How To See All The Feature Films Nominated For The 89th Academy Awards

It was a good day for people of colour and white misogynists.

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were unveiled earlier this morning and there weren’t too many surprises based on media expectations.  Unlike last year, the acting categories aren’t completely dominated by whitey in 2017.  Almost half the nominees are black or brown.  The 2016 #OscarsSoWhite campaign has obviously proven highly successful.

On the flip side, accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck managed to snag a Best Actor nod for his lead role in Manchester By The Sea, one of the nine Best Picture nominees.  And Mel Gibson, who was exposed as an explosively violent asshole in those notorious phone calls to his ex-girlfriend many years ago, is up for Best Director for another BP nominee, Hacksaw Ridge.

However, there was no such luck for accused rapist Nate Parker.  His highly acclaimed Birth Of A Nation was completely snubbed by the Academy.  Not a single nomination whatsoever.  If only he was white.

Meanwhile, besides the acting categories, the shortlist for Best Documentary Feature is also diverse thanks to the inclusion of well-regarded pics as Ava DuVernay’s prison expose 13th, Fire At Sea (which deals with the refugee crisis), the James Baldwin-penned I Am Not Your Negro and the epic OJ: Made In America.  All in all, it sounds like the Academy was listening.

Before the golden naked eunuch statuettes are handed out on February 26, you have plenty of time to check out as many of the nominated feature films as you desire.  Some are still playing in theatres, some are coming soon to theatres, some are readily available on home video, some can be seen through online streaming and the rest already have DVD/Blu-ray release dates.  Here is the complete list of nominated titles.  As always, I’ll update whenever new information become available.

Allied – February 28

Arrival – February 14

Captain Fantastic – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Deepwater Horizon – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Doctor Strange – February 28

Fantastic Beasts And How To Find Them – March 28

Fences – March 14

Fire At Sea – March 21

Florence Foster Jenkins – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Hacksaw Ridge – February 21

Hail, Caesar! – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Hell Or High Water – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Hidden Figures – April 11

I Am Not Your Negro – May 2

Jackie – March 7

Jim: The James Foley Story – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Jungle Book – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Kubo & The Two Strings – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

La La Land – April 25

Land Of Mine – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Life, Animated – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Lion – March 21  April 11

The Lobster – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Loving – February 7

A Man Called Ove – May 16

Manchester By The Sea – February 21

Moana – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Moonlight – February 28

My Life As A Zucchini – In theatres February 24

Nocturnal Animals – February 21

OJ: Made In America – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Passengers – March 14

The Red Turtle – May 2

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – March 24 (Digital HD/Disney Movies Anywhere), April 4 (DVD/Blu-ray/On Demand)

Silence – March 28

Star Trek Beyond – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Suicide Squad – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Sully – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Tanna – March 7

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

13th – Now available online

Toni Erdmann – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Trolls – February 7

20th Century Women – March 28

Zootopia – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
5:55 p.m.

UPDATE:  Best Picture nominee Moonlight will be released on DVD & Blu-ray two days after the ceremony on February 28.  Meanwhile, 20th Century Women & Fantastic Beasts And How To Find Them will be out a month later on March 28.  These dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
2:35 a.m.

UPDATE 2:  Fences will be out on home video March 14.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 19, 2017
3:20 a.m.

UPDATE 3:  Entertainment Weekly reports that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be available for download on some sites as early as March 24 while hitting DVD, Blu-ray and the remaining on-demand sites on April 4.  Also, Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt hits March 14, Martin Scorsese’s Silence will be available March 28, Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures will be out on April 11 while the James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro drops May 2.  All these dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
10:28 p.m.

UPDATE 4:  Not sure how I missed this but Doctor Strange will be out on DVD & Blu-ray later today, February 28.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
12:24 a.m.

UPDATE 5:  Here’s another release date I completely missed.  Moana was released on home video this past Tuesday, March 7.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, March 10, 2017
3:45 a.m.

UPDATE 6:  Lion was originally supposed to be available on DVD & Blu-ray this week but its release date has been pushed back to April 11.  Meanwhile, La La Land, winner of 6 Academy Awards, finally arrives on all digital formats April 25 and The Red Turtle will be out May 2.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 23, 2017
10:40 p.m.

Published in: on January 24, 2017 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dirty Wars

I could never do Jeremy Scahill’s job.  Genuinely bored by the mundane nature of everyday civilian life in Brooklyn, New York, the muckraking journalist frequently throws himself into the most dangerous of environments – Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia – not just for the adrenalized thrill of working in war zones, but for a deeper purpose, a faint hope that his work will lead to the possibility of accountability and justice for otherwise silent victims.  He is obsessed with doing the right thing which drives his relentless reporting.  He is either courageous beyond words or foolish in the extreme considering all the risks involved and the non-existent rewards for such actions.  Then again, to be a war correspondent, you have to be both.  I am neither and sadly, I’m not alone.

In Dirty Wars, his extraordinarily harrowing documentary about America’s secret war on Muslims, he brilliantly exposes a racist, sexist foreign policy in the grips of absolute chaos and disorder.  Begun by President Bush shortly after 9/11 but expanded beyond reason by President Obama, the so-called Global War On Terror has forever changed the nature of armed conflict.  No longer restricted by Congressional approvals and country boundaries, the United States Government sees the entire world as a battlefield where secret mercenaries under their control and absolute support do most of the invading, torturing and murdering with zero oversight and little understanding for the inevitable blowback such depraved actions will inspire in the future.  No one can stop them, not even the feckless United Nations who go curiously unmentioned.  A list of people to be exterminated, including Americans, keeps growing and growing without any due process for them whatsoever.  As Scahill notes, “The War On Terror is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  A terrifying, ongoing cycle of death and destruction.

Unconscionable war crimes are common.  Innocent families are ripped apart by night raids targeting the wrong houses.  Drone strikes obliterate the young and the old because of bad intelligence.  A Yemeni journalist is locked up for embarrassing Obama with damning truth and kept there at his insistence.  (He was eventually released years after this film’s 2013 release.)  Cover-ups for all this American misconduct are alarmingly routine.  And almost never punished.

Sounding and looking numb from all the unjustified horror he’s observed and reported on for over a decade, Scahill nimbly reveals through his dry narration and reporting the human toll American bombs, drones and machine gun bullets, not to mention physical violence, have taken on decimated Middle Eastern families.  All of this material is already covered superbly in his epic companion book.  But the movie does what the printed word cannot.  It allows Obama’s Muslim victims to personally voice their painful first-hand accounts directly to the audience.  As a result, Dirty Wars sears your soul and leaves you wrecked and lacerated.  It should haunt Obama for the rest of his life.

You’re struck by all the young children you see, many of them with blank, angry faces.  Too young to fully comprehend why their brothers, their sisters, their grandparents and their own parents have been murdered by America.  But heartbreakingly aware of their absences nonetheless.  You can’t help but wonder.  Are they next?  It’s not an irrational thought considering how one ex-military general openly justifies attacking pregnant women.  One grieving parent pointedly observes, “If they think children are al Qaeda, then we are all terrorists.”  When a dead child is picked up by a relative in one deeply disturbing scene, the face forever frozen after being murdered by an Obama drone, there is no humanity left.  It looks like he’s picking up a lifeless toy doll.

The 16-year-old son of radical preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki is murdered by an American drone just two weeks after his father’s assassination.  The Obama Administration claimed he was “collateral damage” and not the central target.  Scahill suggests, not unpersuasively, they didn’t want to take the risk that he would eventually become an outspoken radical like his distant father who he was trying in vain to reconnect with when he was needlessly assassinated.  Scahill aptly refers to this as “twisted logic”.

As he traverses throughout battlefields both declared and undeclared in the Middle East, talking to broken families with many legitimate grievances against the American military and a couple of scary Somalian warlords fully backed by the USG, Scahill becames a political detective, slowly putting together some uncomfortable puzzle pieces that get him closer to understanding “the unseen war” not reported on by embedded journalists safely ensconced in the Green Zone, a story he himself had missed for years.  He even has a bulletin board where he pins all the evidence he’s collected thus far.

It is a lonely, thankless task.  Politicians in Washington don’t care about his findings.  There’s a startling scene where he testifies in front of one Democratic Congressman and his staffers in an otherwise empty room during a televised committee hearing.  FOIA requests go nowhere.  Few government officials including military personnel are willing to go on the record to pass on damning revelations to him.  There are clips of him facing hostility on cable news shoutfests.  Even unfunny Jay Leno gives him a hard time.

Scahill ultimately realizes that the White House has its own secret military, JSOC, which it employs out of the prying eyes of journalists and everybody else to dozens of countries for activities of “questionable legality”, as one rare, anonymous, voice-altered whistleblower puts it.  It is immensely difficult to learn much about them because the Obama Administration at first refuses to even acknowledge their existence.  (Their history dates back to the botched mission to rescue the hostages in Iran during the Carter era.)  One Pentagon official during a press briefing plays dumb claiming with a straight face that suggesting such a thing is the work of an imaginative conspiracy theorist.

But then Osama Bin Laden is assassinated.  “So much for secrecy,” notes a surprised Scahill as JSOC are outed and suddenly seen as heroic figures by the media, agenda-minded politicians and the gullible, celebratory public.  Now they’re openly given free reign to invade other countries which they were already doing under quiet order by President Obama.  Hero worshipping murderers gives them undeserved immunity.

Dirty Wars manages to cover a lot of treacherous ground in less than 90 minutes.  It is an urgent call to reconsider the damage America is doing to the entire planet.  It rightly questions the usefulness of an endless war, one that can continue seamlessly from administration to administration regardless of party affiliation in perpetuity because war crimes lead to angry Muslims revolting who suddenly get placed, without any solid evidence, on a secret kill list.  And there is literally no legal mechanism to stop it.

This movie repeatedly socks you right in the gut and leaves you weary about the coming storm America’s actions will eventually invite.  Nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, it is essential viewing.  And now with Donald Trump about to acquire all of these authoritarian powers from Obama, how much worse is it going to get?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 15, 2017
6:10 p.m.

Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm  Comments (2)  

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka Dies Without Facing Justice For Murdering Nancy Argentino

When I became a pro wrestling fan in the summer of 1985, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was one of my favourites.  He looked wild in his leopard-printed trunks with his unkempt mane of curly, dark hair, and chiselled, tanned physique.  He didn’t wear boots.  He wasn’t much of a technical wrestler but his finisher was fantastic.  Near the end of a match, he would climb the top rope, give the double devil-horned salute (which he rechristened the “I love you” sign), leap halfway across the ring and splash his downed opponent waiting helplessly on the mat.  Three seconds later, victory was his.

He played a major role in the evolution of the WWF from a Northeastern territory once part of the NWA into an independent global phenomenon.  When “Rowdy” Roddy Piper smashed a coconut into his face and brutalized him verbally and physically during his second and most infamous appearance on Piper’s Pit, it led to one of the hottest feuds of the mid-80s.  Snuka ended up being in the corner of Mr. T and Hulk Hogan during their tag team match with Piper and Paul Orndorff in the main event of the first WrestleMania.

Then, he disappeared from the company.  Vince McMahon Jr. openly referred to him as a “basket case”.  After a long stint in the AWA (where he feuded with the racist Apartheid South African supporter Col. DeBeers), Snuka would make a surprise return at WrestleMania 5.  His second run which lasted until the early 90s was a huge letdown.  (He eventually started wearing traditional boots.)  The most memorable thing he did was put over The Undertaker at WrestleMania 7 which began The Dead Man’s 21-match winning streak at the event.

Before he became a popular babyface, though, he was a notorious heel managed at one point by Captain Lou Albano.  (There’s a hilarious YouTube video of him flipping out while being interviewed by McMahon at ringside in an empty arena during a TV taping.)  He challenged WWF Champion Bob Backlund in a famous steel cage match in Madison Square Garden.  He lost shortly after performing the Superfly Splash from the top of the 15-foot structure.  Backlund got out of the way in time and escaped to victory.

But after Albano violently screwed him over, another former heel “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers became his new cornerman.  Snuka started challenging The Guiding Light’s protégé, Don Muraco, for his InterContinental title which he would never attain.  After a fluky steel cage win by the champion in 1983 at Madison Square Garden, a bloodied, infuriated Snuka dragged Muraco back in, suplexed him into position, climbed to the very top with his bare feet touching the barbed wire and jumped off.  This time, he landed right on The Magnificent One, who was also a bloody mess.  This classic moment was witnessed by a young kid from New York who went on to surpass this dangerous bump in 1998.  When Mick Foley was thrown off the top of the Hell In A Cell structure by The Undertaker at the King Of The Ring event landing quite roughly on a breakable announce table, it was clearly an homage to his hero.

But Jimmy Snuka was not a hero.  Despite his accomplishments in the ring, he was a despicable misogynist, an underreported fact during his heyday.  In 1983, while married, he started dating Nancy Argentino.  He would routinely beat her.  During one fateful night in May of that year, he murdered her.  According to the autopsy, she “died of traumatic brain injuries consistent with a moving head striking a stationary object.”  The coroner further noted that she had “suffered more than two dozen cuts and bruises — a possible sign of ‘mate abuse’ — on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.” He argued that it “should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.”

It was never proven otherwise and Snuka was the only suspect.  (He preposterously claimed it was an accident.)  But at the time, he was never arrested nor put on trial.  Ask Vince McMahon Jr. why that didn’t happen.  More than 30 years later, however, thanks to decades of dogged reporting by Irv Muchnick, Snuka was finally arrested.  But his health had deteriorated considerably.  Diagnosed with dementia and later, terminal stomach cancer, the case was dismissed late last year without any real resolution.  Much earlier, Argentino’s family successfully sued him in 1985, receiving a half a million judgment but Snuka claimed poverty and never paid.  Just a month after being told he had six months to live, he’s dead.

And now the disgusting spectacle of WWE Superstars singing The Superfly’s praises on Twitter has begun.  And I’m sure glowing tributes are being prepared right this second for tomorrow night’s Raw and Tuesday night’s Smackdown Live.  Expect a dedication at the very start of each program.  How sickening, how sexist, how appalling.

It’s Chris Benoit all over again.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 15, 2017
5:15 p.m.

UPDATE & CORRECTION:  There was no 10-bell salute but as expected, tonight’s Raw was dedicated to him in his memory.  There was an overly glowing video tribute that made no mention of his violent misogyny.  Smackdown Live will likely feature the same material on Tuesday.

I misspelled the name of Snuka’s long forgotten victim.  It’s Nancy Argentino, not Argento.  I’ve made all the necessary corrections in the title and text but because hyperlinks are permanent, unfortunately, that mistake will remain.  My apologies for the error.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, January 16, 2017
10:15 p.m.

Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm  Comments (1)