

He was an actor who was better than his filmography. He was in a few disasters, such as the pitiful remake of My Man Godfrey in 1957 and the fascinating train wreck that was Casino Royale in 1967. While he had many lead roles, he was often cast in supporting parts; he’s the unquestioned lead in only two of his best films.

An honorable mention for the wonderful beginning and ending of Wuthering Heights (1939), though it suffers from everything inbetween. Also an honorable mention to the Ernst Lubitsch-directed/Gary Cooper-led romantic comedy Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) and the Michael Curtiz-directed/Errol Flynn-led The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936).

David Niven’s top 8:

#8 – The Pink Panther (1963) — The first Pink Panther film, intended as a vehicle for Niven’s jewel thief, ended up creating a franchise around Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau. It’s an uneven film, clearly changed during production, but it’s fun.

#7 – A Matter of Life and Death (1946) —Niven, in the lead, plays a pilot who is put on trial in a spiritual court where he has petitioned to be allowed to return to life. As a whole it’s a mid-level Film Blanc that can’t match the likes of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but it crushes the competition on cinematography and color. It’s not a great film, but it’s a beautiful one.

#6 – The Guns of Navarone (1961) — A wartime, behind-enemy-lines, action film based on an Alistair MacLean novel. Niven is part of an ensemble, and while he acknowledged he was far too old for the part, he later decided it was one of his better performances.

#5 – Appointment with Venus (1951) — Given the drab title Island Rescue in the US, this is a charming, quirky comedy with thriller aspects. Niven, in one of his few starring roles on this list, is a British soldier sent to a small island during WWII to swipe a cow from the Nazis. Costars Glynis Johns and Kenneth More are as good as Niven.

#4 – The Moon Is Blue (1953) — A romantic comedy of words. Niven, as the the playboy father of William Holden’s ex girlfriend, finds he’s interested in Holden’s new flame. It’s a smart, fun film that gets too conventional in the end. Many consider this to be Niven’s finest performance.

#3 – The Bishop’s Wife (1947) — A Christmas classic. Niven is a bishop who has lost his way and Cary Grant is the angel who comes to help, but also makes things uncomfortable.

#2 – The Dawn Patrol (1938) — One of the finest war pictures, with Niven, Errol Flynn, and Basil Rathbone as WWI pilots in horrible situations, having heroism forced upon them. [Also on the Basil Rathbone list and the Errol Flynn list]

#1 – The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) — A magnificent swashbuckler, easily intertwining romance, humor, and heroics. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., playing one of the great cinematic villains, almost steals the show… almost. Ronald Colman stars as the twin to a king-to-be and Niven is loyal to the king, and thus, the twin. (Full Review) [Also on the Ronald Colman list]

Mar 282019
 

MarilynMonroeFew stars have had such an impact on pop culture, yet there is a strange mixed appraisal of her work. She was mesmerizing on screen, with great comic timing, substantial dramatic chops, unlimited charisma, and a pleasing and memorable singing voice. And, of course, she was breathtakingly beautiful. She was also exceptionally sexy, and neither film critics nor the public at large have ever become comfortable with pure sex appeal. Many denigrated her during her career, discounting her talent and skill. She was never given the accolades she deserved, but while others picked up the Oscars that should have been hers, she is the one that will be remembered.

While critics complain that many of her roles were similar, that’s true of most movie stars. Bogart, Cagney, Davis, Grant, Pacino, and De Niro are all known for taking specific types of roles. What’s important is how well they perform those parts, and Monroe was exquisite. Unfortunately her horrendous childhood caught up with her, leading her into depression, addiction, and death at 36.

First, a few honorable mentions. One goes to the anthology film O. Henry’s Full House (1952) where she has a cameo as a streetwalker. She’s wonderful, as is Charles Laughton who is trying to get arrested as a masher. And another for Ladies of the Chorus (1948), Monroe’s first credited appearance. The film is so-so and occasionally exasperating, but the youthful Monroe is stunning and her songs—sung with a far less breathy voice than she’d adopt later—are charming.

As for dishonorable mentions, I’ll only bring up one: The Misfits. This isn’t a negative comment on her, as she is by far the best thing in the film. Nor is The Misfits the worst film she’d been in, not with the abysmal Let’s Make Love or the sleep-inducing The Prince and the Showgirl hanging about. But everyone knows those are terrible while The Misfits occasionally gets positive reviews for no good reason (My full review).

Her top 8:

#8 – As Young as You Feel (1951) — Monroe has a minor role as a secretary. The film belongs to Monty Woolley, whose character is forced to retire due to his age, so masquerades as the boss’s boss in order to change the company’s rules. The script by Paddy Chayefsky slips in some social commentary, and Woolley’s part of the film is good, though some side business with his family is tiring. Monroe doesn’t have enough time to steal the film, but she controls every frame she’s in.

#7 – The Asphalt Jungle (1950) — John Huston’s second Noir (after The Maltese Falcon) paints a world of disease and hopelessness. Monroe had a small part as the one thing in that world that is worthwhile. Joseph Mankiewicz saw her in this, and cast her in a supporting role in his masterpiece, All About Eve. (My Full Review) [Also on the Best Directors List for John Huston]

#6 – How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) — A constantly amusing comedy of three girls looking for millionaire husbands, it was planned as a showcase firstly for long reigning sex queen Betty Grable (who got top billing), then secondly for Lauren Bacall, and finally for newcomer Monroe, but by the time the film came out, Monroe was the new queen. The other two took being upstaged very well, and both were helpful and kind to the insecure Monroe. [Also on the William Powell list]

#5 – Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) — A tense and effective Noir that gets very little notice now. It was Monroe’s first leading role and showed she could play drama. (My Full Review)

#4 – The Seven Year Itch (1955) — Perhaps the perfect sex comedy (cleaned up for ‘50s morality), it’s a witty farce where a married man, left alone for the summer, fantasizes about the bombshell who moves in upstairs. Monroe agreed to appear in the weak There’s No Business Like Show Business in exchange for getting this part.  [Also the Great Directors List for Billy Wilder]

#3 – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) — You can spend days analyzing the subtext of this Jane Russell/Marilyn Monroe musical, which ends with Monroe’s Lorelei Lee giving a defense of gold digging that is impossible to refute. The Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend number has become iconic. [Also on the Great Directors List for Howard Hawks]

#2 – All About Eve (1950) — With the exception of Monroe, this was the best film for everyone connected with it. Bette Davis is at her most Bette Davis-ish, playing the ultimate diva being replaced by the conniving Eve (Anne Baxter), all under the watchful eye of the poisonous theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). Monroe’s in a supporting role, as a young actress in DeWitt’s care. It’s a melodrama and melodrama has never been better.

#1 – Some Like It Hot (1959) — Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon hide out in a women’s jazz band, with Monroe as the singer. Often cited as the greatest comedy of all time, it is certainly a contender, and my pick as the best film of 1959. It’s a buddy, drag, romantic comedy with gangsters and music. What’s not to love?  [Also on the Jack Lemmon List, and on the Great Directors List for Billy Wilder]

Mar 212019
 
four reels

In the mid-1990s, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an amnesiac space soldier of the Kree empire, part of an elite squad lead by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), tasked to fight the shape-changing Skrulls. A mission goes wrong and she is separated from her team, captured by the Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and mind-probed. She escapes and ends up on Earth and encounters SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). She sets out, with the help of Fury, to stop whatever plan the Skrulls have for Earth, but discovers that she’d lived on Earth before, and there are multiple mysteries that need to be cleared up.

I didn’t rush to write a review of Captain Marvel as it doesn’t need a recommendation, nor a basic description. It’s a MCU movie, and if Captain Marvel is on your radar, you know what that means. It’s the 21st film in the franchise and all of them are well made, exciting, occasionally funny, often meaningful, adventure romps. MCU films look good, sound good, and move at a decent pace. The mission and the villains matter less than the lead, making all of them almost intimate character films, just ones where things blow up. If you are one of the strange few people who don’t like MCU films (and box office numbers say you’d have to be strange), then you won’t like this one. But if you, like most people, have liked those other 20, then this film is for you. And if somehow you’ve missed them, then go start at Iron Man.

So what can be said about this entry that’s a little different? Well, Captain Marvel is a fun new character for the series, with a great deal more power than the other superheroes, though not close to Superman levels. And Brie Larson does an excellent job of bringing her to life. But that’s to be expected as the specific character might be new, but the MCU is built on fun characters brought to life by excellent performances. New side characters like Talos and Yon-Rogg have enough screentime to make them more than one dimensional cutouts, but little more, and again are given fine performances by solid pros. And again, that’s to be expected. And nope, this isn’t saying “Oh, we’ve seen it all before” because also one of the attributes of a MCU picture is that it is both familiar and fresh.

One newish factor (not new because they’ve done it for short scenes before) is the de-aging technology. 70-year-old Samuel L. Jackson looks easily fifteen years younger and there’s no uncanny valley issues. After a few minutes it’s no longer noticeable—it’s just Jackson playing Nick Fury. It’s perfect. The same is true of Clark Gregg in his much shorter appearance as Agent Coulson; I had to look up current pictures of the actor to see that he looks different now as he seemed natural in the film. That technology allows this film to be buddy cop movie, where a younger, sharp, but less bitter Fury chats with a determined Danvers as equals. It rounds out Fury’s character and adds an extra layer of fun.

The other new item is that this is the first MCU film with a solo female lead. This became a huge issue to small group of very fragile and frightened man-childs who were very upset that this film was somehow “not for us!” Outside of their trolling and outrage—all of which had no effect on the huge box office numbers, but did force the review site Rotten Tomatoes to alter their rules to stop people who haven’t seen a film from lowering its approval score—the gender of Captain Marvel doesn’t have that much to do with anything in the film. I wouldn’t call this a particularly feminist film. It does have a touch of girl power in the childhood flashbacks of Carol always getting up after she’s knocked down. Otherwise, it’s simply a more realist portrait of women’s lives than some are used to seeing on screen. That is, she gets catcalled (because women do), her skills are questioned (as is often the case for women), her emotional state is brought up by others (because that happens all the time), etc. And it’s mentioned that she wasn’t allowed to fly combat missions, because women weren’t allowed to fly combat missions. There’s no preaching about any of this. Apparently, the real world intruding the slightest bit into a fantasy film is too much for some guys.

One can draw some parallels between events in the film and our current immigration policy and attitudes, so there’s certainly some political content if you are looking for it. Of course that’s true of all MCU movies, and this one is in the bottom half with regard to amount of political content, below the much more politically charged Black Panther, Iron Man 1-3, Captain America 2-3, Avengers 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Captain Marvel is exactly what it was advertised to be. It’s joyful, smart, witty, occasionally funny, exciting, neither shallow nor too deep, and a worthy addition to the franchise.

Oh, and it has a cat. The cat’s great. If you like cat’s, this is your film. This is unquestionably the best cat movie ever.

 

(My ranking of all MCU movies)

Mar 172019
 

lubitschLubitsch was one of the most important directors of early Hollywood, but he’s mostly known now for those he inspired, particularly Billy Wilder, who coined the term “The Lubitsch touch” to describe the perfect solution to any cinematic problem. Lubitsch started as a silent director in Germany, then moved to the US where he directed sophisticated comedies. He made the transition to sound easily, creating a string of pre-code comedies and musicals that included a theme that would not be appreciated once the production code came in: a bit of adultery is not only acceptable, but can be advantageous for a relationship. Many of these films starred Maurice Chevalier and/or Jeanette MacDonald, both of whom have larger personalities than their parts could contain, and are, for modern audiences, acquired tastes.

The production code neutered him, resulting in the horrendous Design for Living; the play featured an on-again, off-again threesome and was prime material for Lubitsch, but had to be gutted to make it passed the censors. It took a few year’s for him to gain his footing, but he found a way to adjust to the new rules.

I can’t call Lubitsch one of the greats, not with Hitchcock, Hawks, Wilder, Huston, and Curtiz. Considering two of his top films were written by Billy Wilder, it’s hard not to think that perhaps Wilder had more to do with Lubitsch’s legacy than Lubitsch did. And of his best films, only two are truly great. But those two are great, and any look at golden age directors needs to include him.

An honorable mention for his segment of the anthology film, If I Had a Million (1932). It would be 3rd on his list below, but “The Clerk” lasts only a few minutes, and that is too small a percentage of the film for me to count it. And another honorable mention to The Love Parade, considered to be the first musical—with songs that are part of the story, and not stage performances of the characters. For the first half, it is the best of Lubitsch’s musicals, but it switches tone and loses its fun.

I’ll give one dishonorable mention, because if I didn’t mention The Shop Around the Corner, people would ask. It often pops up in the top 5 for Lubitsch, but it doesn’t deserve it. It is too solemn for a comedy and to silly for a drama. It is never funny, and it often drifts into being maudlin. Jimmy Stewart plays it with sincerity turned up to 13. And the romance is creepy. So lets get to some better films.

#8 – Cluny Brown (1946) — A strange film about the meaning of life, class structure, and politics in general. It is very witty, shot well, acted well, and seems to be on the verge of greatness, but can’t dig in its claws. It’s also annoying, making me want to punch most of the characters multiple times. Perhaps a bit more subtlety. Or more humor. Or…something…

#7 – Heaven Can Wait (1943) — Using a Film blanc frame where a man tells his life’s story to the Devil, this is really a gentle comedy romance with no real fantasy. The humor is light and never causes laughter, but it wasn’t meant to. The word “nice” was invented for this movie.

#6 – The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) — The oddest of Lubitsch’s musicals, it keeps his often cast Chevalier, but replaces MacDonald with Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins (neither known as singers). It seems like it will be a pretty traditional rom-com, with true love being interrupted by an interloper, but it doesn’t go the way I expected.

#5 – The Merry Widow (1934) — The best, if also the most predicable, of the Lubitsch/Chevalier musicals. MacDonald is the richest person in a small mythical European country and her leaving will destroy the tax base, so the king sends a loveable scoundrel to attempt to woo her back. It’s definitely pre-code as Chevalier spends much of his time in a brothel.

#4 – Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) — Lubitsch begins to get the hang of the new rules of Hollywood with this rom-com about a very rich man who wins a woman without informing her he’s been married seven times before. Colbert is her normal self which fits the picture well while David Niven excels as a submissive friend. Cary Cooper is a questionable choice for the lead, but he pulls it off well enough.

#3 – To Be or Not to Be (1942) — A pair of ham actors (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard) get mixed up with spies and the Nazis. It was castigated at the time for being in the worst taste, but has been reevaluated in recent years (particularly after the Mel Brooks remake) and is often considered a masterpiece. I find its current status to be an overreaction to the original silly one. It was a good film then (and in good taste) and is one now. Not great, but good.

#2 – Trouble in Paradise (1932) — Here’s where the Lubitsch touch is really seen as he takes a film that seems like it would be nothing special and makes it one of the greats. It’s wildly romantic and unlikely, with a gentleman cat burglar, a beautiful pickpocket, and a sublime millionairess. The script is sophisticated fun with love, sex, and robbery crossing paths. It takes serious study to identify all the innuendos. Both stars Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall had never been better, nor would they be as good again, and Miriam Hopkins shines in the supporting role.

#1 – Ninotchka (1939) — Lubitsch directed, Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett wrote, and Greta Garbo starred, and they are all at the top of their game. It’s funny, charming, romantic, and meaningful. Garbo is a communist agent sent to deal with a legal battle involving a White Russian Duchess’s jewels and a Western playboy. It manages to rip apart communism, capitalism, Russia, and the West, while being sympathetic toward all of them. I can’t award it best picture of 1939 (due to The Wizard of Oz), but it is my favorite.

Feb 212019
  February 21, 2019

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

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

oscar600Christian Bale (Vice)

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

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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)

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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)

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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)

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

oscar600Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Incredibles 2
Isle Of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks The Internet

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

oscar600Never Look Away

Cold War
The Favourite
Roma
A Star Is Born

oscar600oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

 

COSTUME DESIGN

oscar600Black Panther

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

 

FILM EDITING

oscar600Vice

Blackkklansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

oscar600oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

oscar600Vice

Border
Mary Queen Of Scots

oscar600oscar600Black Panther

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

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)

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

oscar600Black Panther

The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

oscar600Avengers: Infinity War

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

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

oscar600The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

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

oscar600oscar600Death Of Stalin

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

oscar600The Favourite

First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
Vice

 

DIRECTING

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}

 

BEST PICTURE

oscar600Blackkklansman

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

oscar600oscar600Death Of Stalin

 

 

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