Boogie (2021): Keeps on Dribbling, But Misses Some Shots

“Boogie” is written and directed by Eddie Huang (Huang’s World, Fresh Off the Boat) and stars Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, White Boy Rick), Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Bumblebee). This film centers around an aspiring basketball player named Albert Chin, also known as “Boogie.” He lives in Queens, New York with his family who are of East Asian descent. In this movie, Chin must balance the pressure from his parents to get into a good college with a decent scholarship, his love life with his new girlfriend Eleanor, and his dreams of making it to the NBA.

When I review a movie, you may notice that I often point out some of the other projects that the crew behind the film has done. For example when I reviewed “News of the World,” I would point out the director, in this case it would be Paul Greengrass, and I would highlight his previous work, which included, as marked in the following parenthesis, (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93). Then I would go on to talk about the actors. For example, you have the star, Tom Hanks, then I followed his name with parenthesis as well, for him it was presented as (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Toy Story), given how those are two of his projects. For this film, “Boogie,” you may notice I included parenthesis for director Eddie Huang, who has produced one of the more talked about network comedies in recent years, “Fresh Off the Boat.” Although for Taylor Takahashi, who plays the film’s lead, he has no parenthesis. That is because, and part of me is somewhat surprised, that this is Takahashi’s acting debut. Not just for features, but for anything. Now to be clear, I got this information from IMDb. For all I know, before this movie Takahashi did something on the side that maybe was either less professional, not as well known, or maybe done in his years of being educated. I do not know the full story.

I should also point out that he is not the only actor with barely any documented experience here, because Pop Smoke is in this movie, and this is likely his first rodeo in feature filmmaking. He’s more known for music, not film.

Also, going back to the director, Eddie Huang, this is, also, his feature-length debut from the director’s chair and in terms of penning the script. Huang also wrote and directed a short titled “Bitch, Please!” alongside two other people, but “Boogie” is a whole different animal for him. He wrote the script himself and he directed the movie himself.

With all that being said, the good news is for the people who will look back at this movie as a debut, chances are they could potentially go up from here.

This is not to say that “Boogie” is a disaster. I will say right off the bat, I would much rather watch “Boogie” than the live-action “Tom & Jerry” movie. But there are other movies from this year I would go back to first including “The Marksman,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Those all happened to be fun or attention-grabbing experiences that may be harder to forget than others. As for “Boogie,” even though there are elements I like, piggybacking off my previous statement, this film belongs with the “others.”

I want to talk about Taylor Takahashi (left) in this film. Now I will start off by once again confirming that this is Taylor Takahashi’s first acting role, or least the first he is credited for. Maybe he has a bright future ahead, but unfortunately he got his career started in a forgettable movie. I think as far as a first performance goes, I was quite impressed. I would not mind seeing more of Takahashi in the future whether that means they make a sequel to this movie, which I doubt would happen, or if he ends up in some other movie or television show. However, his character kind of had this asshole personality at times. I am not saying Boogie was a complete moron, if I were in this movie’s universe and had the opportunity to grab a couple slices of pizza with him, I would not back myself out of the opportunity instantaneously. After all, who can deny pizza? But I felt like he came off as slightly less relatable than he could have from his personality. There are ways that I did relate to his character from having parents pressuring me to stay in school and having aspirations that go beyond Mars, but for some reason, I did not always click with his character. My impressions of him throughout the film were not the greatest. I just found him to be a goofball, and almost in a way that would make him look like a jerk. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I think part of why I am occasionally blanking during this review is because as you may have noticed recently, I have been less active on Scene Before because I’ve had priorities, which makes me determine which movies are easier to forget overtime and which ones are easier to remember as well. This is one is, as you may have observed, easier to forget.

Now I talked about the first timers from Taylor Takahashi to Eddie Huang. They put on a good show whenever possible, but I do not want to forget some of the other cast members like Pamelyn Chee and Perry Yung, who admirably play Boogie’s mother and father, but perhaps the most memorable performance of the film for me came from none other than Taylor Paige, who plays Boogie’s love interest, Eleanor. There is something about this casting choice that feels almost incomparable. Paige checks the marks of her character being fun, outgoing, and relatively casual at times. I really liked her in this movie, and some of my favorite parts are between her and Boogie because it is a fascinating look at how people manage love lives in this particular age and demographic. I was intrigued.

I will also say this… Once again, I have not watched this movie since March, so maybe I have this stored in my short term memory or something, even though this movie pretty much revolves around basketball and someone who really enjoys playing basketball, I barely even remember any of the basketball scenes in this movie. I think I might need a rewatch to actually remember any of those scenes. This is not a bad movie, but to call it an instant classic would be a straight up lie. And I don’t think I have any plans to watch it a second time.

In the end, “Boogie” kind of disappointed me. I saw the trailer for this film when I was at the theater getting ready to watch “Minari,” and “Boogie” looked pretty good, so I had some positive expectations. Unfortunately, those were not met. If you want a good recent basketball movie, although in this case, it would be more about the coach as opposed to an individual trying to become a standout player, I highly recommend “The Way Back.” Between Ben Affleck’s insane performance and the outstanding script, I cannot help but beg you all to watch that movie at least once. “Boogie” on the other hand, maybe don’t watch it. Maybe it could be okay background noise, but for me, I wanted more. I wanted something better. If Eddie Huang makes another feature-length movie, I will root for him, and the same goes for Taylor Takahashi in his acting career, but this was not the best start for either of those two. I’m going to give “Boogie” a 5/10.

“Boogie” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open and you can also buy it at home on VOD services such as Apple TV, Prime Video, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! I’m pretty excited for the next couple of reviews I plan to get out to you guys, and those are a couple recent action type of films. I’m talking about “Nobody” starring Bob Odenkirk, and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I cannot wait to talk about both of those.

Also, I have an announcement to make. For those of you who read this year’s Jackoff Awards, follow Scene Before on Facebook, or subscribe to the Jack Drees YouTube channel know that I announced “7 Days of Star Wars.” That series was scheduled to be released on various days on the week of May 2nd to May 8th, which would coincide with “Star Wars Day.” Unfortunately, due to being busy with school right now, wondering when I’ll get my vaccine, and an internship which is allowing me to do a side project that I will soon present to you all, those dates will not be met.

Here are the new dates for the upcoming “7 Days of Star Wars” reviews.

THE PHANTOM MENACE: May 23rd
ATTACK OF THE CLONES: May 24th
REVENGE OF THE SITH: May 25th
STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: May 26th
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: May 27th
RETURN OF THE JEDI: May 28th
THE FORCE AWAKENS: May 29th

These dates are subject to change, as last year has proven that even the impossible is possible. May the force be with you, emphasis on the May.

If you to see more cool upcoming content on Scene Before, give the blog a follow either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Boogie?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever watch “Fresh Off the Boat?” Tell me your thoughts! Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997): Worst Video Game Movie Ever?

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the second of two installments of my special review series, “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews!” In this review series we will be discussing the two live-action “Mortal Kombat” films from the 1990s. I also want to apologize for saying in my previous review that Paul W.S. Anderson directed both “Mortal Kombat” AND “Mortal Kombat: Annihilaiton.” Of the two, Anderson only directed the former. With that being said, it is time to go back to 1997 and review “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation!”

Also, HELP me.

“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” is directed by John R. Leonetti (Wish Upon, Annabelle) and stars Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Brian Thompson, Sandra Hess, Lynn “Red” Williams, Irina Pantaeva, and James Remar. This film is the sequel to the 1995 film “Mortal Kombat,” inspired by the game of the same name, and this is yet another PG-13 action film that may as well have been created to entertain teenage boys who just want to watch sexy things and explosions on screen.

Wait, this film has a plot?! WHO KNEW?! “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” follows a group of martial arts warriors who have to save the world from Shao Khan’s wrath in a matter of six days.

Last week, I reviewed “Mortal Kombat,” which I ended up giving a 6/10 due to its rather pleasant execution of style over substance. To me, that was a film that could have arguably been directed by Michael Bay if he took a few drugs and changed his behavior. It was fine. It’s a video game movie, those are not usually perfect, but “Mortal Kombat” was not offensive. It is forgettable, it is almost bland at times, but not one portion of it felt offensive.

Just like in my review for the prior “Mortal Kombat” installment, this was my initial foray into “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” from start to finish. I’ve seen stuff online about it, pretty much all of which happened to be negative. So to say that I was looking forward to “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” upon my first viewing would have been generous. Once again, for those who missed the previous review. I have played “Mortal Kombat” only once or twice, but I am somewhat familiar with the franchise, what you do, how graphic it was for its time, and so on. While the first movie had a slight charm that made it feel like the game for a moment or two, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on the other hand just strips that charm away and cast out all my organs.

Prior to watching “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” my least favorite video game-based film of all time was “Super Mario Bros..” Ladies and gentlemen, that film has some fierce competition.

I want to talk about the video game film genre as a whole. In recent years, it is something that has noticeably been improving in minor trickles. While I will claim we have not seen a perfect video game-based film, we have gotten some recent hits like “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” which I thought was okay. But we also got “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which hit theaters in February 2020 and became my favorite entry to the genre. I saw it a couple times from start to finish, and I am quite excited for the sequel. I think that when it comes to the video game movie genre, it is something that either really needs some critical thinking from its crew or needs to take things slow and find its footing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems like it is going to last forever, but let’s say it does not. Let’s say comic book movies go the way of the dinosaur, I think video game movies could be the next box office juggernaut. Video games are a much bigger industry than film, which is also pretty enormous itself. And much like comic books, video games have some of the most immersive art that can draw inspiration for theatrical content. Even though I was not a fan of “Warcraft,” I will give the film kudos for its impressive renderings and effects that look incredibly fantastical. Even though time and time again has supported the basis of why video game movies should not be made, I do see potential for improvement in the future, especially in a time where movie theaters are trying to provide “experiences” in order for select people to return after a time ruled by COVID-19. Think about it, with minor exceptions like “Superman: The Movie,” before movies like “X-Men” in 2000, “Spider-Man” in 2002, and “Iron Man” in 2008, comic book movies were usually a joke. Look at films like “Batman & Robin” for example, which coincidentally came out the same year as “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.”

I want to apologize to every bad movie I reviewed. I’m sorry, “Mission: Impossible II.” I’m sorry, “Cats.” I’m sorry, crappy 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot. You have nothing on this movie because “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” is rife with problems ACROSS THE BOARD! The screenplay comes off like it is written by a backwardly wired 10 year old! The directing is incompetent to a level beyond my imagination! The acting is almost worse!

I want to talk about tone. It is a very important factor that can make or break a movie. I will say, going into the first “Mortal Kombat,” whenever I look at the cover, I expected something bold, action-packed, a little violent. And in that first movie, I got glimmers of that. It was not perfect, but it worked to a degree. This second movie sort of follows the tone of the original, but has sucked out any sort of intelligence that the original movie had, and that is saying something because when I think “intelligent movies,” my mind DOES NOT automatically dart to “Mortal Kombat.” If you want to talk about tone, here is an easy comment I can deliver. Here is one of the first exchanges of dialogue in this movie.

That’s the tone of this movie. Just a bunch of over the top bull that will make you want to die! The line is almost comical, but simultaneously unforgivable. What did we do to deserve this treachery? I can imagine there is a scenario where an exchange like this would work, but it certainly did not work in this one. I do not just blame the actors for this outlandish, off-putting execution of these two lines. I also blame director John R. Leonetti, who I will do my absolute best to be fair to in this case, because the film is his directorial debut, but this does not feel like a good film to put on one’s resume as their first feature. Then again, look at Tim Miller! “Deadpool” was his directorial debut and that was near perfect! But at the same time, they had terrific writing, exciting fight sequences, and Ryan Reynolds’s brilliant and I’ll add, Golden Globe-nominated, performance to back it up! “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” not only feels like it drifts far away from its video game counterpart, but unashamedly shows off a plethora of some of the most abysmal visual effects I’ve ever seen. There are creatures in this movie that make the monsters in the holographic Millennium Falcon game from “Star Wars” look like they are eye-popping and realistic!

I described this movie to a friend recently. For the record, this friend has not seen the movie. And I stand by this description. Here’s what I said over text…

“It basically feels like if Power Rangers went on an acid trip and somehow became horny. I can’t even describe how bad this is.”

I mean this to the tenth degree! This movie looks sexy, it’s got attractive people in it, there’s a selection of good-looking costumes. But it is overacted, overstylized, and at it certain points, it treated me like I was five years old! The dialogue is an enormous annoyance. The slo-mo in this film is not a saving grace, if anything, it was horrendous.

Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Lambert

I watched “Power Rangers” as a kid, and while I watched it, I was wildly entertained. Because the show, even though it was stupid and insulting, knew exactly who it was made for. Young boys. For the record, the “Power Rangers” franchise, which from generation to generation, has had numerous consistencies, was first introduced in the early 1990s. I feel like somebody either on the writing team, director John R. Leonetti, or some s*itty studio executive who just got into crack started watching a ton of “Power Rangers,” eternally left it on in the background, and its overexposure led to one of the most unwatchable pieces of crap on the face of the earth! This film is so bad that I am not even going to get into the characters! Yes, this film has characters, but they’re not really characters, they’re just potential faces and bodies that may as well have been created to be action figures.

The special effects in “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation…” Oh my f*cking god. Well, they exist. They’re special alright. A special kind of special if you ask me. Maybe “The Star Wars Holiday Special” kind of special! They look like they skip frames, they are barely textured, and are a true resemblance of how far we as a society have advanced since the terror of the 1990s and the corny visuals that were offered to viewers then. I sometimes joke about some modern visual effects looking like a Nintendo game or something on the PlayStation, this movie made any pixelated image in an early “Mortal Kombat” arcade cabinet look more lifelike and attractive!

LOOK AT IT!

Given what I recently said about this film’s characters and them existing seemingly almost as if they were to become action figures, you might as well argue that the special effects in this film come off as large scale action figures.

I MEAN, LOOK AT THIS S*IT!

I cannot name one single freaking positive in this entire movie. The only positive I can come up with is that it ends, because it means I can get some s*it done. Some much more important s*it, that’s what I say. I think the only positive, if this even counts, is that it ended the series. I mean, there’s probably other places to go from “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” but no third movie was greenlit. For all I know, there could have been a third one and it may have ended up being the worst one in the franchise. This once again makes me excited for the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” movie that looks ten times better than what New Line pooped out in 1997.

Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Lambert

I think the only way that this film can possibly get any worse is if it were longer. The runtime is 95 minutes, and I assure you when the film hit minute 95, I was in utter relief. Ending this film felt like a divorce. I just wanted to get out, go away, and f*ckin’ celebrate. I’m surprised I did not end up popping a few bottles to mark the occasion. I survived “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” I’ve heard the horror stories, it sounded like a movie where I would laugh, but little did I realize how much I would want to vent, because this movie grabbed me, dragged me across the floor, and finished me with its mightiest fatality. But like in many video games, it pays to have an extra life, and I used my extra life to conquer this bloody nightmare.

In the end, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” killed me. It finished me. I’ve seen a lot of bad films. “The Emoji Movie,” “Battlefield Earth,” “Samurai Cop,” “Sharknado.” This might actually be worse than all of them! Of all the movies I have watched and talked about in the history of doing Scene Before, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” may just be the worst one I’ve ever watched. It’s barely like the video games, and at times, it makes the older video games look real! I almost see no scenario where I watch this movie ever again, unless I was bats*it drunk with a group of friends, we’re all at my place, I grab the Blu-ray, and we prepare to laugh our asses off. And then maybe I cry myself to sleep. I can imagine having nightmares about this movie. I can only imagine what they’d look like.

AH! TERRIBLE-LOOKING EXPLOSION! GO AWAY! SCRAM! YOU FREAKING ASS!

I cannot even believe I survived whatever the hell this movie actually is. Because it is not a movie, it is a pathetic excuse of a compilation of visual images that technically qualify as a 95 minute story.

To those who want to watch “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” “Too bad your brain… WILL DIE!”

I’m just done, this movie broke me. I’m going to give “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” a 1/10.

Worst screenplay ever.
Worst direction ever.
Worst effects ever.

Almost the worst movie ever if you ask me.

I will also add that on the poster for this atrocity, the slogan is “Destroy all expectations.” That would be true, if I even had them to begin with!

Movies like this make me glad that movies like “Sonic the Hedgehog” have followed. Maybe the video game movie realm will end up getting a lot better with time, but films like this one most certainly reveal some of the worst this subgroup has to offer. Avoid “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” at all costs, unless you like torture or bringing pain to your enemies, in which case, those are your exceptions. But DO NOT watch this movie. You’ll thank me later.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks for reading part 2 of 2 of the “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series! I just want to remind everyone that I have upcoming reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I will admit, it may take me some time to get out each one of these reviews because I am in the middle of my busiest college semester yet and I am currently working on a side project that I may end up sharing with you guys. More details may arrive soon.

Also, I want to address my next upcoming series, “7 Days of Star Wars,” where I will review the first seven main saga episodes in the “Star Wars” franchise. When planning this series, I hoped to release it from Sunday May 2nd to Saturday May 8th, which would coincide with Star Wars Day, May the 4th. Do not take this as an official confirmation, but I have considered postponing the dates for the upcoming review series. It’s not that I do not want to do it, it’s just that I’ve been incredibly busy and I would rather have a series I am proud of instead of a series that is rushed. I currently have no review series planned for June, so maybe I’ll push it back then at the latest. If you want to know about upcoming content on Scene Before and more shenanigans, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account. Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation?” What did you think about it? Or, and this is good time to ask this, what is the worst movie you have ever seen? “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” may arguably be mine, there are like one or two that may be worse. I would have to rewatch the other two if I even dare. Either way, let me know about your horror stories down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Mortal Kombat (1995): Sadly, One of the Better Video Game Movies To This Day

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the first of two installments of my special review series, “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews!” In this review series we will be discussing the two live-action “Mortal Kombat” films directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a major player in adapting video games into film. With that being said, it is time to go back to 1995 and review “Mortal Kombat!”

“Mortal Kombat” is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, or Paul Anderson as he was credited back in the day. The film stars Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, and Christopher Lambert. This film is based on the video game franchise of the same name. It has been well-known as one of the more popular fighting games in the arcade and even today at home. The film centers around three people who are summoned to an island to participate in a fighting tournament where the outcome will decide the fate of the world.

If you know me personally, you’d be aware that I passionately collect Blu-rays. “Mortal Kombat,” and “Mortal Kombat: Annhilation” for that matter, just so happen to be two that I own. I bought the Blu-ray for “Mortal Kombat” back in 2015 after finding a used copy at Newbury Comics, a staple for pop culture items in New England. One of the habits I have developed over the years is waiting forever to watch certain movies after buying them. I bought “Spy” back during the 2016 holiday season and I have still yet to put it into the player. Not long after that period ended, I bought a copy of “Napoleon Dynamite,” and to this day I have not watched the movie. Then after that, I bought my first 4K Blu-ray ever, “The Lone Survivor.” Originally I wanted to wait out on watching it until I had a proper 4K Blu-ray player and not just one that upscales 1080p footage to look like it is in 4K. Despite owning a 4K Blu-ray player for a few years, I still have not watched the movie. But for “Mortal Kombat,” I waited over six years to finally watch this film. I bought this film prior to starting Scene Before! Although with the new movie coming out, the timing to not only watch, but talk about it, could not be better.

Now, let’s talk about video game movies in general. If you are versed in certain areas of film, you’d know that movies and video games typically do not mix. My least favorite film of all time is based on a video game, “Super Mario Bros.” from 1993. I love the “Super Mario” franchise as a gamer, but the magic of those games disappeared when translated to the big screen. There’s a scene where Mario refuses to jump! That’s literally his only purpose! Other than eating mushrooms, stomping on Goombas, and overshadowing his brother. Paul W.S. Anderson is one of the more famous directors when it comes to movies that are inspired by games, but that fame does not automatically equate to quality. While I have not seen the “Resident Evil” movies, those films have usually not been well received. “Monster Hunter” was… Alright. Visually it is not bad. But it does not feel like a movie that belongs in 2020. The music feels like it is from a 90s movie that is trying really hard to be an 80s movie. In some ways, “Mortal Kombat” and “Monster Hunter” come close in style, but unlike “Monster Hunter,” it feels advantageous for “Mortal Kombat” as it is a product of the 1990s.

Once again, keep in mind that I have not seen “Resident Evil,” but for all I know, Paul W.S. Anderson makes each of his movies in the same way as he has done since making “Mortal Kombat,” which I will say, was rather enjoyable to watch. There’s all this epic music that shimmies around a border to where I can AND cannot take it seriously. In fact, I do not work out much, I do not take much time to go to the gym, but if I were to start working out and take it seriously, the opening song of this movie is one that I would definitely consider adding to my playlist. The set design and effects all have this fantasy feel to it, and the entire time I felt like I was in another world. I will say that this is “Mortal Kombat’s” greatest strength. It does a really good job at transporting me as a viewer from the real world to the film world.

I’m just gonna say this though. If you told me that Michael Bay had a phase where he got totally into practical effects and directed this movie, I would believe you. I say so because this movie is excellent when it comes to style. As for substance, eh, not really. It has been a few weeks since I have seen this film, and I have only played traces of the games, although what I have played has been fun. I barely remember the characters. Yes, I know their names: Johnny Cage, Raiden, Sub-Zero, Scorpion just to list some. But I should know more than just their names. I will say that the best thing about a good number of these characters is the fights they were in, but that appreciation once again goes to show that “Mortal Kombat” is a film with mostly style but not as much substance.

But having said that, I often call myself a ten year old kid in an adult’s body. If I were watching this film at the age of ten, there is a good chance that I would have been wowed and considering it perfect because it checked various marks that a younger me would want to see. Grand action, extravagant environments, and some cool music. This film, even though it really leaves much to be desired as a story, would make for an excellent tech demo. I would not be surprised if they come out with a 4K Blu-ray for it in the near future because there is an argument to make that this would look rather polished if enough effort is put into it.

One of the minor disappointments about this “Mortal Kombat” film is that even though there are some ties to the video games that fit right in, there is a big one that is missing. For the record, “Mortal Kombat” is one of the earlier games that embraces graphic violence, much of which was done through “fatalities.” And yes, there are finishers in this movie to a degree, but this film is PG-13 and I feel like it would have been fun to see the crew take this movie in a more R-rated direction if possible. Although I must say I am glad we are getting the new “Mortal Kombat” film coming out this month because that is R-rated and it may right what I consider to be the wrongs of this film. It just goes to show, not all remakes are bad ideas. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was a remake and that film is celebrated today!

In the end, “Mortal Kombat” is one of the better video game movies, but then again, that does not say much given how there really are not too many great ones. I found this film delightfully entertaining but mainly as something to glance upon. Maybe it would be cool to watch in the theater one time, but I do not have all the time in the world so I may end up not doing that. If anything, it is a good effort, and surprisingly works despite having a few characters who do not necessarily belong in the world this movie represents, but it is not something I’d watch five to ten times in a matter of months. I would watch it on a Friday night, but only as a feast for the eyes and ears. I’m going to give “Mortal Kombat” a 6/10.

Thanks for reading the first of two reviews in this “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series! I will have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th! Stay tuned and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Mortal Kombat?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played the “Mortal Kombat” games? Tell me about your experiences! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Chaos Walking (2021): The Noise Awakens

“Chaos Walking” is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Onward), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Peter Rabbit), Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hannibal), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale, Harriet), Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Midway), and David Oyelowo (Gringo, Selma). This film follows a guy named Todd who lives in a dystopian future. In 2257 A.D., the men of New World go about their daily lives after an unfortunate war. One thing our protagonist, Todd, has in common with everyone else is that he has this thing called “noise,” where his thoughts are outspoken despite not opening his mouth. However, one day, a ship crashes on the planet and it peaks Todd’s curiosity. Turns out, the rider inside the ship is a girl, which Todd has never seen before, given how all of them died in the recently mentioned war.

I saw this film on the second weekend of March. Therefore, per usual, I am getting this review out late. That’s the bad news. The good news however that comes with it is that I likely have more time to process and think about what I saw, which I have done when it comes to this movie. With my previous review, “Raya and the Last Dragon” to be specific, I did not flip back and forth between much. The only thing I flipped around with was the score, which I was wondering whether I’d give it either a 8/10 or 9/10. I settled for the latter. I thought a little more about “Chaos Walking,” but not much more. Sure, I kind of flipped around on the score here as well, but that is not the only slice of this pie we have here. The big question I thought about was if I was actually going to see myself watching this movie again. The short answer would be… Maybe? But not now? I dunno… The thing is, when it comes to the young adult novel adaptation realm of filmmaking, I usually watch those movies once and I normally don’t have an urge to go back to them. Yes, I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it ultimately may just end up sitting on my shelf. I like the “Divergent” movies, in fact I personally think it is better than “The Hunger Games” as a franchise, but I don’t usually watch those movies while sitting at home on a Friday night. I am somewhat mixed on “Chaos Walking” as a movie, because using the recent example, “Divergent,” I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining at times than “Divergent,” specifically the first installment. I interestingly enough find “Insurgent” to be a better movie. If anything, I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining than “Divergent” because “Chaos Walking,” whether it is intentional or not, comes off as somewhat funnier and maybe has a little more fun with its concept. In fact, I think the concept is slightly better, because I think it is a little more cliche to do the whole “divide people into groups” and boom, we have our movie idea. This movie eliminates an entire gender and as a viewer, I am somewhat intrigued to see how the survivors are going about their days.

At the same time though, similar to some other young adult novel adaptations, this film does get borderline cheesy. Sometimes it provides for a fun line, which is cool. But if you are looking for a Shakespearean, timeless flick with some of the best writing and directing imaginable, go elsewhere. Going back to the movie I recently mentioned, “Chaos Walking” came out the same weekend as “Raya and the Last Dragon.” That is a much better film in my opinion, so if I had to pick between two films to watch, the choice would easily be “Raya” by a long shot.

Moving onto characters, I want to talk about the chemistry between Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. On their own, these two are great actors. I loved Holland as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I adored Rey in “Star Wars,” so to see these two nerd icons come together in one movie is almost magical. As for their characters I bought into them as a pair as they sometimes found each other odd, sometimes they found each other likable, and so on. Going back to what I said about this movie having fun lines, there are a couple character establishment moments between these two that are personal highlights of the script. One other highlight of the script for me is that like every other young adult novel or every other young adult adaptation, the guy or girl has to crush on the other person or fall in love with them. I will not go into much detail on that, but this film almost felt like it was parodying that cliché at times, and I mean that in a positive way. There are moments where we see Tom Holland’s character specifically either thinking about kissing her, which was hysterical, and maybe there will be another scene in the film where we simply see that he finds her attractive. That may have been the best part of the movie because it takes a cliché, has fun with it, and makes it a kneeslapper.

I also want to talk about the driving gimmick of the film, “the noise.” When I saw the trailer for this film, I thought I was going to hate every single second that this, well, noise, was going to be emitted. It sounded awfully rugged, and it kind of goes against the screenwriting rule where you have to use as little words as possible to get points across because film is a visual medium. Yes, there is writing in it, but ultimately it is a matter of what you see. Seeing someone doing something is usually more entertaining and calming than hearing someone saying they are going to do something. And I will admit, when I heard this early on in the film, I was kind of pissed on how it played out. I figured if they were just going to utilize this thing for a poop joke, which more likely belongs in a disposable Illumination or DreamWorks project if anything, I figured this film was not going to be worth my time. But the gimmick was surprisingly well utilized to a certain degree. It does not change the fact that when it comes to most movies, less is more, but “Chaos Walking” is a weird animal where more is more when it comes to screenwriting.

In the end, “Chaos Walking” is just weird. I like the movie, but I cannot confirm that I’m ever going to watch it again. When comparing it to other young adult genre entries, I’d rather watch the first two “Divergent” films again. “Noise” is a terrible gimmick on paper, but an okay one when ultimately executed on screen. This film is cheesy, but weirdly attractive at the same time. This is a film that took years to make, and it honestly shows. A lot of the lines are borderline wooden and it almost feels like the only reason why this movie exists at this point is for the studio to poop it out in a pandemic where it is almost impossible for some people to go to the movies. “Chaos Walking” is a good movie, but not a great movie, so I’m going to give it a 6/10.

“Chaos Walking” is now available in theaters wherever they are open and the film is also now available to buy on video on demand services such as Fios, Xfinity, Google Play, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Mortal Kombat” as part of a review series I am calling “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” which I am doing as a lead-in to the all new R-rated “Mortal Kombat” movie which is out in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23rd. I will also have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” available starting April 12th. I should also soon have reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” To stay tuned for these reviews, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Chaos Walking?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite 2021 film so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021): How to Find Your Dragon

“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 (2021): Who Shamed Roger Rabbit?

“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!

The 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards

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.

  1. The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
  2. Dolittle
  3. The Gentlemen
  4. My Spy
  5. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog
  7. Impractical Jokers: The Movie
  8. Emma.
  9. Onward
  10. The Way Back
  11. Bloodshot
  12. Scoob!
  13. Irresistible
  14. The Vast of Night
  15. Hope Gap
  16. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
  17. Radioactive
  18. Vivarium
  19. Gretel & Hansel
  20. Capone
  21. The Burnt Orange Heresy
  22. Made in Italy
  23. An American Pickle
  24. Summerland
  25. Words on Bathroom Walls
  26. The New Mutants
  27. Unhinged
  28. Tenet
  29. The Rhythm Section
  30. All in: The Fight for Democracy
  31. The Personal History of David Copperfield
  32. Becky
  33. You Should Have Left
  34. The Last Shift
  35. Time
  36. The War with Grandpa
  37. Yellow Rose
  38. Honest Thief
  39. Over the Moon
  40. The Witches
  41. The Hunt
  42. Fantasy Island
  43. Synchronic
  44. Freaky
  45. I Am Greta
  46. Sound of Metal
  47. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  48. The Croods: A New Age
  49. Superintelligence
  50. Mulan
  51. The Last Vermeer
  52. Half Brothers
  53. The Call of the Wild
  54. Mank
  55. The Midnight Sky
  56. Greenland
  57. The Quarry
  58. Monster Hunter
  59. Wolfwalkers
  60. Ava
  61. Soul
  62. Artemis Fowl
  63. Promising Young Woman
  64. Wonder Woman 1984
  65. Happiest Season
  66. Big Time Adolescence
  67. Palm Springs
  68. Fatale
  69. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  70. I’m Your Woman
  71. Antebellum
  72. Run
  73. News of the World
  74. The King of Staten Island
  75. Death of Me
  76. The High Note
  77. The Jesus Rolls
  78. One Night in Miami
  79. Herself
  80. Nomadland
  81. Minari
  82. Color Out of Space
  83. Boys State

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.

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…

“Boys State!”

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
  • Greenland
  • The Midnight Sky
  • Tenet
  • Wonder Woman 1984

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Tenet!”

“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

  • Greenland
  • Over the Moon
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sound of Metal
  • Tenet

And the award goes to…

“Tenet!”

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

  • Greenland
  • Mank
  • Sound of Metal
  • Unhinged
  • 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…

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Composer Ludwig Goransson poses with the Best Original Score award for “Black Panther” in the press room during at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

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.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 22: Director Steven Spielberg attends the Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation during Comic-Con International 2017 at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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!

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…

DEAUVILLE, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 06: Chloe Zhao attends the ‘Jamais Entre Amis’ Premiere during the 41st Deauville American Film Festival on September 6, 2015 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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…

“Tenet!”

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 (2021): A Fine Black Panther Film

“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!

Minari (2020): Seed This As Soon As You Can

“Minari” is written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung (Abigail Harm, Lucky Life) and stars Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, and Will Patton in a film about a Korean family trying to live the American dream. The movie mainly centers around a father who wants to build a better life for his spouse and children. In hopes of achieving all he could wish for, David moves with his family to Arkansas to start a farm. While Jacob is happy and ready to see his dreams potentially rise to reality, not everyone is onboard. Throughout, we are presented with a slice of life about a group of people adapting to a new situation and all its successes and failures.

I’ve waited a couple weeks to talk about “Minari.” Why? For starters, I wanted to get my Valentine’s Day special out to the public. Top 10 Movie Crushes, check it out! But I also have been busy with school and life to the point where I just could barely find time to work on this review. So I apologize in advance if anything that comes out of my mouth sounds odd, it has been a couple weeks. I went into “Minari” sort of with the same expectations that I had for “Nomadland,” which I had high hopes for, I thought Chloe Zhao was going to knock the film out of the park, and what did I think of it? Well, I gave it a 7/10. Now that is not a bad grade by any means, but I kind of expected at least an 8 given how the film has won so many festivals and awards thus far and it may continue its dominance at the Golden Globes this weekend if things go right. I will say though, Chloe Zhao may be *the* director all film fans should have their eyes on right now. Not only does she have a critically acclaimed film with “Nomadland,” but she also has “Eternals” and a “Dracula” project coming up. Could be exciting!

As for Lee Isaac Chung, the director of “Minari,” he is not a name I am completely aware of. I have not watched, nor am I familiar with any of his work. I know of Steven Yeun, the star of this film, but this film comes packed with a bunch of folks whose names I could have never stated prior to either watching the movie or making this review. It’s kind of like every day in high school. It’s a lot of folks around at once! Who are these people? What are their names? Come on, help me!

Either way, let me just give you my simple thoughts on “Minari.” To say I went in with low expectations would be a total lie. I was expecting an Oscar contender. I can assure you I was not disappointed. Granted, it is a little forgettable in parts but overall, I had a great time watching “Minari.” Everything from the acting to the directing to the writing is top-notch and well worth a trip to the theater or a rental whenever it is available on VOD.

“Minari” is one of those films that makes you feel… Well, everything. You laugh. You smile. You wince. You go “wow.” You may even get to the point where you’re a little emotional. I am not saying “Minari” is a tearjerker, but it is certainly a movie where the characters continue to grow on you.

“Minari” comes off as a small, intimate story with giant, magnificent craft. And a part of that has to do with the relationship between the cast and the directing effort. Steven Yeun and Han Ye-ri do an excellent job encapsulating the mix of tension and togetherness between their characters, Jacob and Monica. They have their differences, but they are in a way willing to stick together for something glorious that may lie ahead. Jacob is clearly happy and cannot wait for his dreams to come true, but Monica is noticeably pessimistic and that sort of affects how they are trying project reality onto their family.

One of my favorite parts of the film would have to be the relationship between the young boy, David, and the grandma, Soon-ja. Thinking about it now, when I was a child, I would spend many days with my grandmother. Granted, for different reasons than this film presents. This relationship to an extent reminded me of the one I had with my grandmother as a child. She would come by my house, hang out with me, watch television, play her handheld solitaire. Although one thing that out stood to me during the film is that the boy refuses to call his grandma “real.” By his definition, that means a grandma who “bakes cookies” for example. Now, I’ve done that sort of thing with my grandma, that I will not deny, but it sort of reminded me of a conversation I would have with her every once in a while. So I am from the Boston area, where people like their coffee from Dunkin’ and their football teams winning championships. One of my earliest memories of hearing the distinctive “Boston accent” came out of my grandmother’s mouth, where instead of saying “careful,” she would say “cahful.” I would occasionally “correct” her and then we move on with our lives. While I never called either of my grandmothers “fake,” I can assure that this relationship between a young boy and his grandmother is somewhat similar to one I’ve experienced myself.

One of the recent films I watched in terms of my Scene Before reviews was the Amazon Studios film “Herself,” which I thought was quite a good watch. Not as stellar as “Minari,” but it is worth your time. It is currently free for all Prime subscribers, give it a chance. The recent why I bring that film up is because like “Minari” it has one of the better endings of 2020. Both films have respective endings that are sort of subversive, but also lines up and connects with a theme that may have been brought up earlier in the film. I will not spoil either ending, but the way they do it in “Minari” makes the ticket price worth paying. Plus, without any further clarification, it allows the cinematographer to go to town and deliver a couple of the standout shots of 2020 cinema. I do not think the Academy will recognize “Minari” for cinematography, but I am sure they will recognize them more so than the Golden Globes.

Antiquated rules, my ass.

In the end, “Minari” is a great film that I will recommend to everyone reading this. Now if you are one of the few people who passed on “Parasite” because you cannot stand subtitles, I will still recommend “Minari” because it probably will still connect with you in some way, but I cannot control your lives and manipulate your way of thinking entirely, that might be cruel. The film has a couple problems. And I will sort of attribute it to the same things I said about “Soul” when I reviewed that film. The film checks a lot of boxes, humor, heart, good characters, but there are certain films that take many of these elements, which are “good” and takes them up a level. But that is just me. “Minari” is nevertheless worth a watch, maybe two, and I am going to give it an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This Sunday I am proud to announce the Jackoffs is about to get in gear. For the past number of months, I have been working on comedy bits, an intro, previews, a poster, and now… A key moment has arrived. It’s nomination time! This Sunday I will be announcing the nominations for the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards! What do you hope to see nominated? Leave your comments below! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Minari?” What did you think about it? Or, have you ever lived in Arkansas? As a Bay Stater, I have literally no idea what is like. Is it fun? Is it boring? Please let me know! I’m genuinely curious! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

My Top 10 Movie Crushes

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Earlier this week was Valentine’s Day, or as single people like me call it, February 14th. And that’s about it. When I watch movies, one of the main reasons why I glue myself to them is for all the well-developed and thought out characters. Sometimes, a movie can immerse me to the point where I feel like I am a part of their world. Sometimes the movie takes me from reality to fantasy, and in that fantasy, I sometimes see myself as a part of another character’s life. Maybe even to the point where I would want to hold hands with them. Perhaps even take things further. That is why I am taking this Valentine’s Day week to discuss my top 10 movie crushes. Now you may notice, unlike other top 10s, such as “Top 10 BEST Movies of 2020,” I am calling this “My Top 10 Movie Crushes.” There is a reason for that. Unlike my other countdowns, this is one where it is not only subjective, but perhaps one that could only be contained within my identity. I am a 21 year old straight white male, so do not interpret this as characters you should have a crush on as well. Even if you are a 21 year old straight white male, I am not saying you should agree with this. Your emotions and identity are your own and I am in no way trying to brainwash anyone.

Now let me just make one thing clear. These picks are on CHARACTERS specifically, not the ACTORS that play them, although as you’ll see, that may be a contributing factor. So instead of saying for example, #10 is Megan Fox, I would go with a character they play such as Mikayla from “Transformers.” Plus I should note that some of the actors who portray these characters are more distant from me in terms of age today, whereas a good portion of the characters are relatively close in one degree or another, so I hope this may end up making this list less awkward for some readers. Also, another rule, I need to have seen a movie the character is in from start to finish in order for their presence on this list to count. So, that eliminates a lot of “Bond” characters, Linda Barrett from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and Madison from “Splash.” Also, even though I am a guy, I am not here to confuse anyone. This is not a list of the “Top 10 Sexiest Movie Characters.” We are not diving into that stereotype, although as you’ll see, looks will play a factor. With that being said, let’s get this list going! These are my top 10 movie crushes!

#10: Lorraine Baines/McFly (Back to the Future)

There has been a period over the past year that reminded me of how batcrap insane “Back to the Future” really is. It is a film where the protagonist goes back in time in a car, has to get his parents to fall in love, so they can f*ck, therefore having him and his siblings. The problem is, the protagonist’s mother lusts after him after he is hit by what just so happens to be his grandparent’s car. Holy freaking crap. I’ll admit, since my early teens, I’ve always had some attachment to Lorraine in “Back to the Future.” She’s attractive, somewhat nervous but also someone who knows what she wants, and from a fashion standpoint. Every outfit she wears suits her well. If I saw her in a room, I would immediately introduce myself as Calvin Klein. Now keep in mind, this list comes from someone who is 21 years old, therefore I should emphasize that when it comes to the “Back to the Future” timeline, I am mainly talking about 1955 Loraine. Although apocalyptic 1985 Lorraine is kind of sexy too, even though part of the reason for that is because Biff Tannen is practically going all Jabba the Hutt on her and giving her the most self-angering outfit in the world. But if I had to pick one to have by my side, it would be 1955 Elaine. I would take her to a dance if I had the opportunity. Plus unlike apocalyptic 1985 Lorraine, who again, is hella attractive, is perhaps somewhat brainwashed into a rich man’s lifestyle. Although part of me would want to help her escape it (because part of her maybe wants out from time to time).

#9: Tauriel (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

I love “The Lord of the Rings.” Want proof?

I just bought this bad boy in January. Well worth the $150.

But I was one of those people who happened to stumble upon “The Hobbit” prior to watching “Lord of the Rings.” To be fair, I was in my early teens, the films were PG-13, so I missed out on the hype train back in the day. However, when the “Hobbit” trilogy came out, I saw them all in IMAX 3D. I did it for the first film. I did it twice for the second film. And I also did it twice for the third film. I was hooked to the fantastical wonderland of Middle Earth at the time. So of course, since I repeatedly watched the trilogy, I easily got attached to Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. If I had to pick one person to fight alongside on this list, there are a few that I would go with, but I assure you that Tauriel would be one of the top contenders. I will say, despite vastly enjoying “The Hobbit” as a trilogy, one of its problems through all three movies is that the dwarves are nearly disposable. Yes, they have their personalities and stories behind them, but it is almost difficult to keep track of all of them and remember them. So that’s why I’d say Kili is one of more attachable individuals in the group, due to his love connection to Tauriel. I buy their chemistry, even if it is somewhat comparable to say “Romeo & Juliet” at times. But it is not to say that she cannot be great on her own. She can rock a bow and arrow, her combat is sleek as much as it kicks butt, and technically speaking, based on one scene from “The Desolation of Smaug,” she’s arguably qualified enough to be a medical professional! Oh, did I mention that Elvish is such a fun language? Even though I don’t exactly know a word of it, I stand by that statement. Yeah, I think many “Lord of the Rings” fans would agree that for the most part, if you want a partner by your side, try to convince one of the elves to have lunch with you and see where it goes.

#8: Vanessa (Deadpool)

Morena Baccarin has been a frequent player in geek culture. She was in “Firefly,” “Serenity,” CW’s “The Flash,” Fox’s “Gotham.” But the role I’ll probably remember her for the most is Vanessa in “Deadpool.” The film is one of the rare attempts in the comic book movie genre to take things into R-rated territory, and it goes for it. Excessive language, graphic violence, and as for Vanessa and the film’s lead, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), the two are quite a couple. The two are cute, charming, and of course, horny. One scene of the film that stood out to me every time I watched it is the sex montage. For starters, it was the first R-rated hardcore sex scene I saw in a theater, not to mention an eight story IMAX. While the whole movie is not a sexual extravaganza, you know, all it is just a little violent, just a little heavy on language, just a little rambunctious on action, that scene defined the romantic tone that partially intertwined with the rest of what the movie had to offer. Vanessa is not just a stud that lusts after one of the sexy Ryans from Canada, she is charismatic, knows how to have fun (I’d take her to an arcade, personally), and when she was in pain, I felt for her. I wanted her to live. And even when she is in distress, she is notably capable of defending herself. Also, while this may be more of a compliment to Baccarin than anybody else, I love Vanessa’s hair. Even since I was young, I think I’ve had a thing for brunettes. Vanessa, or Morena Baccarin depending on how slice it, is just part of why.

#7: Lisa (Weird Science)

When I think of a mind in film that defined the 1980s, that would have to be John Hughes. The man wrote and directed several movies that continue to come up in conversations today. Movies like “The Breakfast Club,” “Home Alone,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” When it comes to those last two, I cherish them to a high degree because of how much I can attach their personal concept to my life. I like privacy, even as a kid I enjoyed it. As for school, while education may be essential in some cases, I did not go because I wanted to, I went because that is how society works. But one film Hughes did that I thoroughly enjoyed was “Weird Science.” If you want a wacky 1980s comedy where life is whimsical and crazy, this has that vibe. And of course, there was Lisa. This pick is just the first in a recurring theme on this list. Women that do not have the same life experiences as a regular person. Look, I could start this description off with the obvious. Lisa wears slick outfits that can turn a guy on. But that’s only a sliver of why she is on the list. Yes, when she is introduced, she comes out wearing almost nothing, which as a result, gets our two main characters, Gary and Wyatt, rather excited. Then we move onto the next scene where they shower with her. I think every teenager to a degree has imagined something crazy like that at some point in their young lives. But all of what I just said revolves around looks, which if that were the case, Lisa would be either lower on the list, or off it entirely. So let’s talk about her personality. Well, this is almost everything a young boy would want in a girl. She is fun, not afraid to take risks, explorative, honest, although maybe a little too honest. Because there is a hilarious scene where Lisa lets herself loose and explains to Gary’s parents that he plans to party with a bunch of teenagers. She even goes into explicit detail about it!

You know, there’s going to be sex, drugs, rock-n-roll… chips, dips, chains, whips… You know, your basic high school orgy type of thing. I mean, uh, I’m not talking candlewax on the nipples, or witchcraft or anything like that, no, no, no. Just a couple of hundred kids running around in their underwear, acting like complete animals.

-Lisa

In this scene, Gary does everything he can to defend himself, say that he is not doing anything crazy, including trying to tell his parents that he does not masturbate in the bathroom, despite Lisa outright confirming it to their faces! The scene overall is just wild. I was not always like Gary. I was never the party type of person in high school, although I am proud to say I won “Best Dancer” in the yearbook. I was never invited, nor did I ever go. It was just never my thing. I felt like it would have people perceive me to be a type of person that I am not. Even though I just turned 21, I do not drink. I do not smoke. I do not do any drugs. But at the same time, this movie sort of makes me want to have someone in my life that could allow me to have some fun, let myself screw around, boost my popularity. I imagine this is sort of similar to the philosophy about “girls liking bad boys.” While I wouldn’t call Lisa dangerous, she is edgy. She has all the qualities of an admirable person if you ask me, but at the same time, she sort of pushes the envelope. Did I mention she’s attractive? Yeah, that too.

#6: Ava (Ex Machina)

“Ex Machina” is a fascinating film. Much like “2001: A Space Odyssey” was back when it came out, “Ex Machina” is an intriguing glance as to what could happen if we rely on computers and use them for purposes that practically make them our slaves. Except in this case, the movie specifies more as to what happens if we deeply humanized a computer to the point where it is almost a part of our kind. It has our emotions, our thoughts, our way of processing what is in front of us. In fact, we kind of achieved that in real life. In Saudi Arabia, they have a robot that has been given citizenship. While I am not at the point where I have yearned for a robot in real life, I can confirm that part of me would not mind getting to know Ava from “Ex Machina” on an intimate level. Now, while not all robots are capable of love, part of Ava’s many human-like traits is that she has an understanding of romance, the connection between one lover to another. She even ends up having feelings for the film’s lead, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson). I can see myself falling for her in the same situation. We do a bunch of tests together, get to know each other, interact, it’s almost like a date to some capacity. Plus, as I am doing each test, I particularly happen to view Ava more as a subject than a friend, so if I keep coming back to her, it is sort of in the same way I keep coming back to a passion project. Part of the beauty of a romantic relationship is getting to explore life with someone else, getting to explore the world with someone else. In the case with Ava, I would not just be exploring my life with her if we were together, Ava would arguably be exploring the concept of life in general. After all, in this film’s timeline, she was recently built. She has never even been outdoors. While relationships are 50/50, I would not mind having a major dash of credibility by taking Ava outside for the first time. I know I am a guy, which kind of suggests that looks play a major factor into a relationship, but do I care that she goes through the film with nearly no skin? Heck no! In fact, the Academy seems to agree with me, because the film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects! Ava sounds like someone I would take out to dinner, then explore the city with for hours. Then I would teach her everything joyous about humanity, although maybe I should watch myself before she forms an army with a plot for world domination. I guess that’s a good reason to keep her lower on the list.

#5: Art3mis/Samantha (Ready Player One)

Not everyone agrees with me, but I think “Ready Player One” is one of the best films of the past few years. It is a visual effects-heavy thrill ride through a virtual reality world in 2045. If I lived in 2045, I would totally flock after Samantha, otherwise known by her username, Art3mis (pronounced similar to Artemis). Early on in the film, we see Wade Watts, also known as Parzival, racing for a key to aid his quest to own the OASIS, the virtual reality world where everything seems to matter. So much so that real life is meaningless. After all, there is nowhere to go. Nevertheless, during the race, he gazes upon a woman riding on a bike from “Akira.” Turns out, through his personal observations, this girl is not just anyone, it is Art3mis. He knows everything about her, not exactly in a stalkerish way, but it comes pretty close. Their first encounter in the film is near the end of the race where Parzival forces Art3mis to bail out to avoid getting slaughtered by King Kong. The two eventually get to know each other, even discussing what they know about the founder of the OASIS, James Halliday. The reason why I love Art3mis as a character so much is because of what she represents in the realm of the Internet. I mean this is not only from a crush perspective, but from a perspective where two people can simply be friends. It is that you may not always know who other people actually are. They could end up being your best friend, but in reality, unless you somehow have met them in person or maybe over Skype or something, there is a chance that the person you’re talking to is of a completely different identity, or not even a person at all. Art3mis represents that Internet fantasy that somewhat feels legit, but also feels faraway because you either live nowhere near the person or you barely know them in real life. As for the character herself, I like my nerds, she knows her references, so personality-wise, Samantha checks the boxes. Plus, I really like the design of her avatar in the OASIS. The movie does a really good job at making me fall for someone that does not feel like anyone else I’d meet. It would be someone I would dream about that maybe is not even human. It takes me to another world. Plus, the dress she wears in the Distracted Globe scene is utter fire. Art3mis is the quintessential encapsulation of your basic Internet friend. You may not KNOW them, even when you feel like you know everything about them. Or in some ways, you just want to get to know more and more about them by the second.

#4: Joi (Blade Runner 2049)

This is one of the more unique entries to the list, because this character is technically not a woman. Nor is it a human. It is a hologram. I give you Joi, the love interest to Ryan Gosling’s K in “Blade Runner 2049.” After I watched “Blade Runner 2049” a couple times, part of me began to fall for the actress playing Joi, Ana de Armas, and part of it is not only because she looks attractive, but because she encapsulates a person that knows very little about the world around her. I am not saying she is stupid, but keep in mind, again, she is a hologram. She is programmed. She is manufactured. The movie makes it clear that Joi is in fact a product and K is only a consumer of said product. In some ways, Joi is like Fox News. She rarely does something because she sees it as beneficial to her. The way I look at Joi as a character, she is there to serve her partner, perhaps her master. Tell them what they want to hear. She is not just someone in their life, they are a cheerleader, a motivational speaker. At the same time, it feels like this character wants to go through a journey of self-discovery. There is a scene where she is seemingly amused by rain, while also enjoying the moment with her partner. Also in some cases, she’s practically the 2049 version of Seri.

(referring to Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”) “Did you know this song was released in 1966 on Reprise Records? It was number 1 on the charts…”

-Joi

Ana de Armas provides such an intimate, sensual, emotional, and all round cute performance that when she would fizzle, my jaw would drop a little. I have a couple concerns about her character, one long term concern being if I were in the “Blade Runner” universe, and if this product were successful, it would perhaps nearly antiquate the traditional human to human relationship, thus making the species die out overtime. Eh, we’re overpopulated now anyway. If there’s a balance between real and artificial, who knows? It might help. Although technically, the movie does show that one can make love with Joi while she syncs into someone else’s body, so reproduction may still be possible, as long as a third party is involved. My one question is this, are there male versions of Joi? Because thus far, Joi has mainly been marketed as an attractive, supportive woman, most likely for straight men. Can Joi transform into another gender? I kind of want to know more about this if we get another “Blade Runner” film in the future.

#3; Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Iron Man 2, Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Look, I’m a guy. And a lot of my picks partially base themselves around attractiveness. If you thought Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow would be an exception, then clearly you have never met the Movie Reviewing Moron. If there is one girl I would hang out with in a bar in the MCU, the answer would be Natasha Romanoff. I will admit, despite what I said about Vanessa and my potential thing for brunettes. Over the years, I think I have learned that I may also like redheads. Although I should note that even in “Avengers: Infinity War,” where she is blonde, Romanoff is a ticket. But my crush on Romanoff started pretty early when I saw her in “Iron Man 2.” I will admit, I watched 2012’s “The Avengers” before watching “Iron Man 2,” but my first actual attraction to her began in “Iron Man 2,” even though she probably looks her best in “The Avengers.” The fast-paced action scene in the white hallway towards the end of “Iron Man 2” is enough of a showstopper. Romanoff is incredibly kick-ass, sexy, and every outfit she wears suits her. Did I mention Scarlett Johansson’s voice? It is commanding and it makes you want to watch her do anything. Like… type a document. Or write in a diary. Or read a book out loud. If I were perhaps 13 and making this list, there is a solid chance that Romanoff could potentially be #1, because at that age, I am more about looks, whereas personality is just some added bonus points. I say this because even today, I cannot directly pinpoint much of her interests. She kicks people in the face and makes it look sexy. What else can I say? Plus her backstory is not really explored all that much until “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” meaning that it took 5 years and a phase in the cinematic universe to start exploring more about her character. And yeah, I know what she does for work. She’s with the Avengers, she’s a spy, but I also want to know more about what she does for fun. I mean, the MCU has 23 movies so far, with a 24th HOPEFULLY arriving in theaters this May, and that movie is a Black Widow-centered prequel. I got to know Black Widow over the years as an ass-kicking Avenger who looks like she’s way out of my league, can rock a bunch of different outfits, not to mention hairstyles. I want to know more about HER. Hopefully the upcoming “Black Widow” film can shine a light on the subject.

#2: Lana (Risky Business)

There are two movies starring Tom Cruise that I often debate as my favorites of all time, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” and “Risky Business.” While I will say Vanessa Kirby is quite good looking as The White Widow in the former, today we are going to be talking about the latter. We are going to be talking about Rebecca De Mornay’s character, Lana, from “Risky Business.” This film is one that gets better with every viewing, and as one who looks back at his high school years with mixed feelings, I sort of relate to this film. For those of you who have not seen the film, Joel Goodson, a teenager in his senior year of high school, is convinced that while his parents are away, he needs an excuse to let himself loose and have some fun. This gets to the point where he calls up Lana, a prostitute, who has sex with him all night. The next morning, after Joel fails to provide $300 for the services, she leaves before he can return to his house. Also missing, a Stueben glass egg. From the moment Joel tries to retrieve it, the moment he finds Lana and the two escape from Guido the Killer Pimp, they prove that they are a 5/5 in terms of chemistry. But also what makes Lana a fine entry to the list is De Mornay’s sensual performance. She always has this futuristic, other-worldly quality to her. She does a really good job at capturing the “girl out of my league” vibe that maybe Lana was supposed to represent. After all, when she is introduced, she is not just a girl, she is the listener to Joel’s demands. That is until he has to pay $300 and the two become friends and work together to overcome each other’s obstacles.

Oh yeah, and they make love on a subway. No big deal.

Will say though, the only turnoff I have about her is that even though she does feel somewhat sensually rebellious in various ways, is that she will occasionally smoke. If I were in the scene on the lake where all the characters get high, there’s a good chance I’d repeatedly tell everyone that I don’t smoke. It’s the same reason why I put Lorraine Baines lower on the list, because she does smoke in the scene where Marty is in the car with her. I don’t want to judge people for smoking, that is their choice after all, but for all I know, Lana could be a bad influence and get me to join in, and I do not want that. This is why I never had a chance with girls. I do not drink. I do not smoke. I do not party. Okay, enough with the self-deprecation, let’s move on.

#1: Wonder Woman/Diana Prince *Gal Gadot interpretation* (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Detective Comics Extended Universe)

Here’s a question. Who won the fight in “Batman v. Superman?”

The answer, Wonder Woman!

Yeah, Wonder Woman is probably my favorite of the heroes in the current Detective Comics Extended Universe. She has a fleshed out backstory that is magical as it is intriguing, she can wield a sword like a boss, and her battle cry is just glorious. Let me just put it this way, there has rarely ever been a moment that a character in any movie has commanded my attention like she has just from thrusting into battle with an epic yell. Sticking with a recurring theme on this list, one reason why Wonder Woman is on here is likely because of her other-worldliness. She starts off in the mythical island of Themiscyra, comes to Earth with Steve Trevor, where she is the fish out of water, and she learns the ways of mankind overtime. She encounters some friends and foes along the way, making her into the wonderous being she is today. I did not have many thoughts on Gal Gadot originally being cast as the iconic heroine, but the moment I witnessed her on screen when I saw “Batman v. Superman” in IMAX, I was in love. First off, can we just admit that by herself, Gal Gadot may be one of the most gorgeous actresses working today? I’ll admit, in some of her earlier roles, including her first go as Wonder Woman in 2016, I was a little worried because her line delivery was occasionally flat, but her physical presence that I think many performers would vie for sort of makes up for it in parts. Sometimes I glance at her and she looks like someone who watched us from space for years, but somehow she decided to join us in the end. However, Gadot has definitely improved as a performer over the years, and she has nailed the role of Diana Prince harder with each attempt. Even in “Wonder Woman 1984,” which I will admit, was not my favorite of the DCEU movies to have come out. Going back to the character herself, the reason why I admire her as a heroine is despite her superpowers, despite being the pinnacle of all things mighty for women, she is not afraid to show her emotions. She is a god, but she is also quite personable. Kind of like how Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has been portrayed in recent years. But this all harkens back to the point that when it comes to a character like this, one that has the qualities of a human, one that has the qualities of an earthling, but also one who I can teach in a way or another, that is why Diana Prince is the wonder of it all. Plus, unlike Ava from “Ex Machina,” I would personally like to know more about Prince’s world. I would love to see Themiscyra, what the people there do for fun, maybe stay there for awhile. I cannot just one-side the entire relationship to just my planet. I have to show interest in where Diana Prince came from, how she grew up, what she appreciated about life before earth. And having seen all of her story in the DCEU so far, I do care. I think Diana Prince and I would get along fine, maybe more so than Chris Pine. To quote Vitruvius from “The LEGO Movie,” “All this is true because it rhymes.”

For those who want to know my opinion, I think Marvel makes better movies than DC right now. DC seemed like they were getting on the right track with “Aquaman” and “Shazam,” but then “Birds of Prey” and “Wonder Woman 1984” came along. but let me tell you the truth, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with a character from one of those universes, I’d pick Diana Prince before anyone in the MCU. Let’s look at it this way. Part of the reason why Black Widow is on this list, not to mention part of why she is so high on it, is because of my attachment to her since my early teens that has not really gone away. And as I mentioned, I really do not know her as a person, although it is something to maybe get to know eventually depending on where things go. If I had to make this analogy any simpler, Natasha Romanoff may be fun to hang out with in a bar, maybe for a one night stand. Diana Prince has looks, she has personality, she seems to take life one day at a time, and she sounds like an optimist. And I’d say that Natasha Romanoff shares those qualities as well, but if I had to choose one person, I’d choose Diana because I’d probably end up liking her more for, well… her, than maybe I would for Natasha.

The only thing that I could think of that would keep me away from Diana is if I develop a habit of lying. Either to her or other people, because her lasso would probably bash my brains in. Other than that, I love her.

Thanks for reading this countdown! I hope you enjoyed this, well, pretty late to be a Valentine’s Day special, but you gotta do what ya gotta do. The best posts take time, not a Sonic the Hedgehog style rush! Speaking of posts that take time, I want to let you all know that on February 28th, I will be announcing the nominees for the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards! The ceremony will take place two weeks after, on March 14th. I am also currently working on reviews for “Minari” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” I will hopefully have both of those up soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, are there any characters in film that you desire? Remember, the key word is characters, not actors, this may provide a slight difference at the very least. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!