Category Oscar Season
Click to see my final ballot predictions for next Sunday’s Oscars.
Oscars luck this year didn’t hold out for everyone. Cuarón dominates and Jenkins got another screenplay nom, but Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong ran out of fuel. Awards excitement makes it easy to overlook interesting work, especially when we elevate a movie’s chances of winning over conversations against its originality. These are not your typical Oscar bait movies; each is a beautiful, highly personal movie worth watching.
What would Oscar nominations be without a few surprises?
Crossing my fingers for Ethan Hawke, Crazy Rich Asians, and the Roma women!
It’s understandable why Adam McKay’s Vice wants to remind us that Bush’s presidency was a massive failure, and he does so by focusing on the power-hungry puppeteer in the passenger seat. But this biopic of Dick Cheney, a dark quasi-comedy, feels like a debate tournament PowerPoint, not an insightful look at what makes Cheney tick. McKay reuses all of his magic tricks from The Big Short, but they don’t make sense here. Despite good performances, Vice is sophomoric, not satisfying as a traditional biopic or as a satire.
Two of this fall’s guttiest (and best) movies are led exclusively by women: Yorgos Lanthimos’ royal send-up The Favourite and Steve McQueen’s slow-burn heist thriller Widows. Queens are a dime a dozen on screen, but they seldom get to be this wild and sexual; and I can’t think of a comparable movie to McQueen’s four women (including three women of color) who finish the job their men couldn’t.
What did I think of Bohemian Rhapsody? Well, it’s exactly what I expected from a band-produced biopic of Freddie Mercury rated PG-13.
And there’s Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, an unrepentant, unlovable writer who, down on her luck, begins crafting fake letters from the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward.
Here’s a cheat sheet for all the young-men-with-dark-secrets movies this fall: Beautiful Boy is the one with Timothée Chalamet as a real-life addict, not to be confused with Boy Erased starring Lucas Hedges in a true story about gay conversion therapy, neither of which are the same as Ben Is Back, also about addiction and also starring Hedges.
He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t move quickly. Michael Myers lingers because he’s unstoppable. No matter how quickly we run, he’s steadily sneaking up behind you, waiting to catch you in a dead end, at a locked door. He doesn’t explain why he’s coming for you–though others, including the writers, have decided over the years they must explain for him.
Lady Gaga is the first who becomes a movie star in front of us. When she first appears here, Gaga is worlds removed from her concert act: her hair is natural; her eyes are wide and unadorned; she speaks with a slight New York accent. Jackson Maine cautions her character Ally to be honest, and that’s advice Gaga has taken to heart. Gaga’s strongest career asset seems to be her ability to transform, to costume herself and strip herself down like a chameleon.
One year after white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Spike Lee is here with BlacKkKlansman, shedding light on our nationalist upswing through the lens of the true-to-life 1970s infiltration by two cops (one black, one Jewish) of a chapter of the KKK.
You might think this straight-up satire, if you didn’t know it’s (mostly) true.