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.

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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  

90th Academy Award Predictions

BEST PICTURE – THE SHAPE OF WATER

Nine films are gunning for Oscar’s top prize in the most wide open race in more than ten years.

Let’s save time by eliminating the long shots.  Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread, Darkest Hour and Lady Bird are just happy to be included here and have next to no chance of winning.

Maybe if it had more acclaim and more nominations, The Post would be talked about as a serious frontrunner.  There’s a very, very small possibility of it pulling off an upset as a way for the academy to rally behind the media in this bizarre Trump era but I highly doubt it.  It’s just not as well regarded as All The President’s Men.

Since the nominations were announced in late January, only four nominated films have been considered strong contenders.  At first, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was seen as the likely winner.  But it’s been plagued by controversy about its content, a bad sign.

Dunkirk was a big hit during the summer both with critics and audiences and while there’s been complaints about its storytelling as well, it has already faded as a possible trophy snatcher.

In my view, Best Picture this year is really between the two remaining nominees, a horror film about liberal racism and an unlikely love story by a director who specializes in horror films.  It’s been over a year since Jordan Peele’s Get Out stunned most everybody who saw it but with a still mostly white, predominantly older motion picture academy voting on the winners, I just don’t agree with those who think it can win.

Yes, Moonlight won this category last year over the favourite La La Land despite that embarrassing bungle by Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway but would the academy vote for a Black-themed movie two years in a row?

I’m skeptical it has the numbers on its side (there are reports that a number of academy members refused to even screen it because it’s not a “traditional Oscar movie”) which is why I’m going with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water.  Even though it faces a plagiarism lawsuit, almost everyone who’s had a chance to look at it loves it.  As the much missed Roger Ebert noted back in the day, academy members vote with their hearts when picking Best Picture.  Based on what critics have said, The Shape Of Water is that kind of movie.

Oh, and by the way, Beatty & Dunaway will announce the winner.  God help us all.

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

Ebert pointed out again and again over the years, if you win the Directors Guild Of America award, nine times out of ten you go on to win the Oscar.  Guillermo Del Toro won the DGA this year for helming The Shape Of Water.  He will snag the golden naked man, as well.

BEST ACTOR – Gary Oldman (DARKEST HOUR)

For much of his career, Gary Oldman has been a chameleon.  He’s played a self-destructive punk rocker (Sid & Nancy), Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK), a lovesick vampire (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and Commissioner Gordon (The Dark Knight Trilogy).  Despite allegations of abuse and racist comments, he has remarkably avoided being another #MeToo casualty.

In Darkest Hour, he disappears again as Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who went from being an admirer of Adolf Hitler to a bitter foe in World War II.  It’s the kind of part anyone would kill for because it’s the kind of part that assures Oscar glory.

Oldman’s fellow nominees for Best Actor are a mix of first-time contenders and multiple past winners.  Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) already has two gongs.  The supposedly retiring Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread) has three.  They don’t need any more.  While there’s always the possibility of a genuine upset (Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya is more likely to be a shock winner than Call Me By Your Name’s Timothee Chalamet), it’s highly doubtful this year.

Barring some unforeseen circumstances, it’s Oldman’s Oscar all the way.

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

All but one of the nominated actresses in this category are either multiple past nominees or winners.  Right off the bat, three-time winner Meryl Streep is not going to be called up to the stage for her portrayal of Katherine Graham in The Post.  Neither is three-time nominee Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird).  Yes, this 23-year-old Irish lass already has three Oscar nods to her name.

After breaking through in The Wolf Of Wall Street four years ago (she was the dame with all the dough taped on her naked body), Australian Margot Robbie received her first official recognition from the academy for playing the villainous American figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.  It seems unlikely she’ll win.

That leaves Sally Hawkins (The Shape Of Water) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).  Although the British Hawkins has been nominated before for her supporting work in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and is playing a mute character not unlike Oscar winner Holly Hunter did in The Piano, she’s competing against a perennial academy favourite.

It’s been more than 20 years since McDormand first won Best Actress for playing the smart, pregnant cop in the otherwise overrated Fargo.  Overall, she has five nominations in her long career.  Now 60, much of the praise heaped on Three Billboards has been because of her well regarded performance.  I will be very surprised if her name isn’t called out on Sunday.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Alison Janney (I, TONYA)

Here’s something that doesn’t happen very often.  All the performers in this category are middle-aged.  And all but one are first-time nominees.

58-year-old Alison Janney is best known for playing President Martin Sheen’s press secretary on The West Wing (which resulted in multiple Emmy wins) and a MILF on Mom.  62-year-old Laurie Metcalf came out of the Steppenwolf theatre group in Chicago to become Roseanne’s TV sister and Sheldon Cooper’s evangelical mother.  She also tried to seduce John Candy in Uncle Buck and tormented Bruce Willis onstage as Annie Wilkes in Misery.

61-year-old Lesley Manville (Gary Oldman’s first wife) has appeared in numerous Mike Leigh films and co-starred with Angelina Jolie in Maleficent.  Although primarily known for her music, 47-year-old Mary J. Blige has been acting as far back as 1995.  She played Malcolm X’s widow Betty Shabazz in the TV-movie Betty & Coretta.

45-year-old Octavia Spencer previously won for her popular performance in The Help.  A three-time nominee (she’s the only Black woman in Oscar history to receive two consecutive nominations), she’s been acting in movies since her debut in A Time To Kill.

So, who has the edge?  Not Spencer who already had her push in 2012 and is doing just dandy on her own now.  Blige is a longshot.  Metcalf has had a great three-pronged career in film, TV and theatre and really doesn’t need a golden gong.  It would be really interesting if Manville won on the same night as her ex-husband but that’s highly doubtful.

That leaves the well-liked Janney who critics singled out as a scene stealer in I, Tonya.  She’ll snag it on Sunday.

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

There’s only one first-time nominee in a sea of perennial never-wons and one past recipient in the race for Best Supporting Actor.

I can’t remember a time when Willem Dafoe wasn’t acting in a movie.  Previously nominated for Platoon and Shadow Of The Vampire, the third time won’t be the charm for him this year.  Like his Shape Of Water co-star Octavia Spencer, two-time nominee Richard Jenkins won’t have to worry about preparing a speech.  He’s not going to be called to the stage.

Neither is Christopher Plummer, the last-minute replacement for the disgraced Kevin Spacey in All The Money In The World, who is the only previous winner here.

Woody Harrelson, another three-time nominee, will have to watch from his seat as his Three Billboards co-star Sam Rockwell makes his way to the front of the house to deliver his acceptance speech.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Jordan Peele (GET OUT)

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

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – A FANTASTIC WOMAN

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – LAST MEN IN ALEPPO

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – COCO

BEST FILM EDITING – DUNKIRK

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – PHANTOM THREAD

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – BLADE RUNNER 2049

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Remember Me (COCO)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – THE SHAPE OF WATER

BEST SOUND EDITING – DUNKIRK

BEST SOUND MIXING – DUNKIRK

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE SHAPE OF WATER

BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING – DARKEST HOUR

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – DeKALB ELEMENTARY

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – DEAR BASKETBALL

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – HEROIN(E)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 3, 2018
3:40 p.m.

Published in: on March 3, 2018 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

How You Can See All The Movies Nominated For The 90th Academy Awards

Tough break, James Franco.  Better luck next time, Gal Gadot.  Sorry, Bob Odenkirk.

The 90th annual Academy Award nominations are out and as usual, there were some notable surprises. (Logan for Best Adapted Screenplay?  I did not see that coming.)

While The Disaster Artist snagged a Best Adapted Screenplay nod, Franco, its star, did not get invited to join the exclusive Best Actor club.  Did the recent allegations of sexual harassment play a crucial role in the snub?  We’ll never know for sure.

Speaking of which, Kevin Spacey is probably royally pissed right now.  Why?  Because Christopher Plummer, the man who replaced him as billionaire J. Paul Getty in All The Money In The World, received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  Would Spacey have achieved the same result if all his bad behaviour (allegedly) had remained the subject of old, forgotten Gawker articles?  Again, we’ll never know.

It also wasn’t a good morning for Zionists.  Steven Spielberg, a two-time Oscar winner for Best Director, wasn’t recognized for helming The Post.  And Gadot, the star of Wonder Woman, was shut out for Best Actress.  In fact, the entire movie was completely ignored for consideration in all eligible categories.

Speaking of The Post, I was personally surprised that Odenkirk didn’t get singled out for Best Supporting Actor.  I’m sure others thought Tom Hanks would secure a nod for Best Actor.  In the end, Meryl Streep is the only star from the film to get recognized for her performance as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.  She’s up for yet another Best Actress gong.

In the meantime, there’s a more pressing concern to discuss.  How can one see all the nominated features?  Easy.  Below is the complete list of titles.  Next to each one is either the date for its upcoming home video or theatrical release or whether you can see it on DVD, Blu-ray or at a theatre near you right now.  (Some films are in release limbo so their home video debuts are “to be determined”.)  As always, updates will be added when new information becomes available.  Until then, happy screenings.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

All The Money In The World – Now playing in theatres, on DVD & Blu-ray June 30 April 10

Baby Driver – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Beauty And The Beast – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Big Sick – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Blade Runner 2049 – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Boss Baby – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Breadwinner – March 6

Call Me By Your Name – March 13

Coco – February 27

Darkest Hour – February 27

The Disaster Artist – March 13

Dunkirk – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Faces Places – March 6

A Fantastic Woman – May 22

Ferdinand – March 13

The Florida Project – February 20

Get Out – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Greatest Showman – March 6

Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

I, Tonya – March 13

Icarus – Now playing on Netflix

The Insult – May 1

Kong: Skull Island – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Lady Bird – March 6

Last Men in Aleppo – March 27

Logan – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Loveless – June 12

Loving Vincent – February 20 Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Marshall – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Molly’s Game – March 1

Mudbound – Now playing in theatres

On Body and Soul – Opens in theatres February 21

Phantom Thread – April 10

The Post – April 17

Roman J. Israel, Esq. – February 13

The Shape Of Water – March 13

The Square – January 30

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – March 27

Strong Island – Now playing on Netflix

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – February 27

Victoria & Abdul – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

War For The Planet Of The Apes – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Wonder – February 13

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
8:13 p.m.

UPDATE:  Best Actor contender Gary Oldman’s critically acclaimed turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour can be seen on DVD & Blu-ray starting February 27.  On March 6, look for the home video debut of Best Animated Feature nominee The Breadwinner.  Another film from that category, Ferdinand, will be out March 13 as will Best Picture nominee Call Me By Your Name and I, Tonya which features Best Actress competitor Margot Robbie.  Meanwhile, All The Money In The World will hit home video on June 30.  All these dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
10:01 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  You don’t have to wait until February 20 to see Loving Vincent on home video after all.  After a trip to my public library today, there it was on the express rack on DVD.  Speaking of February 20, that’s when The Florida Project will be out on DVD & Blu-ray.  Also, look for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on February 27, The Disaster Artist and The Shape Of Water on March 13, Best Documentary Feature nominee Last Men In Aleppo on March 27 and Phantom Thread, supposedly the last film of Daniel Day-Lewis, on April 10.  All the dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
9:53 p.m.

UPDATE 3: Best Animated Feature favourite Coco comes out on home video February 27 while The Greatest Showman and Best Picture nominee Lady Bird both drop March 6. The dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 9, 2018
3:52 a.m.

UPDATE 4: Strong Island and Icarus can be streamed on Netflix.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
2:48 a.m.

UPDATE 5: Best Picture nominee The Post drops April 17 while Best Foreign Language Film nominee The Insult arrives May 1.  The dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 10, 2018
3:22 a.m.

UPDATE 6: All The Money In The World has been bumped up to April 10.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
10:10 p.m.

UPDATE 7:  Available today on digital platforms, Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits DVD & Blu-ray on March 27. The new date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
3:34 p.m.

UPDATE 8: Best Foreign Language Feature winner A Fantastic Woman will be released on home video May 22. The new date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 15, 2018
4:59 p.m.

UPDATE 9: Loveless finally hits home video on June 12. The new date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
3:27 a.m.

Published in: on January 23, 2018 at 8:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Sucked In 2017

1. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan died.

2. President Trump’s racist travel ban on Muslims.  The first version caused needless chaos at America’s airports at the start of the year until it was stayed by numerous lower courts.  The second version was also rejected.  And while the third is also facing legal resistance, the Supreme Court has decided to keep parts of it active for the time being.  So many innocent people have suffered needless aggravation and turmoil because of a paranoid moron.

3. Fist Fight.  The worst film of the year.  Doesn’t Ice Cube get tired of playing the Angry Black Guy who scares white people?  Zero laughs.

4. Jinder Mahal became WWE Champion.  Why?

5. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington committed suicide.  Depression is a bitch.

6. The Best Picture cock-up at the Academy Awards.  Warren Beatty grabbed the wrong envelope (Best Actress) and instead of going off-stage to grab the right one, he stalled and handed it off to an oblivious Faye Dunaway who announced the winner as La La Land even though Emma Stone’s name was also visible on the card.  La La Land’s producers were almost through with their acceptance speeches when the mistake was finally corrected live on-air.  Because of incredible incompetence, a special moment was ruined for the real winner, Moonlight, which had otherwise pulled off a rare Oscar upset.

7. HMV went bankrupt.  I bought so many CDs there over the years.  They had such good deals, too.  What a loss for music retail.

8. The Killers’ Wonderful, Wonderful.  False advertising.

9. John Cusack accidentally blocked me on Twitter.  Someone please tell him to remedy this injustice immediately!

10. The persecution of Reality Winner.  She doesn’t deserve prison for leaking to journalists and she shouldn’t be in custody.  She’s no threat to anyone.

11. Jonathan Demme died.

12. OJ Simpson got paroled.  Does anybody believe he’s been fully rehabilitated?

13. Tortured whistleblower Matt DeHart got 18 months cruelly added to his already questionable sentence.  The lack of mass public outrage for his infuriating case is astounding.

14. Bill Cosby wasn’t convicted for assaulting Andrea Constand, thanks to two jurors in denial.  Thankfully, he faces a re-trial next June.

15. Ex-drug warriors in Canada jumping on the upcoming marijuana legalization bandwagon.  I’m so old I remember when Julian Fantino claimed with a straight face that legalizing pot was the same as legalizing murder.  Now he’s about to cash in along with other former cops & politicos while longtime activists and people of colour continue to be persecuted for no good reason.  Disgusting.

16. The ongoing genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  Aun Sung Sui Kyi is no hero.  On her watch, innocent people are being brutally beaten, raped, tortured and murdered.  History will not be kind.

17. The murder of protester Heather Heyer during the Charlottesville protests.  White supremacy remains the most dangerous force in America.

18. Depeche Mode’s Spirit.  It doesn’t have any.  Easily, their worst album.

19. Julia-Louis Dreyfus was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Hope they caught it in time.

20. The Las Vegas shooting massacre where hundreds of country music fans were gunned down by a rich, disgruntled psychopath during an outdoor Jason Aldean show.  (His motive remains unknown.)  The Manchester shooting massacre where dozens of young Ariana Grande fans were murdered near the end of her UK show.  And the shooting massacre in a small American church where half of the small congregation were wiped out.  Toxic masculinity is terrorism.

21. Andre De Grasse hurt his hamstring which prevented him from running one last race against retiring track legend Usain Bolt during the World Championships.  The timing was awful.  In his last amateur competition, Bolt finished 3rd in the 100 metres.  De Grasse would’ve won.

22. The overexposure of Corey Graves on colour commentary on WWE television.  He’s supposed to be a heel yet he rags on Elias & a now-villainous Enzo Amore.  He’s not funny.  He gets into pointless arguments with his fellow announcers.  And he’s just plain annoying.  Matt Striker, all is forgiven.

23. Fifty Shades Darker.  Abusive relationships aren’t sexy.  And there’s still one more of these dangerous films to come.  Make it stop.

24. The endless smearing of Hillary Clinton’s growing list of critics.  It isn’t feminist to defend a war criminal.

25. The California wildfires.  Fort MacMurray 2016, only much worse.

26. Gord Downie died.

27. Jake Tapper attacked Linda Sarsour and the Women’s March movement on Twitter for honouring wrongly convicted revolutionary Assata Shakur, who escaped prison decades ago, on her birthday.  The nasally CNN blowhard trusts the FBI more than intelligent people.  Would you expect anything less from a Zionist?

28. Speaking of which, Apartheid Israel still illegally occupies Palestine with major financial support from several Western governments including my own.  Plus, Donald Trump announced America’s long established policy to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the latter of which he falsely declared the capital of the white supremacist state.  How long before a third intifada?

29. The political and criminal persecution of hundreds of #J20 protesters and journalists who covered the Inauguration Day march.  Even though it hasn’t led to serious, longterm prison sentences, the disquieting way it has been allowed to carry on for almost a year is an outrage.  Corporate media doesn’t care about human rights or independent journalists.

30. MSNBC broadcaster Joy Reid had to address old resurfaced blog entries that revealed she made homophobic remarks about Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist.  I’m still waiting for her apology to Chelsea Manning.

31. Spain’s ruthless crackdown on Catalonia separatists.  Is it any wonder they want no part of your country?

32. Gitmo is still open with 41 prisoners remaining in legal limbo, most of whom are innocent.

33. The Phoenix pay system which has caused chaos for Canada’s public servants has still not been fixed two years after it was implemented.  Proposed by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, it’s now become a Liberal problem for Justin Trudeau.  What exactly was wrong with the previous system?

34. The re-embracing of Bush-era neocon war criminals by both CNN and #TheResistance.  Any movement that believes Bill Kristol, Michael Hayden, David Frum and James Clapper are trustworthy progressive allies after all the damage they’ve done to innocent people is a movement that deserves endless ridicule and collective scorn.

35. Erica Garner, the daughter of wrongfully murdered Eric Garner, died.  The struggle for justice must go on.

36. The cop who killed Philando Castle won’t serve a day in prison.  At least he lost his job.

37. The ongoing harassment of journalist Barrett Brown by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons.  It’s never a good idea to pick a fight with a truthteller who knows your darkest secrets.

38. The backlash to Kathy Griffin regarding her provocative photo of her holding a bloody fake head of Donald Trump.  They acted like it was his real head.  As a result, she lost an endorsement deal, can’t get booked in an American venue to do stand-up and was fired from CNN.  She won’t be co-hosting their New Year’s Eve show this year.  At least Europe still loves her.

39. Gothamist and DNAInfo were shut down because their billionaire owner opposes journalists forming unions.  Regardless of your view of unions (there’s plenty to criticize), retaliation is never acceptable.

40. Underworld: Blood Wars and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.  Two terrible endings to two terrible horror franchises.  Both Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich, two talented actors, deserve so much better than to be stuck for over a decade in all this empty junk.

41. Monster Trucks.  It was completed years ago before being dumped without much applause in January.  Not even the wonderful Jane Levy could save this charmless shite.

42. Life, The Belko Experiment, XX and Rings.  What was that about a horror revival?  I’m not seeing it.

43. All the other terrible movies I saw this year:  Vampire’s Kiss, Head, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Over The Top, The Boss, Ghostbusters (2016), Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beverly Hills Cop III, The Purge: Election Year, Masterminds, Central Intelligence, Dirty Grandpa, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, Why Him?, Tusk, Yoga Hosers, McLintock!, High Spirits, Angry Birds, Hudson Hawk, Big Top Pee Wee, The Chaperone, Nine Lives, Ice Age: Collision Course, Superman III, Brewster’s Millions (1985), Cabin Fever, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, The Marine, Airborne, Casino Royale (1967), Beat The Devil, The Perils Of Pauline, Step Up Revolution, Wet Hot American Summer, Night Of The Comet, 31, My Boyfriend’s Back, Pure Luck, Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2, CB4, Elephant Boy, Phantasm Ravager, Grizzly, Neon Maniacs, Feast, Dead Alive, Tales From The Hood, Cathy’s Curse (both versions), The Freshman (1925), College (1927), Our Hospitality, Steamboat Bill Jr., Booty Call, Peter Pan (1953), Tremors, Losin’ It, The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane, Jaws 3, Jaws The Revenge, Silent Night, Joe Dirt, Black Dog, The Remaining, Home, Vacation, Batman (1966), Storks, Jetsons: The Movie, The Secret Life Of Pets, Orca, Daddy Day Care, The ‘Burbs, Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book – Mowgli & Baloo, The General, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Blair Witch.

43. Sean Astin blocked me on Twitter.  Rudy, no!

44. All the botched reporting on the Trump/Russia investigation.  Woodward & Bernstein weren’t this sloppy covering Watergate.

45. I had a falling out with Eden Alexander because I criticized Hillary Clinton.  Twitter friendships are way too fragile.

46. Donald Trump’s dumb threats to North Korea.  He’s not the first US President to unwittingly convince that country to stock up on nukes.  Furthermore, the UN’s cruel sanctions won’t end the ebbing and flowing of stupid tension but it will needlessly hurt an innocent Korean population which is already happening.  A better idea would be to finally end the Korean War once and for all.

47. The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs after a tremendous season where they earned more than 100 points.  Bad refereeing, botched replay calls but also a lack of scoring when they needed it killed their first post-season in over a decade.  Next year’s prospects look bleaker.

48. Tom Petty died.

49. The endless jokes about Trump’s covfefe tweet.  He meant to write “coverage”, assholes.  Time to stop beating this dead horse.

50. All the hurricanes that hit the United States and Puerto Rico which still hasn’t fully recovered thanks to a negligent Trump Administration.

51. The ongoing drug war in the Philippines.  Duerte is a monster who needs to be held accountable.

52. Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing campaign on Yemen which has led to a serious humanitarian crisis.  Why are Western governments still financially supporting this murderous, anti-democratic regime?  They have all blood on their hands.

53. Trump’s botched Yemen raids.  Civilian murders are rising and no one is raising hell about it.

54. The crackdown on Standing Rock protesters and journalists.  The way we continue to abuse Indigenous folks is an embarrassment and an outrage.  We’re a long way from reconciliation.

55. Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Frequently hostile to the press, shamelessly covering for a serial liar and completely discredited.

56. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died without facing justice for murdering Nancy Argentino.

57. Crying Ashley was acing her final drive on Canada’s Worst Driver without weeping a single tear until she nearly ran into two pedestrians.  Were it not for host Andrew Younghusband pointing them out, she wouldn’t have hit the brake in time.  After admirably overcoming her fears while driving, because of this unfortunate miscue, she wasn’t able to graduate.  So close.

58. The horrific Grenfell tower fire in the UK.  The most tragic thing about it, besides the needless loss of life and displaced citizens, is the fact that it was completely preventable.

59. CBC’s Power & Politics invited Gavin MacInnes on as a guest.  Never put a Nazi on TV unless you can destroy them completely.

60. Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme kicked a photographer’s camera so hard it hit her right in the face during an annual KROQ concert.  He then cut his face until it was bloody and then mocked the mighty Muse, one of the other bands on the bill.  Two insincere apologies followed.  What is wrong with him?

61. All those horror stories from passengers of various American Airlines including that poor man, a doctor named David Dao, who was dragged off a United flight because he refused to give up his seat to an employee.  According to Wikipedia, he suffered “significant injuries as a result: a concussion, broken teeth, a broken nose, and other injuries”.  After initially victim-blaming him, the airline eventually apologized and settled a subsequent lawsuit.  We hate to fly and it shows.

62. All the men and women who suffered numerous indignities because of the powerful men who harassed and abused them in various professional fields.  So much talent forced out because of toxic masculinity.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
7:55 p.m.

What Rocked In 2017

1. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was released from military prison after having her draconian 35-year sentence commuted by outgoing President Obama.  She should have never been convicted in the first place.

2. President Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.  The only good thing he’s done for the working class.

3. Roy Moore did not become a Senator.  Unlike most observers, I wasn’t surprised at allHe doesn’t believe women should work, vote or become politicians.  He hates Muslims.  He doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state.  He waxed nostalgic for the slave era.  As the Washington Post reported, he enjoyed stalking, harassing and assaulting teenage girls in his 30s.  And he’s a sore loser.  As of this writing, he still hasn’t conceded to incoming Senator Doug Jones.  In fact, despite the vote being officially certified, he has falsely asserted the accurate results were fraudulent because of, wait for it, Black people.

4. JBL finally left the commentary table on Smackdown Live after being a dick to Mauro Ranallo who ended up being moved to NXT.  His weekly obnoxiousness won’t be missed.  Added bonus: JBL blocked me on Twitter along with a whole lot of other folks.  Why?  Because we all tweeted positive things about Ranallo.  What a snowflake.

5. Anthony Scaramucci’s impromptu phone interview with Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.  It cost him a communications job within the Trump Administration (he was fired before his first official day) but it was absolute gold.  Can Trump please re-hire him just for the material?

6. Martin Shkreli is in prison.  Too bad being a greedy asshole doesn’t result in a life sentence.

7. Queens Of The Stone Age’s Villains.  Still heavy and melodic but a lot funkier than usual.  Josh Homme emotes like no other.

8. Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News, but only after The New York Times revealed numerous multi-million dollar settlements he secretly made with women who accused him of sexual harassment and, in one case, verbal abuse, and ongoing pressure from a sort-of advertiser boycott (the ads were simply relocated to other Fox shows).  The once powerful bark has been reduced to an insignificant yelp.

9. The Festival Of Friendship on Monday Night Raw.  What does Chris Jericho get for humourously and touchingly work shooting his love and respect for “best friend” Kevin Owens?  A brutal beating and the loss of his US Championship at WrestleMania 33.  The high point of a very entertaining story.

10. Alien: Covenant.  Ridley Scott is incapable of making a bad Alien film.  Far scarier and gorier than its underappreciated predecessor, Prometheus.  Michael Fassbender impresses again, this time in two distinctive roles.  He should get nominated for an Oscar but won’t.

11. Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP.  In a year filled with so much bad news and haunting dread, leave it to Chris Martin and company to overwhelm you with their much needed inspirational beauty.  Your move, U2.

12. The new 280-character limit on Twitter.  How maddening it had been trying to précis your thoughts to one or several users with 140 and include a link so they would all fit in a single tweet.  I hate restrictions.  Now how about adding an Edit button?

13. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All push which attracted widespread support from Americans and even some prominent Democrats.  What was once considered impossible is now quite doable.  He would’ve won.

14. Raging racist Marine Le Pen did not become the President of France.  But she connected with more voters than her equally racist father.  The future might be more ominous.

15. “Who wants to walk with Elias?”  I pop every time.

16. The summer eclipse.  In some parts of Canada and the US, it was total.  In others, you could still see part of the sun.  The coolest part for my family was seeing it through a miniature light show in our downstairs bathroom.  Imagine seeing tiny circles shaped by growing then departing shadows off and on for hours.  Pretty nifty.

17. Project Veritas tried to fool The Washington Post into believing that one of their dopey undercover operatives had been impregnated by a young Roy Moore.  Not only were they not fooled, they exposed the inept scam in two viral articles.  The value of skeptical journalism writ large.

18. Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.  This overrated fascist supported heartless stings on vulnerable Muslims, secretly infilitrating Black Lives Matter and defended agents impersonating journalists.  Good riddance.

19. The two-part A&E Elizabeth Smart documentary.  A remarkable young woman and her loving family recall her nine months of torture as a teen in the captivity of a hypocritical rapist.  Despite all the horror, vividly retold in unflinching detail, the shocking story has a happy ending.  She’s blissfully married with two kids, wrote a best-selling, acclaimed book about her ordeal and advocates for victims while her attacker is in prison for life.  Justice.

20. Big Wreck’s Grace Street.  Their third rocking album since their welcome reunion.  Now middle-aged, Ian Thornley, the Canadian Chris Cornell, is still angst-ridden and heartbroken.  I wouldn’t want him any other way.

21. Jeremy Corbyn’s strong showing in the UK election.  He singlehandedly exposed the media and the Tories for what they really are:  substantially weakened, morally bankrupt neoliberals.  Theresa May’s poor judgment as Prime Minister (she thought it was a good idea to call this election well before she had to) has sealed her fate.  Her forthcoming resignation is an inevitability.  The future is Labour.

22. Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33.  The opening match which had one of the weakest builds of the year still somehow ended up being the best encounter of the entire show, one of the better events in recent years.  Shane O’Mac has redeemed himself after putting over The Undertaker in that lousy Hell In A Cell match.

23. Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath.  David Miscavige’s worst nightmare.  Season one won a much deserved Emmy.  Season two should nab one, as well.  (What a gut wrenching series of shows it showcased.)  It’s not a benign church, it’s a ruthless, capitalistic cult that ruins lives.

24. The President Show.  Forget Alec Baldwin.  Anthony Atamaniuk’s pitch perfect Trump impersonation is far superior and darker.  The media-hungry leader of America gets the comic drubbing he deserves in the form of a fake talk show co-hosted with his own ass-kissy sidekick, Vice President Mike Pence (wonderfully shameless and secretly conniving Peter Grosz holding his own).  So, when’s fake Bernie Sanders getting his own show?

25. Foo Fighters’ Concrete & Gold.  A welcome return to rollicking form after the disappointing Sonic Highways experiment.

26. The downfalls of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Mark Schwahn, Jeremy Piven, Dustin Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mario Batali, Israel Horowitz, James Toback, Louis CK, Mark Halperin, Danny Masterson, Al Franken and many, many others thanks to numerous reported accusations of sexual harassment and assault by hundreds of women and dozens of men.  A long overdue reckoning.  This is only the beginning.

27. Bowe Bergdahl was released from military prison.

28. Split.  Proof that The Visit was not a fluke.  M. Night Shyamalan has indeed revitalized his creativity by focusing more on his own complex characters than getting lost in big budget special effects.  James McAvoy delivers a memorable performance as a deeply troubled man with two dozen distinctive personalities.  And Bjork doppelganger Anya Taylor-Joy is also good as one of his troubled, kidnapped victims.  Along with her very fine appearance in The Witch, she’s a star in the making.

29. All the other wonderful movies I screened this year:  The Skeleton Key, Dirty Wars, Citizenfour, Life Itself, Heavy Metal, Gimme Shelter, Jimi At Monterey, A Christmas Carol (2009), The Shining, The Adventures Of Milo & Otis, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, A View To A Kill, Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist, Purple Rain, Class Of 1984, Firestarter, Neil Young: Heart Of Gold, Neil Young Journeys, Rust Never Sleeps, Ladies & Gentlemen The Rolling Stones, Katy Perry: Part Of Me, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Jungle Book (1967), The Witch, The Last Waltz, The Stranger (1946), Hitchcock, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Whirlpool, Interstellar, Rocky Balboa, Twilight Zone – The Movie, All Things Must Pass, Nosferatu The Vampyre, Metallica: Through The Never, Streets Of Fire and Eddie & The Cruisers.

30. The Arcade Fire’s Everything Now.  More moving, well-crafted brilliance from Canada’s best band.  My favourite album of the year.

31. A&E’s superb Drew Peterson docuseries.  Despite being a foolish philanderer, it seems highly improbable that he murdered his pregnant wife.  What a miscarriage of justice.  He must be freed.

32. #MeToo.

33. Don Meredith, a married anti-sex preacher, resigned from the Canadian Senate two years after being exposed by The Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail as both a serial sexual harasser and a predator of a young teenage girl.  Stephen Harper sure knows how to pick ’em, doesn’t he?

34. Once wrongly incarcerated at Gitmo for over a decade until his release last year, Mohamedou Slahi’s best-selling but heavily redacted Guantanamo Diary was finally released without the redactions.  I would like to read it.

35. Robyn Doolittle’s Unfounded series in The Globe & Mail.  Sexual assault has not been taken seriously by Canada’s police departments for far too long.  And now, thanks to Doolittle’s dogged reporting, a number of them, including the RCMP, are re-examining their decision to drop so many investigations based on flimsy, sexist assumptions.  We’ll see if victims will finally see justice now.

36. Nine Inch Nails’ Add Violence EP.  Tortured emotions you can dance to.

37. The fall of Milo, the billionaire-financed racist transphobic dickwad who was one of the architects of the long discredited and dangerous GamerGate.  He got turfed from Twitter, lost his book deal (it was released independently and instantly bombed) and got fired from Breitbart (the far right website that launched him) because he condones predatory behaviour of underage boys.  He also couldn’t properly organize a “free speech” event featuring similar right-wing dopes, doesn’t write his own garbage (he has a team of ghostwriters, the lazy cunt), does karaoke with Nazis and his book editor’s harsh comments about his trashed book publicly surfaced.  The sooner he goes away forever, the better.

38. Toronto FC won their first MLS Championship.  The franchise isn’t even a decade old.

39. Impractical Jokers.  The Moronic Beatles of hardcore hidden camera improv.  Even the reruns are funny.  Larry!

40. Braun Strowman, especially when he was beating down Roman Reigns on Raw.  A monster heel with extreme agility who’s on the verge of being world champion some day soon.

41. Ariana Grande’s kindness towards the surviving victims who attended her Manchester show and were shot by a mass shooter.  And that tender moment where she stepped in for a young girl who was overcome with emotion while singing with a choir during a benefit concert following the tragedy.  Compassion is good.  We need a lot more of it.

42. The women of the Canadian Home Shopping Channel.  They should rename it The Milf Channel.  Oh my!

43. Colin Kaepernick’s quiet protest against police brutality.  He might no longer be a quarterback in the NFL but his kneeling during the national anthem has become a powerful statement against white supremacy.  We haven’t heard the last from him.

44. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 33.  They accomplished more in five minutes than the entirety of their hesitant, meaningless encounter at Wrestlemania 20.

45. Michael Flynn, Omarosa, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Tom Price all left The Trump Administration, some in absolute disgrace.  Expect more exits and embarrassing revelations in 2018.

46. Omar Khadr finally got compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for his wrongful incarceration at Gitmo and the horrific abuse he suffered for a decade.  May he live the rest of his life in peace.

47. Christy Clark is no longer the Premier of British Columbia.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 31, 2017
7:20 p.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment