The Official Review Thread of 2018

The Original BJ
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:03 pm

Everyone’s going to have their individual reactions to this year’s crop of films, but in answer to Mister Tee’s question — I think there’s a big split between the question “are the contenders this year good?” and “are the contenders this year WINNERS?” Because I’ve liked a lot of what I’ve seen so far (with Vice and Mary, Queen of Scots unseen by me but receiving strong early notices, and of course an Eastwood film always at least has potential to be special). It just seems like many of them are failing at some combo of not mainstream enough/not financially successful enough to feel like Best Picture winners. (Though of course, as I said, if Moonlight and The Hurt Locker were part of this year’s crop, we’d say the same about them at this point.) So, I guess it depends on your rubric, if a series of strong films that remain mostly niche items makes it a weak year in Oscar terms. (Although if that’s the rubric, we’re headed for a lot more “weak” years up ahead, as the divide between blockbusters and indies just gets larger and larger, and more movies like Crazy Rich Asians get included in the discussion out of sheer desperation to recognize something that wasn’t a franchise that made cultural/box office impact.)

Anonymous, your favorite Buster Scruggs segment is my least favorite, and vice versa, hahahaha.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:00 pm

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, David Krumholtz, Clancy Brown, Willie Watson, James Franco, Stephen Root, Liam Neeson, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Jefferson Mays, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson, Jonjo O'Neill, Saul Rubinek, Chelcie Ross.
Dirs: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen.

It's the latest from the Coen brothers and it's on Netflix. This is actually an anthology film consisting of six short films which focuses on various elements of the Western genre through the distinctive Coen brothers lens thereby blending black comedy, absurdity and surprisingly dark moments. As such, the six films are of varied quality. My personal favorite is the fourth one, "All Gold Canyon" which features Tom Waits as a prospector looking for gold. The opening titular segment is pretty freakin' hilarious too and sucks you right into the mood of the piece. The fourth segment with Zoe Kazan goes on for a bit too long and is my least favorite. Overall, it's a pretty solid entry into the Coen brothers filmography. Is it their masterpiece? No. But they made so many good movies, it's sad to call this mid-tier.

Oscar Prospects: Don't know if any of the songs are Original. Cinematography could be competitive.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:23 am

The problem for Widows is that it got a B CinemaScore, which means audiences were lukewarm to it in general, which means word of mouth isn't likely. If Beale Street Could Talk could be a player, but what about Mary Queen of Scots? The reviews are good and the film, although period, could make a run the way say a Braveheart or Gladiator did? As for the Academy, it IS the kind of film they used to go gaga over...

That said, there are also films like Mary Poppins Returns and Welcome to Marwen that haven't been seen yet. I could see a cast for the latter more than the former all depending on how it's received. Zemeckis' last two films were duds, but the success of Flight, Beowulf, Polar Express, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Contact, and earlier show he can command box office pretty easily. If Marwen ends up being as fascinating as it looks and critics respond, perhaps it could come out of nowhere to become the prime contender.

Let's also not forget that Crazy Rich Asians charmed a lot of audiences earlier this year, though if WB focuses on one campaign over another, A Star Is Born will win out, so I wouldn't imagine they would cannibalize themselves, though a Best Picture nomination might become more plausible.

I think part of what hurt Green Book's chances was the controversy over Viggo Mortensen's out-of-character use of the "N" word at a press conference. While Mahershala Ali accepted his apology, it wasn't like he said that the use wasn't a big deal. I think that in itself might hamper the film's chances a bit. Plus, if the Driving Miss Daisy comparison were to hold, it would need to be a huge box office success. In today's dollars, DMD made over $230 million at the box office, which is pretty frickin' huge. It was #8 for the year at the box office, which is also significant. BTW, DMD's opening weekend on 3 screens was $24,581. Today, that would be roughly $55,293.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:47 am

Big Magilla wrote:On the other hand, what is the audience for Vice? Who wants to see a film about Cheney when we have even more evil men running the country now?


Indeed.

I rarely watch trailers on-line so I only saw the trailer for Vice a few days ago at the cinema. It looks sort of entertaining but nothing beyond that and its an Adam McKay film, which is only one step up from the likes of Michael Bay in my book. I didn't care from The Big Short which was nothing more the economics for dummies. However, Vice it is going to be a hard sell at the box office, particularly outside of the U.S. and despite a stellar cast, only a handful of actors can even get bums on seats these days internationally (Hanks, Streep, Cruise, Pitt, Lawrence, Di Caprio and a couple of others, and then only in the 'right' type of film).
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:33 am

Green Book could still rally when it goes wide. Word-of-mouth should help it beyond the critics. Let's keep in mind that it beat A Star Is Born for the audience award at Toronto, no guarantee of its Oscar potential but I wouldn't count it out yet.

On the other hand, what is the audience for Vice? Who wants to see a film about Cheney when we have even more evil men running the country now?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:00 am

I'm a little gun-shy about proclaiming Green Book fully dead -- last year, I thought Darkest Hour was on its way to bust-hood, and it somewhat defied gravity, lasting at much higher levels than films usually do in this era. And don't forget The Greatest Showman.

But...I, too, was shocked by how low the average was in so few theatres. I was expecting something like $40-50K per. This is a film whose selling point is that audiences are going to fall head over heels in love with it, and a dud start like this kicks that narrative right in the ass. Mark Harris tweeted that, usually, when the predictor crowd is way more bullish on a movie than critics, audiences tend to validate the predictors. This is a rare case where they're not doing it.

In fact, I've been meaning to post about this for a day or two, but haven't found time: the Gurus of Gold have Green Book and A Star is Born as the top two contenders for the best picture prize. My reaction to that was, if the competition is down to a third remake of an 80-year old movie and a film with a 70 Metacritic score, either it's one of the worst years in memory, or these Gurus don't have a clue what they're talking about. I realize it's really late in the year, and all the most prominent alternative possibilities have serious handicaps (Roma too arty/subtitled, The Favourite a period piece and a bit out-there, First Man a box-office flare-out -- don't know about If Beale Street Could Talk, but it feels iffy, as well), but there's got to be something else to compete with those two. (I swear, I was ready to say, Don't sleep on the possibility of either VIce or The Mule swooping in and taking command -- and now, tonight, the trades are reporting significant enthusiasm for Vice. McKay might win the whole match this year, after competing heavily last time out.)

Like Sabin, I've been lackluster in my moviegoing this year, at least to some extent because the election was roughly 1000 times more important to me...but also because what's on offer hasn't been that inspiring. BJ is the only one of us to have seen the majority of contenders, so maybe he can confirm or contradict me on this: it seems to me this year represents a huge comedown from last year. Last year, I could cite multiple movies I saw as plausible Best PIcture winners (Three Billboards, Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Dunkirk), and others were making arguments for Get Out and The Post. (This is not even to mention fine work like Phantom Thread or Call Me by Your Name, which were outside the Academy wheelhouse but would have been solid choices.) This year seems almost the opposite -- every single contender has more drawbacks than positives in terms of winning a consensus prize.

Let me add that I saw Widows on Friday and enjoyed it immensely, so I'm sorry to see that one suffering box office woes. It's not exactly a flop -- an estimated $12 million opening should make it $30-45 million. But, like First Man, it's see as a potentially commercial effort that fell short, and Oscar voters tend to punish those things.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:10 am

Precious Doll wrote
I think its a case of the change in cinema going habits of the general population that have been slowly going on for the last 5 years or so and its basically death by a thousand cuts before most theatrical films only play the festival circuit before heading to streaming services.

We're going to be there as soon as next year.

So sad.

Then again, I've never gone through a year where I've seen fewer movies than this one. I had my reasons, but we all know what Jean Renoir said about reasons.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:06 am

The Original BJ wrote:Not totally sure where to place this, but it’s worth noting that both Widows (in wide release) and Green Book (in limited) struggled at the box office this weekend. This is now three big studio dramas (First Man being the other) that seemed poised to be box office hits AND Oscar players that have fallen short at least in terms of the former. (I also probably need to get out of the box office prediction business — I thought all three films would be hits even after I’d seen them.)



Earlier today I was shocked when I saw the screen average for Green Book. Only word of mouth is going to save that one but it looks DOA. Also films like Boy Erased, Beautiful Boy, The Old Man and the Gun failed to generate little interest from the public and The Front Runner is off to a bad start, though given its lukewarm at best response from critics that was to be expected. Based on the Friday estimate alone At Eternity's Gate looks like its tanked as well.

Back in 2010/2011 The King's Speech made at least $414 million worldwide. That box office gross for that type of film is unthinkable now.

I think its a case of the change in cinema going habits of the general population that have been slowly going on for the last 5 years or so and its basically death by a thousand cuts before most theatrical films only play the festival circuit before heading to streaming services.

A large number of the films I have seen on the big screen this year have been at festival screenings. At least half of these screenings are well attended. Aside from a small handful of regular releases most the screenings I've attended throughout they year, even on days were tickets are as cheap as $5, the cinema are virtually empty. Its a mixture of festival screenings, blockbusters and candy bar sales that are keeping cinemas afloat.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:10 pm

Not totally sure where to place this, but it’s worth noting that both Widows (in wide release) and Green Book (in limited) struggled at the box office this weekend. This is now three big studio dramas (First Man being the other) that seemed poised to be box office hits AND Oscar players that have fallen short at least in terms of the former. (I also probably need to get out of the box office prediction business — I thought all three films would be hits even after I’d seen them.)

All of this also means that a year that looked like it could have a lot of overlap between box office hits and Oscar players will now be another where most of the award favorites are lower grosses. I imagine that’s a big boon to something like Black Panther, which is (along with A Star is Born) one of the few financial success stories that awards voters could rally around this year (especially anyone wanting to make the case that the Academy doesn’t need that Popular Film prize.)

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:10 am

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katharine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Carmen Ejogo, Claudia Kim.
Dir: David Yates.

The second installment of the JK Rowling's Harry Potter Wizarding World prequels has Newt Scamander becoming an unwilling participant in the hunt for Grindelwald, the pre-Voldemort villain of the Wizarding World. I'm a huge Potterhead and let me warn you, if you're not a Harry Potter fan and you walked into this without reading any of the books or seeing any of the movies, it might as well be a foreign-language film. It will definitely not appeal to you. But there are some nice visual touches in here and it does contain Rowling's soaring imagination. If only the script was stronger because a lot of it doesn't make too much sense (even to a Potter fan like yours truly). It's harmless and disposable.

Oscar Prospects: Production Design and Costume Design are possible.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby flipp525 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:30 pm

Suspria. Wow.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:33 pm

I kind of agree on Outlaw King. I think the story of Robert the Bruce is a good one, but a two-hour movie was the wrong format unless Mackenzie wanted to focus in on one specific aspect of the larger story (like Spielberg did with Lincoln). And it may just be me, but I thought it was off-puttingly, pornographically violent at times.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:41 pm

Outlaw King is a movie for people who think the last minute of Braveheart needed to be a full feature. Those people are wrong.

I knew it was going to be pretty terrible within the first minute. At all times, it feels like actors wearing costumes. Chris Pine isn’t believable at all in this role. The relationships aren’t developed, so the deaths feel meaningless. The story isn’t a full narrative, such that when the final battle ended, I was shocked to learn that was the end of the movie. It’s like watching a miniseries compressed into a feature, and with all the Games of Thrones walk-ons, I wondered if that was Netflix’s strategy.

Honestly, it made me appreciate Braveheart (a movie I don’t like) a little bit more.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:33 pm

American Animals
May be more-or-less a Wikipedia Movie (TM Sabin), with the twist that the narrative is intercut with interviews with the real-life participants and their families, but it's an entertaining one. For those who don't know, this is a true story of four young college students who decide to attempt an audacious-as-hell art heist at Transylvania University. Why would four well-off young men--who all seem well-positioned for a comfortable, successful life--attempt something that could potentially land them in prison for years? I don't know that the movie is quite satisfying in answering that question. Yes, it's pretty clear that there's a sense of millennial boredom at play, but I'm not totally convinced of that explanation when it comes to the two guys who join the plot mid-film. Why would Blake Jenner's character, a health-nut entrepreneur (it's mentioned that he bought his first rental property at 16) who seems more like a Winklevoss brother than anything, throw everything away to drive getaway for these guys? I'm not sure, and the movie isn't too interested in answering that question. But like I said, it's an entertaining film, and an interesting one. The cast is very solid, but honestly I think Bart Layton's razor-sharp instinct for using music is about the best thing this movie has going for it. More than the hybrid documentary approach, I think it really comes to life during some of the musical montages, and I'm not usually a fan of montages.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:41 am

OVERLORD
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Bokeem Woodbine, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite, Gianny Taufer.
Dir: Julius Avery.

It's World War II and a group of American soldiers are tasked to take down a German radio tower located in the middle of a church in a French town. They get there and find something even more horrible. This movie, I must say, gets really bloody, really violent and really insane....but in a way that kind of delights me. It's a film which manages to be a pretty good war film while combining elements of fantastical horror to great effect. It's strictly B-movie stuff but done quite well. It helps that the ensemble cast plays it straight while the script is pretty solid. Yeah, this is a bloody good time.

Oscar Prospects: Makeup & Hairstyling is possible.

Grade: B+


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