Parasite Surprise Historic Winner At 2020 Oscars

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

Here I was thinking the academy was too old and too white to honour a foreign language film in the two biggest categories and they prove me wrong.

Parasite, the South Korean film, which as expected took home Best Original Screenplay and the newly named Best International Feature Oscars, was also named Best Picture over 1917 and Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, the first time a non-English speaking film has ever achieved such an honour.  There was a terrible moment, though, where the lights dimmed before the acceptances were over so the crowd starting chanting “Up!  Up!  Up!” until they were turned back on which led to big cheers and the resumption of thank yous.

Bong Joon Ho was also awarded Best Director over the DGA winner Sam Mendes.  He gave shout-outs to his fellow nominees, emphasizing his respect for Scorsese and his appreciation for Tarantino admiring Ho’s filmography.  Hope his translator got a bonus every time he won.  Now that the show is over, the man can finally get sloshed.

1917 had to settle for technical trinkets:  Best Visual Effects (in an unusually competitive category this year), Best Sound Mixing (over Ford V Ferrari) and Best Cinematography (the second gong awarded to Roger Deakins who first won for his excellent work on Blade Runner 2049).

All the acting prizes went to the frontrunners.  Brad Pitt was named Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.  He thanked his kids saying they “colour everything I do” and correctly pointed out that stunt coordinators deserve their own Academy Award category.  “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  Ain’t that the truth?” he said in amazement.  He’s come a long way from stealing half of that guy’s sandwich.

Marriage Story’s Laura Dern acknowledged her “heroes”, dad Bruce Dern and mom Diane Ladd, as she went on to accept her Best Supporting Actress honour.  Not a bad birthday present for the second generation performer.

Joaquin Phoenix didn’t thank anybody but he did cut a promo on a bunch of political subjects including his own “cruelty” and “selfish” dickishness (without really getting specific, unfortunately) and the meat industry as he climbed on stage to collect the golden gong for Best Actor.  He did however give a shout-out to his late brother River quoting one of his song lyrics.  Even more long winded was Best Actress winner Renee Zellweger who at least thanked a bunch of people including her family and the woman she played, Judy Garland.

Other predictable winners included Best Animated Feature Toy Story 4 and Best Documentary Feature American Factory.  Longtime collaborators Elton John and Bernie Taupin won Best Original Song for their catchy Rocketman track, (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.  “This doesn’t suck,” Taupin admitted.  This is Elton’s second gong after Can You Feel The Love Tonight? from The Lion King 25 years ago.

The World War 2 satire JoJo Rabbit won Best Adapted Screenplay, Little Women was given Best Costume Design while Ford V Ferrari picked up golden dust collectors for Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing.  Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman was the only Best Picture nominee not to be awarded a single trophy.

As for the show, Steve Martin was really funny, more so than the hit-and-miss Chris Rock, during the unofficial monologue.  John Travolta is still getting hilariously roasted for butchering Idina Menzel’s name.  The opening medley was lame and overlong, much like many of the annoyingly drawn out presentations.  But it was great seeing Eminem finally perform his Oscar-winning song Lose Yourself after refusing to do so 17 years ago.

The complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE – PARASITE

BEST DIRECTOR – Bong Joon Ho (PARASITE)

BEST ACTRESS – Renee Zellweger (JUDY)

BEST ACTOR – Joaquin Phoenix (JOKER)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Laura Dern (MARRIAGE STORY)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Brad Pitt (ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – AMERICAN FACTORY

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – TOY STORY 4

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – HAIR LOVE

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT -THE NEIGHBOUR’S WINDOW

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – PARASITE

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – JOJO RABBIT

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again (ROCKETMAN)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – JOKER

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE – PARASITE

BEST FILM EDITING – FORD V FERRARI

BEST SOUND EDITING – FORD V FERRARI

BEST SOUND MIXING – 1917

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – 1917

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – 1917

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – BOMBSHELL

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – LITTLE WOMEN

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 10, 2020
12:45 a.m.

Published in: on February 10, 2020 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

2020 Oscar Predictions

BEST PICTURE – 1917

Thanks to the expanded nomination slots, a reinstated policy over the last decade, the most significant Oscar category has become the most eclectic.  Nine very different titles are competing for the top prize in what appears to be another open race with no definitive favourite.

There are films about real events and tragedies, some reimagined in fictional form.  There are films about broken people and severed relationships.  There’s a much debated origin story, a well regarded remake and the first Korean film ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

Speaking of Parasite, could it become the first foreign language winner in this category’s near centennial history?  Despite a lot of critical praise, the academy remains mostly made up of old white dudes.  It’s not going to win.

Neither is Ford V Ferrari, Joker, Jojo Rabbit or Marriage Story.  They’ll all have to be satisfied with simply making the short list.

Scorsese already won for producing The Departed, one of his best films, and considering the fact that The Irishman briefly played in theatres only to qualify for contention before becoming a Netflix exclusive, a victory is highly unlikely.  Just remember what happened to Roma (which is finally hitting DVD & Blu-ray later this month as part of The Criterion Collection).  Also, The Irishman is three and a half hours long.  How many academy members actually sat through the whole thing?

Only two films have a genuine shot at winning the ultimate dust collector.  I suspect many are picking Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, but like Joker, this summer hit has a lot of detractors.  The business loves rewarding films about itself but they did pass over La La Land, lest we forget.

I’m reminded yet again of Roger Ebert’s assertion.  Academy members vote for Best Picture with their hearts.

Sam Mendes’ 1917, supposedly shot in a singular take, depicts a single event in the bloody First World War.  It was a big audience picture last month when it went into wider release and has received rave reviews.  Again, the academy is mostly comprised of elderly Caucasians.  Saving Private Ryan may have been passed over for Shakespeare In Love.  But Harvey Weinstein is a pariah now.  This time, the war movie will prevail.

BEST DIRECTOR – Sam Mendes (1917)

What’s the best way to predict who will secure the golden gong for Best Director?  Look at who the DGA selected.  The Director’s Guild Of America awarded its top prize to Sam Mendes for overseeing the epic 1917.  In 2000, he originally won the DGA for helming the excellent American Beauty.  Shortly thereafter, he went on to snag his first Oscar.  20 years later, he’ll be collecting his second.

BEST ACTRESS – Renee Zellweger (JUDY)

One of the major problems with the Academy Awards is its predictable acting winners.  Every once in a while, though, there’s a shocker.  Consider Olivia Colman’s stunning upset over perennial loser Glenn Close last year.

This year, however, all four acting categories appear to be already settled.  Let’s start with Best Actress.  We can immediately eliminate Charlize Theron.  She already won for playing a lesbian serial killer.  Frequent nominee Saoirse Ronan, she’s only 25 and is already on her fourth nomination, is still not being called up to the stage.  Neither is double nominee Scarlett Johansson.

I do wonder if Cynthia Erivo, the only Black nominee, could be a major spoiler here.  But she seems a real long shot.  That leaves Renee Zellweger.  More than 15 years ago, she won Best Supporting Actress for appearing in Cold Mountain.  She continued to star in a bunch of films up until the early 2010s when she suddenly disappeared for a while.  The academy loves a good comeback story and Zellweger’s turn as later-day Judy Garland during her last singing tour was certainly more appreciated than Judy the movie.

Having already made room on her shelf for a slew of prizes associated with the performance, she should set aside one more space for an Oscar.

BEST ACTOR – Joaquin Phoenix (JOKER)

Leo DiCaprio won this prize for The Revenant several years ago.  He’s not winning a second.

And you can forget about Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas.  They can watch the show from the comfort of their own living rooms.  No one is calling any of their names.

Hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since the academy awarded the Best Supporting Actor gong to the much missed Heath Ledger for his benchmark portrayal of the most memorable Batman villain in The Dark Knight.  And now, they’re about to do the same thing for Joaquin Phoenix this year in the lead category.  He’s come a long way from Spacecamp.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Laura Dern (MARRIAGE STORY)

The past and the future collide in the race for Best Supporting Actress.

Perennial nominee Kathy Bates, who earned a Best Actress gong for scaring the shit out of author James Caan in Misery nearly 30 years ago, is not going to add another dust collector to her trophy case.  Neither is recent two-time nominee Margot Robbie.  First timer Florence Pugh (wrestling fans will recognize her as Paige from Fighting With My Family) hopefully has a long career ahead of her beyond this latest Little Women update.

As for Scarlett Johansson, she’ll have the dubious distinction of being the only current nominee to be passed over in two acting categories.  At least she’ll be in good company.

Since the nominations were announced, Laura Dern has been deemed an untouchable favourite.  Already the recipient of many awards for her acclaimed performance in Marriage Story, including a recent SAG honour, what’s one more?  I will be genuinely shocked if her name is not in that envelope.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Brad Pitt (ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD)

Everybody in this category has won at least a single Oscar and not necessarily in this category.

Anthony Hopkins took what Brian Cox did in the wrongly overlooked Manhunter and added a lot more quiet intensity and depravity to his more iconic version of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs which led to his sole Academy Award victory.  Al Pacino finally grabbed one after so many incredulous dismissals for his brilliant performance as a blind, crotchety, suicidal veteran in Scent Of A Woman, itself a poignant gem.  His Irishman co-star Robert De Niro won a supporting trophy for playing the young Vito Corleone in Godfather 2 and a lead trinket as Jake La Motta in Raging Bull.  And then there’s Tom Hanks, himself a two-time winner, first for playing an AIDS-afflicted lawyer fighting for dignity in Philadelphia and as the lovably oblivious Forrest Gump.  Remember, he won his Best Actor Oscars at two consecutive ceremonies.

Brad Pitt has one.  But curiously, not for being on screen.  He produced the Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave.  That can mean only one thing.  He’s finally taking home a golden gong for acting.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – TOY STORY 4

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again (ROCKETMAN)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – PARASITE

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – JOJO RABBIT

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – 1917

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – THE IRISHMAN

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – HAIR LOVE

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – LEARNING TO SKATE IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – AMERICAN FACTORY

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM – PARASITE

BEST SOUND EDITING – FORD V FERRARI

BEST SOUND MIXING – FORD V FERRARI

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – 1917

BEST FILM EDITING – FORD V FERRARI

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – BOMBSHELL

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – LITTLE WOMEN

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, February 8, 2020
3:48 a.m.

Published in: on February 8, 2020 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  

How To Watch All The 2020 Oscar-Nominated Feature Films

Tough break, Eddie Murphy.  Better luck next time, Greta Gerwig.  You’ll have to settle for making history, Apollo 11.

The 92nd annual Academy Award nominations are out and for the most part, it’s a predictable list.  1917, Joker, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Irishman collectively received an astounding 41 of the available slots.  Robert De Niro may have been passed over for Best Actor but his Irishman co-stars Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are on the shortlist for Best Supporting Actor.  Gerwig didn’t get singled out for Best Director (Marty Scorsese did) but her version of Little Women did manage to snag six including Best Picture.

Meanwhile, the ever problematic Scarlett Johansson keeps defying her detractors as she becomes the latest double acting nominee.  Her appearances in JoJo Rabbit and Marriage Story both secured spots in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress categories, respectively.  No one has ever achieved the two-fer in a single year.  It’s highly unlikely she’ll win even one.

As always in this space, when the Oscar writ is dropped, I compile a list of all the nominated feature films and let you know how and when you can see them.  As usual, you can see a good number of them right now either through streaming services, a trip to your local multiplex or physical formats.  The rest are coming soon.  With the exceptions of Knives Out and the latest version of Les Miserables, I have information on everything.  When new information becomes available, as is tradition around these parts, I will update.

The Oscars air Sunday night on February 9.  Check your local listings for channels and start times.  In the meantime, happy screenings.

Ad Astra – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

American Factory – Now playing on Netflix

Avengers: Endgame – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood – February 18

Bombshell – March 10

Breakthrough – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Cave – Now playing in select theatres

Corpus Christi – Opens in theatres April 22

The Edge Of Democracy – Now playing on Netflix

For Sama – Now playing on Netflix

Ford V Ferrari – Digital: January 28, DVD & Blu-ray: February 11

Frozen 2 – February 25

Harriet – January 28

Honeyland – Now playing on Netflix

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

I Lost My Body – Now playing on Netflix

The Irishman – Now playing in theatres & on Netflix

JoJo Rabbit – Digital: February 4, DVD/Blu-ray: February 18

Joker – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Judy – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Klaus – Now playing on Netflix

Knives Out – February 25

Les Miserables – Now playing in select theatres

The Lighthouse – January 14

Little Women – April 7

The Lion King – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – January 14

Marriage Story – Now playing on Netflix

Missing Link – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

1917 – Now playing in theatres & DVD/Blu-ray: July 31 March 24

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Pain & Glory – January 21

Parasite – Now playing in theatres; DVD/Blu-ray – January 28

Richard Jewell – March 17

Rocketman – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Now available on Digital platforms; DVD/Blu-ray: March 31

Toy Story 4 – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Two Popes – Now playing on Netflix

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, January 13, 2020
5:10 p.m.

UPDATE: Knives Out hits home video February 25.  Meanwhile, the French remake of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables has just opened in select theatres.  Finally, if you can’t wait until January 28 to see Best Picture nominee Parasite, you can still catch it at a theatre near you.  The list has been updated.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 16, 2020
10:28 p.m.

UPDATE 2: The DVD/Blu-ray versions of Jojo Rabbit will be available February 18.  Frozen II is coming to home video the following week.  Bombshell drops March 10.  The week after that, Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell is out.  Not sure how accurate this information is but Amazon is declaring that 1917 will not be released to video until July 31.  Surely, that will change to an earlier date.  The list has been updated.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 9, 2020
7:34 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  Indeed, 1917 will not be released on home video in the summer after all.  You can pick it up starting March 24.  While you wait, you can watch Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker right now on digital platforms.  The DVD & Blu-ray editions drop on March 31.  Entertainment Weekly has more here.  And the most recent Little Women remake will be out April 7.  The list has been updated.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 14, 2020
10:10 p.m.

Published in: on January 13, 2020 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last Year Aside, The Golden Globes Are Still Not A Major Predictor Of Oscar Winners

Tonight, the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards, the most unprestigious back patting event in human history, will be airing live on national Television.  Essentially a glorified bowling banquet organized by the ever mysterious and yet easily bribed “Hollywood Foreign Press Association”, for decades it’s been nonetheless widely considered a sharp predictor of the Academy Awards.

On two past occasions, I’ve closely examined the results of both ceremonies and noted that its reputation as an influencer is not exactly deserved.  It’s been six years since I last focused on past results, so let’s play catch up with the last half decade.  Have things significantly changed?

2014

Of the last five Golden Globe events, this one had the most misses when it came to duplicating Oscar results.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, an experimental epic that was filmed slowly over a decade so its child star could legitimately grow up before the camera, snagged the Best Motion Picture – Drama bowling trophy with Linklater himself named Best Director.  At the Oscars, it was another offbeat title Birdman and its celebrated director Alejandro G. Innaritu who would win the more respected prizes in the same categories respectively.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature while the Oscar went to Big Hero 6.  The Russian film Leviathan won Best Foreign Language Film but it was the Polish Holocaust movie Ida that the Motion Picture Academy preferred.  And as for Best Original Score, Oscar went with Wes Anderson’s overrated The Grand Budapest Hotel over the GG’s pick The Theory Of Everything about Stephen Hawking.

At least J.K. Simmons, Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette were all double winners.

2015

A year later, Inarritu was once again in contention for some major dust collectors.  At the Golden Globes, he won Best Director and his movie The Revenant was named Best Motion Picture – Drama.  Because he won the DGA prize, he took home the equivalent Oscar but the academy selected Spotlight, the highly regarded drama about the Boston Globe’s expose on the Catholic Church’s cover-up of rampant childhood abuse, for Best Picture.

Sylvester Stallone, who the Globes named Best Supporting Actor and, to be fair, was seen as a favourite to win the biggest prize of all, was upset by first time nominee Bridge Of Spies’ Mark Rylance at the Academy Awards.  Kate Winslet, a previous Oscar winner for The Reader, lost the Best Supporting Actress gong to the hot young Swede Alicia Vikander, the second Tomb Raider, who starred in The Danish Girl with Redmayne, the Best Actor winner for The Theory Of Everything.  Curiously, Vikander was nominated for Best Actress – Drama at the Globes.  She lost to Brie Larson, the Best Actress Oscar winner.

Unlike its lead acting categories which are separated by genre, the Golden Globes doesn’t distinguish original scripts from adaptations.  They’re all lumped together into the Best Screenplay category.  Regardless, GG winner Aaron Sorkin did not win a second writing Oscar for penning Steve Jobs.  In fact, he wasn’t even nominated.

2016

A slight improvement over the two previous years, the Globes only missed three categories this time.

Kick Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson somehow snagged the Best Supporting Actor trinket at the GGs for appearing in Nocturnal Animals but it was his fellow nominee Mahershala Ali who won his first Oscar in this category for his revered performance in Moonlight.  Taylor-Johnson wasn’t even in the running.  His name was left off the list.  Paradoxically, his co-star, Michael Shannon, was an Oscar nominee in the same category but not a contender at the Globes.

Meanwhile, La La Land won the Globe for its screenplay but was defeated by Manchester By The Sea at the Academy Awards.  Best Foreign Language Film went to Elle at the bowling ceremony.  The Iranian film, The Salesman, secured the golden naked man.  Elle didn’t even make the Oscar shortlist.

2017

For this particular year, The GGs and the Motion Picture Academy both agreed on all four acting winners but split on four other categories.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the story of a determined mom hoping to get justice for her murdered daughter, won the bowling gong for Best Picture – Drama.  The Oscars selected The Shape Of Water for Best Picture.

Three Billboards also won the Best Screenplay Globe.  The MPA named Get Out and Call Me By Your Name as its Best Original and Adapted Screenplays, respectively.  Neither were nominated for Globes.

For Best Original Song, the Globes championed This Is Me from The Greatest Showman while the Oscars pushed Remember Me from the animated blockbuster Coco.

Finally, the Best Foreign Language Film category.  The GGs embraced In The Fade (not nominated for an Academy Award) while The Oscars went with the trans drama A Fantastic Woman.

2018

It’s a Festivus miracle.  Only one miss and only in a technical category to boot.  The Globes selected the music from the excellent Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, a Best Visual Effects Oscar winner, for Best Original Score.  The Motion Picture Academy went with Black Panther instead.  First Man was excluded from the running.

So does this mean that this longtime public embarrassment is suddenly relevant again?  We’ll know for sure in the coming years but for now, based on its entire history, consider this a rare anomaly.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 5, 2020
7:50 p.m.

Published in: on January 5, 2020 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Stunning Upsets In Otherwise Dull Oscars

The academy must really hate Glenn Close.  What else can explain the continuation of her ongoing slump at the Academy Awards which held its 91st annual ceremony on Sunday.  In a moment that very few, if any, saw coming, it was Olivia Colman who was named Best Actress, not the seven-time nominee for The Wife.  Turns out she wasn’t a long shot at all.

Ever gracious and seemingly shellshocked herself, the charming and funny star of The Favourite tried to make Close feel better by declaring her her idol and wishing she had won this award under different circumstances (yeah, right).  “This is hilarious,” Colman declared at the start, while also noting how “stressful” it was to be on stage.  Humourously scoffing at the “wrap it up” cue on the prompter, Colman appeared to vindicate the academy’s choice with her entertaining speech alone which, upon its conclusion, resulted in a standing ovation.  It was the only award The Favourite managed to snag.

In the other shocker of the night, Green Book, not Roma or my prediction, A Star Is Born, was named Best Picture in spite of so much controversy, not least of which included the public complaints by the surviving family of Don Shirley who claimed the film took excessive liberties with his real-life story.  As expected, Mahershala Ali, who played Shirley the pianist, won his second Best Supporting Actor gong, only two years after his first for Moonlight.  Although I correctly picked him to win, my initial feeling that there would be an upset was clearly wrong.  Turned out I was thinking of the wrong category.  In another bit of a surprise, Green Book also won Best Original Screenplay, giving co-writer/director Peter Farrelly two gongs for the night.

Bohemian Rhapsody was the big winner overall with four Oscars.  It swept the Sound categories and took home Best Film Editing.  Rami Malek, who noted his Egyptian heritage, was named Best Actor for playing Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.  He also acknowledged Mercury’s sexuality and how he lived his life “unapologetically.”

Black Panther snagged three golden gongs but all in technical categories.  It won for its Costumes, its Production Design (in a bit of minor upset over The Favourite) and for its Original Score.  Roma also won three.  Alfonso Cuaron took to the stage every time to accept for Best Director, Best Cinematography and for Best Foreign Language Film.

The elegant Regina King thanked James Baldwin, her mom and God after accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress.  It was the only Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk which was based on Baldwin’s novel of the same name.

Lady Gaga, whose very name was inspired by Queen, didn’t go home empty-handed.  Along with her three co-writers (which did not include Bradley Cooper as I erroneously noted in my predictions and have now corrected), she took to the stage to be handed the Best Original Song trinket for Shallow, which ended up being the only honour given to A Star Is Born.

The mercurial Spike Lee finally won a competitive Oscar for co-writing BlacKkKlansman.  Having stolen an outfit from Prince’s closet, he was his usual outspoken self.  Like Regina King, he thanked his grandmother but also acknowledged the two biggest historical American injustices:  slavery and First Nations genocide.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was named Best Animated Feature and Free Solo, not RBG, took home Best Documentary Feature.  Even Best Visual Effects was a bit of a surprise.  First Man won over the third Avengers movie.  The complete list of winners is at the bottom of this entry.

Beyond the awards themselves, the overall broadcast was far from thrilling.  Yes, Trevor Noah did a killer Mel Gibson joke, Paul Rudd did a brilliant, self-deprecating zinger during his presentation for Visual Effects and notice how the camera showed that Best Picture envelope being handed to Julia Roberts as she walked on stage?  That was funny.  Suck it, Warren Beatty.

Other than that, the show was lame.  Nothing says contemporary than a failed American Idol contestant butchering two classics from the 1970s featuring half of the original geezers who made them famous back when they could actually play.  Melissa McCarthy’s stuffed animal costume was stupid.  There was nothing funny about those three SNL alums pretending to be the hosts for five minutes.  There’s a reason they weren’t hired for the actual job.  Spike Lee cursed but that goddamned delay silenced it.  And what was with that hideous set?  It looked like a giant fucking ear.

Kevin Hart, you did the right thing backing out.  At least the show was only three hours this year.

The complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE – GREEN BOOK

BEST DIRECTOR – Alfonso Cuaron (ROMA)

BEST ACTOR – Rami Malek (BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY)

BEST ACTRESS – Olivia Colman (THE FAVOURITE)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Regina King (IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mahershala Ali (GREEN BOOK)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – BLACKKKLANSMAN

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – GREEN BOOK

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – BAO

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – FREE SOLO

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – SKIN

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – BLACK PANTHER

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – BLACK PANTHER

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – BLACK PANTHER

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Shallow (A STAR IS BORN)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – FIRST MAN

BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING – VICE

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – ROMA

BEST SOUND EDITING – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

BEST SOUND MIXING – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – ROMA

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 25, 2019
12:41 a.m.

Published in: on February 25, 2019 at 12:41 am  Leave a Comment  

91st Academy Award Predictions

BEST PICTURE – A STAR IS BORN

It’s not often that the race for Best Picture is too close to call, but here we are in that very situation this year.  Because of the expansion of the category a decade ago, eight titles are competing for the top honour.  (Up to ten can be nominated as long as they receive a certain percentage of support.)

Let’s immediately eliminate Bohemian Rhapsody as a possible winner.  Despite being the most commercially successful biopic ever, it deeply divided critics.  Plus, there’s the problem with its troubled director Bryan Singer.  Long under scrutiny for sexual abuse of teenage boys and ultimately fired for disappearing from his set before the film was completed (resulting in another director coming in to replace him at the last minute), even though he isn’t one of the producers, surely all of this will hurt its chances.

Green Book is in the same boat.  Despite very positive reviews, it’s become a cinematic hot potato for its disputed portrayal of the true story between a Black musician and his white limo driver.  The surviving family of pianist Don Shirley publicly criticized the film’s fictionalization of his story.  Viggo Mortensen got in trouble for using an epithet during a press conference promoting the film.  Director/co-writer Peter Farrelly has a dumb habit of whipping his penis out in work situations.  And on top of all this, isn’t this just Driving Miss Daisy in reverse?

The Favourite clearly isn’t the favourite.  Costume period pieces are usually cat nip for the British-loving motion picture academy but not this time.  And forget about Vice.  Since the nominations were announced, it has never been considered a serious threat.

No, the winner will likely be found in the remaining half of the category.  Black Panther is clearly the audience favourite having made more money than some of these films combined.  Critics loved it, too.  But the academy is still predominantly old and white, so it’ll be an uphill climb.  The same goes for BlacKKKlansman, Spike Lee’s biggest film in years.  I’m doubtful either title can pull the upset.

The smart money seems to be on Roma, Alfonso Cuaron’s foreign language epic that was made by Netflix and had the unique distinction of being available in the home and at the theatre in a limited release simultaneously.  Nominated for 10 Oscars altogether, surely it will not go home empty-handed.  But would the academy, ever conscious of declining theatrical attendance and the rise of cable Television, really want to reward a streaming service rather than a major studio?  Wouldn’t this be an admission of defeat?

When he made his annual Oscar predictions for the Chicago Sun-Times, the late, great Roger Ebert offered one guiding principle:  Academy members vote with their hearts when selecting Best Picture.  When you think about it, arguably no film gutted audiences and critics more in 2018 than A Star Is Born.

Yes, this is the fifth version of the story that was first made with Judy Garland in the early 1930s and yes, this is basically a redo of the 1976 remake which featured Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand.  But since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival late last summer, it’s been talked about non-stop as possible Oscar bait.  It’s made a movie star out of Lady Gaga.  Bradley Cooper is now seen as more than just an actor.  And the movie finally gave 74-year-old Sam Elliott his first ever nomination.

A sizeable audience hit (nearly half a billion in ticket sales worldwide) and the possessor of widespread critical acclaim (it has a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), it also has the advantage of not being potentially tainted by controversy.  Hollywood loves to reward stories about the business and since La La Land lost out to Moonlight, this will be the make-good.

A Star Is Born for Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR – Alfonso Cuaron (ROMA)

Once again, I am reminded of another guiding principle by Ebert.  The person who wins the Director’s Guild of America award more often than not goes on to win the Best Director Oscar.  Even though he previously snatched the golden gong five years ago for helming Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron won this year’s DGA for the Netflix feature Roma.  The only possible spoiler here would be Spike Lee who incredibly is competing in this category for the very first time.

But history is tough to overcome.  The last time the DGA winner didn’t win the Best Director Oscar was in 2013.  Ben Affleck won the former for Argo but wasn’t even nominated for the latter which went to Ang Lee for Life Of Pi, his second victory.

All of the other contenders are first-time nominees and don’t have a prayer.  Barring a breakthrough for Lee, it’ll be Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director.

BEST ACTRESS – Glenn Close (THE WIFE)

An aspiring singer, a notorious royal, a literary fraud, a Mexican maid and a pissed off spouse comprise the race for Best Actress.  A Star Is Born’s Lady Gaga will be rewarded for co-writing Shallow in the Best Original Song category so she’ll be passed over here.  Olivia Colman, who plays Mary, Queen of Scots in The Favourite, is a serious long shot.  She’ll have to settle for politely applauding the winner when her name isn’t called.

The well-liked Melissa McCarthy didn’t win seven years ago for her breakout performance in Bridesmaids and she won’t win for Can You Ever Forgive Me? either.  And the debuting Yalitza Aparicio from Roma probably shouldn’t prepare a speech.

That leaves perennial nominee Glenn Close.  According to Wikipedia, “she has more nominations without a win than any other living actor, and holds the record for being the actress with the most nominations without winning.” Even though many will argue she probably should’ve won for Fatal Attraction more than 30 years ago, here’s an opportunity for the academy to finally reward her for having such a long, well-respected career.

Glenn Close for Best Actress.

BEST ACTOR – Rami Malek (BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY)

It’s the veterans vs. the newbie in the race for Best Actor.  It’s also reality vs. fiction as all but one of the nominated characters is based on a real person.  Only Christian Bale is a previous winner, having won Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter eight years ago.

Passed over for Best Director, Bradley Cooper still managed to receive four three nominations for producing, co-writing the screenplay, co-composing Shallow, and starring in A Star Is Born.  He has also been nominated for co-producing American Sniper and for acting in that film as well as appearing in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.  For much of this decade, he’s been an Academy favourite.  But it won’t pay off for him, at least not in this category.  He’ll have to settle for sharing the Best Original Song trophy with Lady Gaga.

You can forget about four-time nominee Willem Dafoe who plays Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate and three-time nominee Viggo Mortensen who plays real-life limo driver Frank Vallelonga in the controversial Green Book.  Both of their slumps will continue into the new decade.

That leaves Dick Cheney in Vice and Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.  Bale, who plays the former, could pull off an upset but he already has a golden trinket and doesn’t need an additional push.  The latter, Rami Malek, on the other hand, who won an Emmy playing a hacker on Mr. Robot, is a new star peaking at just the right time.  Not everyone loves the Queen biopic but I haven’t heard anyone dismiss Malek’s performance of the group’s legendary frontman.  Hollywood is always looking to make new stars to keep the business thriving.  And with so much focus on improving diversity (Malek is Muslim), here’s an opportunity to tick off two key boxes.

Rami Malek for Best Actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mahershala Ali (GREEN BOOK)

There is an enormous consensus surrounding Mahershala Ali.  Once again, he finds himself the heavy favourite to take home the Best Supporting Actor dust collector.  I didn’t realize this myself until I looked at the number of awards he’s already taken home for playing pianist Don Shirley.  Go look it up on Wikipedia.  It’s an extensive list.

Let’s be clear here.  We don’t need to talk about Sam Rockwell.  He won this category last year for playing a cop in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  He’s not gonna pull a Tom Hanks for playing W.  Adam Driver is Kylo Ren.  He doesn’t need a fucking Oscar.

Before I started investigating the conventional wisdom on this particular race, my initial reaction was that this was going to go to a first-time nominee, someone who’s already had a long career but has never been singled out by the academy before.  Mr. Moustache Sam Elliott, the voice of a thousand truck ads, is 74.  Longtime British character actor Richard E. Grant is 61.  If there’s going to be a shocking upset, either of them snatching the golden eunuch would be it.

God knows this has happened before.  Consider Eddie Murphy in 2007.  He had been cleaning up on the awards circuit for his performance in Dreamgirls only to watch in horror as Alan Arkin snapped up the Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.  Granted, Arkin had a previous nomination in the 60s but still, a stunning upset.  And what about Sylvester Stallone who was expected to win in this category a few years ago for playing Rocky Balboa as an old man in Creed?  He didn’t get called to the stage.  Bridge Of Spies’ Mark Rylance, a first-time nominee, was summoned instead.

Let’s not forget, Mahershala Ali won this award for Moonlight just two years ago.  And controversy has dogged Green Book for months.  But will any of this ultimately hurt him come Oscar night?

In a way, I feel like I’m going against my true instincts here.  There is a big part of me that feels like either Elliott or Grant could swoop in and have their big moment on stage, shocking the entire world.  But, on the other hand, Ali is so highly respected as an actor (he’s currently appearing in the critically lauded third season of True Detective) and his performance in Green Book so universally acclaimed, there’s the other, more sensible part of me that feels he’ll be having another good night.

In the end, I’m relenting and going with the crowd.

Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Regina King (IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK)

Two Oscar winners battle it out with two newbies and a frequent nominee in the race for Best Supporting Actress.  The Favourite’s Emma Stone famously won Best Actress for La La Land two years ago.  (Warren Beatty almost read her name a second time during the totally preventable Best Picture fiasco.)  It seems highly unlikely she’ll win again this year.  First-time nominee Marina de Tavira is in the same position as her Best Actress-nominated Roma co-star Yalitza Aparicio, so count her out, as well.

In 2007, Rachel Weisz won this category for her performance in The Constant Gardener.  Also nominated was Amy Adams for Junebug which ended up being her breakout performance.  Five nominations later, here she is again facing The Favourite’s Weisz in this same category for playing Vice’s Lynne Cheney.  Her slump will continue.  Weisz won’t be called to the stage, either.

That leaves Regina King.  34 years after starting her career as a teenager on 227, she’s had her share of cinematic highs (Boyz N The Hood, Higher Learning, Ray) and serious lows (Down To Earth, Daddy Day Care, Legally Blonde 2).  But Sunday night will be the best night of her professional life when she gets called to the stage to accept her first Academy Award.

Regina King for Best Supporting Actress.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – RBG

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – VICE

BEST FILM EDITING – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – MARGUERITE

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – LIFEBOAT

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – BLACK PANTHER

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – BLACK PANTHER

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – ROMA

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Shallow (A STAR IS BORN)

BEST SOUND MIXING – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

BEST SOUND EDITING – A QUIET PLACE

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – ROMA

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – THE FAVOURITE

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – BLACKKKLANSMAN

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE FAVOURITE

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 24, 2019
1:40 a.m.

CORRECTION: Bradley Cooper did not co-write Shallow, the Best Original Song nominee from A Star Is Born. Fuck you, Wikipedia, for making me think he had.  As a result, he was nominated for three, not four, Oscars.  I regret the errors.  I’ve made one correction and have decided to just put lines through the original, erroneous text.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 25, 2019
12:09 a.m.

Published in: on February 24, 2019 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Availability Of 91st Academy Award Nominated Feature Films On DVD & Blu-ray

No love for Crazy Rich Asians.  Only one technical nomination for A Quiet Place.  And Bradley Cooper didn’t get included for Best Director.

The 91st annual Academy Award nominations were announced this past Tuesday and as usual, what didn’t get recognized generated as much interest as the actual nominees.

But unless you’re one of the snubbed, who gives a shit?  In the long run, beyond giving selected talent a push and squeezing some extra dough out of film fans, these awards don’t really mean anything anyway.  (When Citizen Kane and Apocalypse Now don’t snatch Best Picture in both their respective years, the system is rigged.)

Besides, I’m more interested in the quality of these nominated features.  (As of this writing, I’ve only seen A Quiet Place which deserved more than just a Best Sound Editing nod.)  But since I don’t go to the theatre any more, I screen everything now on DVD & Blu-ray.  So, what’s available on video now?  What’s playing in theatres?  What’s streaming on Netflix and Hulu?  And when is everything else hitting the digital formats down the road?

Once again, I’ve compiled a helpful list.  Unless noted otherwise, all dates are for upcoming DVD/Blu-ray releases.  As new information becomes available, as in the past, this list will be updated.

The 91st Academy Awards, which won’t feature Kevin Hart as host, will air Sunday, February 24.  In the meantime, happy screenings, everyone.

At Eternity’s Gate – March 19

Avengers: Infinity War – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs – Now streaming on Netflix

Black Panther – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

BlacKkKlansman – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Bohemian Rhapsody – February 12

Border – February 26

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Digital: February 5, DVD/Blu-ray: February 19

Capernaum – Now playing in theatres

Christopher Robin – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Cold War – Now playing in theatres

The Favourite – March 5

First Man – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

First Reformed – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Free Solo – March 5

Green Book – March 5

Hale County This Morning, This Evening – To be determined

If Beale Street Could Talk – March 19

Incredibles 2 – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Isle Of Dogs – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Mary Poppins Returns – March 19

Mary Queen Of Scots – February 26

Minding The Gap – Now streaming on Hulu, DVD/Blu-ray: April 29

Mirai – April 9

Never Look Away – Now playing in theatres

Of Fathers And Sons – March 5

A Quiet Place – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Ralph Breaks The Internet – February 26

RBG – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Ready Player One – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Roma – Now streaming on Netflix and playing in theatres

Shoplifters – February 12

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – March 19

A Star Is Born – February 19

Vice – April 2

The Wife – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 25, 2019
4:11 a.m.

UPDATE: Can You Ever Forgive Me? will be available digitally on February 5.  Two weeks later, look for it on DVD & Blu-ray.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me because I’ve been sick this past week, The Wife already hit video this past Tuesday.  (You may have seen a new trailer for it on the TV Guide Channel in Canada.)  Of Fathers And Sons and The Favourite will drop March 5.  And finally, although you can see it right now on Hulu, Minding The Gap can be seen on DVD & Blu-ray beginning April 29.  All these dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 31, 2019
2:28 a.m.

UPDATE 2: Best Animated Feature nominee Mirai will be available on DVD & Blu-ray April 9 while its fellow competitor Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse drops March 19.  The dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 11, 2019
4:08 p.m.

UPDATE 3: I should’ve noted a while ago that Never Look Away, Cold War and Capernaum, all foreign language film nominees, are still playing in theatres.  Meanwhile, If Beale Street Could Talk will hit DVD/Blu-ray March 19 as will Mary Poppins Returns.  Best Picture nominee Vice is out on video April 2.  All of this has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 24, 2019
1:15 a.m.

Published in: on January 25, 2019 at 4:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Standout Moments From 2018 – Part Two (The Bad)

1. The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.  For years, he was a longtime confidant and unapologetic spokesman for the House of Saud.  Then, in 2016, he publicly criticized then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, a fateful decision that so angered Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that Khashoggi was effectively censored.  He never appeared in the Saudi Arabian media ever again.  Relocating to America, he began to turn on MBS, writing critical column after critical column.  While visiting the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey to obtain a marriage license, he was tortured and cut into pieces by goons hired by MBS to take him out.  His remains have never been found.  Although there was some political fallout and boycotting by numerous major companies and celebrities, MBS was never punished for ordering the hit.

2. Anthony Bourdain, the host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, killed himself.

3. Donald Trump’s horrendously cruel child separation policy for refugee families.  Chaotically implemented, it has already traumatized innocent people desperate to escape the dangers of their own countries, dangers directly caused by successive American governments, not to mention the preventable deaths of 2 young children.  White supremacy and capitalism go hand in hand.

4. The California wildfires.  Climate change is the apocalypse.

5. Steel City Video closed after 30 successful years in business.  The Hamilton, Ontario stable supplied me with so many movies over the decades I lost count.  I wonder who bought all their porn.

6. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice despite his dishonest, belligerent testimony and numerous accusations of sexual harassment and assault by women, including Christine Blasey Ford, the only victim allowed to appear during a hearing.  We learned nothing from Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

7. Gina Haspel became the new CIA Director.  Torture cover-ups get you promotions in the Trump Administration.

8. Hulk Hogan was welcomed back to the WWE three years after being exposed as an anti-Black racist.  He hasn’t changed.

9. The Toronto van attack.

10. Prince Harry’s wedding.  Who gives a shit?

11. Kraftwerk were once again not inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  The band’s massive widespread influence led to the phenomenal rise of EDM and Hip Hop, the top two genres in modern popular music.  So, why do they continue to be disrespected?

12. Life Of The Party.  The worst film of the year.  Melissa McCarthy is the new Chris Farley, wasting her career on dumb, insulting slapstick.

13. Raise Vibration by Lenny Kravitz.  We waited four years for this boring garbage?  The love revolution is putting us to sleep.

14. Roman Reigns announced he was once again diagnosed with leukemia, forcing him to forfeit the Universal Championship.  May he once again recover and live to Superman punch another day.

15. Twitter locked my account for a day because I was retweeting too much about the US midterm elections.  To their credit, they did apologize twice and let me back in.

16. Jian Ghomeshi’s self-serving essay.  He’s not a victim.  He’s a rapist.  He deserves his obscurity.

17. The Kurt Angle/Jason Jordan father/son angle.  Despite this nonsense leading to Jordan winning his first championship (the Raw tag titles with Seth Rollins), it did not get him over with the fans.  Then he got hurt.  Who’s pining for his return?

18. Kanye West’s ignorant statement on TMZ Live where he claimed that “slavery was a choice”.  He also briefly vouched for President Trump (which led to an embarrassing, meandering White House visit) and even wore his stupid Make America Great Again hat.  When he stops making hits, he’ll finally go away.

19. Blade Runner 2049 was not nominated for Best Picture.  One of the best sequels ever made.  The motion picture academy does not understand the importance of science fiction.

20. The Dynamite Kid died.  Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Bret Hart, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and a whole bunch of luchadores owe the British legend a huge debt of gratitude for making the small man larger than life in the squared circle.  If only his personal life was as honourable.

21. Doug Ford’s Conservatives won the Ontario election.  This doesn’t end well.

22. Mark Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for defending Palestinians and opposing Apartheid Israel’s illegal ongoing occupation during a speech at the UN.  Former AIPAC spokesman Wolf Blitzer wrote a whole book demonizing Arabs and Rick Santorum doesn’t believe Palestinians actually exist but their jobs are safe.  Racists are always protected by capitalism and white supremacy.

23. The uselessness of Primus Canada customer service.  Putting you on hold for an hour without talking to you.  Not taking responsibility for their slow-ass dial-up service which wasn’t always this slow and unstable connection that cuts in and out.  Pretending to solve the problem when nothing has changed.  A total waste of time.

24. George A. Romero died.  Night Of The Living Dead is still timely and relevant.

25. The Edmonton Oilers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Again.

26. The cancellation of Ontario’s updated sex-ed curriculum and guaranteed basic income experiment by Doug Ford’s Conservative government, the latter of which he promised not to do.  He doesn’t care about the poor, LGBT folks, FN or people of colour.

27. Game Night.  Not scary enough to be a thriller.  Not funny enough to be a comedy.

28. Facebook ended its partnership with Twitter to allow users to send tweets to their profile page.  No wonder my hits are way down.

29. Serena Williams’ embarrassing temper tantrum during the US Open Final.  It took away from a historic victory for new champion Naomi Asaka, the first Asian-American woman to ever win the tournament.

30. Aretha Franklin died.

31. The draconian anti-sex trafficking bills FOSTA and SESTA became law.  Sex workers can no longer depend on the Internet to safely screen clients and police are having a much harder time catching actual sex traffickers.  The incoming House Democrats should repeal them both and decriminalize sex work.

32. All the mass shootings in America.  What’s it going to take to end toxic masculinity?

33. The Humboldt Broncos bus crash.  Preventable and horrifying.

34. Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House & Fear: Trump In The White House.  Too much gossip about a complicated idiot, not enough dissection of destructive policies and lifetime judicial appointments which are far more important.

35. Gitmo is still open.

36. The Canadian postal strike.  May it be resolved early in the new year.

37. Whistleblower Reality Winner was pressured into taking a plea deal rather than take her chances in court which could’ve led to a decades-long sentence.  She’ll serve five years for leaking to The Intercept.  Abolish the Espionage Act.

38. The Catholic Church child abuse cover-ups.  Thousands of victims in multiple parishes, not a lot of accountability or convictions.  Why does Pope Francis continue to delay structural reforms?

39. Jair Bolsonaro, the fascist homophobe and misogynist, once an outlier on the extreme right, was elected President of Brazil.  Oh, and he doesn’t believe in climate change so good-bye Amazon rainforest.

40. Nikolai Volkoff died.  No more stirring renditions of the Soviet National Anthem from the Croatian-born grappler and former world tag team champion.

41. The restoration of the Iran sanctions by President Trump.  They’ve always honoured the nuclear deal.  But the neocons in his administration are itching for war.  Bad news for world peace.

42. The WWE’s despicable association with the House of Saud.  First, there was the Greatest Royal Rumble which took place despite the atrocities in Yemen.  Then came Crown Jewel which went on as scheduled even after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.  The show was hosted by the bigoted Hulk Hogan and featured Shawn Michaels in his first match in eight years.  So much for honouring a retirement storyline.  And so much for caring about human rights.

43. Ryan Seacrest didn’t get fired from his many jobs despite harassing and assaulting his former stylist who was fired for reporting him.  George Takei claimed exoneration after a questionable article written by an author who sang his praises in a book.  Michael Weatherly hasn’t lost his job playing Bull despite being caught on film harassing fired co-star Eliza Dushku and was actually defended by two women who worked with him on NCIS.  There are many other examples too numerous and depressing to mention.  The bottom line is this.  #MeToo hasn’t changed anything.

44. All the other bad films I saw released this year:  Mom And Dad, Unfriended: Dark Web, Day Of The Dead: Bloodline, Upgrade, The Endless, The First Purge, Death Wish, Winchester, Insidious: The Last Key, The Strangers: Prey At Night, Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare, Fifty Shades Freed and Hotel Transylvania 3.

45. All the other awful movies I saw this year: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul; Goon: Last Of The Enforcers; Failure To Launch; CHIPS; The Boss Baby; Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie; Uncle Buck; Hoodwinked; Blades Of Glory; Rough Night; Hide And Seek; Frankenweenie; The Ant Bully; A Return To Salem’s Lot; The Croods; Snatched; The House; Are We Done Yet; Missing In Action; Hitch; The Emoji Movie; A Million Ways To Die In The West; The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature; Shutter; Red; Red 2.

My Little Pony: The Movie (1986 & 2017); Society; Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie; Kick-Ass; Kick-Ass 2; Despicable Me; Despicable Me 2; Despicable Me 3; Minions; Cocktail; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows; The Bye Bye Man; The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Smurfs: The Lost Village; The Chipmunk Adventure; Alvin & The Chipmunks; Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked; Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Amityville: The Awakening; Ducktales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Map; Sausage Party; The Peanuts Movie; A Boy Named Charlie Brown; Snoopy Come Home; Run For Your Life, Charlie Brown; Jigsaw; Kung Fu Panda; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Mr. Peabody & Sherman; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life; The Brothers Grimsby; Keanu; The Interview; Delivery Man; 17 Again; When The Bough Breaks; Father Figures; A Thousand Words; Joe Versus The Volcano; Creepshow; Creepshow 2.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Super-Sized Version); Dead-End Drive-In; Strictly Business; Trailer Park Boys; Trailer Park Boys: Countdown To Liquor Day; Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It; Pete’s Dragon (1977); The Man; Jeepers Creepers 3; #Horror; But I’m A Cheerleader; Razorback; Bad Moon; Crawlspace; Seven Chances; The Garbage Pail Kids Movie; Warlock: The Armageddon; Repossessed; The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water; White Of The Eye; Summer School.

Hide And Go Shriek; Parents; Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy; The Other Side Of The Door; A Woman’s Torment; Frankenhooker; 47 Meters Down; Children Of The Corn; Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice; The Car; Bad Words; Pitch Perfect; Pitch Perfect 2; Pitch Perfect 3; The Final Girls; Satanic; Office Christmas Party, The Star; Four Christmases; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Red Heat; Zombie Strippers!, XXX: Return Of Xander Cage and Martin.

46. Margot Kidder committed suicide.  The definitive Lois Lane, a Bernie Sanders supporter and an all-round delightful character.  Mental illness is a cancer on our society, especially our creative community.

47. The whitewashing of John McCain and George H.W. Bush’s political record because they died.  War criminals don’t deserve penance or reputational protection from their millionaire friends in the media.  They deserve endless scorn and ridicule for all the innocent people they tortured and murdered.

48. The Twitter purge.  Leftists and sex workers need more protection from white supremacy and corporate censorship.

49. Premier Doug Ford used the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Constitution to reduce Toronto City Council from 47 seats to 25.  Pure pettiness with surely more to come.

50. Dolores O’Riordan, Steven Bochco, Steven Hawking and John Mahoney all died.

51. Monday Night Raw & Smackdown Live.  Bad announcing, pitiful storylines, questionable political associations.  The highly hated Enzo Amore aside, they’re still protecting abusers and creeps that can draw.  I can spend these five hours every week doing something less offensive.

52. The ongoing persecution of Julian Assange and the restriction of his rights in the Ecuadorian Embassy.  Yes, he’s a maddening figure for many reasons but even he doesn’t deserve this torture.  Exposing government crimes is crucial for democracy to function.

53. The CIA torture report has still not been released.

54. Elizabeth Warren falsely claiming she’s part Indigenous.  Nope.  What you really are is cannon fodder for Donald Trump if you win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020.  Bernie can still win.

55. All the Facebook scandals.  Fuck Zuck.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 31, 2018
8:04 p.m.

Standout Moments From 2018 – Part One (The Good)

1. Daniel Bryan was reinstated as an active professional wrestler and went on to win back the WWE Championship, a title he never lost four years ago.

2. The Clinton Affair, a stellar three-part A&E docuseries on former President Bill Clinton’s awful history of rape, abuse, harassment and imbalanced sexual relationships.  Monica Lewinsky candidly owns up to all the mistakes she made and comes off far better than the man who foolishly risked his legacy for side pussy.

3. A Quiet Place.  Clever and surprisingly poignant, an inventive take on the alien invasion genre.  The best use of silence since Signs.  For once, we get unsentimental characters with disabilities, flawed and temperamental, not inspirational saints.  The upcoming sequel has a lot to live up to.

4. The Democrats won back control of The House of Representatives.

5. Corporations can no longer through arbitration demand countries change laws interfering with their capitalistic ambitions, one of the few good things about the new USMCA trade agreement.

6. Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen were convicted.  Are Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. next?

7. The easing of tensions between North & South Korea.  May it finally lead to the official end of the overlong Korean War.

8. Recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada.  Now stop arresting people for selling it without a license, legalize their shops, fix your supply issues, lower your prices and pardon/release everyone charged and convicted in the pointless Drug War.

9. CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was quietly released from prison.  He should never have been convicted in the first place.

10. Franz Ferdinand’s Always Ascending.  Still funky, still horny.

11. Croatia’s surprising run in the World Cup.  Despite being throttled by a determined France in the final match, the fact that they even made it this far, their best all-time showing, is inspiration for the next generation.

12. Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.  Skinny Vinnie.  Explanation face.  Angelina hasn’t gotten pounded in a long time.  French fry.  The Situation gets engaged.  Deena gets pregnant.  Sammi the love doll.  The missing wedding ring.  Twerking in Vegas.  Uncle Nino returns.  Ronnie’s psycho baby mama.  Ariana Sky. Vinnie’s sweet mother.  Ass cake.  Fighting, brawling, drinking, reconciling, roasting.  A show so action-packed and amusing, it had to be divided into two parts.  Funnier than most sitcoms.

13. The Great Return March.  Desperate Palestinian refugees in Gaza, determined to be recognized for their humanity and fed up with the illegal blockade, courageously protesting in the midst of fierce homicidal violence by Apartheid Israel.  They are heroes who deserve their freedom and dignity.

14. Albert Schultz was ousted by Soulpepper, the Canadian theatre troupe he co-founded after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple actresses who worked for the company.  He settled numerous lawsuits, as a result.

15. The remarkable rescue of a teenage soccer team stranded and trapped in a water-filled cave in Thailand.  Only one of the rescuers died in a tragic accident.  All the kids and their protective coach were safely retrieved and after a brief hospital stay, are now doing fine.

16. Bill Cosby was convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the only entertainer in the #MeToo era to face any kind of genuine consequences for harming women.

17. Interpol’s Marauder.  Alternative rock isn’t dead yet.

18. CNN’s 1968.  A sprawling, four-part examination of one of the most influential years in American history.  A welcome expansion of the original Sixties episode that felt woefully incomplete.

19. The New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s long history of fraud in New York City.  It would’ve been nice to have done this, what, 20, 30 years ago when it would’ve mattered more.  There won’t be criminal charges because of the statute of limitations but by God, there should be plenty of lawsuits.  Overcharging seniors on fixed incomes is shameful.

20. Ronda Rousey’s electrifying debut at WrestleMania 34, in a mixed-tag match, no less.  Rousey and Kurt Angle defeated Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a very entertaining 30-minute encounter that launched the former UFC Champion onto the short trek to a WWE World Championship.

21. All the other good & great movies I saw this year:  OJ: Made In America, Blade Runner 2049, Room 237, Akira (both English-language versions), Ghost In The Shell, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, Pete’s Dragon (2016), Planet Of The Apes (1968), Night Of The Living Dead (1968), The Transporter, Suburbicon, The Ninth Gate, Before I Fall, Identity, Godzilla (2014), Festival Express, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, The Abyss: Special Edition and Jurassic World.

22. John Kelly, Jim Mattis, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson and Ryan Zinke all exited The Trump Administration, most with tarnished reputations.  None will be missed.

23. Bruce MacArthur was finally arrested.  What took so long?

24. Les Moonves was tossed from CBS after numerous reports of him raping, harassing and retaliating against numerous women in the industry.  He was denied millions in compensation.  He should’ve never been elevated to such a powerful position.  Will he be prosecuted?

25. Virtue, the second CD from Julian Casablancas and The Voidz.  An eclectic mix of funk, punk, rock and soul from the leader of The Strokes.  The best album I heard all year featuring some of the prettiest melodies this decade.

26. Leah Remini – Scientology & The Aftermath.  More disheartening, gutwrenching revelations from former cult members.  When is the end coming for the diabolical Kerry Fraser doppelganger David Miscavige?

27. A suspect in the Golden State Killer case was finally arrested, one of the oldest cold cases in America.  Hopefully, he’s the guy.  We’ll find out soon enough.

28. The Parkland high school student protests against gun violence.  Someone has to challenge the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress.

29. Canada’s Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team.  Going a brilliant 9 and 2 during the preliminary match-ups, this loveable fivesome of middle-aged athletes endeared an entire country with their touching back stories and Bronze medal victory.  They lost the fewest ends and won more ends than any other nation including the Gold-winning Chinese squad.

30. Roxy Music was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  About goddamn time.

31. Harvey Weinstein was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault.  Even if he somehow survives, who would ever want to work with him again?

32. The J20 acquittals.  Protesting and journalism are not crimes.

33. Cesar Sayoc, the wannabe serial killer, was arrested after sending mail bombs to numerous high profile, public critics of President Trump.  Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed because they were intercepted in time.

34. The poorly attended Toronto show of the Bill & Hillary Clinton speaking tour.  Hundred dollar seats were slashed to single digits and that still didn’t attract more people.  Bernie would’ve won.

35. The Israel Lobby, the reportedly damning, undercover docuseries unaired by Al Jazeera, was leaked online and posted in full by The Electronic Intifada who did solid summary reporting on its revelations.  Why can’t we see this on Television?

36. The Canadian Olympic Team won 29 medals, the most ever for The Great White North.  If only we were as dominant in the summer games.

37. John Cena and Daniel Bryan refused to work the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia and weren’t punished for taking a moral stand.  They should’ve boycotted The Greatest Royal Rumble, as well.

38. Lana Del Mar cancelled her gig in Apartheid Israel which greatly boosted the already thriving BDS movement, which makes Radiohead’s decision to go ahead with their performance last year even more unconscionable.

39. Alex Jones was kicked off of Facebook and Twitter after years of spreading misinformation and harming innocent people, like the parents of the slain kids in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, which he absurdly and repeatedly declared “a hoax”.  Facing a slew of lawsuits, following an acrimonious divorce, his paranoid goose is cooked.

40. Kevin Spacey was arrested for molesting a teenager in 2016.  Not sure that weird Let Me Be Frank video was a good idea.

41. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 34.  A hot start, a very good match and a welcome return for the former American Dragon.

42. Eric Schneiderman was exposed as a violent misogynist and resigned as New York’s Attorney General.

43. Julia Salazar was elected to the New York State Senate.  She’s the only Democrat advocating for sex workers.  May she start a long overdue revolution in feminism.

44. Bad Witch by Nine Inch Nails.  Beneath the typically tuneful, noisy aggression, some surprising experimentation.  Who knew Trent Reznor could croon?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 31, 2018
7:42 p.m.

2018 Oscar Wrap-Up

They didn’t fuck it up.

After the embarrassing Best Picture debacle from last year’s Academy Awards ceremony, there were no head smacking repeats for the mostly predictable 90th annual event this year.  Unlike 2017, Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway were given the correct envelope and revealed the correct winner.

Besides taking home Best Picture, The Shape Of Water also won for its production design and its original score.  As expected, Guillermo Del Toro was announced Best Director.  In a year where the academy spread the gold around, The Shape Of Water won the most with four.

Despite not taking any major prizes, Dunkirk won three technical gongs.  It swept the sound categories and won for best editing.  The Pixar flick Coco won two for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.

Also winning two golden naked eunuch statues was Darkest Hour.  Besides taking Best Make-Up & Hairstyling, Gary Oldman was named Best Actor.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also snagged a pair.  Sam Rockwell took home Best Supporting Actor (he dedicated the award to his friend, the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffmann and thanked his hot girlfriend Leslie Bibb for lighting his fire) while an extremely enthusiastic and giddy Frances McDormand, in full-on intersectional feminist mode, won her second Best Actress prize.

Blade Runner 2049 was another double winner.  Longtime cinematographer Roger Deakins ended his ridiculously long slump by finally taking an Oscar on his 14th try.  Look at this small sample of the dozens of films he’s lensed in his 35-year-career:  Sid & Nancy, The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall, twelve Coen Brothers movies including Barton Fink and No Country For Old Men.  The man has been responsible for photographing some of the most beloved films of all time.  Much to my consternation, Blade Runner 2049 also won for Best Visual Effects.  It was my original prediction until I switched to War For The Planet Of The Apes based on what I had read online.  I should’ve stuck to my instincts because I would’ve been right.  (Despite that, I had my best year of predicting ever.  I went 20 for 24.)

Alison Janney on her first nomination won Best Supporting Actress for playing Tonya Harding’s toxic mother in I, Tonya.  She humourously quipped that she did it all on her own before thanking a bunch of people including the members of “Team Janney”.  Get Out’s Jordan Peele made history becoming the first Black man to ever win Best Original Screenplay while legendary director James Ivory, who thanked his late, longtime collaborators producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, was awarded the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for penning the gay love story Call Me By Your Name.  Up until tonight, Ivory was the only one of the Merchant/Ivory trio to not have a golden gong of his own.

Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, starring the glamourous trans actor Daniela Vega was named Best Foreign Language Film while Icarus, which documents Russia’s systemic doping scheme, was named Best Documentary Feature.  Icarus was my initial prediction but in a wide open category that even FiveThirtyEight.com couldn’t predict I thought Last Men In Aleppo might pull an upset.  Again, should’ve gone with my first thought.

In a moment of true awkwardness that went unacknowledged, accused rapist Kobe Bryant won a Best Animated Short Oscar for Dear Basketball which is based on his retirement letter.  With all the stage talk of equality and change and making things better for women, it’s more than obvious that some abusers are still more popular than others.  The status quo is powerful for a reason.

Despite the predictability of the awards themselves, returning host Jimmy Kimmel was in mostly fine form despite the hit and miss opening intro.  There was an inspired bit where he teased winners with the prospect of winning a jet ski and a cheap vacation if they made the shortest speech.  (Phantom Thread’s Best Costume Design winner Mark Bridges, who got all his thank yous in under 40 seconds, came in at the end of the show riding his new prize.)  I was delighted when he said no one would be played off if they went on too long but goddamn it, that turned out to be false advertising, as a few recipients were given the orchestral hint to wrap it up.  Let them speak, for Christ’s sake.

Kimmel got in his obligatory digs at Matt Damon and even made Christopher Plummer a reliable punchline, one of which was cleverly tied in to the very first Oscars ceremony.  I’m not sure he needed to crash that Wrinkle In Time sneak preview with some selected celebrities but I did enjoy those ridiculous hot dog cannons.  More often than not, he was funny.  But presenters like Jodie Foster, Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Haddish were just as good with their comic timing, if not better.

However, it’s enough with the glorification of the military already.  Having overly pausy Indigenous actor Wes Studi (The Last Of The Mohicans) onstage to plug an unnecessary clip package of war movies made it even worse.  Diversifying the presentation of propaganda isn’t progress.  Applauding his Vietnam service was weird and tone-deaf.

Oh, and why wasn’t John Mahoney included in the In Memoriam segment?

The complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE – THE SHAPE OF WATER

BEST DIRECTOR – Guillermo Del Toro (THE SHAPE OF WATER)

BEST ACTRESS – Frances McDormand (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI)

BEST ACTOR – Gary Oldman (DARKEST HOUR)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Allison Janney (I, TONYA)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sam Rockwell (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – COCO

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – A FANTASTIC WOMAN

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – ICARUS

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Jordan Peele (GET OUT)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – James Ivory (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Remember Me (COCO)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – THE SHAPE OF WATER

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE SHAPE OF WATER

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – PHANTOM THREAD

BEST FILM EDITING – DUNKIRK

BEST SOUND EDITING – DUNKIRK

BEST SOUND MIXING – DUNKIRK

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – DARKEST HOUR

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – BLADE RUNNER 2049

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – BLADE RUNNER 2049

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – DEAR BASKETBALL

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – THE SILENT CHILD

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 5, 2018
1:58 a.m.

Published in: on March 5, 2018 at 1:58 am  Leave a Comment