Sunday, March 4, 2018

Congratulations, Roger!

14 nominations and 23 years later, you finally earned your gold! Who could ever forget the final traitorous moments of Jesse James’ life, the foreboding snowy mood of Brainerd, when Those We Don’t Speak if surrounded a small village, or when freedom was finally won from Shawshank? These are just a few of the iconic images to grace our screens and burn themselves into our memory, finally earning his due through the intoxicating world of Blade Runner. Congratulations, Deaks, and thanks for all the memories.

Now let’s give Thomas Newman and Greg Russell one.

Friday, March 2, 2018

My official predictions for the 90th annual Academy Awards.

"I'm so glad we've had this time together," but now the pay-off to a long Oscar season concludes this Sunday with the upcoming Academy Awards telecast, and man am I excited! I know I made it clear last year that the Academy Awards are nothing to get too enraged or invested over, but there's always something about that friendly sense of competition between viewers with difference in personal preferences, and the joy to correctly guess your most long shot predictions on your ballot.

But boy, does the telecast itself have a lot to live up to. Last year's ceremony was the best I'd seen in quite a long time, thanks to the charisma and bite of host Jimmy Kimmel, who'll be trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle. He certainly has the chance, what with the wealth of burn material handed to him on a silver platter (expect some scathing jabs at Trump and Weinstein). But how on earth they'll address and poke fun at last year's bewildering Best Picture slip-up? We'll have to wait and see.

But putting aside the telecast, here I am once more to list out my predictions in all 24 competitive categories. Last year saw me hit a personal low of 14. I thought that by playing it safe, I'd be able to get a decent score, so imagine my surprise at shocker wins like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and of course Moonlight's big upset. This year, I've decided I want to be more risky with a lot of my picks, so we'll see if that bolsters my tally. Here are the selections!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Annihilation movie review.

You'd be forgiven for not knowing Alex Garland by name, as much of his career has been strictly behind the scenes. Rising to prominence as an author thanks to his popular novel The Beach, Garland soon made the transition to film, backing films the likes of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Never Let Me Go. His limited, but varied credits, that blended psychological character study with powerful central themes, made him a natural fit for the Sci-Fi realm.

But rather than play behind the scenes, he soon struck out on his own, his debut resulting in the fascinating Ex Machina, that took a very intimate and minimalist approach to the genre. So how do you follow up such an ambitious debut? In Garland's case, opt for a larger scale, but just as intimate blend of sci-fi and horror, with an adaptation of Jeff Vandemeer's Annihilation. So what head-scratching ideas has Garland proposed to us today?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Brief thoughts on Early Man.

I absolutely love the work of Aardman Animation, the British stop-motion studio. Like many, I grew up adoring their Wallace and Gromit shorts, and over the years, I've also loved their foray into feature length with films like Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Shaun the Sheep. In 2018, what looks to be the next big year of stop motion, they've already given us an early delight in the form of their prehistoric Early Man, a long-gestating passion project for the legendary Nick Park, in his first solo directing credit.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther movie review.

Despite their decade spanning output, and launching several prominent franchises for less popular characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't always been the most diverse when it comes to its characters, and even with prominent characters like Falcon and Black Widow, it's been frustrating not to see Marvel give one of those characters their own solo outing to combat those criticisms. It may have taken them a while, but they've finally attempted to diversify their films, by unleashing the long awaited Black Panther.

Black Panther is commonly noted as the first mainstream superhero of black or African descent, soon paving the way for the likes of Luke Cage, Blade, and the aforementioned Falcon, but standing above them all with audiences who continue to resonate to his nobility and outsider status. Having laid the groundwork previously in Marvel's Civil War, and with his solo entry brought to life by Creed director Ryan Coogler, all the ingredients were there for another enjoyable Marvel flick. But what if it were more? What if Black Panther were Marvel's best film so far?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of 2018...

2017 was an eventful year, with a great level of variety to go around, as new and engaging films came and went, with great effort taken to bring diversity to the system, and one can hope that 2018 will be able to say the same. As it is now, I am so eager for the big films to come out this year, and if February's uncommonly decent slate is anything to go by (with films like Black Panther and Annihilation taking their bows), it looks to be an impressive year.

And as I do every year, I'll be listing down the films I'm most excited to see this year. Once again, I'll try to keep expectations and hyperbole in check, but even so, I'm still so excited by what there is to offer.

And before we start, a couple rules for my list. For me to include a film on here, it must either have a guaranteed release date, or at least have a trajectory to open this year (for this reason, I've left off Martin Scorsese's long-dormant The Irishman). The film must also have been released after this list is published, and if a film made the list or honorable mentions last year but got pushed back to 2018, it will not be eligible for consideration (otherwise, Annihilation and Mute would be on here).

Please note that this list is mainly geared towards films that are more well known at this point, so there's not gonna be a whole lot of independent fare with little clout, and this is purely how it stands at the moment. And if a film you're looking forward to isn't on here, I either haven't heard of it yet, I am looking forward to it, but not enough to list it, or I'm just not excited for it at all (Dead! Pool!).

First up, the honorable mentions:
25. Tully

24. Pacific Rim: Uprising

23. JT LeRoy

22. Colette

21. Incredibles 2

20. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

19. A Wrinkle in Time

18. Illumination's The Grinch

17. The Little Stranger

16. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

And now, I present you the main fifteen...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Top Ten Best Films of 2017.

Dark rises, and light to meet it as we approach the final chapter of 2017's story. And despite all the tragedy that such a year held, the cinema proved as inviting and comforting a safe haven as ever.

If 2016 found us in a depressed state, then 2017 was a year that looked to find the hope and optimism when we grew uncertain of the future, attempting to make sense as we went along. From films like Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri that directly confronted our morality and sense of justice, to The Shape of Water that slyly dealt with ongoing xenophobia. 2017 also gave us films based on events of the past still relevant to today, with true stories surrounding Winston Churchill, The Washington Post, and soldiers desperately clinging to hope of rescue. Even something as fake as The Greatest Showman emulated P.T. Barnum's ability to create genuine, if only superficial enjoyment from his viewers. Not to mention that 2017 finally saw attempts at greater diversity, including prominent films from black filmmakers like Get Out and Mudbound earning due attention, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird strongly resonating with audiences, Wonder Woman's long-awaited solo venture doing justice to her iconic legacy, and Pixar doing justice to Mexico's heritage with Coco.

And even outside of films, 2017 was a year where we needed more than ever to lean on each other. Through the controversial politics, fear stoked through hatred, and the tragedies of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, 2017 was a year that depended on our unity. United through blocked travel bans, people risking their own lives to save others affected by those hurricanes, and the broken silence of victims of sexual abuse. Even if it was only minor, 2017 was a year defined by those still crucial moments of triumph, and even though those struggles will always be waiting, it's that camaraderie that gives one hope even in the bleakest of times.

But now it's time to move on to more upbeat territory, and to cover all of those fantastic - and heavily varied films that I saw over the year.

As always, some honorable mentions. Just missing out was War for the Planet of the Apes, which blended the excitement of a blockbuster with a deeply emotional and gripping moral journey, featuring breathtaking CGI and Mo-Cap, and an even more breathtaking lead performance from Andy Serkis. The Post proved that Steven Spielberg is still a master of his craft even at B-material, methodically running us through a still timely story of journalistic integrity and its importance, and also made great use out of a huge ensemble cast. The Disaster Artist was one of the year's funniest films, director and star James Franco excelling in portraying the vices and passion of the singularly odd Tommy Wiseau, made even better by the power and sweetness of Wiseau and Greg Sestero's friendship. It was by far my greatest pleasant surprise of the year, largely for the powerful, flawlessly cast young actors who believably embodied the tightly knit group of friends, and delighted with its effective and nightmarish scares, especially Bill Skarsgard's animalistic Pennywise. Mudbound was a striking and deeply felt tableau of 40's southern life, tackling issues of early PTSD and always ongoing racial barriers in sensitive yet uncompromising fashion, and factoring in a great ensemble cast bringing her vision to life makes Dee Rees one to watch.

And without further ado, my top ten best films of 2017. Put this on your "Good Morning, Missouri" wake up broadcast!