94th Academy Awards Predictions

Wound up mostly picking the favorites, though almost none of the major awards are a lock for anyone this year. I’m counting on Dune to sweep the technical awards, otherwise I think there’s going to be a big mix of winning films. Maybe my biggest gamble is Best Original Song–looks like No Time to Die is poised to win, but I think the Academy is going to give Lin Manuel his EGOT.

Of the 38 total films nominated (not including the shorts), I wound up seeing only 15 of them before the awards show. And for the first time in years, I didn’t catch all 10 of the Best Picture nominees… only got 8.

Anyway, here’s the full list of my predictions. Correct predictions will be marked with “★”.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Predicted Winner: Coda
Actual Winner: Coda

Achievement in Directing
Predicted Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Actual Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actual Winner: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Will Smith, King Richard
Actual Winner: Will Smith, King Richard

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Actual Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur, Coda
Actual Winner: Troy Kotsur, Coda

Adapted Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Siân Heder, Coda
Actual Winner: Siân Heder, Coda

Original Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Actual Winner: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Achievement in Cinematography
Predicted Winner:  Greig Fraser, Dune
Actual Winner: Greig Fraser, Dune

Achievement in Costume Design
Predicted Winner: Jenny Beavan, Cruella
Actual Winner: Jenny Beavan, Cruella

Achievement in Film Editing
Predicted Winner: Joe Walker, Dune
Actual Winner: Joe Walker, Dune

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Predicted Winner: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actual Winner: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Achievement in Production Design
Predicted Winner: Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Dune
Actual Winner: Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Dune

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Predicted Winner: Hans Zimmer, Dune
Actual Winner: Hans Zimmer, Dune

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
Predicted Winner: Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Dos Oruguitas,” Encanto
Actual Winner: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, “No Time to Die,” No Time To Die

Achievement in Sound
Predicted Winner: Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, and Ron Bartlett, Dune
Actual Winner: Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, and Ron Bartlett, Dune

Achievement in Visual Effects
Predicted Winner: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer, Dune
Actual Winner: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer, Dune

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Predicted Winner: Encanto
Actual Winner: Encanto

Best Documentary Feature
Predicted Winner: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Actual Winner: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Best International Feature Film of the Year
Predicted Winner: Drive My Car
Actual Winner: Drive My Car

Best Animated Short Film
Predicted Winner: Robin Robin
Actual Winner: The Windshield Wiper

Best Documentary Short Subject
Predicted Winner: The Queen of Basketball
Actual Winner: The Queen of Basketball

Best Live Action Short Film
Predicted Winner: The Long Goodbye
Actual Winner: The Long Goodbye

Continue reading “94th Academy Awards Predictions”

Review – The Tomorrow War

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This review contains spoilers

A few weeks back, Chris Pratt’s Instagram story promised me that The Tomorrow War was going to be my new favorite movie of all time. Now obviously I didn’t really believe him. But given Pratt’s charm, a competent director, and the $200 million price tag, I at least expected a fun Independence Day-esque popcorn flick. Instead, The Tomorrow War is a bland and uneven sci-fi bust.

Boiled down, The Tomorrow War is a time travel movie. 30ish years in the future, Earth is badly losing a war to alien invaders. The future humans’ plan: draft soldiers from the past and–through some barely-explained technolgoy–bring them to the future to fight their war. It’s an interesting concept and the film’s explanation of how they select draftees is actually pretty clever. The only people sent back in time are ones who haven’t been born yet, and the only ones sent to the future are ones who are already dead by then. It’s a pretty clever way to avoid certain time-travel paradoxes and sets up a promising mystery of how Pratt’s character meets an untimely fate.

But that’s about as far as the sensible logic goes. The movie makes it pretty clear that soldiers from the future can come back to the present, a time well before the alien war has started. Yet none of these soldiers seem to have any intention on preventing the war. You know, the most obvious and probably the easiest solution. I wanted to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’ve already tried that, maybe there’s a weird butterfly effect, or maybe the screenwriter just didn’t want to drive through Terminator territory. But no, eventually it’s revealed that bringing an alien poison back to the present day is the secret grand plan after all!

Still, decent action movies can overcome dumb plot logic through interesting character development. The audience learns pretty quickly that Pratt’s family-man character has a strained relationship with his own absent father, a mistake he’s determined not to make. Once he makes the jump to the future, he meets his now adult daughter who informs him that he eventually leaves his wife and daughter, causing another rift in the family. Add in the fact that his character soon dies in his natural timeline, and you’ve got a pretty compelling character-driven drama.

Unfortunately this, the most interesting aspect of the movie, is almost immediately dismissed. As soon as it’s set up, we learn that it was a car accident that kills him. The reasons for leaving his family go unanswered. And his relationship with his father is repaired by teaming up to kick some alien ass. It’s a ton of potential completely undermined by quick, convenient, and incomplete storytelling.

The movie does get a few things right. Chris Pratt continues to show that he has what it takes to be a leading man and grow beyond his goofball persona. The supporting cast makes the most of what they’re given, particularly J.K. Simmons as the estranged father and Sam Richardson as maybe the only one with a complete character arc. And the action is solid, especially in the third act. It’s a shame this big-budget movie was relegated to the small-screen. Sometimes dumb movies are just more fun and forgvable when seen in a loud, crowded theater.

The Tomorrow War is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

2016 Summer Movie Pool

**UPDATED**

Congrats to Dave C. for winning the 2016 Summer Movie Pool! Check back around April for the 2017 entry form!

Original post:

Time for our annual Summer Movie Pool! If you’re interested in playing, just fill out the embedded form below!

We’ve officially run out of generic sci-fi stars…

About halfway through watching RoboCop (2014) today, I came to a horrifying realization: Hollywood has officially run out of generic sci-fi action movie stars and they’ve resorted to using the exact same guy over and over again. He’s a wannabe Jason Statham who likes wearing futuristic robot suits and sounds like he’s having a hard time masking some European accent. Here are some of his latest appearances:

RoboCop-101.jpg
Billed as Joel Kinnaman in “RoboCop” (2014)

Pacific-Rim-101.jpg
Going by Charlie Hunnam in “Pacific Rim” (2013)

Tron-101.jpg
Calling himself Garrett Hedlund in “Tron: Legacy” (2010)

Helmets.jpg
Put a helmet on this guy, and he’s pretty much unrecognizable.

So get ready to see even more of our favorite interchangeable, completely forgettable action star as he takes on more armored hero roles when he’s cast as Sam Fisher, Master Chief, and Boba Fett later this year!

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