Babylon (2022): Damien Chazelle Delivers Another Art-Celebrating, Captivating Ride

“Babylon” is directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, First Man) and stars Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bullet Train), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street), Diego Calva (Narcos: Mexico, Unstoppable), Jean Smart (Frasier, Hacks), Jovan Adepo (Fences, The Leftovers), and Li Jun Li (The Exorcist, Wu Assassins). This film is set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies. Throughout, the story showcases the chaotic rise and fall of multiple personalities living during said time.

Much like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Spielberg, Damien Chazelle is one of my favorite directors working today. He has not built as much of a legacy as these three, but depending on how many more stellar projects he can crank out, he is well on his way to becoming one of the greats. In fact, I love him not only as a director, but as a writer. In addition to writing some of the projects he directed, “Babylon” being one example, he also wrote “Grand Piano,” an intense thriller starring Elijah Wood with edge of your seat pacing and incredible music. Speaking of which, part of what made me appreciate Chazelle as a filmmaker is how much his projects delightfully showcase a noticeable appreciation for the arts. “Whiplash” is a fantastic film about an aspiring jazz drummer who has to deal with an obnoxious teacher. His follow-up, “La La Land” is about an aspiring musician and actress who have their own passions they want to turn into careers, but within the magical oasis of Los Angeles, they spend time together and fall in love. His newest film, “Babylon,” takes similar themes and elements presented in “La La Land” but intensifies them with drugs, nudity, and excessive partying.

Either way, “Babylon” is yet another one of Chazelle’s forays into the arts. This time around, this movie seems to have more similarities to “La La Land” than “Grand Piano” and “Whiplash.” Whereas those movies were entirely music-based, this is entirely film-based, with some glimmers of music-centered material sprinkled in. Much like “La La Land,” “Babylon” appears to be an awards season darling. Right now it has five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

“Babylon” is one of my most anticipated movies for the longest time. The director got me in the door, the story and time period appear to be fascinating, and the trailers impressed me. Whoever edited the first trailer has mad skills. But the real question is, what did I think of the movie? For starters, “Babylon” is not my favorite film of the year. In fact it is not even my favorite movie about movies that came out in 2022. It is also my least favorite film directed by Damien Chazelle. I think “Whiplash” is a better movie. I think “La La Land” is a better movie. I think “First Man” is a better movie. Judging by my words, you would think I would want my time and money back. If so, you thought wrong. Calling this my least favorite directorial effort by Damien Chazelle would be like choosing a least favorite film from Christopher Nolan. For the record, I know what that film is if I were to choose, and it would be “Insomnia.” But I also know that if there were an opportunity that rose to watch it on a Friday night, I would nevertheless take it. “Babylon” is not as rewatchable as “Whiplash,” not as captivating as “La La Land,” nor as thrilling as “First Man.” But I would still watch it a second time. “Babylon” has problems, but the positives of the film are as massive as the hopes and dreams of some of the people in this specific narrative.

Speaking of problems, it is time to get some of them out of the way. First and foremost, this film is too long. The runtime of “Babylon” is 3 hours and 9 minutes. For context, that is a few minutes shy of current box office hit “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which is 3 hours and 12 minutes. If I had to choose which of these two films used their few hour runtimes to a greater success, the answer would easily be “Babylon,” but as we got towards the climax, there was a point where I kind of begged for the movie to just stop. The film made its point with what the scene was trying to convey and as much as I do not mind this trend of movies about Hollywood, this scene may be the closest I have gotten to wondering if a story has overindulged in its Hollywood glory. I love Hollywood. I have been to Hollywood. I have seen shows tape in Hollywood. I even got to talk to people over the years who have some connection to Hollywood. This scene was too much.

If I have anything else that comes to mind, “Babylon” feels like two different movies. At one point, it is a marvelous blend between “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Then suddenly, it becomes a straight up drama where all the fun that has been delivered in prior moments tends to go away. The transition between these two aspects are not as seamless as I would have hoped. Around the thirty, forty minute mark, my dad and I were laughing nonstop. I almost knocked my popcorn into the recliner next to mine because of said laughter. A couple hours later, both of us are nearly silent. This would be fine if I found the dramatic moments as palatable as the humorous moments. Although I think the humorous, wild, outlandish moments are what will stick in my head when I think about this movie sometime in the future. Going back to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” one of that film’s strengths is that it felt like it had a pure center, a real heart of the story. That heart being actor and stunt double duo Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. This film almost cannot decide who the main character is, and while that at times provides for more than one attention-grabbing element of the plot, it also made the film feel cluttered. At one moment, you could make an argument that Nellie LaRoy (Robbie) is the main character. During another, you could argue that Jack Conrad (Pitt) is the main character. Meanwhile, you could also say the same for Manny (Calva). These characters, in fairness, are charismatic and well portrayed by their respective actors, but nevertheless. If you have to ask me, there is a main character, a protagonist if you will, in “Babylon.” But the way the story plays out makes it feel like multiple characters are competing for such a crown.

One reason why I love Damien Chazelle, as if the introduction did not already go into enough detail, is his ambition. When I first saw “La La Land,” I was wowed with the various numbers, the choreography, and wondered how they did the neverending opening shot. In his follow-up, “First Man,” which was already immersive enough, he shot the lunar sequence in IMAX, which allowed for one of the most breathtaking sights I have witnessed in that year of cinema. This time around, the sets are grand, full of life, color, and splendor. The amount of people taking up frames at times is not small. Damien Chazelle and crew clearly spared no expense. The costumes range from attractive to finely detailed. The locations look beautiful, or at certain moments to the film’s benefit, haunting. Some claim “Avatar: The Way of Water” is the CGI big screen monstrosity to see this winter. I would similarly claim that “Babylon” is the practical big screen treat to watch around the same time. As far as practicality in 2022 cinema goes, it is hard to beat “Top Gun: Maverick” just because of what was done to make that movie what it is, but “Babylon” comes close.

I already mentioned the main cast, between Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, and Diego Calva, is an utter hoot. They are one of the paramount reasons why this movie should be seen. Although some of this film’s supporting roles are standouts as well. Tobey Maguire does a great job playing James McKay. Katherine Waterston is a delight as Estelle, a partner of Jack Conrad. And while her name is on the poster, Jean Smart’s smaller role packs a giant, glorious punch. This is a movie where I not only think about the main characters and their standout moments, but certain individuals who are almost in the shadows who have significantly fewer lines, but the few lines that they do have stick out like a sore thumb.

One thing Chazelle has done well from one film to the next is providing some of the year’s best framing and cinematography. There are various long takes that astounded me, in addition to some creative angles. Again, considering the scope of “Babylon,” the film is not short on detail, such as the talent on screen. For this film, Chazelle once again teamed up with Linus Sandgren, whose shots range from screensaver-worthy to pupil-dilating. This could be a serious Best Cinematography contender based on lighting, camera tricks, and how much attractive detail is packed into each frame.

Speaking of reunions, Justin Hurwitz, another Chazelle mainstay, composed the score for “Babylon.” This score, while not my favorite from Hurwitz, is yet another banger. If there are two things that are clear about Damien Chazelle movies, is that they usually find some way to incorporate jazz, and Justin Hurwtiz will find a way to make that jazz as epic as possible. There is a tune that plays a few times in the film that had me nearly dance in my chair.

“Babylon” is also perhaps responsible for one of my favorite scenes of 2022. Before the halfway point of the film, we see Nellie LaRoy do a film where sound plays a key role. At the time, this was a fairly new concept. The execution of this scene was obnoxiously funny in all the right ways. Between the minor details like many people sweating like pigs on set, the attention to detail on the audio, the crew getting tired of having to be doing the same thing on repeat, and LaRoy just trying to keep herself together on something she was not used to doing, it maintained the film’s comedic spirit while also progressing the timeline. This scene, which prominently features Margot Robbie, highlights why “Babylon” could be a career-best performance for the talented star. Is she going to win an Oscar? Honestly, in a year where Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett killed their roles in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Tár” respectively, I think Robbie has some fierce competition that could keep me from saying that. But it does not change the fact that it is not only the best performance of the movie in addition being a standout of Robbie’s resume.

Speaking of Robbie, one of the notable parts of the first “Babylon” trailer is when Robbie asks everyone if they want to see her fight a snake. Without going into detail, this scene went beyond my expectations of how engaging it could be. It is worth the price of admission. “Babylon” is a film that sets out to tell a big, grand story, sort of like the stories and stars the film itself showcases. In many ways, it succeeds. I would like to watch it again at some point.

In the end, “Babylon,” despite overstaying its welcome by the time it was in the climax, is a beautifully realized tale of old Hollywood that does not have a single bad frame, unlikable character, or real anger-inducing turnoff. There are problems with the film, as mentioned, but the positives of the film are also worth noting and make the problems feel nearly nonexistent. Damien Chazelle has done it again. Although if you want me to be honest, when it comes to Hollywood-based stories, “La La Land,” which Chazelle also wrote and directed, was the more watchable and satisfying production. Nevertheless, “Babylon” has a cast worth bragging about and humor that honestly surpasses some recent pure comedies that have been offered to moviegoers. I am going to give “Babylon” an 8/10.

“Babylon” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for my next posts because we are doing my annual best and worst countdowns! My next post will be my top 10 WORST movies of 2022. If you have any interest in checking out a recent countdown I published, feel free to check out my picks for my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Babylon?” What did you think about it? Or, do you have a favorite Damien Chazelle film? I like all of them, but “Whiplash” is easily my top pick. List your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Amsterdam (2022): David O. Russell’s Latest Fast-Paced, Star-Filled, Forgettable Time

“Amsterdam” is directed by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) and stars Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Ford v. Ferrari), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, I, Tonya), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Tenet), Chris Rock (Madagascar, Grown Ups), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, Last Night in Soho), Zoe Saldaña (Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy), Mike Myers (Shrek, Bohemian Rhapsody), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals), Timothy Olyphant (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Mandalorian), Andrea Riseborough (Bloodline, Battle of the Sexes), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, Cats), Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl, Red Sparrow), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Selma), Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, The Little Things), and Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Meet the Parents). This film is mainly set in the 1930s, and centers around three people who are framed for murder. Together, this trio uncovers a plot that will change the course of history.

I have not seen all of David O. Russell’s films. I have seen “American Hustle,” which I was not a fan of. I have mostly forgotten it by now. I saw “Joy,” which I thought was cute. The acting was great, especially on Jennifer Lawrence’s part, but it was not my favorite movie of the year. I also saw “Silver Linings Playbook,” which, while not one of my favorite movies ever, is probably the best attempt at a feature Russell has ever given. I still have yet to see films like “Flirting with Disaster,” “Three Kings,” and “I Heart Huckabees.” I am mostly familiar with David O. Russell’s recent work. That said, he has built quite a name for himself as a filmmaker and it is no surprise that names like the ones listed happen to be working with him.

When you have this many Academy Award-nominated or winning actors and actresses in your film, it builds promise. It builds interest. It reminded me of when I saw “The Circle” back in 2017. You had all these culturally relevant or critically acclaimed performers like Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, and Bill Paxton. Given their resumes, I was excited to see what they could do. Unfortunately, their collaborative efforts could not escape them from this misfire. “Amsterdam,” while definitely more satisfying than “The Circle,” is in the same boat.

The best way I can describe “Amsterdam” is to say that the film is all over the place. There is a lot that goes down in just a span of two hours that I felt like I had to take some notes. The film is not wholly incompetent by any means, but it begs me to keep up with its quick pacing. I like quick pacing, but at times, the movie goes too quick. There are a lot of characters and interwoven storylines that there is a good chance that I will have forgotten a couple of them by the next couple weeks. I think this is a film that could warrant a second viewing, but I am not sure yet if it has the replay value. At times, the pacing of this movie reminded me of Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” which I know some people like, but for whatever reason I just could not get into. One moment we’re here, one moment we’re there, and in the next my brain, which has escaped from my body, might as well have traveled to the end of the universe.

If there is any saving grace in “Amsterdam,” it would have to be Margot Robbie as Valerie Voze. I thought she had the best moments in the movie. I thought the casting matched the character and the way she was written and directed. This performance solidifies Robbie as one of my favorite actors working today. Her chemistry with Christian Bale and John David Washington is solid, and as much effort as those two put into their performances, Robbie feels like the clear winner here.

Speaking of Christian Bale, if you want me to be completely honest, I think he had a more memorable performance in “Thor: Love and Thunder” of all things. I am not saying that Christian Bale gave a terrible performance in “Amsterdam.” If anything, it was stellar. But I think when combining acting with overall characterization, Bale’s attempt at playing Gorr the God Butcher was somehow more convincing and compelling despite a movie like “Amsterdam” appearing to be more along the lines of Bale’s forte.

It is crystal clear that the story of “Amsterdam” is not the highlight of the movie. If you ask me, it had its moments. There was a specific moment that intrigued me at the beginning where our main characters find themselves in an unspeakable situation. Unfortunately, as soon as we dive away from that, the quality of the movie lessens.

If I had to look in advance at 2022 in film and predict any Best Ensemble nominees at the SAG Awards, “Amsterdam” would have been a contender based on name recognition. However, much like Garry Marshall’s unwatchable holiday-based movies like “New Year’s Eve” and “Mother’s Day,” the movie’s cast is the one glimmer of hope within what can simply be referred to as a hot mess. At least on paper. I never thought I would see the day where we have Margot Robbie, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Robert De Niro in the same movie. I just hope when that unpredictable day came along, there was good script for them all to bring to the screen.

As for other positives, the movie is attractively colorful. Not quite as glitzy and glossy as say “Elvis,” which in some ways might happen to be a good thing if you ask me. However, the look of the film is sometimes easy on the eyes. In addition to having a stacked, recognizable cast, a lot of them are wearing stunning outfits, some look handsome or sexy. If this were a silent film, this might be okay depending on what you put for text. The sets at times look presentable, elaborate, and occasionally have a vintage feel to them.

There is a saying that looks are not everything, and this movie is exhibit A as to why that saying exists. Yes, some of my favorite actors are put in the forefront. Yes, some of the costumes and sets look dazzling. Yes, the movie has an occasional feeling of immersion. Although this cannot save the film itself from providing what could be one of the sloppiest stories of the decade, and that is despite this movie claiming “A LOT OF THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.” Just because a story is true, does not make it entertaining. You want to know a true story? I woke up today and wrote this review. Imagine if I tried to sell that as a movie. The distributor would probably go out of business!

Here is a fun fact. Christian Bale, who has worked with David O. Russell in the past, signed on to do “Amsterdam” before a script was written. I get the notion of wanting to work with a big name director. Especially one you supposedly have a decent relationship with. Heck, if I were an actor and I hear the name Christopher Nolan or Jordan Peele I automatically think “business partnership.” I hope while these two high-profile industry insiders were thinking about how great it would be to work with each other, they took a moment to think of the quality of what they were going to make. Because despite the quantity of big names, quality seems to be sacrificed when it comes to the final product of “Amsterdam.”

In the end, “Amsterdam” has occasional glimmers of enjoyment, with some extreme emphasis on the word “occasional.” The film has an okay start, but the film itself never finds a way to be as compelling or entertaining as its first ten or fifteen minutes. I liked “Silver Linings Playbook,” but I cannot say the same for “Amsterdam.” I am going to give the forgettable and dull “Amsterdam” a 4/10.

“Amsterdam” is now playing in theatres everywhere, tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have more coming! I will soon unveil my thoughts on a couple of horror movies I watched recently, specifically “Smile” and “Halloween Ends.” Also, if you want to see more reviews from me, check out my thoughts on “See How They Run.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Amsterdam?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie with a stacked cast whose script could not justify its star power? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Suicide Squad (2021): The Best DC Movie Ever

“The Suicide Squad” is written and directed by James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) and stars Idris Elba (Thor, Pacific Rim), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), John Cena (Blockers, Wipeout), Joel Kinnaman (Robocop, For All Mankind), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Over the Top), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder, Fences), Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Divergent), Peter Capaldi (Paddington, Doctor Who), Daniela Melchior (The Black Book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and David Dastmalchian (MacGyver, Ant-Man). This film is a sequel, well kind of, to 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and is the latest film set in the Detective Comics Extended Universe. The film is about a bunch of vigilantes, some of whom we’ve seen before like Harley Quinn and Rick Flag, in addition to newbies like Peacemaker and King Shark who are put on a mission to destroy all traces of Project Starfish.

When I saw “Suicide Squad” five years ago at the theater, I enjoyed it. Safe to say, my opinion quickly changed as soon as the home video release period came up because I got the movie as a Christmas gift, I popped it in, specifically the extended edition, and found myself displeased with what was in front of me. Harley Quinn was great, but the way they handled certain plot points and some of the editing was not up to my standards. Looking back, it looked like an effective ad campaign for Hot Topic without even mentioning the brand’s name once. Therefore, I was a tad weary going into “The Suicide Squad,” because prior to “Wonder Woman 1984” which came out last December, “Suicide Squad” has long stood as my least favorite DCEU film. So it has an offputting stain of displeasure. But there were also a few attractive factors brought to table that made me feel the need to see this film as soon as possible.

First, the film is rated R. While we have gotten some comic book movies over the past few years with said rating, including “Birds of Prey” which is also set in the DCEU, this did intrigue me as the previous “Suicide Squad” was PG-13 and I was curious to know how this film could be taken in a darker direction. Plus, if the “Deadpool” movies have proven anything, it’s that there is some REAL fun to be had with R rated comic book films.

Second, James Gunn. In case it matters, this guy is responsible for my senior quote in high school. This is a true story by the way, for my senior quote, I did some searching and came across one in particular from James Gunn’s IMDb page that stood out to me.

“I have a very strong imagination and have since I was a little kid. That is where a lot of my world comes from. It’s like I’m off somewhere else. And I can have a problem in life because of that, because I’m always off in some other world thinking about something else. It’s constant.” -James Gunn

I chose this quote because of how much I relate to it. I too consider myself to be imaginative, and in addition to that, I cannot say how much this ties to Gunn himself, but I have ADHD, therefore I am constantly wandering off from my own reality to somewhere else in my head. Here’s the thing, I graduated high school in 2018. That same summer, Gunn was fired by Disney due to old, offensive tweets being resurfaced. Gotta say, on the topic of my choice of senior quote, AWK-WAAAARRD. Keep in mind, Gunn notes that he is not the same man he was when he was younger. He has matured, he has evolved. But for those of you who know the story, he eventually was hired by Warner Bros. and DC. Of all the projects that Gunn could have chosen for DC, he ended up doing what we now know as “The Suicide Squad.” I have heard a number of stories on this film’s production. But one of the things that I have heard, at least on James Gunn’s part, is that the studio basically gave Gunn complete freedom to make whatever the hell he wanted.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, I really liked the trailers for this film. John Cena looked like he was gonna be a riot. Margot Robbie, per usual has a fine balance of mystery and humor within her Harley Quinn persona, and right off the bat, this actually did feel like a James Gunn film with the songs they chose for each trailer. In the end, this was easily my most anticipated film of the summer. And I thought that BEFORE the film had a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score for a period of time. But the past has proven that hype can kill a film. It’s happened to me with “Midsommar,” and in the case of James Gunn, I’ll even add that this happened with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which was my #2 most anticipated film of 2017, but I do not remember it fondly. I had a freight train of thoughts going into this film. What are my thoughts leaving the film?

It’s the best DC film ever.

Not just DCEU, I mean DC period. Like… Better than “The Dark Knight.” Better than “Wonder Woman.” Better than “V For Vendetta.” THIS FILM SLAPS!

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is what happens when you let a director make their movie! James Gunn is outright unhinged with this film. He’s the sole writer and director, and he has pretty much made every decision possible regarding the product. Not once did I feel like I was watching something that was done by a studio head at Warner Brothers. I think it is hilarious how in just less than a month, we get “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” arguably the most corporate, commercialized film Warner Bros. has put out to date, and then we get this masterpiece from James Gunn. Unbelievable!

When 2016’s “Suicide Squad” came out, I said that it felt very much like another version of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” After all, you have all these criminals coming together for the same purpose, but despite them being bad, they join forces to save the world. Plus both films sort of relied on rock heavy soundtracks, which looking back, “Guardians” did A LOT better than “Suicide Squad.” “Suicide Squad” felt as if it was trying to copy the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy” but the former attempted to in a way that was inferior to the latter. I am glad to note that we got the ACTUAL director of that “latter” to come in and make something great out of a franchise that provided one of the worst comic book films of the last five years. And much like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” part of the success is achieved from taking lesser known, or less appreciated comic book characters and putting them into scenarios that can turn them into gold. In MCU speak, I bet a lot of people knew who The Incredible Hulk was before his movie came out. Same can be said for Thor. The same cannot be said for the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the DCEU, we’ve already had a movie with the Suicide Squad, but unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, it changes out a lot of the main characters in the first film like Deadshot and Killer Croc and replaces them with other characters in the second film. Yes, Harley Quinn is back. But I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that most people watching this movie amongst the general audience would care to know who Polka Dot Man is in the comics. I’ve heard of Polka Dot Man before, he made an appearance in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” But I cannot say I was all that familiar with his history as a character.

I never thought I’d say this. “The Suicide Squad” made me care about a superbeing who spews… POLKA DOTS! I mean, WHAT?! Who ever thought this could be possible? Again, this goes to show the master class of James Gunn. He got me to care about a talking tree in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” When you can get me to care about a costumed man who throws magical polka dots at people, he’s not just a good director, he’s a flat out genius. Seriously! You wanna know how much I cared about Polka Dot Man? I literally picked up his Funko Pop the day after my screening! I love this guy! They gave him the social awkwardness of a geek combined with the hyper mania fuel of a kid who just discovered Red Bull. I do not want to give much away about this movie, but by the end of “The Suicide Squad,” there is a visual that references a tactic Polka Dot Man often follows, and it may be one of the single funniest shots I have seen in a movie in years.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Harley Quinn. Right now I am personally having trouble deciding whether I prefer the Margot Robbie Harley Quinn or the Kaley Cuoco Harley Quinn in terms of their personality, but one thing I cannot deny is that Margot Robbie has aced her role in “The Suicide Squad,” providing her most insane portrayal of the character yet. I’ve always admired this iteration of Harley Quinn since 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” I always thought that she could take any scene she’s in and automatically become the star of the show. But the thing that I think makes Harley Quinn better in this movie compared to her last two outings is that Robbie channeled Harley’s inner madness to her full potential. There is a scene in the second act where she just spews tons of dialogue towards someone in particular, filling in all sorts of potential blanks. Quinn has gone from being a hilarious scene stealer to the psychotic lovable moron that she is now.

I also love King Shark. For a lot of people who turn on this movie, I think this portrayal of King Shark is going to be their first introduction to the character. I personally have been watching him through DC’s “Harley Quinn” show, so this is not my first rodeo with him. I like King Shark in “Harley Quinn,” but I LOOOOOVE him in “The Suicide Squad.” Basically, King Shark in this film is a funnier, raunchier version of Lennie from “Of Mice and Men,” a simple minded, CGI, walking, talking, briefs-wearing shark who will tear you to shreds if you so much as even get close to screwing around with him. At the same time though, James Gunn managed to write this character in such a way that effectively personifies him and makes him relatable. We see throughout the film that yes, he is a man-eating shark that can walk on land for some reason, but he has a rather subversively cute motivation that is nicely explored from start to finish. Also, Sylvester Stallone, you are a god. James Gunn picked you for a reason and you knocked this out of the park.

I also want to talk about John Cena as Peacemaker. I think out of all the characters in the movie, he was the one who I think Gunn did the best job at fleshing out in terms of complexity. Having seen Peacemaker’s costume in the marketing, I was a tad skeptical. Would Cena be too goofy? Would I take him seriously? Not gonna lie, as goofy as the costume looks, it really pops and I was able to take Cena seriously in the film. I sometimes talk about “Blockers” and how much I like that movie. Although one fair critique of that film is that John Cena, as funny and likable as he is, does not have the best range as an actor. I like him in the movie, but I think that is a fair critique. Here, I think James Gunn and John Cena are a perfect match for each other. I mean, look back at “Guardians of the Galaxy” and look at Dave Bautista. Sure, he gave a good performance in the film. It does not mean he’s the best actor. I feel like Bautista and Cena are the muscle of their movies. Their performances in their individual movies differ in ways, but that’s who their well-built characters are at their core. During the film, Cena delivered a lot of funny one liners, including some of the more memorable ones.

“It’s not a toilet seat, it’s a beacon of freedom!”

However, by the end of the film, without going into spoilers, there’s a moment where I could tell that John Cena has some legit acting skills. I felt the exact emotions his character was going through. What emotions exactly? I cannot say. But if you watch this film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I will also note for all the parents who want to take their kiddies to the brand new superhero movie that some call “The Suicide Squad,” you may want to think twice, because your kids have probably seen flashy violence in movies like “Batman v. Superman,” painful moments in movies like “Avengers: Infinity War,” but I could only wonder what would prepare your kids for the ultra-gorey and visceral madness that “The Suicide Squad” has to offer. This film is not just violent, it goes over the top in more ways than one. Let me just put it this way. The first act had me laughing and slapping my knees at all the crazy violence going on. That’s the result of a great movie. But the REAL craziness doesn’t even stop there. There’s some real s*it that happens towards the end of the film that no PG-13 film could get away with. It’s basically “Mortal Kombat” in the DC universe!

In fact, one of my critiques for “Birds of Prey,” the DCEU’s first R-rated outing, is that the film, while serviceable, NOT GREAT, but serviceable, has an R-rating attached to it, but I feel like by the end of the film, it does not do much to satisfy its R-rating. “The Suicide Squad” is so mature that it might as well tear the audience to shreds when presented in 3D! So immersive!

Did I mention the soundtrack? Oh yeah, this movie has a good soundtrack! It’s probably just as good as John Murphy’s score! Seriously, by the end, there was a song that gave me goosebumps that I was not expecting from a movie like this! James Gunn chose some songs that not only fit the scenes they were in, but I even think I like this one better than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Granted, I still think the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a better soundtrack than “The Suicide Squad,” but my point stands. The music in this film may as well have been put together by a mastermind!

Supporting the notion that no movie is perfect, let’s talk about one thing that I could consider to be wrong in “The Suicide Squad,” and by wrong, I do not mean that in a huge way, it’s just a slight nitpick. I am not going to get into full details, as this would involve spoilers, but there is a shot in the movie that if you really know how shots and visual effects mix together, it would make *spoiler* feel a bit more predictable. That’s the one nitpick I can come up with aside from one more thing, and again, this is not something that is a turnoff, it’s just something that is noticeable and needs to be addressed.

In 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which stars Will Smith as Deadshot, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. In 2021’s “The Suicide Squad,” which stars Idris Elba as Bloodsport, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. I know Will Smith was not in this movie for a reason, but still, it’s interesting how they barely changed certain traits about the main character. I mean if it ain’t broke don’t fi– Actually, I take that back, the 2016 “Suicide Squad” was pretty broke to begin with.

There’s not really anything else I can think of that turned me off in this film. Every joke landed. Every kill was satisfying. Every character was likable, and by the end of the film, I feel like everyone earned their destiny. James Gunn has a pure talent for making a film completely action packed and bonkers but also leaving enough room to have heart and soul in it. I started watching “The Suicide Squad” grinning ear to ear and laughing my ass off like a maniac, but by the end of it, I was simply in awe and I felt for all the characters. “Suicide Squad” from five years ago had me walking out saying I want to see more of Harley Quinn. “The Suicide Squad” had me walking out saying I want to see more of not just Harley Quinn, but King Shark, Ratcatcher, Peacemaker, EVEN POLKA DOT MAN… among other characters!

In the end, “The Suicide Squad,” I don’t want to sell it short. It’s the best freaking movie Warner Bros. has put out with a DC logo on it. Simply put, Marvel and Disney firing James Gunn is probably the best thing that ever happened to DC. And as a result, it may be one of the best things to happen in James Gunn’s career as “The Suicide Squad” has now become one of my favorite comic book movies of all time. Guys, I urge you to check this movie out. It is the literal definition of bonkers. It is something so violent, so funny, and yet so heartwarming. I almost wonder if we’ll get another DCEU movie like this again. I am looking forward to what’s coming up in the DCEU between “The Flash,” “Aquaman 2,” and “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.” But they are following in the footsteps of something completely unique and mind-boggling that I almost wonder what it’s gonna take to top it. James Gunn, you have made a masterpiece, and I am glad to know that my senior quote that I mentioned earlier has been redeemed! I’m going to give “The Suicide Squad” a 10/10!

“The Suicide Squad” is now playing in theaters everywhere, including IMAX, and you can also watch it for free on top of your subscription on HBO Max until early September.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that at the moment I am currently trying to review all four “Revenge of the Nerds” movies in a brand new review series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” This Monday, August 16th, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.” Stay tuned for that as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary! Also, I want to remind you all that this weekend, “Free Guy” hits the big screen, but I will probably waiting until sometime next week, maybe even next weekend, perhaps later, to share my thoughts on it. Life’s been crazy and busy, it is what it is. But, I will see it, I will review it, I am looking forward to it. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Suicide Squad?” What did you think about it? Or, what do you prefer? 2016’s “Suicide Squad?” Or 2021’s “The Suicide Squad?” My answer is pretty obvious, but I’ll let you share your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020): No Joke, Fun (But Forgettable) Time

*WARNING: This review contains TITLES.*

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“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!

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): There Lived an Actor and His Stunt Double

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) and stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, Titanic), Brad Pitt (World War Z, Allied), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Speed Racer), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers, Death Note), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet, Live Free or Die Hard), Austin Butler (Switched at Birth, Arrow), Dakota Fanning (Coraline, The Twilight Saga: New Moon), Bruce Dern (The Hateful Eight, The ‘Burbs), and Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman, Heat). This film takes place in Hollywood around the time of the Manson murders during 1969. The story focuses on the dynamic duo of the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio (Rick Dalton) and Brad Pitt (Cliff Booth). Dalton is an actor and Booth is Dalton’s stunt double. Together, they have a hunger for fame and fortune as the Golden Age of Hollywood comes to a close.

If you have been following this blog in recent weeks, you may have gotten the implication that I have just recently introduced myself to the masterful works of Quentin Tarantino, a director known for his quirky style, gritty scripts, and his enthusiasm to deliver a rather nostalgic vibe to his films. And this film is no exception. It is shot using 35mm film, it takes place in 1969, and it is designed to be presented as a love letter to ancient Hollywood. It has callbacks to real life Hollywood figures including Roman Polanski, Bruce Lee, James Stacy, and Sharon Tate. There are tons of throwback cars that can be seen that truly highlight the automobile culture of California that seems to continue to exist today. It kind of reminded me of “Amercian Graffiti” a little bit.

My excitement for this film was through the roof as soon as the tickets went on sale. I called my dad, he and I agreed to go on opening Thursday, I picked to go to the 7:30 show at the Somerville Theatre, which if you are not from Massachusetts, it is a 100 year old theatre that has a few screens, but one of them is in a grand auditorium that shows a lot of event-type films. I was there last year for the 70mm film festival, more specifically, for when they showed John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” It was my second time watching the film, and the atmosphere was turned up to an 11 when it came to how lively the crowd happened to be. I thought we were going to get a few people to show up for this film, because let’s face it, “The Lion King” is out right now, everyone’s going to see that, and unlike “The Thing,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was playing for more than one night. Plus, it didn’t have reserved or reclined seating. People seem to flock to those two things nowadays.

And I’ll let you in on a little something about “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” It’s the single best movie experience I had this year. Yes, better than “Endgame.” The atmosphere was almost dead during “Endgame,” there are several moments in this movie where people would shout, yell, laugh, applaud, it felt like I went to the world premiere of a “Star Wars” film. It was the very definition of exhilerating! The theater might have been sold out, if not super close to being sold out. I got to chat to a guy in the row in front of me about Tarantino films, there was a lovely lady I got to talk to about his work and other people’s films. This was clearly going to be an experience to remember. OK… maybe this has to do with the atmosphere of the film. But how was the movie you ask? F*cking nuts! It’s a special kind of awesome! I mean, could you expect anything less from Tarantino? This is the fourth movie I have seen from him, and this is probably my 2nd favorite. This film is full of excellent scenes with great characters, lines of dialogue that made me laugh and cheer, and fantastic setpieces.

For those of you who don’t know, part of the production of this movie involved transforming Hollywood as if it were presented in the 1960s, and I think the movie did a really good job with it. All of the neon lights shining everywhere and the plethora of signs set the mood, I dug the driving scenes that really had that flair of fun attached to it, and I felt immersed into the world that happened to be presented almost to the point that I imagined myself as a part of it, and I think from watching “Pulp Fiction” and this film, that is something that I think Tarantino can do very well. And this may be a big reason why I enjoyed this film so much. No matter what movie I have seen from Tarantino so far, the appropriate vibe is automatically set. But I feel that Tarantino, from what I have seen so far, has done a better job with his films when they are slightly more grounded in reality. Even though I saw “The Hateful Eight” and there can be a definite argument that that film grounds itself in reality a little bit, it doesn’t really have characters that I can latch onto. The characters in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” feel raw, they feel like people I would probably run into at one point in my life. Maybe I’m biased since this takes place in Hollywood and I am an aspiring filmmaker and I can picture myself working with people who are similar in some ways to these characters, but my case still stands. “The Hateful Eight” has characters that at times are interesting, but for one reason or another, I just can’t relate to all of them.

And this is why I really enjoyed the main characters of the film, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. The two legitimately feel like a best friend pair, and seeing a number of scenes with the two together happened to be entertaining. Whether they were working or hanging out, they just made the movie worth watching. If I had to be honest, when it comes to acting, it’s almost difficult declaring whether DiCaprio or Pitt had the better performance because for one thing they’re both great actors. Not to mention, when you put the two together, they have the perfect recipe for a friendship. Plus, it kind of makes sense since in the movie Booth has to emulate Dalton in productions together, so in a way they have to act like they’re the same person. I’m not saying they are in real life. Both have their individual characteristics and storylines and they hypnotized me. I’ll also point out that the proper execution and quirkiness of said storylines are part of why I would want to go see this in the theater a second time.

And you want to know the best part about this movie? I can’t speak for everybody, but pretty much the entire theater, and this is a lot of people, happened to be dying laughing. This is why I enjoy going to movies with crowds, not to mention in cities (which I did technically for this film) because recent experiences have shown that my urban movie experiences (mainly during early access screenings) have usually gotten better reactions than ones I’d traditionally experience elsewhere. It felt like I was part of the worldwide Tarantino cult, they just accepted me after introducing me to their rituals, and we all came together for an experience of a lifetime.

As for myself, I am kind of in an unfortunate position because I have been exposed to tons of content, and as much as I enjoy watching certain comedies, I often feel like I have “seen it all” or seen enough to know what to expect. Here, I was laughing through a number of scenes, I was appreciating a lot of the dialogue that has been uttered, and it never felt like the movie lost its groove. It was one interesting moment after another. And this all builds up to the big. F*cking. Climax of a lifetime! It is quite literally a Tarantinogasm of super f*cked-up awesomeness on a stick! Is it the best climax or ending in movie history? No, it’s not, but it is by far one of the wildest. I cannot recall the last time, or at least the last recent time, that I laughed as hard as I did during this climax with all the s*it that was going down. I cannot go into it, but the climax alone is worth the price of admission, everything else feels like an appetizer. I, like pretty much everyone else in the world, saw “Avengers: Endgame” this year, and I thought the climax to that, especially as a geek, was fantastic. This ending, to me, wasn’t fantastic. It was bloody phenomenal!

And by the way, speaking of movies I saw this year, one of my other highlights happens to be “John Wick: Chapter 3.” That franchise, as you may know, has a lot of emphasis put on dogs, and the most recent installment manages to continue highlighting their importance to everything that’s going on. In my review for that film, I said it had my favorite dog-related scene of the year. That thought has since changed because “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has a scene that I really cannot go into involving a dog. If you have seen the movie, you may know what I am talking about. It’s almost out of left field in the best possible way. Talking about it feels like a sin because it’s something I really want to do, but it feels wrong because, well in this case, spoilers could flood out of my mouth.

Just… See this movie, my gosh it’s f*cking ride.

I will say though…

The film is not perfect.

Yes, I have raved about this movie to death. Both in person and on here, but there is one single, solitary flaw that I have with the film.

And to my disappointment, it kind of involves Margot Robbie’s character of Sharon Tate, because despite how she may have cool scenes, and how she has a relation to one of the film’s characters who is mentioned by name, she almost had no real part in this movie, or at least one that contributes to the bigger picture of what is happening. And I will admit, it was sad to see her in this film after realizing she is watching the last film she will be alive to see herself in. But even with that, her character could have had more depth to her. She didn’t feel lifeless, Robbie portrayed the character very well, and she was charming. Kind of like how in “Suicide Squad,” the movie itself wasn’t the greatest, but Robbie did an excellent job portraying Harley Quinn. I’d probably have to watch the movie again to decide whether or not this storyline was necessary because there is a part of me that does think it is compelling and is a part of this old Hollywood love letter, but also begs to question how needed it really is.

Nevertheless, the movie is still an excitement bomb. It is still one of my favorite movies of the year, and I would INSTANTLY go back to the theater and watch this film again because I saw this film with my dad, we couldn’t stop talking about it on the way home, and he made an interesting comment. He was laughing so hard that he must have missed something. When your film is good enough to possibly allow that to happen, a repeat viewing is inevitable. Will I go back and see the film one more time? Hopefully, but only time will tell. And if I do, I will be really damn excited.

In the end, the hype is real for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Tarantino once again presents himself as the cinematic mastermind he has always been made out to be. The film utilizes a lot of practical effects to turn Hollywood back fifty years, to say the acting is solid is an understatement, and there are several scenes I will be looking forward to viewing once I see this movie again, because it is absolutely phenomenal. And again, the Sharon Tate thing, I liked certain scenes she was in, but her character almost felt tacked on. I could grow in appreciation for her. After all she’s played by Margot Robbie, who is one of the most beautiful women working in film right now, so who knows? This is not to say she can’t act, because again, she was charming. And there are several films that I have seen this year that are funny. A couple of examples include “Long Shot” and “Fighting with My Family.” But when it comes to comedic timing and writing, this film is most likely going to be the absolute best we are going to get this year in terms of comedy. Between the awesome and brilliantly written final act, the investing opening scenes where we get to know our lovely main duo, and a gag involving dog food, there is so much to enjoy in this one film. I cannot wait to talk more about this film with other people and I cannot wait for this film to come out on Blu-ray. I’m going to give “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” a very high 9/10. I have a feeling, and it’s just a feeling for now, depending on replay value and how I feel about certain aspects of this film over time, this could increase to a 10. I’m not sure, but this was one of the best looking films of the year, one of the most well shot movies of the year, one of the most interestingly written scripts of the year despite my flak given to Sharon Tate, and one of the most compelling ensembles of the year. But seriously, Tarantino, you are a god and we do not deserve you. Thank you for this orgasmic movie! And if it means anything, I’m pretty sure this has to be the best “9” movie of the decade so far. So a score change may be possible, who knows?

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next weekend is the release of the “Fast & Furious” spinoff, “Hobbs and Shaw.” I probably won’t see the film right away because I’m going out of state for a night, but I will likely make a commitment to get my ass in the theater at some point. It is a movie that I am looking forward to simply because it looks absurd for all the right reasons, so once I can see it, I will take that opportunity. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Do you have a Facebook? Check out my Facebook page! You can get all the latest info from your favorite movie reviewing moron regarding upcoming content, new posts, and more! I want to know, did you see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Quentin Tarantino movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

90th Academy Awards Recap

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we go any further, let me just say, I admittedly put this post out a little later than I once anticipated. I had my mind going around on three posts at once, part of me was begging to nap this week, some distractions have gotten in the way, and I also had this thing going on over on my Twitter where I’m giving shoutouts to women on International Women’s Day. With those things in mind, you might as well say that if this blog or my posts happened to be my kid(s), I might not be the best of fathers. I’ve been distracted, wanting to fall asleep, and just didn’t have enough of a focus on the things that matter. Speaking of parenting, let’s talk about Genevieve and Paul. Who are they? Well, they’re a couple who are currently expecting, but their journey to get there was like trying to find a way to defy gravity. Impossibly long and stressful. Ladies and gentlemen, this is all documented in “What The IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” focuses on the recently mentioned couple, Genevieve and Paul. The two are happy together and one day decide to have a baby. Turns out they realize, the process of having a baby isn’t all fun and games, and now they’ve got to deal with various problems. These problems range in areas including: Sex, math, exams, and those freakin’ needles!  The first episode of the series up right now, it’s actually the video listed above, it’s a few minutes long, so if you need to waste some time and you feel like you should watch something, this is a good deal for you. And I said to the couple that I’d promote the material, and I’m not just saying this to be nice or push their buttons or receive a fat paycheck in the mail, in fact at this point they’d probably need it for baby food or something, I actually watched the first episode, and I thought it was very well done. If you look at this video, you’re in for a well edited treat. Be sure to catch up on the latest regarding Genevieve and Paul and to help you do that, I’ll post links to various “WTIVF?” social media pages, and if you check this stuff out, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent you over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

Getting back on track, it’s official that the Academy Awards are now over, so now I can look back and say to myself, “What happened to the politics?” If you think I’m asking that negatively, think again. Because I know one thing for sure, politics and the Academy Awards associate with each other quite well, and at times, it’s not exactly annoying, but they seemed to tone it down this year. When it comes to the politics, it was basically a sigh of relief. There were barely any comments regarding our current administration and when the comments were uttered, they were actually quite funny!

“That’s not the point. We don’t make films like ‘Call Me by Your Name’ for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence.” -Jimmy Kimmel

Then again, this isn’t the Golden Globes, where political and social issues, at least from my eyes and ears, seem to be more prominent and forced. At this Oscars, the insertion of all this commentary regarding politics and society didn’t feel that awkward because while they were there, there seemed to be more of a focus on awards and film.

Not every single person made it a big deal to wear black. People either did or they didn’t. The jokes weren’t as cringe-worthy. And let me just have you know, the stuff that’s being represented in terms of social issues happens to be stuff I personally support! Racial equality! Gender equality! I mean, Barbra Streisand and Natalie Portman didn’t get up on stage and come off as depression lords. Yes, time IS up, but there are more important issues than having male nominees and winners for Best Director. One of my favorite quotes regarding social issues comes from Kumail Nanjiani, who you may know as one of the writers and actors in last year’s “The Big Sick,” which is one of my favorite movies of 2017.

“Some of my favorite movies are movies by straight white dudes about straight white dudes. Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me, and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.”

Well said, Kumail!

One of the other highlights of the night was something I didn’t actually expect. I came in for an award show, not a game show. Now when I say that, you may expect me to follow up with something negative, that is unless you realize my fanaticism for game shows. So as Jimmy Kimmel is finishing up his opening monologue, he reminds everyone that the Oscars is “a very long show.” Before those words are spoken, he states that the first Oscars show lasted for fifteen minutes from beginning to end, he adds in humor by saying “and people still complained.” So in order to spice things up, the show was going to give away a prize. So I start hearing “The Price is Right” music and suddenly, I see Helen Mirren standing right next to a new jet ski. The total value of the jet ski is $17,999, and whoever was to give the shortest speech, will go home with the prize. Kimmel adds, “Why waste precious time thanking your mother when you can give her the ride of her life on a new jet ski?” The man claimed that he was going to be timing everyone who wins an Academy Award with a stopwatch. Once they pick up their trophy, the clock begins ticking. Some of Kimmel’s conclusive words are “And in the unlikely event of a tie, I need to say the jet ski will be awarded to Christopher Plummer.”

By the way, Mark Bridges, the costume designer for “Phantom Thread,” was the winner of the jet ski. Also, for those of you who never heard of or seen “Phantom Thread,” the main character of Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, is a dressmaker. So of course, a movie about making clothes, won a category which involves making clothes.

Before I tuned into the Oscars, I made a hope/prediction post, which admittedly I rushed in some parts, but overall it was a somewhat effective list coming in over 4500 words. Although to be fair, it was crunch time, and I was just trying to get my major category predictions down. Much like in that post, I’m not gonna go through all the categories and stick to talking about anything from the categories that stand out to me. In my post I didn’t talk about anything such as Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary, stuff like that. I’m just gonna talk about a category if I have some sort of interest related to them or if there’s something to me in it that stands out compared to other categories. To start this off, I’m going to dive into a category that I didn’t discuss on my prediction post. Specifically, Best Animated Short Film.

Here are the results for Best Animated Short Film!

  • Dear Basketball (WINNER!)
  • Garden Party
  • Lou
  • Negative Space
  • Revolting Rhymes

Regardless of familiarity, this category interested me because of its winner, “Dear Basketball.” For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of “Dear Basketball,” I don’t imagine many people will blame you, including Lakers fans. It has less than 2,000 ratings on IMDb, but it appears the Academy liked it. I have no problem with them liking it. I haven’t seen the short, so I can’t judge all that much. Although the real shocker for me here is who happens to be behind this “Academy Award winner.” OK, well, John Williams composed the music, which may have partially contributed to the overall verdict. The animation was a different style than what I usually see, and while I don’t think that in itself is award-worthy, maybe the idea of being different contributed to it. The creative developer, Brian Hunt made this his first project as a creative developer, but he also had experience in the industry prior to this. Although when it comes to the entire world of diverse, differently-minded, and film-focused people, the Academy decides to give an award to…

Kobe Bryant.

Yeah, Kobe Bryant. Kobe. Bryant. KOBE… BRRRRYANT. A former NBA Basketball player who has won the NBA Finals in the past, achieved an Oscar! I’m not saying that this is the end of the world, but seriously! If you told me a week ago, that Kobe Bryant, a guy who angrily swears at his own basketball team during practice, saying that his teammates are motherf*ckers who don’t do s*it for him, was going to win an Academy Award, I’d die laughing, get up, and tell you to get out of my sight because I’d think you’re incredibly dumb.

But he did.

Although one thing I really liked about this is how Mark Hamill was presenting the award. Because for one thing, he’s f*cking Mark Hamill. And another thing, the joke he made right before “Dear Basketball” was announced.

“Don’t say ‘La La Land.’ Don’t say La La Land.'”

Speaking of animations, let’s dive into Best Animated Feature Film.

  • Coco (WINNER!)
  • Ferdinand
  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Loving Vincent

“Coco” won. What a surprise.

“The Boss Baby” lost. Big fat shocker as well, not to mention a sign that Earth is still sane.

Enough said. Moving on.

Next up is Best Actor, and here are the results!

  • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) (WINNER!)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

In total honesty, it would have been nice to see Daniel Day-Lewis win. Not just because he’s a terrific actor, but because this is his last performance. I have not seen “Phantom Thread,” much like how I haven’t seen any of the other films listed above, but seeing Day-Lewis winning would have been a treat. I have nothing against Gary Oldman. I don’t have anything against him winning, I think he’s a fine actor, and he definitely has potential to take on some more great roles in the future. I didn’t think about this while I was doing my hope and prediction post, but I did find this out going into the show. If Timothée Chalamet ended up winning Best Actor, he would have been the youngest person to win that award. For the record, Chalamet could have possibly been a 22 year-old Oscar winner, beating out then 29 year-old Adrien Brody (The Pianist) who won an Academy Award for this specific category for the 2002 movie season.

Speaking of acting, let’s move onto Best Actress!

  • Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) (WINNER!)
  • Meryl Streep (The Post)
  • Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
  • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

Once again, a category filled with movies that I just haven’t gotten around to watching! OK, well except one, which was “Three Billboards.” Having seen it, I approve of McDormand’s win. Very well deserved! Part of me thought at one point that Margot Robbie was gonna win for “I, Tonya” based on a clip I saw for it, but I guess not. Meryl Streep… I have nothing against her. I still have to see “The Post.” But I seriously wonder if this nomination happened just because she’s Meryl and the Academy has a fetish for nominating her. Part of me is also surprised the Academy didn’t go with Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird.” Although at the same time, it surprises me how many people saw the movie and didn’t like it. I didn’t see it, but I’m trying to.

One of the next categories we’re gonna get into is Best Adapted Screenplay.

  • Call Me by Your Name (WINNER!)
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Logan
  • Molly’s Game
  • Mudbound

I’ll state something similar to what I said in my prediction and hope post. “Mudbound,” to me, doesn’t qualify as a movie that associates with the Oscars. To me, the Oscars is about celebrating cinema. While there are a number of people who clearly worship this movie for various reasons, I refuse to call it a technical “Oscar film.” To my knowledge, this movie has released in a couple theaters if that. And while I do think a movie with even the smallest theatrical release can qualify to win an Oscar, it’s mainly known to me as a straight to streaming film. Now don’t get me wrong, if Amazon or someone like that distributed this film, I would have possibly supported “Mudbound” more. But instead, Netflix did. And since Netflix doesn’t give movie theaters a chance (do some research on “The Cloverfield Paradox”), I refuse to watch it, review it, and call it a movie that others seem to call it. So unless Netflix starts releasing films in theaters as a tradition and not a special occasion, I refuse to review any of their films or consider them for awards like Oscars, or if you want to be more accurate on my end, my top 10 BEST movies of the year lists. Now “Call Me by Your Name” won. I didn’t see it, therefore I was in a somewhat of a shock when its, well, name was called. I was glad it wasn’t “Mudbound,” but I didn’t really expect this film to win, and I was actually rooting for a couple of other films. One film I saw earlier this year because I couldn’t get to it last year was “Molly’s Game.” The film itself? Barely passable. The screenplay though? If this were a film class and I were teaching, I’d give it somewhere around the A range just for the diction choices and the snappy tone it provided at times. I was especially disappointed that they didn’t pick “The Disaster Artist” because humor-wise, it was the funniest movie of 2017, maybe aside from “The LEGO Batman Movie.” Not to mention the way it was written was partially realistic and another part felt like a homage. And while this is based on a true event, I totally appreciate the callbacks to some things that happened that can be associated with “The Room.” A lot of people are kind of disappointed that “Logan” didn’t win this award. I haven’t seen “Logan,” I’ve heard phenomenal things, but I haven’t seen it. Part of me wonders if this is just coming from people who either have a bias towards comic book movies or just go see comic book movies and ignores everything else, or if it’s a bunch of people who appreciate the screenplay for its differences compared to other comic book movies. It’s darker, grittier, contains more violence and foul language, and it just contains things that makes anyone who works at Disney hide in the corner. I’m not gonna focus on Best Original Screenplay, I don’t really have much to say about it. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m gonna just dive into categories which can feel more like an essay as opposed to a couple of forced complete sentences. Either that or if I feel if it has some sort of relevance to me, that will play into this sort of thing as well.

Next up is a category containing something I often think about, Best Original Score.

  • Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water) (WINNER!)
  • Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk)
  • John Williams (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
  • Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread)
  • Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Before we get into discussion concerning the winner, let’s talk about John Williams. John Williams, without a doubt, is a great composer, and there’s a reason why people love his work. Not only has he done some of the most iconic movie scores of all (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Jaws), but he’s proven to be talented for many many years. Although him being nominated for his work on “The Last Jedi” is just… Bogus. I have seen every single “Star Wars” film scored by John Williams, including the latest one in the franchise, “The Last Jedi.” The movie’s mediocre overall, I admittedly overhyped it when I first saw it, it was a whole thing. When it comes to John Williams, I honestly don’t see how he could have been nominated for an Oscar other than the fact that he’s the one doing the score. You remember the score for “Rogue One?” That one was the only score for a theatrically released “Star Wars” film that isn’t from John Williams. That score, while not recognized all that much for awards, was not only a delight to hear, but a different take on what could qualify as “Star Wars” music. I’ve given some sort of praise to “The Last Jedi” for being different, but one aspect that didn’t feel different was the score. It felt like it just took themes from “The Force Awakens” and other “Star Wars” films and shoved them right into this one. I still remember the climactic scenes and I’m hearing the “March of the Resistance” song and it just felt underwhelming unlike the first couple of times. I like John Williams, I think he’s skilled, but what the hell? There are other scores that weren’t even nominated that could have qualified! “Blade Runner 2049!” “Wonder Woman!” And even though this film wasn’t really that good, I’d be fine with live-action “Ghost in the Shell” because at least various aspects of the movie, such as the music, made it sound like it was trying. “Revenge of the Sith’s” score was never nominated for any Oscars, but if you actually think “The Last Jedi” had a better score than “Revenge of the Sith,” I’m gonna force-choke you. Now onto something that matters.

I wanted “Dunkirk” to win Best Original Score. Although in the end, it turned out to be “The Shape of Water.” And funny enough, the composer for the score in “The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat was originally going to compose the music for the recently mentioned “Rogue One” before that job ultimately went to Michael Giacchino! Desplat has also scored 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which I saw, enjoyed, but can’t say I liked as much other people. You know, kind of like its score. Seriously? It lost to “Interstellar?” You done goof, Academy. I’ll say this is one of those wins, much like a couple of others that really make me interested in checking out “The Shape of Water.” It would be interesting to hear what music related to a woman and fish who wanna f*ck sound like. I thought “Dunkirk” would win for its grand and fast-paced feel, but I guess not. But seriously though, no love for “Blade Runner 2049?”

Speaking of that, let’s talk about the nominees and winner for Best Visual Effects.

  • Blade Runner 2049 (WINNER!)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

From what you can tell, I love “Blade Runner.” I love both the original film and its sequel. An enormous part of me is beyond glad that it won Best Visual Effects. I will say though, I imagine some people have these every once in awhile. They have certain categories in award shows where they don’t care who wins because they think all of them are deserving of the prize. This to me, was one of them. I will say, part of me is shocked that “War for the Planet of the Apes” didn’t win because a lot of people were impressed by that film visually. Interestingly, that was the only film of the five nominees I didn’t watch at the very least in portions. I’ve seen part of “Kong: Skull Island,” and every other film including “Guardians,” “Star Wars,” and “Blade Runner,” were ones I watched from beginning to end. Part of me even wonders how many people are thinking right now that “War for the Planet of the Apes” got snubbed. Nevertheless, I’m happy “Blade Runner 2049” won. If you have not seen “Blade Runner 2049,” you might occasionally drop your jaw at the city of Los Angeles, the fact that they did a clear recreation of Sean Young who played Rachael in the original film, and how much you’ll be immersed that a part of you might end up wanting to jump in this world. If “War for the Planet of the Apes” won, I think it would have been a very much deserved win, but I’m incredibly happy that “Blade Runner 2049” took the cake.

One category that got a number of people talking was Best Film Editing. This is partially because of not only who DID win. But also because of who DIDN’T win. Here are the five films to have been recognized for their achievement here.

  • Dunkirk (WINNER!)
  • The Shape of Water
  • I, Tonya
  • Baby Driver
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

So “Dunkirk” came out on top as you can clearly see, and as someone who has watched the movie, I can understand why it won. It was told in a non-linear fashion, which only made the film a tad more interesting than it already was. Although it’s a Christopher Nolan movie, so this puzzle-like editing isn’t exactly a shocker. One movie that people were surprised didn’t win however was “Baby Driver.” I feel like part of why this didn’t win is because the Academy usually goes after dramatic movies like “Dunkirk” instead of movies that some people would refer to as “less serious” and “fun” like “Baby Driver.” Not only that, but I’m willing to bet part of it has to do with the whole Kevin Spacey scandal that’s been brought to the world’s attention months ago. Granted, this isn’t Kevin Spacey’s nomination specifically, but still. Am I disappointed “Baby Driver” lost to “Dunkirk?” Not really, I think both films are well edited in their own little way. “Dunkirk’s” non-linear fashion makes the movie more of a challenge to watch and ultimately more fun. Although with “Baby Driver,” the editing in that movie has given us some of the best action sequences of the decade. In my review, I praised “Baby Driver” for its thrilling action sequences and how it made me want more of them once one ends. I can see why “Dunkirk” won, but some love for “Baby Driver” would have also been appreciated.

If you remember the nominees for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, something in particular may have stood out to you.

They’re the same nominees.

Not only that…

THE SAME MOVIE TOOK BOTH AWARDS!

  • Dunkirk (WINNER!)
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Baby Driver
  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

One thing I’d like to say about “The Last Jedi.” I actually beg to differ because I think it had 2017’s best LACK OF sound editing or sound mixing. Remember that scene where one ship goes into hyperspace and crashes through another ship in the process? HOLY. F*CKING. S*IT. As much as that movie could have been better, THAT. WAS. AMAZING. While I do think the general editing for “Baby Driver” was praise-worthy to the point where I can’t contain myself, the sound work is basically not a competition anymore when “Dunkirk” steps in the ring. The sound choices were authentic! The audibility was extreme! The immersion provided from all the noise was 100% pure! How can you go wrong with “Dunkirk” in these categories?! “Dunkirk” put me in a war zone, and if you tell me you missed out on seeing this movie in a theater, shame on you.

When it comes to Best Director, this was yet another one of those categories where I was left feeling a lack of a surprise.

  • Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) (WINNER!)
  • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
  • Jordan Peele (Get Out)
  • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

So… Del Toro won. Doesn’t shock me whatsoever. I don’t know what you may have thought as the one to come out on top, but this was rather predictable to me. And I feel like a big part of it has to do with his presence at other awards shows, how much del Toro’s name has been spoken recently, and also how many Best Director awards I’ve been aware of this film getting thus far. One that really stuck out to me was the Golden Globes, mainly because of Natalie Portman’s “all male nominees” comment, which honestly would have been better left unspoken due to its awkwardness. I wanted Nolan to win, partially because he’s my favorite director, and also because of the excellent job he did on “Dunkirk.” But yeah, you can’t have everything. Although, I will say, something in the same realm as Portman’s Golden Globes utterance occurred. Last year’s winner for Best Actress, Emma Stone (La La Land, Birdman), said this:

“It is the director whose indelible touch is reflected on every frame. It is the director who, shot by shot, scene by scene, day by day, works with every member of the crew to further the story. And it is the vision of the director that takes an ordinary movie and turns it into a work of art. These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.”

This was so much better than seeing Natalie Portman onstage and having myself hear what she said. Don’t get me wrong, Portman’s a fine actress. Although let’s take a look at the situation at hand with her. She was standing next to RON HOWARD, someone who has directed a number of films. Films that by the way, are still remembered to this day! Howard even recently directed a film in the “Star Wars” franchise! A franchise which Portman was once a major part of as an actress! The two are talking, they’re about to present the award, and at one point, I hear Portman say…

“And here are the all male nominees.”

Yes, it is true that female directors aren’t usually getting as much attention as males. It is also true, that more males are directing movies as opposed to females. But to literally shame a director just because they have a penis, is just unbelievably ridiculous. How do you think del Toro felt taking that award home? I imagine he felt happy because he won, but seriously, he won after being accused of simply being a man. Emma Stone on the other hand, didn’t exactly make an awkward joke and instead quickly stated some words before moving on. It’s actually kinda funny. It was presented in a setting and manner that didn’t have a forced vibe, and I don’t have any feelings of cringe to describe to you. This comment, while it does point out the lack of women in the director’s chair when it comes to filmmaking, doesn’t feel like something that a man should be ashamed of hearing. Because for one thing, it mentions a woman got nominated. Also because it’s still technically a comment of praise. Literally pointing out that nominees are male the way Natalie Portman did almost feels like a comment meant to point out disdain towards the potential winners. Just look at the difference between the tone, delivery, and choice of words between the two people. Just look and see what I mean!

Speaking of women making achievements, one of them was involved in Best Cinematography… Although to me, that’s not even CLOSE to the best part of this category. The best part, is who finally f*cking won, after FOURTEEN nominations.

  • Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) (WINNER!)
  • Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk)
  • Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)
  • Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour)
  • Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water)

Best Cinematography. Sounds like a category that some people don’t care about. In reality, when it comes to filmmaking, I’m a writer. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a cinematographer. Although more than one name for me stood out on this list. You’ve got Hoyte Van Hoytema, who has to proven to be a great cinematographer with not just “Dunkirk” as a notable achievement, but also “Interstellar” and “Spectre.” I really admired “Dunkirk” when I saw it partially because of how well done the camerawork itself was presented from an immersion perspective, but also the fact that it was shot on mostly IMAX footage. If you didn’t go see this film in an IMAX theater, especially one with laser projection or 15/70mm projection, you may have just missed out on a one of a kind experience.

Another standout to me was “Mudbound,” and part of me thought the Academy was going to pick the cinematographer for that movie, Rachel Morrison. For the record, she was the first woman ever nominated for the award in all ninety of the Academy Awards shows. I’ll mention once again, I refuse to call “Mudbound” a movie. I have nothing against Rachel Morrison, I just have a problem with Netflix. I’d be rooting for Morrison more if she was given a movie that doesn’t associate with a company which will make me always say, as pervy as it may sound, “I’ll just take chill,” when asked the common meme-worthy question “Netflix and chill?.”

Then we have “Blade Runner 2049.” My runner-up for my favorite movies of 2017 list for a gigantic number of reasons. And speaking of gigantic numbers, let’s talk about the number 14. OK, in some realms it’s not really that huge, but you’ll see my point. Roger Deakins was the director of photography for “Blade Runner 2049.” And I imagine when some people heard his name, they got excited. Chances are, if these people have followed Deakins’ work, it might not be the first time they got excited about something like this. I can’t exactly relate, but having seen Deakins’ work in movies like “Skyfall,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Hail, Caesar!,” and “No Country For Old Men,” I agree with others when they say he’s one of the greats when it comes to cinematographers. Once again, the guy has been nominated for Best Cinematography by the Academy, FOURTEEN TIMES. Here is a list of all the times other than the one of focus when he’s been nominated. Note that the year listed is the year the film he shot came out and not the year he was nominated.

  • The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Kundun (1997)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
  • No Country For Old Men (2007)
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
  • The Reader (2008) (shared with Chris Menges)
  • True Grit (2010)
  • Skyfall (2012)
  • Prisoners (2013)
  • Unbroken (2014)
  • Sicario (2015)

What happened to Deakins when he was nominated those thirteen times? Well, that can be explained in a video by TIFF Originals that starts off with the statement: “Roger Deakins is a loser.” The video is called “Roger Deakins’ 13 Oscar Losses.”

After watching this video if you have done so, you probably got a thought on your mind, and it may have been “Roger Deakins is a f*cking loser.” I’ll be fair and say some of the competition he had were deserving of their awards, take “Gravity” for example. Although this year with “Blade Runner 2049,” I only thought Roger was deserving of HIS Oscar. We get to the big moment. I see Sandra Bullock holding an envelope with “CINEMATOGRAPHY” labeled on it. She says some words before introducing the nominees, and when they are introduced. I just thought this was gonna be a year where the Academy doesn’t give him the award and just gives an award to Rachel Morrison just because she has a vagina. Again, I have nothing against Rachel Morrison. She actually did the cinematography for “Black Panther” which was such a treat. It came out really well! I imagine she’s a very nice lady, but I was rooting for Roger. I’ll admit, I’m not that religious. My main philosophy is to be a nice person, I am however not that religious. But as the nominees were introduced, I had my hands, containing all sorts of cells, interlinked. I WAS PRAYING. People were cheering for Morrison, and the others seemed to get some applause, but I heard more for Morrison than anyone else. So they’re introduced, and it’s time. Sandra Bullock still has the envelope in her hand, and she says this as she quickly opens it for the result:

“And the Oscar goes to, Roger A. Deakins (crowd erupts in a roar), “Blade Runner 2049.”

My reaction to that can be described in many ways. Part of me wished I had fireworks to set off after that win! Part of me wanted to go around the house doing cartwheels after the win! Part of me wanted to find some confetti to throw around after that win! My reaction, quite possibly woke up my mother and sister. I might as well have been a young teenage girl at her favorite boy band’s concert! I might as well have been at an event where I find out my kid in school won student of the year! I might as well have been a Chicago Cubs fan at the end of the 2016 World Series, where they finally had a victory after years and years trying to get it. People may say that Leonardo DiCaprio waited a bit to get his Oscar, which I’ll say, when he won it, I kind of wanted Matt Damon to take it, but that’s just me. Although for Leo, he won it on his FIFTH nomination. When you’re nominated THIRTEEN times, it’s almost like you’ll be that one person who gets a nomination, but that’s all. What if Meryl Streep never won a single Oscar? All of her wins, “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “The Iron Lady,” they never happened. Streep received her TWENTY-FIRST nomination for a role she did just last year in “The Post.” I can imagine the crowd roaring like a bunch of T-Rexes in an argument if that turned out to be her first win. Let’s take another example, because why the hell not? Imagine the New York Yankees. Some people don’t like the New York Yankees because they always win. But they’ve been in 40 World Series Championships. Imagine all their titles where they were victorious, all gone. The 40th appearance is the charm. That’s how I feel about Deakins here, the fourteenth time’s the charm. I can wholeheartedly approve of Deakins winning not just because it took forever and a half to happen, but just look at these shots and tell me they actually look terrible. I dare y’all!

Nice shot now isn’t it?

Take a gander at this beauty.

Look at this bad boy and tell me it sucks. I’ll wait.

Is it just me or does this define the meaning of life?

This shot screams something that in some worlds, would qualify as one word. Fan-freakin’-tastic.

LOOK AT THIS SHOT!

LOOK AT THIS F*CKING SHOT!

LOOK AT THIS MOTHERF*CKING SHOT! NO! SERIOUSLY! THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF PERFECTION! THIS IS A F*CKING MASTERPIECE! I’M GOING F*CKING INSANE!

My point is made. Roger Deakins’ victory, to me, may be one of the most deserved Academy Award wins in history. THANK GOSH! So many people can sleep now and have less dreams and concerning nightmares!

And now, as mentioned, we won’t get through every single topic listed for the Academy Awards today, but here’s one that people look back on years and years from now, Best Picture. Before we get into that, you may remember the whole “La La Land” and “Moonlight” mishap from last year? Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway come up onstage to present the award, they state the nominees, they’re looking at the card, and somehow awkwardness ensues. Suddenly, Dunaway announces “La La Land” won Best Picture, but the two had the wrong card. Celebration ignites! Cheering be heard all over the Dolby Theatre, and a moment later, Jordan Horowitz, a producer behind “La La Land” is onstage and he states “Moonlight” won Best Picture. He even showed the card! Turns out Beatty and Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope. So… What happens now? What idea could be better than bringing Beatty and Dunaway back? Jimmy Kimmel had some fun before diving into the nominees. “We’re in the home stretch. Nothing could possibly go wrong from here. Here, on the 51st anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, are Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.” They come out, Beatty says, “We’re glad to see you all again.” Dunaway adds, “As they say, presenting is lovelier the second time around.” The two continue speaking, eventually arriving at the point where they announce the nominees and the winner. By the way, they had the correct envelope this time. Here are the movies that have been nominated for Best Picture!

  • The Shape of Water (WINNER!)
  • Dunkirk
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • The Post
  • Lady Bird
  • Get Out
  • Darkest Hour
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Phantom Thread

In my prediction post leading up to the Oscars, I said this was gonna be a close race to the finish between “Lady Bird,” “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I will say however for “Lady Bird,” that kind of changed throughout the night because it was nominated for five awards during the show, but the four that were already presented were all losses on their end. For “Dunkirk,” I thought it had a solid chance. The Academy seemed to give a lot of praise towards this film and it already won a few Oscars throughout the night. For “Three Billboards,” I figured it could win solely because it won Best Motion Picture- Drama at the Golden Globes. It also made a sweep at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. And it was nominated for a ton of Oscars beforehand, and it ended up taking home two before getting as far as Best Picture. Although if there was one I “knew” was going to win, it was going to be a movie with thirteen nominations including Best Picture. It was going to be a movie that already took home a few awards. It was going to be a movie praised by many critics and average moviegoers alike. It was going to be… “The Shape of Water.”

…And it won.

I have nothing in particular against “The Shape of Water.” From what I’ve seen in promotional material, it’s very good from a visual perspective, but I haven’t watched the movie so I can’t really say much else. Funny enough, I take a film studies class in my school, and my teacher actually asked if anyone in our class has actually seen “The Shape of Water.” Once asked, the class pretty much unanimously declined to put our hands up. I wanted “Dunkirk” to win. But hey, it’s already got some well deserved awards, especially in the sound categories. Also, remember, Roger Deakins won. So I was beyond satisfied. Although if “Blade Runner 2049” were nominated for Best Picture, you’d know I’d choose it. Or “Colossal,” that was my #1 movie of last year. Although I can understand why it’s not exactly been nominated for anything. But seriously, check that movie out if you can! It’s on several streaming services as we speak! So congrats to “The Shape of Water” and its crew. That movie is actually going to be out on home video in a number of days, so maybe I’ll watch it very soon!

Guys, that’s all I have to say for the 90th Academy Awards! It was personally a great show on my end. All of the commentary for the most part, wasn’t all that awkward. I may be in the minority, but the monologue between Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, The Carmichael Show) and Maya Rudolph (Big Hero 6, Bridesmaids), despite how it’s on a topic regarding issues I can side with, just came off as something that would belong in a one of those “SNL” sketches that gets shoved in there when the writers have nothing else that they can come up with. It took a topic that I would, could, and should agree on, and it just sullies it. I imagine both Rudolph and Haddish are pleasant people, and I’M SORRY that Rudolph had to suffer through “The Emoji Movie,” but this just felt weird to watch. But other than that, it was one of the greatest nights ever. I’ve spent some time watching people react to their favorite team winning the Super Bowl on YouTube before, and when it comes to Best Cinematography, that’s legit how I felt. My team won the Oscars, which is MY Super Bowl. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated and has won awards, I’m looking forward to seeing who will be in the 91st Academy Awards show, and finally. Finally. FINALLY! I can now call one of the world’s greatest cinematographers, Oscar-winning Roger Deakins. I’d like to thank the Academy for making that happen.

Thanks for reading this very long post! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review for “Annihilation” up for you all to read, and if you are wondering, I don’t live in one of the countries where you have to use Netflix in order to watch it so if that were the case, I wouldn’t have seen the film. Also, stay tuned for my Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” review series which will have its first entry up this month. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you watch the Academy Awards? What are your thoughts? Did your picks win? Did they lose? Is there someone you really wanted to win or lose? Did you make any bets? Have you decided to check out any movies after watching the show? Let me know all of that info for an unofficial possible nomination for Best Comment. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“Hey thank you, thank you. I better say something or else they’ll give me a jet ski and I don’t see myself on a jet ski somehow. I want to share this with my wife of 27 years, James, whatever. I want to share it with Andrew, Broderick, and Denis Villeneuve. Y’know I really love my job, I’ve been doing it for a long time as you can see. But y’know one of the reasons I really love it is the people I work with. Both in front of the camera and behind the camera. Some of my crew on “Blade Runner,” I’ve been working with for over thirty years. And others-others I met for the first time in Budapest. And this is for every one of them. Every one of them. In fact, I gotta say, it’s for us, because it was a team. It was really team- a team effort. Thank you. Thank you very much.” –Roger A. Deakins

90th Academy Awards Hopes and Predictions

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! On March 4th, which is this Sunday, which is also today, the Academy Awards will take place. The Super Bowl for movie buffs, and for at least the next few years, for a handful of people who enjoy hearing Trump jokes. Speaking of which, I can assure you that this Sunday’s Oscars show is gonna YUGE, and I’m not joking around. This year is the 90th show in the event’s history.

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Despite being a big number for the Oscars, I’ll say something I said for the 75th Golden Globes this year after it aired. “Seventy-five, undoubtedly, is a big number for any event, however this felt like other “Golden Globes” shows I watched with a 75 shoved in the title.” I imagine I’ll feel the same way for the Academy Awards, although I think it’ll be a much more comfortable and less awkward experience than the Golden Globes. While the Oscars can get, and has gotten, political, my recent experience tells me that vibe is present a bit more at the Golden Globes. In fact, when it comes to the political jokes during the Oscars, I honestly found those to be funnier and more memorable. If you recall last year’s show, the host, Jimmy Kimmel said somethings not necessarily about Donald Trump but TO Donald Trump. What better way to say something to Trump than what might be his all-time favorite form of communication than tweeting. The tweets are located below, and believe me, they were the greatest tweets you will ever see. The only people who hate these tweets are Crooked Hillary, the Mexicans, and Alex Baldwin!

Nowadays, the world essentially has been riddled with jokes about Donald Trump, and out of all the ones we’ve gotten, this is one that is difficult to top. Although if we were gonna get any more Trump jokes this year, I can assure you they might have a little joke sibling that I’m thrilled to see.

If you watched the Academy Awards last year and stayed tuned towards the end of the show, where it was time to reveal the winner for Best Picture, you may remember how that went down. You may have been screaming at your TV hoping for your pick to win either because you support a certain movie, or you just want to win a bet against your stupid friend, I dunno. I was hoping “Arrival” would win, but in reality, that probably wasn’t going to happen. “La La Land” was my second choice however, having seen that movie and loving it. So Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are onstage, and they have a card ready. A card that will change everything. So the nominees for Best Picture are presented, the two appear somewhat confused as they’re about to read the card, and suddenly, Dunaway announces “La La Land.” Once I heard that name, my prediction for Best Picture was right, and I thought it was a fair choice. The crowd is roaring, and as everyone affiliated with that project is arriving onstage, it hasn’t sunk in for everyone, but something happened. Jordan Horowitz is onstage and he shouts to everyone something that I can’t even believe I heard. “La La Land” DIDN’T win Best Picture, “Moonlight” did. This made me think I had to see “Moonlight,” and WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! Turns out someone was too busy on Twitter instead of trying to hand the correct card. This win made me tempted to see “Moonlight” nearly a couple weeks later, and I was unfortunately met with underwhelming results. It’s a good movie, but it’s not THAT GREAT.

Even so, you know how at the end of 2015, the Miss Universe pageant was held and Columbia was the assumed winner, and it turned out to be Philippines? It’s almost hard to tell which screw-up was crazier because the Miss Universe one was the host’s fault, not to mention upon personal review, THE CARD LOOKED F*CKING CRAZY! Here however, you have a screw-up between a staff member working for the show, Warren Beatty along with Faye Dunaway, and it affected not just one person, but an entire crew who worked on something together. Also, remember Jordan Horowitz? The guy who was onstage revealing the true Best Picture? Well, he was a producer for “La La Land,” so this must have been hard for him to do. He took it like a good sport, which I couldn’t even believe, which only makes me admire Horowitz even more!

So yeah, it appears the Beatty and Dunaway are presenting Best Picture again, so my first hope/prediction is that they get it right this time!

Speaking of nomination categories, let’s move onto some that I feel are worth tackling. Starting with… Best Supporting Actor. Here are the all-male nominees!

  • Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)
  • Willem DaFoe (The Florida Project)
  • Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)

Out of these, I’ve only seen Harrelson’s performance and Rockwell’s performance from beginning to end. So of the ones I’ve seen, I’ll go with Harrelson. Of the ones I haven’t seen, I’m either thinking Willem DaFoe or Christopher Plummer will take the cake. I haven’t seen “The Florida Project,” and I don’t have too many good things to say about DaFoe other than hearing positive remarks about his performance. Although think about what the crew behind “All the Money in the World” had to do regarding Christopher Plummer. If you have been living under a rock when it comes to news about Kevin Spacey, let me just say you might be living a happier life than some other people who live in this world because Kevin Spacey, as this world now knows, is a sexual predator. Spacey was originally going to be featured in “All the Money in the World” as the character of J. Paul Getty. Now that Spacey has his dark secrets revealed, Plummer was going to take Spacey’s place, which meant a frenzy of reshoots. Keep in mind, Spacey’s case was revealed on October 29, 2017, LESS THAN TWO MONTHS before the release of the picture! How did he do in the film? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, but with a story such as that, I think Plummer has some potential. Sure, part of it involved more than just acting, but acting plays a key component into all of this.

Next up is Best Supporting Actress. And the nominees are…

  • Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
  • Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
  • Allison Janey (I, Tonya)
  • Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
  • Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

Of everyone listed, I’ve seen NONE OF THEIR PERFORMANCES. But if you want my guess, I gotta go with Laurie Metcalf. I’m hearing a lot of good things about “Lady Bird.” From the acting, to the writing, to the directing, everything. I didn’t see it on opening weekend because let’s face it, “Thor: Ragnarok” was gonna crush it. Part of what people seem to like about “Lady Bird” is the realism it seems to convey, and I imagine that Metcalf’s performance plays a part in that. In all honesty, I don’t see Blige winning because “Mudbound” was distributed by Netflix and I imagine it would have to be in a larger number of theaters for the Academy to accept it. But anything can happen. One actress I thought unbelievably snubbed for this category is Holly Hunter (The Big Sick). When I saw “The Big Sick” this year, I thought Holly Hunter might have been the best part of the movie, and she fit the role of a gritty white mother quite well. She was part of why I thought the movie was “top 10 list” worthy when I did my end of the year “top 10 BEST movies” list. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

Moving onto Best Actor, the nominees are…

  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
  • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

Out of all of these, there are a few that stand out. A lot of people are rooting for Gary Oldman, so that gives him a chance. Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most revered actors ever, is nominated for not only a role that people praised, but the last role he’ll ever do on screen, so maybe that and some respect for his chops will land him a win. Daniel Kaluuya was in one of the most talked about movies of the year, and he’s black, which gives him an extended probability of winning. I have not seen any of these films, but if there were one I think would win, it would be between these three. I personally wanted James Franco and Harrison Ford to make this list, but that didn’t happen now didn’t it. Sure, Franco’s allegations could have SOMETHING to do with it and I may be in the minority when it comes to Ford due to my love for “Blade Runner 2049.” Although if you haven’t seen “Blade Runner 2049,” I personally consider that Ford’s all-time best performance I’ve seen.

Onto Best Actress, let’s take a look at the nominees…

  • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
  • Meryl Streep (The Post)
  • Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
  • Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

OK… Meryl Streep has been nominated again… Big surprise. I have nothing against Meryl Streep, but I’m just making a point that she’s basically been nominated countless times. I don’t think she’ll win though. As for Margot Robbie, I’m SLIGHTLY surprised she was nominated. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great actress, but I don’t remember her performance being the ultimate highlight of “I, Tonya.” I didn’t see “I, Tonya,” but from what I heard, that’s what I’m gathering. I think this will be either another “Lady Bird” win with Saoirse Ronan, or a win for “Three Billboards” with Frances McDormand. I bought “Three Billboards” on 4K today and I ADORED McDormand’s performance. I thought it was rather jaw-dropping at times, she had the right mannerisms, and it just screamed art. Will she win? Hopefully. Make it happen!

Next, we have Best Original Screenplay. These are…

  • The Big Sick (Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon)
  • The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor)
  • Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  • Get Out (Jordan Peele)

As far as the fact that “The Big Sick” is on this list goes, I’m happy, but rather puzzled. Sure, this wasn’t based on a book, video game, comic book, anything like that, but it is based on true events. I mean, I guess it can belong there if “Spotlight” belonged in that category a couple years back. Even so, I hope it wins out of all of these. Maybe I’m overthinking on the nomination process, but even so, I figured I’d say what I wanted to say. Although I can imagine all of these have a good chance, but “The Shape of Water” is on the lower end of the spectrum. “The Shape of Water,” while people are praising it, is more of a gem according to people from a visual perspective. It is getting praise for its story, but the visuals are more of a standout. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” was rather haunting and intriguing at times. “Get Out” is actually rather relevant and it has been that way for months now. “Lady Bird” is once again, from what I imagine, realistic. All of these have a shot, it’s just a matter of votes. However one thing I’ll mention about “Get Out” that I’ve yet to mention, is that there’s apparently stories going around about older Academy voters not considering it “Not an Oscar movie.” I haven’t seen the movie, but I know a lot of people disagree. I actually saw a couple of funny tweets yesterday putting “Get Out” alongside “The Boss Baby,” which was nominated in the Best Animation category.

Speaking of screenplays, let’s move onto Best Adapted Screenplay.

  • Logan (Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green)
  • The Disaster Artist (Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber)
  • Call Me by Your Name (James Ivory)
  • Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Mudbound (Dee Rees, Virgil Williams)

Alright, once again, “Mudbound’s” a Netflix movie, therefore reducing its chances and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. I did see “Molly’s Game.” I never read the book it’s based on, but the adaptation for it contained a fast-paced, jumping all over the place kind of feeling screenplay and I felt the movie was all the better for it. I also saw “The Disaster Artist,” another book I didn’t read, but it did get a terrific adaptation. In fact, it made my top 3 films of 2017! “Logan” could win as well, but as far as I know, the Academy probably doesn’t usually view comic book movies the way others do. If I had to choose one that I WANT to win, it’s “The Disaster Artist.” Will it win? I don’t know. But I hope it does, its screenplay MADE the movie. It’s one of the funniest screenplays of the decade!

Now we’re moving onto Best Cinematography and THIS, my friends, is gonna be a big one for me. Here are the nominees…

  • Blade Runner 2049 (Roger Deakins)
  • Dunkirk (Hoyte Van Hoytema)
  • The Shape of Water (Dan Laustsen)
  • Darkest Hour (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Mudbound (Rachel Morrison)

Now before we get into what I’ll call “the big guns,” let’s talk about Rachel Morrison. She’s done cinematography for “Mudbound,” as suggested above. And part of me thinks she has a legitimate shot at winning. I know it’s a Netflix movie, I know what I mentioned about it, but there’s a reason she could win and it’s as simple as this. It’s because… she’s a she. This is the ninetieth Oscars show, and it’s the first one where a woman’s been nominated for Best Cinematography. Part of me thinks that some of the more progressive voters behind the Academy will go for her, not to mention it would make for a good story. I don’t think she’ll come out on top, but that’s because part of me’s stuck on three people, including her. One of the other people is “Dunkirk’s” Hoyte Van Hoytema. I went to see “Dunkirk” in IMAX 70mm, I bought it the day it came out on home video, I watched it twice on Blu-ray and twice on 4K. You can obviously tell I ate “Dunkirk” up like pizza. The cinematography was a highlight for me. This is because this movie was shot on IMAX film cameras and standard 70mm cameras. Not to mention, the way various shots on land, water, and air were presented. The dogfight sequences from the perspective of the camera was absolutely astounding for example! Watching this in IMAX 70mm made it even better because multiple sequences once again, were shot using IMAX technology. Although there’s one film I think is much more deserving of an Oscar in this category and that is, “the big guns,” otherwise known as, “Blade Runner 2049.” If you follow this blog, I’ve talked about “Blade Runner 2049” many many many times, so it should be evident by know that I clearly love it. Part of it has to do with the cinematography. I thought it was not only the best cinematography from a 2017 movie I’ve watched, but also some of the best I’ve seen in my entire life. The camerawork was done by a guy named Roger Deakins. If that name sounds familiar to you, I wouldn’t be extremely surprised. Deakins has done cinematography for films such as: “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fargo,” “No Country For Old Men,” “True Grit,” “Skyfall,” “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” movies like those! He’s been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Cinematography category FOURTEEN TIMES. With this being some of my all time favorite cinematography, if Deakins loses, I’d be OK with Hoytema winning, but if anyone else wins, I’ll riot. You can say I either want Deakins to win for my fanaticism for “Blade Runner” or just his story when it comes to the Oscars, but I can also argue you haven’t seen “Blade Runner 2049.” By the way, WATCH IT!

Now let’s focus on Best Original Score, with nominees including…

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (John Williams)
  • Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Carter Burwell)
  • Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
  • The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)

Out of all of these, I think the one that has the least chance of winning is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge “Star Wars” fan, and there many people out there who either like “Star Wars” or its music. Personally speaking, and perhaps speaking for a lot of other people out there, “The Last Jedi” might be the worst “Star Wars” score of all time. It’s all subjective, but to me, it just felt repetitive and unoriginal. “Three Billboards” could have a chance, but you never know what could happen. Although I will say, if “Dunkirk” wins, I wouldn’t be too surprised. It’s my second favorite score of 2017 (below “Blade Runner 2049”), it suits the tone of a war film, and upon experience of watching “Dunkirk,” the way it is edited also plays a bit into it. So yeah, go “Dunkirk!”

As for Best Animated Feature, I’m not even gonna go into detail about it. Everyone knows it’s gonna be “Coco.”

Also, why would “The Boss Baby” be nominated instead of something like “The LEGO Batman Movie?” No, seriously, WHY?! Ah well, at least it’s not “The Emoji Movie.”

I will however expand the lack of detail when it comes to Best Production Design…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Shape of Water
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk

Out of all these, I think the first three I listed have the best shot of winning. Maybe “The Shape of Water” in third place, but critics are eating it up so you never know. You probably know I’d be choosing “Blade Runner 2049” right now. If the sets didn’t look great already at home, imagine them all in the theater! I actually watched the bonus features and these sets still astound me! They’re unbelievable!

Now let’s go onto Best Visual Effects, and the five of these I personally believe were all very well selected.

  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

A lot of people have been talking about “War for the Planet of the Apes” when it comes to the visuals, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they won in this category. And funny enough, I’ve seen at least a small portion of all of these films except for that one! Honestly, I’m fine with any of these winning. If there’s a film I think WON’T win, it’ll be “Kong: Skull Island,” but it did deserve a nomination in my book.

As for Best Film Editing, let’s take a look at those nominees.

  • Baby Driver
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • I, Tonya
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve seen three of these films, and all them are ones I feel are competently edited. “Baby Driver” however, I believe will take the cake, and if it does take the cake, I’m cool with it. The way it edits its music and action sequences is superb and I feel that the “Fast & Furious” franchise, as much as I enjoy some of those movies, can take some notes from it in order to improve their films. “Dunkirk” comes close, but no cigar.

The next two categories have to do with sound: Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. And believe it or not, the same exact movies were nominated in both categories, so let’s look at them.

  • Blade Runner 2049 (EDITING: Mark A. Mangini, Theo Green) (MIXING: Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth)
  • Dunkirk (EDITING: Richard King, Alex Gibson) (MIXING: Gregg Landaker, Gary Lizzo, Mark Weingarten)
  • Baby Driver (EDITING: Julian Slater) (MIXING: Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (EDITING: Matthew Wood, Ren Klyce) (MIXING: Michael Semanick, David Parker, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce)
  • The Shape of Water (EDITING: Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira) (MIXING: Christian T. Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Brad Zoern)

Yes, I credited people here and not in other places, but I don’t care. As for both of these categories, I think the big three rivals are “Baby Driver,” “Dunkirk,” and “Blade Runner 2049.” The sound recordings fit each film, they were great to hear, and when you mesh em all together, you get something fantastic. I would personally be satisfied with any of those three films winning in either category. The same can be said for “The Last Jedi,” but it’s not quite there…

Next we have Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which if you’ve watched last year’s show, you may remember the possibly hilarious and somewhat controversial win for “Suicide Squad.” This year, no comic book movies have been nominated. However, three other movies have.

  • Wonder
  • Darkest Hour
  • Victoria & Abdul

I’ve seen one movie on the list this year, and I don’t think it’ll win (Wonder) and as for the winner, I’m just gonna guess based on what I’ve seen in images. So with that being said, I’ll go with “The Darkest Hour.”

Moving onto Best Production Design, the nominees are…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • Darkest Hour
  • The Shape of Water

I already talked enough about “Blade Runner 2049” from a visual standpoint, so you probably know my answer there. I think the actual winner will be either “Beauty and the Beast” or “The Shape of Water” but only time will tell.

Now for Best Original Song, we have…

  • This is Me (The Greatest Showman)
  • Remember Me (Coco)
  • Mighty River (Mudbound)
  • Stand Up for Something (Marshall)
  • Mystery of Love (Call Me by Your Name)

This will probably a two-horse race between “Remember Me” and “This is Me.” I’ve seen neither of these films, but given their popularity and likability factor from what I heard, that could help in potentially getting a win.

Next up is Best Costume Design, which includes…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Shape of Water
  • Darkest Hour

Out of all of these, I believe a few have a shot. “Darkest Hour,” “Victoria & Abdul,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “Darkest Hour’s” costumes seem to fit the vibe of the film from what I’m looking at. The same can also be said for “Victoria & Abdul.” Although when it comes to “Beauty and the Beast,” that also has potential because it seems to have transferred its costumes over from its animated predecessor quite well, and as costumes, they look elegant. So we’ll have to wait and see.

Next up, we have Best Director, and there are some names that I think are worth discussing here.

  • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
  • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
  • Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
  • Jordan Peele (Get Out)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

All of these have potential from what I can tell. These all come off as competently made movies, and the direction seemingly appears to play into all of them. Although the big three here to me are Nolan, Gerwig, and del Toro. I mean, del Toro, from what I heard, is getting a lot of attention right now. Critics are loving “The Shape of Water,” people are rooting for him, and you may also remember, he won a Golden Globe in this category for that movie. This could be another win for him. For Greta Gerwig, I’ll say once again, a couple of actors stand out in this film, and part of it may be due to Gerwig’s realistic take and overall direction for it. Not to mention, Gerwig’s a woman, which could not only make an interesting story, but also a lot of people happy. I’m personally rooting for Christopher Nolan. For those of you who don’t know, Nolan is my favorite director of all time. He’s done so many great films and the man overall may just be a genius when it comes to storytelling. When it comes to “Dunkirk,” his vision was experimental and it made the movie all the better for it. So will the Academy choose Nolan? I don’t think so, it’ll probably be del Toro, but we’ll find out!

And last but not least, we have the biggest category of all, Best Picture…

  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • Get Out
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Phantom Thread

As for the ones that are probably not gonna win, I’m gonna say those are “Get Out” and “The Post.” Once again, I’ll bring up how older Academy voters aren’t viewing “Get Out” as an Oscar film. As for “The Post,” while it is getting lots of positive reception, it doesn’t have too many nominations overall compared to some of the other movies on that list. The ones that I feel have absolute potential of winning are: “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water,” “Lady Bird,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Not only have these films come off as great films to viewers and critics alike, they have all received a high number of nominations compare to some other films you’ll see on here. If I had to choose one film that I want to see win it would probably be “Dunkirk.” It has potential due to a high number of nominations and I personally want it to win based on the replay value it has and how it’s presented from an experimental and technical standpoint. My winner for voter picks would be “The Shape of Water,” because let’s face it, people are talking about it. It was nominated for thirteen Oscars, and it already won Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards. My runner-up for both the critic picks and personal picks would be “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I really enjoyed watching the film. I thought it was well shot, terrifically acted, and well written. For the critics, you have to consider past experience regarding this film. This won a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama section, and it basically made a sweep at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards. Could it win? I don’t know. It’s hard to say what will ultimately take the cake. We’ll have to see when the awards arrive!

If you are actually reading this before the Oscars begin, I actually kind of congratulate you because they actually start VERY SOON. If you’re reading after, I just hope you’re enjoying my somewhat irrelevant content. I don’t know if I’ll be summing up my final thoughts on the Oscars once the show ends, only time will tell. Besides, I’m already busy doing another review which I’ll talk about in a second, but until time allows me to make a final decision, we’ll just have to see where the road leads. Thanks for reading this post! Be sure to stay tuned for my review for “Annihilation.” I just saw the film earlier today, and I cannot wait to talk about it. I’ve already started the review before it came out, because I figured some topics having to do with the movie (that can be talked about without having seen it) are relevant and I wanted to spit those out. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, if there’s still time to type them em in, what are some of YOUR hopes and predictions for the 90th Academy Awards? Also, which is better? “La La Land” or “Moonlight?” Me personally, I’d choose “La La Land!” Leave that info down below and please make sure you’re not too busy sending out important tweets, otherwise I might possibly have some false comments on my hands, so be careful! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Also, one more thing…

GIVE ROGER DEAKINS HIS OSCAR ALREADY!