What We Learned This Week: February 27-March 1

LESSON #1: ROTTEN TOMATOES IS DOING THE RIGHT THING— Better late than never and following the lead of IMDb, the popular review aggregator website is banning user reviews being posted to films prior to their release.  This week, internet trolls were piling on Captain Marvel before the film was even released.  Since there’s no good way of vetting strangers off the streets versus the critics that build the Tomatometer (myself included), this was a necessary stoppage and a measure I wholly appreciate.  Let the pros lead the way first and users join in after. There’s no need for haters trying to make an internet name for themselves hijacking a film’s standing with unsubstantiated garbage and fake reviews like that.  

LESSON #2: ROGER EBERT WAS HUMAN— Speaking of film critics and piggybacking on the Oscars crowning a new year of “best” films and performance, I stumbled across a 2016 article on Taste of Cinema that dug through the archives of Roger Ebert to find ten great films, some with Oscar successes, that he “hated” with less-than-stellar reviews.  From Gladiator to Reservoir Dogs and more, it’s quite a little list.   

LESSON #3: STEVEN SPIELBERG, HARVEY WEINSTEIN, GEORGE LUCAS, PETER JACKSON, AND JAMES CAMERON ARE THOUGHT OF MORE HIGHLY THAN GOD— With awards season just completing with the Oscars this week, I found an interesting little article last fall on MovieWeb that collected acceptance speech data from the Academy Awards up to 2015.  As it turns out, the five most thanked people at the Academy Awards before God were the five men mentioned in the lesson title.  Other fun data from the study included that the Academy was thanked 43% of the time and parents thanked only 28% of the time. How about that?

LESSON #4: PHYSICAL MEDIA CONTINUES TO TAKE HITS— With the push of streaming services and digital access, we’re slowly seeing physical media inching closer to becoming an endangered species.  I think we’ll alway have a niche like the Criterion collection for high-end keepers and this new little wave of 4K, but expect those store shelves and home displays to shrink as the years continue.  One big body blow to the standing of physical media came this week with Samsung announcing they are not longer going to manufacture Blu-ray players.  This feels heftier and more uncertain than the transitions we’ve lived through in the past (VCR to DVD, DVD to Blu-ray) because there’s not a new physical “thing” replacing the previous media.  We have files and hard drives now. Welcome even more to the future.  

LESSON #5: TREAT YOURSELF TO A GOOD JOURNALISM MOVIE— If you’ve been following WWLTW lately, I like ending on a thematic list of recommendations.  Call it homework assignments or something to build for Letterboxd. This week, take a gander at this list of the 10 best journalism movies as listed by the Washington Post.  There’s not a bad film on it.  Use the JustWatch app or search engine to find where they are available for streaming or rental

 


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

What We Learned This Week: February 17-26 Post-Oscars Special

LESSON #1: WE HAVE AN OUTRAGE CULTURE PROBLEM— Between the old John Wayne story at the beginning of the week and Green Book’s Best Picture Oscar win last night, we continue to learn (more like re-learn) that we have a consistent section of the social media population that seek things to be upset about, no matter if those chosen topics or pillars are part of their actual lives or not.  John Wayne and his politics are dead. He’s but one of many Hollywood figures over the course of history to be on the wrong era and side of equity and equality. Boycott every artist with questionable opinions, then or now, and you wouldn’t have much to watch. At the same time, no one is forcing you to see Green Book and call it the best of the year.  Love what you love.  Let differences of opinion say as small as they matter.  The world keeps on spinning after both so-called disasters.  All the more reason to avoid Twitter. Fixing the future is better than squawking about the past.

LESSON #2: WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY IS A FOUR-TIME OSCAR WINNER— Rami Malek was wonderful, but the rest of those wins (editing and two sound awards) are really suspect.  Looking into the history books, check out what Bohemian Rhapsody’s four trophies puts it equal with and ahead for multiple wins.

EQUAL:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Network, Ordinary People, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Platoon, Rain Man, Unforgiven, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Inception, Birdman, Life of Pi, The Shape of Water, and more

AHEAD OF:  Miracle on 34th Street, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Brokeback Mountain, All Quiet on the Western Front, a few more, and all the films with one or zero Oscars.

That’s astounding company of comparison, if I may say so.  Enjoy using the “we live in a world where ___” line for any number of new Oscar winners in any given year.  Every Oscar winner has a worst moment or career low point that can be cited and compared to a non-winner. For example, the directors of the Urban Legends: The Final Cut (John Ottman) and Stuck on You (Peter Farrelly) now have more Oscars than Alfred Hitchcock or David Fincher.  It’s fun for a second, but don’t belabor the joke too long.

LESSON #3: NO MATTER WHAT, GOOD HISTORY WAS MADE AT THE 91ST ACADEMY AWARDS TOO— Behind the questionable wins for Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, it was a good night for burgeoning diversity, led by Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, and female artists left and right.  Stay tuned to the Feelin’ Film podcast this week for their recap show.  Aaron White has an outstanding list of first and achievements to share with you on the awards recap episode of Feelin’ Film.

EPISODE 151: 2019 Oscars/Feeler’s Choice Awards Recap

LESSON #4: NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE MISS HAVING AN OSCAR HOST— It had been 30 years since the last hostless Oscars. 1989 was a legendary trainwreck because of it. The 2019 edition moved quite swimmingly until that last hour when the bigger awards require more individual time.  The whole show clocked in at three hours and twenty-two minutes, which is nearly a half-hour less than last year. It felt shorter, tighter, and quicker. I’d be very OK if it stayed that way. Let the jokes come from smart presenter choices and let that be the lightness.  Also, someone needs to pay that announcer Randy Thomas (her tenth show) a fat bonus for keeping it quick and properly teasing for the viewers for the telecast all night. Hey, did you hear Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were going to perform “Shallow?” Yeah, me too, like a dozen times.  Hook and hold on to those viewers, ABC.  Jokes aside, the streamlined show and all its teasers worked.  Rating show this year’s show was up 12% from last year’s all-time low… to the second lowest show ever.  Well, up is up and there is a long way to go. In my opinion, the movies are the draw and never the host or the side acts.    

LESSON #5: THE MOMENT OF THE NIGHT— Speaking of that, let’s enjoy the absolute peak performance of any kind from last night.  The lighting, the reversed shooting direction, the steps up from the audience, the wardrobe, the emotion, the constant eye contact, all of it, was mesmerizing.

 


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

Oscar Locks

It’s an annual tradition in my house. I spend 9 months of the year trying to convince myself that I don’t care at all about movie awards. I don’t need fancy, self-important awards shows to tell me what’s good. Sure, I’m not a critic, but I’m a dude who watches a whole lot of movies. I can decide for myself what’s good. Then, once December rolls around, I’m a triggered, angry mess for 3 long months as the awards roll in for all of the movies that I didn’t end up seeing. Well, not this year. This year, I’ve seen more movies than ever before and I’m ready to not be disappointed come time for Oscar’s big night. So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of a few of the awards I’m looking forward to with a film/actor or two that should’ve been nominated but wasn’t, the nominee I want to win, and the nominee that I believe will win.


Animated Feature

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, Mirai

Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, Isle of Dogs

Should’ve been nominated: I’m going to start off here with a pretty boring opinion, but I think the nominations here were pretty good. I haven’t seen Ralph Breaks the Internet or Mirai, but all of the other three were great movies that I really enjoyed.

I want to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie is a game changer in the world of animation. It’s funny, smart and gorgeous to look at. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit the Spider-Verse.

Will win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Supporting Actor

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell, Vice; Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Should’ve been nominated: Hugh Grant, Paddington 2. The Paddington sequel was one of the first 2018 films I saw and Grant’s performance as aging villainous stage actor Phoenix Buchanan has remained my favorite throughout the entire year.

I want to win: Sam Elliott and his glorious mustache or Adam Driver. Sam Elliott because I love Sam Elliot and the small amount of time he gets in A Star Is Born is very, very good. Adam Driver is just dynamite in BlacKkKlansman. I’m always impressed when someone plays a role of someone who is playing a role and Driver does it about as well as anyone I’ve seen.

Will win: Richard E. Grant. I haven’t seen Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but he seems to be winning everything else.

Supporting Actress

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Amy Adams, Vice; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Emma Stone, The Favourite; Marina de Tavira, Roma

Should’ve been nominated:Rachel McAdams, Game Night. She’s a total delight and boasts a comedic timing that is absolutely on point in the funniest movie of the year. “But she’s a lead, Jeremy,” you might say. And you’d be right, but so are Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

I want to win: Regina King. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hear she’s great and I think the Academy finally makes up for snubbing her work in Jerry Maguire in 1996.

Will win: Regina King

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Should’ve been nominated: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed. Paul Schrader’s film is criminally underrepresented in this year’s nominations. Sure it got a screenplay nod, but it very easily could have gotten a director and picture selection as well. Being left off of those lists is understandable. It was a strong year in film. What isn’t understandable is Ethan Hawke not being recognized for what is arguably the best work he’s done in a very long and storied career.

I want to win: Bradley Cooper

Will win: Christian Bale. Rami Malek does have momentum in this race, but for some reason, Hollywood is really keen on Vice. And Bale’s transformation just to get in character is easily the best part of Vice.

Actress in a Leading Role 

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born; Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Should’ve been nominated: The list here is really long. Regina Hall (Support The Girls) and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) both have strong arguments. But if you would’ve told me that Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade was simply video of an awkward teenage girl being filmed without her knowledge, first I would’ve thought that was super creepy, but second I totally would’ve believed you. That’s how amazing Elsie Fisher is in that film.

I want to win: Lady Gaga

Will win: Glenn Close. Because no one has seen The Wife and the Academy hates me.

Director 

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman; Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Adam McKay, Vice

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Should’ve been nominated: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born. I don’t understand how Adam McKay got a nomination over Cooper in this race. Vice is fiercely adequate as a film, but from Adam McKay it’s hardly a stand-out. It’s an angrier The Big Short with the smugness turned up to 11. I don’t think it should’ve been shut out, there are some legitimately great performances that deserve to be recognized, but it doesn’t belong anywhere in the vicinity of this category or Best Picture.

I want to win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. Some people might call a win for Lee a career achievement award. I think those people would be wrong. BlacKkKlansman is one of the most important films of the year and Lee presents it in a package that is funny, intriguing, intense, and uncompromising.

Probably will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma. I’m not sure if it’s the dog crap or the naked martial arts, but people are super into Roma. In all seriousness, it is a beautiful film and every moment feels crafted with love. I wouldn’t at all be upset to see Cuarón go home with the statue.

 

Best Picture

Black Panther, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, Roma, A Star Is Born

Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite

Should’ve been nominated: Blindspotting. It’s better than anything else on this list. Full stop. No snark, no quips, it’s better than anything else on this list.

I want to win: A Star Is Born is my favorite movie nominated, but as an unashamed lover of superhero movies, I’d love to see Black Panther go home a winner.

Probably will win: Roma. If I’m being honest, picture is the only category where I really don’t have any idea what’s going to win. I’d love to think that A Star Is Born would have a good chance because of how well it’s performed at the box office since it’s release in October, however that’s hardly an indicator of awards success. Roma is currently the odds on favorite, most likely due to it nearly sweeping the critic awards so far this year. But I think this is looking like a pretty tight race, so I’d keep checking in over there until you have to turn in your picks for the office Oscar pool.

 

There you have it. Those are my picks. Get your bets in on time. I’ll take 60% of your winnings and you can cover any losses (there won’t be any). And as a bonus for making it this far, I’ll give you one more quickie: I don’t want to be over-dramatic, but if “Shallow” doesn’t win Best Original Song, I’ll light myself on fire. Your move, Academy.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

 

Episode 130: A Star is Born

This week, Feelin’ Film contributor Jeremy Calcara joins us to discuss the a tale as old as time. No, not BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, but rather the fifth iteration of A STAR IS BORN. This beautifully tragic musical journey is one full of emotions that we enjoyed unpacking together and we hope that you enjoy as well.

* We apologize for the slight audio issues in this episode. Unfortunately the bandwidth gremlins got us for a portion of it.

What We’ve Been Up To  0:01:09

(Jeremy – The Good Place)
(Patrick – Magic For Humans)
(Aaron – Private Life, Venom, Free Solo)

A Star is Born Review – 0:12:33

The Connecting Point – 1:21:29

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Star is Born


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.