Where A Tarantino Star Trek Could Go

The rumor that Quentin Tarantino is developing a Star Trek film is gaining traction again, now with reports that he’s met with J.J. Abrams and Paramount to work on a script, but It’s all still in super early stages. I have some ideas on what it could lead to, and also a few misgivings on Tarantino taking on a Star Trek film. And do note that I’m a massive fan of both Tarantino and Star Trek.

Tarantino Trek

Tarantino has expressed interest in doing a Trek film before, mostly as a fully fleshed out 2 hour plus version of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” (I’ll go into that later) which he went into on his Nerdist Podcast episode (relevant conversation starts about the one hour, eight minute mark). Earlier in that episode, he talked about how earlier in his career (I think it was just after Pulp Fiction) he toyed with the idea of doing a Luke Cage film, but he wasn’t confident in his ability to manage fan expectation, as he just wants to make HIS Luke Cage movie. And he’d want to make HIS Star Trek movie. I don’t think Tarantino could make HIS Trek movie while balancing studio notes and fan demands, both of whom are trying to “protect the brand.” So, much like last year’s Tarantino/Deadpool petition, as much as I’d love to see a Tarantino Trek film, two things I love, I don’t think we’d get a Tarantino Trek film, we’d get a Trek film with Tarantino’s name on it. Tarantino and franchises just aren’t a good fit. He’s got too defined a style and vision, that doesn’t jive with the studio goals for franchising films and creating cinematic universes.

That said: A fully fleshed out “Yesterday’s Enterprise” would be fantastic to fill in the holes only vaguely alluded to in the episode/franchise. And if I thought for one second that Tarantino would be allowed to make HIS Trek, I’ll be the first on board and in line to watch it. I think Paramount would do well to maybe do…. I guess an anthology franchise would be the best way to put it. They’ve got this big enormous sandbox of potential stories that have only ever been mentioned in the shows, in addition to a wide range of possibilities for Trek post-Voyager. Give some filmmakers carte blanche to make a Trek film. They don’t even need massive budgets to make it work. Tarantino could probably make a damn good one for $30million. Give the filmmakers a handful of guidelines to stick to so it’s still TREK, but otherwise, be bold.

Maybe test the waters with rebooting or remaking old stories (like “Yesterday’s Enterprise”) so you’re still kind of playing it safe, but going kinda wild with it. And the anthology comes in with “First movie is about this thing, second is about another thing with different characters, third is yet another story with still more different characters.” It’s kinda sorta what Disney/Lucasfilm is doing with Star Wars, kinda sorta what Disney/Marvel is doing with the MCU, but if they approach it right, as in, “Yeah, they’re all connected, it’s a big universe, but no one thing explicitly relies on or feeds into the other. They’re all their own thing.” Don’t make it an event. Just make it exist.

IF, and BIG IF, Tarantino’s talks with Abrams and Paramount do lead somewhere, I would actually love a full “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” movie. Full back story, Yesterday’s Enterprise is about Captain Picard’s Enterprise D encountering a temporal anomaly, with the Enterprise C breaking through from its own time 20 years in the past to join Picard in the present. The Enterprise C scored a decisive, yet sacrificial victory at the Battle of Narendra III, which saved the Klingons from a Romulan double cross. What’s important to note is that at the time of this battle, The Klingons and Romulans were allies against the Federation, but were in the middle of peace talks at Khitomer. The Federation’s sacrifice to save the Klingons, coupled with the Romulan betrayal, led to the Khitomer Accords being signed, aided by Captain Spock and Curzon Dax representing the Federation, and a longstanding peace treaty with the Klingons. But with the Enterprise C removed from that battle due to the aforementioned temporal anomaly, that battle ends differently, the treaty is never signed, and the Federation is in a longstanding war with the Klingons and Romulans.

“Yesterday’s Enterprise” stands as one of the best of that entire series, if not the entire 50 year history of the franchise, and I would love to see it bulked out and expanded on. There is a lot to that story that Tarantino could dive into. Tarantino’s ability to deftly maneuver between multiple story lines, in a fractured timeline, would make this a perfect marriage of art and artist.

Ultimately, I’m skeptical, but optimistically so.

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There’s Still Time To Fix the Dark Universe

The Mummy is a very problematic film. It’s trying to be way too many things, and none of those things are what the film needs to be or should be. I get that Universal is trying to set up a Cinematic Universe, so they’re building a world, and using this film to do it. But the one thing they don’t get is that these Monsters aren’t superheroes.

When it was first announced that they were working on resurrecting their stable of classic monster films, with big names attached no less, I was excited. I grew up on the classics. Then trailers started rolling out and they looked exactly like the big budget action films they’re patterning the cinematic universe after. That’s not a knock on the MCU or the DCEU or Fox’s X-MenCU. They’re great, and they usually work for what they are. But that’s because the films fit the genre. The topics fit the genre. But we don’t need another big, loud, action-packed franchise/cinematic universe. We’ve got Avengers, Justice League, Star Wars, Transformers, Fast & Furious, and a handful of others.

What the audiance needs, what The Mummy needed to be, what the Dark Universe needs to be… is a horror franchise. A horror universe. These are monster/horror films. They don’t need to be action blockbuster tentpoles. They can be high budget horror films (which in that genre is really anything north of $5 million). These monsters, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Creature From The Black Lagoon… they are the genesis for horror cinema. Don’t remove them from horror, and don’t remove horror from them.

What could Universal do with that? Dominate the fall. Just own October. Disney’s releasing a Star War every Christmas. Marvel & DC are duking it out in the summer. Just release a monster movie every Halloween. That could be THEIR thing.

Hell… follow in the Marvel/Lucasfilm footsteps of bringing in an indie/auteur director who made some waves to bring a unique eye to your films. Indie horror is huge right now. Get a horror filmmaker, one who’s had a hit over the past few years, have them conceive your film. Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Robert Eggers (The Witch), Trey Edward Shults (It Comes At Night), David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), Mike Flanagan (Hush), Fede Alvaraz (Don’t Breathe), Adam Winegard (You’re Next, The Guest), Anne Billar (The Love Witch), or go foreign for some added flare, like Julia Ducournau (Raw) from France or Sang-Ho Yeon (Train to Busan) from South Korea. All of them could bring something to the table to make these insanely good films that people would want to watch. Get them all together, say “This is our grand design for the franchise, drive your films toward it, but how you get there is up to you.” Then let the artists work.

Treat it like a horror franchise. Not an action franchise. Universal already has one in Fast & Furious. Horror is notoriously low risk/high reward (for studios, anyway). They could easily spend a modest $50 million (modest for studios), get a good cast and crew together, make some bank at the box office. And have themselves a nice tidy franchise on your hands.

Back to The Mummy, I felt like Sofia Boutella was the only one who understood that it was a horror film. She was operating and performing at a different level. She got it. It’s just too bad no one else did. Everyone was making a boring action movie with no discernable sense of direction. She made a monster-horror film. So Universal… please, I beg you… take a cue from Boutella. Make these as horror films. You’ll make some money, and the audience will dig it.

First Trailer for Star Trek: Discovery- I’m Excited & Nervous

Star Trek: Discovery, starring Sonequa Martin Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif & Anthony Rapp.

Right up top, it’s getting a 15 episode order instead of 13. That’s good. That cast. Also very good.

The thing that’s bugged me since they first announced we’re going to barely pre-Kirk era Starfleet, is that we haven’t had a Trek take place in the in-universe future since 2002, when Nemesis came out. Everything since, from Enterprise, to Kelvin-verse (official name for the Abrams films), and now back to Trek-prime with Discovery is all prequel based. For a series, a franchise, that was so forward focused, so progressive, it’s a difficult pill to swallow seeing it so regressive. DS9 and Voyager handed the franchise the Gamma and Delta quadrants to explore, Voyager gave us the 29th century’s Temporal Integrity Commission to to explore, basically handing us 400 years worth of space exploration left untouched. Think about everything that’s happened since 1617. All the discoveries and exploration that was done. And we keep getting, “Yeah, Ferdinand Magellan was awesome, so was this other guy who was Magellan adjacent. By the way, we eventually go to the moon, but how ’bout that Magellan guy, huh?! HUH?! Sailing and shit.”

There was another announcement that came with the “Slightly Before Kirk” decision was that it was to be anthologized. Bryan Fuller shot that down, but now he’s gone, so who knows? But they won’t anthologize it because that’s not how Trek works. That screws up the human element of Trek. I don’t mean humans as a species, but human as in connecting with the characters. They also won’t because they didn’t with Heroes, like they were supposed to, because “Oh, Character A is popular, so let’s keep them around forever.”

The other thing that gives me pause is how much of an influence the Kelvin-verse films will have on the series. Not the stories told, obviously, but the storytelling. They were decidedly more aggressive, more militaristic. Lots of space battles, destruction, death, and violent ends. Not that I have a problem with that, but will that do away with the core of Trek, the aims at peace and understanding and utopia? Klingons were the villains in OTS, and were allies by TNG. TNG had the Ferengi, who joined the Federation by the end of DS9. The Borg were huge villains across 3 shows and a movie, but both TNG and VOY had episodes where they were trying to understand and come to terms with the Borg. The Romulans, the Cardassians… they were hinted at becoming friendlies at some point in the future. Of the prime-verse, not just some weird Mirror-verse. That’s not to say the path to peace wasn’t littered with conflicts, battles or wars. But there was still that path. And Kelvin-verse sort of ignored that.

I’m excited to have Trek back on TV. That’s where it belongs. That’s where it thrives. I’m just more than a little nervous for what they may do with it (knowing studio people) and this trailer does little to ease those apprehensions. But it does look pretty cool. And as a lifelong Trek fan, I’ll watch every episode as it “airs,” so to speak.

But my point still stands: Let’s explore more of the unknown, and less of what we mostly know. I’d probably be OK not having those gaps filled.

Brodie’s 89th Annual Oscar Picks

For the record, it’s the Oscars that are the 89th Annual, not my picks. I’m only 31, and have only been making picks since 1999. Will Win is my official pick. Should Win is what I would vote for were I a voting member.

Best Picture

Should Win: Arrival
Will Win: La La Land
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Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone in La La Land

I have seen all 9 nominees. This is a bite-the-bullet vote for La La Land. It’s not a bad film. It’s not as good as award season has made it out to be (the script is problematic, and that kind of spreads out to everything else). But it has the momentum, the same momentum that propelled The Artist five years ago. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood. And they don’t particularly care for genre films
Also Nominated: Fences; Hacksaw Ridge; Hell or High Water; Hidden Figures; Lion; Manchester by the Sea; Moonlight

Best Director

Should Win: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Will Win: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Director Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone on the set of LA LA LAND.

Damien Chazelle & Emma Stone on the set of La La Land.

I have seen all 5 nominees. To be honest, Denis Villeneuve’s work on Arrival could and should be talked about with as much fervor as Damien Chazelle’s on La La Land. Despite all of La La Land’s problems, which can pinned on Chazelle, it still actually is a beautifully executed film, and a lot of what works about La La Land can just as readily be pinned on Chazelle. It’s not worth nearly as much love as it’s getting, but Chazelle’s conducting of the cinematic orchestra that is La La Land is noteworthy. It’s a film that worked in spite of itself.
Also Nominated: Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge; Barry Jenkins – Moonlight; Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea; Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Actor

Should Win: Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Will WinRyan Gosling – La La Land
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Ryan Gosling in La La Land

I have seen all 5 nominees. I think Casey Affleck was great, but there has been some negative personal life press around him that could have hurt him in voting. Denzel was great in Fences, but there’s the specter of the stage play hanging over it, and he plays it as stage work being filmed. Viggo was fantastic in an interesting role which gets him the Should Win slot. But the hype train behind La La Land is strong, and knowing Oscar history… I think Ryan Gosling could walk home with this.
Also Nominated: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea; Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge; Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress

Should Win: Viola Davis – Fences (not nominated in this category)
Will WinEmma Stone – La La Land
emma-stone-in-la-la-land

Emma Stone in La La Land

I have seen 4 of the 5 nominees. Really, Viola Davis should be nominated for, and win, Best Actress, but some politicking on the studios part got her into the less competitive Supporting Actress category. The Best Actress category is a mess this year. No Taraji P. Henson, no Amy Adams. While I haven’t seen Meryl Streep’s Florence Foster Jenkins, there’s a large part of me that just assumes she got it on the strength of being Meryl Streep, and not on the strength of the actual performance. But ultimately the La La Land hype train will carry Emma Stone to the win. And for the record, she was good. Better than Adams? Henson? Portman? Davis? Nope.
Also Nominated: Isabelle Huppert – Elle; Ruth Negga – Loving; Natalie Portman – Jackie; Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor

Should Win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Will Win:Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Moonlight

Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

I have seen all 5 nominees. The same studio politicking that kept Viola Davis out of the Lead Actress category also kept Dev Patel out of Lead Actor for Lion. He wouldn’t have won in either category, but at least this got him the nomination, which I understand is an honour in and of itself. But this one’s a no-brainer. Mahershala Ali deserves it. He deserves it for Moonlight. He deserves it for his great TV work over on Netflix’s House of Cards and Netflix’s Luke Cage. He deserves it for his entire 2016. Walter Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea could be a spoiler if the Academy plays it safe. I should point out that Michael Shannon and his Golden Globe winning co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson were both great in Nocturnal Animals
Also Nominated: Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water; Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea; Dev Patel – Lion; Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress

Should Win: Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Will WinViola Davis – Fences
viola-davis-in-fences

Viola Davis in Fences

I have seen all 5 nominees. Again… Viola Davis is in the wrong category, and in a just world, she wouldn’t be here and Naomie Harris would be the easy pick. But Viola Davis was able to transition her stage portrayal to film better than Denzel was. Nicole Kidman and Octavia Spencer are good seat filler, but it’s a two person race between Harris & Davis, with Davis having the advantage. I don’t even know what Michelle Williams is doing here.
Also Nominated: Nicole Kidman – Lion; Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures; Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Original Screenplay

Should Win: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou – The Lobster
Will WinKenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
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Michelle Williams & Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

I have seen all 5 nominees. For all the great work Damien Chazelle did as a director, for all the other awards La La Land will most likely win tonight… the one it is least qualified for is Screenplay, as that is the biggest problem with the film. 20th Century Women was interesting and engaging, Hell or High Water was easily the most thrilling and entertaining. But for a truly original, bizarre, unique screenplay that just draws you in, that’s The Lobster (which overall is largely missing from the awards season chatter). And despite how morose it is, the script for Manchester by the Sea is quite good, and actually quite deserving of the love it has received.
Also Nominated: Hell or High Water; La La Land; 20th Century Women

Best Adapted Screenplay

Should Win: Eric Heisserer – Arrival
Will WinBarry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney – Moonlight
moonlight

Andre Holland & Revante Rhodes in Moonlight

I have seen all 5 nominees. Arrival was one of the most interesting films of the year, and I’d hate for it to be shut out, but we all know the Academy’s recent track record with genre films. That said… It was a very fine line that got Arrival into the Should Win category, as Moonlight is an  amazing character piece. The supporting players are given little time to do get in and do their work, but they’re given so much and said short amount of time. Jenkins and McCraney paint a glorious backdrop for the stunning primary arc. Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi could be a spoiler, if the Academy wants to recognize the great work on Hidden Figures.
Also Nominated: Fences; Hiden Figures; Lion

Best Animated Feature

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Will Win: Moana
moana

Moana

I have seen 3 of the 5 nominees. I have little faith in the Oscars to not go Disney. Of the 15 Animated features to win the award since its creation, only 4 have NOT gone to Disney/Pixar. And now Disney has two nominees. Kubo & The Two Strings should win, but I think the win will go to Moana.
Also Nominated: My Life as a Zucchini; The Red Turtle; Zootopia

Best Documentary Feature

Will Win: 13th
I haven’t seen any of these. But 13th is trending positively. OJ: Made In America could be a spoiler, as it appeared on several Year End lists. It’s a toss up, sure.
Also Nominated: Fire at Sea; I Am Not Your Negro; Life, Animated; O.J.: Made in America

Best Cinematography

Should Win: Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Will Win: Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Also Nominated: Greg Fraser – LionJames Laxton – MoonlightRodrigo Prieto – Silence; Bradford Young – Arrival

Best Film Editing

Should Win: Arrival
Will Win: La La Land
Also Nominated: Hell or High Water; Hacksaw RidgeMoonlight

Best Visual Effects

Should Win: The Jungle Book
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Also Nominated: Deepwater Horizon; Doctor Strange; Kubo and the Two Strings; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Production Design

Should WinLa La Land
Will WinLa La Land
Also Nominated: Arrival; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Hail, Caesar!; La La Land; Passengers

Best Original Score

Should WinLa La Land
Will Win: La La Land
Also Nominated: Jackie; Lion; Moonlight; Passengers

Best Foreign Language Film

Will Win: The Salesman (Iran)
Also Nominated: Land of Mine (Denmark); A Man Called Ove (Sweden); Tanna (Australia); 
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Best Costume Design

Should Win: Jackie
Will Win: Jackie
Also Nominated: Allied; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Florence Foster Jenkins; La La Land

Best Makeup/Hairstyling

Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Also Nominated: A Man Called Ove; Suicide Squad

Best Original Song

Should Win: “Drive It Like You Stole It” – Sing Street (not nominated)
Will Win“City of Stars” – La La Land (though I would love to see Moana get it so Lin-Manuel Miranda can go full EGOT)
Also Nominated: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land“Can’t Stop This Feeling!” – Trolls“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Sound Editing

Will Win: La La Land
Also NominatedArrival; Deepwater Horizon; Hacksaw Ridge; Sully

Best Sound Mixing

Will Win: La La Land
Also Nominated: Arrival; Hacksaw Ridge; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Documentary Short

Will Win: Joe’s Violin
Also Nominated: Extremis; 4.1 Miles; Watani: My Homeland; The White Helmets

Best Live-Action Short

Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs
Also Nominated: La Femme et le TGV; Silent Nights; Sing; Timecode

Best Animated Short

Will WinPearl
Also Nominated: Blind Vaysha; Borrowed Time; Pear Cider and Cigarettes; Piper

Best Films of 2016: Part 2 – Individual Achievement

Best Director

Robert Eggers – The Witch

Honourable Mentions: Denis Villeneuve – Arrival; David McKenzie – Hell or High Water

Best Actress

Amy Adams – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch; Hailee Steinfeld – Edge of Seventeen

Best Actor

Denzel Washington – Fences

Honourable Mentions: Chris Pine – Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Honourable Mentions: Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky; Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Honourable Mentions: Woody Harrelson – Edge of Seventeen; Patrick Stewart – Green Room

Best Ensemble Cast

Everybody Wants Some!!

Honourable Mentions: Fences; Captain Fantastic

Best Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Honourable Mentions: Richard Linklater – Everybody Wants Some!!; Robert Eggers – The Witch

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: August Wilson – Fences; Rhett Ree & Paul Wernick – Deadpool

Best Cinematography

Bradford Young – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Jarin Blashke – The Witch; Trent Opaloch – Captain America: Civil War

Best Production Design

Ryan Warren Smith – Green Room

Honourable Mentions: Mark Tildesley – High Rise; Craig Lathrop – The Witch

Best Visual Effects

Robert Legato, Visual Effects Supervisor – The Jungle Book

Honourable Mentions: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Arrival

Best Sound

Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Jungle Book

Best Stunts

Ben Cooke, Stunt Coordinator – Assassin’s Creed

Honourable Mentions: Robert Alonzo & Phillip J. Silva, Stunt Coordinators – Deadpool; Mickey Giacomazzi, Sam Hargrave, Florian Hotz &Spiro Ratazos, Stunt Coordinators – Captain America: Civil War

Best Score

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Honourable Mentions: Clint Mansell – High Rise; Jed Kurzel – Assassin’s Creed

Best Song

‘Drive it Like You Stole It’ from Sing Street

Honourable Mentions: ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land; I’m So Humble’ from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Best of 2016 – Film: Part 1

10 Best Films of the Year

  1. Arrival

    Arrival was exactly the movie we needed at exactly the right time. We have been offered so many dire, apocalyptic visions of alien contact, in the form of invasion, that it was… well, truly inspiring for director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer to approach the concept from a place of hope. There’s a quiet, unassuming quality to Arrival that reassures the audience that even though it appears, at face value, to be frightening, there is ultimately nothing to fear. Amy Adams delivers a stellar performance that impresses without being showy.
  2. The Witch

    The Witch‘s selling point is the mood. It’s a horror film, but in the classical sense. It’s as tense as they come. And the way writer/director Robert Eggers is able to layer everything together to create such a gorgeous film is damn fine filmmaking. If one aspect of the process didn’t work, it would have thrown everything else off. If one performance was out of place, if the cinematography didn’t quite work. But everything was on point.
  3. Hell or High Water

    What’s great about Hell or High Water is that it doesn’t reinvent the Western. It sort of wanders through the first act unremarkably. But the deeper we get into Taylor Sheridan’s script, the more Ben Foster, a career-best Chris Pine, and Jeff Bridges unfold the story, the more they pull you in. They build characters you really care about.
  4. Everybody Wants Some!!

    It’s no secret Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused is my all time favourite film. There’s a brilliance to the film where nothing happens, and everything happens. Much like D&C, Everybody Wants Some!! is about the characters growing. There’s no hero’s arc. There’s no goal to accomplish. It’s just here are these guys in the first week of college. No one does character pieces like Linklater. And the cinematic world is better for it.
  5. The Nice Guys

    I can’t pin down exactly what worked best with Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, but it’s a whole lot of everything. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was the delicious appetizer in his meta-sans-the-wink examination of comedy noir, while The Nice Guys was a fantastic main course. Black plays like a less bleak, not quite as a dark Coen Brother. He toys with your expectations of storytelling, of comedy, of mystery thrillers, and delivers some damn fine cinema.
  6. Captain America: Civil War

    Civil War is as damn near a perfect superhero movie. We get the best aspects of the genre all rolled into one film. The modern era god myths. The political and social allegories. We get fantastic performances, a wonderful, intricatly crafted story. One thing the Marvel films struggled with early on was serving the universe, while still being a great film in their own right, but Civil War perfects that.
  7. Green Room

    Jeremy Saulnier crafts beautiful, tense thrillers. Green Room is a beautiful bottle-episode thriller. He film’s an aesthetically pleasing film that locks its characters in a box with wasps and kicks that box. Every step of the way, Saulnier ups the ante, but it doesn’t feel over the top. The film goes precisely where it needs to go each and every time, and it’s anchored by great performances from Patrick Stewart and the late Anton Yelchin.
  8. Kubo & The Two Strings

    The first thing you notice about Kubo & The Two Strings is how gods damn beautiful it looks. The major animation houses have a great technical appreciation of creating animation, but Kubo focuses on the art of it. Yet where Kubo excels is the amazing family story that’s told. A boy and his family. A son and his parents. Kubo is a glorious marriage of masterful storytelling and gorgeous animation-as-art.
  9. Fences

    Not to downplay Denzel’s directorial efforts, but this film belongs to the writer and actors (which, Denzel also is among, so he doesn’t escape praise-free). August Wilson adapted his own stage play for the film (though the screenplay was unfinished when he passed over 10 years ago, and was finished by Tony Kushner), and all of the adult cast members reprise their roles from the Tony winning Broadway revival. What we’re treated to is a powerful character study in Troy’s role as a father, a husband, an employee and a black man in 1950s Pittsburgh. Denzel delivers one of his career best performances, then Viola Davis walks on set and puts him to shame.
  10. Midnight Special

    I’ll preface this by saying that there were certainly better films this year than writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special which could occupy this 10th spot. But I loved this film on a level that it didn’t feel right not including it in the top 10. And really, any of the honourable mentions below could also occupy this spot, but this is one I didn’t feel got a lot of love over the year, getting lost in the shuffle. Which is too bad because it truly is a remarkable film. Netflix gave us a great modern take on the kid-adventure flicks of the 80s with Stranger Things. We got that in the cinemas with Midnight Special. It’s a less whimsical look at E.T. or Flight of the Navigator. Not as dark as Stranger Things. But still a great small scale sci-fi flick  with great performances from Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon and the kid, Jaeden Lieberher.

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87th Annual Academy Awards: LIVE BLOG!

Hey everybody! Thanks for joining me again for a live blog-o-thon of the Oscar ceremony! I’ll keep updating with winners, losers, upsets and performances. You can also follow me on twitter – @Brodiemann, and that will just be my general reaction to things. There’s also the feed you can see directly to your right, so you don’t really even have to leave this page. Just hit refresh every so often.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards!

The 87th Annual Academy Awards!

Time stamps are in Central Time.

23:05– Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the Academy Award for the Best Picture of 2014 goes to BIRDMAN! YES!

22:56– Julianne Moore finally picks up an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Still Alice.

22:50– And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything!

22:42– Alejandro G. Inarritu wins the Academy Award for Best Director for Birdman!

22:34– Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar goes to The Imitation Game!

22:30- The Oscar for best Original Screenplay goes to Birdman! I thought for sure it would go to boyhood.

22:22– Alexandre Desplat picks up the Best Original Score Oscar for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel

22:10- Yay… a tribute to The Sound of Music.

22:05- The Oscar goes to John Stephens (John Legend) & Lonnie Lynn (Common) for Glory for Best Original Song. Great song. Brilliant performance!

21:58- John Legend and Common perform their Oscar nominated song Glory from Selma.

21:50- The Best Documentary Feature Oscar goes to Citizenfour.

21:43- The Oscar for Best Film Editing goes to Whiplash! Surprise! I thought for sure it would go to Boyhood! Good job, Tom Cross!

21:33- Now to remember those we’ve lost over the past year. Fare thee well, Mike Nichols.

21:26– The Academy Award for Best Cinematography goes to Birdman!

21:22– Best Production Design goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel Lobby

The Grand Budapest Hotel Lobby

21:11– Big Hero 6 takes home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film!

21:07– Best Animated Short Film goes to Feast!

21:04– The Oscar for Best Visual Effects goes to Interstellar!

21:00– Rita Ora performs “Grateful” from Beyond The Lights, nominated for Best Song tonight.

20:54- And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress goes to Patricia Arquette for Boyhood!

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

20:50- Now for Best Sound Editing, the Oscar goes to American Sniper

20:47- And the award for Best Sound Mixing goes to Whiplash!

20:34- Tim McGraw sings the Academy Award Nominated “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me”

20:30– Best Documentary Short Subject goes to Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1!

20:26- Best Live Action Short Film goes to The Phone Call!

20:16– Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island performing the Oscar Nominated “Everything Is Awesome!”

20:11– Best Foreign Language Film goes to Ida!

20:02– Best Make-up/Hair goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel. My first incorrect pick of the night. I’m 2 for 3.

Tilda Swinton Grand Budapest Hotel

Tilda Swinton Grand Budapest Hotel

19:59– Best Costume Design goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel

19:47– Introducing the first two Best Picture Nominees is the great Liam Neeson.

19:41– First award of the night, Best Supporting Actor goes to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash!

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

19:36– Great opening number, Neil. Loved Ana Kendrick.

19:30– CURTAIN’S UP!

19:20– The countdown is on! 10 minutes till we find out what song NPH sings for his opening number.

19:05– I feel bad for Ethan Hawke. If it wasn’t for J.K. Simmons… well, he’d still be up against Edward Norton, but he’d have slightly better odds tonight.

18:54- I am enjoying the #AskHerMore. The whole “Who are you wearing!?!” really turned me off on the red carpet, but it’s nice hearing everyone talk about their projects instead of their dresses.

18:36– It’s Red Carpet time! I remember sitting in the bleachers back in 2006. Got to chat with Joel Stein, shook George Clooney’s hand, almost got Will Smith’s autograph. It really was a lot of fun. Would love to go again someday.