“Raya and the Last Dragon” is directed by Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, alongside credited co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa. This film stars Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Adam Ruins Everything), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell), Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog), Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent, Lost), Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Annihilation), Sandra Oh (Over the Moon, Grey’s Anatomy), Thalia Tran (Council of Dads, Little), Lucille Soong (Fresh Off the Boat, Desperate Housewives), and Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Harley Quinn). This film takes place in the fantasy world of Kumandra, which has been divided into five tribes with alternating values. All of these tribes and their respective followers are after an orb that protects people from the Druun, a virus-like spirit that turns everyone in its path to stone. When the orb shatters into pieces, Raya, a warrior princess from Heart, goes on a quest to find Sisu, the last living dragon, who supposedly has a knowledge about the orb.
If you are new to Scene Before, welcome! One thing you may discover about me is that I have a love/hate relationship with Disney. They are a brand that I personally cannot stand because they often hog all the attention in multiple markets and almost resemble a collective monopoly. At the same time, they own Lucasfilm, they own Marvel, and they own Pixar, three of my favorite studios working today. Therefore, when it comes to entertaining people, they are doing something right. This film is from Walt Disney Animation Studios, or Disney proper if you want to put it in other terms. In recent years, they have made some of my favorite animated films including “Zootopia” and “Wreck-it Ralph,” but they also made a couple films that irked me to no end like “Frozen” and “Moana.” Although one thing that has been consistent from one film to the next is that the animation style in each one looks beautiful. Everything looks detailed and despite being from a studio that has been around for years, it feels like they have entered a new era with some of their recent projects. At the same time though, this should not be a surprise given how much technology has advanced by 2021. If something doesn’t look halfway decent, maybe I’ll let that slide in 1998 or 2002. But in 2021, good animation is a requirement. Thankfully, and this leads me to my initial positive of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the level of detail and vibrancy in this film is eye-popping. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a fascinating film that takes you through several environments that should vary in tone, but for some reason, they mesh together to form an action-packed adventure for everyone to enjoy. And I mean, EVERYONE.
This is how family movies should be done! Great characters, witty humor, balls to the wall pacing, and a fascinating story with exciting lore behind it! Upon reflection, this movie had the pacing of two 2008 animations. “Bolt,” which was also a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, and like “Raya,” there are a few action scenes that not only takes things up a notch with some quick pace to accompany it. The other animation is “Kung Fu Panda,” and I say that because the film bases itself around martial arts, Asian culture, and has built an exciting, perhaps myth-like world that has secrets that may await exploration. After all, “Kung Fu Panda” had two sequels. I do not know if “Raya and the Last Dragon” will end up having as big of a following as say “Big Hero 6,” but if anyone at Disney reads this, just know that if a “Raya and the Last Dragon” sequel is greenlit, I will happily flock to the theater to see it.
Let’s talk about Raya. She is a warrior who spends years trying to find the last dragon after an unfortunate event left many people dead. Her quest in general is quite the journey to watch. We see early on in the film that she travels alongside a merchandisable mix of an armadillo and pill bug, Tuk Tuk. While Tuk Tuk is not my standout character of the movie, not saying he sucks, but still… I like the work that was put into the character, specifically the voice because they did not just go out into the animal kingdom and get a bunch of different recordings for this character, they just got Alan Tudyk to make a bunch of noises and have the results be satisfying! And I assure you, I sometimes forget how much I truly appreciate Alan Tudyk as a performer. He has a style for voicework that is almost unmatched between King Candy in “Wreck-It Ralph,” K-2SO in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and The Joker in the animated “Harley Quinn” series! The dude is a true mastermind! Therefore it does not surprise me that he has a role that is simply just making animal sounds. He’s that effective of a performer! I have a friend, I won’t say his or her name, who will practically watch anything with Alan Tudyk in it. I can see why.
One of the big mixes of the film is something that Disney has usually been known for in earlier years but also something that it has seemingly lacked in recent years, a hefty villainous presence. Now, if Netflix’s “Over the Moon” has proven anything, it is that not every single animated antagonist needs to be wicked or evil. For most of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the villain is just a bunch of particles that move around. Now, to be fair, these particles can be threatening at time, but when you have a company that has been built for years on imagination, it is somewhat weird to see them resort to lifeless blobs as the main villain.
Then again, this is the same company that copy-pasted “The Lion King” in 2019 and made a billion dollars off of it, so what do I know?
At the same time, there is a constant rivalry between Raya and Namaari, from the land of Fang. The movie shows these two early on getting along with each other until an unexpected turn happens in which case they are no longer on each other’s side. This rivalry is integral to the film and the events that play throughout. The constant drive that plays out due to each of these characters’ disconnect to one another is a highlight of the film and makes for one of the more interesting relationships I have seen in a recent movie.
Speaking of characters, this film also had quite a few compelling supporting members of the cast as well. You have Sisu the dragon, played by Awkwafina, who partially plays herself in a way. But in my book, I do not mean that as a diss. Awkwafina has an admirable personality so I like seeing that interjected into this dragon character. Aside from seeing her for a majority of the film, we have Boun, a sidekick boy who makes shrimp. Joining them is a baby named Little Noi who if you ask me, can probably slaughter the Boss Baby in a fight.
But before we go any further, I want to bring up the songs in this film. There’s not even one original, Disney-esque song in this entire thing, and having seen the movie, there never should have been! This movie pulls no punches and wastes no time. I was here to watch something that kicks some ass and I assure you that my ass may have been kicked. But this does not mean the music in this film is lame. In fact, it is composed by James Newton Howard, known for his work on “The Hunger Games” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Therefore, when it comes to both fantastical settings and films where groups of people are divided, this is not Howard’s first rodeo, AND IT SHOWS. I know we are only in March, but I think we already have a contender for the best film score of 2021. It is like a lighthearted mix of “Mad Max” and your traditional martial arts-centric or warrior movie. James Newton Howard collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the scores for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” both of which are really good scores. Although this “Raya and the Last Dragon” score may almost be my favorite of his so far. Tonally speaking it is generally quick, nearly rambunctious, and some of the percussion really stands out.
In the end, “Raya and the Last Dragon” did not just rock my world, it rocked my Disney world. The film is just purely bold and rustic and fun! I needed this after “Tom & Jerry,” let me just say that much! Time will tell as for how often I’ll watch this film again, but for my first viewing, I was blown away. This film is technically stunning and as a story, it sort of opens doors for sequels, expansions, lore, and I am admittedly quite curious to the point where I want to see where things go from here with the “Raya” property. I do not know if it will end up happening due to the pandemic, but I see this film, much like many others, becoming a fan favorite. And if anything else, I mentioned once again, this film has a lack of original songs. So, note to everyone who made the live-action “Mulan,” this is probably what your movie should have been! I’m going to give “Raya and the Last Dragon” a 9/10.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open, however due to Cinemark not confirming a deal with Disney, the film is not playing at any of their locations. The film is however also currently available on Disney+ with Premier Access for a one-time $29.99 fee on top of your subscription.
Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know, if things on Scene Before seem slower than usual, I have admittedly been quite busy with school and other goings on in life, so I do apologize if I am supposedly lagging. Although if it makes you feel any better, I want to announce that on Monday, April 5th, I’ll be starting my “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series, so I will have my review up for the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie. I watched the film earlier this month, and I am looking forward to talking about it. I will also be discussing “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th. As for new movies, pretty soon I will hopefully have reviews up for “Chaos Walking,” “Boogie,” and “Nobody.” I am also seeing “Godzilla vs. Kong” this Wednesday, so I should hopefully have a review for that up soon as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Raya and the Last Dragon?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Alan Tudyk film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Tom & Jerry” is directed by Tim Story and stars Chloë Grace Moretz (If I Stay, The Fifth Wave), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Jexi), Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live, How to be Single), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe, Deadpool 2), and Ken Jeong (The Hangover, The Masked Singer). This film places the iconic cartoon cat and mouse duo in a live-action environment, specifically in New York City. Simultaneously, we follow the character of Kayla, who acquires a job at a fancy hotel, occasionally runs into the two cartoons, and needs to accompany guests for a balls out wedding.
I have never watched the “Tom & Jerry” cartoons as a kid, except maybe once or twice. Therefore, like some other things that have been adapted into live-action like “The Smurfs,” I had little to no connection to it as a child. I know the titular duo always find themselves trying to take each other down, and conceptually, it sounds entertaining. If I were six years old, I could find it to be a solid time-waster. But there’s no real story or plot to it that I can come up with other than the fact that the two creatures do not like each other, as cats and mice probably shouldn’t and they always end up in shambles against one another. This leads me to my first positive of the film, there are a couple entertaining fight sequences. They’re not all memorable or fascinating, but they have glimmers of entertainment throughout. Unfortunately, that is where all the positivity stops.
After all, even though this movie is about two animated rascals trying to beat each other up, that’s not even the whole story. Instead, it is another lame, copypaste, live-action snoozefest that has no substance. I just want to say to everyone reading this who has kids, if you are planning on taking your kid to the theater this weekend, do not watch “Tom & Jerry.” Save yourself from going inside. The kids might have fun, although I will admit, since seeing the movie, I talked with someone I know who has kids and they were apparently bored instantly by the film upon first watching it. Go watch “Raya and the Last Dragon” instead! That film has substance, great characters, laughs, and even though one of the core elements of “Tom & Jerry” are the action sequences, that film manages to have better action! Both in terms of style and story! I have not seen many movies in 2021 so far, but this is currently the worst one of the year for me.
Now, let’s talk about some characters. That’s always a great place to start in a review, right? Well, the movie’s called “Tom & Jerry” so it would only be appropriate to talk about Tom & Jerry first, right?
Nope! This is not their movie! They’re on the title because you know, franchises make money!
Instead, let’s talk about Kayla for a second. How is she a positive role model for children? Sure, maybe throughout the movie she’s taming a cat and mouse, which might translate to some kids being good with pets, but as a person, she is not exactly fine and dandy. She starts off the film by quitting her job, going to a hotel where she runs into a woman trying to apply for another job, manipulates her into not applying, and tries to acquire the job for herself. How is this a teaching moment for children? How do you get to the top? Lying! Unfortunately, Moretz is not the only hairball in this mess. This movie comes with a sadly obnoxious Michael Peña, who very much reminded me of his character in the piece of crap people call “Jexi.” Colin Jost and Pallati Sharva play a rather entitled celebrity couple I almost did not even come close to caring about. Ken Jeong is a chef who is weirdly dynamic and I don’t really remember anything else about him or almost anyone in this movie. Granted, it has been a few weeks since I saw “Tom & Jerry,” but it really goes to show how disposable it is.
Let me just be clear. The cast of this movie has talent. I admittedly have not watched a lot of Chloe Grace Moretz’s work, but I can tell she always commits to her craft. And given the little substance this movie offers, she does her best. Michael Peña unfortunately has followed a trend lately where some of the movies he’s been in that I’ve personally seen are not some of his best, and this is one of them. Colin Jost is consistently funny on “Saturday Night Live,” keeping up with the genius of Weekend Update from one episode to the next. Rob Delaney is an actor whose work I need to follow more often, but he was one of the highlights for me in “Deadpool 2” as the powerless Peter. Ken Jeong is a dynamic personality that will take any project that he is in and improve it by just a sliver, even if it is already great! In fact he was in “Over the Moon,” one of the best animations I have ever seen and my favorite film of last year. While these actors have had better days in terms of performances, much of it has to do with bad writing and perhaps just as awful directing. This movie consistently feels like it is doing the bare minimum to keep kids entertained, but not enough for grown-ups to keep themselves from cringing.
Also I want to address a problem with this film that has been bugging me. I say this as someone who has never had a childhood attachment to “Tom & Jerry.” But this film is not about “Tom & Jerry.” If you take “Tom & Jerry” out, you have a slightly different film with more realistic drama and it is completely centered around the human characters, many of whom I did not give a s*it about. My point is, “Tom & Jerry” comes packed in with a couple of the same problems viewers had with the live-action “Transformers” movies, all of which, and this maybe even includes “The Last Knight,” are more entertaining than whatever this piece of crap happens to be! The film centers around “Tom & Jerry,” the iconic duo known from your childhood days watching cartoons, but they shove in all these forced human storylines just for the sake of going, “Bippity boppity boo! Here’s a movie! It’s not completely in shambles!” And those are not the only flaws this movie comes with, because remember, this is a live-action adaptation of a cartoon. Remember “The Smurfs?” This is basically the exact same thing, only it does not go into multiverse bulls*it and transport Tom & Jerry to earth! Now to be fair, unlike the Smurfs, who hail from their own fantastical village, Tom & Jerry come from more realistic environments, so you can say that they’ve always been on earth. But given how the older material usually strays away from complete realism, the comparison is close enough. You have these two imbeciles, they have their life of brawling each other, and to be fair, that part of the source material seems faithful enough. But they are not the center of the story, it’s f*cking Kayla! Whenever Tom & Jerry show up, they cause trouble, create shenanigans, and show that they really don’t like each other, which given things going on in the movie, is kind of a problem. However, they are not the main characters. Sure, their actions occasionally link to one’s successes or downfalls, but the direction they decided to take this movie in not only feels boring, but also repetitive. We’ve seen this weird creature/human interaction thing done before, but not always to positive results. Although I will admit, last year’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” is one of the delightfully positive exceptions.
Movies like this show that not everything translates to film. “Tom & Jerry” works as a series of animated shorts, not as a big blockbuster epic. And I will admit one of the positives of this film is that it actually is somewhat faithful to its source material. The duo come off like their hand-drawn counterparts, and unlike the live-action “Smurfs” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies, they are in 2D and not CGIed to another dimension. And while this is faithful, Tom and Jerry do not talk. I bet this is part of why they put all of these human characters in the film as an attempt to relate to its audience. While there may have been good intentions, they proceeded to bad results. I bring up Tom & Jerry not being able to talk because in a lot of these family movies, you have these characters that are expressive and excited or upbeat. At least communication was not a problem in those other movies. Here, the solution makes for something that lessens a problem, but it still creates another one by making me want to rip my ears and throw them into a trash compactor! Just because this movie comes off looking like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” does not mean it is the next “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.”
In the end, this movie feels like a lazy cash grab, and based on the box office, they certainly happen to be grabbing that cash! “Tom & Jerry” opened to over $14 million domestically, which would be a disappointment by pre-coronavirus standards. But with the current pandemic and Warner Bros. simultaneously releasing new films on HBO Max, that is actually not a bad result. I’m glad the studio is making money, I’m glad the theatres are making money. But I felt like I wasted my money watching this. I felt like I was in a giant mousetrap for the entire runtime! This is a ridiculous, lazy, and uninspired film with some of the worst writing and direction I have seen in recent memory. Some of the fight scenes were entertaining though and I will also leave you with this, there are a couple genuinely funny lines in the film, but sadly I do not even remember them. Save your money, go see “Raya” instead, or find something else to watch on HBO Max. I’m going to give “Tom & Jerry” a 3/10.
I said this to myself before going into “Tom & Jerry,” and that thought has not changed since. I’ve been looking forward a big event featuring two classic characters in the ultimate fight for society. And that fight will be settled… IN “GODZILLA VS. KONG!”
“Tom & Jerry?” I’m sorry, what are you talking about? It was a pass from me before watching the movie, and it is still a pass from me after watching the movie. Although I did see the movie with a friend who admittedly enjoyed himself, so good for him.
“Tom & Jerry” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open and is currently available to watch if you are subscribed to HBO Max.
Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that my next review is going to be for Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon.” I saw the film in IMAX a couple weeks ago, but I have not gotten around to review it, kind of like “Tom & Jerry” due to my commitments with the Jackoff Awards. Also coming soon, I will have my thoughts on “Chaos Walking” starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, so look forward to that!
One more thing, awards season is in full swing, and if you have not done so yet, check out the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, where one moron awards a ton of movies! Be sure to follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account, also check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Tom & Jerry?” What did you think about it? Or, did you watch the “Tom & Jerry” cartoons? What are your thoughts? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
WARNING: Like 2020, this post is LONG. Like, over 14,000 words long. And that’s just written content! Feel free to take breaks in between, grab a drink once or twice, or do whatever you do to keep yourself sane. Enjoy the show!
Hello, everybody! This is the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, where winning is not cancelled! Per usual, this is not in front of a large audience. It is instead online with something that technically qualifies as a group of people gathering together to celebrate film. Not much had to be changed for this ceremony, and in a way, I would say that when it comes to the recent pandemic, I was somewhat ahead of my time. You never had to see my face. You didn’t have to actively boo at anything I did, while I stood around taking it all in. And as for the recipients and nominees, the people who worked on 2020’s films, they don’t have to leave their multi-million-dollar mansions in Los Angeles to sit in a chair for hours. They can sit in their own chair if they want to! The Jackoff Awards are the way of the future, and I will guarantee it is the perfect “new normal” material, as I’ve already had years to practice perfecting it.
Now, here are some rules for today’s ceremony. As usual, I will be presenting nominees in various categories. For instance, these include Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. All of these are appetizers as we go up the ladder, rung by rung, til we reach the top, where we reveal 2020’s Best Picture! Traditional rules apply, I must have seen the movie for it to officially be nominated, so if I missed one movie during this ceremony, there’s a good chance that I did not see it, I did not like it, or maybe I just forgot about it. I mean, it has been eleventy thousand years since the SECOND Jackoffs we’ve done here on Scene Before! So, you know, anything’s possible! Also, for Best Picture, this is once again going be done through the People’s Choice protocol, where I present ten films that I think are worthy of the nomination, of course I’ll have my personal #1 pick, but given how I do my Top 10 BEST films of the year countdowns and those sorts of things, it would be unfair for me to decide what gets Best Picture, and it will end up making things a bit predictable. If you voted for one of the ten films I selected for Best Picture, it counts!
Also, here’s a new rule that I have never thought I would have to implement, but we are implementing it for the first time ever. While it is tradition for the Jackoffs to mainly recognize films that are specifically brought to the big screen, whether it be 2D, 3D, IMAX, Dolby, drive-in, you name it, for this ceremony, I am going to accept nominations for films that have not hit theaters. Due to the fact that many cinema venues have closed in March 2020 and caused an alteration in terms of how people consume content, I am going to accept movies that have taken route toward direct to home platforms. Now keep in mind, just because of this, does not mean that I am going all in. Because again, if you want to be nominated for a Jackoff, you have to meet particular criteria. You must have had previous intentions of some kind to bring your movie to the big screen, either through a traditional 90-day theatrical release, a limited release, even just for one day! And unlike a ceremony such as the Oscars, you don’t just have to play your movie in Los Angeles, you can play it somewhere else. For example, if your movie was going to play at South by Southwest this year, which was canceled, and was eventually going to be seen in theaters, and never got that chance, you qualify for the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards. But if your movie is produced for a direct-to-TV format without any intention to put it in the theater, such as a “Netflix-only” movie like “Extraction,” that will not qualify because it was never going to be put in the theater in the first place. Same can be said for a movie like “Bad Education,” which went directly to HBO this year. In this time of social distancing, we intend to bring some movies closer together.
All good everybody? I think we’re ready to start!
If you’ve seen awards ceremonies before, you may know that they often start with a monologue, and the Jackoffs, as proven in recent years, is no exception. Why do awards shows start with a monologue? Because bursting into laughter is the best medicine, and Hollywood needs something to burst that bubble they seem to be living in. So, this ought to do the trick! It is time for the third edition of “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Others in Order to Please Himself.”
I am going to be stating facts about this year in film, and since there is no audience, there shall be no laughs. But if you are experiencing this ceremony right now, pretend you are in an auditorium, nobody else is there except you and me. You can be my cheerleader, you can be a heckler, you can be a critic, you can be a fanatic, you can even be an asshole! The point is, pretend I’m telling these jokes to you with the absolute intention of going at a particular pace to make you laugh. And when it comes to 2020 in film, let’s all be honest here. Even if you made a movie in 2020 that you were proud of, this year may have hurt you in some way. I will admit, there were some good films, but overall, and I’m sure a lot of my viewers can agree, this year could have been better, both in terms of quantity and quality. Nevertheless, there were some good times to be had in 2020. Unless you were stabbed by Wonder Woman, slammed by Russell Crowe’s truck, hit by Harley Quinn’s baseball bat, ran over by Sonic the Hedgehog, or killed in reverse.
Wait a minute, doesn’t that mean you come back to life? I don’t care! I stand by that joke!
Let’s start off with the obvious. 2020 SUCKED! Not just for me, but for anyone else you can imagine. 2020 is so bad that ABC is reportedly considering changing the name of the show “20/20” to “Who Gives a Crap!”
I mean in the United States you have yet another controversial election season, it’s the first year in forever without a “Star Wars” or MCU movie, every other day someone you love dies. Maybe they’re a part of your family, or a beloved celebrity you invited to be in your family. Seriously! Regis Philbin, Sean Connery, Max von Sydow, Wilford Brimley! Chadwick Boseman! Kobe Bryant of all people! Alex Trebek! 2020 even somehow managed to ruin “Jeopardy!” of all things! I would watch that show with my mother every night! I don’t even have an oddball remark to give, this is just sad!
Of course… We cannot go on without discussing the elephant in the room. COVID-19. You utter jerkface on a platter. COVID-19 turned the whole world upside down. Infections spreading everywhere. Businesses shutting down. A wonder if anything will ever return to normal. Yeah, it’s been crazy. Sony announced the title of their upcoming “Spider-Man” movie, “Spider-Man: Home Really Sucks.”
By the way, really looking forward to “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” It’s gonna kick butt!
Many films that were supposed to come out this year ended up getting delayed due to the pandemic. Some include “F9,” the latest “Fast & Furious” film, “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” I wonder how the Ghostbusters have been navigating through the pandemic. Oh, I know! There is no Microsoft Teams, only Zoom!
Based on the hit truTV series of the same name, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” became a hit early on in the year, because despite starting out with a limited release against “Call of the Wild,” the film had the highest per theater average on its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $10.7 million on a $3 million budget. Originally while budgeting the movie, they planned to give $1 million to three of the Jokers and the other one got punished and couldn’t be in the movie.
When COVID-19 started coming to the U.S., a lot of movie theaters shut down, but one of the big exceptions happened to be drive-in venues. This ultimately formed the biggest antagonist of the summer… Rainstorms.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” has officially become one of the biggest video game movies ever, receiving positive reviews and a decent box office total for the first half of 2020. Remember kids, looks don’t matter. But if you see hedgehogs without big eyes, share it over the Internet so everyone knows your opinion. It can pay off in the long run!
“Sonic the Hedgehog” was not only big fun at the movie theater, but big fun for everybody who loves product placement. That is, if there is… anyone who loves product placement.
Still, the movie was big fun for everybody who loves product placement. as that movie has references to Olive Garden, Amazon, and Zillow. Yeah. A lot of product placement. Feels like a Michael Bay movie. Also, since nobody else cares to do so, I’d like to thank the official sponsors of 2020. Charmin’, Purell, GrubHub, Zoom, Netflix, Bath and Body Works, and Walmart. Thank you for your service.
You sneaky morons.
“Tenet” became one of the biggest films of 2020. In fact, tonight it has a shattering 9 nominations including Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Director, and Best Picture. Once sought to be the savior of this year in cinema with a July 17th release date, it got pushed back a couple times until it finally arrived on varying dates depending on territories. Christopher Nolan wanted movie watchers to see the film on the biggest screen they can. Critics agree, “Tenet” is the greatest way to lose your hearing!
Hey, speaking of Christopher Nolan! The mega-hit movie “Inception,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, just turned 10 years old this year! “Inception” was recognized for its tenth anniversary by being brought back to theaters and IMAX. Critics are calling it, “Rick Dalton’s greatest performance in years.”
Here’s a joke. “Cats.”
Okay, that’s not the joke… In all seriousness, as 2020 struck, the 2019 movie “Cats” did not lose its relevance. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer for the “Cats” Broadway musical, was part of the crowd who continued to talk about it. And he didn’t have positive things to say. Webber called the movie “ridiculous” and he was not afraid to put some blame towards the film’s director, Tom Hooper. Until we have an Oscar category called “Best Picture featuring Cat-Like Human Licking a Plate,” I can’t say Andrew Lloyd Webber is objectively wrong.
“The New Mutants” FINALLY came out this year on August 28th in theaters. For those who don’t know, “The New Mutants” was supposed to come out seven thousand years ago… Only to get delayed FOUR TIMES over two and a half years! While Fox and Disney were trying to put this thing on the big screen, Sony kept running around in circles shouting, “We’ve made nineteen more Spider-Man movies!”
Even though streaming is rising, physical media has had a year to celebrate. Some big classics were finally released on 4K Blu-ray. Some include the entire “Star Wars” saga, the “Back to the Future” trilogy, and “Jaws.” Some said the “Jaws” 4K Blu-ray is so crystal clear that the shark looks four times as fake as before.
San Diego Comic-Con, which is usually a big hub for nerd culture and the latest news on big blockbuster movies, cancelled their in-person convention this year and did first ever “Comic Con @ Home” event. Comic-Con finally solved a problem for one core demographic. Going outside.
One big film pushback that really hit me where it hurts was for “Dune,” directed by Denis Villeneuve. The movie was supposed to come out December but got delayed to October 2021. Cinephiles like myself, felt very disappointed by this news. Although there happens to be someone who’s happy by the news, proud sand-hater, Anakin Skywalker.
Sand gets everywhere, man!
Ryan Reynolds had a tremendous year. They just debuted his new game show, “Don’t,” on ABC this past summer, he’s also in “The Croods: A New Age,” he was a clue presenter on the “Jeopardy: Greatest of All Time Tournament,” and get this! ACTING is technically his SIDE GIG! Ryan Reynolds, arguably one of the biggest movie stars working today, freakin’ Deadpool! Acting is not his highest paying job! Because Ryan Reynolds sold his stake in Aviation Gin (although he is going to maintain an “ongoing ownership interest”) to Diageo for somewhere up to $610 million! Ryan Reynolds has recently helped develop Aviation’s company motto, “Aviation Gin: The perfect drink to make you forget about ‘Green Lantern!’”
Pixar’s Soul became the first feature film from the critically acclaimed animation studio to debut on Disney+, the streaming service for everything Disney and nostalgia. And with evolving technology, the rumored “Toy Story 5” will debut exclusively on a jumping lamp you can purchase at Disney stores $1000 apiece!
It’s funny that “Soul” is debuting digitally. Not the most surprising news with everything going on, but if you remember, “Toy Story 2” was supposed to be a straight to home video release, but they put the film in theaters at the last minute. Remember how in that movie, Al has to go to work on a Saturday? He’s gets in his car, complains, but drives across the street and parks. Watching that today is kind of unsettling. If that movie took place in modern times, some would call Al a Karen, others would be jealous that they can’t get out of the house, and others may get a close look at Al and ask, “Why is he wearing pants?”
The answer, he can’t believe that he has to go all the way to work on a Saturday! All the way to work!
Speaking of history, the Academy Awards made history this year by announcing its first Best Picture winner for an international feature. Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which was nominated for 7 Jackoffs last year, took home the gold, and Ho himself tied Walt Disney as the record-holder for most Oscars taken home in one ceremony. To me, 2020 is likely divided into two time frames. The first few months will be “The Celebration of ‘Parasite,’” but the rest of it will be “The Devastation of a Parasite.”
A lot of big bombshells dropped this year. Surprisingly none about Charlize Theron… But one of the big stories toward the end of the year was “Wonder Woman 1984” debuting simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. It was eventually announced, much to the delight of shareholders, but to the dismay of movie theaters, that Warner Brothers was going to implement this method during the entirety of their 2021 release schedule. Now you can watch “Matrix 4” the way it was intended. In a glitchy digital machine that occasionally does a few cool tricks. It’s called a smart TV. …Or a phone.
“Over the Moon” was nominated for multiple Best Original Song awards, not to mention the honors of Best Animated Feature and Best Picture. “Over the Moon,” a Netflix animated musical from industry legend Glen Keane, follows a young girl named Fei Fei as she designs a rocket as part of her quest to find an ancient moon goddess. I personally find rockets amusing. They’re big, loud, and if they’re named Johnny they can make an excellent burger!
“Promising Young Woman” was nominated for Best Picture. “Promising Young Woman” is about a girl who seeks vengeance as she reflects on an event from her past. The film’s main character, Cassandra Thomas, is 26 and lives with her parents. Thanks, COVID!
Also nominated for Best Picture, “The Last Shift,” starring Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie as an unlikely pair who form a bond in a fast-food joint. Here’s what critics have to say about “The Last Shift.” New York Post says “The Last Shift” appreciates life’s banalities and the struggles of ordinary people. AARP Movies for Grownups calls “The Last Shift” a thoroughly entertaining take on race, class, age, retirement, and morality. Meanwhile, the fast-food chain Wendy’s says “Nobody ate a Baconater, one star!”
“Emma.” was nominated for this ceremony, receiving the honors of Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay. According to director Autumn de Wilde, the film’s title has a period at the end of it, in order to symbolize that the movie is a period film. Originally, when I came up for the concept of the Jackoffs, I wanted the title to have an exclamation point at the end of it because I get to yell in your face all the time!
AND THIS STUPID AWARD GOES TO!… SHARKNADO 69: IT NEVER EVER EVER EVER ENDS!
Ladies and gentlemen, let me just take a moment to remind you that this is my 3rd year doing the Jackoffs here on Scene Before. And we are just beginning what is hopefully the most epic year for Scene Before yet. After all, this month, we have just reached five full years of the Scene Before name, and I am going big. We are going to gloss over a ton of movies, I’ll have some countdowns sprinkled here and there, I’ll discuss news when possible. All the basics will still be here, and to be quite frank, I don’t have a complete layout of how this year is going to go. I have concepts, which I’ll dive deeper into later on in the show, but still. After 2020, all I can say is that I have to expect the unexpected. For all I know, Elon Musk will release a robot army to destroy us all. But I have plans to debut a review series that I have been waiting to do for the longest time. The movies that I will be focusing on have been a part of my life since my childhood, and childhoods of many others. Generation after generation have celebrated these movies whenever possible, some would say that many hardcore fans not only enjoy these movies, they live them. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce the trailer to my all new review series, “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!”
That’s right! “7 Days of Star Wars!” This is a full week of “Star Wars” content. That means from May 2nd to May 8th, that is an all new Flicknerd.com exclusive review for an installment to the “Star Wars” franchise! Here’s how the schedule will go! “The Phantom Menace” on May 2nd! “Attack of the Clones” on May 3rd! “Revenge of the Sith” on May 4th! “A New Hope” on May 5th! “The Empire Strikes Back” on May 6th! “Return of the Jedi” on May 7th! And “The Force Awakens” on May 8th! All the main saga “Star Wars” movies that you may be wondering why I haven’t tackled yet will FINALLY be tackled! The month of May will rock your world! As a long follower of the “Star Wars” franchise, I assure you it will rock mine! Until then, MAY THE FLIPPIN’ FORCE BE WITH YOU! Emphasis, on the freaking MAY!
YEAH! But of course, we have a ceremony to get through. The year of March cannot be ignored. And a little sidenote before we move on, special thanks to Arvid Olson, he created the music used in the trailer, so shoutout to him. Well done, sir.
Before we dive into the awards, I do want to remind people, in case they are tuning into Flicknerd.com for the first time ever, or if they simply don’t know who I happen to be, I am a critic. Or at least that’s what I often call myself. But as a critic, one thing I’ve often forgotten is that it takes serious skill and effort from an ambitious crew to making a movie. That’s often the case, even for movies I don’t end up particularly liking. Per usual, as a way of honoring this entire year in film, let’s do a rundown of all the new movies I ended up seeing in 2020.
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Sonic the Hedgehog
Impractical Jokers: The Movie
The Way Back
The Vast of Night
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
Gretel & Hansel
The Burnt Orange Heresy
Made in Italy
An American Pickle
Words on Bathroom Walls
The New Mutants
The Rhythm Section
All in: The Fight for Democracy
The Personal History of David Copperfield
You Should Have Left
The Last Shift
The War with Grandpa
Over the Moon
I Am Greta
Sound of Metal
Bill & Ted Face the Music
The Croods: A New Age
The Last Vermeer
The Call of the Wild
The Midnight Sky
Promising Young Woman
Wonder Woman 1984
Big Time Adolescence
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
I’m Your Woman
News of the World
The King of Staten Island
Death of Me
The High Note
The Jesus Rolls
One Night in Miami
Color Out of Space
With this out of the way, let the ceremony begin! The brawl for the best picture of 2020 is on!
We are, appropriately, going to be doing a first with our first category today. All the other categories being represented here today have been a part of the Jackoffs since year 1. Now it is year 3, it is time to expand the roster. There is no confirmation that this category will stick around for next year, but given the way my content lineup went down this year, this category is somewhat warranted. For this award, we will be looking at five documentaries that brought visual information on their respective subject matters. Here are the nominees for Best Documentary.
All In: The Fight For Democracy (Liz Garbuz, Lisa Cortés, Dan Cogan, Stacey Abrams)
Boys State (Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine)
I Am Greta (Nathan Grossman, Fredrik Heinig, Cecilia Nessen)
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (Daniel Roher, Lana Belle Mauro, Andrew Munger, Stephen Paniccia, Sam Sutherland)
Time (Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Not only do we have a first time for the Best Documentary category being presented, but we also have a first for Apple. One significant point about “Boys State” is that this is the first time that a film made for Apple TV+ was nominated, tied with “Wolfwalkers,” which is in the next category coming up. “Boys State” takes a story centered around a ton of guys in Texas who come together to form their own government. And all of those boys would likely agree that they see the government as a device for the people. Something where everyone involved hopefully gets what they need. In the same way, this movie listened to me, heard me, and delivered something that I asked for. Congratulations to “Boys State” for being the first documentary to win an award on the Jackoffs!
Moving onto the next genre-based category, let’s take a look at some of the films we have here without specifically naming them. A galactic tale. A magical story. A shapeshifting adventure. A family journey. And, this one’s my favorite… A film… For the SOUL. I sincerely apologize. These five films have made us laugh, made us sing, made us cheer, made us smile, and made us cry. Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Croods: A New Age (Joel Crawford, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan)
Onward (Dan Scanlon, Kori Rae)
Over the Moon (Glen Keane, John Kahrs, Gennie Rim, Peilin Chou)
Soul (Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Dana Murray)
Wolfwalkers (Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young, Nora Twomey, Stéphan Roelants)
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Over the Moon!”
Sticking with more firsts, “Over the Moon” is the first Netflix animation to not only be nominated, but also win a Jackoff! And BOY does it deserve it! With the only 10/10 score I gave this year, two Best Original song nominations, and Best Picture, the only nomination of that kind I gave this year to an animation by the way, “Over the Moon” shines as one of the best animated films I have seen in years. The film follows a young girl named Fei Fei who must prove to her father that the moon goddess, Chang’e, of Chinese mythology, is real. With lessons about the importance of family, exploration, curiosity, and moving on, “Over the Moon” started off by moving me, then wowing me, then making me cry, all the way to the point where a part of me was able to smile again. Directors Glen Keane and John Kahrs alongside an all Asian cast helped bring this extraordinary adventure to life. Congratulations to “Over the Moon!”
If you want the truth, “Over the Moon” qualifies to be one of the more visually stunning films of the year. Both the earth and galactic environments add up for some of the most gorgeous eye candy of 2020. And speaking of eye candy, let’s talk about more of it. These five films have tremendous visual and practical effects of all kinds. Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Color Out of Space
The Midnight Sky
Wonder Woman 1984
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Tenet” is the latest directorial effort of Christopher Nolan. And like his prior films including “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” and “Interstellar,” there is a massive use of practical effects. As Nolan himself stated, some romantic comedies have special effects shots than “Tenet,” which when it comes to a massive blockbuster like the one discussed, that is an accomplishment. “Tenet” is a film where you can see a Boeing 747 wheel itself into a building set to explode, sedans flipping around forwards and backwards, and beautiful, rich environments on multiple continents. All I have for you is a word. Gorgeous.
It is now time to introduce our Best Pictures. They will not be awarded yet, but for those of you who want a reminder of how Best Picture will work, it is entirely based on the Top 10 BEST Movies of 2020 list posted earlier this year on Scene Before. 10 movies are selected and the one that receives the highest vote count based on the people’s choice, will win it all. We will introduce them one by one throughout the show, with a trailer included, starting with this one…
Our first Best Picture nominee is everything that movie theaters were designed to display. Shot on IMAX film, 70mm, directed by a master class filmmaker, a talented cast, and a complex plot that makes you want more. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson cycle through time, forward and backward, as they pull off one of the most boisterous spy missions in history. It is bold, daring, and pushes the limits of what film is able to pull off. A few examples supporting this were already mentioned, but they dared to name their main protagonist, well, the Protagonist. Guess that makes the writing process a little easier. This is yet another worthy addition to Christopher Nolan’s cinematic library. Nominated for 9 Jackoff awards, the highest total tonight, and it has already won one of them, this is “Tenet.”
Up next are the sound categories, for those of you who have tuned into the Jackoffs before, the sound categories are presented based on which aspect comes first. The little hint I’ll give as I found out myself, E comes before M, therefore editing comes before mixing. With that being said, here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Over the Moon
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sound of Metal
And the award goes to…
When I saw “Tenet,” I was impressed by the vast library and execution of sounds coming out of the speakers. Gunshots, ticking time bombs, explosions, big doors, everything felt immersive and exciting, and I congratulate “Tenet” for supplying that library and putting it all to good use. The reason why I nominated this film for Sound Editing was because they were able to use all of these sounds and perhaps put me, the viewer, into every single scene. Part of me felt like I would have died in the opera house. Part of me felt like I could have heard an inverted bullet flying past my ear. Part of me felt like chunks of gold were falling in front of my seat. And speaking of gold, “Tenet” is 2 for 2 so far. If it racks up 7 more wins, including Best Picture, that is a clean sweep. Congratulations!
Onto the second sound category, here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing.
BEST SOUND MIXING
Sound of Metal
The Way Back
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Sound of Metal!”
How could this NOT win? It literally has SOUND in the title! It was destined to win! Let me harken back to one thing I said during my top 10 best movies of 2020 list, specifically, that “Sound of Metal” does for audio what “Birdman” and “1917” do for camerawork. While that may be a stretch, that is what “Sound of Metal” felt like it was trying to go for. The reason why this film won is because while films like “Greenland” and “Unhinged” stood out for being wonderfully obnoxious, “Sound of Metal” does that at times, but also blends in peaceful silence, making the audio-filled points stand out. This is “Sound of Metal’s” first win of the night, and it while it will not win everything based on the previous category, the film may have a shot at Best Picture. We’ll have to see. Congratulations!
Our second Best Picture nominee comes from Great Britain. Like a few other great films that yours truly has talked about in recent years, this is a film that honors storytelling. It centers around an Englishwoman living in World War II who must take care of an evacuee. The two become friendly with each other, and we dive into the backgrounds of both characters. By the end of the journey, this film is one of the most emotional stories of the year. After all, stories have to come from somewhere. And if that’s the truth, this story must have come from a goldmine. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “Summerland.”
We will now move on to the first of two music categories. The second one will presented towards the other half of the show, which is Best Original Song, but for this category, we will dive into the instruments, the tunes, the bangs, and the notes that defined the movies this year. All crafted by talented and respected composers, here are the nominees for Best Original Score.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Michael Giacchino (An American Pickle)
Steven Price (Over the Moon)
Ludwig Göransson (Tenet)
Alan Silvestri (The Witches)
Hans Zimmer (Wonder Woman 1984)
And the award goes to…
Ludwig Göransson for “Tenet!”
The run for a sweep continues! “Tenet” is 3 for 3! This is Ludwig Göransson’s first nomination and win, but I have a feeling he will have many more. Göransson is known for his work not only on “Tenet,” but also on “Black Panther” and “The Mandalorian.” One factor that went into deciding the winner for this category was how often I ended up listening to the scores after watching the film. The scores for “Tenet” and “Over the Moon” are two that I would pop on every other day. “Tenet” is not only just a magnificent score on its own, but it showcases the gimmick of the entire film, time inversion. Some songs have a backwards vibe, making the film slightly more exciting. There are a couple tracks that are all over the place, and when it comes to the percussion, it is some of the best that has ever been executed for a musical lineup. Here is a track from Ludwig Göransson’s official score of “Tenet.”
And now we move onto Makeup & Hairstyling, one of the categories “Tenet” IS NOT mentioned for, but it’ll still win anyway because apparently it has magic powers now. It’s kind of like Meryl Streep. She might not even be in the movie but somehow she is still amazing in it! The five movies represented here have stylists who gave it their all and some looks that really pop. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Deborah La Mia Denaver)
Emma. (Marese Langan)
Mank (Gigi Williams, Michelle Audrina Kim)
Promising Young Woman (Angie Wells, Daniel Crest)
Summerland (Lisa Cavalli-Green, Liberty Haynes)
And the award goes to…
Marese Langan for “Emma.!”
Before these unprecedented times went into full circle, I’ve personally had the privilege of attending a special screening of “Emma..” Now for those of you who know the story, you’d know that Jane Austen’s original book was published on December 23rd, 1815, making it over two centuries old. At this special screening, the director, Autumn de Wilde, came out with the film’s lead star, Anya-Taylor Joy, who recently won a Golden Globe for her role in Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” and talked about the film. One interesting point that was brought up was the title of the film. If you look at the title “Emma.” you’ll notice a period at the end. That is to highlight the film is a period piece. And when it comes to the film’s many hairstyles, no matter how pristine or funky they may appear, they all fit the time beautifully. It perhaps goes to show that beauty knows no age. It can stand the test of time. Congratulations to “Emma.!”
Our third Best Picture nominee is the first Netflix animated feature yours truly has seen. From legendary Disney animators Glen Keane and John Kahrs, comes a Netflix animated musical that feels like a true throwback to another era, despite the 3D animation. Featuring the likes of the young, bright Cathy Ang, unmasker Ken Jeong, and “Hamilton” star Phillipa Soo, this brings classic Disney to a new generation of viewers, and allows those who grew up watching such films to experience something of old, while really watching something new. Songs like “Hey Boy,” “Rocket to the Moon,” and “Ultraluminary” are all brilliantly executed by their respective vocalists. And I should note, two of those three pieces are nominated for Best Original Song. Despite there being a journey quite out of this world, the themes and messages presented here will bring viewers down to earth. Nominated for 6 Jackoff Awards, this is “Over the Moon.”
They say that no film is perfect. Well, they’re right. In fact, 2020 has proven that wholeheartedly. Many of this year’s films, especially in the first half, have given lackluster results across the board. And even the best films this year are by no means flawless, especially compared to 2018 and 2019. Although, even the most critically acclaimed films of all time, “The Dark Knight,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” “Halloween,” “Toy Story,” even “Citizen Kane,” they all can be improved in some way. So, I decided to look back at 2020’s films and see what adjustments I could make in order to improve them, whether they need these improvements or not. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the third edition of “Film Improvements.”
Wow! They aren’t stopping with those Spider-Man movies! Even Warner Bros. is making them now! They’ll never run out!
We’re now going to move onto the acting categories. Specifically, actors in a supporting role. Some of the roles these men play include a father who is highly against the work system in the United States, a successful singer who spent a night in Miami, and a crazy psychopath who is obsessed with killing an animated hedgehog. Did I just say that out loud? Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kevin James (Becky)
Shane Paul McGhie (The Last Shift)
Arliss Howard (Mank)
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Jim Carrey (Sonic the Hedgehog)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Leslie Odom Jr. in “One Night in Miami!”
Last year, Amazon made its presence in Jackoffs history. While the studio did receive a nomination in this exact category for Timothee Chalamet’s performance in “Beautiful Boy,” they had a ceremony until they got a win, which they did in the Best Original Song category for Sigrid’s piece, “Home to You,” which was featured in “The Aeronauts.” Today, Amazon now has TWO wins in the same ceremony! They are THAT MUCH CLOSER to ruling the world! But when it comes to Leslie Odom Jr.’s win, it is well-deserved. The four leads in the film all find a way to have an engaging presence and sense of chemistry with one another, but Odom Jr. has risen to the top and does so with a commanding vibe. He moves, he sings, he talks, he does it all. His portrayal of Sam Cooke is the definite highlight of the film. No shame here to the other actors. Shane Paul McGhie portrayed someone who is worried about the American class system with excellence. Kevin James took a unique role for his career in a smaller production and had fun with everything and everyone around him. Arliss Howard played a figure who demanded my attention at the beginning of “Mank,” and went on to become someone as a character who I go back and forth between. Jim Carrey, who was almost my winner, took on a character that comes off as a complete cartoon and brought him to life like no one else could. However, of the five, Odom Jr. is the winner and him being the highlight of “One Night of Miami” helped cement that. Congratulations to Leslie Odom Jr., and here is a clip from his performance in “One Night in Miami.”
Moving onto actresses, let’s take a look at a few characters they played this year. When it comes to the prestigious nominations, some of the roles these women play include a mother who is separated from her daughter by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the partner of a drummer who is losing a defining characteristic, and an actress. So, wait… Does that mean one of these women play themselves? I’m very confused. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Elizabeth Debicki (The Burnt Orange Heresy)
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
Helena Zengel (News of the World)
Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal)
Princess Punzalan (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Amanda Seyfried for “Mank!”
While actors including Arliss Howard and Gary Oldman had their fair of moments where they played their part well, the real star of the show could arguably be Amanda Seyfried. Not only does she look the part thanks to the film’s undoubtedly talented team of costume designers and stylists, but her looks are just a small part of why her character was the scene stealer. One of the best things about Amanda Seyfried’s performance, and this is nothing against her as an actor, because she is talented, is that this did not feel like Amanda Seyfried. Almost every time I glanced upon that big screen and saw Seyfried’s character, Marion Davies, I got a sense that I escaped into the Golden Age of Hollywood and she was there to greet me every time. For those of you who don’t know Marion Davies, she is an actress known for arguably being a piece of inspiration behind “Citizen Kane,” which the movie “Mank” centers around. She’s also known for her roles in “The Patsy,” “Going Hollywood,” and “Show People.” While Davies has been long gone, she may be looking down on Seyfried with pride. Congrats to Seyfried, and speaking of which, here is a clip of her performance in “Mank!”
Our fourth Best Picture nominee is one of the most important films in Scene Before history. To this day, I refer to it as the film that made me excited to review movies again. This film comes from Andrew Patterson, who brought some of the most exciting camerawork, environments, settings, and tricks that have been displayed on screens this year. They say that video killed the radio star, but this nominee not only makes for a good movie, but also for good radio. The film centers around a DJ and switchboard operator who discover a strange frequency that becomes the talk of the town, kind of like this film at one point became the talk through the curiosity and praise from several viewers like myself. Nominated for 3 Jackoff awards, this is “The Vast of Night.”
Now we will move into production design. Here we will recognize the extravagant sets, gorgeous locations, and distant time periods these movies took us to in 2020. Some locations include a hotel where no mouse or kid is safe, a vast environment where there is a very little sense of time, and enormous deserts as far as the eye can see. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Totoi Santoro)
Emma. (Kave Quinn)
News of the World (David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan)
Tenet (Nathan Crowley)
The Witches (Gary Freeman)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Nathan Crowley for “Tenet!”
The streak continues, and we have a record tie! We’ll get to that in a second, but this goes to show the magnificent craft that went into “Tenet” as a production. And that is where the film excels the most, behind the scenes. Although in this sense, you can technically say that you can see a lot of what this category is all about in the various shots of the film. “Tenet” was shot in seven countries on three continents, with each environment being as sweet as the last. While “Tenet” almost comes off as a grounded adventure at times, it has the excitement of a fantasy at other times. One of the more notable feats in the film are the sliding doors where they obnoxiously open and close like a freight elevator. The climax felt mysterious and exciting due to the weirdly authentic atmosphere of the deserted city and everything around it. This was a hard category to determine, because there are a few good picks here. “Tenet” was just the one that spoke to me the most. Congratulations to “Tenet,” which is 4 for 4 so far!
Also, unbelievable! We are not even halfway through the show, and a significant record has already been tied! For those of you who have followed the Jackoffs during its first two years, a couple films should stand out. Specifically “Roma,” which was represented during the first ceremony, and “1917,” which was represented during the second ceremony. Neither film won every category it was nominated for, that could be achieved depending on how “Tenet” keeps up the pace, but the film also tied “Roma” and “1917” as the winningest film in Jackoffs history. Here are the categories that remain for “Tenet.” Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Director, and Best Picture. If it takes one more award, it beats “Roma” and “1917” as the winningest film in the show’s history. If it takes the rest of the categories it is nominated for tonight, then it is a clean sweep. Exciting stuff, guys! We’ll see what happens! But anything’s possible, look at the original Jackoffs! “Avengers: Infinity War” won Best Picture without taking another one of its nominated categories. Or even look at the 5th Academy Awards! “Grand Hotel” won Best Picture without even being nominated for another category! We’ll have to see! It all comes down to one man’s opinion and your votes!
Moving back to NON-“Tenet” categories, let’s talk about costumes. Production design and costume design seem to almost go hand-in-hand at times. They’re both aspects of the film you place in front of the camera to the point where one would hopefully be wowed. Whether they are dresses, military outfits, or fashionable superhero gear, the apparel worn by the characters presented in the following films stood out to the naked eye. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Erin Benach, Helen Huang)
Emma. (Alexandra Byrne)
Mulan (Bina Daigeler)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Suzie Harman, Robert Worley)
The Witches (Joanna Johnston)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Joanna Johnston for “The Witches!”
Collectively, the costumes featured in “The Witches” feel like they come out of a children’s book, which is appropriate, given how “The Witches” originally was a Roald Dahl novel. The film goes to show that witches are not just evil, they know a good outfit when they see one. The film overall feels like it takes place in some backend portion of a Wes Anderson film like “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is appropriate because much of “The Witches” takes place in a hotel. When it comes to characters, the Grand High Witch played by Anne Hathaway is the biggest standout, rocking multiple dazzling outfits in a span of less than a couple hours. Everything in this movie despite having some darkish moments feels colorful and goes along that vibe of being safe enough to show children, but also horrific enough to have a balance. Joanna Johnston is a costume designer known for collaborating on many of Robert Zemeckis’s productions including “Back to the Future Part II,” “Allied,” and “Welcome to Marwen.” She also worked on 2016’s “The BFG” directed by Steven Spielberg, so she is no stranger to the Roald Dahl universe. Johnston whipped up some colorful, vibrant, and quirky outfits worn by regular people and witches alike. Congratulations to Joanna Johnston!
Our fifth Best Picture nominee encapsulates one of the most life-altering events a person can have, the loss of one of their senses. In this case, our lead character of Ruben loses his hearing, arguably his most essential sense as a drummer. Played with sheer brilliance by Riz Ahmed, Ruben as a character took a movie where its main character cannot hear anything, and executed a product that made me want to audibly shout from the rooftops. If you want to be stoked, watch a drum solo. If you want to be floored, watch our fifth Best Picture nominee. Nominated for 7 Jackoff Awards, this is “Sound of Metal.”
“Sound of Metal” is available right now exclusively on Prime, and no, it doesn’t come with free shipping, it’s a digital file.
This year, like the past years we have done the Jackoff Awards, we will not be giving a lifetime achievement, we’ll be giving two. One for someone who is currently alive, and for somebody who unfortunately is no longer with us. Per usual, we will start off by presenting the first award for the living individual. It is time for the Roger Deakins award.
This award has been presented in the honor of Roger Deakins, the acclaimed cinematographer behind films including “The Big Lebowski” and “Blade Runner 2049.” And Bill Murray, the iconic actor famous for his roles in “Ghostbusters,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Today, we’ll be honoring a well-known director who has been at the top of their craft for numerous decades. And yes, this person is still making movies today. The 3rd Roger Deakins award goes to a man who made his directorial debut with the short film “The Last Gun.” He shot, starred, and crafted the film at the young age of 13 years old. From then on, he crafted more shorts until his feature length directorial debut, “Firelight” released in 1964. And it certainly was not his last. The man ventured forth, creating some of the most iconic films of all time. “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” “Minority Report,” “The Terminal,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” and “Lincoln” just to name a few. He has won 3 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, 4 Primetime Emmys, and 3 BAFTAs. None of these include Lifetime Achievements or honorary awards. He is also a notable producer and executive who has continued to bring many big movies to the public, including “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Men in Black,” “Transformers,” “Super 8,” and even the record-holder for Jackoff nominations at a total of 10, “First Man.” He has collaborated with some of the most influential minds in the industry. Michael Bay, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy. The guy can do it all. Action, drama, thriller, sci-fi, horror, animation, period piece, adventure, you name it, there is a good chance he has done it. For filmmakers everywhere, he has been the pinnacle, the holy grail, the definition, the master of them all. Almost anyone who has ever watched or enjoyed a movie will know his name or something he did. Maybe it affected them personally, maybe it made them want to get into filmmaking, or it made them want more of his content. The 3rd Roger Deakins award goes to a deserving name, a man who despite receiving a steady stream of words, needs no introduction. Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg, you’re gonna need a bigger shelf! Because on top of all the other accolades you have received over the years, you are now the proud recipient of the Roger Deakins award! If he accepted this award and was honored to receive it, he’ll probably go home and put it in his office or something. If he took the award and didn’t want it, he’d probably feed it to a CGI dinosaur. Either way, he wins. Congrats to Steven Spielberg! The man, the myth, the blockbuster filmmaker!
Moving onto our next sketch, it’s no secret that we’ve all been stuck at home. We’ve been attached to our couches, our beds, our recliners, we’ve practically become slaves to our television sets. Sometimes we’re busy flipping channels to see what’s on. For all we know, if there’s nothing on, we’ll just put on a movie. Specifically, on a TV channel of some sort. Even the major networks like ABC and CBS have been getting into the game where they’ve aired movies from their particular studio to fill time slots. But you may flip to that channel and wonder what the movie’s about. That’s where the info button comes in. You click the button, you see the description, bingo! That’s what this next segment of the Jackoffs is about. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a little bit I like to call “Infomovies.”
Our sixth Best picture nominee is a story takes an age gap, the problems of the old and young, and puts them together in a story that feels ageless. Aside from age, this deals with problems having to do with race, culture, and class. When one man is about to leave his job at a local fast-food restaurant, a new, lesser-aged individual is about to fill his shoes. The wise guy teaches the young man the ropes of working at a fast-food joint, all the while developing a seemingly unlikely friendship that stabilizes as much as it can despite some imperfections. This movie may be about fast-food, but the result is quite luxurious. Nominated for 3 Jackoff awards, this is “The Last Shift.”
We are now about to move onto the screenplay categories. This year, we will be starting with adapted screenplays and following it up with original screenplays. This year we have seen movies that have taken us to many worlds, including those from authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, who told iconic tales of fiction. But you also have authors including Lauren Redniss and Jessica Bruder, who tell stories that have happened in history, only to have those stories be spun in a visionary direction for the screen. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Emma. (Eleanor Catton)
News of the World (Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucchi)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)
Radioactive (Jack Thorne)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland!”
What makes “Nomadland” such an interesting film not only to watch, but to talk about, is that it is not really a story about someone who wants something bigger than themselves. There are characters, including the main one, who show that they want more, but what makes “Nomadland” fascinating is the showcasing of regular people trying to get by from day to day, enjoying what they have in their lives, and having fun even in the toughest of situations. “Nomadland” comes with one of the best lines of 2020, specifically spoken by Bob Wells, who plays himself in the film.
“You know, I’ve met hundreds of people out here and I don’t ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, ‘I’ll see you down the road’.”
That’s what I have been trying to say to normalcy for the past year. I do not think normalcy will go away, but I always hope it is only taking a temporary break. There is no goodbye. Plus, this film came out at the perfect time. It shows a story of people who are thankful and appreciative of what they have and the people in their lives. And I think during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people, including myself, can relate to that. Congratulations to Chloe Zhao, who is also nominated for Best Director! Will she win two awards tonight? We shall see!
Progressing onto the original screenplays, some of these written scripts showcase stories about a Korean family trying to live the American dream, a country singer trying to make it big in Texas, and an unlikely pair who bond while working the night shift. Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Last Shift (Andrew Cohn)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, Abraham Marder)
Yellow Rose (Diane Paragas, Annie Howell, Celena Cipriaso)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari!”
Well, here’s another first! This is the first year that no film nominated for Best Picture also won one of the two screenplay awards! That is despite having one of them be nominated for Adapted Screenplay and four of them be nominated for Original Screenplay. So why did “Minari” win despite having the fewest nominations of all these films? The answer is simple, when it comes to slice of life stories, this film excels. Some would say that the American dream is a myth. In “Minari,” not only do we see a tale of people who take the American dream by the balls and go to town with it, but a cute tale where a family bonds together even during what they may see as the most unsettling of times. Life for the characters in this film is like a see-saw. One side is happy go lucky, the other is not, and sometimes as a viewer, I could understand both sides. “Minari” is a wonderful film. Congratulations!
Our seventh Best Picture nominee is from the mind of Emerald Fennell, a name you may know from such projects including “Call the Midwife” and “The Crown.” Now she has created her own directorial debut with Carey Mulligan as the starring role. In this white-knuckle thriller, a character by the name of Cassandra stops at nothing to right the wrongs of an event in her past. Mulligan is joined by actors including the talented Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Adam Brody, and Bo Burnham, who earned a nomination during the 1st Annual Jackoffs for Best Original Screenplay, which he received on account of his work on “Eighth Grade.” Here, he not only proves he is a talented force behind the camera, but he is capable of compelling an audience in front as well. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, this is “Promising Young Woman.”
We are now going to focus on two of the most essential categories to filmmaking. Editing and cinematography. Without these two elements, movies would likely cease to exist. No scenes to splice together. No frames to cherish over the years. No lights to enhance a scene. The first five films we will discuss in this segment are the ones that are cut together to present a compilation for the ages. Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing.
BEST FILM EDITING
Mank (Kirk Baxter)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)
Radioactive (Stéphane Roche)
Tenet (Jennifer Lame)
The Vast of Night (Andrew Patterson)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new record. Jennifer Lame for “Tenet!”
5 for 5! While “Tenet” was not my favorite film of the year, it is the one that I did see the most times. And with each viewing I begun to appreciate it a little more. There is a sense of wonder as to how they did certain tricks in the film, which I say despite having seen behind the scenes footage, but one of my biggest wonders is how they got such a masterful edit. And you know what? I should not be surprised. After all, this is the second year in a row Jennifer Lame has received a Best Film Editing nomination, with the first one being for her work on Netflix’s “Marriage Story,” a wonderfully put together film that ended up winning two Jackoffs last year. “Tenet” earned its win for not only being a well-presented edit, but for doing so by taking a concept that is amazingly hard to execute on paper and having a field day with it. All the film’s action scenes are top-notch, everything on screen, forwards and backwards, falls within the boisterous vibe of the film, and this is a reminder that “Tenet” is not just a movie, it is a roller-coaster. The thrills can’t stop, the thrills won’t stop, and part of the reason is due to Jennifer Lame’s excellent bringing to life of the obnoxious concept at hand. Congratulations to Jennifer Lame, and we now have a record for the winningest film in Jackoffs history!
Now the next five nominations are dedicated to cinematography. These are the films that utilized cameras and lights to create works of magic. Whether the films were shot on digital, film, or IMAX, these five moving pictures literally moved audiences this year. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography!
News of the World (Dariusz Wolski)
Nomadland (Joshua James Richards)
Summerland (Laurie Rose)
Tenet (Hoyte von Hoytema)
The Vast of Night (M.I. Littin-Menz)
And the Jackoff goes to…
M.I. Littin-Menz for “The Vast of Night!”
This is “The Vast of Night’s” first win of the show, making it one for two so far. The film is also nominated for Best Picture, so we’ll see what happens there. For those of you who have witnessed the Jackoffs in recent years, you’ll notice a common theme when it comes to the Best Cinematography category. The winners in past years, specifically “Roma” and “1917” have scenes that are not only beautifully presented on screen with rich environments in front of them, but they also have scenes that contain extensively long shots. In “The Vast of Night,” the film’s prime highlight is a four minute-long tracking shot that goes from place to place where the camera keeps moving and never stops. I said in my review, also earlier in the show, that “The Vast of Night” is the movie that made excited to review movies again, because after months of watching underwhelming movie after underwhelming movie that barely impressed at best, I finally found something that floored me, and it came in the form of “The Vast of Night!” Bravo to “The Vast of Night,” and as for “Tenet,” the film’s streak is over. Will it win anything else? It is possible! It had 9 nominations leading into the ceremony, anything could happen!
Our eighth Best Picture nomination is a story about two people, one an adult man, the other a young girl. Shortly after the main duo find each other one day, it is the adult man’s responsibility to bring the young girl to safety by bringing her to a place that she can call home. With all the excitement and action of a western tied in with all the drama and division that comes from the news, this duo must trek through woods, deserts, and towns while overcoming various obstacles. Directed by Paul Greengrass with stars Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel, this film is a fine western road trip. Nominated for 7 Jackoffs, this is “News of the World.”
It is now time for the second lifetime achievement award, otherwise known as the Stan Lee award.
Like the past couple years, this is a lifetime achievement award given to someone who has done something significant or left a tremendous impact on the film industry. Even if that impact is small, it can still influence the way films are produced today. The past two winners, Stan Lee and Syd Mead lived full lives doing one project after another. They’re no longer with us, but their long lives were spent endlessly entertaining millions, perhaps billions of people. The Jackoffs celebrated these two, whose lives were fully realized. Today, we are recognizing the accomplishments of an individual who also lived a full life and is celebrated by their fans, community, and even by those who took a second to look at their work and walked away. The winner of the 3rd Stan Lee Award is the creator of various musical tunes you hear today. Now I am not talking about rock, not hip hop, not rap, I am talking classical. You may wonder why I bring this up, because the winner of the 3rd Stan Lee Award has become one of the most iconic composers not just in film history, but in all of pop culture. This winner was born in Rome, and he also recently passed in Rome. Known for his work including “The Battle of Algiers,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” and “The Untouchables,” this man set a standard for how movie scores should be done and how they should compel an audience even after the movie reaches its conclusion. From 1979 to 2001, he would be nominated for five Oscars, all in the category of Best Music, Original Score. A couple of the movies specifically include “Days of Heaven” and “The Mission.” He won a BAFTA for the former and a Golden Globe for the latter. When it comes to the Academy, it was not until his next score nomination for his work in 2015 that he would finally take home the gold for the category. The movie, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” In between all of this, specifically 2007, Morricone would receive an| Honorary Award from the Academy “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.” Aside from the two technical Oscars on his shelf, Morricone has officially won three Golden Globes, a Critics Choice Award, and all six of the BAFTAs for which he was nominated. His work is copied over today not just as a piece of inspiration for many, but his original songs have been moved over into various spots in our modern culture, including movies such as “Madagascar Escape 2 Africa,” “Kick-Ass,” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” We shall also not forget TV shows including “The Simpsons,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to honor the maestro of westerns and as a result, our culture, Ennio Morricone!
Ennio Morricone may no longer be with us, but if time is on our side, we will continue to use his work in more media to come. Once Upon a Time at the Jackoffs, there lived a lifetime achievement award, and it went to one of the most iconic composers of all time. Congratulations to Ennio Morricone!
Time to give out some more awards! We are down to the final five. The Best Original Song category has honored artists including Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Sigrid. The question is, who will join them? These five songs have defined the movies in which they appear. In addition, they can make for a listenable tune down the road. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Rocket to the Moon – Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park (writers), Cathy Ang (vocals) (Over the Moon)
Ultraluminary – Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park (writers), Phillipa Soo (vocals) (Over the Moon)
Speed Me Up – Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Yachty, Sueco the Child (Sonic the Hedgehog)
The Plan – Travis Scott (lyrics), Ludwig Göransson, WondaGurl (producers) (Tenet)
Square Peg – Eva Noblezada (lyrics), Christopher Hoyt Knight (writer) (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park, and Cathy Ang for “Rocket to the Moon” in “Over the Moon!”
I’ll be honest, if I could give an award to both “Over the Moon” songs, I would, but in reality I just had to choose one. “Over the Moon” is a Netflix original, but this song along with a few others gave it the same spirit of the traditional Disney animation from beloved classics like “The Lion King” to recent hits like “Moana.” The song appears three times throughout the film. Once during the opening act, not too long after as a reprise, and once more during the credits where the original song and reprise are mixed together. Each time that I heard it, it always evoked the vibe of a proper “I want” song where a character aspires to achieve something and they have to belt out the right words to express their motivation, something which Cathy Ang’s character of Fei Fei does exquisitely. The reason why I have given “Over the Moon” so much love to the point where I do not know anyone else in my demographic that has raved about it as much as me is because of how much it took me back to a confusing, unsettling time in my teen years, even without copying every single note of that time. Hint: Both my parents are alive. Up next I have listed a music video for “Rocket to the Moon” along with the actual song. You can listen to one, neither, both, your choice, I do not make the rules. But either way, if you choose to listen, enjoy the original song… “Rocket to the Moon.”
I hope you enjoyed the song, but now we must get back to handing trophies to entitled celebrities. It’s very important!
This next category is what some suggest to be of the highest importance. This position is responsible for managing and creating the vision that they hope their audiences would see and hear. When they are face to face with actors, they must collaborate in order to achieve the performance that will most likely compel the viewer. But above all, they are… the director. Here are the nominees for Best Director.
Paul Greengrass (News of the World)
Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)
Darius Marder (Sound of Metal)
Christopher Nolan (Tenet)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland!”
While “Nomadland” was not nominated for Best Picture, this win does speak volumes because it is not only the first film helmed by a woman to win the directing category at the Jackoff Awards, but it is also Chloe Zhao’s second win of the night! She also won Best Adapted Screenplay earlier in the show. I should also note that Chloe Zhao was also nominated for Best Film Editing, which means she had three nominations in this one ceremony! If I had to be completely real, I would give an award to all of these films if I could, because each one, in a way or another, feels special. But I had to choose one. “Nomadland” comes off as a rustic, realistic drama with hints of comedy in between. The film knows how to be serious, but it also knows how to have fun, and when you put those things together, you have an excellent film. Just a reminder to everybody that “Nomadland” is now available in theaters and on Hulu, so go support it if you can! Congrats to Chloe Zhao on her second Jackoffs win, both for this event and all-time.
Our ninth Best Picture nomination comes packed with surprises, thrills, and chills. From Gavin O’Connor, known for his touch on sports movies such as 2004’s “Miracle,” comes a drama where a basketball coach must take a team of high school players and lead them to victory. The only thing, this coach, who has been on the team when he was younger, is dealing with a name that has been on a massive losing streak since he left. The film is not just filled with excitement for basketball lovers, but slices in human drama with a moving story on alcoholism. Director O’Connor reunites with the captivating Ben Affleck, a pair who also previously worked together on 2016’s “The Accountant.” Nominated for 3 Jackoffs, this is “The Way Back.”
Three more categories to go until we reach the coveted Best Picture. The final nominee will be detailed soon. But now, let’s focus on acting. The star of the show is supposed to shine as the heart, nucleus, and reflection of one crew’s vision. These legendary actors have played characters including a newsman who read from the paper, a father who wants to provide a great life for his family, and a hyper basketball coach. Here are the nominees for Best Actor.
Steven Yeun (Minari)
Tom Hanks (News of the World)
Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
Ben Affleck (The Way Back)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal!”
This is the second award of the night taken home by the crew behind “Sound of Metal,” with the first being for Best Sound Mixing. While I did say that “Sound of Metal” is an unprecedented accomplishment for audio, it is as equally triumphant from an acting perspective with stellar performances given by Paul Raci, Olivia Cooke, who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and as you can tell, Riz Ahmed as the lead character of Ruben who constantly gives it his all to bring in the best drumming performance possible. Ahmed took it upon himself to learn how to play the drums, which is executed brilliantly throughout the film, but given the film’s plot, he also learned how to communicate in American Sign Language, which the actor embraced on set during filming. All of the actors in this category deserve to be here. Ben Affleck gave one of his most personal performances to date. Dev Patel brought the character from the book to the screen, and ultimately to life. Steven Yeun proves that he can be a good Korean-American dad, and Tom Hanks continues to prove that he may be everyone’s long lost dad. If his performance in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” did not show that already, then “News of the World” certainly did. Congratulations to all these actors, but Riz Ahmed is the winner of Best Actor this year. Keep breaking legs! Here is a clip of Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal!”
Now before we move onto Best Actress, sponsored by Meryl Streep, let’s take a look at some of the characters the nominees have played. These extraordinary actresses have played characters including a revered scientist who made an impact in her field, a recluse who adjusts to having a young boy enter her private life, and a killer and a victim at the same time. Here are the nominees for Best Actress.
Kathryn Newton (Freaky)
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
Rosamund Pike (Radioactive)
Gemma Arterton (Summerland)
Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Eva Noblezada for “Yellow Rose!”
While “Yellow Rose” did make an impact at several film festivals in 2019, its official theatrical release was not until 2020. I ended up seeing the film in the theater, then I ended up buying the Blu-ray when that came out for home viewing. For the first viewing, I viewed it simply as opportunity to see a movie with my mother. For the second viewing, one big factor behind it was the compelling mix of dialogue and lyrics that came out of Eva Noblezada’s mouth. Eva Noblezada is a multitalented woman who already has a Grammy on her shelf for the play “Hadestown,” for which she also received a Tony nomination. She also earned a Tony nomination for “Miss Saigon,” and now she has a Jackoff for “Yellow Rose.” Sort of in the same way that “Over the Moon” took me back to a time in my teens, “Yellow Rose,” mostly due to the magnificent chops from Noblezada herself, has circled through reminders of who I have been throughout my entire life. I have aspirations, and sometimes they seem so far away. But in addition to that, Noblezada manages to capture the spirit of the American dream while also having to deal with a lack of citizenship. When I did my review for “Yellow Rose,” I noted Noblezada’s performance saying I do not think she will win Best Actress. I may be right when it comes to the Oscars, given how “Yellow Rose” is a smaller film, but not when it comes to the Jackoffs! “Yellow Rose” is up there for me as one of the greatest music films of all time. Up there with “Ray” and “Whiplash,” and Eva Noblezada defines why this film has a presence among the greats. Here is a clip of Eva Noblezada in “Yellow Rose!”
Eva Noblezada was also nominated for Best Original Song, and in this clip, the song you hear, “Square Peg” is the song for which she received the nomination. It is a great song, and you should check it out on its own.
We will get to Best Picture in just a moment, but before we do, I just want to remind everyone once again that the special review series, 7 Days of Star Wars will be exclusively available on Scene Before, with a new review popping up every day from May 2nd to May 8th. But what if I told you that is just a fraction of what I had planned for 2021? Because I have laid out 6 review series concepts I have planned for the upcoming months, all the way to December. I will still continue to review new movies, those will not be forgotten, but I am dedicating this year to talking about some films that fall in line with a theme, or films that I have wanted to talk about for a long time, but have yet to talk about for one reason or another. Here are the movies I will be talking about in 2021!
My first small series will be “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” where I will touch upon two movies as we build our way to the all new “Mortal Kombat” film releasing in theaters and on HBO Max this April. I will be talking about “Mortal Kombat” on April 5th and “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th!
Up next, a series I have already talked about, “7 Days of Star Wars,” where I will dive into a new “Star Wars” film every day from May 2nd to May 8th. Again, the order will be “The Phantom Menace” on May 2nd, “Attack of the Clones” on May 3rd, “Revenge of the Sith” on May 4th, “A New Hope” on May 5th, “The Empire Strikes Back” on May 6th, “Return of the Jedi” on May 7th, and “The Force Awakens” on May 8th. May the force be with you until then.
In July, we will be talking pirates in a series called, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Reviewing Moron’s Chest of Reviews.” Throughout the month of July, we will talk about all five “Pirates of the Caribbean” films in honor of Disney’s other upcoming theme park ride-based film, “Jungle Cruise.” We will start with “The Curse of the Black Pearl” on July 1st, move onto “Dead Man’s Chest” on July 8th, then “At World’s End” on July 15th, followed by “On Stranger Tides” on July 22nd, and finally “Dead Men Tell No Tales” on July 29th.
Then in August we will be talking one franchise I have been waiting to do for the longest time. We are doing a series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” Judging by the name, we will obviously be touching upon the cult classic comedy franchise, “Revenge of the Nerds,” and yes, this also includes the two films made for television. So that means we will be discussing “Revenge of the Nerds,” the original film, on August 9th. The first sequel, “Nerds in Paradise” will be reviewed on August 16th. The first made for TV film, “The Next Generation,” will be talked about on August 23rd. My review for “Nerds in Love,” the most recent film in the franchise has a current release date of August 30th. To this day I have watched these films multiple times and I have met a good portion of the cast so I cannot wait to talk about it!
In October and November, we are going to be doing a Halloween special, tied in with a leadup to an upcoming film that is currently receiving high anticipation, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” In the upcoming review series, “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” we will spend Halloween 2021, that is October 31st, talking about the original “Ghostbusters,” followed by “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. For those who are wondering about “Ghostbusters” 2016, we will not be talking about that film as I already reviewed it when it came out.
Our final review series, which will take place in December will be a buildup to the upcoming “Matrix 4” film. “The Matrix Reviewed” will focus on the three films that have come out in the iconic trilogy whose original film has set standards for modern sci-fi and helped Keanu Reeves, the most meme-worthy actor of this generation find work. All three films are amongst the highest-grossing R rated films of all time. We will discuss “The Matrix” on December 5th, “The Matrix Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix Revolutions” on December 19th! I may not know kung fu, but I do know how to talk about sci-fi! So I cannot wait to discuss these films!
All of these segments are being done in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of existence. Dates and reviews are subject to change. For all I know, they could be cancelled. Hopefully, they are not, but anything is possible at this point. Stay tuned, get excited, get ready!
Now, we all know about COVID-19, maybe a little too much. Even when we would try to relax this year, we could not catch a break. Even when we turn on the television, the news is all about coronavirus. Sometimes when I’m trying to watch “Jeopardy!” or “The Price is Right,” Gov. Baker of Massachusetts or Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston would come on and talk about coronavirus. There was no escaping this mess! And unfortunately, some scumbags, I don’t know their names. Might be Turd Ferguson, Ralph Bohner, Disfatt Bidge, I do not even know who is responsible for this, but apparently, they found a way to put all of this into our movies. If you go and watch a movie now, it is not the same as it used to be. Who is responsible for this? George Lucas?! Is he trying to get viruses to learn about CGI now? What is going on? Either way, we will dive into this in a bit that I like to call, “Shut Up, COVID! I’m Trying to Watch the Movie!”.
Our tenth and final Best Picture nomination is a compelling tale of the American dream and never backing down. This film was first screened in 2019 at a series of festivals, but publicly released in theatres last fall. The film follows a young girl who aspires to be a musician in Austin, Texas, who has to deal with complications of adjusting to a life she had never hoped to live. Featuring original songs like “Square Peg,” this film is not only a compelling drama on life turning upside down, but is also a musical treat. Eva Noblezada, known for her stage work, shines in her feature film debut as the lead character of Rose Garcia. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, this is “Yellow Rose.”
We’ve made it. We’ve done it. We’ve conquered it. Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It is time to declare the Best Picture of the worst year. This is your ultimate reminder, no matter what struggles get in your way, no matter how hard life can get, no matter the barriers that lay in your path, winning cannot, should not, and most definitely, will not be cancelled! After a year unlike any other, it is time to honor ten films above all others. These are the films that moved me, got me excited, or in some cases, brought me to tears. Like the past two years, the people voted and made their voices heard. The most popular film of the bunch will take home the award. It is my great pleasure to introduce the nominees for Best Picture!
The Last Shift (Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern)
News of the World (Gary Goetzman, Gail Mutrux, Gregory Goodman)
Over the Moon (Gennie Rim, Peilin Chou)
Promising Young Woman (Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara, Tom Ackerley, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell)
Sound of Metal (Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Bill Benz, Kathy Benz)
Summerland (Guy Heely, Adrian Sturges)
Tenet (Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan)
The Vast of Night (James Montague, Melissa Kirkendall, Adam Dietrich)
The Way Back (Gordon Gray, Jennifer Todd, Gavin O’Connor, Ravi Mehta)
Yellow Rose (Cecilia R. Mejia, Rey Cuerdo, Diane Paragas, Orian Williams, Jeremiah Abraham)
And the Jackoff goes to…
This is the sixth win and ninth nomination for “Tenet.” “Tenet” also won Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing. The film was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, and Best Director. This is the first Best Picture win for a Warner Brothers film.
The record now stands at six wins! What a way to end the ceremony and this long, weird, crazy year in film. Christopher Nolan has had a long history as being an innovative, challenge-ready director. He’ll take crazy concepts such as presenting a movie in reverse, building dreams on top of dreams, being the first Hollywood filmmaker to do a big blockbuster with an IMAX camera in “The Dark Knight,” which he brought back for his latest outing in “Tenet.” The modern auteur known for his gargantuan scale represented in one film to the next went all-in and somehow ended up having to go bigger than he could have ever predicted. In a blockbuster-less summer that some would prefer to forget. One where we could not go see highly anticipated titles like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Morbius,” “Jungle Cruise,” and so on, Nolan and Warner Bros. experimented to see if people would even show up to a movie in 2020. The experiment had mixed results. Box office-wise, it could have been more pleasing. Quality-wise, the results usually did not disappoint. As for myself, I watched “Tenet” three times in the cinema, once on 4K Blu-ray, and each time my eyes and ears were amazed. I originally gave the film an 8/10. Since then, it may have jumped to a 9/10. Despite not having a perfect score, “Tenet” is almost a technical masterpiece. If it were not for the boisterous sound mixing, it may have a complete chance. However, “Tenet” has my favorite score of the past few years, it is up there with “Blade Runner 2049” as one of my top bangers. “Tenet” has arguably my favorite first scene of the past few years, maybe even in film history. “Tenet” also packs in an action-filled climax that in terms of viewing it at the cinema, felt like a gritty, more adult-centered Universal theme park ride. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson are a pair fit for a king, and having seen them in this unbelievable thrill ride that is too good for words, I would love to see them do a buddy cop movie together. Let’s not forget the incredible talents of Dimple Kapadia, Kenneth Branagh, and Elizabeth Debicki who just happened to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress due to her performance in “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” Also making an appearance, like usual in a Christopher Nolan film, Michael Caine, this time as “Sir Michael.” He is a man truly deserving of that name. The film did not just impress me, it did not just impress other moviegoers, but critics as well. “Tenet” has a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, a Best Original Score nomination at the Golden Globes, 5 Critics Choice nominations including a win for Visual Effects, and speaking of which, the film received a Special Visual Effects nomination at the BAFTAs, and 9 Saturn Award nominations, which for those who do not know, those are usually centered around sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. And now, it has won the Jackoff! Or, maybe it won it in the past and now it somehow it got taken away, I’m still figuring out how time inversion works… Congratulations to the producers, cast, crew, and everyone else behind “Tenet!” You have won Best Picture!
Thanks for reading the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards! Wow! This show is almost as long as the usual quarantine! Either way, if you read this all the way through, pat yourself on the back! You earned it! Congratulations to all this year’s nominees and winners! Congrats to “Tenet” for its record-breaking six wins! A fourth edition may be coming next year depending on how many films I end up seeing, because 2020 taught me that seeing only a few films is an outright possibility. We’ll see what happens!
That’s our show! Hope you enjoyed this crazy long awards ceremony! Follow Scene Before through an email or WordPress account for content, like the Facebook page, and I have reviews coming for “Tom & Jerry,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and “Chaos Walking!” Stay tuned! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Judas and the Black Messiah” is directed by Shaka King (Newlyweeds, Mulignans) and stars Daniel Kaluuya (Queen & Slim, Black Panther), LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You), Jesse Plemons (Game Night, The Irishman), Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Project Power), Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, Captive State), Darrell Britt-Gibson (20th Century Women, Barry), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Uncle Drew), Algee Smith (Detroit, Earth to Echo), and Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Departed). This film centers around a time where the Black Panther Party increasingly rose to prominence. When Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) becomes chairman of the organization’s Illinois Chapter, criminal Bill O’Neal, who meets FBI Special Director Roy Mitchell, is assigned to infiltrate the group.
This film is based on true events that took place in the late 1960s. About thirty years before I was even born. Therefore, I have zero recollection on these events other than maybe hearing about them through school and perhaps the Internet. I’ve seen trailers for “Judas and the Black Messiah” multiple times, given how it is a Warner Bros. property and when I went to see films like “Tenet” and “The Little Things” in the theater, this film would be one that comes up. Each and every time I thought a couple things. The cast looked phenomenal, the performances might strike the heart, it might have a couple moments that sound great in a cinema, some of the camerawork looks really good, but as for whether the film would be for me, that was a big question. I say this because even do I do stand by events including the Black Lives Matter movement and many of the positive stories that have been spawned from Black History, I wondered if I, a straight white male, would connect with this film as much as someone who happened to be black. “BlacKkKlansman” was really good, I enjoyed that film quite a bit. And I am not saying I went in expecting to hate the film, because again, I had a relatively positive reaction to the trailers, I just went in wondering what exactly to expect, because not every film is made for the same individual. I mean, when it comes to expectations, I had ideas, but they were almost all over the place.
I walked out of “Judas and the Black Messiah” with some expectations met. The film looks and sounds like the revolutions themselves. Wide, loud, and clear. “Judas and the Black Messiah” has moments of excitement, intensity, and power. Experience-wise, I saw the film in Dolby Cinema, and unfortunately, I cannot recommend you go there, because I do not think it is playing in Dolby Cinema as of now with films like “Tom & Jerry” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” coming out after it. But there is a speech scene in this film, and I think those of you who have seen the film will know precisely what I am talking about, that pulled me into the scene and made me a part of the revolution. It was like I went back into the 1960s.
The absolute highlight of the film is the cast. Between Jesse Plemons, LaKeith Stanfield, and Dominque Fishback, “Judas and the Black Messiah” does not fail to deliver the goods in terms of performances. In fact, the man who may be the highlight of the film, Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Fred Hampton, is wonderfully obnoxious and has one of the most powerful voices I have heard in recent cinema. In fact, in between me watching and reviewing this film, Kaluuya won a Golden Globe for his performance, which I’d say was deserved.
Despite seeing trailers for this film, a small part of me felt like I was going into “Judas and the Black Messiah” rather blind, and I would not say I was disappointed with the film from a story perspective. They took a mighty revolution, made it theatrical, while at the same time, taking a fascinating detective story associated with it and having both elements be executed to a satisfying watch.
By the end of the film, I was on the edge of my seat. Now, I have touched upon various points of Black History in school, but keep in mind, if you have not guessed by now, I have gone to a school with mostly white kids, lived in a town with mostly white people, and mostly learned about white history under the direction of a public education system. So part of me did not really know what was coming at times, and when the movie came to an end, I was rather invested in what was going on.
One problem I had with the film, and this problem has admittedly become a Jack Drees trademark over the past couple years, is the pacing. The pacing is not horrible, but there are certain moments that feel slower than others. Let me just be clear, when it comes to the simultaneous theatrical/HBO Max debuts that have been coming out recently, if you watched “The Little Things” about a month ago and nearly fell asleep, I do not blame you, although I think “Judas and the Black Messiah” is more likely to keep you awake. Let’s move onto my next trademark problem, replay value. One of the advantages for having “Judas and the Black Messiah” on HBO Max while it is also in theaters is that you do not just have the option to watch it from home, but if you watch it at home, you can do so as many times as you want as long as you pay a monthly subscription. I saw the film in the theater, but if I watched it at home, it would be one of those films that I would turn on once, perhaps enjoy while it is on, until the point where I move onto the next thing. Maybe I’ll turn off HBO Max until “Tom & Jerry” pops up.
Nevertheless, these negatives do not imply that “Judas and the Black Messiah” was a waste of time, it just means that there are perhaps other priorities I would make before turning it on again. The performances, the atmosphere, the technical aspects, the direction, all of it is done with precise skill, but I would not watch “Judas and the Black Messiah” strictly for entertainment. Granted, the film is based on a true story, which in itself was not adapted solely for the sake of entertaining people, but telling a relevant piece of history for those who may or may not know about the subject matter.
In the end, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is one of those weird movies that I am into as I’m watching it, but as soon as I leave, part of me forgets just a tad of it every single day. I am not saying it is bad, but there are other films that I would watch first. If I had to compare it to another recent film experience, I’d go with “Dark Waters.” Remember that film from 2019 on the DuPont Scandal? It’s a good film, but it is one I do not think I recall all the way through. “Judas and the Black Messiah” may be worth a second watch, but part of it is because I may want to refresh my memory on what might have faded from the first experience. Do I recommend the film? You betcha. Can I tell you every single thing about it? No. Partially because it has been almost a few weeks since I saw it, and it is one film that I saw and happened to forget about the longer it’s been since watching it. Great performances, stunning vision, I just wish I liked it a little better. I’m going to give “Judas and the Black Messiah” a 7/10.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open, and for the next few days, keep in mind, it is going away soon, you can catch the film exclusively on HBO Max at no extra cost as long as you are subscribed.
Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the 3rd edition of the most important movie blogging awards ceremony in history, The Jackoff Awards! I am hard at work, making sure all the touches are finished, and much of that hard work will carry over into the next few days, but on Sunday March 14th, it is finally here! You’ll get an all new awards show with nominees, winners, a new edition of Film Improvements, a COVID-themed intro, a monologue, and a big announcement as to where Flicknerd.com will be headed in the future. Stay tuned! Speaking of staying tuned, keep up with my content by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and liking the official Facebook page! Also, speaking of the Jackoffs, there is STILL TIME if you want to, that you can vote for Best Picture! I selected 10 films to be nominated, only one will win! CLICK RIGHT HERE to make your pick! I want to know, did you see “Judas and the Black Messiah?” What did you think about it? Or, did you watch the Golden Globes this past Sunday? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!