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Archive for February, 2018|Monthly archive page

2018 Oscar Predictions and Wishes

In Entertainment, Movies on February 28, 2018 at 16:55

Here are my Oscar predictions and desire for this years awards. Few films amazed me this year, but there are still some winners. I focus on the top categories and don’t go to the level of set design and make up. I will, however, address some sound and visual categories. If you want the full list, go to Variety 

Visual Effects:
“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

These all look great. I don’t have a favorite, except I really liked the look of “War for the Planet of the Apes” and would be happy if this underrated film won. However, nostalgia will win out and “Star Wars…” will take it. 

Original Song:
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,”  with Mary J. Blige is a great performance, though the lyrics, per usual, are a bit too trite for me. 

“Mystery of Love”, “Remember Me”, “This is Me” are all by the book. They demonstrate that the artist can write a good song, but that they have no originality.

Winner: The song from Coco, “Remember Me” will win. It’s cute and safe and not too Latino. In fact, the Anglo sounding voice is annoying.

Desire: “Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” is written by Diane Warren, Common and performed powerfully by Andra Day. You don’t need Common sticking his face in the song. These duos with male rappers sticking their hands on a great female vocal need to stop. It is so yesterday and it was never that great to begin with. Still, “Stand up for Something” is my pick. 

Director:
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

I hope it’s not Nolan. This wasn’t even his best directing job. Gerwig might win. I think she’s the favorite. Peele? He earned it in the script, not with directing. And while “Shape of Water” is not the most original plot, the direction is outstanding. del Toro gets my vote.

Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

I didn’t see Mudbound. It left town before I learned about it. I hear Blige is great. Metcalf in “Lady Bird” was also good, Spencer in “Shape of Water” was okay, but Janney in “I, Tonya” was off the charts. Manville in “Phantom Thread” plays a character that while challenged, is too well adjusted. She won’t win. I think Janney will win and I hope she wins. 

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Dafoe, Dafoe, Dafoe. He was great and I think he will win for “The Florida Project.” Harrelson was not as good as Rockwell in “Three Billboards…” Jenkins was good, but I don’t see him winning. Plummer? He’s got the name and history, so he might pull out a surprise. Best supporting actor goes to Willem Da…what, wait…Christopher Plummer for replacing a sexual (allegedly) criminal.  I don’t care who wins, just that Dafoe earned it.

Lead Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

One of these things is not like the others…

I don’t see how Oldman will lose this one. Gary Oldman does the most challenging performance in a role the academy will love. He did earn it as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRU9tUpPrfc

Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

These are all good performances. I think it is the year of the mother, so Frances McDormand will win.

If the academy voters actually see “I, Tonya”, Robbie will get some votes. I hope Robbie wins where Harding didn’t. However, I won’t whack the other contestants in the knee for her. 

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”                                        Nope
“Darkest Hour”                                                        Nope
“Dunkirk”                                                                 Hell no
“Get Out”                                                                   Okay
“Lady Bird”                                                               Hmmm
“Phantom Thread”                                                  Only for modistes.
“The Post”                                                                  Better than I excepted, but nope.
“The Shape of Water”                                             Good, but no.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”    Hell no!

“The Shape of Water” will win. It covers most of the Oscar bases. It has a mute main character, it has an animal, and it would make the acedemy seem edgy. And, a Mexican directed it, so if they vote for him, they will show they aren’t racist. But he’s not black. Phew. 

“Get Out” would get my vote. It was the most difficult film to pull off. I have no hidden gems this year to write in on my ballot. 

So there you have it. Where did I mess it up? Let me know. 

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

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Black Panther: Another Super Hero Film, with a Twist

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2018 at 19:40

For all the ruckus about how the story in Black Panther is so unique, it contains a lot of the same elements of other superhero films. What is different are the themes of racism, acceptance of the suffering of others and a presentation of colonialism in a superhero film. Here are just some areas in which it is a typical superhero film.

Black Panther Africa

  • It has hidden nation like Wakanda, a nirvana. Wonder Woman has Themyscira and Thor has Valhalla. Check.
  • Black Panther features a vengeful outcast come back for revenge, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station). Bucky of Captain America comes to mind. Loki from Thor is also an outcast. Jordan does a decent job with some trite villain dialogue.
  • The film has an outsider who makes HIS way in. Wonder Woman has Steve Trevor and Black Panther has Ulysses Klaue, played marvelously by Andy Serkis. Yes, Gollum. In Black Panther, his precious is Vibranium. This metal can do everything, but like Star Trek tech, don’t ask how. And did they have to keep that stupid name, I assume, from the comic book? Vibranium! Get out a Latin or Greek dictionary and try something. Here. What a minute… okay: Omniate. Omnia meaning everything, plus ATE because some chemical names end in ATE.
  • Here, Wakandan technology being held back from the rest of humanity to protect humanity. Well, Wakanda has that in spades. It’s the aforementioned Omniate, er, Vibranium. And wasn’t that arc reactor thing from Iron Man and his suits just like that, technology he was hesitant to share?
  • Speaking of suits, enough with the suits already! Sure, Black Panther’s suit is much cooler than the Iron Man, Ant Man and Spiderman suits, but give me a good old suit-less wonder like the Hulk. Did I say something nice about the Hulk? Bonus points are in order for not giving the Black Panther a cape.

Even the plot arc is of the Black Panther is similar in other films. Like Iron Man, The Hulk and others, the hero is presumed dead. I bet you can’t guess what happens next?

While the elements of the plot in Blank Panther are the same as other superhero films, what makes the film unique is that it addresses themes of racism, imperialism, and colonization. It’s a fantasy about how Africa may have turned out if colonization had not happened, if Africa was on an equal footing with the white dominated north.

Some people have criticized the film’s autocratic monarchy of Wakanda and it’s ruler being a king. That was how the comic book was, but certainly, that is an issue. However, King T’Challa is a benevolent monarch, and most of the other powerful positions in Wakanda are held by women. The countries rituals are outdated, but compare them to our government currently. We all need to improve.

From the music, to the costumes, to the language, the film is African inspired. The language spoken in the film is the South African isiXhosa. This is a powerful change to the image of Africa and Africans in mainstream Hollywood films. In Black Panther, it is the African that is the savior, not the white man. That is the importance of the film, not that the character itself and the plot is unique. They’re not. It is the African centric plot and setting that gives Black Panther its power.

Wakanda City looks great in the film. Some of the CGI in Africa with their special invisible ship (yes, Wonder Woman has one) was easy to spot. The fight scenes were pretty good and the acting was great, especially Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, warrior and love interest to King T’Challa, and Danai Gurira as the General Okoye.

General Okoye jpg

General Okoye

The Black Panther, King T’Challa, was played by Chadwick Boseman. He did well as king despite the stilted dialogue given him. Thankfully, it didn’t get to “Game of Thrones” levels of stilted dialogue. Moreover, no dragons appeared. Daniel Kaluuya looked as out of place much of the time in this film as he did in the white parent’s house in Get Out. They cast him to get viewers. There were probably better choices. I thought he was great in Get Out by the way. Martin Freeman plays the cutest, most cuddly FBI agent I have ever seen. He wasn’t bad, but someone more believable, more fierce, would have been better.

The music was over the top during the fight scenes, but the battles were kept below Lord of the Rings levels. The film was cheesy at times, but it had a stellar cast and avoided many clichés of the superhero genre.

Rating: Matinee. This is the best superhero film I have seen since Logan, which remains #1 in my book. It’s still a superhero film. However, it’s a great advance in themes from the Avengers and DC Universes which are trite in comparison. If I were to rate this film on social relevance alone, I would say: See it Twice.

Peace,
Tex Shelters