Thursday, December 12, 2019

Movie with Abe: Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems
Directed by Benny and Josh Safdie
Released December 13, 2019

The diamond industry is one that attracts a good deal of business, and buyers are often willing to pay a lot of money to get what they think is worth it. The value of a piece of jewelry can be highly subjective, and it may be that a story about the origins of a stone can sell someone more than its actual physical appearance. That can be dangerous both for those who invest too much in presenting something that ultimately won’t sell for anywhere near what they hope and for those who overpay for something unextraordinary and find themselves stuck with something they wish they had never bought.

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) operates a jewelry store in New York City and is deep in debt to everyone he works with, trading in each dollar he makes for the opportunity to win big on a sports game. His latest obsession is a stone from Ethiopia that he believes is worth one million dollars, and his plans to sell it at auction are disrupted when basketball player Kevin Garnett asks to borrow it for good luck. Howard’s already fragile life begins to implode as he risks losing everything, both professionally and personally, and tries desperately to balance his mistress (Julia Fox) and wife (Idina Menzel).

This is Sandler’s first sincere dramatic foray since “Punch-Drunk Love” more than a decade and half ago. It’s especially impressive since it still includes plenty of comedy, but Sandler manages to craft an entirely different character than the ones that fans have come to expect from him. He proves that he’s absolutely the right person for this role, so committed to the energy that Howard displays as he makes bad decision after bad decision, compelling somehow despite the absolute recklessness with which he conducts himself. It should be difficult to like him, yet there’s something endearing as conveyed by Sandler’s surprisingly layered turn, complicated further by Fox and Menzel playing strongly off him.

This marks this reviewer’s third experience with directing brothers Benny and Josh Safdie after “Daddy Longlegs” and “Heaven Knows What,” and while it’s a substantial improvement over those two, it’s still an odd specimen to digest. It works best when it’s mimicking a sports game, with the clock seemingly running out and impossible odds building against our broken hero. At other times, it’s simply bizarre and off-putting, likely more appealing to those who know Garnett and appreciate the opportunity to see him portray himself on screen. When Sandler is featured, it’s hard to look away, making it seem like this inarguably creative portrait is truly worthwhile.

B

Movie with Abe: Bombshell


Bombshell
Directed by Jay Roach
Released December 13, 2019

When powerful men are exposed as predators who have taken advantage of those who felt subservient to them, there are usually more stories to be told that haven’t yet come to light. The #metoo movement has tried to shed a light on all the people who have silently suffered, and allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein shook the industry when they came out two years ago, leading to the uncovering of many more such victims and abusers. Before that, however, there was a man whose influence was arguably even greater than Weinstein’s whose despicable behavior was finally revealed after years of misconduct.

Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) is a prominent face at Fox News, and her position puts her in the crosshairs of candidate Donald Trump when she moderates the Republican presidential debate in 2016. When another Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), is dismissed, she brings a suit against CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), claiming to have endured sexual harassment for years under the infamously tyrannical magnate. As swells of support for Ailes emerge among her colleagues, Kelly questions whether to say anything. A young up-and-coming staffer, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), sees a bright future ahead for herself, though she quickly learns that a straight shot to the top comes with certain conditions that don’t seem right.

The events surrounding Ailes’ downfall were adapted into a Showtime miniseries, “The Loudest Voice,” that aired earlier this year. That project focused much more on Ailes himself and how he created a toxic culture at Fox News. This film takes two real-life prominent figures, Kelly and Carlson, and one invented character, Pospisil, to symbolize the famous faces and the anonymous victims who had to endure Ailes with full knowledge of the potential repercussions for speaking up about their experiences. Perhaps rightly so, Ailes is a supporting character, giving the women the chance to own their own stories and take back the narrative.

Theron undergoes an incredible physical transformation to become a dead ringer for Kelly, and she mimics her mannerisms and attitude extraordinarily. Robbie, who also shines in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” this year, delivers a formidable turn as a naïve true believer whose optimism is slowly shattered by the horror of her reality. Kidman is fine but hardly the standout, and while Lithgow does a decent job capturing Ailes’ essence, it doesn’t compare to Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the character in Showtime’s miniseries. There are so many talented women in the ensemble, including Kate McKinnon, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Liv Hewson, Allison Janney, and so many more who have what barely counts as more than a cameo that it feels like this should have been a miniseries that could more fully have delved into all of the people it features. Its flashy style and knowing tone are all too reminiscent of “Vice,” demoting this film from a great take on an exposé to an overconfident and obnoxious project that’s ultimately entertaining and enlightening even if it’s more than a bit grating.

B

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture


My predictions: 2/5, picking only “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Who’s missing? Marriage Story, Little Women, Dolemite Is My Name, Knives Out

Well, this is a surprise. I cheered so loudly when Parasite was announced, making it only the second foreign-language film ever nominated in this race. To see an entirely Korean cast nominated is truly fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier about it. What’s not quite as exciting is a shut-out for “Little Women,” which is not good news for a film that includes a great cast. The same might be true for Golden Globes nomination leader “Marriage Story,” which still managed three individual nominations even if it couldn’t be here. Its omission would be a lot more troubling if films like “The Shape of Water” and “Green Book,” both of which went on to win Best Picture, hadn’t been snubbed here as well. The big get is for Bombshell, which scored individual accolades for all three of its female stars. Jojo Rabbit, also nominated for Scarlett Johansson's individual performance, is a fun choice since there really were some great and entertaining players involved. The two expected bigwigs, The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, both of which scored two individual acting bids, round out a category that doesn’t upset me much even if I’d love to see other films also represented here. I know that Nathaniel from The Film Experience always does a run-through of which ensemble players weren’t actually nominated from each of these casts, and, in addition to many actors with small roles in “Bombshell” and “The Irishman” who aren’t mentioned, the most egregious omission seems to be Archie Yates from “Jojo Rabbit.” All in all, this list is better than it’s been in years, in my opinion.

Who will win? I think Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes it, though I’d be so happy if it was “Parasite.”

SAG Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 4/5, missing Kidman
Who’s missing? Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Annette Bening (The Report), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell), Florence Pugh (Little Women)

I was so blindsided by the inclusion of Nicole Kidman (Bombshell) that I didn’t realize that I correctly predicted the other four nominees in this category. That’s a big boost for her film, which has been underperforming with some awards bodies, and she joins costar Margot Robbie (Bombshell), who I thought was much better. Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) missed out on a Golden Globe nomination in this race but rebounded here, joining her costar from another film, Laura Dern (Marriage Story), to become this year’s only double nominee. Rounding out the list is Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), who looks now like a sure thing for an Oscar nomination, even with no other support for her film. Kidman and Johansson are also nominated as part of their ensembles, and Robbie contends in that race for two different films.

Who will win? I think this goes to Lopez.

SAG Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 4/5, missing Foxx
Who’s missing? Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell)

Now here was a great surprise: Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy), a past SAG winner who earned three individual bids fifteen years ago and hasn’t been back on his own since. He is great in the film, and it’s nice to see him earn some buzz. Hopkins missing out isn’t a big deal since SAG didn’t honor his film anywhere else, and he may still manage an Oscar nomination. Though other awards bodies chose one over the other, both Al Pacino (The Irishman) and Joe Pesci (The Irishman) made it in, joining Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), all on his own, and Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), supported by his ensemble and a costar. I’m fine with this list – it’s a good one.

Who will win? I think this actually goes to Pesci.

SAG Nominees: Best Actress in a Leading Role


My predictions: 3/5, missing Erivo and Nyong’o
Who’s missing? Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Alfre Woodard (Clemency)

I didn’t even realize until I sat down to write this category that Awkwafina didn’t make the cut, which makes me sad. Many are likely thrilled that Lupita Nyong’o (Us) is here, and while I am glad that I finally watched and reviewed the film yesterday, I don’t think she deserves a spot here. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is doing better than many have expected, nabbing a slot over Ronan. The other three were expected: Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Renee Zellweger (Judy), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell), whose film picked up a lot of steam today and is the only one of this bunch to earn an ensemble bid.

Who will win? I suspect Zellweger wins here like everywhere else.

SAG Nominees: Best Actor in a Leading Role


My predictions: 3/5, missing Bale and Egerton
Who’s missing? Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

This category offered one major surprise in the form of Taron Egerton (Rocketman). The movie didn’t do much for me, and as a result I’m not excited, but it does throw the Oscar race for a loop since his film, which earned a Golden Globe bid for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, was expected just to show up in technical races. I’d much rather have seen Murphy here. I expected that Banderas might miss here, and also that Pryce might, but both could be back for the Oscars. De Niro’s omission is troubling for him, but his film seems to have no problem showing up elsewhere without him. Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) also gets another boost, on his own again this time. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) is no surprise, and Adam Driver (Marriage Story) got in along with two of his cast members. The only nominee also recognized as part of his ensemble is Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), who is looking like more of an Oscar sure thing after that wasn’t the case earlier on this season.

Who will win? I think Phoenix takes it without much of a problem.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Final SAG Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild will announce its picks for the best in film (and television) tomorrow morning at 10am. I made a point to write up my predictions before the Golden Globe nominations were announced since I didn’t want them to unduly influence me since SAG voters may feel differently than Globe voters about certain performances. I didn’t expect Shia LaBeouf or Maggie Smith to earn Globe nominations, but it’s probably safer to leave in the latter than the former. I still think Scarlett Johansson might land a double nomination. Robert De Niro got snubbed by Globe voters, but I feel like SAG might like him. And the cast of “Little Women” still has a shot too, but if it misses, that’s bad news for its Oscar prospects. Antonio Banderas, Christian Bale, and Jonathan Pryce are still threats for Best Actor, Cynthia Erivo and Lupita Nyong’o for Best Actress, Anthony Hopkins for Best Supporting Actor, and Kathy Bates and Annette Bening for Best Supporting Actress. The only change I’ll make is to put Hopkins in for supporting actor, though it feels weird to do that without Pryce. Here’s hoping for good surprises! I’ll have reactions by category tomorrow.

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role
Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)
Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role
Awkwafina (The Farewell)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Dolemite Is My Name
The Irishman
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Movie with Abe: Us

Us
Directed by Jordan Peele
Released March 22, 2019

In 2017, comedian and writer Jordan Peele made his directorial debut with “Get Out,” a satirical exploration of the experience of black people in a white America. The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike, classified as a comedy by the Golden Globes and termed a documentary in response by Peele. This year, he follows up his first film with another horrifying imagined world that once again asks those who watch it to consider just how much they know about the society they live in and what might happen if their comfortable existences were disrupted by a disturbing truth.

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) travels with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and son Jason (Evan Alex) to their lake house in Santa Cruz. When they get home, they notice a disconcerting sight outside: a family of four standing silently in the driveway. When Gabe goes out to investigate, he comes face-to-face with himself. The Wilsons are terrorized by their doppelgangers, dressed in red and claiming to have come to take the place of their counterparts. Determined to survive, Adelaide guides her family through a treacherous night made even scarier by the stamina and vengeful nature of their attackers.

As an unenthusiastic viewer of the horror genre, I avoided seeing this film for a while and did so now because of awards buzz for star Nyong’o and the film as a whole. It bears many similarities to Peele’s first feature in its presentation of a deeply unsettling commentary on society, one that involves horror elements in its fantastical story. Jump scenes are mostly avoided in favor of considerable gore and the legitimately frightening notion of people being pursued by others who look just like them and seek only to take their place.

Nyong’o has had quite a career trajectory since she won an Oscar for her feature film debut in “12 Years a Slave” in 2013. She also appears in another quasi-horror film this year, “Little Monsters,” one that makes better use of her talents, in this reviewer’s opinion. She dives deep into the role and delivers commendably based on what is asked of her, but, despite all of the hype and positive reception, both her performance and the film in general don’t resound quite as formidably as it should. Peele knows what kind of film he is making, and while it may be effective for some, it’s not a universal slum dunk for those uninterested in this genre and style of film.

B-

Monday, December 9, 2019

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


My predictions: 4/5, missing “Knives Out”
Who’s missing? Hustlers, Cats, Booksmart

This list is mostly expected, and the one film I haven’t seen - Knives Out - scored over another that I haven’t, “Hustlers,” though I’m headed to see that tonight. It’s a shame that there wasn’t room for “Booksmart” on this list, but at least it scored a bid for star Beanie Feldstein. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scored five bids, making it the most serious Oscar contender in this category. Rocketman, somehow, is next with three bids, along with “Knives Out.” Jojo Rabbit, predicted to do well across the board, netted just two nominations. The same goes for Dolemite Is My Name, Netflix’s lone representative in this race. I don’t have much more to say about this category at this point, but will offer my insight once I’ve seen my last remaining film.

Who will win? I think it’s safe to predict this for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Motion Picture – Drama


My predictions: 3/5, missing “Joker” and “The Two Popes”
Who’s missing? Little Women, Ford v Ferrari, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Bombshell, Uncut Gems, Richard Jewell

It was probably foolhardy for me to predict that “Richard Jewell” would surge here, but I didn’t see the two films that showed up doing so with such force. Joker and The Two Popes, though mostly to be vehicles for acting nominations with this group, scored four nominations each. 1917 only got three, but there wasn’t any expectation of it doing any better since there aren’t many technical categories where it could score. The Irishman netted five nominations, missing out on bids for star Robert De Niro and for its score, but it’s not in trouble. And Marriage Story, despite missing out on acclaim for director Noah Baumbach, was still the nominations leader with six bids. These are all great films, and even though none make my top five, I’m happy with the list. It’s unfortunate that “Little Women” couldn’t snag a spot, and we’ll see if these five make it all the way to Oscar. Three out of five from Netflix (plus one in comedy/musical) is a pretty sizeable victory.

Who will win? I’m going to pick Marriage Story over “The Irishman” and “1917.”

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Director – Motion Picture


My predictions: 3/5, missing Ho and Phillips
Who’s missing? Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

There was definitely a strong surge of support for Todd Phillips (Joker) and his film, though it’s also possible that he won’t be along the ride if he follows the path of another director who used to do less sophisticated comedies whose film went on to win Best Picture without him even being nominated (Peter Farrelly for “Green Book” last year). This is also good news for Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), whose film scored three total bids, which is pretty much the best it could have done given that it’s a foreign film. Sam Mendes (1917) saw his film get nominated in every category it could have since there aren’t a wealth of technical categories for it to dominate like it likely will at the Oscars. The other two nominees, as expected, are Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Martin Scorsese (The Irishman). Interestingly, Baumbach couldn’t manage to get in here despite his film being the nominations leader. This list also doesn’t include any women, with Gerwig as the only one who stood much of a chance going in, a track record that’s only continuing to become a trend each year.

Who will win? I think Scorsese wins this, though it could be Mendes or Tarantino.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture


My predictions: 3/5, missing “Parasite” and “The Two Popes”
Who’s missing? Jojo Rabbit, The Farewell, Little Women, Bombshell

This lineup is pretty expected, even if I didn’t quite predict it. Parasite, one of my favorite films of the year, becomes the third-ever and second consecutive foreign film nominated here (at least based on my research last year). A bid here added to a better-than-expected haul for The Two Popes, which now up their Oscar chances considerably. It’s no surprise that Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Irishman all scored here. These are some solid scripts, even if I don’t love Tarantino’s all that much.

Who will win? I think this goes to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Original Song


My predictions: 3/5, missing songs from “Cats” and “The Lion King”
Who’s missing? Plenty of contenders

This category feels much more normative than is usually the case. I’ve only seen two of the films in which the songs are featured, and only remembered one of them. I’m disappointed that “Wild Rose” couldn’t be represented here. I’ve listened to all of the nominees, and the two that seem strongest are Beautiful Ghosts (Cats) and Stand Up (Harriet). The other three are Into the Unknown (Frozen II), Spirit (The Lion King), and I’m Gonna Love Me Again (Rocketman). I’ll have more analysis on the musicians involved in my winner predictions – click the titles to listen to the songs on YouTube!

Who will win? I’m not sure, but I’ll pick Spirit for now.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Original Score


My predictions: 2/5
Who’s missing? Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, A Hidden Life

I’ve seen all of these films but I didn’t remember the music from a few of them. That’s especially true of Marriage Story, which upon listening to it is indeed pretty decent and appropriate. Motherless Brooklyn is a bit of a left-field choice, though I did note the moody score in my review from NYFF. I didn’t see the enthusiasm for Joker coming, and I guess the music was a big part of that film’s effectiveness as well. The other two nominees I did expect and remember the music well, and that would be Little Women and 1917. I’ll do a thorough review of the composers nominated when I make my winner predictions.

Who will win? I actually think this goes to Motherless Brooklyn.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Foreign Film


My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing? Corpus Christi, Out Stealing Horses, Atlantics, Beanpole, many others

I’m thrilled to have achieved a perfect score in this category, which is definitely a first for me. It’s not entirely informative for the Oscar race, since The Farewell (USA) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France) aren’t eligible. I still haven’t seen the latter but look forward to soon since I’ve heard only great things. Parasite (South Korea) was a no-brainer and also scored other bids, as did Pain and Glory (Spain). Rounding out the list is Les Miserables (France), which seems set for an Oscar nomination also.

Who will win? I don’t think anything but Parasite can win this.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Animated Film


My predictions: 4/5, missing “The Lion King”
Who’s missing? Abominable, Weathering with You, Klaus, I Lost My Body

I thought I had done much worse on this category that I actually did, and that’s mainly because I’ve barely seen any of these. I actually just watched Toy Story 4 last night, and already had plans in the next couple of weeks to see Frozen II in theaters and Missing Link and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World at home. I didn’t think that The Lion King was eligible here because it’s not on the 32-wide finalist list for the corresponding Oscar category. I’m sad “Abominable” didn’t make the cut and hopeful that some of the more independent and foreign contenders can break through at the Oscars, though I’ll have much more to say once I’ve actually seen these nominees.

Who will win? I suspect it’s Toy Story 4, but I don’t know enough just yet.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture


My predictions: 3/5, missing Bates and Bening
Who’s missing? Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell), Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

I neglected to swap Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) in after seeing her film, which I really liked, and it’s interesting to see her extracted as the lone nomination since she is good but not the best part of it. I’m genuinely surprised that Annette Bening (The Report) made the cut since I wasn’t at all impressed with her take on Dianne Feinstein when I saw her film at Sundance in January. My double nomination prediction for Margot Robbie (Bombshell) didn’t pan out, but she did get in for the performance that seems to have gone over better with awards bodies. Laura Dern (Marriage Story) is in for the nominations leader, even though she was snubbed for her equally strong TV turn on “Big Little Lies.” Rounding out the list is the one nominee I haven’t seen, Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), whose film I’m going to see tonight!

Who will win? I actually think it will be Lopez over Dern, but let me watch the film first before I commit to that.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture


My predictions: 4/5, missing Hopkins
Who’s missing? Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell)

Last year, I didn’t predict Sam Rockwell showing up, and this year I did, which didn’t work out so well while his costar Kathy Bates ended up getting nominated instead. There actually wasn’t a surprise in this category, with Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes) getting the fifth slot I couldn’t decide on, just part of a very strong showing for his film. Both Al Pacino (The Irishman) and Joe Pesci (The Irishman) got in, as did Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), representing two of the nominations leaders. Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) managed to secure a spot as the lone representative of his film. As I had read might be possible, this category features Oscar nominees from the 1990s, all of whom didn’t phone in these performances and still taking on challenging roles.

Who will win? I’m honestly not sure. I’ll go with Pitt for now.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


My predictions: 3/5, missing de Armas and Blanchett
Who’s missing? Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart), Constance Wu (Hustlers)

I was so excited when I heard Kaitlyn Dever announced as a TV nominee for Netflix’s “Unbelievable” and though she might end up as a double nominee, but instead she was snubbed here while her equally deserving costar Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) did fortunately make the cut. I’m relieved that Emma Thompson (Late Night) and Awkwafina (The Farewell), two terrific performances that I saw way back in January at Sundance, weren’t forgotten. I can’t comment much on the other two nominees since I haven’t seen their work, but I plan to in the next couple of weeks: Ana de Armas (Knives Out), who impressed me a lot in “Blade Runner 2049,” and Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go, Bernadette), an up-and-comer you may not have heard of (who may have earned her tenth career Globe nomination this year). More thoughts to come once I’ve seen everyone here.

Who will win? I’m picking Awkwafina but without much certainty right now.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing? Shia LaBeouf (The Peanut Butter Falcon)

This category wasn’t a surprise to me after Adam Sandler switched to drama and I subbed Daniel Craig (Knives Out), the one nominee I haven’t seen, in for him. Interestingly, all five of these men have their films nominated for the top prize. I’m most excited about Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit) and Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) making the cut, and they’re joined by Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Taron Egerton (Rocketman). I don’t have much more to say about this category until I see Craig’s performance.

Who will win? It will be probably be DiCaprio, but I’m going to bet on Murphy.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama


My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing? Lupita N’yongo (Us), Alfre Woodard (Clemency)

I expected to get this category entirely right, with N’yongo not managing to build enough late buzz for her film and Woodard not managing to do it either since her film hasn’t yet been released. The bigger surprise here is that this is the only major nomination from her film for Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), which I find disappointing because I just saw it and really liked it. The only actress whose film is nominated for the top prize (and actually the nominations leader overall) is Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), and she’s joined by Charlize Theron (Bombshell) and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), both of whose films have one other nomination. Rounding out the category is predicted winner Renee Zellweger (Judy), who should be able to do so even with no other bids for her film. I’m fine with this list even if I’d add in a few other worthwhile performances.

Who will win? I think Zellweger takes this without much issue.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama


My predictions: 3/5
Who’s missing? Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

I made a mistake swapping Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), who ended up earning his film’s only nomination, out for Adam Sandler at the last minute, whose film’s category switch to drama from comedy didn’t pay off, earning the film no nominations at all. I’m glad to see Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) here after he missed out on bids from other awards groups, and his film actually ended up doing very well. Despite his film earning five bids, Robert De Niro didn’t make the cut, and the other three nominees were as expected: Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), whose film contends for Best Foreign Film, Adam Driver (Marriage Story), whose film did pretty well, and Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), whose film did much better than I expected. This is a solid list to be sure.

Who will win? I think Phoenix takes this easily.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Final Golden Globe Predictions


Golden Globe nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. I’m very excited since I feel like I’ve seen so much more than ever before at this point, and I’m hoping to be happy with all the picks. I’m making three small changes to my predictions, two of which are based off the category switching of “Uncut Gems” to drama after I had already written some of my predictions. Therefore, I’m swapping out Christian Bale for Adam Sandler in drama, and Daniel Craig will take Sandler’s spot in comedy. I also saw “Richard Jewell” within the last week and think it will do well, so I’m putting Sam Rockwell in for supporting actor with a suspicion that both Paul Walter Hauser and Kathy Bates, plus director Clint Eastwood, could also show up. I’m hoping that both “Booksmart” actresses aren’t left off, and it would be great if the movie earned a nomination too. The film I’m most pulling for to surprise is “Wild Rose,” which I’ve predicted for Best Original Song, and I’d love to see it earn star Jessie Buckley a best actress bid, though I’m not sure if it would be considered a drama or a musical. I’d also be ecstatic if “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” or “Honey Boy” broke through in significant ways. And a nomination for Aldis Hodge for “Clemency” would be wonderful. But, for now, I’ll settle for my bold and probably incorrect predictions that “Parasite” will be nominated only for Best Foreign Film and that Margot Robbie will earn two Best Supporting Actress nominations. Let’s see how it goes! Full reactions by category beginning Monday morning, though probably not quite as early as nominations are announced given that I’m currently in Los Angeles.

No guts, no glory:
Jessie Buckley and “Wild Rose” both nominated in Comedy/Musical
Julia Fox for Best Supporting Actress for “Uncut Gems”
“Honey Boy” nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama

Final predictions:
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)
Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Saiorse Ronan (Little Women)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Daniel Craig (Knives Out)
Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Taron Egerton(Rocketman)
Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Awkwafina (The Farewell)
Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart)
Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart)
Emma Thompson (Late Night)
Constance Wu (Hustlers)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell)

Best Animated Film
Abominable
Frozen 2
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Missing Link
Toy Story 4


Best Foreign Film
The Farewell (USA)
Les Miserables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)

Best Original Score
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
1917


Best Original Song
Speechless (Aladdin)
Into the Unknown (Frozen 2)
Stand Up (Harriet)
I’m Gonna Love Me Again (Rocketman)
Glasgow (Wild Rose)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
The Farewell
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


Best Director – Motion Picture
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)
Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
Sam Mendes (1917)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
The Irishman
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Richard Jewell


Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical
Dolemite Is My Name
Hustlers
Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Rocketman

SAG Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture


Last year’s nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star is Born

I’m making predictions for SAG, which will announce its picks Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Globe nominations being unveiled on Monday, though I may revise them again on Tuesday if there are some big surprises. That said, there’s no corresponding category there. Also, I only got one out of five in this race last year, so I’m hoping to do much better this time around. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood seems like the only safe lock, with The Irishman and Marriage Story. Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Hustlers, Bombshell, and Knives Out all feel like they could have their large casts rewarded, but I don’t feel too confident about any of them. I think Jojo Rabbit actually has a solid chance to score here, and Little Women could round out the list.

Current predictions:
Dolemite Is My Name
The Irishman
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

SAG Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role


Last year’s nominees: Amy Adams (Vice), Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Margot Robbie (Mary, Queen of Scots), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

I’m making predictions for SAG, which will announce its picks next Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Globe nominations being unveiled on Monday, though I may revise them again on Tuesday if there are some big surprises. The two frontrunners here are Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) and Laura Dern (Marriage Story). A nominee last year, Margot Robbie (Bombshell) should be back, though she could cancel herself out if she also gets votes for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Florence Pugh (Little Women) seems to be building steam lately, and could displace some earlier contenders like Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell) or Annette Bening (The Report). Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) might end up as a double nominee, while Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite Is My Name) could benefit from overall enthusiasm for their films. Even if she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, this is a place that Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) can probably score.

Current predictions:
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Saturday, December 7, 2019

SAG Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role


Last year’s nominees: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

I’m making predictions for SAG, which will announce its picks next Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Globe nominations being unveiled on Monday, though I may revise them again on Tuesday if there are some big surprises. The biggest lock in this category is Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and he’ll likely be joined by both Joe Pesci (The Irishman) and Al Pacino (The Irishman). It’s probable that Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) will be on the list too. For the fifth slot, it could be Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Alan Alda (Marriage Story), Sterling K. Brown (Waves), Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy), or Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit).

Current predictions:
Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

SAG Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Leading Role


Last year’s nominees: Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

I’m making predictions for SAG, which will announce its picks next Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Globe nominations being unveiled on Monday, though I may revise them again on Tuesday if there are some big surprises. The frontrunner here is Renee Zellweger (Judy), and she’ll almost definitely be joined by Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Lupita Nyong'o (Us) and Alfre Woodard (Clemency) may be building steam, while it still remains a question mark how Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) will do. It would be great for Awkwafina (The Farewell) to score here, but that’s far from guaranteed. Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) is apparently eligible in this category rather than the supporting race, and while she’ll likely earn other accolades for her performance, it would be strange for her to show up here given her clearly supporting role in the film.

Current predictions:
Awkwafina (The Farewell)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Renee Zellweger (Judy)

SAG Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Leading Role


Last year’s nominees: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

I’m making predictions for SAG, which will announce its picks next Wednesday, ahead of the Golden Globe nominations being unveiled on Monday, though I may revise them again on Tuesday if there are some big surprises. It’s hard to imagine Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story) not making the cut. Even if he doesn’t score an Oscar nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) should find himself nominated here thanks to past enthusiasm for his performances in films like “J. Edgar” and “The Departed.” I’m betting that Robert De Niro (The Irishman) scores here too, leaving one more slot open. It could be Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems), or maybe even Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell).

Current predictions:
Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)
Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Friday, December 6, 2019

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

I'm excited to present a revamped version of Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe! The Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition will premiere on YouTube each Friday and be reposted here during the day as well. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!

Movie with Abe: The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts
Directed by Tom Harper
Released December 6, 2019

Most people these days take for granted how easy it is to hop on an airplane and travel across the world at incredible speeds. It’s also possible to forecast the weather, allowing for planning that increases both safety and comfort. For many years in our history, these things couldn’t even be imagined, and someone had to be bold enough to think outside the box and ask whether such notions as taking off into the air to rise above the clouds or scientifically measuring how weather works could be achieved. Such stories tend to make for very involving and watchable cinema.

In 1862, scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) finds little support from his colleagues and the community at large for his research on predicting the weather, and so he must resort to alternative methods to take to the skies. He convinces pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), whose last flight ended in tragedy, to join forces with him, and together they ascend to reach unattained heights. Their adventure captures the attention of many onlookers, who wait to catch a glimpse of the balloon after it disappears into the horizon, fully unaware of the unpredictable obstacles and elements that will be faced by its passengers.

This film is based on a true story, though Wren is a fictionalized character representative of a number of women of the time, replacing Glaisher’s real-life male companion Henry Coxwell, who does not appear at all in the film. It’s in the nature of filmmaking to embellish, and in this case the addition of Wren seems excusable since she serves as the film’s primary anchor, bursting onto the scene as a showboat, performing for her audience as Glaisher emphasizes the serious and precarious nature of their work, and gradually reveals layers as they rise to the clouds. The way that this story is framed with these two characters proves effective in enhancing the experience they endure, a journey taken mostly by just the two of them.

This is a reunion for Redmayne and Jones, who last earned Oscar attention together for “The Theory of Everything.” Their dynamic here is much different, and while Redmayne plays his part suitably, Jones is the real star, commanding so many of the film’s scenes and making her invented character feel entirely believable. This film is best compared to “The Walk,” based on Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers – a surprisingly compelling portrait of bold, daring minds set on challenging standards created with impressive visual effects that will surely be underappreciated.

B+

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Golden Globe Musings: Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice


Two major contenders are Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit, and there isn’t a situation I can imagine in which either of them gets snubbed here. “The Farewell” isn’t eligible in this category since it’s considered a foreign film, and “Uncut Gems” has joined “The Two Popes” as a potential comedy submission that is ultimately going to be billed as a drama. That makes space for Dolemite Is My Name and Rocketman, both of which should place, and then the last spot should be a competition between Hustlers and Knives Out. I’d love to see Booksmart make the cut but don’t think it will happen, and it’s probably too late for Cats to earn votes given that it hasn’t even screened yet. Music nostalgia could earn either Yesterday or Blinded by the Light a spot here too.

Current predictions:
Dolemite Is My Name
Hustlers
Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Rocketman

Golden Globe Musings: Best Motion Picture – Drama


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star is Born


The past two years, I’ve missed predicting the winner of this category as a nominee. I hope not to make that mistake this time, and that’s mainly because I’ll be including The Irishman and 1917, which I consider the frontrunners for the win here. Likely Oscar nominee “Parasite” isn’t eligible here because it’s a foreign-language film, so next up is Marriage Story. After that, Little Women is probably likeliest, with Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and The Two Popes also very possible. Apparently Uncut Gems has also been switched to this category, which I don’t think is a smart idea since its chances at a nomination are that much weaker. If it does show up, that’s a really good sign for its Oscar chances. I think, however, that another late-breaking hit, Richard Jewell, will claim the final spot.

Current predictions:
The Irishman
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Richard Jewell


Golden Globe Musings: Best Director – Motion Picture


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
Adam McKay (Vice)

This is a category that mostly draws from Best Motion Picture - Drama nominees and a well-received Comedy/Musical honoree or too, which, this year will probably be too. Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) should be a sure thing, while Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) is likely but not guaranteed. Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) is a lock, and, based on recent buzz, so is Sam Mendes (1917). I think Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) are competing for the last slot, with a disadvantage to the latter, which is not eligible in the top categories because it’s a foreign-language film. The same is true for longshot Lulu Wang (The Farewell). Another possibility is Greta Gerwig (Little Women), though she wasn’t nominated for “Lady Bird” two years ago when it won Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical. I’m not sure any of the other possibilities, like Clint Eastwood (Richard Jewell), Todd Phillips (Joker), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari) and Pedro Almodovar (Pain and Glory), feel like they’ll be able to muster enough support.

Current predictions:
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)
Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
Sam Mendes (1917)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
The Favourite
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma
Vice


The Globes don’t have separate categories for original and adapted screenplays, which means that the buzziest films nominated in the top races often place here, along with a few surprising inclusions every couple of years. Last year, I didn’t expect foreign film “Roma” to make the cut, which suggests that maybe Parasite could show up this year. I suspect that Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are likeliest to lead this list, with Little Women, The Farewell, Jojo Rabbit, The Two Popes, and Bombshell.

Current predictions:
The Farewell
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Golden Globe Musings: Best Foreign Film


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

I’ve seen more than ever before this year, and I just have to adjust my expectations slightly from the corresponding Oscar race due to certain films being eligible here and not there, and vice versa. The most significant films present on the list of 92 submissions from 63 countries is The Farewell (USA), making it ineligible in the normal motion picture category, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France), while “Honeyland,” from North Macedonia, is ineligible because it’s a documentary. Parasite (South Korea), Pain and Glory (Spain), and Les Miserables (France) seem like the surest bets. The question is whether Corpus Christi (Poland) will make the cut after last year’s “Cold War,” which went on to earn a Best Director bid, was shockingly snubbed. Among the other films vying for a slot are Invisible Life (Brazil), Out Stealing Horses (Norway), Truth and Justice (Estonia), And Then We Danced (Sweden, Georgia, France), Atlantics (Senegal, France, Belgium), Beanpole (Russia), Synonyms (Israel, France, Germany) and Tel Aviv on Fire (Luxembourg, Belgium, Israel, France).

Current predictions:
The Farewell (USA)
Les Miserables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Animated Film


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced shortly, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anything important. A reminder that the Globes are wildly unpredictable and that it is still a bit early to gauge the reception or awards potential of a number of the so-called “contenders” at this point.

Last year’s nominees:
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


The past two years, this category has matched the Oscar list for Best Animated Feature perfectly. I’ll admit, this is where I’m currently weakest, having barely screened any of these contenders. Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, Missing Link, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World feel like locks. Abominable seems like a good bet too, but the question is whether it can eclipse more independent and foreign contenders like Klaus, Weathering With You, and I Lost My Body. I’ll be screening a number of these soon.

Current predictions:
Abominable
Frozen 2
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Missing Link
Toy Story 4