Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot to talk about! I mean, wow! Before we dive into what has been happening lately at Warner Bros. Discovery, let me give you a recap of some of the events that went down during AT&T’s possession of Warner Bros..
If you asked me what I thought about the state of Warner Bros. a year ago, I would have said I was nervous. Warnermedia’s decision to put all of their big movies on HBO Max hurt most of those movies that already happened to be finished. This ultimately hurt their box office, not to mention potential word of mouth and longevity. Sure, it definitely seemed like a good idea to combat COVID-19 and certain titles like “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune” had a halfway decent performance, but it does not change the fact that for the most part, the performance of most of these films were financially hindered. While some may argue that Warnermedia offered viewers a choice by putting their movies both in theaters and on streaming, they also had a long-term goal on prioritizing content for HBO Max, which was created through said ownership.
For the most part, HBO Max was not a bad idea. It contained a lot of the latest movies from studios like Universal, Fox, and Warner Brothers, the entire DC library, some of the shows from Turner networks like TBS and TNT. They had a good thing going. Then in 2020, it was announced that Warner Brothers’s entire slate of films for the next year would go to HBO Max in addition to theatres, as recently mentioned. This technically started with the 2020 film “Wonder Woman 1984.” The unexpected move led to the film’s star and director, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins respectively, receiving more than $10 million as a result. Alternate stars on the other hand were not favored.
“Representatives for major Warner Bros. stars like Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie wanted to know why their clients had been treated in a lesser manner than Ms. Gadot. Talk of a Warner Bros. boycott began circulating inside the Directors Guild of America. A partner at one talent agency spent part of the weekend meeting with litigators. Some people started to angrily refer to the studio as Former Bros.” –The New York Times
Legendary Pictures, the production company behind “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune,” noted that they, like others, were not given advance notice on the move. On a nearly dated “Saturday Night Live” episode, host and “Dune” star Timothee Chalamet ended the show by unveiling a Legendary sweatshirt, symbolizing his support for the company.
While one perk of HBO Max is the freedom for viewers to watch the new films as many times as they want for 30 days, the caveat for the studio is that the films are free as long as the viewers subscribe. In addition to hurting the movie theaters that work alongside the studios, movies like “In the Heights,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Reminiscence,” “King Richard,” and “The Matrix Resurrections” did not even make their budgets back.
You could make the argument that HBO Max benefited from this. Sure, they had some subscribers come aboard. In fact the service topped their projections (70 million) by the end of 2021 by earning 73 million paid subscribers. But that is not enough. Warner Bros. lost one of their key filmmakers, specifically Christopher Nolan, and has damaged their trust with others as they felt backstabbed by these recent events. Denis Villeneuve, while he ultimately finished and released “Dune” in October 2021, found out about his movie’s simultaneous HBO Max release on the news long before the film ultimately came out. It is the studio’s project at the end of the day, but it does not mean Warner Bros. and AT&T can ignore common sense and decency with their fellow creators. This was a multi-million dollar collaborative effort, and it is very much Denis Villeneuve’s movie as much as it is Warnermedia’s. When Villeneuve promises he will bring forth a franchise, his mouth cannot be kept shut in situations like this.
Now that David Zaslav is responsible for the position of CEO, a position previously held by Jason Kilar, many big changes have come about in such a short time. As of now, there are no more day and date Warner Bros. movies. “The Batman,” “Elvis,” and “DC League of Super-Pets” all released in theaters exclusively for a period of time. There are still movies that have been released on HBO Max exclusively, like the romantic comedy “Moonshot,” but without the day and date option. But for the most part, the new administration has allowed their few theatrical exclusive films to shine.
Now, as a fan of the moviegoing experience, this is great. I am glad to know these movies are being seen the way the filmmakers intended. I do not know if Warner Bros. is going to restore its relationship with Christopher Nolan, but that is probably going to depend on how well “Oppenheimer” does for Universal. Although as someone who has found streaming convenient and messy, this month has demonstrated the messier elements on the HBO Max side of things.
Recent events have shown my slight lack of trust from streaming providers. Last week, HBO Max removed six films. It is normal for a streamer to get rid of their film or television content. Maybe the deal has expired and a project needs to move somewhere else, or maybe a property is under new ownership. These are perfectly valid reasons to remove a film from a service, despite disappointing the fans of that movie. What is unusual however is that a set of “Max Originals,” meaning that these projects were exclusive to HBO Max, were removed from the service. I emphasize, not HBO the channel, HBO Max. Despite being intended and marketed as exclusives, they were removed. Although if you look around, they are not QUITE exclusive. This is probably why they were called “Max Originals” and not “Max Exclusives.” These films are available for purchase on platforms like Google Play and Vudu, therefore they are not unwatchable. Well, except “Superintelligence,” you should never ever watch that movie even in your sleep. And there is also good news for physical media collectors. These movies, like the recently mentioned “Superintelligence,” are also available on DVD. So while these films may be gone from HBO Max, you can pay to watch them in other ways.
Nevertheless, an event like this shocks me as the films are technically Warner Brothers movies, which HBO Max would perhaps most likely try to maintain as they are a part of the brand. It is the same reason why you never saw “The Irishman” leave Netflix. It is the same reason why you never saw “Manchester by the Sea” leave Prime Video. It is the same reason why you never saw “LEGO Star Wars: The Holiday Special” leave Disney+. With the exception of that last one, these titles are available elsewhere such as DVD and Blu-ray, but these are ultimately the studio’s and streamer’s projects to control and maintain on their respective services. Or so I thought. They can practically do anything now and it is kind of unreal to think about.
So HBO Max got rid of six “exclusive” films. Fine. They can do that. People can still watch them elsewhere? Okay, that’s wonderful. I think it is a bit weird to not at least leave them on the service for people to at least watch, although at the same time I do not think people subscribe to HBO Max nowadays to watch “The Witches.” These films, or more specifically, where they ended up, are partially the result of the previous administration. “Superintelligence” was once supposed to release theatrically, but it was eventually dropped exclusively on HBO Max through Ben Falcone’s pitch. “The Witches,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, was supposed to be released theatrically, but was ultimately moved to HBO Max. However, it was released theatrically in international markets. I can understand why a move like this was made. In addition to promoting HBO Max, COVID-19 was still somewhat new and prominent in late 2020. But if there is something I can say “The Witches” and “Superintelligence” have in common other than their release, it is their lack of longevity. When you release a movie in theaters, you ultimately do more than simply release it for the big screen. If the movie is successful on the big screen, there is a chance it could also succeed when it comes to VOD and physical media. It already has word of mouth, and if enough people are curious, it could have a second wind. This is a tried and true method that works almost every time.
Despite my confidence, and we will dive more into that, in regard to David Zaslav as CEO, this is perhaps the one big conundrum that has come up during his time as the head of the company. If there is an outside force that is making these movies disappear, I wish I knew about it. But for now, this makes no sense.
Speaking of movies you will not be seeing anymore, let’s talk about “Batgirl.” During Jason Kilar’s run as CEO, it was announced that we would be seeing an HBO Max exclusive “Batgirl” movie set in the DCEU. The film was previously in development, partially under the creative juices of Joss Whedon, but he left the project a year after its 2017 announcement. The film would star Leslie Grace (In the Heights) and similar to “The Flash,” which we will be talking about later, viewers would be treated to Michael Keaton as he returns to play Batman. Before Zaslav became CEO, another DC film once set to hit HBO Max, “Blue Beetle,” was officially no longer an HBO Max exclusive and would instead play in theaters. This is how every other DCEU film, including the day and date-specific “Wonder Woman 1984” and “The Suicide Squad,” released.
“Batgirl,” both before and after Zaslav’s beginning as CEO, was never announced to receive the same treatment. In fact, one more announcement in this crazy week is that the release of “Batgirl” would be cancelled. Nobody in the viewing public would ever get to see the movie, no matter what. Not in theatres, not on HBO Max. No bat time, no bat channel.
Obviously this came as a shock given how the film finished shooting and happened to be in post-production. And not to ignore Leslie Grace’s titular character, who wouldn’t want to see Michael Keaton as Batman again? This could have been a good movie. But after seeing more information, I had my doubts as to whether it was actually good to begin with.
“Batgirl” was originally intended for HBO Max, and when you do not have to worry about the stakes of the big screen, there is, theoretically, less of a vision that encapsulates quality. I am not saying straight to streaming movies cannot work, but it comes with a major price tag from a viewer’s perspective as being “inferior.” “Batgirl” had a $90 million budget. In DC speak, this is about the same as 2019’s “Shazam!” although about half as much as Matt Reeves’s “The Batman.” While Leslie Grace may not have carried the star power of Robert Pattinson, the movie had plenty of big names alongside her including J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, and as mentioned before, Michael Keaton. The directing team behind the film, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah had experience with action films before, not to mention 2020’s biggest picture (not that there was much competition), “Bad Boys for Life.” The two even have experience at DC’s competitor, Marvel Studios. While they never made a Marvel film, the duo handled directing duties for two episodes of the Disney+ original series “Ms. Marvel.”
For all I know, these people gave 110% to every part of the production. Leslie Grace could have given the performance of the year. Michael Keaton could have given his best portrayal of Batman yet. And this would be a movie that could establish Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah as future in-house names at DC kind of like the Russo Brothers were to Marvel for some time. But given how “Batgirl,” is cancelled as a tax write-off as of last week, I, and the viewing public as a whole, will never know for sure.
There is a saying that actions speak louder than words, but given how I have never seen “Batgirl,” I unfortunately can only rely on words at this point. However, other people have seen the movie through test screenings, and the results are reportedly not great. While the movie is said to have scored similarly to “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” which is still set to release this December, one source says the consensus led to a verdict that indicated “Batgirl” is not big enough for theaters, nor appropriate enough for a platform like HBO Max, as revealed by Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni on an episode of his podcast, “The Town.”
“This is someone who was in the test screening a couple months ago where they were trying to figure out what to do with this movie and I called him and we chatted and he said that after the screening, the executives Walter Hamada of DC and some of the others there ask the audience, “Did this feel big?” and clearly they were trying to figure out whether it felt like it deserved a theatrical release and the consensus was absolutely not. He said it played like a TV pilot, the stakes were very small… He said it felt a little like Dark Phoenix.” -Matthew Belloni
Why are they releasing “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and not “Batgirl?” That is a great question. If you ask me, I think it is a somewhat marketable film that could do well around the holiday season, or in this case, well enough to compete with “Avatar: The Way of Water,” but nevertheless. Although “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” was planned as a theatrical release this whole time, and may have been executed as such during the production. And the first trailer of the film promises some neat treats for those looking for a big screen experience. I reiterate, I have not seen “Batgirl,” but I think there is a reason why I am seeing material for “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” and nothing for “Batgirl.” While I genuinely feel terrible for everyone behind the film, I stand by David Zaslav’s decision to cancel “Batgirl.” I would rather have a genuinely great movie that will win over audiences as opposed to a terrible movie that could cause people to compare it to “Batman & Robin.” People are going to literally have to say that the best Batgirl movie is somehow “The LEGO Batman Movie!” Who thought we’d be saying that in this day and age?! And Zaslav cancelled the film for this reason. During a recent conference call, Zaslav was asked about the cancelation of “Batgirl,” which he stated was part of a restructuring of DC through a 10-year plan. This plan would be similar to what Alan Horn and Bob Iger established with producer Kevin Feige over at Disney’s Marvel Studios. In addition to that, Zaslav wants to make sure that audiences are not only getting good movies, but happen to be getting their money’s worth at the cinema similar to the studio itself through the box office as it releases its newer content.
“We’ve seen luckily by having access now to all the data, how direct-to-streaming movies perform. And our conclusion is that expensive direct-to-streaming movies in terms of how people are consuming them on the platform, how often people go there or buy it or buy a service for it and how it gets nourished over time is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the motion – in the theaters. And so this idea of expensive films going direct-to-streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it. We can’t find an economic value for it.” –David Zaslav
However, I am not saying the axing of “Batgirl” is not unfortunate for the audience. I was looking forward to potentially seeing the movie. This is also an unfortunate cancelation in terms of diversity. Because Leslie Grace is Afro-Latina, giving a fresh look to the DCEU’s main heroes. This means that most of the studio’s upcoming lineup, like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash” will continue to center around white male characters. While these films are likely to be successful, it avoids giving a particular audience a film they can call their own. While “Wonder Woman” and its vastly inferior sequel obviously happen to be anthems for women, it does not change the fact that there are still some audiences who probably have not seen themselves in the heroes DC is providing. Sure, the “Suicide Squad” movies feature two different African-American leads, but as far as non-team movies go, diversity has some ways to go. Superman is a white male. Shazam is a white male. The Flash, while played by an actor who currently identifies as non-binary, is as far as we know, a white male. Harley Quinn, while not a male, is more of an anti-hero as seen in projects like “Birds of Prey.” This could have been DC’s chance to give the audience a different kind of hero. And while this may be towards the villain or anti-hero route, DC is lucky that the Dwayne Johnson-starring “Black Adam” is set to come out as the iconic movie star happens to be Black and Samoan.
At the same time though, while this is unfortunate, I will reiterate, I agree with Zaslav’s decision to cancel the film. It is not a pleasant decision to make, but as a business move, it makes sense. I am not saying people are not interested in seeing a Latina superhero, but I think that if people want a character like Batgirl, such a character should receive better treatment than what she is getting at the moment. I have to remind everyone reading this that I am a straight white male, therefore it is my responsibility to acknowledge that a lot of the movies that have come out in the superhero genre revolves around people like me. Some are great like “Iron Man” while others are not so great like “Morbius.” This is the same thing I have said about “Ghostbusters” since I watched the 2016 Paul Feig-directed reboot. You cannot just remake the movie with women and call it a day. You have to have a good script, great chemistry amongst the cast, and solid humor. Now obviously every movie has its fans, but I saw the movie and felt that it failed on those recently mentioned objectives. Pitching and selling a “Batgirl” film to the audience is half the battle. The other half is delivering a great story or experience that will stand the test of time, and I can only assume that “Batgirl” did not meet certain standards to make that happen.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cancelation of “Batgirl” has more to do with the reset plan in regard to DC and not as much to do with the talent behind the film like Leslie Grace.
“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt” and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.” -WB Insider (The Hollywood Reporter)
On that note, I will remind you that “Batgirl” is not the only upcoming Warner Bros. film that was announced to be cancelled last week, as the quote suggests that “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a Christmas-themed “Scooby-Doo” film, was also part of the chopping block. The film was set to come out on HBO Max this year, which does not surprise me as 2020’s “Scoob!” skipped theatres and went straight to VOD due to COVID-19. While I watched “Scoob!” a couple years ago and thought it was a trainwreck, I will note one thing that was not a problem was the look of the film or the animation style. Overall, it looked very polished. Once again, I can only use assumptions here, but I would not be surprised if this streaming-mindset affected production in terms of how polished the film could turn out. Once again, I feel bad for the crew, but I think that this is a proper business decision.
Although if I must be real, I find it shocking that “Batgirl” was cancelled at the time it was. I am less shocked after finding out that it probably was not that good. Although what I am saying is that there is another DC film that based on public outcry, probably should have been cancelled first. In fact, recent events further indicate the complications behind this film’s existence. That film being… “The Flash.”
The Flash is one of the more well-known DC superheroes, and the hero’s popularity has only jumped due to the success of CW’s original series that is soon to enter its final season. Although on the movie side, there has been extensive development in regard to bringing the red speedster to the big screen but for several reasons, they could not quite get it out before the end of the previous decade. Having seen both “Justice League” and its eventual “Snyder Cut” on HBO Max, I think Ezra Miller did a fine job bringing Barry Allen to life and I would not mind seeing more of the character. Unfortunately, if Miller continues to play the character, I may have second thoughts.
After seeing Ezra Miller’s shenanigans of choking a woman in a bar, assault, restraining orders, harrassing a woman in her own apartment, and most recently, burglary, this only makes Zaslav’s final decision on “The Flash” that much harder to make. You could say that releasing “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is also hard because Amber Heard is in it, but that’s a cakewalk compared to this. For one thing, the public is divided on whether Heard is innocent or guilty after her recent trial with Johnny Depp. And not to undermine the events prior to or of said trial, many of Ezra Miller’s crimes or arrests have happened after they finished shooting “The Flash.” As time has shown, I believe in redemption. Since joining Marvel, James Gunn held back on making inappropriate jokes over the Internet, and even after his firing and rehiring, he kept his cool. But at this point, when Ezra Miller has already been cast, the movie is shot, and it is set to release next year. This is a dilemma if there ever was one. As a viewer who is not in charge of a substantial company or its products, it is easy for me to say that they should cancel the movie or recast Ezra Miller and reshoot every scene with the character of Barry Allen. But the film already has a budget of $200 million, and this requires a massive return of the crew, the actors, everybody.
…But in my own little fantasyland, I also think it is worth it. …Kind of. It’s not my money, and if it were, for all I know, I might not have said this.
Similar to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” where there were three Spider-Men on the lineup, “The Flash” is a movie where we are seeing the return of Michael Keaton as Batman, making “Batgirl” one of the two films where the iconic actor dons his cowl. That, alongside another Batman appearance from Ben Affleck, will obviously get butts in seats. This is certainly a film that people will want to see in theaters before streaming, making HBO Max a concept that must be left out of the equation. But this involves potential delays, recasting, and so on. The other alternative I can get behind at this point is releasing the film as is and announcing Ezra Miller’s firing beforehand. I could almost see there being a disclaimer before the film starts stating the wrongdoings of Ezra Miller and a note that Warner Bros. does not condone or approve of his actions. While it may not be comfortable to provide in a public setting, it is better to condemn this consistently inappropriate or incorrect behavior rather than continue to enable it. There is a good chance Ezra Miller is already canned and such a thing has not been announced, but I think this is a message that should be announced before the public starts a trend claiming Warner Bros. “defends assaulters” or something along those lines. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but this is exhibit A as to why that is not true. On the bright side, reports have surfaced that “The Flash” is apparently a good movie. Obviously, film is subjective, so if it comes out, we will see if that statement holds true. But it is nice to hear Warner Bros. Discovery has confidence in the film’s quality, unlike “Batgirl.” Some of the general audience more than likely will not care about what Ezra Miller has done in the past, but it does not change the fact that word gets around. Plus Miller is getting into trouble on a consistent basis. They have already been the subject of multiple negative events as of this year. My confidence in Miller or their image’s ability to change by next year, or even 2024, is quite low. What if they end up in prison for a year? What is Warner Bros. Discovery going to do then? Imagine if Ezra Miller shows up at the premiere and how awkward that could be given everything they have done. This is not exactly my idea, but one alternative is finding a way to remarket the film as a “Batman” movie. I do not know how much the script would warrant such a thing, but given the marketability of the “Batman” IP and the fact that there are two Batmen in the movie, it theoretically makes sense.
Until then, there is no easy answer to this ongoing problem. “Batgirl” may have had its reasons to be cancelled, but this only makes me wonder what is going to happen with “The Flash.” If the movie gets cancelled because of Ezra Miller, it is a solid publicity move in the short term, but this also ends up being a disservice to the rest of the people behind the film who had nothing to do with Ezra Miller other than working with them. But at the end of the day, filmmaking is a business. And if Ezra Miller keeps doing what they’re doing, or worse, the business of the film is only going to trickle bit by bit. “The Flash” is still set to come out, and I am glad to hear it is good. But is it worth it? Much like “Batgirl,” but for completely different reasons, “The Flash” at this stage is probably going to hit some landmines if the studio wants it to be released theatrically. But at the same time, the movie is too big, not to mention too expensive, for HBO Max.
Sticking with HBO Max, let’s ask a question… WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING TO HBO MAX?!
Remember how HBO Max was supposed to be Warnermedia’s big streaming service? It was the thing that was going to make HBO Now look like HBO Then. Some not so surprising news that came out of last week’s events was the merging of HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service. Now, that has not happened yet. You will not find “Property Brothers” on HBO Max, nor will you find “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on Discovery+.
This is not the first time in recent years that Warner had one of its streaming services fold into another one, as DC Universe gradually dissolved in 2020 and all of its film and television content like “Titans” and “Harley Quinn” ended up on HBO Max, with the latter now airing its third season.
Now if you ask me, I like the fact that all of this content is merging. I am probably not going to watch all of it. But it is nice to know that the options are there. For all I know, there could be a new show that I could put on in the background one day. I think one big problem consumers face is that there are too many streaming services out there. I do not have Discovery+, as it is one of the few services I do not consider a priority. Slimming two services into one is not necessarily a bad concept. My one concern is how much more I’d be paying, that is if there is a price hike. I will revisit this issue later, because I need to talk about one of the most poorly guided comparisons I have seen in this day and age.
Remember how I said actions speak louder than words? Well, words are pretty powerful. Some people tend to take them seriously.
I understand that this may be an exaggeration, but it still must be pointed out. When talking about the differences between HBO Max and Discovery+, this was done through a side-by-side chart indicating that HBO Max’s content was male-skew and Discovery+’s content was female-skew. Now to be fair, I am a man and I have never watched Discovery+ on my own time. I rarely turn on any of Discovery’s channels. But this is a loose and stereotypical assumption to make in this day and age. Because this declares that gendered content is put into boxes. HBO is one of the most sought-after cable networks of all time by all genders. “Game of Thrones” was a huge hit over recent years. Recent series like “Scenes From a Marriage” have been met with acclaim. And APPARENTLY, women don’t watch “EUPHORIA?!” If anything, they’re the target audience! Literally every woman on this planet wants to be Zendaya! She is good-looking, she has an Emmy, and she is dating Spider-Man! You think women do not watch “Euphoria?”
I am not saying that some of these classifications do not make sense. HBO has a lot of scripted content, and that is their forte. Although HBO Max has plenty of unscripted or reality content like the original show “Legendary,” truTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” and the TBS reboot of “Wipeout.” It is very much a service for everyone in same way that Netflix or Prime Video is. Discovery+ is very much a comfort food network. Most of their content is within the reality genre like “90 Day Fiancé,” “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” and “Chopped.” Again, I am a man, and I do not know of many men, but I know they are out there, who lean into Discovery’s content more than they do with the type of content HBO provides, so Zaslav and the infographic are technically onto something. But it does not mean that this is the best analogy to give to the public.
Also, you are telling me “The Bachelor” is a male-skewed show?! Again, I imagine there are some men who watch. Although if you want to talk about HBO Max strictly having male-skewed content, I raise you “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” “The Bachelor: Winter Games” and “Bachelor Pad!” The only guys watching these shows are those who are trying to impress their significant other that this show specifically targets! Obviously, there are others, but you get my point! What man turns on the television, looks at that night’s lineup, and thinks, I’m gonna pour myself some wine, and watch young women fight over a guy?! The majority would flip the channel in a heartbeat.
There are also plenty of HBO or HBO Max scripted shows that do not mainly target men. In addition to the recently mentioned “Euphoria,” look at shows like “Big Little Lies,” “Gossip Girl,” “Insecure,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” “Love Life,” and let me just remind you that HBO has a show literally called “Girls.” HBO and HBO Max apparently suggests that women do not watch shows like “Succession,” “Silicon Valley,” “Divorce,” “The White Lotus,” or “Mare of Easttown.”
The men/women analogy would have probably worked in the 1920s. More so in the 1820s. But definitely not in the 2020s. This was probably delivered with the best intention in mind, but it does not change the fact that the delivery was terrible. The infographic itself is helpful and for the most part, an accurate representation of both streaming services. HBO Max is definitely more lean in and Discovery+ is certainly more lean back. Those are good comparisons. Plus, while I did address that HBO Max is not short on unscripted content, it is no doubt that scripted content is their bread and butter in the same way that unscripted content is to Discovery+.
Now let’s go back to the price concern. While it is nice to know that I would not be paying for two different streaming services at the same time, one of the nice things about HBO Max is that while it is not the cheapest service out there, it offers a lot of great, sometimes award-winning content, for a reasonable price. HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-included tier at $9.99 and an ad-free tier at $14.99. Discovery+ also offers two tiers. An ad-included tier at $4.99 and an ad-free tier at $6.99. These prices make some sense given how Discovery+ is more of a niche service in the same way that the horror-based Shudder would be to a certain degree. Should we see these two services combine, I think it is perhaps likely that the service to be offered will have an increased price from HBO Max’s current price. If it increases by $1, I do not see much of a problem. $2? Okay, whatever. $3? Now you are pushing it. I understand that adding more content can justify a price increase, but there comes a tipping point. If I find out that this new streaming service costs $19.99/month or more, which is the current price for Netflix’s top tier, I would have to debate on ignoring the service and worry about my other subscriptions for the time being. There is plenty of great content being offered through services like Hulu and Prime Video that I’d rather flock to for a better value. I especially worry for those who have Discovery+ and not HBO Max, because their increase could be worse.
There is no official word as to what the name of the combined service is, and this presents a problem if they come up with a new name. The beauty of HBO Max is that the name HBO is one of the most coveted television brands ever conceived. No offense to Discovery, but when most people think of “television,” HBO is often seen as the gold standard nowadays. They could come up with a new name, let’s just use Warner Discovery as an example, but this could result in brand confusion. This could be HBO’s most bewildering matter since trying to explain the difference between HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max. What makes HBO Max different? I don’t know, it’s purple! This could be a short term confusion once the audience collectively realizes where their preferred content ended up, but nevertheless.
Phew. We made it to the end. Just to recap, I still use and enjoy HBO Max. The third season of “Harley Quinn” is great fun and I cannot wait to see the rest of it. I am excited to see where David Zaslav takes the Warner Bros. brand in the future. I am curious about movies like Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” which looks like a trip if there ever was one. I just hope that Zaslav realizes within the mistakes that have been made recently, that this Warner Bros. Discovery ship remains as tight as possible. While I remain saddened for the crews behind the films, I think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” were the right moves. If the movies were not up to a certain standard, then why should they be put out to begin with? The main basis of the movie business is profit. This is part of why “Batgirl” was cancelled, but I am also glad to know that we will not potentially be seeing the next “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” or the next “Catwoman” or the next “Morbius.” It is still NOT Morbin’ time! I don’t care who says it! Why is “The Flash” not cancelled? Sure, I hear it is a good movie, but the closer we get to its release, the more I worry about the film itself in addition to its star’s ability to not cause chaos. Is there a weird move will we see next from Zaslav and crew? Who knows? Until then, all I can do is sit back and wait for movies like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and go back and watch the many hit movies and television shows on HBO Max like “Peacemaker,” “The Carbonaro Effect,” and “The Bachel–” Hahaha, never mind that last one.
Thanks for reading this post! If you liked this post and want to see more, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! If you are interested in more of my long-form content, check out my five-thousand word analysis as to why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” the recent anime from Mamoru Hosoda. This is a movie which is by the way, as of this post’s debut, NOW STREAMING ON HBO MAX! Until then, I want to know your thoughts! What do you think about the recent events at Warner Bros. Discovery? Do you think the brand is in a good direction? Do you think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” was a wise decision? What do you think they should do with “The Flash” at this point? Also, about those six movies that were taken off HBO Max, did you watch any of them? Tell me your thoughts. If you ask me, I think “An American Pickle” is one of the most overlooked comedies in recent times and a hilarious parody on modern society. Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
WARNING: Like 2020, this post is LONG. Like, over 14,000 words long. And that’s just written content! Feel free to take breaks in between, grab a drink once or twice, or do whatever you do to keep yourself sane. Enjoy the show!
Hello, everybody! This is the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, where winning is not cancelled! Per usual, this is not in front of a large audience. It is instead online with something that technically qualifies as a group of people gathering together to celebrate film. Not much had to be changed for this ceremony, and in a way, I would say that when it comes to the recent pandemic, I was somewhat ahead of my time. You never had to see my face. You didn’t have to actively boo at anything I did, while I stood around taking it all in. And as for the recipients and nominees, the people who worked on 2020’s films, they don’t have to leave their multi-million-dollar mansions in Los Angeles to sit in a chair for hours. They can sit in their own chair if they want to! The Jackoff Awards are the way of the future, and I will guarantee it is the perfect “new normal” material, as I’ve already had years to practice perfecting it.
Now, here are some rules for today’s ceremony. As usual, I will be presenting nominees in various categories. For instance, these include Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. All of these are appetizers as we go up the ladder, rung by rung, til we reach the top, where we reveal 2020’s Best Picture! Traditional rules apply, I must have seen the movie for it to officially be nominated, so if I missed one movie during this ceremony, there’s a good chance that I did not see it, I did not like it, or maybe I just forgot about it. I mean, it has been eleventy thousand years since the SECOND Jackoffs we’ve done here on Scene Before! So, you know, anything’s possible! Also, for Best Picture, this is once again going be done through the People’s Choice protocol, where I present ten films that I think are worthy of the nomination, of course I’ll have my personal #1 pick, but given how I do my Top 10 BEST films of the year countdowns and those sorts of things, it would be unfair for me to decide what gets Best Picture, and it will end up making things a bit predictable. If you voted for one of the ten films I selected for Best Picture, it counts!
Also, here’s a new rule that I have never thought I would have to implement, but we are implementing it for the first time ever. While it is tradition for the Jackoffs to mainly recognize films that are specifically brought to the big screen, whether it be 2D, 3D, IMAX, Dolby, drive-in, you name it, for this ceremony, I am going to accept nominations for films that have not hit theaters. Due to the fact that many cinema venues have closed in March 2020 and caused an alteration in terms of how people consume content, I am going to accept movies that have taken route toward direct to home platforms. Now keep in mind, just because of this, does not mean that I am going all in. Because again, if you want to be nominated for a Jackoff, you have to meet particular criteria. You must have had previous intentions of some kind to bring your movie to the big screen, either through a traditional 90-day theatrical release, a limited release, even just for one day! And unlike a ceremony such as the Oscars, you don’t just have to play your movie in Los Angeles, you can play it somewhere else. For example, if your movie was going to play at South by Southwest this year, which was canceled, and was eventually going to be seen in theaters, and never got that chance, you qualify for the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards. But if your movie is produced for a direct-to-TV format without any intention to put it in the theater, such as a “Netflix-only” movie like “Extraction,” that will not qualify because it was never going to be put in the theater in the first place. Same can be said for a movie like “Bad Education,” which went directly to HBO this year. In this time of social distancing, we intend to bring some movies closer together.
All good everybody? I think we’re ready to start!
If you’ve seen awards ceremonies before, you may know that they often start with a monologue, and the Jackoffs, as proven in recent years, is no exception. Why do awards shows start with a monologue? Because bursting into laughter is the best medicine, and Hollywood needs something to burst that bubble they seem to be living in. So, this ought to do the trick! It is time for the third edition of “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Others in Order to Please Himself.”
I am going to be stating facts about this year in film, and since there is no audience, there shall be no laughs. But if you are experiencing this ceremony right now, pretend you are in an auditorium, nobody else is there except you and me. You can be my cheerleader, you can be a heckler, you can be a critic, you can be a fanatic, you can even be an asshole! The point is, pretend I’m telling these jokes to you with the absolute intention of going at a particular pace to make you laugh. And when it comes to 2020 in film, let’s all be honest here. Even if you made a movie in 2020 that you were proud of, this year may have hurt you in some way. I will admit, there were some good films, but overall, and I’m sure a lot of my viewers can agree, this year could have been better, both in terms of quantity and quality. Nevertheless, there were some good times to be had in 2020. Unless you were stabbed by Wonder Woman, slammed by Russell Crowe’s truck, hit by Harley Quinn’s baseball bat, ran over by Sonic the Hedgehog, or killed in reverse.
Wait a minute, doesn’t that mean you come back to life? I don’t care! I stand by that joke!
Let’s start off with the obvious. 2020 SUCKED! Not just for me, but for anyone else you can imagine. 2020 is so bad that ABC is reportedly considering changing the name of the show “20/20” to “Who Gives a Crap!”
I mean in the United States you have yet another controversial election season, it’s the first year in forever without a “Star Wars” or MCU movie, every other day someone you love dies. Maybe they’re a part of your family, or a beloved celebrity you invited to be in your family. Seriously! Regis Philbin, Sean Connery, Max von Sydow, Wilford Brimley! Chadwick Boseman! Kobe Bryant of all people! Alex Trebek! 2020 even somehow managed to ruin “Jeopardy!” of all things! I would watch that show with my mother every night! I don’t even have an oddball remark to give, this is just sad!
Of course… We cannot go on without discussing the elephant in the room. COVID-19. You utter jerkface on a platter. COVID-19 turned the whole world upside down. Infections spreading everywhere. Businesses shutting down. A wonder if anything will ever return to normal. Yeah, it’s been crazy. Sony announced the title of their upcoming “Spider-Man” movie, “Spider-Man: Home Really Sucks.”
By the way, really looking forward to “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” It’s gonna kick butt!
Many films that were supposed to come out this year ended up getting delayed due to the pandemic. Some include “F9,” the latest “Fast & Furious” film, “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” I wonder how the Ghostbusters have been navigating through the pandemic. Oh, I know! There is no Microsoft Teams, only Zoom!
Based on the hit truTV series of the same name, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” became a hit early on in the year, because despite starting out with a limited release against “Call of the Wild,” the film had the highest per theater average on its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $10.7 million on a $3 million budget. Originally while budgeting the movie, they planned to give $1 million to three of the Jokers and the other one got punished and couldn’t be in the movie.
When COVID-19 started coming to the U.S., a lot of movie theaters shut down, but one of the big exceptions happened to be drive-in venues. This ultimately formed the biggest antagonist of the summer… Rainstorms.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” has officially become one of the biggest video game movies ever, receiving positive reviews and a decent box office total for the first half of 2020. Remember kids, looks don’t matter. But if you see hedgehogs without big eyes, share it over the Internet so everyone knows your opinion. It can pay off in the long run!
“Sonic the Hedgehog” was not only big fun at the movie theater, but big fun for everybody who loves product placement. That is, if there is… anyone who loves product placement.
Still, the movie was big fun for everybody who loves product placement. as that movie has references to Olive Garden, Amazon, and Zillow. Yeah. A lot of product placement. Feels like a Michael Bay movie. Also, since nobody else cares to do so, I’d like to thank the official sponsors of 2020. Charmin’, Purell, GrubHub, Zoom, Netflix, Bath and Body Works, and Walmart. Thank you for your service.
You sneaky morons.
“Tenet” became one of the biggest films of 2020. In fact, tonight it has a shattering 9 nominations including Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Director, and Best Picture. Once sought to be the savior of this year in cinema with a July 17th release date, it got pushed back a couple times until it finally arrived on varying dates depending on territories. Christopher Nolan wanted movie watchers to see the film on the biggest screen they can. Critics agree, “Tenet” is the greatest way to lose your hearing!
Hey, speaking of Christopher Nolan! The mega-hit movie “Inception,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, just turned 10 years old this year! “Inception” was recognized for its tenth anniversary by being brought back to theaters and IMAX. Critics are calling it, “Rick Dalton’s greatest performance in years.”
Here’s a joke. “Cats.”
Okay, that’s not the joke… In all seriousness, as 2020 struck, the 2019 movie “Cats” did not lose its relevance. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer for the “Cats” Broadway musical, was part of the crowd who continued to talk about it. And he didn’t have positive things to say. Webber called the movie “ridiculous” and he was not afraid to put some blame towards the film’s director, Tom Hooper. Until we have an Oscar category called “Best Picture featuring Cat-Like Human Licking a Plate,” I can’t say Andrew Lloyd Webber is objectively wrong.
“The New Mutants” FINALLY came out this year on August 28th in theaters. For those who don’t know, “The New Mutants” was supposed to come out seven thousand years ago… Only to get delayed FOUR TIMES over two and a half years! While Fox and Disney were trying to put this thing on the big screen, Sony kept running around in circles shouting, “We’ve made nineteen more Spider-Man movies!”
Even though streaming is rising, physical media has had a year to celebrate. Some big classics were finally released on 4K Blu-ray. Some include the entire “Star Wars” saga, the “Back to the Future” trilogy, and “Jaws.” Some said the “Jaws” 4K Blu-ray is so crystal clear that the shark looks four times as fake as before.
San Diego Comic-Con, which is usually a big hub for nerd culture and the latest news on big blockbuster movies, cancelled their in-person convention this year and did first ever “Comic Con @ Home” event. Comic-Con finally solved a problem for one core demographic. Going outside.
One big film pushback that really hit me where it hurts was for “Dune,” directed by Denis Villeneuve. The movie was supposed to come out December but got delayed to October 2021. Cinephiles like myself, felt very disappointed by this news. Although there happens to be someone who’s happy by the news, proud sand-hater, Anakin Skywalker.
Sand gets everywhere, man!
Ryan Reynolds had a tremendous year. They just debuted his new game show, “Don’t,” on ABC this past summer, he’s also in “The Croods: A New Age,” he was a clue presenter on the “Jeopardy: Greatest of All Time Tournament,” and get this! ACTING is technically his SIDE GIG! Ryan Reynolds, arguably one of the biggest movie stars working today, freakin’ Deadpool! Acting is not his highest paying job! Because Ryan Reynolds sold his stake in Aviation Gin (although he is going to maintain an “ongoing ownership interest”) to Diageo for somewhere up to $610 million! Ryan Reynolds has recently helped develop Aviation’s company motto, “Aviation Gin: The perfect drink to make you forget about ‘Green Lantern!’”
Pixar’s Soul became the first feature film from the critically acclaimed animation studio to debut on Disney+, the streaming service for everything Disney and nostalgia. And with evolving technology, the rumored “Toy Story 5” will debut exclusively on a jumping lamp you can purchase at Disney stores $1000 apiece!
It’s funny that “Soul” is debuting digitally. Not the most surprising news with everything going on, but if you remember, “Toy Story 2” was supposed to be a straight to home video release, but they put the film in theaters at the last minute. Remember how in that movie, Al has to go to work on a Saturday? He’s gets in his car, complains, but drives across the street and parks. Watching that today is kind of unsettling. If that movie took place in modern times, some would call Al a Karen, others would be jealous that they can’t get out of the house, and others may get a close look at Al and ask, “Why is he wearing pants?”
The answer, he can’t believe that he has to go all the way to work on a Saturday! All the way to work!
Speaking of history, the Academy Awards made history this year by announcing its first Best Picture winner for an international feature. Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which was nominated for 7 Jackoffs last year, took home the gold, and Ho himself tied Walt Disney as the record-holder for most Oscars taken home in one ceremony. To me, 2020 is likely divided into two time frames. The first few months will be “The Celebration of ‘Parasite,’” but the rest of it will be “The Devastation of a Parasite.”
A lot of big bombshells dropped this year. Surprisingly none about Charlize Theron… But one of the big stories toward the end of the year was “Wonder Woman 1984” debuting simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. It was eventually announced, much to the delight of shareholders, but to the dismay of movie theaters, that Warner Brothers was going to implement this method during the entirety of their 2021 release schedule. Now you can watch “Matrix 4” the way it was intended. In a glitchy digital machine that occasionally does a few cool tricks. It’s called a smart TV. …Or a phone.
“Over the Moon” was nominated for multiple Best Original Song awards, not to mention the honors of Best Animated Feature and Best Picture. “Over the Moon,” a Netflix animated musical from industry legend Glen Keane, follows a young girl named Fei Fei as she designs a rocket as part of her quest to find an ancient moon goddess. I personally find rockets amusing. They’re big, loud, and if they’re named Johnny they can make an excellent burger!
“Promising Young Woman” was nominated for Best Picture. “Promising Young Woman” is about a girl who seeks vengeance as she reflects on an event from her past. The film’s main character, Cassandra Thomas, is 26 and lives with her parents. Thanks, COVID!
Also nominated for Best Picture, “The Last Shift,” starring Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie as an unlikely pair who form a bond in a fast-food joint. Here’s what critics have to say about “The Last Shift.” New York Post says “The Last Shift” appreciates life’s banalities and the struggles of ordinary people. AARP Movies for Grownups calls “The Last Shift” a thoroughly entertaining take on race, class, age, retirement, and morality. Meanwhile, the fast-food chain Wendy’s says “Nobody ate a Baconater, one star!”
“Emma.” was nominated for this ceremony, receiving the honors of Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay. According to director Autumn de Wilde, the film’s title has a period at the end of it, in order to symbolize that the movie is a period film. Originally, when I came up for the concept of the Jackoffs, I wanted the title to have an exclamation point at the end of it because I get to yell in your face all the time!
AND THIS STUPID AWARD GOES TO!… SHARKNADO 69: IT NEVER EVER EVER EVER ENDS!
Ladies and gentlemen, let me just take a moment to remind you that this is my 3rd year doing the Jackoffs here on Scene Before. And we are just beginning what is hopefully the most epic year for Scene Before yet. After all, this month, we have just reached five full years of the Scene Before name, and I am going big. We are going to gloss over a ton of movies, I’ll have some countdowns sprinkled here and there, I’ll discuss news when possible. All the basics will still be here, and to be quite frank, I don’t have a complete layout of how this year is going to go. I have concepts, which I’ll dive deeper into later on in the show, but still. After 2020, all I can say is that I have to expect the unexpected. For all I know, Elon Musk will release a robot army to destroy us all. But I have plans to debut a review series that I have been waiting to do for the longest time. The movies that I will be focusing on have been a part of my life since my childhood, and childhoods of many others. Generation after generation have celebrated these movies whenever possible, some would say that many hardcore fans not only enjoy these movies, they live them. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce the trailer to my all new review series, “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!”
That’s right! “7 Days of Star Wars!” This is a full week of “Star Wars” content. That means from May 2nd to May 8th, that is an all new Flicknerd.com exclusive review for an installment to the “Star Wars” franchise! Here’s how the schedule will go! “The Phantom Menace” on May 2nd! “Attack of the Clones” on May 3rd! “Revenge of the Sith” on May 4th! “A New Hope” on May 5th! “The Empire Strikes Back” on May 6th! “Return of the Jedi” on May 7th! And “The Force Awakens” on May 8th! All the main saga “Star Wars” movies that you may be wondering why I haven’t tackled yet will FINALLY be tackled! The month of May will rock your world! As a long follower of the “Star Wars” franchise, I assure you it will rock mine! Until then, MAY THE FLIPPIN’ FORCE BE WITH YOU! Emphasis, on the freaking MAY!
YEAH! But of course, we have a ceremony to get through. The year of March cannot be ignored. And a little sidenote before we move on, special thanks to Arvid Olson, he created the music used in the trailer, so shoutout to him. Well done, sir.
Before we dive into the awards, I do want to remind people, in case they are tuning into Flicknerd.com for the first time ever, or if they simply don’t know who I happen to be, I am a critic. Or at least that’s what I often call myself. But as a critic, one thing I’ve often forgotten is that it takes serious skill and effort from an ambitious crew to making a movie. That’s often the case, even for movies I don’t end up particularly liking. Per usual, as a way of honoring this entire year in film, let’s do a rundown of all the new movies I ended up seeing in 2020.
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Sonic the Hedgehog
Impractical Jokers: The Movie
The Way Back
The Vast of Night
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
Gretel & Hansel
The Burnt Orange Heresy
Made in Italy
An American Pickle
Words on Bathroom Walls
The New Mutants
The Rhythm Section
All in: The Fight for Democracy
The Personal History of David Copperfield
You Should Have Left
The Last Shift
The War with Grandpa
Over the Moon
I Am Greta
Sound of Metal
Bill & Ted Face the Music
The Croods: A New Age
The Last Vermeer
The Call of the Wild
The Midnight Sky
Promising Young Woman
Wonder Woman 1984
Big Time Adolescence
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
I’m Your Woman
News of the World
The King of Staten Island
Death of Me
The High Note
The Jesus Rolls
One Night in Miami
Color Out of Space
With this out of the way, let the ceremony begin! The brawl for the best picture of 2020 is on!
We are, appropriately, going to be doing a first with our first category today. All the other categories being represented here today have been a part of the Jackoffs since year 1. Now it is year 3, it is time to expand the roster. There is no confirmation that this category will stick around for next year, but given the way my content lineup went down this year, this category is somewhat warranted. For this award, we will be looking at five documentaries that brought visual information on their respective subject matters. Here are the nominees for Best Documentary.
All In: The Fight For Democracy (Liz Garbuz, Lisa Cortés, Dan Cogan, Stacey Abrams)
Boys State (Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine)
I Am Greta (Nathan Grossman, Fredrik Heinig, Cecilia Nessen)
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (Daniel Roher, Lana Belle Mauro, Andrew Munger, Stephen Paniccia, Sam Sutherland)
Time (Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Not only do we have a first time for the Best Documentary category being presented, but we also have a first for Apple. One significant point about “Boys State” is that this is the first time that a film made for Apple TV+ was nominated, tied with “Wolfwalkers,” which is in the next category coming up. “Boys State” takes a story centered around a ton of guys in Texas who come together to form their own government. And all of those boys would likely agree that they see the government as a device for the people. Something where everyone involved hopefully gets what they need. In the same way, this movie listened to me, heard me, and delivered something that I asked for. Congratulations to “Boys State” for being the first documentary to win an award on the Jackoffs!
Moving onto the next genre-based category, let’s take a look at some of the films we have here without specifically naming them. A galactic tale. A magical story. A shapeshifting adventure. A family journey. And, this one’s my favorite… A film… For the SOUL. I sincerely apologize. These five films have made us laugh, made us sing, made us cheer, made us smile, and made us cry. Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Croods: A New Age (Joel Crawford, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan)
Onward (Dan Scanlon, Kori Rae)
Over the Moon (Glen Keane, John Kahrs, Gennie Rim, Peilin Chou)
Soul (Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Dana Murray)
Wolfwalkers (Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young, Nora Twomey, Stéphan Roelants)
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Over the Moon!”
Sticking with more firsts, “Over the Moon” is the first Netflix animation to not only be nominated, but also win a Jackoff! And BOY does it deserve it! With the only 10/10 score I gave this year, two Best Original song nominations, and Best Picture, the only nomination of that kind I gave this year to an animation by the way, “Over the Moon” shines as one of the best animated films I have seen in years. The film follows a young girl named Fei Fei who must prove to her father that the moon goddess, Chang’e, of Chinese mythology, is real. With lessons about the importance of family, exploration, curiosity, and moving on, “Over the Moon” started off by moving me, then wowing me, then making me cry, all the way to the point where a part of me was able to smile again. Directors Glen Keane and John Kahrs alongside an all Asian cast helped bring this extraordinary adventure to life. Congratulations to “Over the Moon!”
If you want the truth, “Over the Moon” qualifies to be one of the more visually stunning films of the year. Both the earth and galactic environments add up for some of the most gorgeous eye candy of 2020. And speaking of eye candy, let’s talk about more of it. These five films have tremendous visual and practical effects of all kinds. Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Color Out of Space
The Midnight Sky
Wonder Woman 1984
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Tenet” is the latest directorial effort of Christopher Nolan. And like his prior films including “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” and “Interstellar,” there is a massive use of practical effects. As Nolan himself stated, some romantic comedies have special effects shots than “Tenet,” which when it comes to a massive blockbuster like the one discussed, that is an accomplishment. “Tenet” is a film where you can see a Boeing 747 wheel itself into a building set to explode, sedans flipping around forwards and backwards, and beautiful, rich environments on multiple continents. All I have for you is a word. Gorgeous.
It is now time to introduce our Best Pictures. They will not be awarded yet, but for those of you who want a reminder of how Best Picture will work, it is entirely based on the Top 10 BEST Movies of 2020 list posted earlier this year on Scene Before. 10 movies are selected and the one that receives the highest vote count based on the people’s choice, will win it all. We will introduce them one by one throughout the show, with a trailer included, starting with this one…
Our first Best Picture nominee is everything that movie theaters were designed to display. Shot on IMAX film, 70mm, directed by a master class filmmaker, a talented cast, and a complex plot that makes you want more. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson cycle through time, forward and backward, as they pull off one of the most boisterous spy missions in history. It is bold, daring, and pushes the limits of what film is able to pull off. A few examples supporting this were already mentioned, but they dared to name their main protagonist, well, the Protagonist. Guess that makes the writing process a little easier. This is yet another worthy addition to Christopher Nolan’s cinematic library. Nominated for 9 Jackoff awards, the highest total tonight, and it has already won one of them, this is “Tenet.”
Up next are the sound categories, for those of you who have tuned into the Jackoffs before, the sound categories are presented based on which aspect comes first. The little hint I’ll give as I found out myself, E comes before M, therefore editing comes before mixing. With that being said, here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Over the Moon
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sound of Metal
And the award goes to…
When I saw “Tenet,” I was impressed by the vast library and execution of sounds coming out of the speakers. Gunshots, ticking time bombs, explosions, big doors, everything felt immersive and exciting, and I congratulate “Tenet” for supplying that library and putting it all to good use. The reason why I nominated this film for Sound Editing was because they were able to use all of these sounds and perhaps put me, the viewer, into every single scene. Part of me felt like I would have died in the opera house. Part of me felt like I could have heard an inverted bullet flying past my ear. Part of me felt like chunks of gold were falling in front of my seat. And speaking of gold, “Tenet” is 2 for 2 so far. If it racks up 7 more wins, including Best Picture, that is a clean sweep. Congratulations!
Onto the second sound category, here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing.
BEST SOUND MIXING
Sound of Metal
The Way Back
And the Jackoff goes to…
“Sound of Metal!”
How could this NOT win? It literally has SOUND in the title! It was destined to win! Let me harken back to one thing I said during my top 10 best movies of 2020 list, specifically, that “Sound of Metal” does for audio what “Birdman” and “1917” do for camerawork. While that may be a stretch, that is what “Sound of Metal” felt like it was trying to go for. The reason why this film won is because while films like “Greenland” and “Unhinged” stood out for being wonderfully obnoxious, “Sound of Metal” does that at times, but also blends in peaceful silence, making the audio-filled points stand out. This is “Sound of Metal’s” first win of the night, and it while it will not win everything based on the previous category, the film may have a shot at Best Picture. We’ll have to see. Congratulations!
Our second Best Picture nominee comes from Great Britain. Like a few other great films that yours truly has talked about in recent years, this is a film that honors storytelling. It centers around an Englishwoman living in World War II who must take care of an evacuee. The two become friendly with each other, and we dive into the backgrounds of both characters. By the end of the journey, this film is one of the most emotional stories of the year. After all, stories have to come from somewhere. And if that’s the truth, this story must have come from a goldmine. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “Summerland.”
We will now move on to the first of two music categories. The second one will presented towards the other half of the show, which is Best Original Song, but for this category, we will dive into the instruments, the tunes, the bangs, and the notes that defined the movies this year. All crafted by talented and respected composers, here are the nominees for Best Original Score.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Michael Giacchino (An American Pickle)
Steven Price (Over the Moon)
Ludwig Göransson (Tenet)
Alan Silvestri (The Witches)
Hans Zimmer (Wonder Woman 1984)
And the award goes to…
Ludwig Göransson for “Tenet!”
The run for a sweep continues! “Tenet” is 3 for 3! This is Ludwig Göransson’s first nomination and win, but I have a feeling he will have many more. Göransson is known for his work not only on “Tenet,” but also on “Black Panther” and “The Mandalorian.” One factor that went into deciding the winner for this category was how often I ended up listening to the scores after watching the film. The scores for “Tenet” and “Over the Moon” are two that I would pop on every other day. “Tenet” is not only just a magnificent score on its own, but it showcases the gimmick of the entire film, time inversion. Some songs have a backwards vibe, making the film slightly more exciting. There are a couple tracks that are all over the place, and when it comes to the percussion, it is some of the best that has ever been executed for a musical lineup. Here is a track from Ludwig Göransson’s official score of “Tenet.”
And now we move onto Makeup & Hairstyling, one of the categories “Tenet” IS NOT mentioned for, but it’ll still win anyway because apparently it has magic powers now. It’s kind of like Meryl Streep. She might not even be in the movie but somehow she is still amazing in it! The five movies represented here have stylists who gave it their all and some looks that really pop. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Deborah La Mia Denaver)
Emma. (Marese Langan)
Mank (Gigi Williams, Michelle Audrina Kim)
Promising Young Woman (Angie Wells, Daniel Crest)
Summerland (Lisa Cavalli-Green, Liberty Haynes)
And the award goes to…
Marese Langan for “Emma.!”
Before these unprecedented times went into full circle, I’ve personally had the privilege of attending a special screening of “Emma..” Now for those of you who know the story, you’d know that Jane Austen’s original book was published on December 23rd, 1815, making it over two centuries old. At this special screening, the director, Autumn de Wilde, came out with the film’s lead star, Anya-Taylor Joy, who recently won a Golden Globe for her role in Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” and talked about the film. One interesting point that was brought up was the title of the film. If you look at the title “Emma.” you’ll notice a period at the end. That is to highlight the film is a period piece. And when it comes to the film’s many hairstyles, no matter how pristine or funky they may appear, they all fit the time beautifully. It perhaps goes to show that beauty knows no age. It can stand the test of time. Congratulations to “Emma.!”
Our third Best Picture nominee is the first Netflix animated feature yours truly has seen. From legendary Disney animators Glen Keane and John Kahrs, comes a Netflix animated musical that feels like a true throwback to another era, despite the 3D animation. Featuring the likes of the young, bright Cathy Ang, unmasker Ken Jeong, and “Hamilton” star Phillipa Soo, this brings classic Disney to a new generation of viewers, and allows those who grew up watching such films to experience something of old, while really watching something new. Songs like “Hey Boy,” “Rocket to the Moon,” and “Ultraluminary” are all brilliantly executed by their respective vocalists. And I should note, two of those three pieces are nominated for Best Original Song. Despite there being a journey quite out of this world, the themes and messages presented here will bring viewers down to earth. Nominated for 6 Jackoff Awards, this is “Over the Moon.”
They say that no film is perfect. Well, they’re right. In fact, 2020 has proven that wholeheartedly. Many of this year’s films, especially in the first half, have given lackluster results across the board. And even the best films this year are by no means flawless, especially compared to 2018 and 2019. Although, even the most critically acclaimed films of all time, “The Dark Knight,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” “Halloween,” “Toy Story,” even “Citizen Kane,” they all can be improved in some way. So, I decided to look back at 2020’s films and see what adjustments I could make in order to improve them, whether they need these improvements or not. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the third edition of “Film Improvements.”
Wow! They aren’t stopping with those Spider-Man movies! Even Warner Bros. is making them now! They’ll never run out!
We’re now going to move onto the acting categories. Specifically, actors in a supporting role. Some of the roles these men play include a father who is highly against the work system in the United States, a successful singer who spent a night in Miami, and a crazy psychopath who is obsessed with killing an animated hedgehog. Did I just say that out loud? Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kevin James (Becky)
Shane Paul McGhie (The Last Shift)
Arliss Howard (Mank)
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Jim Carrey (Sonic the Hedgehog)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Leslie Odom Jr. in “One Night in Miami!”
Last year, Amazon made its presence in Jackoffs history. While the studio did receive a nomination in this exact category for Timothee Chalamet’s performance in “Beautiful Boy,” they had a ceremony until they got a win, which they did in the Best Original Song category for Sigrid’s piece, “Home to You,” which was featured in “The Aeronauts.” Today, Amazon now has TWO wins in the same ceremony! They are THAT MUCH CLOSER to ruling the world! But when it comes to Leslie Odom Jr.’s win, it is well-deserved. The four leads in the film all find a way to have an engaging presence and sense of chemistry with one another, but Odom Jr. has risen to the top and does so with a commanding vibe. He moves, he sings, he talks, he does it all. His portrayal of Sam Cooke is the definite highlight of the film. No shame here to the other actors. Shane Paul McGhie portrayed someone who is worried about the American class system with excellence. Kevin James took a unique role for his career in a smaller production and had fun with everything and everyone around him. Arliss Howard played a figure who demanded my attention at the beginning of “Mank,” and went on to become someone as a character who I go back and forth between. Jim Carrey, who was almost my winner, took on a character that comes off as a complete cartoon and brought him to life like no one else could. However, of the five, Odom Jr. is the winner and him being the highlight of “One Night of Miami” helped cement that. Congratulations to Leslie Odom Jr., and here is a clip from his performance in “One Night in Miami.”
Moving onto actresses, let’s take a look at a few characters they played this year. When it comes to the prestigious nominations, some of the roles these women play include a mother who is separated from her daughter by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the partner of a drummer who is losing a defining characteristic, and an actress. So, wait… Does that mean one of these women play themselves? I’m very confused. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Elizabeth Debicki (The Burnt Orange Heresy)
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
Helena Zengel (News of the World)
Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal)
Princess Punzalan (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Amanda Seyfried for “Mank!”
While actors including Arliss Howard and Gary Oldman had their fair of moments where they played their part well, the real star of the show could arguably be Amanda Seyfried. Not only does she look the part thanks to the film’s undoubtedly talented team of costume designers and stylists, but her looks are just a small part of why her character was the scene stealer. One of the best things about Amanda Seyfried’s performance, and this is nothing against her as an actor, because she is talented, is that this did not feel like Amanda Seyfried. Almost every time I glanced upon that big screen and saw Seyfried’s character, Marion Davies, I got a sense that I escaped into the Golden Age of Hollywood and she was there to greet me every time. For those of you who don’t know Marion Davies, she is an actress known for arguably being a piece of inspiration behind “Citizen Kane,” which the movie “Mank” centers around. She’s also known for her roles in “The Patsy,” “Going Hollywood,” and “Show People.” While Davies has been long gone, she may be looking down on Seyfried with pride. Congrats to Seyfried, and speaking of which, here is a clip of her performance in “Mank!”
Our fourth Best Picture nominee is one of the most important films in Scene Before history. To this day, I refer to it as the film that made me excited to review movies again. This film comes from Andrew Patterson, who brought some of the most exciting camerawork, environments, settings, and tricks that have been displayed on screens this year. They say that video killed the radio star, but this nominee not only makes for a good movie, but also for good radio. The film centers around a DJ and switchboard operator who discover a strange frequency that becomes the talk of the town, kind of like this film at one point became the talk through the curiosity and praise from several viewers like myself. Nominated for 3 Jackoff awards, this is “The Vast of Night.”
Now we will move into production design. Here we will recognize the extravagant sets, gorgeous locations, and distant time periods these movies took us to in 2020. Some locations include a hotel where no mouse or kid is safe, a vast environment where there is a very little sense of time, and enormous deserts as far as the eye can see. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Totoi Santoro)
Emma. (Kave Quinn)
News of the World (David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan)
Tenet (Nathan Crowley)
The Witches (Gary Freeman)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Nathan Crowley for “Tenet!”
The streak continues, and we have a record tie! We’ll get to that in a second, but this goes to show the magnificent craft that went into “Tenet” as a production. And that is where the film excels the most, behind the scenes. Although in this sense, you can technically say that you can see a lot of what this category is all about in the various shots of the film. “Tenet” was shot in seven countries on three continents, with each environment being as sweet as the last. While “Tenet” almost comes off as a grounded adventure at times, it has the excitement of a fantasy at other times. One of the more notable feats in the film are the sliding doors where they obnoxiously open and close like a freight elevator. The climax felt mysterious and exciting due to the weirdly authentic atmosphere of the deserted city and everything around it. This was a hard category to determine, because there are a few good picks here. “Tenet” was just the one that spoke to me the most. Congratulations to “Tenet,” which is 4 for 4 so far!
Also, unbelievable! We are not even halfway through the show, and a significant record has already been tied! For those of you who have followed the Jackoffs during its first two years, a couple films should stand out. Specifically “Roma,” which was represented during the first ceremony, and “1917,” which was represented during the second ceremony. Neither film won every category it was nominated for, that could be achieved depending on how “Tenet” keeps up the pace, but the film also tied “Roma” and “1917” as the winningest film in Jackoffs history. Here are the categories that remain for “Tenet.” Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Director, and Best Picture. If it takes one more award, it beats “Roma” and “1917” as the winningest film in the show’s history. If it takes the rest of the categories it is nominated for tonight, then it is a clean sweep. Exciting stuff, guys! We’ll see what happens! But anything’s possible, look at the original Jackoffs! “Avengers: Infinity War” won Best Picture without taking another one of its nominated categories. Or even look at the 5th Academy Awards! “Grand Hotel” won Best Picture without even being nominated for another category! We’ll have to see! It all comes down to one man’s opinion and your votes!
Moving back to NON-“Tenet” categories, let’s talk about costumes. Production design and costume design seem to almost go hand-in-hand at times. They’re both aspects of the film you place in front of the camera to the point where one would hopefully be wowed. Whether they are dresses, military outfits, or fashionable superhero gear, the apparel worn by the characters presented in the following films stood out to the naked eye. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Erin Benach, Helen Huang)
Emma. (Alexandra Byrne)
Mulan (Bina Daigeler)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Suzie Harman, Robert Worley)
The Witches (Joanna Johnston)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Joanna Johnston for “The Witches!”
Collectively, the costumes featured in “The Witches” feel like they come out of a children’s book, which is appropriate, given how “The Witches” originally was a Roald Dahl novel. The film goes to show that witches are not just evil, they know a good outfit when they see one. The film overall feels like it takes place in some backend portion of a Wes Anderson film like “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is appropriate because much of “The Witches” takes place in a hotel. When it comes to characters, the Grand High Witch played by Anne Hathaway is the biggest standout, rocking multiple dazzling outfits in a span of less than a couple hours. Everything in this movie despite having some darkish moments feels colorful and goes along that vibe of being safe enough to show children, but also horrific enough to have a balance. Joanna Johnston is a costume designer known for collaborating on many of Robert Zemeckis’s productions including “Back to the Future Part II,” “Allied,” and “Welcome to Marwen.” She also worked on 2016’s “The BFG” directed by Steven Spielberg, so she is no stranger to the Roald Dahl universe. Johnston whipped up some colorful, vibrant, and quirky outfits worn by regular people and witches alike. Congratulations to Joanna Johnston!
Our fifth Best Picture nominee encapsulates one of the most life-altering events a person can have, the loss of one of their senses. In this case, our lead character of Ruben loses his hearing, arguably his most essential sense as a drummer. Played with sheer brilliance by Riz Ahmed, Ruben as a character took a movie where its main character cannot hear anything, and executed a product that made me want to audibly shout from the rooftops. If you want to be stoked, watch a drum solo. If you want to be floored, watch our fifth Best Picture nominee. Nominated for 7 Jackoff Awards, this is “Sound of Metal.”
“Sound of Metal” is available right now exclusively on Prime, and no, it doesn’t come with free shipping, it’s a digital file.
This year, like the past years we have done the Jackoff Awards, we will not be giving a lifetime achievement, we’ll be giving two. One for someone who is currently alive, and for somebody who unfortunately is no longer with us. Per usual, we will start off by presenting the first award for the living individual. It is time for the Roger Deakins award.
This award has been presented in the honor of Roger Deakins, the acclaimed cinematographer behind films including “The Big Lebowski” and “Blade Runner 2049.” And Bill Murray, the iconic actor famous for his roles in “Ghostbusters,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Today, we’ll be honoring a well-known director who has been at the top of their craft for numerous decades. And yes, this person is still making movies today. The 3rd Roger Deakins award goes to a man who made his directorial debut with the short film “The Last Gun.” He shot, starred, and crafted the film at the young age of 13 years old. From then on, he crafted more shorts until his feature length directorial debut, “Firelight” released in 1964. And it certainly was not his last. The man ventured forth, creating some of the most iconic films of all time. “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” “Minority Report,” “The Terminal,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” and “Lincoln” just to name a few. He has won 3 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, 4 Primetime Emmys, and 3 BAFTAs. None of these include Lifetime Achievements or honorary awards. He is also a notable producer and executive who has continued to bring many big movies to the public, including “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Men in Black,” “Transformers,” “Super 8,” and even the record-holder for Jackoff nominations at a total of 10, “First Man.” He has collaborated with some of the most influential minds in the industry. Michael Bay, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy. The guy can do it all. Action, drama, thriller, sci-fi, horror, animation, period piece, adventure, you name it, there is a good chance he has done it. For filmmakers everywhere, he has been the pinnacle, the holy grail, the definition, the master of them all. Almost anyone who has ever watched or enjoyed a movie will know his name or something he did. Maybe it affected them personally, maybe it made them want to get into filmmaking, or it made them want more of his content. The 3rd Roger Deakins award goes to a deserving name, a man who despite receiving a steady stream of words, needs no introduction. Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg, you’re gonna need a bigger shelf! Because on top of all the other accolades you have received over the years, you are now the proud recipient of the Roger Deakins award! If he accepted this award and was honored to receive it, he’ll probably go home and put it in his office or something. If he took the award and didn’t want it, he’d probably feed it to a CGI dinosaur. Either way, he wins. Congrats to Steven Spielberg! The man, the myth, the blockbuster filmmaker!
Moving onto our next sketch, it’s no secret that we’ve all been stuck at home. We’ve been attached to our couches, our beds, our recliners, we’ve practically become slaves to our television sets. Sometimes we’re busy flipping channels to see what’s on. For all we know, if there’s nothing on, we’ll just put on a movie. Specifically, on a TV channel of some sort. Even the major networks like ABC and CBS have been getting into the game where they’ve aired movies from their particular studio to fill time slots. But you may flip to that channel and wonder what the movie’s about. That’s where the info button comes in. You click the button, you see the description, bingo! That’s what this next segment of the Jackoffs is about. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a little bit I like to call “Infomovies.”
Our sixth Best picture nominee is a story takes an age gap, the problems of the old and young, and puts them together in a story that feels ageless. Aside from age, this deals with problems having to do with race, culture, and class. When one man is about to leave his job at a local fast-food restaurant, a new, lesser-aged individual is about to fill his shoes. The wise guy teaches the young man the ropes of working at a fast-food joint, all the while developing a seemingly unlikely friendship that stabilizes as much as it can despite some imperfections. This movie may be about fast-food, but the result is quite luxurious. Nominated for 3 Jackoff awards, this is “The Last Shift.”
We are now about to move onto the screenplay categories. This year, we will be starting with adapted screenplays and following it up with original screenplays. This year we have seen movies that have taken us to many worlds, including those from authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, who told iconic tales of fiction. But you also have authors including Lauren Redniss and Jessica Bruder, who tell stories that have happened in history, only to have those stories be spun in a visionary direction for the screen. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Emma. (Eleanor Catton)
News of the World (Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucchi)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)
Radioactive (Jack Thorne)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland!”
What makes “Nomadland” such an interesting film not only to watch, but to talk about, is that it is not really a story about someone who wants something bigger than themselves. There are characters, including the main one, who show that they want more, but what makes “Nomadland” fascinating is the showcasing of regular people trying to get by from day to day, enjoying what they have in their lives, and having fun even in the toughest of situations. “Nomadland” comes with one of the best lines of 2020, specifically spoken by Bob Wells, who plays himself in the film.
“You know, I’ve met hundreds of people out here and I don’t ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, ‘I’ll see you down the road’.”
That’s what I have been trying to say to normalcy for the past year. I do not think normalcy will go away, but I always hope it is only taking a temporary break. There is no goodbye. Plus, this film came out at the perfect time. It shows a story of people who are thankful and appreciative of what they have and the people in their lives. And I think during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people, including myself, can relate to that. Congratulations to Chloe Zhao, who is also nominated for Best Director! Will she win two awards tonight? We shall see!
Progressing onto the original screenplays, some of these written scripts showcase stories about a Korean family trying to live the American dream, a country singer trying to make it big in Texas, and an unlikely pair who bond while working the night shift. Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Last Shift (Andrew Cohn)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, Abraham Marder)
Yellow Rose (Diane Paragas, Annie Howell, Celena Cipriaso)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari!”
Well, here’s another first! This is the first year that no film nominated for Best Picture also won one of the two screenplay awards! That is despite having one of them be nominated for Adapted Screenplay and four of them be nominated for Original Screenplay. So why did “Minari” win despite having the fewest nominations of all these films? The answer is simple, when it comes to slice of life stories, this film excels. Some would say that the American dream is a myth. In “Minari,” not only do we see a tale of people who take the American dream by the balls and go to town with it, but a cute tale where a family bonds together even during what they may see as the most unsettling of times. Life for the characters in this film is like a see-saw. One side is happy go lucky, the other is not, and sometimes as a viewer, I could understand both sides. “Minari” is a wonderful film. Congratulations!
Our seventh Best Picture nominee is from the mind of Emerald Fennell, a name you may know from such projects including “Call the Midwife” and “The Crown.” Now she has created her own directorial debut with Carey Mulligan as the starring role. In this white-knuckle thriller, a character by the name of Cassandra stops at nothing to right the wrongs of an event in her past. Mulligan is joined by actors including the talented Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Adam Brody, and Bo Burnham, who earned a nomination during the 1st Annual Jackoffs for Best Original Screenplay, which he received on account of his work on “Eighth Grade.” Here, he not only proves he is a talented force behind the camera, but he is capable of compelling an audience in front as well. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, this is “Promising Young Woman.”
We are now going to focus on two of the most essential categories to filmmaking. Editing and cinematography. Without these two elements, movies would likely cease to exist. No scenes to splice together. No frames to cherish over the years. No lights to enhance a scene. The first five films we will discuss in this segment are the ones that are cut together to present a compilation for the ages. Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing.
BEST FILM EDITING
Mank (Kirk Baxter)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)
Radioactive (Stéphane Roche)
Tenet (Jennifer Lame)
The Vast of Night (Andrew Patterson)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new record. Jennifer Lame for “Tenet!”
5 for 5! While “Tenet” was not my favorite film of the year, it is the one that I did see the most times. And with each viewing I begun to appreciate it a little more. There is a sense of wonder as to how they did certain tricks in the film, which I say despite having seen behind the scenes footage, but one of my biggest wonders is how they got such a masterful edit. And you know what? I should not be surprised. After all, this is the second year in a row Jennifer Lame has received a Best Film Editing nomination, with the first one being for her work on Netflix’s “Marriage Story,” a wonderfully put together film that ended up winning two Jackoffs last year. “Tenet” earned its win for not only being a well-presented edit, but for doing so by taking a concept that is amazingly hard to execute on paper and having a field day with it. All the film’s action scenes are top-notch, everything on screen, forwards and backwards, falls within the boisterous vibe of the film, and this is a reminder that “Tenet” is not just a movie, it is a roller-coaster. The thrills can’t stop, the thrills won’t stop, and part of the reason is due to Jennifer Lame’s excellent bringing to life of the obnoxious concept at hand. Congratulations to Jennifer Lame, and we now have a record for the winningest film in Jackoffs history!
Now the next five nominations are dedicated to cinematography. These are the films that utilized cameras and lights to create works of magic. Whether the films were shot on digital, film, or IMAX, these five moving pictures literally moved audiences this year. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography!
News of the World (Dariusz Wolski)
Nomadland (Joshua James Richards)
Summerland (Laurie Rose)
Tenet (Hoyte von Hoytema)
The Vast of Night (M.I. Littin-Menz)
And the Jackoff goes to…
M.I. Littin-Menz for “The Vast of Night!”
This is “The Vast of Night’s” first win of the show, making it one for two so far. The film is also nominated for Best Picture, so we’ll see what happens there. For those of you who have witnessed the Jackoffs in recent years, you’ll notice a common theme when it comes to the Best Cinematography category. The winners in past years, specifically “Roma” and “1917” have scenes that are not only beautifully presented on screen with rich environments in front of them, but they also have scenes that contain extensively long shots. In “The Vast of Night,” the film’s prime highlight is a four minute-long tracking shot that goes from place to place where the camera keeps moving and never stops. I said in my review, also earlier in the show, that “The Vast of Night” is the movie that made excited to review movies again, because after months of watching underwhelming movie after underwhelming movie that barely impressed at best, I finally found something that floored me, and it came in the form of “The Vast of Night!” Bravo to “The Vast of Night,” and as for “Tenet,” the film’s streak is over. Will it win anything else? It is possible! It had 9 nominations leading into the ceremony, anything could happen!
Our eighth Best Picture nomination is a story about two people, one an adult man, the other a young girl. Shortly after the main duo find each other one day, it is the adult man’s responsibility to bring the young girl to safety by bringing her to a place that she can call home. With all the excitement and action of a western tied in with all the drama and division that comes from the news, this duo must trek through woods, deserts, and towns while overcoming various obstacles. Directed by Paul Greengrass with stars Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel, this film is a fine western road trip. Nominated for 7 Jackoffs, this is “News of the World.”
It is now time for the second lifetime achievement award, otherwise known as the Stan Lee award.
Like the past couple years, this is a lifetime achievement award given to someone who has done something significant or left a tremendous impact on the film industry. Even if that impact is small, it can still influence the way films are produced today. The past two winners, Stan Lee and Syd Mead lived full lives doing one project after another. They’re no longer with us, but their long lives were spent endlessly entertaining millions, perhaps billions of people. The Jackoffs celebrated these two, whose lives were fully realized. Today, we are recognizing the accomplishments of an individual who also lived a full life and is celebrated by their fans, community, and even by those who took a second to look at their work and walked away. The winner of the 3rd Stan Lee Award is the creator of various musical tunes you hear today. Now I am not talking about rock, not hip hop, not rap, I am talking classical. You may wonder why I bring this up, because the winner of the 3rd Stan Lee Award has become one of the most iconic composers not just in film history, but in all of pop culture. This winner was born in Rome, and he also recently passed in Rome. Known for his work including “The Battle of Algiers,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” and “The Untouchables,” this man set a standard for how movie scores should be done and how they should compel an audience even after the movie reaches its conclusion. From 1979 to 2001, he would be nominated for five Oscars, all in the category of Best Music, Original Score. A couple of the movies specifically include “Days of Heaven” and “The Mission.” He won a BAFTA for the former and a Golden Globe for the latter. When it comes to the Academy, it was not until his next score nomination for his work in 2015 that he would finally take home the gold for the category. The movie, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” In between all of this, specifically 2007, Morricone would receive an| Honorary Award from the Academy “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.” Aside from the two technical Oscars on his shelf, Morricone has officially won three Golden Globes, a Critics Choice Award, and all six of the BAFTAs for which he was nominated. His work is copied over today not just as a piece of inspiration for many, but his original songs have been moved over into various spots in our modern culture, including movies such as “Madagascar Escape 2 Africa,” “Kick-Ass,” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” We shall also not forget TV shows including “The Simpsons,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to honor the maestro of westerns and as a result, our culture, Ennio Morricone!
Ennio Morricone may no longer be with us, but if time is on our side, we will continue to use his work in more media to come. Once Upon a Time at the Jackoffs, there lived a lifetime achievement award, and it went to one of the most iconic composers of all time. Congratulations to Ennio Morricone!
Time to give out some more awards! We are down to the final five. The Best Original Song category has honored artists including Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Sigrid. The question is, who will join them? These five songs have defined the movies in which they appear. In addition, they can make for a listenable tune down the road. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Rocket to the Moon – Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park (writers), Cathy Ang (vocals) (Over the Moon)
Ultraluminary – Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park (writers), Phillipa Soo (vocals) (Over the Moon)
Speed Me Up – Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Yachty, Sueco the Child (Sonic the Hedgehog)
The Plan – Travis Scott (lyrics), Ludwig Göransson, WondaGurl (producers) (Tenet)
Square Peg – Eva Noblezada (lyrics), Christopher Hoyt Knight (writer) (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park, and Cathy Ang for “Rocket to the Moon” in “Over the Moon!”
I’ll be honest, if I could give an award to both “Over the Moon” songs, I would, but in reality I just had to choose one. “Over the Moon” is a Netflix original, but this song along with a few others gave it the same spirit of the traditional Disney animation from beloved classics like “The Lion King” to recent hits like “Moana.” The song appears three times throughout the film. Once during the opening act, not too long after as a reprise, and once more during the credits where the original song and reprise are mixed together. Each time that I heard it, it always evoked the vibe of a proper “I want” song where a character aspires to achieve something and they have to belt out the right words to express their motivation, something which Cathy Ang’s character of Fei Fei does exquisitely. The reason why I have given “Over the Moon” so much love to the point where I do not know anyone else in my demographic that has raved about it as much as me is because of how much it took me back to a confusing, unsettling time in my teen years, even without copying every single note of that time. Hint: Both my parents are alive. Up next I have listed a music video for “Rocket to the Moon” along with the actual song. You can listen to one, neither, both, your choice, I do not make the rules. But either way, if you choose to listen, enjoy the original song… “Rocket to the Moon.”
I hope you enjoyed the song, but now we must get back to handing trophies to entitled celebrities. It’s very important!
This next category is what some suggest to be of the highest importance. This position is responsible for managing and creating the vision that they hope their audiences would see and hear. When they are face to face with actors, they must collaborate in order to achieve the performance that will most likely compel the viewer. But above all, they are… the director. Here are the nominees for Best Director.
Paul Greengrass (News of the World)
Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)
Darius Marder (Sound of Metal)
Christopher Nolan (Tenet)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland!”
While “Nomadland” was not nominated for Best Picture, this win does speak volumes because it is not only the first film helmed by a woman to win the directing category at the Jackoff Awards, but it is also Chloe Zhao’s second win of the night! She also won Best Adapted Screenplay earlier in the show. I should also note that Chloe Zhao was also nominated for Best Film Editing, which means she had three nominations in this one ceremony! If I had to be completely real, I would give an award to all of these films if I could, because each one, in a way or another, feels special. But I had to choose one. “Nomadland” comes off as a rustic, realistic drama with hints of comedy in between. The film knows how to be serious, but it also knows how to have fun, and when you put those things together, you have an excellent film. Just a reminder to everybody that “Nomadland” is now available in theaters and on Hulu, so go support it if you can! Congrats to Chloe Zhao on her second Jackoffs win, both for this event and all-time.
Our ninth Best Picture nomination comes packed with surprises, thrills, and chills. From Gavin O’Connor, known for his touch on sports movies such as 2004’s “Miracle,” comes a drama where a basketball coach must take a team of high school players and lead them to victory. The only thing, this coach, who has been on the team when he was younger, is dealing with a name that has been on a massive losing streak since he left. The film is not just filled with excitement for basketball lovers, but slices in human drama with a moving story on alcoholism. Director O’Connor reunites with the captivating Ben Affleck, a pair who also previously worked together on 2016’s “The Accountant.” Nominated for 3 Jackoffs, this is “The Way Back.”
Three more categories to go until we reach the coveted Best Picture. The final nominee will be detailed soon. But now, let’s focus on acting. The star of the show is supposed to shine as the heart, nucleus, and reflection of one crew’s vision. These legendary actors have played characters including a newsman who read from the paper, a father who wants to provide a great life for his family, and a hyper basketball coach. Here are the nominees for Best Actor.
Steven Yeun (Minari)
Tom Hanks (News of the World)
Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
Ben Affleck (The Way Back)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal!”
This is the second award of the night taken home by the crew behind “Sound of Metal,” with the first being for Best Sound Mixing. While I did say that “Sound of Metal” is an unprecedented accomplishment for audio, it is as equally triumphant from an acting perspective with stellar performances given by Paul Raci, Olivia Cooke, who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and as you can tell, Riz Ahmed as the lead character of Ruben who constantly gives it his all to bring in the best drumming performance possible. Ahmed took it upon himself to learn how to play the drums, which is executed brilliantly throughout the film, but given the film’s plot, he also learned how to communicate in American Sign Language, which the actor embraced on set during filming. All of the actors in this category deserve to be here. Ben Affleck gave one of his most personal performances to date. Dev Patel brought the character from the book to the screen, and ultimately to life. Steven Yeun proves that he can be a good Korean-American dad, and Tom Hanks continues to prove that he may be everyone’s long lost dad. If his performance in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” did not show that already, then “News of the World” certainly did. Congratulations to all these actors, but Riz Ahmed is the winner of Best Actor this year. Keep breaking legs! Here is a clip of Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal!”
Now before we move onto Best Actress, sponsored by Meryl Streep, let’s take a look at some of the characters the nominees have played. These extraordinary actresses have played characters including a revered scientist who made an impact in her field, a recluse who adjusts to having a young boy enter her private life, and a killer and a victim at the same time. Here are the nominees for Best Actress.
Kathryn Newton (Freaky)
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
Rosamund Pike (Radioactive)
Gemma Arterton (Summerland)
Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Eva Noblezada for “Yellow Rose!”
While “Yellow Rose” did make an impact at several film festivals in 2019, its official theatrical release was not until 2020. I ended up seeing the film in the theater, then I ended up buying the Blu-ray when that came out for home viewing. For the first viewing, I viewed it simply as opportunity to see a movie with my mother. For the second viewing, one big factor behind it was the compelling mix of dialogue and lyrics that came out of Eva Noblezada’s mouth. Eva Noblezada is a multitalented woman who already has a Grammy on her shelf for the play “Hadestown,” for which she also received a Tony nomination. She also earned a Tony nomination for “Miss Saigon,” and now she has a Jackoff for “Yellow Rose.” Sort of in the same way that “Over the Moon” took me back to a time in my teens, “Yellow Rose,” mostly due to the magnificent chops from Noblezada herself, has circled through reminders of who I have been throughout my entire life. I have aspirations, and sometimes they seem so far away. But in addition to that, Noblezada manages to capture the spirit of the American dream while also having to deal with a lack of citizenship. When I did my review for “Yellow Rose,” I noted Noblezada’s performance saying I do not think she will win Best Actress. I may be right when it comes to the Oscars, given how “Yellow Rose” is a smaller film, but not when it comes to the Jackoffs! “Yellow Rose” is up there for me as one of the greatest music films of all time. Up there with “Ray” and “Whiplash,” and Eva Noblezada defines why this film has a presence among the greats. Here is a clip of Eva Noblezada in “Yellow Rose!”
Eva Noblezada was also nominated for Best Original Song, and in this clip, the song you hear, “Square Peg” is the song for which she received the nomination. It is a great song, and you should check it out on its own.
We will get to Best Picture in just a moment, but before we do, I just want to remind everyone once again that the special review series, 7 Days of Star Wars will be exclusively available on Scene Before, with a new review popping up every day from May 2nd to May 8th. But what if I told you that is just a fraction of what I had planned for 2021? Because I have laid out 6 review series concepts I have planned for the upcoming months, all the way to December. I will still continue to review new movies, those will not be forgotten, but I am dedicating this year to talking about some films that fall in line with a theme, or films that I have wanted to talk about for a long time, but have yet to talk about for one reason or another. Here are the movies I will be talking about in 2021!
My first small series will be “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” where I will touch upon two movies as we build our way to the all new “Mortal Kombat” film releasing in theaters and on HBO Max this April. I will be talking about “Mortal Kombat” on April 5th and “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th!
Up next, a series I have already talked about, “7 Days of Star Wars,” where I will dive into a new “Star Wars” film every day from May 2nd to May 8th. Again, the order will be “The Phantom Menace” on May 2nd, “Attack of the Clones” on May 3rd, “Revenge of the Sith” on May 4th, “A New Hope” on May 5th, “The Empire Strikes Back” on May 6th, “Return of the Jedi” on May 7th, and “The Force Awakens” on May 8th. May the force be with you until then.
In July, we will be talking pirates in a series called, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Reviewing Moron’s Chest of Reviews.” Throughout the month of July, we will talk about all five “Pirates of the Caribbean” films in honor of Disney’s other upcoming theme park ride-based film, “Jungle Cruise.” We will start with “The Curse of the Black Pearl” on July 1st, move onto “Dead Man’s Chest” on July 8th, then “At World’s End” on July 15th, followed by “On Stranger Tides” on July 22nd, and finally “Dead Men Tell No Tales” on July 29th.
Then in August we will be talking one franchise I have been waiting to do for the longest time. We are doing a series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” Judging by the name, we will obviously be touching upon the cult classic comedy franchise, “Revenge of the Nerds,” and yes, this also includes the two films made for television. So that means we will be discussing “Revenge of the Nerds,” the original film, on August 9th. The first sequel, “Nerds in Paradise” will be reviewed on August 16th. The first made for TV film, “The Next Generation,” will be talked about on August 23rd. My review for “Nerds in Love,” the most recent film in the franchise has a current release date of August 30th. To this day I have watched these films multiple times and I have met a good portion of the cast so I cannot wait to talk about it!
In October and November, we are going to be doing a Halloween special, tied in with a leadup to an upcoming film that is currently receiving high anticipation, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” In the upcoming review series, “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” we will spend Halloween 2021, that is October 31st, talking about the original “Ghostbusters,” followed by “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. For those who are wondering about “Ghostbusters” 2016, we will not be talking about that film as I already reviewed it when it came out.
Our final review series, which will take place in December will be a buildup to the upcoming “Matrix 4” film. “The Matrix Reviewed” will focus on the three films that have come out in the iconic trilogy whose original film has set standards for modern sci-fi and helped Keanu Reeves, the most meme-worthy actor of this generation find work. All three films are amongst the highest-grossing R rated films of all time. We will discuss “The Matrix” on December 5th, “The Matrix Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix Revolutions” on December 19th! I may not know kung fu, but I do know how to talk about sci-fi! So I cannot wait to discuss these films!
All of these segments are being done in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of existence. Dates and reviews are subject to change. For all I know, they could be cancelled. Hopefully, they are not, but anything is possible at this point. Stay tuned, get excited, get ready!
Now, we all know about COVID-19, maybe a little too much. Even when we would try to relax this year, we could not catch a break. Even when we turn on the television, the news is all about coronavirus. Sometimes when I’m trying to watch “Jeopardy!” or “The Price is Right,” Gov. Baker of Massachusetts or Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston would come on and talk about coronavirus. There was no escaping this mess! And unfortunately, some scumbags, I don’t know their names. Might be Turd Ferguson, Ralph Bohner, Disfatt Bidge, I do not even know who is responsible for this, but apparently, they found a way to put all of this into our movies. If you go and watch a movie now, it is not the same as it used to be. Who is responsible for this? George Lucas?! Is he trying to get viruses to learn about CGI now? What is going on? Either way, we will dive into this in a bit that I like to call, “Shut Up, COVID! I’m Trying to Watch the Movie!”.
Our tenth and final Best Picture nomination is a compelling tale of the American dream and never backing down. This film was first screened in 2019 at a series of festivals, but publicly released in theatres last fall. The film follows a young girl who aspires to be a musician in Austin, Texas, who has to deal with complications of adjusting to a life she had never hoped to live. Featuring original songs like “Square Peg,” this film is not only a compelling drama on life turning upside down, but is also a musical treat. Eva Noblezada, known for her stage work, shines in her feature film debut as the lead character of Rose Garcia. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, this is “Yellow Rose.”
We’ve made it. We’ve done it. We’ve conquered it. Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It is time to declare the Best Picture of the worst year. This is your ultimate reminder, no matter what struggles get in your way, no matter how hard life can get, no matter the barriers that lay in your path, winning cannot, should not, and most definitely, will not be cancelled! After a year unlike any other, it is time to honor ten films above all others. These are the films that moved me, got me excited, or in some cases, brought me to tears. Like the past two years, the people voted and made their voices heard. The most popular film of the bunch will take home the award. It is my great pleasure to introduce the nominees for Best Picture!
The Last Shift (Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern)
News of the World (Gary Goetzman, Gail Mutrux, Gregory Goodman)
Over the Moon (Gennie Rim, Peilin Chou)
Promising Young Woman (Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara, Tom Ackerley, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell)
Sound of Metal (Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Bill Benz, Kathy Benz)
Summerland (Guy Heely, Adrian Sturges)
Tenet (Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan)
The Vast of Night (James Montague, Melissa Kirkendall, Adam Dietrich)
The Way Back (Gordon Gray, Jennifer Todd, Gavin O’Connor, Ravi Mehta)
Yellow Rose (Cecilia R. Mejia, Rey Cuerdo, Diane Paragas, Orian Williams, Jeremiah Abraham)
And the Jackoff goes to…
This is the sixth win and ninth nomination for “Tenet.” “Tenet” also won Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing. The film was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, and Best Director. This is the first Best Picture win for a Warner Brothers film.
The record now stands at six wins! What a way to end the ceremony and this long, weird, crazy year in film. Christopher Nolan has had a long history as being an innovative, challenge-ready director. He’ll take crazy concepts such as presenting a movie in reverse, building dreams on top of dreams, being the first Hollywood filmmaker to do a big blockbuster with an IMAX camera in “The Dark Knight,” which he brought back for his latest outing in “Tenet.” The modern auteur known for his gargantuan scale represented in one film to the next went all-in and somehow ended up having to go bigger than he could have ever predicted. In a blockbuster-less summer that some would prefer to forget. One where we could not go see highly anticipated titles like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Morbius,” “Jungle Cruise,” and so on, Nolan and Warner Bros. experimented to see if people would even show up to a movie in 2020. The experiment had mixed results. Box office-wise, it could have been more pleasing. Quality-wise, the results usually did not disappoint. As for myself, I watched “Tenet” three times in the cinema, once on 4K Blu-ray, and each time my eyes and ears were amazed. I originally gave the film an 8/10. Since then, it may have jumped to a 9/10. Despite not having a perfect score, “Tenet” is almost a technical masterpiece. If it were not for the boisterous sound mixing, it may have a complete chance. However, “Tenet” has my favorite score of the past few years, it is up there with “Blade Runner 2049” as one of my top bangers. “Tenet” has arguably my favorite first scene of the past few years, maybe even in film history. “Tenet” also packs in an action-filled climax that in terms of viewing it at the cinema, felt like a gritty, more adult-centered Universal theme park ride. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson are a pair fit for a king, and having seen them in this unbelievable thrill ride that is too good for words, I would love to see them do a buddy cop movie together. Let’s not forget the incredible talents of Dimple Kapadia, Kenneth Branagh, and Elizabeth Debicki who just happened to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress due to her performance in “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” Also making an appearance, like usual in a Christopher Nolan film, Michael Caine, this time as “Sir Michael.” He is a man truly deserving of that name. The film did not just impress me, it did not just impress other moviegoers, but critics as well. “Tenet” has a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, a Best Original Score nomination at the Golden Globes, 5 Critics Choice nominations including a win for Visual Effects, and speaking of which, the film received a Special Visual Effects nomination at the BAFTAs, and 9 Saturn Award nominations, which for those who do not know, those are usually centered around sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. And now, it has won the Jackoff! Or, maybe it won it in the past and now it somehow it got taken away, I’m still figuring out how time inversion works… Congratulations to the producers, cast, crew, and everyone else behind “Tenet!” You have won Best Picture!
Thanks for reading the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards! Wow! This show is almost as long as the usual quarantine! Either way, if you read this all the way through, pat yourself on the back! You earned it! Congratulations to all this year’s nominees and winners! Congrats to “Tenet” for its record-breaking six wins! A fourth edition may be coming next year depending on how many films I end up seeing, because 2020 taught me that seeing only a few films is an outright possibility. We’ll see what happens!
That’s our show! Hope you enjoyed this crazy long awards ceremony! Follow Scene Before through an email or WordPress account for content, like the Facebook page, and I have reviews coming for “Tom & Jerry,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and “Chaos Walking!” Stay tuned! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” AKA “Birds of Prey,” AKA “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” AKA “Whatever F*cking Title You Desire,” is directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs, According to My Mother). This film stars Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (The Great Debaters, Gridiron Gang), Rosie Perez (The Road to El Dorado, Fearless), Christopher Messina (Argo, The Mindy Project), Ella Jay Basco (Grey’s Anatomy, Veep), Ali Wong (American Housewife, Are You There, Chelsea?), and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Stay). This film revolves around the character of Harley Quinn, who was originally, as far as the Detective Comics Extended Universe goes, introduced in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” Quinn and The Joker (also introduced in “Suicide Squad”) broke up, and the film follows Harley’s adventures as she finds herself adapting to a new lifestyle while simultaneously developing reasons to become’s Gotham’s most hated citizen. Oh yeah, apparently there’s a team-up too, like it really matters. Because, you know, Harley Quinn is popular.
Let me take you back to 2016. The election was in full swing, female Ghostbusters were a fad, “Star Wars” was back, and Marvel was SO much better than DC at the time! Remember “Captain America: Civil War?” So kick-ass. While I liked “Suicide Squad” in the theater, it is one of those movies that I watched one time, liked, but disliked when I watched it again. People often talk about movies that they like better the second time, maybe because there is a new perspective that opens up in their mind as they watch it. Well guess what? I got a f*cking new perspective when I watched “Suicide Squad” for the second time, and it is the perspective that it was an utter waste of brain cells.
But, if there is one thing about “Suicide Squad” that I would point out to be a highlight during not just the first, but also the massively unfortunate second time of watching it, I’d say it would be Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. In this current DCEU, it’s up there to me with Zachary Levi’s Shazam and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as one of my favorite portrayals of the characters this universe brings to the table. But I think part of that is because of how eccentric the character really is. She’s charismatic, goofy, and knows how to have fun. And that is a trait is easily carried over into the realm of “Birds of Prey.” Harley’s got a swagger to her, and seeing Margot Robbie’s live-action portrayal makes me want to avoid seeing anyone else take on this role in this format, at least for awhile.
But that’s also the problem with this movie, because the marketing is horrible. And usually I wouldn’t expect to use the marketing to hammer in something towards my final verdict, but in this case, I kind of have to. You ever hear people suggest that you should not judge a book by its cover? When it comes to “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulously Long Title,” that’s a big f*cking lie. While the movie’s title does focus on emancipation, while the Birds of Prey happen to be in this movie, it is, at its core, a Harley Quinn movie. The movie features narration from Quinn, it revolves entirely around her, and these little rascals who make up the Birds of Prey are barely in the movie for the most part. Characters like Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) don’t even show up for like an hour or so, maybe longer! Although, side note, when Huntress does show up, she’s introduced in pretty badass way. Even though I do think “Titles of Prey: And its Fantabulous Stretch” (for now) is better than “Suicide Squad,” it is also a bit more forgettable. As an audience member, I barely remember any of the names of those who make up the team. Keep in mind, I did see this movie two weeks ago, but it also goes to show how disposable of a movie it really is. It does not do much to make me carry it alongside me for the rest of my life. Granted, we do get some prime screen time to characters other than Harley, one of which was a highlight.
One of the best parts of “Birds of Whatever Title You Want” is the relationship between Harley Quinn and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). These two brought life into this movie and the scenes with them together were fun. I like the portion between them in the supermarket, which has been shown in the marketing. And one of the more pleasant parts of this film is where the two just sit down together watching cartoons on an old TV. I don’t know, it’s just soothing. I’d like to maybe see this duo in a comedy together, I think that could be fun.
Speaking of characters that could qualify for being the best in this movie, Ewan McGregor plays one of the better villain roles in the DCEU. Now, he’s not perfect, but this movie makes him work. Much like Marvel, DC kind of has a villain problem. While “Wonder Woman” had great battles, I do not remember the antagonist as much as I want to. “Suicide Squad” had Enchantress, who probably has the barest of substance. Lex Luthor, introduced in “Batman v. Superman” is quirky, but also a tad too cartoony to the point where I have officially entered a fun house. I don’t know where I’d officially rank Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis among the current villain lineup in the DCEU, but he’s portrayed brilliantly. He’s very charismatic to the point where he is kind of likable, but he also has a side to him where you probably want him to die a horrible death. Is he the best villain of all time? Absolutely not, but for this movie, it works!
Speaking of death and destruction, one thing that this movie has going for it that differentiates it from a lot of other films of its kind is that it is rated R. Comic book movies in recent years, specifically titles like “Deadpool,” “Logan,” and “Joker,” have gotten such a rating. While this is not a new concept, it was nice to know before going into “Birds of Prey: And the Name That Never Ends.” I also thought that this highlights what the DCEU is trying to go for at this point. Unlike Marvel, which seems to lock all of their movies within one box and has one or two connections to something else each and every movie, DC could continue letting their stories be their own thing. While this is technically in a cinematic universe, films like “Aquaman” and “Shazam!” have kept themselves within their own parts of the universe and barely connected to their universe except through brief references. “Long Names of Prey” is sort of the same way. In fact, aside from “Man of Steel,” I think “Titles of Forever” may be the most individualistic DCEU film yet. I do not remember much reference to the Suicide Squad team, even though a lot of the film is focused on the aftermath of Quinn and Joker’s breakup.
But keeping in mind that the film is rated R, I do not really think it did much to capitalize or emphasize its official rating, but nevertheless, it’s rated R. There are a couple violent scenes that probably barely go past PG-13, and they were a delight to watch when they were on screen. Because remember kids, kicking-ass is a good time! And yes, there’s the language, but if you’re expecting “Deadpool,” you MAY be disappointed. Did this film need to be rated R? Maybe to an extent, but it does not really seem like it goes for it. If they gave this a PG-13, there would almost be the slightest of differences. Maybe language has more to do with the R rating than violence does.
But I would be lying if I told you I was not at least entertained by the action scenes. I thought some of them were pretty creative, and there is one that sort of had a glossy “Terminator” vibe. Harley Quinn uses a glitter gun in this movie! Not gonna lie, if I were dealing with certain people, that would be my weapon of choice! Because while this movie admittedly does make this glitter shine, it really does suck! Anakin Skywalker thinks SAND gets everywhere? Tell him about glitter! Also, this movie probably has one of the coolest action moments involving a cell phone. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.
Speaking of R rated comic book movies, if I had to compare “Insert Title Here” to anything else, it would probably be “Deadpool 2,” because while there is a team-up in that film, ultimately forming the X-Force, Deadpool is the character that is focused on pretty much from beginning to end. That is a better-marketed movie than “Titles of Long” because unlike this movie, it knows, even before the film came out, that Deadpool would be the core character, everyone else is either background noise, or simply supporting him. When you have a movie like “The Avengers,” you could argue that the movie mostly revolves a character such as Iron Man, but the focal point is everyone’s journey to build a team and save the world. Arguments could be made about this matter, but on the surface, Thor is not more or less important than the Hulk in that movie. Captain America is not more or less important than Iron Man. These characters, to as much of an extent as possible, have THEIR MOMENT. Even though this movie calls itself “Birds of Prey” and puts that title at the forefront, the movie itself seems to put the *rest* of the title at the forefront, specifically “the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.” This movie really should have just been called “Harley Quinn.” And this is why I find it not so surprising that the film’s name *sort of* changed a couple times. Instead of this long title that goes on for all of eternity, the movie shortened its title to the simple name “Birds of Prey.” When the disappointing box office results came in, movie ticket websites started showing the title as “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” which makes sense given my previously established statements. Next thing I know, it’s gonna be called “Edge of Tomorrow” because why not? Maybe once the Blu-ray comes out it’s gonna be called “Live Die Repeat!”
In the end, “Birds of Prey: And the Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously Extended Title” is a step down for DC. I’d honestly rather watch “Aquaman” or “Batman v. Superman” again compared to this. Ever since “Wonder Woman,” I have been buying 4K steelbooks for the DCEU films, but I am not sure what I’ll be doing for this one. Will I go out and buy the steelbook for this one? I don’t know it’s worth it. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. It’ll be sad to end a streak, but the overall quality of this movie may suggest the end. I know some people making this movie kind of a big deal given the female star and female director, and I do admire the direction it tried to go in, and there are things I like about it. I just thought it could have been better. But at the same time, if you want disposable action, and you are looking for something to do on a rainy afternoon, go see this movie. Margot Robbie shines, the supporting cast is mostly forgettable but does have its highlights, and there are some cool action scenes. So… Thumbs up? Maybe? I don’t know. This grade could change, but for now, because I’m generous and given how I am not ruling out the option of watching this movie again, I am going to give “Birds of La La La Title Title Title” a 6/10.
Thanks for reading this review! Up next is the review for one of the most controversial movies that was supposed to come out last year, but because of said controversy, it was moved to the point where it came out this year. And if you think I’m talking about “The Hunt,” that’s not even out yet. Just keep yourself waiting for that one. I’m talking about “Sonic the Hedgehog!” Also, stay tuned for my reviews of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” “Emma,” and “My Spy.” That last one might be awhile because I don’t know when the embargo lifts, but it is coming. If you want to see these reviews, and other great content, consider following Scene Before either with an EMAIL or WORDPRESS account! While you’re at it, consider liking the blog’s Facebook page and follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees if you just like hearing me talk s*it about life! I want to know, did you see the movie with the long title? What did you think about it? Or, what comic book movie are you most excited for this year? Did you not see the one we’re talking about yet? That can count! Maybe it’s “Black Widow!” Maybe it’s “Eternals!” Maybe it’s “Wonder Woman 1984!” Do you want to go less mainstream? Perhaps you’re excited for “Bloodshot!” Let me know your response because let’s face it, based on how successful “Avengers: Endgame” was, you have seen a comic book movie. Just admit it. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!