Movie Guide, for the Season (2018)

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I can't help myself; I have to write this now. Later is too busy. 


I do not have a privileged viewpoint for seeing the end-of-year flood of films, ones timed for maximum Oscar impact.    I just go to the cinema when I have the chance, in a small town with big-city art cinemas hours distant, but I still go often.    I admit to being a buff, though I limit myself to a couple of thunderous action movies, a couple of sequels,  and a couple of animated features a year.    I am mostly interested in comedy, drama, and the occasional musically-themed film. +


My main factual resource for this piece is the recently-announced set of Golden Globes movie nominations.    These Globes  (GG below) are a good, independently-drawn small-sample (without replacement),  providing a sense of future Oscar voters' likely views.  It's a good estimate, though early in the award season--later-released films will rise for Oscar consideration.


The Golden Globes have the feature of having two sets of awards for movies (for best picture) and for lead actor and actress, one each for Drama and for Comedy or Musical, and they have a very weird approach to assigning films between the categories. Still, if one puts together the nominees for best picture for the two categories, the result is 10 names, which is how many the Oscars are likely to include in their nominations. 


The (Preliminary) Nominees

Here they are, with the GG category, release date, and a note for each, intended primarily for those who have not heard of these names. 

A Star is Born (D) (already out--release date Oct. 5 ) - I would've put this under comedy/musical  

I have to admit I haven't seen it, though.  It could yet be one of my two sequels, but I'd have to hurry.  More likely to see it on HBO or something, later.  I do respect the effort, though. #redo category

Black Panther (D) (Feb. 16)  I think all superhero movies should be under comedy/musical--it's not really ever serious. (#redo) That being said, very well made, a blockbuster that will also get award respect. it could still win for something like screenplay or effects, though the awards don't often go to movies released this early in the year.

BlackKKKlansman (D) (Aug. 10)  I'd say the best Spike Lee joint since the '90's.  A fantastic concocted story that's true, of a black who was admitted as a KKK member (with a white colleague for the face-to-mask meetings).  Casting Adam Driver was extremely smart.

Bohemian Rhapsody (D, but totally should be in musical #redo) (Nov. 2 ).  The story of Freddy Mercury, lead singer of Queen, and his meteoric life and death.  Very well told.  Lead role is Rami Halek (Mr. Robot on TV) as Mercury, an award-worthy performance. The musical recapitulations are fantastic;  I don't know, but I think they must have been lip-synched. 

If Beale Street Could Talk (D) --  (Dec. 25-limited release) -  Harlem story, there better be some good music.+ 

I want to say a dark-horse candidate for top awards, but I don't want that to be viewed as a disingenuous slur (right, Texas Lynn?)  What I mean is, the pedigree (director from Moonlight, story from James Baldwin, top stars) is impeccable, but the box office and critical appeal are unproven at this point.*


Crazy Rich Asians (C or M) (Aug. 15) - My wife wouldn't let me take her to see it.  We used to live in Singapore, so we know the milieu.  I presume it was light, entertaining, good box office (especially abroad--this one's GG nomination could be a case of sample bias vs. the AMPAS) . 

The Favourite (C or M) (Nov. 23) --the classification of this one as Comedy or Musical seems totally absurd at first glance.  You would think: Costume drama-- Queen Anne of England, I think, with Emma Wood and Rachel Weisz; good on the eyes.  Actually, it's probably something completely different--satire, with esoteric comedy appeal, if any, by the writer/director Y.  Lanthimos ("The Lobster").  If you saw that, you know what I mean.   

Green Book (C or M- #redo,  though there's great music)  (Nov. 16).  Driving Miss Daisy with a twist--the chauffeur is white, the passenger black.  Based on the true story of jazz pianist Don Shirley's visit to the segregated South in the '50's, and the 'goombah' bouncer who was his driver. Both Viggo Mortensen (lead actor, for the GG) and Mahershala Ali (supporting, as Shirley) will get serious consideration for awards.  Loved the American Italian dialogue, Ali's keyboard-acting artistry.  Hated the mindless bigotry and injustice. 

Mary Poppins Returns (C or M) - (Dec. 25 )- Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and others.  Modern depression, and its cure.  A true musical.

Vice  (C or M) ( Dec. 15 ) - #redo.   This is the one with the best buzz, as lead actors Christian Bale and Amy Adams re-create the magic from "American Hustle", with Dick Cheney's career being the current subject.  Amazing if it will actually be comedy; I will look to see it at the first chance. 


Not Nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press (For Whatever Reason)

(with theoretical release dates--have you seen them? I have not nor seen that they are out)

Boy Erased (Nov. 8)  - Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges ('Young Actor of the Year') - Gay Conversion drama;   

At Eternity's Gate (Nov 15 -*)  Willem Dafeoe is Vincent Van Gogh.  artistic appeal, for sure;

Roma (Nov. 21*)  - The one I am most eager to see, the Amarcord of Alejandro Cuaron.   Cuaron's right at the top now; I prefer him slightly over his buddy Inarritu;

Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Nov. 9*) - the Coen Brothers' (latest) Western, in six parts.  If you can, translate O Brother, Where Art Thou to the Old West.   Works for me.


Finally, Vox Lux (Dec. 7) -Natalia Portman plays a Gaga-like performer.  Lady Gaga will be at the Oscars ceremony, will Portman?



*I hate this release strategy, though it is frequently chosen for critical faves with uncertain prospects. 

+The history of movie soundtracks is a favorite subject.  

(Did I forget to mention sex?  Another publick goode.) /s


Jim Stoner Added Dec 12, 2018 - 8:06pm
Oscar talk (skip if it annoys you):  You might think that "Vice" will win Best Picture, but I think it will be 'Mary Poppins Returns'.  If it clicks, it will still be showing next summer.  'Roma' will be relegated to foreign language film. 
Best Actor would seem between two guys who put on weight for their roles--Mortensen (a/k/a Aragorn) and Bale. If Rami gets nominated, that would be something to note. 
Actress will be very interesting and telling.  I think Gaga will be nominated but not win, but it is a possibility.  Emily Blunt will be in there.  And there's others:  I just love Amy Adams.  Is this the year? 
Director is always interesting.  I think Bradley Cooper will snag a nom. Spike Lee might.  Cuaron.  Probably no women. 
Jim Stoner Added Dec 12, 2018 - 8:46pm
I forgot "A Private War", the true story of Marie Colvin.  Rosamunde Pike has to be considered among the favorites for Best Actress. 
TexasLynn Added Dec 12, 2018 - 8:56pm
Last year, in preparation for the Oscars, I got the popcorn popped, plenty of drink on hand and was just settling in to enjoy the awards when... three men burst in and started beating me with sticks.  They were brutal and relentless for nearly three hours.  Finally, they stopped and calmly left my abode.  I crawled to my phone and was about to dial 911 when I realized the Oscars were over.  I also realized I probably got the better end of that deal and hung up.  I hope they come back this year.
I would rather be physically beat within an inch of my life... than watch the Oscars. :)
TexasLynn Added Dec 12, 2018 - 8:57pm
Of all the shows you listed, I have seen one "Black Panther" and definitely thought it was "Meh" (a 6 out of 10) on the TexasLynn Movie Rating System (TMRS).
Of all the shows you listed, I have interest in seeing just one other... "Bohemian Rhapsody".
I assume this is just a sign of getting old.  On the plus side, not that I'm not watching as many movies... I have a lot more time to yell at kids to get off my lawn.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 12, 2018 - 9:02pm
I can't or won't recommend the Oscars program itself (though I am a sucker for it).  Kevin Hart was to be the host, until he had to pull out; now they're thinking no host--which may be an improvement.  Is Bob Hope available? 
wsucram15 Added Dec 12, 2018 - 9:43pm
Usually all the nominated movies are good if you like movies and are looking for something beyond action or syfy.  I enjoy movies and have eclectic taste so I never know what I will and will not like.
The popular vote doesnt always work with me, I like more Independent stuff, especially if it has a good plot that I  dont know the end from the beginning.
I will not see A Star Is Born..I dont like remakes and rarely see them. Mary Poppins fits with that so...
I have heard Vice is very good and as much as I was against him, will most likely see it.
kkkklansman was good as well.
Vox Lux is interesting..too much sometimes.
I am waiting for my son to see Bohemian Rhapsody.
Waiting on my Daughter for the Favourite. but its Emma Stone and Rachel has very good reviews especially for their performances.
The Oscars is a platform to present the movies and the actors to the public who may not have ordinarily seen them and to promote future projects.
Ryan Messano Added Dec 12, 2018 - 11:14pm
Hellivision may possibly be the worst communication medium in human history, and it's wise to avoid Hollyweird like the plague.  Both are a total waste of time. 
Jim Stoner Added Dec 13, 2018 - 12:28am
Thanks for your input, Ryan, Texas Lynn.   TL--What did you think of "12 Soldiers"?  (US cavalry-type charge on Afghan positions, early in the war there) That was something, I thought.  
Especially to wsuscram15.  My purpose was to air out some information so that people will know about the ones they will hear mentioned.  Somehow I suspected a low % of real filmgoers. 
Movies are an entertainment art form which sometimes is worthy of the name.  You know, drama, tragedy, comedy, music--it's an old and worthy tradition.   
There is plenty of circus to make the bread; some of that goes into films with less promising economics.  There are enough good ones to make the performance space (Hollywood films, independents, documentaries) worth watching.  You don't have to pay cinema prices, of course, but I get an extra dose of involvement in the show there. 
There is international culture and understanding to be gained from films. I am not a TV fan at all, but one of the best productions of any kind I have seen was the Italian miniseries "A Brilliant Friend" (L'Amica Geniale) which just wrapped up its season Monday night.  There is a final Kirostani film that I hope to find somewhere.  
TexasLynn Added Dec 13, 2018 - 1:08am
Jim Stoner >> TL -- What did you think of "12 Soldiers"?  (US cavalry-type charge on Afghan positions, early in the war there) That was something, I thought.
I think the title was "12 Strong".  I haven't seen it... but now that you mention it, that does sound like the kind of movie I would be interested in.  I'll make a point to watch it in the near future.  I can't imagine it was nominated for anything.  Movies I like normally are not.
The last Best Picture I liked was "Braveheart"; one of my favorite all time movies.
I'm so rural, it's actually not that easy for me to go see a movie in the theater.  I usually have to wait for DVD or Netflix.
If we're talking movies (not just Oscar nominated).  It's rare that I get excited about a movie release.
The last one I "anticipated" was Ready Player One... only because the book was very pertinent to the time period I grew up in.  I was one of those kids/teens who played those classic video games and loved/lived all the 80s pop culture referenced.  I would be hard to beat on games like Joust, Robotron 2084, Tron, Dig Dug, and a few others. :)
The movie "Ready Player One" was nothing like the book... BUT it captured the spirit of the book and I was pleasantly surprised.  If you're bored, read my Movie rating system and thoughts on movies in general (linked to earlier).
That said, one of my favorite movies is "Unbreakable" by M. Night Shyamalan which starred Bruce Willis (made almost 20 years ago).  Shyamalan made "Split" a sequel to that movie recently and it was OK.  A third in a trilogy called "Glass" is due out in January.  That, I want to see.
Ken Added Dec 13, 2018 - 2:42am
As of last week, Bohemian Rhapsody became the most downloaded song of the 20th century, surpassing Yesterday and others..
I haven't seen the movie yet, waiting for cable, I don't give hollywood money to spout their ideology, but it would have been a better movie from all I have heard if it was actually historically correct.  All I heard was it was a good movie, but they changed the timeline on several parts to add dramatic tension..
Jim Stoner Added Dec 13, 2018 - 11:47am
TL:  Thanks, saw your post.  You're more of a movie fan than you let on.   You mention Kurosawa--see "Ran" if you get a chance--an adaptation of "King Lear" to medieval Japan.  One of my all-time favorite movies. 
You were right--it was '12 Strong' - I recommend it; it's on cable now.
My top five Coen Bros. movies, in order:  1) Miller's Crossing; 2) True Grit; 3) Raising Arizona; 4) The Man Who Wasn't There; and 5) The Big Lebowski.   The Coen Brothers movie I mentioned above,"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" went straight to Netflix.  I hate that--but my wife has NF so I will go see it there--I must. 
I rate movies as well, on (great site for research or quick look-up on movies).  I've rated about 1000 over the last 10 years or so.   About 5% get a 10 from me, but I'm pretty generous with the 7's and 8's.   The most recent movies I gave a 10 are "Arrival", "Interstellar" (did I mention I like science fiction?) "The Death of Stalin"  (hilarious, in bad taste, actually from 2018), and "The Big Short". 
As far as Shyamalan is concerned, I've seen a few, but none will top "The Sixth Sense". 
Ken, thanks for your comments.   Three notes:  1) I don't know about the historical inaccuracies in "Bohemian Rhapsody", but I appreciated learning about Mercury's family (they were Zoroastrians from Zanzibar--would never have guessed) and reliving Queen's performance at Live Aid.  
2) "The Shape of Water"  (a/k/a "gay screw fish movie") was a lot more than just Hollywood kinky (though it was a little of that). Very creative visually, very well cast and produced.  Whatever. 
3) If you hate Hollywood, there are lots of other options; not all films come from there by any means. 
Hollywood is way too much in love with the big-money loud ones with massive body counts and destroyed sets.  I'm selective about those.  If you look at the top 20 in domestic box office gross revenue year-to-date, I've seen only 3 of them (#1 Black Panther, #13 Bohemian Rhapsody, #20 Oceans 8), though I meant to see Deadpool 2 (#5).  I will see a lot of the ones mentioned in my article above, though, before they all disappear. 
Ken Added Dec 13, 2018 - 1:50pm
Movie awards officially jumped the shark (literally) this year by having best picture be a gay fish lover (again literally) love story.
I don't know how you go beyond that.
But hey, Hollywood saved a bunch of money by letting Kevin Hart go and not having a host for the Oscars - no one is going to watch anyway, so who needs a host?
Jim Stoner Added Dec 13, 2018 - 1:58pm
It wasn't gay--it was heterosexual love affair (and how) between a woman (mute) and a male humanoid (with gills and flippers).   That was last year (early 2018). 
We'll see, but "Mary Poppins Returns" would be about at the other extreme, whatever that scale might be. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 13, 2018 - 7:00pm
I called it 'Sex with Swamp Thing'. It was on one of our movie channels and my wife had it on. I saw bits of it while doing some dishes and making tea (and then drinking it). But I knew the character eventually sleeps with the monster and that's just disgusting so I left the room. Refused to choose to watch it. 
Seriously, I hope this doesn't open the door to movies about sheep if you know what I mean.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 14, 2018 - 1:20am
Swamp Thing is very accurate. 
Regarding "sheep", I do know what you mean. Now you've planted that thought in my head that was not there before. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 14, 2018 - 7:14pm
I've only seen one of these. Blackkklansman, which I found disappointing.
I liked Disobedience.
John Minehan Added Dec 14, 2018 - 7:19pm
"It wasn't gay--it was heterosexual love affair (and how) between a woman (mute) and a male humanoid (with gills and flippers).   That was last year (early 2018)."
It was actually intended to be an update of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1953).  I'm not sure how Julia Adams took that . . . . 
John Minehan Added Dec 14, 2018 - 7:21pm
"I called it 'Sex with Swamp Thing'."
Perish the thought!  The Swamp Thing was a sentient plant.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 14, 2018 - 10:22pm
Thanks for the correction, John M. 
Unrepentant Added Dec 15, 2018 - 9:42am
@ Jim Stoner - Friendly reminder - Don't change your avatar, lol.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 15, 2018 - 5:19pm
Won't happen. 
Mark Hunter Added Dec 16, 2018 - 4:22am
Since I'm more of an escapist entertainment person when it comes to movies, I've found awards season to be an important indicator of what movies I should not bother with. Often the Oscar winners are the motion picture equivalent of literary novels: no plot, unlikable characters who mostly die by the end ... and no real ending.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 16, 2018 - 1:39pm
Always a lot of escapism can be found in the movie selection--maybe "Aquaman" among current releases.
On the subject of sci-fi movies, there is no prior mention of a movie from this summer that never got to where I was, called "Annihilation".  Esquire's movie reviewer called it the best film of the year so far, a short while ago. 
Mark Hunter Added Dec 17, 2018 - 12:44am
Annihilation? I wonder how I missed that.
Jim Stoner Added Dec 17, 2018 - 1:36am
It was not well publicized or distributed.  I never saw it to be in a cinema near me. 
Jim Stoner Added Jan 10, 2019 - 12:27pm
I would revive this article for people's reference when the Oscar nominations come out in a couple of weeks.  I've since seen a few of the ones mentioned above.  Some comments: 
Mary Poppins Returns -- If you like this kind of thing, go see it.  It's a Disney movie that's a throwback to the old days.  Great cast; the songwriters did well. 
Vice - see my full-length review.   I'm hoping Sam Rockwell will get a nomination for Supporting Actor (playing George W. Bush) and Amy Adams for Lynne Cheney.  So far it's the most interesting movie I've seen. 
The Favourite - I heard it described as "surreal history"--a pretty good description.  Nice photography.  The triangle of women is unusual; the proposal of lesbian affairs in the royal court pretty outrageous. 
Roma - A critical favorite, but it was not mine.  It's about some scenes from Cuaron's youth in Mexico City (Roma is the neighborhood; probably intentionally misleading title), and features two very strong women--his mother and his house's maid.  Only on Netflix. 
Ballad of Buster Scruggs - also only on Netflix (I am reluctantly watching some on my wife's account).  Coen brothers' latest, a series of six vignettes from the Old West.  I'd say there were one or two of them that made an impression.  Big cast. 
Still haven't seen and want to:  A Star is Born,  If Beale Street Could Talk, Eternity's Gate, Boy Erased, Vox Lux.  I have no excuse for not seeing A Star is Born (except I've seen the three previous versions, though this is different, and Lady Gaga....will be the story of this year's movies probably).  The others I haven't really had a chance to see (our local art theater showed Eternity's Gate when we were away on vacation). 
I'll be glad to discuss any of these here, or "Vice" on the review article I wrote.  See you at the box office!
Jim Stoner Added Jan 22, 2019 - 8:40pm
"Annihilation" is just on Amazon Prime video.  
Nominations came out today--i will do an article handicapping the awards (I have a good track record, excluding the shorts and documentaries), but first I have to see "A Star is Born"--which I haven't figured out how to do, lately.