Monday, February 20, 2017


I love a good surprise. Especially when it comes to the Oscars. After a seemingly endless series of prizes given out to the same winners during movie award season, I truly enjoy the shock when the heavily favored winner fails to hear their name called and another person is announced to come up to accept the Oscar.

Now this doesn't happen nearly as often as I would like but a few upsets have occurred over the last eighty-eight Academy Awards. Business Insider has went and ranked the twenty biggest Oscar upsets in history. Looking over the list, it reminded me of some of my favorite moments like Adrien Brody being the unlikely Best Actor winner in 2003 and planting that big, wet kiss on presenter, Halle Berry and when "Crash" beat "Brokeback Mountain" for the 2006 Best Picture which was actually not a good surprise.

Anyway, here's to an unpredictable Oscar night and let's hope for the highly elusive tie.

Click below to read the article:

20 Biggest Oscar Upsets of All-Time

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Looking more like a rock star than a filmmaker, Jim Jarmusch has been bringing a rebellious spirit and unique vision to independent cinema ever since his absurdist road comedy, "Stranger Than Paradise" first put him in the spotlight. With a budget of only $125,000 (and would go on to gross over two million dollars), the film received great critical acclaim, was honored with the Camera d'Or (a prize for "best first film") at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and would become an inspiration for modern American indie filmmakers.

With his latest, "Paterson" starring Adam Driver out in theaters now (and if you haven't seen this terrfic film, do yourself a favor and go), Vulture has decided to look back on Jarmusch's stellar career and rank the work of this idiosyncratic filmmaker ranging from his least desirable to his greatest.

Click below to view the article:

Every Jim Jarmusch Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

Thursday, February 9, 2017


"Django", a bio-pic on Django Reinhardt, considered one of the greatest guitarist of the last century and one of the early pioneers of European jazz and Gypsy Swing, will open this year's Berlin Film Festival. This is the feature directing debut of Etienne Comar, a screenwriter and producer of such films as "The Women On The 6th Floor", "Of Gods and Men" and the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign-Language Film, "Timbuktu". This is one of seventeen films selected for the main competition for the Golden Bear and Silver Bear prizes. Paul Verhoeven, the director hot off the success of his latest film, "Elle", will head this year's Jury that also has actors, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Diego Luna on board to help decide the ultimate winners.

Some films selected to be screened out of competition will be "Final Portrait", actor Stanley Tucci's sixth film as a director, "T2 Trainspotting", a sequel to Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's breakout 1996 feature, "Trainspotting" a black comedy that has the original cast (Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle) back for the follow-up and "Logan", the latest and apparently final time that Hugh Jackson will suit up as the Wolverine in the X-Men film series.

In addition to the many new feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the globe that will be seen beginning today and running through the 19th during the 67th annual event, Milena Canonero, one of cinema's greatest costume designers, will be receiving an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement. Canonero had worked with such directors as Stanley Kubrick, Steven Soderbergh, Louis Malle, Roman Polanski and the Coppolas, Francis Ford and Sofia and won the Oscar four times for her work in "Barry Lyndon" (1975), "Chariots of Fire" (1981), "Marie Antoinette" (2006) and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014). Each film will be screened during the fest in her honor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SPLIT (2017)

Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. January 23, 2017 6:05 PM

"Split", M Night Shyamalan's latest entry in the psychological thriller genre, is about a man with a big personality, several as a matter of fact. As a young child, Kevin Wendell Crumb was so emotionally abused by his unstable mother that he now suffers from dissociative identity disorder which has given him twenty-three different personalities. Crumb is played by James McAvoy who seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself as he convincingly zig-zags from a mild-mannered man, a nine year old boy, a colorful designer and a soft-spoken woman, doing so with impressive ease.

After several big-budgeted misfires and disappointments since his 1999 breakthrough, "The Sixth Sense", a shrewd, chilling drama involving a boy who sees dead people, Shyamalan seems to be back on the right path. While not nearly as clever or inventive as that film, "Split" gets back to basics by keeping the story simple and direct. There isn't an overly complicated plot, no dazzling visual effects and the graphic bloody gore is kept to a minimum. The director succeeds by creating tension and terror the old fashioned way through character and narrative.

At the end of her birthday celebration in a restaurant, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson, recently seen in the underrated teen comedy, "The Edge of Seventeen") is stuck with Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) after all of her other guests have left. A loner and a little odd, she's a high school classmate that Claire is not really friendly with but was forced to invite. Without a ride, Claire's dad (Neal Huff) insists on driving Casey home. They all head to the car, along with Marcia (Jessica Sula), Claire's best friend, but never get very far. Everyone is drugged by an assailant and the girls are abducted.

After they've awakened in a locked small room, the girls are understandably frightened and panicked. When they meet their captor, "Dennis", a buttoned-up, nerdy-looking man, Claire and Marcia fear the worse and decide to come up with a plan to escape. Casey believes this is a bad idea, sensing something is off about him. She's proven correct when the next time they see Dennis, he is wearing a skirt and sensible heels and calling himself "Patricia". Claire and Marcia still attempt to get away but they only manage to get locked in separate rooms for their efforts. Casey tries to connect with another of the personalities, "Hedwig", a prepubescent boy, as a possible way of escape but like most kids, he's not focused or reliable.

Crumb is under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (a wonderful Betty Buckley). While she is concerned and wants to help her poor patient, Dr. Fletcher seems a little too thrilled to have her own personal case study. "Barry". another of Crumb's personalities, reveals to the doctor the fear of another, new identity called 'the Beast" trying to come in to the light. He is a super-human monster that appears to be a threat to all of the personalities but the doctor tries to convince him to suppress this being from taking over.

Let's be clear, at it's core, "Split" is your standard issue horror flick plaqued with the usual improbable plot elements. And like any good frightfest, the film takes sadistic glee in exploring the darker side of human nature; misogyny, child abuse, incest, mental illness and murder. Yet Shyamalan manages to bring wit, empathy and genuine emotion to this sordid affair, making the film feel far less exploitative than it really should.

Casey's past is examined during a family camping trip with her father (Sebastian Arcelus) and uncle (Brad William Henke) as a young girl. This traumatic event altered her life and helps explain some of her peculiar behavior. Taylor-Joy, mesmerizing in her turn as a Puritan teen in the eerie supernatural thriller, "The Witch", proves here she is certainly one to watch. The actress brings intelligence and a steely spirit to the role, never allowing herself to ever truly be a helpless victim.

There has been plenty of rumblings about the "surprise" ending of "Split". Less of a twist and more of a nod to one of the director's previous films, this unexpected development doesn't add much to this thriller. I think it's just the an attempt by Shyamalan to inspire new attention to a film that initially received a tepid response. Regardless, "Split" draws you in to an unsettling story filled with compassion for damaged souls seeking salvation and finding it through unorthodox redemption.

Monday, January 30, 2017


The 2017 Sundance Film Festival has come to an end and plenty of awards have been handed out. "I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore", the writing and directing debut of actor, Macon Blair, took the Grand Jury prize at the fest. This comedy-crime thriller is about a depressed woman (Melanie Lynskey) whose home is robbed and finds new purpose as she tracks down the thieves. The film will premiere on Netflix on February 24th. "Dina", a film by Dan Sickes and Antonio Santini about the unusual romance between Dina and Scott, a couple with autism, received the Grand Jury Documentary Prize. The film was picked by The Orchard and will be released later this year.

Here is a list of some of the other awards that were given out:


Grand Jury Prize: "I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore"

Directing Award: Eliza Hittman, "Beach Rats"

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith, "Ingrid Goes West"

Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director: Maggie Betts, "Novitiate"

Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance: Chanté Adams, "Roxanne Roxanne"

Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Daniel Landin, "Yellow Birds"


Grand Jury Prize: "Dina"

Directing Award: Peter Nicks, "The Force"

Special Jury Award for Storytelling: "Strong Island"

Special Jury Award for Editing: Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista, "Unrest"


U.S. Dramatic Audience Award: "Crown Heights"

U.S. Documentary Audience Award: "Chasing Coral"

World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award: "Sueño en Otro Idioma (I Dream In Another Language)" (Mexico/Netherlands)

World Cinema Documentary Audience Award: "Joshua: Teenager Vs Superpower" (U.S.A.)


Grand Jury Prize: "The Nile Hilton Incident" (Sweden/Germany/Denmark)

Special Jury Award For Directing: "God’s Own Country" (United Kingdom)

Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: "Pop Aye" (Singapore/Thailand)

Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision: "Free And Easy" (Hong Kong)

Special Jury Award for Cinematography: "Axolotl Overkill" (Germany)


Grand Jury Prize: "Last Men In Aleppo" (Denmark/Syria)

Directing Award: Pascale Lamche, "Winnie" (France/Netherlands/South Africa)

Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling: "Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World" (Canada)

Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision: "Motherland" (U.S.A./Philippines)

Special Jury Award for Cinematography: "Machines" (India/Germany/Finland)

NEXT Audience Award: "Gook"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


"La La Land", the modern musical romance set in Hollywood, made history by receiving 14 nominations at the 2017 Academy Awards, tying the record of "All About Eve" and "Titanic" with the most nominations. "Moonlight" and "Arrival" each received eight while "Lion" and "Manchester By The Sea'' received six nominations.

This year the Academy has chosen to produce their own "announcement presentation" with no audience present. The presentation was broadcast on a live stream using the Academy’s digital platforms of and via a satellite feed. We had previous nominees and winners like Jennifer Hudson, writer Dustin Lance Black, Terrance Howard and Brie Lawson reminiscing pre-taped about their reactions to hearing that they had been nominated in between the announcement of this year's nominees. While I appreciate the Academy's attempt to be innovative, I didn't think it worked at all. I really didn't want to hear their stories for all it did was create an unnecessary distraction and a low energy atmosphere.  I enjoyed hearing the live reaction from the press. I hope they rethink this plan for next year.

As for the nominations themselves, it was certainly a racially diverse selection of nominees. For the first time there are seven people of color nominated in the acting categories in addition to Barry Jenkins receiving nods for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for "Moonlight" and the late August Wilson for his screenplay for "Fences".  I guess the #OscarsSoWhite will be retired --- at least for this year.

I was very surprised by how well "Hacksaw Ridge" did particularly with the Best Director nomination for Mel Gibson. I guess the Academy has proven again that they believe that the art is what's important, not the personal baggage of the people behind the work which I happen to agree with.

Meryl Streep beat her own record by receiving her twentieth career acting nomination with "Florence Jenkins Foster". While I thought her performance was fine, I would have preferred to have seen Amy Adams in "Arrival" or Annette Bening for her incredible turn in "20th Century Women".

And if Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was nominated for the song he wrote for "Moana", wins the Oscar, he will become a new member of the EGOT (which is a winner of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, just in case you didn't know).

The 89th Annual Academy Awards will be presented on February 26th, 2017 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood with host, Jimmy Kimmel.

Here are the complete 2017 Oscar nominations:

Best Picture:

"Hacksaw Ridge"
"Hell or High Water"
"Hidden Figures"
"La La Land"
"Manchester By The Sea"

Best Director:

Denis Villeneuve, "Arrival"
Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Mel Gibson, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"

Best Actress:

Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
Ruth Negga, "Loving"
Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Emma Stone, "La La Land"
Meryl Streep, "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck, "Manchester By The Sea"
Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
Denzel Washington, "Fences"

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis, "Fences"
Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman, "Lion"
Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams, "Manchester By The Sea"

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By The Sea"
Dev Patel, "Lion"
Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals"

Best Original Screenplay:

Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, "The Lobster"
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Mike Mills, "20th Century Women"
Taylor Sheridan, "Hell or High Water"

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Luke Davies, "Lion"
Eric Heisserer, "Arrival"
Barry Jenkins and story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, "Moonlight"
Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, "Hidden Figures"
August Wilson, "Fences"

Best Foreign Language Film:

"Land of Mine" (Denmark)
"A Man Called Ove" (Sweden)
"The Salesman" (Iran)
"Tanna" (Australia)
"Toni Erdmann" (Germany)

Best Animated Feature Film:

"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"

Best Documentary Feature:

"Fire at Sea"
"I Am Not Your Negro"
"Life, Animated"
"O.J.: Made in America"
"The 13th"

Best Cinematography:

Bradford Young, "Arrival"
Linus Sandgren, "La La Land"
Grieg Fraser, "Lion"
James Laxton, "Moonlight"
Rodgrio Pietro, "Silence"

Best Film Editing:

Joe Walker, "Arrival"
John Gilbert, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Jake Roberts, "Hell or High Water"
Tom Cross, "La La Land"
Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, "Moonlight"

Best Animated Short:

"Blind Vaysha"
"Borrowed Time"
"Pear Cider and Cigarettes"

Best Documentary Short:

"4.1 Miles"
"Joe’s Violin"
"Watani: My Homeland"
"The White Helmets"

Best Live Action Short:

"Ennemis Interieurs"
"La Femme et le TGV"
"Silent Nights"

Best Production Design:

"Arrival" (Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Paul Hotte)
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
"Hail, Caesar!" (Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh)
"La La Land" (Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco)
"Passengers" (Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena)

Best Costume Design:

Joanna Johnston, "Allied"
Colleen Atwood, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"
Consolata Boyle, "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Madeline Fontaine, "Jackie"
Mary Zophres, "La La Land"

Best Makeup & Hair Styling:

Eva von Bahr and Love Larson, "A Man Called Ove"
Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, "Star Trek: Beyond"
Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson, "Suicide Squad"

Best Original Score:

Mica Levi, "Jackie"
Justin Hurwitz, "La La Land"
Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka, "Lion"
Nicholas Britell, "Moonlight"
Thomas Newman, "Passengers"

Best Original Song:

"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from "La La Land", Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"Can’t Stop the Feeling" from "Trolls", Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
"City of Stars" from"La La Land", Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"The Empty Chair" from "Jim: The James Foley Story", Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
"How Far I'll Go" from "Moana", Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Best Sound Editing:

Sylvain Bellemare, "Arrival"
Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli, "Deepwater Horizon"
Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan, "La La Land"
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, "Sully"

Best Sound Mixing:

Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye, "Arrival"
Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow, "La La Land"
David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth, "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"

Best Visual Effects:

Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton, "Deepwater Horizon"
Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould, "Doctor Strange"
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon, "The Jungle Book"
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff, "Kubo and the Two Strings"
John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Saturday, January 21, 2017


It's that time of the year again with plenty of movie folk venturing to snowy Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. What type of cinematic treasures will be found at this year's event? Who really knows for sure but Vulture has rounded up over twenty interesting, indie-minded films that will be making their premieres at the first film fest of 2017 which began on January 19th and runs through the 29th. One of these may become a critical and box-office success like "Manchester By The Sea" which received plenty of love at last year's Sundance. Or they could turn out like "The Birth of a Nation" which also received a lot of love at this festival last year but proved to be a disappointment once it reached the general public.

A few I'm curious about include "An Inconvenient Sequel", the sequel to the Oscar-winning global-warming documentary, Luca Guadagnino's ("A Bigger Splash") most definitely controversial "Call Me by Your Name" which involves an affair between a teenage boy and an older man, "Mudbound", Dee Rees' ("Pariah") second feature which involves a racially charged story of families feuding in the post–World War II South and "Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and Trials for a Free Press", a doc involving that controversial courtroom drama.

Click below to check out the entire list:

23 Most Anticipated Movies at Sundance 2017