Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is that time of year again to do my annual countdown streak, and this year is going to be a little bit different. In 2021, I did a most anticipated movies list for that year’s slate. I did not do one last year, but as you can see, it has been brought back this year. We are starting off the countdowns with my top 10 most MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023. Yes, the best and worst are coming, there will be more info on that later. Before we start, here are some ground rules. First off, much like my usual best and worst lists, these are completely subjective picks. I am not saying you have to agree with me on these picks, but these are recommendations for movies to check out this year, mostly as a to do list for myself. I do not know how these movies will turn out. In fact, many of you reading this probably are in the same boat. These are just my opinions, just a fair warning. Also, these movies have to be on the verge of a theatrical release. If a project will not be playing in theaters, I will not count it, as I technically call that television. With that said, I am going to list one honorable mention because I like the people behind the film, but I do not know much about it and I think if I knew more, I could potentially put it in my top 10.
Honorable Mention: True Love
While doing research for this list, one project I found is “True Love,” a science fiction film from Gareth Edwards (above). The track record for Gareth Edwards in regards to what I think about his resume is in a word “positive.” Although he directed “Rogue One,” which is one of the best things to have come out of the Disney “Star Wars” era. He knows how to make a film. Plus, not only his he directing “True Love,” he is also writing it. In addition, the cast includes notable names like John David Washington (Tenet, Amsterdam), Gemma Chan (Eternals, Crazy Rich Asians), and Allison Janney (I, Tonya, Mom). This movie has some promise, I just hope to know more about it soon. The film releases this October, so hopefully we get a trailer around the halfway point of the year.
With that out of the way, it is time to count down my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023!
Starting off this list is a film that I almost forgot was coming out, “Wonka!” I love “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and say what you want about the 2005 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” I genuinely think it is a great film. I cannot wait to return to the world of Willy Wonka. But this time around we are not seeing another redo of the classic story by Roald Dahl and instead, getting a prequel as to how Wonka got his start. I have no idea what vibe they are going to go for with this. Supposedly this story is about Wonka’s days before he creates his own chocolate factory, which we have seen on screen before, but perhaps not in this much detail. I imagine this will be a magical story for the whole family, but I also wonder if they could go in a darker direction with this story too. After all, if you remember the other stories in this property, children, who to be fair, are kind of rotten, face various near death experiences because of how Wonka sets up his factory. I know this sounds dark, but I want to know if Wonka is setting up certain aspects of his factory on purpose. Remember the boat from “Willy Wonka?” If Augustus did not get sucked in the tube, he and his mother would not have even had a seat on the boat for themselves, it would have exceeded full capacity. Maybe I am overthinking things, but I am sure that whatever kind of story they tell, it has the potential to have the same awe and wonder I had when I read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in elementary school. Also, Timothee Chalamet will be playing Willy Wonka this time around, and I do not know how his performance will be, but I have never seen him choose a questionable project, so this must be something special.
#9. John Wick: Chapter 4
Coming in at #9 is “John Wick: Chapter 4!” I have always loved the “John Wick” franchise. While I have not gone back to watch the films a whole ton over the years, I will say that this franchise manages to do something that people often say franchises fail to do, make a sequel that surpasses the original. I think it is fair to say I liked “John Wick: Chapter 2” more than its predecessor. Also, did I like “John Wick: Chapter 3” even more? Dang right, I like it more! Bring on the assassin dogs! I almost do not even care what the plot is at this point. I mean, maybe a little. This time around, John Wick has to trot the globe to defeat a new enemy. The concept does not seem to break new ground, but if you deliver action that is as killer and thriller as the previous installments, this could be worth watching. While I love “The Matrix,” I think Keanu Reeves is better suited to play John Wick than Neo, and I have always loved his portrayal of this character. I’m thinkin’ he is back and better than ever! I have no idea if this film is going to be good. For all I know it could suck. But if we are going by statistics, I think “John Wick: Chapter 4” could end up being a great time.
Speaking of statistics, Pixar has yet to make a bad movie. Even recent outings like “Luca” and “Lightyear,” while they are lower tier projects, I will still give them credit for entertaining me. That said, I am very curious about Pixar’s next project, “Elemental.” Pixar over the years has popped the question about what happens if certain things had emotions. What if toys had emotions? What if cars had emotions? What if emotions had emotions like in “Inside Out?” I do not know much about this movie so far. All I know is that the story is likely going to focus on a water being named Wade and fire being named Ember. The two meet unexpectedly and this seems to throttle the story going forward. But the thing is that given how these are different elements, Wade and Ember cannot touch each other. Given how there is an entire story between these two, something seismic is bound to happen. Perhaps a romance plot? That seems very likely. Plus, Peter Sohn, the director behind the project, notes that the movie traces elements of his experience growing up, and I imagine that could add some personality to the table. Here is hoping the movie is yet another win for Pixar.
On the note of actors who always appear in projects I like such as the recently mentioned Timothee Chalamet, let’s talk about a movie featuring the great Adam Driver, “65!” Sony recently released a trailer for this film almost out of nowhere, and I am curious as to what this movie could bring to the table. As much as I love “Jurassic Park,” the franchise has lost its magic it originally had in the 1990s when it made dinosaurs terrifying. This is especially true with the recent “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which is a roaring travesty. “65” looks like it is going to bring something fresh for dinosaur movies. The concept of this movie is that a couple people, including pilot Mills (Driver), crash land on a planet, which happens to be earth from 65 million years ago. The mission is to survive this unfamiliar territory, which includes, yes, dinosaurs. While he is not directing the movie, Sam Raimi is producing it, which seems promising. In fact, Raimi mainstay Danny Elfman is doing the score, and I always enjoy his work. The other thing to keep in mind is that the duo who wrote (and directed) this film also co-wrote “A Quiet Place,” which is an incredible horror movie with some of the scariest moments the genre has delivered in recent times. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods may be delivering one of the year’s highlights this March.
#6. Cocaine Bear
Some of you might beg to ask why I am putting this movie on the list. The reason is because I have been looking forward to it ever since I first heard about the crazy, unbelievable story that inspired this project back in 2021, That movie, my friends, is “Cocaine Bear.” The name alone is worth the curiosity, but the story is worth the attention. For those who do not know, this film, as crazy as it sounds, is based on true events. There are liberties taken in this case, but it is fun to know that this absurd concept is based on something that actually happened. Essentially, millions of dollars worth of cocaine happens to be separated from a plane and a bear ends up eating it. This movie sounds delightfully over the top, and it also looks hysterical. The bear itself looks like it could be the biggest riot of the year. The movie is probably not going to win any Oscars, but this looks like a contender for the year’s most kneeslap-inducing comedy. This film is directed by Elizabeth Banks, who previously directed the 2019 “Charlie’s Angels,” which I honestly was not a fan of. Although I genuinely like her and everything else she does. If you guys are not watching the ABC reboot of “Press Your Luck,” you should. Banks is honestly the best game show host on television right now. The one other caveat that comes to mind is that the movie comes out in February, and the first couple months of the year, with a few exceptions, are usually where movies go to die. I was looking forward to “Moonfall” last year, I thought it could be stupid fun. …It was one of those things, and if you read my thoughts on the movie itself, you could probably figure out which one. All I know is that this film looks ridiculous, it sounds like a strange concept, but as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. Therefore, for all I know we could have a gem on our hands.
Sometimes you have to really sell me on a movie to get me in the door, and in others, you just need to use the magic words. The magic words in this case… Christopher Nolan. Ladies and gentlemen, my #5 most anticipated film of the year is “Oppenheimer.” Christopher Nolan is my favorite director working today. With the exception of “Following,” I have seen all of his movies and enjoyed all of them. I even liked “Tenet!” I watched it twice this year when I found it playing on HBO for crying out loud! I have no idea how good “Oppenheimer” will end up being, but I know that it has the potential to be the movie of the summer. One that not only can bring in a big audience. One that not only ends up delivering a one of a kind cinematic experience. One that is not just as technically brilliant as it is solid of a story. But also one that could get people to think after they leave. After all, this movie is centered around Robert J. Oppenheimer and his involvement in developing the atomic bomb. This has the potential to be an emotional ride in more ways than one. Plus you have a stacked cast including Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and even Kenneth Branagh is making a return to the Nolan-verse. There is massive potential with this movie, and I hope it is executed well when it comes out.
#4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
James Gunn is a solid filmmaker, especially when it comes to comic book material. That is just one of the reasons why “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is the MCU movie I am perhaps looking forward to more than any other this year. I am looking forward to “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” but I have my reservations. “The Marvels” could be good, but I need to know a little more. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” on the other hand looks like an encapsulation of why I adore these characters, these stories. This is said to be the last “Guardians of the Galaxy” installment with this crew, which could end up contributing to an emotional script and great character moments. This film looks fun, visually stunning, and hysterical. If there is one thing that Gunn does well in his movies, it is delivering a perfect balance between comedy and heart. Yes, it is strangely amusing to see a talking tree who emits one phrase walk amongst a team of heroes, but the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” also uses that tree to induce tears out of people’s eyes. I would not be surprised if we get one or two of those kinds of moments here, especially considering the conclusiveness of this particular chapter. I do want to be careful though because I had monumental expectations for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and that ended up being a disappointment for me. But Gunn’s resume also consists of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which was hilarious and had a killer soundtrack. Additionally, he made “The Suicide Squad,” which is probably my favorite DC project of all time. Also, recently, he did “Peacemaker” on HBO Max, which in addition to having the greatest opening title sequence in history, is marvelously led by John Cena. Not to mention it is simply a fantastic series. Here is hoping “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is another win for James Gunn.
#3. Dune: Part Two
I really enjoyed the first “Dune” during my few watches. It has my favorite film score of 2021, the visual effects are outstanding, and it totally deserved its Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I am looking forward to “Dune: Part Two.” I am not familiar with any of the other “Dune” stories or the source material. But I cannot help but look forward to what is to come. Denis Villeneuve, the director behind the first film, is coming back to helm this one. He is a master of sci-fi storytelling, and I will not be surprised if he ends up churning out a sequel that surpasses the original. Like I said in my description for “Wonka,” Timothee Chalamet is a great actor, and he chooses his films wisely. Good to see him back as Paul Atreides. Rebecca Ferguson is back, so is Stellan Skarsgard, and maybe we will get a bit more of Zendaya. At the same time, we also have newcomers like the gifted Austin Butler and the great Florence Pugh joining the cast, so here is hoping we have a movie as excellent as its talent. I am looking forward to seeing more of this journey, and if the first film showcased anything, this could be a contender for the most technically beautiful film of the year.
#2. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One
If you guys remember my 2021 most anticipated movies list, you may remember that I had “Mission: Impossible 7” on the #3 spot. Well, that movie has yet to come out, and it has been promoted to the #2 spot. This time, it has an official title, specifically “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One.” Much like “John Wick,” “Mission: Impossible,” for the most part, is a franchise that gets better with each movie. The first film was great, but I thought the second was a giant step down. The third one was better, but the quality also appeared to increase with the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments too. When I did my best movies of 2018 list, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” was my #1, and I often flip it back and forth these days with “Avengers: Infinity War,” which at the time was my #2. At the time, I did not know how Tom Cruise, arguably my favorite movie star in the business, could supposedly do a more daredevil-esque stunt than learning how to fly a helicopter just to pull off the film’s climax. Well, it appears Christopher McQuarrie, who is returning for his third “Mission: Impossible” outing, has an answer. I recently watched a behind the scenes video of how they pulled off a specific stunt where Cruise jumps off of a ramp while flying off of a motorcycle. I have no words. I cannot wait to see this on the big screen, this has the potential, like I said about “Oppenheimer,” to be the movie of the summer. “Top Gun: Maverick” made over a billion dollars at the box office last year. If this movie is masterclass material, I can honestly imagine this film outgrossing “Top Gun: Maverick.” I could change my mind, but everything that I have seen in regard to this film so far, looks incredible. This is certainly a mission I will choose to accept.
#1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
This is a film that not only has earned my spot as my most anticipated movie of the year, it has the potential to be the greatest animated movie of all time. That film is “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” I love “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” It is not my favorite comic book movie of 2018, but it is my favorite animated movie of that year. Miles Morales is a total delight. The film has stellar supporting characters from Peter B. Parker to Gwen Stacy to Jefferson Davis. I loved everyone in it. But that movie not only had great characters with phenomenal voice acting across the board, but some of the most unique, stunning animation in film history. I was not sold on it when I saw the marketing, but when I saw the movie, I wanted more of it. Not only are we getting more of it in this upcoming sequel, but it also appears that the film is going to have several different animation styles for various universes. How many are we talking? Two? Three? NO! TRY SIX! SIX ANIMATION STYLES! WHAT IS HAPPENING?! I was thrilled last year when “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” blended 2D and 3D animation together. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” feels like a different kind of technical ambition. Having Oscar Isaac return to play Miguel O’Hara, otherwise known as the 2099 Spider-Man, is something I did not think would happen, but I am delighted to see him return here. I thought he was just inserted in the last film’s post-credit scene as a one-off joke, guess not. I would not say it matters though, I am happy to see him come back. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the two directors behind “The LEGO Movie,” are writing this outing, and given how much I love their previous work, including their recently produced “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” it only ups the anticipation a bit more. I will remind everyone reading this that animation is a medium, not a genre. I admittedly have referred to it as a genre sometimes, and I feel guilty when I have. That said, this film looks it could not just define the superhero movie genre, but the animation medium. The trailer that just came out took my expectations to perhaps an unhealthy level. It is the best trailer I have seen in 2022, and for all I know we could get an even better one in 2023. Just for the record, “Spider-Man 2” from 2004 is my favorite comic book movie of all time. If “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” surpasses “Spider-Man 2,” it is a special kind of special movie. It is going to be challenging, but I love a good challenge. And if “Across the Spider-Verse” does surpass “Spider-Man 2,” I will be proud of everyone who worked on this movie for going above and beyond to deliver a great experience. It looks like we have something grand, here is hoping that this return to the Spider-Verse delivers the glory.
Thanks for reading this countdown! I hope you enjoyed reading my picks for my top 10 most anticipated movies of 2023. It is a bit unusual that I am doing this list, but I thought it could make for good material as I am waiting to see “Babylon,” which if I did not see before I did my best and worst of the year, I feel I would be doing a disservice to my audience. Speaking of the top 10 best and worst, we are going to dive into those soon, because my next countdown is going to be for my top 10 WORST movies of 2022. Yes, we are doing the worst before the best this year. The reason for that is because I want to get the bad stuff out of the way, that way I can save the best for last. And in a world where recent information is as snappy as ever, I want people to remember me for the things I love and not the things I hate. If you want to see these countdowns 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, what are the movies you are looking forward to the most in 2023? Do you think I missed anything? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Power of the Dog), Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Wind River), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Lion King, 2012), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club, Gentefied), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name), and Rachel McAdams (Game Night, Mean Girls). This film is a sequel to the 2016 film “Doctor Strange,” it is the 28th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and follows the titular wizard as he joins forces with America Chavez on a reality-spanning journey to save the multiverse from impending doom, whilst also seeking the help from Wanda Maximoff and Wong.
The first “Doctor Strange” was a fun movie, and arguably the most visually stunning Marvel Cinematic Universe film at the time it came out. I went to see the film in IMAX 3D and had no regrets. Looking back, the climax was not that memorable, and neither was the film’s main antagonist. The latter is typical of these MCU films so why should I be surprised? I frankly feel the same way about “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” among a few other movies in this universe. The villains do not always work, but at the same time, the movie is not about them. The movie is about the hero. And when it comes to establishing a great hero, the original “Doctor Strange” does that. The character has also been a highlight in other MCU titles where he is not the main focus, most recently “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Coincidentally, given that movie’s success and how much it have could have possibly teased what is to come in later MCU installments, including this one, I had high expectations for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to the point where it may have been my most anticipated movie of the year, if not in my top 3.
Plus, get this, Sam Raimi has returned to direct comic book movies again! I ADORE Sam Raimi’s work on the “Spider-Man” movies, even the third one. Yes, I liked it. I don’t care. If you are not going to respect my opinion then I will put some dirt in your eye. How much do I like those “Spider-Man” movies? In addition to liking “Spider-Man 3,” totally digging the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie, and literally claiming “Spider-Man 2” to be my favorite comic book movie ever, I could think of few people more capable of helming a movie like this than Sam Raimi. In addition, the film from the start was said to have horror elements. Raimi has experience in the genre with movies like “Evil Dead” and “Drag Me to Hell,” so this added up to be a movie fit for Raimi’s chops. Danny Elfman is also here doing the score! He and Raimi have been partners for years! This is not Elfman’s first MCU rodeo, because he also scored “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but I will say, having seen both films, his score for this movie is better than his 2015 counterpart.
What did I think of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” I think the film definitely lives up to its name, that being madness. But I also think that when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is one of its more inferior installments. For the record, I was not one of those people looking for the most obscure cameos imaginable. That is not why I wanted to go see this movie. Yes, we have some cool moments from heroes like Captain Carter, which was shown in a couple television spots, but at the heart, this is a “Doctor Strange” movie and it does not distract itself from that. Just about every factor and decision that goes into the film’s script revolves around or is affected by Strange himself. The movie does not teeter away from that. In the same way, I would say from a directorial standpoint, this is very much a Sam Raimi film. From a directorial point of view, this is better than some of the other recent Marvel movies if you ask me. Even though I liked each installment in the Jon Watts “Spider-Man” trilogy, I feel like Watts did not have a distinct style by the end of the third film. His tendencies felt basic and there were some choices by the end that I would have changed. In the same way, I feel like “Black Widow” came off as a basic blockbuster shot on green screen. Cate Shortland, despite her best efforts, did not exactly reveal an individualistic touch I could grasp. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” even though it obviously has Kevin Feige’s showrunner-like ideas brought to the table, is very much a Sam Raimi film. Between the action and scares, it definitely has that Sam Raimi touch. Heck, Bruce Campbell’s even in the movie! I won’t say where or how, but he’s in it!
This sequel is as much of a visual feast as its predecessor. In fact, why wouldn’t it be? It is a multiverse-spanning movie, allowing for infinite visual possibilities. There is this one scene where we see America and Stephen jumping from one multiverse to another and it is a literal acid trip. Let me say, I am not one who chooses to partake in any heavy drug-related activities, but if there were a movie out right now that I would call a perfect choice for such activities, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a contender.
Speaking of activities I would mainly recommend for adults, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” presents a possible first in the MCU. If it is not a first, it is something that definitely has not happened in a long time. Every MCU movie so far has been PG-13. The TV shows have always been TV-14. So if you are a teenager, chances are you can probably handle what is on screen. But that does not mean that select younger viewers cannot watch this content either. I know some families have gone to see MCU movies in the theater. Kids often like these movies. Having seen “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” this is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I would recommend parents consider leaving the kids at home for. I am not saying that kids cannot watch it. If they want to watch this movie, there is nothing wrong with that. But all I am saying is that parents should be prepared for what this movie has to offer, because this may be the least kid-friendly MCU movie yet. It is definitely more kid-friendly than the R rated DC action-adventure “The Suicide Squad,” which came out last year, but you have been warned.
What do I mean? There is tons of violence that rises above the levels of what the MCU has depicted thus far, including some gorey moments. Once again I go back to the notion that this is the first movie in this universe to truly have elements of horror. Sure, there are moments in the MCU that could be considered dark. We’ve seen Asgard fall in “Thor: Ragnarok.” We see Peter Parker fall to his lowest point in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and it is emotionally charging. The ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” is a potential setup for heartbreak. But “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the first truly scary MCU film. I am not saying it is the scariest movie ever, it is most certainly not. But there are elements in the movie that made me feel like I was watching something like “The Conjuring” instead of an action flick. This is not a bad thing, I really like the way this film went about it.
But I will say if you like massive, loud, and well-shot fantasy action, this film does not disappoint. The effects are amazing. There is not a lot of insane quick cutting. There are a variety of battles in this movie that give you a different flavor every time. These are probably some of the few action sequences I have watched in the MCU that had me feeling icky inside. Perhaps in a good way. But that ickiness did not take away from the excitement and joy I had in others.
I was surprised on how much I liked the chemistry between Doctor Strange and America Chavez. Their relationship is essentially the foundation on which this movie builds itself upon. Despite coming off as perhaps the most visionary of the Marvel superheroes, Strange is still humble, and it shows through his interactions with Chavez, whose knowledge of the multiverse is revealed to be greater than his. Because even though Strange has some knowledge, experience, and has made claims on how certain actions will be a benefit to the greater span of the multiverse, Chavez invites Strange along for a ride while also showcasing how multiversal jumping has practically become normal for her.
As for America Chavez herself, she is portrayed by Xochitl Gomez, who is only in her teens. I would like to see more from Chavez if possible, and I think Gomez did a good job portraying the character. I would like to discover what she does next in her career if she never comes back to Marvel.
But of course we need to talk about Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Not only do I continue to buy Cumberbatch as this character, but I have to give major credit to everyone behind the makeup for Cumberbatch, because this movie unveils different looks for the character, and not just to sell toys (that too), but when you have a movie where you have more than one Doctor Strange from more than one universe, you are going to have to get clever with how you handle one actor, should you choose to handle one actor, which this movie did. His character partially hinges on some off screen events that come into play with this film, where we reveal Rachel McAdams’s character of Christine Palmer no longer in love with Strange. She is marrying someone else, and while Strange is able to live with himself, this plays a heavy role in the plot as we span through the multiverses.
Although, I will not go into much detail, and this brings me into one of my most prominent complaints of the movie. When I reviewed “Black Panther” four years ago, I claimed that it contains arguably the most forced kiss in cinematic history. Similarly, I think “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” contains one of the most poorly conceived lines I have heard in the MCU, because it frankly feels out of character for Doctor Strange, even though it matches up with events that happen in the movie. It sounds more like something out of a cheesy romance novel than what this movie and its characters have to offer. It is one line, but it nevertheless bothers me.
I want to talk about my core worry for the MCU, and how it is only growing. I am not one of these people who claims they have comic book movie fatigue, but if there is one thing that has been on my mind these past couple years, it is not only how much content we are getting, but also how said content potentially affects the greater span of the universe. If you read my review for “Black Widow,” I touch on this by saying the movie contains a particular moment that sets up or teases a television show for Disney+. The reason why that was a concern for me was because for over a decade, the films have been organized and told through one medium, and now that we have television into the mix, it is only going to make things more convoluted, and as a viewer, I feel like I am starting to watch Marvel content for homework. In fact, I went to see this movie with my dad, who I invited to my living room to watch “WandaVision,” which is great television by the way, prior to seeing this film. I knew going into the film that “WandaVision” would be somewhat connected to how everything unfolds. After all, Wanda is in the movie, and we see some references to the show as well. Having seen this movie, I think if you do not watch “WandaVision,” you may be fine. The movie does its best to catch you up. But I think your experience will be heavily enhanced if you tend to seek it out. This is why I am somewhat concerned about the MCU’s future, because let’s say they decide to make a “Moon Knight” movie. How much of the TV show would I have to remember by then to fully enjoy it? In fact, the marketing kind of reveals that this movie is connected to “What If…?” of all things. The cartoon MCU show. We live in crazy times. And no, you do not have to watch “What If…?” to understand or appreciate this movie despite there being connections to the show.
Although on the note of possibly having to watch “WandaVision” before seeing this movie, I do want to talk about Wanda herself. Previously, she has been in multiple MCU movie installments thus far as a heroic figure, and of course in “WandaVision” she finally became the center of attention, allowing actress Elizabeth Olsen to unleash her almighty chops. There are few characters in the MCU that I feel as bad for as Wanda. She watched her partner die twice, succumbed to the Blip, and felt so bad for herself and her former love interest to the point where she wanted to take control of an entire town and make life revolve entirely around her. That said, as this film’s main antagonist, the Scarlet Witch, she pulls no punches. While I did feel bad for Wanda some time ago, my emotional connection has lessened now that she continuously uses power for what she sees fit, but at the expense of someone who does not deserve a certain fate. I do not think Wanda is my favorite antagonist of the MCU, but she is definitely up there.
In the end, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is not the best MCU film, nor is it the worst. But if you want my thoughts on this film compared to the first “Doctor Strange,” I think I like the original better. I will definitely be going back to watch this film again when I have time. I think it could at times be a proper tech demo for a new television. This film also has one of the best uses of music in a Marvel film to date. And I am not just talking about the score itself, but there is a scene where music heavily comes into play, and it is hypnotizing. Danny Elfman for life! This feels weird to say, but this may be in contention for my least favorite Sam Raimi comic book movie. I know what everyone says about “Spider-Man 3,” but I frankly had fun with it. I have to think about whether I like this film more or less than “Spider-Man 3.” That is not to say “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a bad movie. I liked it. I am also not saying Raimi did not put enough effort into the directorial vision of this film. The on-screen story was well executed. But I am also noticing that Raimi’s worst comic book movies are the ones that are likely heavily influenced by higher powers. Sam Raimi did not want to put Venom in “Spider-Man 3” despite Avi Arad’s wishes. Similarly, the MCU has its own stories and threads from other content that have been interweaved into this film. Even though I mentioned that this movie feels like a Sam Raimi film, it also has the Kevin Feige effect where Raimi appears to have less creative freedom (to be fair though, he did not write the film, “Loki” writer Michael Waldron did) than he did in other works of his. I am still onboard with the MCU, but I am noticing more and more that as stories continue to come up and as threads constantly tie together, convolution and possible oversaturation feel inevitable. I cannot wait for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but I also think as we get more content, it is starting to feel like too much is happening at once. That said, I enjoyed “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and I am going to give it a 7/10.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now!
Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see me talk about a movie perhaps way more incompetently than I do today, feel free to check out my review for the 2016 “Doctor Strange.” This was one of my earlier reviews and I made it when I was still developing a style, but if you want to read it, go ahead. Also, speaking of “Doctor Strange,” if you want to read a more competent review of a movie where he appears, feel free to check out my thoughts on “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” And it is spoiler-free for the ten people reading this who have neither seen or heard of the film. Next week, I am seeing “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” so stay tuned for my thoughts on that! If you want to see 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 “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Doctor Strange” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Morbius” is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) and stars Jared Leto (Blade Runner 2049, Suicide Squad), Matt Smith (Last Night in Soho, Doctor Who), Adria Arjona (Good Omens, Emerald City), Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), Al Madrigal (Night School, The Way Back), and Tyrese Gibson (Transformers, 2 Fast 2 Furious). This film follows Dr. Michael Morbius, a biochemist who happens to have a rare blood disease. When trying to find a cure for said disease, he instead becomes infected to the point where he is part man, part vampire.
I love comic book movies. To me, they have delivered dumptrucks of entertainment for years and have brought out some of my favorite moviegoing experiences. And for the past few MCU films, I usually make an attempt to go see them opening Thursday night just to feel the energy of the crowd. Well that, and to get the review out quicker. Although when it comes to “Morbius,” that was not on my list of movies to get excited about. Sure, I kind of like Jared Leto. He was insanely good in “The Little Things” that came out last year, and I think he has a dedication to the craft of acting that I think some people should attempt to match these days. But the reality is that Sony has been very mixed in its comic book movie craft in recent years. “Venom” was by far one of the worst comic book films of the 2010s, and I still have not seen it since going to the cinema. Although I will admit I had fun with its sequel, “Let There be Carnage,” despite its campy and obnoxious nature. Plus, the marketing for “Morbius” did promise some interesting teases. I was intrigued enough to go see the film with an open mind.
And much like the recent MCU fare from Disney (and technically Sony for the most recent example), I went to go see “Morbius” on opening Thursday. The theater was definitely not as crowded as the one for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” although comparing the films almost feels unfair given how one has been hyped up since the dawn of time, and the other is about a character significantly fewer people recognize. But the theater was moderately filled. My Dolby Cinema experience certainly was not an empty one.
But I certainly felt empty after watching this movie.
This is not true for every single Marvel movie, but for a majority of them that I’ve seen in theaters, they can trigger all kinds of emotions from happiness to laughter to even heartbreak. Just ask Nicole Kidman from that stupid freaking ad that airs before every single movie telling me to go to an AMC, EVEN THOUGH I’M ALREADY THERE.
If you guys remember my review for “Damned!,” the movie that James S. Murray directed before he was one of the stars for “Impractical Jokers,” one thing I said in that review was unlike several other bad movies I have watched, “Damned!” made me feel nothing. I had no rage-induced outbursts, no humungous laughs for the wrong reason, no significant sigh of relief when it was over (although to be fair the movie was under an hour). As for “Morbius,” I kind of experienced the same thing, except that I was in a somewhat crowded theater with a bunch of other people who also did not utter a sound throughout the entire film.
I did facepalm once. That was something.
Let me put it this way, and this may also be unfair because it is technically a comedy, I chuckled once during the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie. Can’t say the same for “Morbius.”
I know comic book movies are hot right now. I know “Spider-Man” is hot right now. But I almost don’t give a crap if they decided to make a movie for Morbius the Living Vampire. I never asked for it. Then again I never asked for “Joker” and yet that was one of my favorite comic book films of 2019.
When it comes to bad movies, “Morbius” is almost the worst kind of bad. Because if the movie has terrible acting, there is a chance that there is enough cheese to make me invested enough. “Batman & Robin” is a good example. “Morbius” came off more like the 2015 “Fantastic Four” film, where you have a bunch of actors, including some notable names like Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, and they all appear to have a hang of things. They’re committed to their craft, but the script does not match their acting talents.
I’ll admit, when this movie started, it wasn’t perfect, but the buildup was not that bad. It set up a relationship between a couple kids who have something in common. The two end up separating, and their relationship is kind of the bond that holds everything together even though they drift apart for most of the film. I liked that aspect. It felt rather down to earth while showing off specific traits for the characters. It was an okay mix of exposition and character building. AND HERE IS WHERE THE POSITIVES STOP.
This movie has a fair amount of action, and comic books, not to mention their movies, are often known for having rather stylized action scenes, but just because big explosions and magic spells look pretty in “Avengers: Infinity War,” doesn’t mean every movie is going to be just like it. “Morbius” is more along the lines of “Venom,” which should not be surprising, considering how both are from Sony, where it has the darkness of the “Batman” films we have gotten over the years, but with way less competence than we usually get out of those. I get that these are technically origin stories for villains, but this kind of brings up a major concern for these characters. When I saw “Venom” I could barely tell what was going on in certain action scenes because everything is so dark, including the characters in terms of their appearance.
“Morbius” basically has a similar vibe throughout to the first “Venom” movie, with subtle differences, except that whatever fun that I had in “Venom” did not even exist in “Morbius.” “Venom” is arguably my least favorite Marvel film of any kind that has been put out in the 2010s. The fact that I am using it as the positive here baffles me to no end. THEY HAD TWO YEARS TO FIX THIS MOVIE! Paramount did it with “Sonic the Hedgehog” in less than that time after releasing their first trailer even without a worldwide pandemic! What prevented them from rewriting certain scenes and just improving them in any way they could? I get it’s a lot of money, but I guarantee you the only reasons why this movie is doing as well as it is is because of “Spider-Man.” But I don’t think it’ll help the film’s legs. This film would have legs if it had better word of mouth, and the reviews don’t reflect a collectively positive reaction. I know some people don’t like how Marvel Studios films often try to go for a laugh, but I much prefer that compared to whatever the hell this is because I felt cold, I felt sleepy, I felt emotionless throughout the picture. There was literally nothing on screen that I watched that made me smile. There were times where I dilated my eyes, but not because I was excited. It’s because I was questioning the motives of the filmmakers and possibly the studio.
I want to talk about trailers, and I do not often talk about trailers when I’m reviewing their respective movies because they’re clearly two different things. In fact, in recent years, certain films, like those from Marvel Studios, even threw in moments that never ended up appearing in the final product. Those moments were seemingly always intended to be a misdirect unless for some reason they came from a deleted scene or something of that nature (“Yesterday” is a commonly brought up example today). I am not going to get into much detail, because this may dive into spoiler territory depending on what your definition of a spoiler is, but there are certain key moments that I think brought more hype and attention to this movie than anything else that added up to nothing. It was all one big lie. Now, what’s not a lie is that Michael Keaton is in the movie. I won’t give any more details than that. In fact, you know how I said they had two years to fix this movie because of the pandemic? Well, I guess maybe they did try to fix it. Kinda… Because part of me wants to guess the studio is trying to follow a particular trend. I won’t say more, but when it comes to pandering, this is about as obvious as a Donald Trump rally. I went political, I know. How edgy! That being said, it’s time for Sony to make comic book movies great again!
Wait, they made “Spider-Verse?” Okay, they get a free pass on that one, that was the bomb.
And I come up with this conspiracy theory because if you watched “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” over the past number of months, Michael Keaton sat down for an interview where he was just finished talking, and decided to reveal he had to shoot footage for his character of Vulture, who he played five years ago, the day after said interview. He did not say it was for “Morbius” specifically, but I had a feeling that could have been what it was for given the timing between the interview and when the film was supposed to come out. I was not on set, so I have no proof, but I feel like this is Sony trying to pander to an audience who wants to look at shiny things.
Now, I want to blame Sony for the making of this film. This film is the literal definition of what someone who hates the trend of comic book movies thinks of when the words “modern comic book movie” comes into their head. Jared Leto is not to blame, because he aces the character. And surprisingly, it is one of his tamer characters he has played in his career. He’s not as near emotionless as he was in “Blade Runner 2049,” nor is he as obnoxious as he was in “Suicide Squad.” He’s kind of in between. I think if this movie were better, I would want to see more from Jared Leto as the character, but unfortunately the movie is not as compelling as Leto’s acting talents.
Going over to the antagonist, Milo, played by Matt Smith, I am actually impressed with him in this film, but also slightly disappointed because Smith’s best work in this film comes toward the end. He kind of had a Jim Carrey playboy vibe to him. I start seeing his supposed passion put into the role with his physicality mixed with dialogue, then in the next moment, I feel like said passion is hidden because I’m only hearing his voice. Much of this movie would not have happened if it were not for stylistic editing with crappy special effects.
The ending of this film is by far one of the most anticlimactic I have seen in years. It’s like the writers just gave up and did not know how to put a bow on everything. It’s like they said, “Well, it’s 90 minutes, so…”
And I should not be surprised, the movie is written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. These two are the same geniuses of disaster behind “Gods of Egypt.” A blockbuster so bad that there is barely anyone in the movie who would actually resemble an Egyptian! The whole movie felt like a pyramid scheme. Now these two are back to make something that is… Frankly worse. Because at least “Gods of Egypt” had pretty CGI at times. Some of it looked over the top, but it was still pretty. And the music was not that bad either if you ask me. But just like “Gods of Egypt,” I barely felt engaged with anything that was going on in “Morbius.” The movie just jolted, stopped to an uncomfortable halt, and bored me for the remainder of the runtime.
Want to know how bad “Morbius” is? Because the movie is bad enough, but somehow, the end credit scenes made it worse. These are the WORST end credit scenes EVER. Like trailers, I try to keep the credits almost as a separate entity, because in many cases, the movie could suck, but the credits could have a good scene. I’ll admit, I was kind of underwhelmed by “Captain Marvel,” but there was a pretty juicy credits scene if you asked me. But because it barely had anything to do with the film for the most part, I almost disregarded it when it came to my final verdict. The post-credits scenes here are utterly ridiculous to the point where they make the trailers and movie look worse than they already are. After seeing “Venom,” I was nervous to see what Sony would end up doing with all these Spider-Man characters. Now, I’m terrified. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was a step in the right direction, but going to back to what I said in my original “Venom” comparison, “Morbius” almost has a similar feel to “Venom,” but somehow packs in way less joy and fun than that movie did. And it barely had those things to begin with.
I honestly hope that these two writers, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless improve their craft immediately. Because if they make another movie like this and “Gods of Egypt,” we are in for a long and bumpy ride. I liked what they did with “Power Rangers,” which feels weird to say because I do not recall that movie having the best reception. But honestly, if Sony continues to use these Marvel characters, I think they will have to scour for someone better, because I don’t believe these two writers are the key to their eventual succe-WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY’RE DOING “MADAM WEB?!”
In the end, “Morbius” fails on every task it attempts to achieve and makes me beg to Sony that they give this Spider-Man villain trend a rest. “Morbius” is without a doubt, one of the worst comic book movies I have seen in my life. Probably in the top 5 for sure. I’d rather watch any film that was previously made for both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Detective Comics Extended Universe! Even “Wonder Woman 1984!” Remember that?! That first hour could not have been more dull! This is the first time in awhile that I recall leaving the theater and not having a smile, at least in my head, after watching a comic book movie. I am not one of those people who claims they have comic book movie fatigue. I enjoy the MCU, I already have my tickets for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” I think James Gunn is doing a lot of great stuff for both Marvel and DC! I just want Sony, and the two writers behind this movie, to do better. If I have learned anything from “The LEGO Movie,” it is that you can tell a good story out of anything. You just have to get the audience to care. And “Morbius” failed on every level. There are very few modern comic book movies that I don’t own on Blu-ray or some form of physical media. I think “Morbius” has just joined the rejects. I’d rather watch “Batman & Robin” three times in one day than this movie twice in my life! I’m going to give “Morbius” a 1/10.
“Morbius” is now playing in theaters. Tickets are available now, and I guarantee that you will find a seat.
Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for a movie that came out last year, and it is one that I glad I got to see in the cinema when it played, “CODA.” I almost did not review this film because it is technically from last year and I figured it would be irrelevant. But in addition to the recent Best Picture win at the Academy Awards, I feel such a need to talk about it. Especially after talking about this piece of crap. Also coming up, I will be reviewing “Sonic the Hedgehog 2!” Stay tuned for that, and if you want to see 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 “Morbius?” What did you think about it? Also, what is the worst comic book movie you have ever seen? I’ll admit, I’ve missed a few bad ones in my lifetime. I still haven’t seen “Catwoman,” I still haven’t seen “Supergirl,” nor have I seen “Elektra.” Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
WARNING: This post is over 12,000 words long. It contains words like “award,” “show,” and “Jackoff.” There are many more, but these are just a sample. Grab some popcorn, get a soda, and enjoy the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards at your own pace. Enjoy.
Hello everyone! Welcome to the The 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! We’ve got a great show ahead where many movies enter, and one leaves triumphant as 2021’s Best Picture. Fun fact, I almost ended up calling this year’s show the Jacks. Because 9 out of 10 general audience members agree, award shows need to shorten their runtime. We’re really putting the “off” in Jackoff. Today is a celebration of everything movies, that is as long as they are not shorts, made for television, straight to DVD, or some Christmas thing featuring Danica McKellar.
We love you, Danica.
Here’s how the show works. Every movie that yours truly, Jack Drees, saw this year has been qualified in advance to be nominated for a Jackoff. Those that have been nominated compete against four other films to win the category, and the winner gets my respect. However, with Best Picture, the ultimate category, that is not the case, as ten movies will compete in that category and the winner has been decided in advance by the people’s vote. I sent out a form for willing participants to fill out, the votes have been counted and the tallies are here! But one thing that is true for every category, I must have seen the film for it to be nominated. Sorry, “Cruella!”
Another rule I must state, 2021 has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has not fully come to an end and that is evident in the entertainment industry. You may have noticed a trend that many films have come out on streaming at the same time they hit theaters. Disney has done this with films like “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which has received a Best Animated Feature nomination. Warner Brothers has also done this with “Tom & Jerry,” which has been nomin— Haha, sorry. Bad example. Either way!! Films that hit theaters and streaming at the same time do qualify for the Jackoff Awards. I am willing to accept just about any film to step into the ring as long as they had a theatrical release. The general rule for the Jackoffs is that the movies featured and nominated have to be in theaters, because if they’re on streaming, then that is technically a TV film. Therefore, films like “The Tomorrow War,” “Home Sweet Home Alone,” and “Vacation Friends” do not qualify for this year’s Jackoff Awards. Apologies in advance, but these are the rules.
We’re gonna start the show the same way we always do, with a little monologue. And if you thought that I would be telling all the jokes this year, it just so turns out that’s not true. Plot twist! I’m being voiced by Chris Pratt! It’s time for “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Nobody in Order to Please Himself!”
I’m going to state some facts about this year in film, and since there is no audience, there shall be no laughs. But, for those of you checking this out yourselves, feel free to jump into the auditorium and react however you’d like. Even throw tomatoes at me if you please! And I will say that 2021 has been a great year for film. Lots of fun blockbusters, some great animated flicks, and fun times at the movie theater. It’s been great year overall! Unless you’ve been chopped by Venom, eaten by a Sandworm, devoured by King Shark, ran over by Dom Toretto, or sucked into a ghost trap.
I want to congratulate the creative minds behind season 2 of COVID-19. It all started with the ongoing plot of getting the vaccine into people’s arms and ended with an epic cliffhanger… What will the world do without Betty White? What will Impractical Jokers be like without Joe? Will booster shots make you run races faster?! Find out in the hopefully short-lived, season 3!
Last year, you may have watched some award shows like the Golden Globes, the SAGs, and the Critics Choice and may have noticed some degree of virtual technology being implemented. You may not remember this, but at the Golden Globes this year, when Daniel Kaluuya won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture he said, “I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, this is an honor, and now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go in my chair, and watch the rest of the show with my pants off.”
“Four Good Days” starring Mila Kunis and Glenn Close has received a Best Picture nomination for today’s ceremony! Congratulations. In addition, Mila Kunis and Glenn Close were nominated for their performances as Molly and Deb, and the film also received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. Four good days is also how long it is gonna take the average person to read the 4th annual Jackoff Awards!
I want to give a big congratulations to Denis Villeneuve and his brand-new movie. I really enjoyed the first half of the pilot episode of “Dune.” Very much so that I willingly watched it twice in two days.
“Dune” released this year in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22nd to successful results given the current circumstances. The film is based on a novel by Frank Herbert and centers around a group of people who attempt to bring peace to the sandy planet of Arrakis. It’s interesting seeing a movie where people actually want the desert planet. Isn’t it often the other way around? There’s a reason why a couple Skywalkers went away from Tatooine. You think they wanted to spend their lives in all this freaking sand? What’s so beautiful about Arrakis? Does it have a profitable pod racing industry?
“Space Jam” received its first sequel after a couple decades, “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” The film stars LeBron James, who is joined by his co-star, the green screen.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” released this year and has been a big success for both Marvel Studios and Sony. Studio executives everywhere all thought the same thing, “We should try making more superhero movies!”
I don’t know EVERYTHING about Spider-Man, partially because the character has existed for such a long time, it’s hard to catch up on every single comic, video game, and television episode. But I do know that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is said to be one of the top 2 “Spider-Man” films in the past six months.
Speaking of “Spider-Man,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was also a big success at the box office. The film made over $90 million on its opening weekend, which at the time, was a COVID-19 pandemic record. SPOILER ALERT! Tom Hardy has a mask on for most of the film!
Other MCU movies that came out this year include “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi,” and “Eternals.” In the time that it took me to tell you this information, they announced five sequels to each of these movies.
Zendaya’s had quite a year between “Spider-Man,” “Dune,” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” all these films have had some degree of success. Fun fact about Zendaya, she once said if she could not be an actress, she’d be a teacher or a basketball player. So she settled for being Spider-Man’s girlfriend.
Zendaya is both a love interest to Tom Holland’s character in the “Spider-Man” movies in addition to the two being real life partners. Things were going great in their relationship until Zendaya found out Tom Holland sleeps on the ceiling.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” released early this year in March! “Godzilla vs. Kong” has received a Best Visual Effects nomination, congrats! SPOILER! The winner of the film is every city that these two titans didn’t destroy.
“Army of the Dead” released in theaters and on Netflix this May. This is Zack Snyder’s first Netflix feature film and second directorial effort ending with “of the Dead” after his attempt at remaking “Dawn of the Dead.” The film is about a group of people in Las Vegas trying to take a lot of money while also avoiding sleazy zombies. In other words, it’s just a weekend in Vegas. Nothing too crazy.
“West Side Story,” the Steven Spielberg-directed remake starring Rachel Zegler was nominated for several awards today. You want to know how many nominations this movie got? It’s a Jackoffs record! 11 nominations baby! Unbelievable! “West Side Story” is arguably the second-best shark movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
It was a jaw-dropping experience.
Steven Spielberg, speaking of which, during last year’s show, he was actually recognized as that year’s Roger Deakins award winner, which is given out to anyone who has an outstanding achievement in film worth celebrating. The achievement, allowing Hollywood to make one dinosaur movie every three years.
Steven Spielberg has film credits going back to 1959. Yeah, Steven Spielberg has been making films for such a long time, that when it came time to make the “Jurassic Park” movies, he reflected on a time of his life when an asteroid hit the Earth. Steven, you invincible son of a gun.
San Diego Comic-Con cancelled their in-person event for the second year in a row, once again resorting to their Comic-Con at Home concept. On the bright side, a lot of the core demographic going will not have to face a certain problem, which is, going out and talking to people.
AMC Theatres had quite a year. Have you guys been following the story about the meme stocks? At one point, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to raise GameStop’s stock, then they did the same with AMC. Over the winter, all these people on the Internet came together to bump AMC’s stock price, which helped the chain in terms of keeping their cash flow deep into the year. Yeah, they had so much dough that they started projecting all their movies in bright digital gold!
WHY IS VENOM HURTING MY EYES?!
Also at AMC, have you seen this? They’re now playing an advertisement starring Nicole Kidman. She’s walking into an AMC, going through the auditorium entry hall, she enamors herself with the wonder of the big screen. This is a first in AMC’s history and has aired a number of times during television broadcasts. I’ll also add, they’re apparently airing this ad in theaters, the place exactly where you happen to be buying AMC’s products! Congratulations, AMC! You figured out an algorithm, it’s called, going to a website, and suddenly seeing it advertised on your computer for the next three days!
I ALREADY bought a house on Zillow! What makes you think I want to buy another one?!
Also, what’s with Nicole Kidman’s outfit? This makes me think that I should not go to the movies and instead buy a ticket to the freakin’ opera!
Speaking of cinemas, this year we lost the Arclight chain. For those who don’t know Arclight Cinemas, they were a small chain of theaters mostly in California. They had locations in other states as well including Illinois and Massachusetts. Unlike some multiplexes, they had a policy that they’d usually play somewhere around seven minutes of trailers, which could sometimes come out to three trailers in total. That’s a great policy! AMC and Regal saw this idea and thought it would be great if they implemented SEVENTY minutes of trailers!
That movie was great! But it can’t beat that 27th trailer!
2021 was the year when everyone and their rich mother went to space. Jeff Bezos. Michael Strahan. Richard Branson. It’s kind of like the space race except that everyone had enough money to upgrade to first class if they wanted to.
One of the biggest stories when it comes to the celebrity space race has to do with William Shatner, one of the most famous actors in all of sci-fi. Known for his role as Captain Kirk, who journeyed strange new worlds in “Star Trek,” Shatner finally got the chance to ACTUALLY go where… Well, in this case, few men have gone before.
Two months after Shatner’s joyride in space, he ended up crashing his Mercades SUV into a sedan. True story. So, I’m assuming in addition to grampy Bill’s car keys, we’re also taking away his piloting privileges too?
“Free Guy” was released this year, which made my top 10 of the year as I wrote it. “Free Guy” stars Ryan Reynolds as a non-playable character in a video game who wants to become a hero. Gamers everywhere are calling “Free Guy” “unplayable,” “broken,” and has received the complaint, “why is this one cutscene going on for two hours?!”
“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” was nominated for Best Animated Feature! “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of the year’s best films, unless your name is Siri, Alexa, or Okay, Google!
Andrew Garfield was nominated for his performance in “Tick…Tick…BOOM!”, a spectacular musical! “Tick…Tick…BOOM!” is a great movie, but it would have been better had the title not spoiled the fact that the protagonist failed to destroy the bomb at the end.
You see what happens when Netflix fails to get the rights to “Mission: Impossible?”
One of the biggest movies of the summer was “F9: The Fast Saga.” Now if you have witnessed the second iteration of the Jackoff Awards, you’d be aware that I surfaced a highly missed marketing opportunity that I feel everyone involved with “Fast & Furious,” or in the case of the movies nominated that year, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” should have considered. You may remember that I pointed out that the movie could have really used a promotional partnership with MAACO, the body shop perfect for all your uh ohs and explosions that make Jason Statham and The Rock look totally badass. Unfortunately, MAACO did not come up with a marketing deal regarding “F9.” Although this is a Jackoffs exclusive, another company reached out to the folks behind “Fast & Furious” about a commercial. But much like MAACO, the plan did not fall through. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what could have been the perfect cross-promotion for “F9: The Fast Saga” and a famous insurance company.
You ready for some awards? No? Too bad! You’re getting awards! It’s time to commence the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards, starting with Best Animated Feature!
Movies have a way of bringing their viewers to worlds they cannot experience themselves. Animated features are no exception. Between robot apocalypses, magical wonderlands where everyone is gifted, and immersive social media worlds, animations this year have brought us to places that take us from reality and plant us in an unfamiliar, but exciting environment. As far as the previous year goes, these five animations are the greatest escapes of them all. Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Belle (Nozomu Takahashi, Yuichiro Saito, Toshimi Tanio, Genki Kawamura)
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht)
Sing 2 (Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy)
Raya and the Last Dragon (Osnet Shurer, Peter Del Vecho)
And the Jackoff goes to…’
Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Kurt Albrecht for “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!”
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of my late tagalongs this year, but I ended up having zero regrets when it comes to finally watching this absolute masterpiece of a film. Given how late I ended up watching this movie, I ended up not reviewing it, but in my top 10 movies of the year, I noted that this film is probably the hardest I have laughed at an animation since “The LEGO Movie,” and animations have a way of making you laugh in some ways that most live-action movies cannot. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” ends up working because of its animated nature, a lot of the styles and choices that are made and implemented into this final product are truly beyond the imagination despite using a concept that has been used in other movies, some of which can be called the greatest of all time. And you know what? I think “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” belongs in that club. It is one of the greats not just for animation, but also amongst movies in general. Congratulations to “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” you have won Best Animated Feature!
Moving onto Best Visual Effects, this category reflects realism within the imaginary. Authenticity within the imposters. The implementations within the mainstays. Special effects have had a large impact on films over the years from miniatures to puppets to modern day CGI. These five films are the latest and greatest amongst the aesthetically pleasing. Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Godzilla vs. Kong
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The Suicide Squad
And the Jackoff goes to…
Wow. Wow. Wow. Denis Villeneuve packed a punch, threw it, and it hit us all like a giant sandbag! The visual effects for “Dune” are a literal achievement, because even though the book has been adapted time and time again, Villeneuve brought a modern, detailed, almost auteur-like feel to the film. Everything from the giant sandworm to the spice to the explosive fight sequences. Let’s put it this way. A great blockbuster can show you jaw-dropping visual effects that will take your breath away. An epic blockbuster can make your jaw drop just from seeing visuals in the trailer. “Dune” is a massive, big budget, sci-fi treat. As mentioned in the monologue, I saw “Dune” twice in theaters, and I was easily marveled both times. The locations, the environments, the surroundings within all the locations. It adds up to be one of the most thrilling and inviting film experiences of the year. The visuals for “Dune” only make me more excited for “Dune: Part Two,” because if so much care was put into this film, I think it is safe to say that its sequel could receive similar treatment. Congrats to “Dune,” and this is its first win of the night!
It is time to unveil the first Best Picture nominee of the night! We will talk a bit about what the movie entails, and play a trailer for you all to enjoy. This is the first of ten nominees, and the winner was chosen by you at home. Who won the award? We will find out at the end of the show.
Our first Best Picture is the biggest movie in a couple years. Having broken box office records that we would be accustomed to be seeing broken in the 2010s, before there even was a pandemic, this film was an experience like no other. Finishing the touches of a two year old cliffhanger, Tom Holland returns to the big screen as the masked web-slinger, Spider-Man, to face his most multiversal challenge yet. Also joining him this time is Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, who tries to help Spider-Man in his ongoing crisis, only to lead themselves to a mistake that could mean the end of several civilizations as we know them. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, with great power, it is therefore my great responsibility to tell you that this is “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
2nd place. It is something that most people, despite its occasional prominence, try to avoid. Because why be the runner-up when you can be the best? Supporting actors like these five on the other hand, turn a second position into first. These supporting actors vow to amaze to a point where they steal scenes and bring a balance to the movie at hand alongside the leading roles. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Jared Leto (The Little Things)
Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
Mike Faist (West Side Story)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah!”
It is has been over a year since my first and only viewing of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” but I was amazed by just about the entire cast from LaKeith Stanfield to Jesse Plemons to even Dominique Fishback. I thought everyone did a great job and offered some of the year’s best collective chemistry. However, if I had to pick one actor to praise above all, it would have to be Daniel Kaluuya, as he carried every scene he was in, and delivered the best mix of physicality and mentality brought to the screen this year. Kaluuya was a force of fire, bringing a real personality to life with a captivating, emotionally thrilling interpretation of Fred Hampton that had my jaw dangling from one moment to another. Kaluuya delivered one of the most attention-grabbing scenes of the year, where he gives a speech at a rally. Let’s just say I looked forward to it with what little I saw in the trailers, but I was even more impressed when we got the actual result. Here is a clip of Daniel Kaluuya from “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
And of course, we cannot have a Best Supporting Actor award without a Best Supporting Actress award. The job of the supporting actress is not necessarily to walk underneath the shoulders of giants, but accompany them on their cinematic journey. These five ladies walked the walk and much more. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Judi Dench (Belfast)
Glenn Close (Four Good Days)
Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho)
Ana de Armas (No Time to Die)
Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
And the award goes to…
Ariana DeBose for “West Side Story!”
In a film as sappy as “West Side Story” can come off, it also comes with a little bit of bleakness. Several scenes take place in darker areas or have a more rugged color palette. Whenever Ariana DeBose comes on screen as her character of Anita, it just makes you want to move. Whether she’s busy singing about America, trying to convince people close to her to speak English, or simply talking smack to those around her, DeBose brings every dose of personality to the film that she can. I saw “West Side Story” twice, and while I really loved DeBose the first time around, I got incredibly giddy, almost to level of a kid on Christmas morning, whenever she spoke during the second viewing. Not only because her character was well written, but because Ariana DeBose brought her own flair to the role. “West Side Story” is Steven Spielberg’s first musical, but with DeBose in the mix, it feels more like he already made ten of them. You know DeBose is the winner when you literally grin like an idiot as soon as she starts speaking. Here is a clip of Ariana DeBose in “West Side Story.”
Our second Best Picture is yet another adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, who has been nominated for his efforts, this film is the story of a young boy named Paul Atreides, played by the remarkable actor Timothee Chalamet, who has been sworn to protect the universe’s most valuable asset. Joining Chalamet is one of the year’s most recognizable and talented casts with Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, and Stellan Skarsgard. The film has been hailed as a cinematic achievement, taking a book once considered unfilmable, but somehow marvelously bringing it to life. In this film, we are introduced to a magnificent universe of worlds, rivalries, and sandworms. Nominated for 10 Jackoff Awards, this is “Dune.”
As a guy who often cuts his nails a couple times a month and his hair buzzed as often as he can, I do not often think of makeup or hair as an essential feature of my being. But for these five groups, this is their livelihood, and they utilized said livelihood to let their respective actors and characters shine and simmer. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Being the Ricardos (Ana Lozano, David Forrest, Kim Santantonio, Kyra Panchenko, Michael Ornelaz, Teressa Hill, Yvonne Depatis-Kupka)
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Vickie Lang, Kristyan Mallett, Donald McInnes)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Donald Mowat, Love Larson, Eva Von Bahr)
In the Heights (Martha Melendez, Betsy Reyes)
West Side Story (Judy Chin, Kay Georgiou)
And the award goes to…
Donald Mowat, Love Larson, and Eva Von Bahr for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye!”
I’m going to be real with you. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a film that I never looked back on because of its story. Because of its screenplay. Because of how much I liked the characters themselves. A lot of what I like about “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is about aesthetic. From the costumes to the color palette to the makeup. The makeup and hairstyling departments receive their award today mostly because of one character herself, Jessica Chastain’s Tammy Faye. Jessica Chastain is one of my favorite actresses, so therefore I have a good idea of what she looks like and how she comes off whenever she performs. I rarely experience this with some actors, but as I watched “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” I felt like I had a true revelation that I was not for once watching Jessica Chastain, who again, is a proper thespian by herself, but she has been heavily enhanced her makeover which very much feels like the real life character she attempts to project. For that alone, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” earns its win. And I should also note the crisp hair job done on Andrew Garfield, who looks mighty impressive. Congratulations!
Now we move onto one of my favorite categories, Best Original Score. The original score of the film can sometimes make or break the production. Sometimes I watch a movie and maybe think it is not too great, but maybe I will listen to the music after. Whereas others utilize the score to their full potential to match the tone and feel of the film, making you more immersed into what is happening. I have listened to parts of some of these scores during my free time this year and have also admired them when watching the film from where they originate. Here are the nominees for Best Original Score.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Dune (Hans Zimmer)
Godzilla vs. Kong (Tom Holkenberg)
Raya and the Last Dragon (James Newton Howard)
The Suicide Squad (John Murphy)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Michael Giacchino)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Hans Zimmer for “Dune!”
This is “Dune’s” second win of the night! It needs eight more for a clean sweep! It also needs four more to tie the record for the most wins in a Jackoffs ceremony. For your information, last year, “Tenet” set the record for most wins in a single ceremony with 6 wins, which included Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture. After my second screening for “Dune,” I left the theater around 12:30 a.m. and made a half-hour trek home. My trek consisted of night skies, little traffic, and me blasting Hans Zimmer’s booming tunes in the car. One of my favorite scores of all time is from “Blade Runner 2049,” also directed by Denis Villeneuve. Also, it was partially composed by Hans Zimmer alongside Benjamin Wallfisch. Zimmer returned for “Dune,” making this next collaboration a worthy followup. During the press screening I attended the day before the film came out, I was in an end seat next to a wall. If you have ever been to theaters with two random seats on the sides, you know what I’m talking about. There were times during the score where percussion became enormously present and gargantuan that I could feel the walls shaking. So much love and passion was put into the score of “Dune,” and history shows it. While producing the score, Zimmer drove the team crazy with so many ideas, and clearly some great ideas made it into the final cut. The book was a huge inspiration for Zimmer during his younger years, so I am glad that he is getting to make a project he is proud of. And frankly, I am proud of it too. Congrats to Hans Zimmer! Here is a sample of the score for “Dune.”
Our third Best Picture was voted my #1 movie of the year, and it is almost not even a close competition. In a year of great comic book movies, I have hailed this film as the greatest installment in the Detective Comics Extended Universe to date and another home run for director James Gunn, whose creative freedom is extremely evident. This film delivers the greatest cross between dark humor and heart ever conceived. Anybody can make an R-rated film with tons of blood and gore in it, but it takes a true genius to create one with blood and gore, with emotionally charging scene after scene. This film has a stacked cast from Margot Robbie to Joel Kinnaman to Sylvester Stallone to John Cena to James Gunn mainstay Michael Rooker. With some of the industry’s most awe-striking visuals, the film is a feast for the eyes, and I’m not just talking about mature content. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Suicide Squad.”
Just recently, I just showed you a revolutionary GEICO commercial, and you may just be thinking, that’s all the stuff he has today for commercialized content. No, I have another. And you might be thinking, why is this guy showing all this tied in commercialized crap? First off, I’m not getting paid for this, so it’s not tied in. Second, this is such a neat coincidence because I actually have been working on another awards show dedicated to commercials and selling you all sorts of stuff. …It’s called The Game Awards. It’s gonna be great.
With that being said, I am proud to announce the second ad of the night. I want to thank one of the official sponsors for the Jackoffs. I am sure they are having a headache just thinking about our partnership. What do I mean? Just watch the ad. Take a look.
We are moving onto the design categories of the ceremony. What do Best Costume Design and Best Production Design have in common? Well, you cannot wear a building, so that’s one difference. Although as for commonalities, both crafts have their people who dedicate hours upon hours to making sure the talent look as pretty as the backgrounds that surround them. We will be starting this segment of the ceremony by honoring the designers who create labors of love that they wear on their sleeves, and talent wears all over themselves. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Dune (Bob Morgan, Jacqueline West)
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Michael O’Connor)
The Last Duel (Arthur Max)
Last Night in Soho (Odile Dicks-Mireaux)
West Side Story (Paul Tazewell)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Odile Dicks Mireaux for “Last Night in Soho!”
How could I not pick this film? The film is literally about someone who wants to be a fashion designer! It’s like going to Chicago and missing out on deep dish pizza! What are you doing with yourself? I contend that “Last Night in Soho” may be the most aesthetically pleasing film of the year. Not only is it a breathtaking, time-travelling trip back to the 1960s, it accentuates the beauty and glamour that said era provides. When my grandfather sits in a rocking chair and tells me what happened back in his day, I would not think he would have lived in London, but I would love to imagine that he lived in an era as enchanting as this. All the clothing is Heaven-like from the dresses to the suits, everyone is dressed to nines and makes all the neon surroundings that much more attractive. Congratulations to Odiles Dicks Mireaux!
And speaking of surroundings, it is time to honor five production designers who made the best surroundings of the year. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Belfast (Jim Clay)
Dune (Patrice Vermette)
The French Dispatch (Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo)
Last Night in Soho (Marcus Rowland)
West Side Story (Adam Stockhausen)
And the winner is…
Marcus Rowland for “Last Night in Soho!”
THIS. WAS. TOUGH. I mentioned when talking about “Last Night in Soho’s” costumes that the surroundings of the film are a pure highlight. I am not lying. Every frame of this film is infused with color that fits the characters in front of them, from particularly quirky walls to the neon that flies all around the city. The same goes for another nominee, “The French Dispatch,” but looking back, I felt more through the 1960s nostalgia of “Last Night in Soho” compared to the typical Wes Anderson quirkiness of “The French Dispatch,” not to put such an aspect down. Years ago, certain filmmakers fought to keep the art of black and white filmmaking alive, and while such a debate may have been worth having at the time, I would love to go back in time and introduce them to “Last Night in Soho,” which may have one of the finest color palettes in film history due to its similar, but slightly varying environments, and the variety of neon lights that come in scene after scene. When we go back to the 1960s, the movie theater felt attractive to the point where part of me wanted to watch “Thunderball.” Congratulations! “Last Night in Soho” takes home both design categories!
Our fourth Best Picture is a collaboration between acting legend Glenn Close, who you may know from the Oscars as the lady who wouldn’t stop shaking her butt, and a modern actress with the whole package, Mila Kunis. The film is based on a true story that has been slightly changed for the screen, but said changes did not stop the movie from delivering one of 2021’s most compelling and enthralling scripts. Close and Kunis deliver two great performances with Kunis arguably giving the best of her career. At the end of the day, this is a real drama with important issues that showcases the struggle of addiction. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “Four Good Days.”
Every year during the Jackoffs we take a moment to recognize two people who have earned respect in the industry through their craft. Why two? One is alive, and one is not. We will be presenting the first of two lifetime achievement awards tonight, the Roger Deakins award. The Stan Lee award, which is presented for someone no longer with us, will be awarded later in the show.
The Roger Deakins award is given to individuals who are still with us today who have brought a major punch to the movie world. Past recipients include Roger Deakins, a cinematographer known for crafting brilliant shots through films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski. Bill Murray, an actor whose comedy chops have made many movies worth audiences’ time through the years. And Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest directors of all time with a resume ranging from Jaws to Jurassic Park to Minority Report. Coincidentally, those three movies are going to apply to this year’s recipient. Because this year’s winner has created some of the most iconic sounds in film history. And I do not mean sound design, sound mixing, but something you hear almost every movie. Music. This year’s winner was born in Flushing, New York, where his music origins are clear. He ended up being the son of a percussionist for CBS Radio and the Raymond Scott Quintet. During his college years, he attended UCLA and Los Angeles CIty College, beginning his mark on his Angelino background and as one of Hollywood’s greatest composers. When he started, he was a piano player for productions like “Some Like it Hot,” and he even composed a few scores himself during that time during an episode for “Playhouse 90,” more episodes for “M Squad,” and even more episodes for “Bachelor Father.” His earliest film composition was for “Daddy O,” which currently stands at a 1.9/5 stars on Letterboxd, a 2.7/10 on IMDb, and a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. Obviously, the film of a lifetime. But he went on to craft some of the most iconic movie scores of all time, many of which are continously blasted and hummed today. “Jaws,” “Superman,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Harry Potter.” Chances are if you ever saw a movie, you may have heard this man’s music somewhere. Did I mention he comes from a family of music? Yes? Well, that legacy lives on as he has a few kids of his own, a couple of whom are rock musicians. He is no stranger to the awards scene, having won 5 Oscars, 3 Primetime Emmys, 7 BAFTAs, and 4 Golden Globes. He also holds the most Oscar nominations for a living person with a total of 52. He has collaborated with Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His work with the latter allowed him to sell the most popular orchestral album of 2020. Perhaps his most famous creation is his scores for “Star Wars,” which have been celebrated as much as the movies which they come from. He composed every movie in the “Skywalker Saga,” including the most recent installment, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which some thought may be his last work in the “Star Wars” franchise. That is until it was announced he would be composing the music for “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the upcoming show on Disney+. I am also proud to announce that I have very close seats at a concert event he is doing this year at the Hollywood Bowl this September. The world would never be the same without this man’s music. This year’s Roger Deakins Award goes to the maestro of our time, John Williams!
I could play a victory celebration, but unfortunately we do not have time to waste. But hopefully unlike Chewbacca, John Williams ends up getting his award. Congratulations to John Williams, one of the greatest composers of all time.
Now, for those who are new around here, I am currently a college student, and I often find myself doing assignments that I make strictly for the professor to grade and then almost never touch again. Although there is one assignment I did last year for a class called Comparing Cultures Through Film. The assignment was at the end of the term, I had to take what I have learned about films I watched in that class, which takes an aspect of culture that applies heavily in its time and place, and make a film about a culture that speaks to me. So I chose to tell a story that blends YouTube, physical media, and technology. I have the film for you all to watch, it’s just under 7 minutes, I hope you all enjoy it.
Our fifth Best Picture is one of the two animated films to receive such a nomination tonight. Originally slated for a wide release by Sony in 2020, but ultimately dropped onto Netflix and in select theaters in 2021, this film is one of the past year’s most exciting screenplays. Known for producing past animated hits like “The LEGO Movie” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, among others, deliver another hilarious adventure that support the notion that the animated genre is for everyone. With stars Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Michael Rianda as the Mitchells, they all come together to deliver one of the most charming and delightful robot apocalypse movies of all time. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”
Let’s move onto the sound categories. Once again, we are sticking with tradition and starting with Sound Editing, because E comes before M, therefore editing comes before mixing. These are the five movies of the year that deliver the most pleasing sound concepts. Here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Suicide Squad
Spider-Man: No Way Home
And the award goes to…
This is the only nomination “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” had for the entire ceremony, and it wins because of its unique standpoint. I often compare “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which if I did a Jackoff Awards in 2016, I probably would have nominated for this exact category. Part of it is because of its use of sounds that are nostalgic to the point that the make themselves prominent to the viewer. Because let’s put it this way, anybody can make a ghost scream. Anybody can turn on a proton pack. But “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” delivers an impressive use of nostalgia through what I can only describe as minimalism. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” despite being one of the year’s most highly anticipated blockbusters, executes each nostalgic sound beautifully by allowing the viewer to take everything in one scene at a time, not to mention one second at a time. I very much enjoyed the sounds in “Dune” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” but those films occasionally feel more chaotic, although I will admit, the former does have plenty of time to breathe. All the films deserve to be nominated, but only one can win, and this is the one. Congrats to “Ghostbusters: Afterlife!”
Now here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing!
BEST SOUND MIXING
Godzilla vs. Kong
The Last Duel
No Time to Die
And the Jackoff goes to…
This is “Dune’s” THIRD win. Once again, this was a tough one! But I chose “Dune” because all the sound in the film helped bring this story to life. Many people have different interpretations and ideas of how the book would appear in real life, but I think it is safe to say that Denis Villeneuve and a bunch of other people who work on the movie have brought this fantastical universe to our reality in both a grand and compelling fashion. Between the sandworms, the explosions, and the sounds of the sand which is always in sight, “Dune” is a movie that is not afraid to make its presence known. “Dune” is one of the most boisterous films of the year between its booming score from Hans Zimmer and intense action sequences. But it does not imply that there are no moments of subtlety. The sounds for the one on one fight between Paul and Gurney is one of the simplest, yet enchantingly audible sequences of the year. “Dune’s” sound mix is a balancing act at its finest, and that is why a hearty congratulations must be given to the team who put this mix together.
Our sixth Best Picture is yet another animated movie that is being honored at today’s ceremony. From Disney, comes a film where a young girl goes on a quest through the realm of Kumandra, where dragons almost cease to exist. With a voiceover cast ranging from Kelly Marie Tran to Sandra Oh to Awkwafina, this film is as adventurously fun as it is ridiculously funny. Scored by James Newton Howard, whose talents have also been shown through the scores for other 21st century Disney pictures including “Treasure Planet” and “Maleficent,” the film promises a journey of friendship, trust, and discovery. Speaking of music, this is an unusual Disney feature where there are no written original songs, allowing us to focus more on the characters in each one of their moments. Nominated for 3 Jackoff Awards, this is “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
It is time to recognize the Best Screenplays of the year, and we will be starting with the original category. For the newcomers to this awards show, no, we will not be continuing with the sequel category. But before we get to the second of the screenplay categories, we shall honor five original ideas that brought joy and wonder to audiences this year. Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Being the Ricardos (Aaron Sorkin)
Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)
The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson)
Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, Krysty Wilson-Cairns)
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Mike Rianda, Jeff Rowe)
And the winner is…
Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe for “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!”
Yes, animated movies can win categories too! “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of the most charming movies I have watched in a long time. The film is from Sony Pictures Animation, a studio I do not often think about, but they have been on a roll the past couple years between this and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Animations often excel because they try to execute ideas that would not often work in a live-action environment. Maybe something would be too crazy, or hyperactive. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” embraces that idea and dials it up to an 11 with some of the most intense and insane attempts at humor, yours truly has ever seen. This is the vibe of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” if someone decided to put it in animated form and give it a style that is almost reminiscent of “The LEGO Movie.” Everything from the inserted bubble texts to the cutaway with the monkey to the massive, outrageous action sequences, some of which I cannot even believe they got away with in a film that was probably meant for families, was top notch. It’s like the crew decided on a rule to be as crazy as possible and went with it. And for that, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a gem. Congratulations!
And when I say we are not moving onto the sequel category, I mean it. Even though we are moving onto a category which contains ideas that are inspired by others, not one of them is a sequel. However it is time to honor a remake that takes inspiration from a sci-fi novel, an idea based off of a news story, a historical event based on a 2004 book by Eric Jager, the true life story of the man who created “Rent,” and a remake based on a popular musical inspired by “Romeo & Juliet,” so many ideas, so many recreations, so much glory. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Dune (Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth)
Four Good Days (Rodrigo Garcia, Eli Saslow)
The Last Duel (Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon)
Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Steven Levenson)
West Side Story (Tony Kushner)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Steven Levenson for “Tick, Tick…BOOM!”
Last year’s Jackoffs had an interesting result for the Best Original Screenplay category, and that is almost imitated this year. I say almost, because this involves something that happened with this Adapted Screenplay category. The thing, of the five nominees, the one to win is the only one that was not nominated for Best Picture. “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” was a movie that came out of nowhere for me. I did not watch the film on Netflix, I ended up watching it in the theater. But I feel like doing so allowed me to sink myself in to some of the points this movie was trying to make through its script. “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” feels like the combination of the everyday dreams and nightmares of being a struggling writer. The film has marvelously realized numbers, imaginative sequences, and as an aspiring writer, I felt the words uttered on the screen, especially in one scene towards the end of the film. It took me back to a screenwriting class where I learned a lesson that I had to keep in mind every single day. It is something that as a writer that I understand why I need to hear it, but it is also something that makes me wonder if it limits my creativity. The idea that I should write what I know. I consider writing an escape. I want it to be a travel away from what I know. If you enjoy writing or are an artist of any kind, “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” is for you. Congratulations to Steven Levenson!
Our seventh Best Picture is a tale of perspective and truth coming together. This story is told in three ways, with each one having slight differences compared to the last. Actors like Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer grace the screen through this gritty epic where questions and bias arise. Directed by Ridley Scott, this film encapsulates what happens when the fight for the truth becomes the fight for everyone’s lives. Trust, companionships, and emotions are all broken in this two and a half hour story that pits friend against friend, allowing for a match that could change the course of history. Nominated for 6 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Last Duel.”
Editing is one of the most essential aspects of any production. Including this one. I edited the trailers. I edited the intro. I edited the sketches together. Just about any production you can think of comes together because of an edit. Whether it was done on Adobe Premiere, Avid, Final Cut, or even a splicing machine, editing lines everything up together and allows a previously existing vision to finalize itself into its ultimate form. These five movies have the greatest edits of the year. Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing.
BEST FILM EDITING
Being the Ricardos (Alan Baumgarten)
The French Dispatch (Andrew Weisblum)
The Last Duel (Harry Gregson-Williams)
The Suicide Squad (Fred Raskin, Christian Wagner)
West Side Story (Michael Khan, Sarah Broshar)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Harry Gregson-Williams for “The Last Duel!”
A few of these films are nominated because of their editing quirks. On the other hand, “The Last Duel” is nominated for how it handles seemingly normal editing techniques. “The Last Duel” has some of the most intense sequences ever created for modern cinema. I do not know what Ridley Scott’s goal was with this film, or Harry Gregson-Williams’s for that matter, but the two have joined forces to make a film that part of me almost never wants to watch again because of how GREAT it is. It did its job from a storytelling perspective of making you care for the characters at hand. The final battle between the two leads was gripping and emotional. The camera lingers on each character long enough to properly highlight their stakes within the situation. If the sound, shots, or interlinks were messed with a single bit, it would be harder to consider this film to be as epic as it is.
“The Last Duel” also has a nomination for Best Cinematography. And joining it happen to be four other truly deserving nominees who have their fair share of beautiful wides, breathtaking closeups, and marvelous shadows. The job of the cinematographer is to deliver the finest and divinest images for the biggest and smallest screens. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography.
Dune (Greig Fraser)
The Last Duel (Dariusz Wolski)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Bill Pope)
Tick…Tick…BOOM! (Alice Brooks)
West Side Story (Janusz Kamiński)
And this year’s Best Cinematography award goes to…
Dariusz Wolski for “The Last Duel!”
Dariusz Wolski has had an impressive resume throughout his career. Doing everything from blockbusters like the first four installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” to more adult fare like “News of the World.” With the latter and this very film included, this is Dariusz Wolski’s first win and second nomination. Wolski has a trademark of delivering shots that cover the entire scope of an area. His wides deliver some of the finest pieces of camerawork of the year. With an essence of detail and inclusion, each shot looks as inviting as the next. And there is no wonder why he and Ridley Scott have collaborated from one project to the next between “Prometheus,” “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” and “The Martian.” The two are currently working on a Napoleon Bonaparte project alongside a sequel to “Gladiator,” giving audiences more to look forward to. Congratulations!
Our eighth Best Picture is one of the two Marvel Studios films that has been nominated today. Of the two, this one released first, specifically in September when theatrical exclusives were on the rise again. Having banked a $70 million opening weekend, this film is a financial success by the standards of the pandemic era. Much like “Black Panther,” one of this film’s strengths is its well-executed diversity while also writing a compelling story. Much of the film centers around two characters played excellently by Simu Liu and Awkwafina, the latter of whom also appears in another Best Picture nom, “Raya in the Last Dragon.” With stunning visuals, stunts, cinematography, and Marvel’s trademark blend of comedic and serious nature, this is yet another action-packed thrill that just about anyone can enjoy. Nominated for 3 Jackoff Awards, this is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
They say not every film is perfect. Whoever said that is right, not every movie has the word “perfect” in the title. Speaking of films not being perfect, there have been lots of films over the years that have been great, but if they tweaked one or two little things, they could make for the ultimate Friday night on the couch or at the theater. Can you imagine how much better “Jaws” would be if the shark shot lasers? Can you imagine how much better “Clerks” would be if the convenience store were guarded by wrestling robots? Can you imagine how much better “Cats” would be if… They… DIDN’T make it? When it comes to 2021’s films, I think a lot of them are absolutely fantastic, including our Best Picture nominations. But there’s always room for improvement. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the fourth edition of Film Improvements!
We are down to the final five and it is time for Best Original Song. Last year we honored four films that made brilliant, compelling originals for all to enjoy. Why four? Because one movie had two songs. This year, we honor five. While times and honorees change, the ideas are still the same. These five movies, artists, and songs, moved audiences everywhere this year. Whether it was animated or live-action, the songs were pitched perfectly and written elegantly. I would also like to note that a couple nominees’ names have been added since announcing them two weeks ago. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
A Million Miles Away – Mamoru Hosoda, Kaho Nakamura (WRITER), Taisei Iwasaki (WRITER/COMPOSER), Kaho Nakamura, and Kylie McNeill (PERFORMED BY) (Belle)
Down to Joy – Van Morrison (Belfast)
Dos Oruguitas – Lin Manuel Miranda (WRITER/MUSIC), Sebastián Yatra (PERFORMED BY) (Encanto)
On My Way – Alex Lahey (The Mitchells vs. the Machines)
No Time to Die – Billie Eilish (No Time to Die)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Mamoru Hosoda, Kaho Nakamura, Taisei Iwasaki, and Kylie McNeill for A Million Miles Away from “Belle!”
This is the second year in a row where an animated film is the winner for Best Original Song, following in the footsteps of Rocket to the Moon from “Over the Moon!” “Belle” is a film that despite this Best Original Song nomination, is not exactly the most original concept as it was inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.” After all, Belle is a character that is prominent in both of these tales. But one of the best moments of the entire film comes toward the end where one character makes an unexpected choice, and then belts out this song. I will not say anything more because doing so will spoil the movie, but this song helped give “Belle” the proper finale it needed and deserved. I like all these songs. No Time to Die is as epic as can be and I went to a “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” taping a couple weeks ago where Sebastián Yatra played Dos Oruguitas for all of us, which was amazing. That was also a contender because of the emotion such a song can provide, even to someone who doesn’t speak Spanish. But A Million Miles Away wins because it handles its subject matter brilliantly while also being a great song on its own. It is wondrous, emotionally charging, and has wide range of instruments to accompany it by the end. Below I have provided two links to the song. The FIRST is the Japanese version. The movie comes from Japan, so therefore some would call this the proper version. This one is performed by Kaho Nakamura. But the SECOND version, for some of my audience who may prefer something different, is in English. That one is sung by Kylie McNeill. Feel free to listen to one song, both, you choose. These are eight minutes each, so listen wisely! Here now is the song A Million Miles Away from “Belle!”
We are down to the final four! It is anybody’s game! “Dune” could possibly win one or two more Jackoffs! There are a couple films that have not won an award all night that could swoop in and take the cake like “Four Good Days” and “Belfast,” maybe Meryl Streep could come in and steal every award! We still have FOUR categories! We’re almost at the end.
One of the most important positions, in fact, what is arguably THE most important position for all of filmmaking, is the director. Movies like “Dune,” “Tick…Tick…BOOM!,” and “West Side Story” would not have been adapted properly had it not been for the touch and passion their auteurs, Denis Villeneuve, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Steven Spielberg provide. While originals like “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho” would not be here if it were not for the unique, and sometimes off the wall thinking of the minds of Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright. All five directors deserve the honor, but one will leave the best of them all. Here are the nominees for Best Director.
Denis Villeneuve (Dune)
Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch)
Edgar Wright (Last Night in Soho)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick…Tick…BOOM!)
Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Steven Spielberg for “West Side Story!”
Last year, he won the Roger Deakins Award! This year, he claims another victory! Spielberg is Best Director. I’m gonna tell you the truth. If you asked me what my thoughts were about Steven Spielberg doing a “West Side Story” adaptation a year ago, I would not have cared. I love Spielberg, but “West Side Story” was never something I watched, never something I listened to, so I did not know what to expect. But the more I watched the teaser trailer, I had an idea that Spielberg may have known what he was doing. While I never ended up watching the 1961 film prior to this ceremony, I have seen the 2021 film twice in the theater. There was a constant between one show to the next. Enormous numbers, epic music, tremendous performances all around, and swooping shots allowing for some of the finest camerawork all year. “West Side Story” was a huge part of Spielberg’s growing up, and now that he has aged to a certain point, he was able to take his child-like wonder and combine it with his perked up experience. Some directors say they want to be the next Spielberg. Many friends of aspiring filmmakers hope said aspiring filmmaker becomes the next Spielberg. Here is hoping that this movie will inspire future filmmakers the same way “Jaws” did for one generation and “Jurassic Park” did for another. Congrats to Steven Spielberg!
This next Best Picture is the latest film from Edgar Wright, known for his fast-paced and exciting previous efforts like “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Baby Driver.” The film centers around a young girl, played marvelously by Thomasin McKenzie, who moves into an apartment in London with the hopes of taking her dreams of becoming a fashion designer to the next level. And her life is much like a dream as she occasionally ends up in the 1960s, where we meet a dazzling, promising singer, portrayed elegantly by Anya Taylor-Joy, who has a complicated rise to being a star. The film is as attractive through its neon infusion as it is suspenseful through its stellar script. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, this is “Last Night in Soho.”
Now we just presented Best Director, and one of the most important jobs of a director is making sure their actors are competent and comfortable enough to do their job. Because the job of an actor is to convey to the audience that they are believing the lie that is in front of them. Even if it is truth within an adaptation or social commentary. Sometimes actors, like Nicole Kidman for example, play actors. But just because they play themselves, does not mean they forget to do so with talent. It does not mean they forget that the audience is watching them and waiting for that one moment that will take them out of their seats and into the scene, feeling totally convinced and in agreement with the lie that’s in front of them. Here are the nominees for Best Actress.
Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)
Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)
Mila Kunis (Four Good Days)
Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza)
Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)
And the award goes to…
Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye!”
Much like “West Side Story,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a movie I never ended up reviewing on Scene Before, but had I been given the chance to do so, I would have been RAVING about Jessica Chastain. For a long while, Rachel Zegler was the frontrunner for me. She packs such enormous talent for a body as tiny as hers. Jessica Chastain came swinging and swooping in at the last minute, delivering an inconceivably on point performance for her character of Tammy Faye. I never grew up with Tammy Faye, nor was she ever a part of my life. But between her almost cartoon-like expressions, accentuating the heavily detailed makeup on her face, all the way to her trademarked voice, Chastain put me in a trance that was difficult to exit. Chastain has had quite the resume thus far with “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Martian,” and my all time favorite movie, “Interstellar.” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” as a movie, is no “Interstellar,” but Chastain’s performance here may be her greatest yet. Here is a clip of Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
It is time for Best Actor, where we honor the male liars! This year, we will be honoring five men big and small, young and old, thin and thick, black and white, these are not lies. But the five men who have been nominated have delivered some of the most delicious and convincing lies of the past year. Here are the nominees for Best Actor.
Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)
Jude Hill (Belfast)
Will Smith (King Richard)
Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza)
Andrew Garfield (Tick…Tick…BOOM!)
And the Jackoff goes to…
Andrew Garfield for “Tick…Tick…BOOM!”
WHAT A YEAR for Andrew Garfield! You know how good it has been for Andrew Garfield? Well, aside from being in a film with the guy who made “Hamilton,” let me remind you, Jessica Chastain just won Best Actress. Her co-star in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” was Andrew Garfield, who also did a great job in that film! I have never known about the story behind Jonathan Larson, I have never watched or listened to “Rent,” I knew nothing about this movie’s subject matter. And in a way, I don’t see myself getting myself too much further down the rabbit hole, but Andrew Garfield not only brings Jonathan Larson to life, but I saw a little bit of myself in him. An aspiring artist who hopes to simply get by from day to day, working on his lifetime masterpiece that nobody actually might see, only to occasionally get close to a semblance of success without actually achieving it. I was floored by this story and as an artist, I can see myself going through some of the things this character goes through, and Garfield embodied that from start to finish. Garfield also sang the numbers like a champ, giving him some extra points if you ask me! Here is a clip of Andrew Garfield in “Tick…Tick…BOOM!.”
It is time for the second of the two Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Stan Lee award. This award is given to someone who is no longer with us as of the past year, but has earned a great deal of success while revolutionizing the industry. Past recipients have been Stan Lee, the cameo master and Marvel creator whose characters are used in television and film. Syd Mead, whose work as a visual futurist helped bring us films like “Blade Runner” and “Tron,” and Ennio Morricone, a legendary composer known for his scores in westerns, some of which have been used in a variety of media to this day. Now, a Golden Girl will join the ranks. The winner of this year’s Stan Lee award is an actor whose movie credits include Lake Placid, Bringing Down the House, and The Proposal. While she definitely appeared in a film from time to time, her forte was television. Every now and then, you would find her on game shows from “Match Game” to “Tattletales,” and even “Password,” which had been hosted by one of her husbands, Allen Ludden. She has become a celebrity game show icon to the point where she is perhaps more well known in the genre compared to some television hosts. Her most famous creation for television is “The Golden Girls,” which aired on NBC from 1985 to 1992, with a total of 7 seasons and 180 half-hour episodes. The show consistently reairs its episodes on television and has become known for its chemistry between its cast and its iconic theme song, “Thank You For Being a Friend.” At age 95, she joined the Academy, making her the oldest new member at the time. Some of her later roles were in big budget animations like “The Lorax” and “Toy Story 4.” In the latter of the two, she played a character kind of named after herself, Bitey White, which she would go on to portray once more in the Disney+ original “Forky Asks a Question.” This would become this legend’s final acting credit, and just one of the 126 she has listed on IMDb. When she was not busy blazing a trail on her own variety show, or earning a Guinness World Record, or doing one of the episodes for TVLand’s “Hot in Cleveland,” she was an activist and animal lover. She has dedicated as much of her life to helping animals as much as she spent living out her acting career. When she died at age 99, people did point out that she got to live a good life, but there were also complaints from some that she did not get to make it to 100. When you are 99 years old and people still think you died too soon, you have made a massive impact on those who look up to you. I am proud to honor one of the most revolutionary actors and personalities of all time, one who is so beloved that Alex Trebek once selected her to replace him when he leaves “Jeopardy!.” This year’s Stan Lee Award goes to Betty White.
Some say that Betty White’s death made 2021 end with a whimper. I prefer to think that she brought gold to the Heavens and the great beyond. And maybe, a little extra gold would not hurt. Congrats to Betty White, may she rest in peace and thank you for being a friend.
Our final Best Picture nominee is proof that not all remakes are terrible. Based on a play of the same name, which takes some inspiration from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” this film is about the rivalry of two dancing street gangs and the perils of falling in love with someone from the other side. The film has a remarkable cast, led by Rachel Zegler as Maria, who hopes to make herself comfortable in New York City, an enormous, unfamiliar environment as far as she is concerned. Directed by last year’s Roger Deakins Award winner, Steven Spielberg, he continues to prove that he is arguably the greatest director to ever set foot in the film industry. Enchanting musical sequences with booming music and intricate choreography deliver a treat for both the eyes and ears, but it does not stop the film from having incredibly compelling moments from character to character in every other scene. Nominated for a record-breaking 11 Jackoff Awards, this is “West Side Story.”
We have arrived at the final category, Best Picture. First off, I want to give a big congratulations to all of the nominees tonight. Second, I want to remind everyone of how this works. Unlike the other eighteen categories presented during the ceremony, Best Picture is the only one where I do not choose a winner. That is decided by the people at home, the viewers. I have tallied the votes one by one, and I can declare that one of these movies is going home with the biggest honor of the night. Past honors have gone “Avengers: Infinity War,” “1917,” and “Tenet.” So, will another MCU film take home the crown? Will DC steal Marvel’s spotlight this year? Will “Dune” or “West Side Story” acquire yet another win? Will an animated movie claim victory? It’s hard to say… To me… All these movies are winners. I cannot choose one.
I mean that literally and figuratively. I gave the voting power to the public.
Here are the nominees for Best Picture!
Dune (Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve, Cale Boyter, Jon Caracciolo Jr.)
Four Good Days (Rodrigo Garcia, Jacob Avnet, Jon Avnet, Marina Grasic, Jai Khanna)
The Last Duel (Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Jennifer Fox, Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck)
Last Night in Soho (Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Edgar Wright)
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht)
Raya and the Last Dragon (Osnet Shurer, Peter Del Vecho)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Kevin Feige, Jonathan Schwartz)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal)
The Suicide Squad (Charles Roven, Peter Safran)
West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger)
And the Best Picture of 2021 is…
This is the tenth nomination and fourth win for “Dune.” The film also won Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Mixing. “Dune” was also nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. This is the second Best Picture win for a Warner Brothers film.
To make it to the top, one must not fear! Warner Brothers takes home another Best Picture win, and “Dune” is officially the most respected movie of 2021! In a year where we have three comic book movies nominated for Best Picture, all of them are beaten by the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic! Like many movies of the past couple years, including last year’s Best Picture winner, “Tenet,” “Dune” was on its way to being one of the biggest movies of its time, only to face a significant hurdle. COVID-19. The film was set to release in December 2020, only to be pushed back almost an entire year where it would end up releasing both in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time depending on your market. Again, I saw “Dune” twice in theaters! And both theatrical experiences added up to be some of the most exciting of the year. Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. In addition to “Dune,” he directed my #2 film of the 2010s, “Blade Runner 2049,” a movie that may honestly be better than its 1982 predecessor. While “Dune” has been brought to the screen before, it should not come as a surprise that Denis Villeneuve brought an epic interpretation of Herbert’s novel to the forefront given his knack for great sci-fi. The book was a part of his growing up, much like composer Hans Zimmer’s, who also won an award for Best Original Score during this exact ceremony. Some remember that “Dune” was once brought to the screen by director David Lynch. Despite Villeneuve’s respect for Lynch, he tried to refrain from using his material as inspiration, and Hans Zimmer did not even watch Lynch’s film to begin with. This provided for one of the year’s most unique film experiences, even though I could compare it to franchises like “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.” Although, in actuality, the book came out before the first “Star Wars” movie, so it’s like we have a patterned family tree on our hands. And it is one of greatness. Much like those two franchises, “Dune” is no stranger when it comes to showing off its technical aspects. The sound is obnoxiously beautiful and the effects are a special kind of special. You truly have not watched a movie until you witness a full-scale sandworm. The film has a cast stacked to the brim between Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgard as one of the creepiest looking and sounding villains I have heard in my life. I. WANT. MORE. I put “Dune” amongst the ten best pictures of the year for a couple reasons. Like its nine competitors, “Dune” was a great movie on its own. Some claim that the movie feels unfinished. I prefer to think that the movie finishes the story it sets out to tell. It has a main character who goes through an arc and changes through the runtime, but it promises a new story as a reward for those who sat through this already exciting one. Promises have been made, but not by forgetting to deliver something great with what we already have. “Dune Part Two” releases in 2023 and hopefully this sequel can follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. Congratulations to Warner Brothers! Congratulations to Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve, Cale Boyter, and Jon Caracciolo Jr! Congratulations to “Dune,” you have won Best Picture!
That’s all the winners! That’s all the categories! Categories like Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, and even more categories that some award shows may or may not decide to present! Congratulations to all of the movies that have released in 2021, regardless of whether or not they were honored at this ceremony! I want to give a special shoutout to all our winners and nominees! Thank you for making this edition of the Jackoffs a great one! Shoutout to everyone who voted for Best Picture, you made your choice possible by clicking a button! If only life were always that easy!
That’s our show! For those who want to stick around on Scene Before I have reviews coming for “The Batman” and “Turning Red!” I will hopefully see you all for a fifth ceremony in 2023, where I am thinking of changing the name. Apologies to winners of the Twitter poll in 2018. Until then, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, check out the Facebook page, and Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Happy start to the new year as we get excited for another slate of movies and cinematic history! Speaking of cinematic history, it’s time to reflect on some of said history as I count down the top 10 BEST movies of 2021. If you are new to Scene Before or have not read my countdowns in the past, the rules go a little something like this. First off, this is a subjective list. This is a list of the movies that I think are the best. This is not a test of how much I know about movies, nor should it be a test of how much you and I agree on movies. As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks. Also, I should note that I have not seen every single movie that has come out in 2021. I still have not seen “Licorice Pizza,” I still have not seen “Don’t Look Up,” I still have not seen “The Matrix Resurrections.” I have not had the time or motivation to see every movie that has come out this year, it’s just the way it is. So if you’re wondering why there’s a movie that is not on this list, I either didn’t enjoy it as much as the ten listed here, or I didn’t see it. One or the other. OR, it was not released in theaters. For the sake of not clogging this list, I’m only listing films that came out this year theatrically, so apologies in advance to “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” as good as that movie is. Before we dive into my main ten, I want to list three honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: Tick, Tick…BOOM!
Kicking off the honorable mentions list is “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” stars Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, who would eventually go on to create the musical “Rent.” Speaking of musicals, this is a beautifully done couple hours of Andrew Garfield singing and dancing his way through life as a struggling artist that sort of reminded me of my own life as an aspiring artist myself.
Honorable Mention: Eternals
Up next for honorable mentions is “Eternals.” “Eternals” is the twenty-sixth MCU movie and Chloe Zhao’s first film released after the Oscar-winning “Nomadland.” This film introduces a bunch of new characters to the universe and gives them all their own moment to shine through a beautiful, visually stunning, slightly romantic tale that makes many of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe installments feel small.
Honorable Mention: West Side Story
And finally for honorable mentions, we have “West Side Story.” I saw this film at an IMAX Fan Event and was blown away. Rachel Zegler shines as the lead role of Maria, and the same can be said for a lot of the other actors in their respective roles, especially Ariana DeBose as Anita. With stellar cinematography, an enchanting retelling of a classic tale, and dazzling musical sequences, “West Side Story” is my favorite musical of the year. Steven Spielberg has another top-notch project to put on his endless resume.
With that being said, these are my top 10 BEST movies of 2021!
#10. Free Guy
Starting off this list is “Free Guy!” I was looking forward to this movie for a long time. The film was originally set to come out as early as summer of 2020, but of course, it got pushed back multiple times due to COVID-19. Honestly, it was worth the wait. I think this is a perfect film for today’s gaming culture because it successfully deals with topics and issues that gamers have to push themselves through today between microtransactions and not being in on the latest trends. But even with that in mind, it is just a damn good movie. Directed by Shawn Levy of “Night at the Museum” fame, this film centers around a non-playable character who wants to become a hero in a video game after realizing how mundane his life is. That’s a cool concept, which eventually becomes well executed. Ryan Reynolds stars in this film and at times you can say that you can pick on some of his trademarks as an actor, but for a film like this, it works. Plus the climax is epic and hilarious in every way. There are only a couple movies I can think of this year where I’ve laughed harder. If you like Taika Waititi already, I promise you, you will want his autograph with authentication on it by the end of this film. The dude plays this executive and he’s got the personality of a DJ who spends his spare time in a gang or something! I don’t know if his mannerisms were his ideas or the director’s, but he brought this character to life! I think “Free Guy” is one of this year’s most accessible, fun, and entertaining flicks. Check it out!
#9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
This year we returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while “Black Widow” was entertaining, it is not good enough to be on this list. So instead, we’re gonna talk about the badass film that came out after it, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings!” This has everything an MCU origin story needs and more. New likable characters, intense non-stop action, and glorious CGI from start to finish. I will admit, the third act is a bit of diversion from the first two, which is why this is a bit lower on the list, but I still had a ton of fun with it. I saw it twice in IMAX and I had fun both times. Also, can we just admit that Wong may be arguably the MCU’s best supporting character at this point? People often joke about the MCU and how it often relies on humor to keep things going. This film is no exception when it comes to humor, and by that, I mean, it is sometimes ridiculously funny. It’s got some of the most laugh out loud lines I’ve heard in the saga. There are quite a few martial arts sequences that it feels weird to say, twenty-something movies in, had my jaw drop to the floor in regard to how marvelous they were executed. They were quickly paced, fun, and had me on the edge of my seat. What really makes the movie though is the chemistry between the characters. There’s a lot of family drama within Shaun and the people who raised him, and I felt all of that. Also, I could literally watch a sitcom with the two main characters, Shaun and Katy. The two are delightful together and brilliantly cast. Simu Liu and Awkwafina have brought one of my favorite relationships into the MCU today. I don’t often think my mother would want to watch a comic book movie in her spare time, it’s never been her genre, but I would recommend this film even to her. I think it’s just an easy film to digest. If you’re not into comic books or superheroes, I think you’d still like this movie, and that is one of the best compliments I can give a movie of this kind.
#8. The Last Duel
Coming in at #8 is “The Last Duel!” Ridley Scott directed two movies that came out in 2021, the other being “House of Gucci.” Of those two, I only saw this one, and it was great! This film is told in a rather unconventional order, but I think it was a great way to go about telling this story. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon deliver their first script to the big screen together since “Good Will Hunting” and brings in a compelling cast along with them. Adam Driver gives one of the best performances I have seen from him. Jodie Comer, who was already delightful in “Free Guy” is a different kind of great in “The Last Duel.” This film ultimately reveals what happens when you have one story, and three different people with altering perspectives. I left this film feeling satisfied because of how it ended, but to get to that ending, I had to go through one of the all-time most uncomfortable moments I’ve endured as a moviegoer, but it made the ending incredibly worthwhile and all the more fulfilling.
At #7, we have “Dune!” I tried reading the book for “Dune” and gave up quickly. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t have time for it, but it did not stop me from absolutely looking forward to the “Dune” movie. It was my most anticipated film of the year and it did not disappoint. This is sci-fi at its finest. Denis Villeneuve continues to make a case as to why he’s one of the best directors working today. “Dune” has been out since October, so I don’t know if it is still in cinemas near you, but if it is, or if it ever comes back, PLEASE make an effort to go see it in a theater. Maybe Oscar season will give it some help. “Dune” was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had watching a movie on the big screen in some time. I went to the press screening for it the day before it opened, I had one of those end seats right next to the wall. It’s one of those situations where there’s two seats next to the stairs, then on the other side is the main part of the row. At times I could literally feel the wall next to me shaking like there’s no tomorrow. “Dune” is a film that introduces its fair share of lore and characters, and rarely is it ever uninteresting. People argue that the ending of this film is a bit abrupt, and you could make that argument, I could see why you would say that. But this film ends at a proper place. It’s Paul Atreides starting at one point, fulfilling an arch, and therefore finishing at another. To me, it didn’t feel abrupt, it felt like the end of one story and the start of another. As for that other story, I cannot wait for it. 2023 is gonna be epic when “Dune: Part Two” hits the big screen.
#6. Four Good Days
Coming in at the next spot is “Four Good Days,” which is arguably Mila Kunis’s best work as a performer. Well, acting-wise I should say. “Family Guy” as a concept has heavily influenced me over the years, but that’s more on the written portion than anything else. But when it comes to “Four Good Days,” this is one of those movies that came out of nowhere for me. I honestly don’t know if I wouldn’t have seen this if it weren’t for seeing a clip of it on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” so good on them for advertising it properly. Kudos to the marketing crew. As for the actual movie, it is one of those movies that is hard to believe that it is somehow in actuality, a true story. It’s real. A lot of things were changed in the film, but the story is nevertheless real. Mila Kunis and Glenn Close have dynamite chemistry and may be one of the best on-screen pairs I have seen in a long time. If you have a chance, check this movie out. One of the most moving experiences I’ve felt in a while.
#5. Raya and the Last Dragon
Up next, is one of this year’s surprises and overall best animations, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon!” If you know the history of this movie and all the development changes that happened after all the press it got at D23, you could look at it with a bit of skepticism, but it turns out that the changes did not matter much as the movie kicks ass from start to finish! All the characters from Raya to Sisu to Boun are charming and inviting. This movie is so hypnotizing and fun that it is easy to forget that the villain is literally a bunch of blobs. How imaginative! Either way, if you want a great family movie, I give this the highest of recommendations. Also, shoutout to James Newton Howard, your score is incredible. I listened to the prologue several times this year. Weirdly enough, and I’m not complaining about this because it works, this is one of the rare Disney animated movies where you don’t see anyone singing. If you ask me, this is what the live-action “Mulan” should have been. Take notes! Also, between Netflix’s “Over the Moon,” which more people should watch at least one time and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” animation revolving around Asian culture has been killing it lately!
#4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
For many, this was the most anticipated film of the year. For me, it was kind of that at first, then the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. Then I saw the movie only to have said nerves washed away. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” This is the second top 10 in Scene Before history, not counting honorable mentions or MCU films where he is not the focal point, where a movie featuring Spider-Man makes it in. This character is showing no signs of slowing down. Every goal that this movie had written down, it checked off. It entertained the audience. It brought nostalgic feels while also trying to freshen up the characters of today. For me, this was an event film that felt bigger than “Avengers: Endgame,” because I went to see this film twice in two days and both times my theater LOST their minds over everything that was on screen. And I gotta give credit to Jon Watts and the writers of this film. Even though this film relies heavily on aspects of the past, it’s not like the live-actionish version of “The Lion King” where it doesn’t try anything new. There are some real character moments in this film that I personally was not ready for. I knew given how this was the third film of a trilogy, I would be getting something rather emotional, but even with that, seeing this all play out made me motionless a couple times. Tom Holland is great as Spider-Man and gives his best portrayal of the character yet. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock is back and just as impressive as his 2004 interpretation. And I would argue Willem Dafoe is even better in this film than he was in 2002’s “Spider-Man.” Do I think we’re getting too many superhero movies? If they continue to make them as good as this, then absolutely not. If we kept getting more movies like “No Way Home” as opposed to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” then bring em on!
#3. Last Night in Soho
We are nearing the end of this countdown and I cannot go on without mentioning Edgar Wright’s latest master class work, “Last Night in Soho.” This film reminded me of why I love movies. I went to see this at a 9:30 p.m. opening Thursday night screening at a historic venue near Boston in 35mm. I went for the nostalgic gimmick and intent to support local cinema, by the way, if you are a cinephile and in the Boston area, PLEASE make a trip to the Coolidge, but I ended up getting something much more. “Last Night in Soho” works not only because of Edgar Wright’s neon-infused, trippy, downright disturbing vision, but because of the compelling performances of its two lead actresses, Thomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy, the latter of whom I’ve seen in other works, but I will say this is probably the best she’s done to this day in regards to cinema. I will admit, I am a sucker for neon. It’s my favorite chemical element. Gosh, that’s how much of a nerd I am. I literally have a favorite element on the periodic table. Therefore, I was a tad predisposed to loving the atmosphere of the film as it waltzed back and forth from the 1960s London to present London. Each and every frame had me transfixed on the screen like I was five years old and looking at action figures. I had an idea on how they did some scenes as I looked at the shots, but part of me wanted to know as soon as I left the film how they put certain scenes together. I mean, even if you take out the fantasy and horror element, at its core, this movie is about dreams. Like “La La Land,” where the whole idea of the film is about people who want to pursue what they love, and the consequences or dangers they may face because of it. The two films are completely different in terms of setting, genre, subject matter, and I’d say the movie we’re focusing on is more dramatic as opposed to comedic, but they have similar themes and the main characters have alike motivations. “Last Night in Soho” is perfect for any movie night with the lights dimmed and the popcorn right in the palm of your hand.
#2. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my favorite animated movie of the year, and I would also claim that this is the hardest I’ve laughed at an animation since “The LEGO Movie,” it’s another project from producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!” I waited months to watch this film, but after I watched it, I don’t think I’ve felt as satisfied after watching an animation since last year’s “Over the Moon.” Yep, I’m mentioning that movie again, it’s that good. This is a brilliant story about a dysfunctional family whose lives collide between tools and technology. The dad is obviously tech-challenged, but everyone else, including our lead character Katie, has a hang on things. The film does what a lot of other films with a sci-fi angle have done over the years like “The Terminator” and “2001,” which basically develops the story to the point where the robots try to destroy humanity and take over. Not a new concept, but the way it is handled here is INCREDIBLY fresh and the evil A.I. antagonist is undeniably brutal and ridiculously savage. It’s like if GLaDOS from “Portal” were transferred into a cell phone and had the ability to magically disintegrate the remains of Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and OK, Google! I love this movie. I enjoy animations, and I hate how people think animations are “only for kids,” because this one can suggest that THEY ARE NOT. This is probably the most fun I’ve had watching an animation in some time. There are actually some really dark images I’m almost shocked this movie got away with. And of all the movies I have seen this year, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” may have the greatest replay value because they pack the screen with so much information that I want to look at all of it in clear detail. Between that, in addition to the the unique animation style, a concept that Lord and Miller are not a stranger to courtesy of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and the bone-breaking, throat-destroying hilarious writing, “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is probably going to warrant repeat viewings. All movies are made to make money, but I think “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” comes off as this year’s greatest animated passion project!
#1. The Suicide Squad
Alright, here we go. We have made it to #1 and I assure you all that this pick was probably a definite since I first saw the movie. If you thought “Spider-Man: No Way Home” would be my favorite comic book movie of the year, guess what? You’re wrong! The film is epic in every way, but because of a couple minor issues, it’s lower on the list. This next film is a comic book movie that met every expectation, sometimes exceeding it, gave me one of the best theatrical experiences of the year, and made me laugh harder than I do during most comedies! James Gunn, you have done it again! My #1 movie of 2021 is the bloody, the brilliant, the diabolically insane masterpiece! I’m talking about “The Suicide Squad!” I have not seen every single DC movie in existence. I’ve seen a lot of the highly praised ones like “The Dark Knight,” Tim Burton’s “Batman,” “V For Vendetta,” and I honestly think “The Suicide Squad” outranks ALL of them! This film is not only ridiculous, mature fun, but it is also a surprise! Because if you wondered where my excitement level was in 2020 when this movie was being made, I would have put them low considering how 2016’s “Suicide Squad” was not that great, and “Birds of Prey” was barely passable and I mean BARELY despite the amazing talent of Margot Robbie. When I saw the trailers for this film, I was fully onboard. It promised brutal action, an immature yet genius script, and tons of humor. And we got all of those! But what I was not expecting months before going into “The Suicide Squad” is the amount of heart it had. James Gunn, based on his outings with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a delightful way of balancing mile a minute humor with real connections with real people, even if they aren’t people! This film got me to care about a man-eating shark who wears shorts and has the vocabulary level of a three-year-old. On the surface, he’s a killer that will tear you apart, but at the end of the day, all he wanted was friends. Polka Dot Man… Holy s*it. I LOVE HIM. I was at a mall the day after I saw this movie and I bought his Funko the moment I saw him. Polka Dot Man may have the most twisted mind I have seen in recent film history. He turns people into his mom and kills them! I mean, the guy on the surface is practically a joke character, but they successfully managed to turn a joke into a logical part of a storyline that made sense and provided real depth and emotion. I love what they did with him. Ratcatcher II may be responsible for delivering this year’s most emotionally charging ending. I won’t even say what it is, but the second time I watched this film after obtaining it on 4K Blu-ray, I had water in my eyes because she highlighted this film’s idea of people being misunderstood. What it means to come off a certain way and not be given a chance. This is the third movie with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and this is frankly the best she’s ever been as the character. She’s wonderfully insane, occasionally loud and upbeat, and super funny when she needs to be. There is a great scene, very well directed I’d say, where we see Harley killing all these people and we get her perspective on it, and she basically thinks she’s in wonderland! It’s kind of sick, but beautiful! Will Smith did not come back for this film, instead the lead this time is Idris Elba, and much like 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which had Will Smith playing Deadshot, Elba’s character of Bloodsport is doing the mission he’s assigned to for his kid. His rivalry with Peacemaker, oh my god. That was fun to watch. Speaking of Peacemaker, I think his costume may be the most ridiculous yet awesome costume in recent superhero movie history. Yes, it’s comic accurate, but it literally looks like something out of a kids superhero movie, but based on the content of this R rated film, it did not distract me, especially from the surprisingly compelling performance from John Cena himself. He’s been in things in the past, but he’s not exactly proven his acting abilities to the world. “The Suicide Squad” however made him incredibly convincing. Most specifically in the third act. Some might compare this to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which too was directed by James Gunn, because it has criminals trying to save the universe, and both involve select comic book characters that some regular Joes won’t be able to point out, but I honestly think this movie did that concept better. It handles SO MUCH blood and gore while also trying to provide hints of heart every which way, and that makes this movie so damn watchable. This is the best R rated comic book flick I have seen in my life, and the fact that this film is OVER “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on this list to me represents how great of a year it is for the genre, even if “The Suicide Squad” undeservedly flopped at the box office. I’d think twice before putting this film on with your kids, but I highly recommend it to just about anyone who loves a great action film with tons of humor. “The Suicide Squad” is my personal favorite film of 2021.
Thanks for reading this countdown! I always enjoy recapping the year in film and showcasing my favorites of the year, and depending on how things go in the next month or two, these ten films could be the Best Picture nominees of the Scene Before award show, The 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! I’ve still got more movies to see, so things could change! I always love celebrating the things I love. But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as tomorrow I will be releasing my list for the top 10 WORST movies of 2021. This year, collectively, was a better year for film than the last, but trust me when I say that within all the special snowfalls that looked pretty, we had some occasional treacherous downpours. We’ll be talking about those TOMORROW, January 12th! If you want to see this list and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of 2021? Our lists are probably not the same, so I am excited to hear your picks! List them in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?
Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which has been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.
Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”
When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?
I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.
Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.
This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…
Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”
My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.
But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.
Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.
But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.
All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.
Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.
Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”
Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…
Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?
Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.
But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.
I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.
Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.
I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.
One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.
In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.
To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.
Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see 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 “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Black Panther) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine), Naomie Harris (Spectre, Moonlight), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Boardwalk Empire), and Peggy Lu (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Always Be My Maybe). This film is the second installment to the “Venom” franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character. This time around, Eddie Brock who has spent time with a venomous symbiote in his body, attempts to interview Cletus Kassady, a serial killer. Kassady soon becomes a problem as he morphs into the big symbiotic creature, Carnage. It is now up to Venom to stop Carnage from unleashing destruction to society.
I hated the first “Venom.” I have avoided this film since the theater. While it was not my worst film experience of the year, I was weary of what this film stood for as far as the comic book movie genre goes. The violence felt generic, the acting came off as lackluster, even from Tom Hardy, and I felt that it was a step down for the comic book movie genre, especially in a year where they have proven to be a force with critics and the box office. The success of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” were not enough, we needed some schlock in the mix I guess.
The first “Venom” made over $800 million at the worldwide box office. So naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was not surprised. After all, everyone likes money. I had little to no interest in a sequel based on the impression that the first film left me. I felt like that film made me dumber. It was one of those films that by the time we got to 2020, I didn’t really care as much if it got pushed back due to COVID-19. Granted, part of me is now in the mindset that if any movie does well, even if I don’t like it, I will root for its success as it is good for the industry. And that success has been solidified so far with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as the new movie made over $90 million the weekend it opened in the United States.
But is all that success just money talking or will I give this film a personal green checkmark? To be frank, I had a lot of fun with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” There is a saying in film that sequels are often inferior to the originals. Unless you’re talking about “Terminator 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Shrek 2.” The reason why this film excels is because of the same reason that “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeded for me. It was big, loud, and delightfully dumb. Granted, you could say that about the first “Venom,” but that film personally had inferior acting, borderline corporate, uninspired writing, and violence that could have pushed the bar, but felt kind of tame. Much like its predecessor, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is PG-13, meaning you can have violence, but not so much blood. But unlike the 2018 piece of crap, I would say “Let There Be Carnage” does a better job at, well, bringing on the f*cking carnage.
And speaking of Carnage, let’s talk about him. This film’s villain is obviously Carnage, an insane serial killer who becomes a red symbiotic monster. First off, big improvement over the last movie, as much as I like Riz Ahmed, who KILLED IT in “Sound of Metal” last year, his performance as Carlton Drake was not the highlight of the original “Venom.” Another improvement I’ll bring up, and this is one I think some would argue gets into nitpick territory, but still, I think the choice of using Carnage in this film gives this sequel an uptick over the previous film’s rivalry because there were times where I was watching Eddie and Carlton duke it out, but I cannot tell who is who because everything is dark and all the fighting is two guys in black symbiotic suits trying to wreck each other. The film is ultimately lit better, the color palette is more attractive, and the action is more fun to watch.
Cletus Kassidy is also a fine villain on his own. I think casting Woody Harrelson was a smart move because he did a good job at bringing a sense of insanity mixed in with a flair of viciousness to the table. Harrelson’s performance in this film reminded me of, as much as I did not like the film, Jared Leto’s performance as Albert Sparma in “The Little Things” because in that film he was subtle and quiet, but every time he spoke, it felt commanding and bigger than what I could actually see. The beauty in Harrelson’s performance was not only what he says, but how he says it. In addition, his physicality is individualistic and much like Tom Hardy as Eddie, I cannot see anyone else at this point playing Cletus Kassidy. As for his love interest, Frances Barrison, I liked seeing her in this movie too, because not only was she a fun character to watch who was decently cast with Naomie Harris in her shoes, but I like how her powers reveal the weaknesses of other core characters, including Cletus himself.
This movie, like the original, has a PG-13 rating. I critiqued the first “Venom” for having action that felt clean for its subject matter and not doing anything special with what was on screen. I wanted to see death and destruction, and there are times where the film looks like it is going to reach that point, but it can’t quite get there. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” still has a slightly tame feel to it at times, but compared its predecessor, the violence in this film feels pretty close to an R even without all the blood. There’s a scene you may have noticed in the trailer where Carnage takes his tongue and swallows it down another person’s throat, a lot of the combat towards the end of the film is pretty intense, and I will say that as far as the PG-13 rating goes when it comes to language, they kind of nailed it. Because there is a rule in films that are PG-13 where you can only go so far with the f-bomb, and without spoilers, the point where they drop the f-bomb in this movie may have made for a possible spot in the top 10 best PG-13 f-bombs of all time. Might even be #1, it’s that effective and satisfying.
The best part of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the mix of the runtime and the pacing. There are a lot of movies that have come out over the years that are over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours that maybe I, or someone else, will walk out of saying, that was okay, or that was terrible, one thing they should have done is trimmed at least ten minutes off the runtime. I even did that recently with “Dear Evan Hansen.” So for this to be my next movie in the cinema was a nice change of pace. This movie is all murder, no filler. All carnage, no– Actually, I cannot come up with a good rhyme. If anyone can comment with a rhyme that would be great! This movie ends up with a runtime of 97 minutes, and I don’t think I want more or less. 97 minutes was the perfect runtime for this movie as it allowed the story to establish its points from the beginning, quickly drop the audience into the middle of the action, and offer a simple structure that would appeal to the target demographic. Quite a bit happens in that runtime, it’s almost like the movie was on cocaine.
I was a bit weary on Venom and Eddie’s relationship from the first movie, but it had potential, and I think “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” unleashes all the possible potential there is to be had. I went to see this movie with a friend and I think she described the chemistry between Venom and Eddie the way it should immediately be viewed. She saw the chemistry between the dynamic duo equal to that of an old, married couple. There are several scenes in “Let There Be Carnage” that cement that point. At one point they’re besties, at some other point they argue, one tries to make the other feel better about something. Despite their differences, Eddie and Venom at the end of the day are best pals even if this relationship was not something either of them wanted. In fact, after I watched the movie, I read an article where Andy Serkis and others were debating on calling the movie “Venom: Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As much as I like the current title, that is a fine alternative given what goes on in the movie. And also, I think Tom Hardy himself has done a great job evolving into the character. Even though I thought his previous performance as Eddie Brock was underwhelming, I would have to say that these past two movies have shown that Hardy is embracing his character as much as he can. As far as this film goes, I like Hardy’s performance as both Eddie and Venom. His voice for Venom is ridiculously heightened to the point where I cannot imagine many other people taking this role in the future. If someone else does take the role, I think some major reinvention will have to come into play.
Also, it’s great to see Peggy Lu back as Mrs. Chen, the owner of the convenience store who is in the know of Eddie’s secret identity. I liked seeing her in this film because like Eddie, who has grown to know Venom, Chen has an understanding of Venom that makes the two of them have a connection. Even though at one point, Venom wants to eat her. Pretty normal friendly relationship if you ask me, nothing out of the ordinary.
If I had any other complaints about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the obvious one, even though this is not TECHNICALLY a complaint, would be that this movie is not to be taken seriously. The only real Academy Award I could see this film being nominated for is Best Visual Effects. The script does not reinvent the wheel and spends a lot of time trying to be silly. This is not always a bad thing because the film knows its audience and is only doubling down on the success of the first movie. If anything, the more I think about it, this movie has a heir of the tone of “Batman & Robin,” but it uses that tone to show off something ten times as competent.
My one last complaint about the film is also something that I could place into a box that I would write “GUILTY PLEASURE” on in black Sharpie. You know how Sony is… Well, Sony? PRODUCT PLACEMENT! PRODUCT PLACEMENT! GET YOUR PRODUCT PLACEMENT! There is this crucial scene in the film where we see Eddie and Venom bickering with each other, and in this scene, we see that Eddie’s apartment is being ruined in the process, and of course, one thing that gets ruined is the television. In this moment, we see the television face its doom, but in one or two scenes later, we are back at the apartment, and viola! A brand new TV! I’m not suggesting Eddie didn’t have the time to buy a new television. Although I hope he’s wealthy enough to live in the San Francisco area. What I am saying is, right next to the televison is a giant Sony box in all its glory! Ah, the ways to promote your products! Money talks! Money walks! I call this a guilty pleasure because it involves a couple scenes that serve their purpose, one of which had me laughing my ass off like a maniac, but they used them for some easy promotion. It’s not “Transformers: Age of Extinction” levels of obvious, but still.
Also, stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.
In the end, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings on the carnage to gargantuan levels! I recommend this sequel over the original. I do plan to watch it again at some point. Tom Hardy has become married to this character in a sense. I hope to see more of him, maybe they’ll do a “Venom 3” someday, I would very much like to see that. This is by no means the best comic book movie of the year, especially not compared to “The Suicide Squad,” but “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a thumbs up from me, and I hope to see more of the character in the future. I’m going give “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” a 7/10.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.
Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see my review for the original “Venom,” click the link right here! It’ll take you back a couple years after I saw the movie on opening weekend, where the audience I was with seemed to have a much better time than me. Also, my next review is going to be for “Halloween Kills,” which hits theaters this weekend and will also be streaming on Peacock. I just went to the press screening the other night, and I cannot wait to talk about it. Spooky season is here! If you want to see 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 “Venom: Let There Be Carnage?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Venom” movie do you prefer? The original or the sequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! So I did my top 10 best list of 2020, I did my top 10 worst list of 2020, and now that we’re in the new year, it is time to talk about my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2021. I have never done a most anticipated list before, but I figured since there are a lot of movies that are supposedly coming out in 2021, this marks a prime opportunity to discuss some potential hits for me. Couple rules before we get started. Just because these are the movies I am looking forward to, does not mean that you should too. I mean, if we have the same list, fantastic! But remember, this is completely subjective. Also, I am only going to be talking about movies that are releasing in cinemas at some point. If it is going straight to TV, straight to Netflix, straight to Disney+, it does not count. For now at least. I dunno, depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, I may have to make 2021 an exception year as well where I count movies that were once going to release in theaters, but couldn’t for whatever reason. Movies like “Soul,” “The Witches,” and “Superintelligence.” By the way, don’t watch “Superintelligence.” I’m not gonna waste any time, I’m not doing any honorable mentions, I just want to dive into my main ten, so let’s do it! These are my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2021.
#10: Top Gun: Maverick
Starting off this list is “Top Gun: Maverick.” I am really excited for this film. The cinematography looks beautiful. The flight scenes look majestic. And I think Joseph Kosinski is a really good pick to helm a project like this. He’s done big scale blockbusters like “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion” in the past, so I think he’s a good fit. And of course, Tom Cruise is back as Maverick, who has been serving in the Navy for thirty years. I think “Top Gun” is a good film, but I think that “Top Gun: Maverick” has the potential to be better with the advances in technology, possibly a great emphasis on Maverick himself as a character and where he stands as a person. This film was supposed to be put out in 2019, but they pushed it back to manage complex flight sequences. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the film got delayed a couple more times, and now it is hopefully in its rightful place to potentially become one of the bigger summer hits of the year. Kelly McGillis, who was Tom Cruise’s love interest in the original film, will not be returning, but I personally don’t have the biggest problem with such a thing as I’ve heard the two did not always get along on set many years ago. Although Val Kilmer is back, so if you liked him in the original film, you have that to look forward to. And of course, Tom Cruise keeps with the cliché that he does his own stunts. He flies a jet, and I love that this film is going for practicality. Here’s hoping “Top Gun: Maverick” is a competitor for top dog of the year!
Up next, we have “Eternals.” This film was supposed to release in November 2020, but now it is coming out in November 2021. It has a star-studded cast consisting of Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. They’ve got some talented people in this film. But I should also mention that the director of this film is Chloe Zhao and if you don’t know anything about her, one movie she made that was supposed to hit theaters in 2020 has been killing it on the festival scene. I won’t say much about it, because spoiler, it is on the list. If she created a Best Picture frontrunner, I have faith she can make a great comic book movie. I have not read the source material, but the concept behind “Eternals” is nevertheless intriguing. Partially because it involves a story that kind of spans over thousands of years. I think that there is a ton of potential with this concept, and maybe it’ll be the next “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It takes a bunch of characters that mainstream audiences do not know much about, then makes them the talk of the town.
#8: The Last Duel
Speaking of films that were supposed to come out in 2020, we have “The Last Duel.” This film was going to have a limited release this Christmas with an expansion to more theaters on January 8th of the following year. “The Last Duel” is a film that has the potential to be one of the most beautiful-looking productions of the year. It is directed by Ridley Scott, who has made quite a name for himself over the years, and it is shot by Dariusz Wolski, who also shot one of my favorite 2020 films, “News of the World.” The film itself takes place in 14th century France and is about two best friends who have to fight to the death under the order of King Charles VI after one accuses the other of raping his wife. This sounds compelling, and I do not know what they’re ultimately going for with this film, but I would not be surprised if it is rated R. Adam Driver, who is building a terrific resume, is in this movie, but I should also mention that not only do Ben Affleck and Matt Damon star in the film, but they also wrote the screenplay together. The last time they wrote a screenplay, specifically “Good Will Hunting,” it won the duo an Oscar!
Who knows? Maybe this joke from “The Late Show with David Letterman” will come true! Go to 1:50, by the way. You’ll understand.
#7: No Time to Die
I have not seen many James Bond flicks, but it does not change the fact that I am super stoked for Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, “No Time to Die.” Again, we have another movie that was supposed to hit theaters in 2020, but got pushed back a couple times due to the pandemic. I will admit, and I don’t know if this will surprise anybody, even though Billie Eilish has put out her song for this film, I have not listened to it yet despite it being out for awhile. All I can say is that I want to be surprised. This film looks exciting, action-packed, some of the stunts look incredible, and that is exactly what a Bond movie should deliver. Plus, this movie also features Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out), who not only happens to admittedly be a celebrity crush, but someone who is becoming one of my favorite actresses. This is her second film with Daniel Craig, given how they were in “Knives Out” together, so I’m excited to see them return. Once again, this is Daniel Craig’s final movie as Bond, so I hope they pull out all the stops on this one. Did I mention they shot part of the movie in IMAX? Sign me up!
#6: Spider-Man 3
Coming in at #6 is “Spider-Man 3,” or as some are calling it, “Untitled Spider-Man Sequel.” I kind of hope this next “Spider-Man” film has the word home in the title somewhere. Even if it is just to reference a scene where Peter Parker goes see a Mets game or something. You can just call the movie “Spider-Man: Home Run.” Speaking of which, this movie sounds like a home run. You’ve got Tom Holland returning, Benedict Cumberbatch, otherwise known as Doctor Strange is set to make an appearance, and based on what I’m speculating, there’s a lot of news going around as to how many characters this movie is getting and multiple universes colliding. They’ve already confirmed Jamie Foxx’s Electro is returning, the same goes for Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. I don’t think there’s any official word on Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield coming in as of yet, which I’ll be honest, is a concept that presents a double-edged sword. On one hand, the more webheads, the better! In fact, Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” partially shaped my childhood and love for film. At the same time though, this almost sounds like fan service just for the sake of fan service. I don’t watch any of the CW superhero shows like “The Flash” or “Supergirl” or “Black Lightning,” but I know they have these crossovers at various points. This almost sounds like the buildup to Crisis on Infinite Earths in that universe. By that I mean it’s clunky, almost unreal, and maybe it has *too much* fan service. At the same time though, the real reason why I am anticipating this film is because of where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” left us off. I won’t spoil anything for those who have not seen the movie, but some serious s*it might be brewing up.
#5: Free Guy
What’s the next movie? It’s Ryan Reynolds trapped in a video game! AWESOME! I’m talking about “Free Guy.” Not only does “Free Guy” come with a cool concept, but it stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller. Reynolds has been on a solid track record as an actor. Even in some movies where I don’t think the material is something to write home about, Reynolds is a highlight. I imagine this film is going to have that traditional Ryan Reynolds humor and schtick that you may have seen in “Deadpool” or “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” but it has yet to get old for me, so I happily welcome it. Ryan Reynolds is like Kevin Hart, he can play the same guy to some degree in every film he’s in, but it works every time. This film is also being directed by Shawn Levy who produced “Arrival,” one of my favorite sci-fi films of the past ten years. He’s also directed the “Night at the Museum” trilogy, which maybe except the third movie, are goldmines when it comes to comedy. I am curious to see what he can do with this video game-esque film. Also, I should mention that this film may be emotional for me, because I saw in one of the trailers that Alex Trebek makes an appearance. Granted, it just appears to be a cameo, but the moment he shows up on the screen could induce a tear depending on how long he’s up there. I love my game shows, what can I say? RIP Alex.
Some might say this is a 2020 film, but I’m currently calling it a 2021 film as it has not been publicly released yet except for some festivals. Going back to Chloe Zhao, my next entry to this list is “Nomadland.” The reason why this is so high on this list is partially because of all the buzz I’ve been hearing. I barely know about this film. Yes, I know it is about a woman who lives through the Great Recession and she journeys through the American west. I’ve seen the trailer, I know some of the people involved. But this film has been winning award after award after award. At this point, some speculate it may be a frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars. Going back to the concept, we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have a feeling that this film is going to highlight struggles that we as a society could translate to modern times. And depending on where we go in regards to the economy, maybe we’ll see some similarities there too when it comes to themes and storylines. I first heard about this film back in September when the Venice Film Festival was going on, where it won the Golden Lion, and since then, I would hear about it every other day. The film was originally supposed to release in December of last year, but got pushed back to February of this year. I can’t wait to see what this is all about!
#3: Mission: Impossible 7
In 2018 I declared that my favorite film of the year is “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” Admitedly, that kind of goes back and forth between that and “Avengers: Infinity War” from time to time, but it does not change the fact that it is one of my favorite action films ever. And I’m not gonna lie, the sequel, “Mission: Impossible 7” is shaping up to be something special. The last couple of “Mission: Impossible” films, which have been directed by Christopher McQuarrie, have been the best the franchise has to offer. So I am especially glad he is coming back for a third movie, which is supposedly going to be followed by an eighth installment with the same cast and crew. My brain tells me that maybe the eighth one will be the last one, but money talks. So, who knows? At this point, that’s my guess. Also coming back is Lorne Balfe, who did the score on “Fallout.” It is a great score and it admittedly helped me get through a cavity filling at the dentist one time, so I’d say Balfe did his job. Also, let’s not forget about Tom Cruise. Say what you want about Tom Cruise. He’s crazy. He’s in a cult. He’s a weirdo. Maybe. But he is one of my favorite actors working today and if these few months have shown anything, he loves this industry and will do anything to keep it going. I seriously wonder how they are going to top the helicopter scene in the climax of “Fallout,” but I think with enough determination, it can be done. Plus you have some other cast members including Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby. All these people have done a great job in the other “M:I” movies they are in. Also joining them is Mantis herself, Pom Klementieff. She seems charismatic enough to join the franchise, so I hope the crew can execute the best “Mission” yet.
I often talk about how my favorite director working today is Christopher Nolan. Those of you who know me realize that’s not a secret. But if I had to pick a runner-up, Damien Chazelle is an arguable contender, and that is just part of why I am super excited for “Babylon.” There are not many details disclosed yet about “Babylon,” but what I do know about “Babylon” is that it is a period piece set in Hollywood. And if you have been following the awards circuit, notably in recent years, Hollywood loves movies about itself. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was a huge hit critically and won Best Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes, and let’s not forget, Chazelle himself has experience making a hit film about Hollywood, “La La Land.” That film had 14 Oscar nominations, won 6 of them, swept the Golden Globes, and earned Best Film at the BAFTAs. While that is not my favorite Damien Chazelle outing, there is no doubt that he can create something special. Speaking of which, Margot Robbie will be starring in the film as Clara Bow, a famous actress who was featured in both silent film and talkies. Also joining the cast is Tobey Maguire, Li Jun Li, and Robbie’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” co-star, Brad Pitt. They’ve got some serious talent for this film, and for a few of these people, this almost feels like a trip down a somewhat recent memory lane. Not only is Chazelle directing this film, but he’s also writing the screenplay, and I’m happy about this because he’s a solid writer! Before “Whiplash” came out and became the talk of the town, Chazelle wrote “Grand Piano” starring Elijah Wood. The film itself gets a little far-fetched at times, but if you like suspense and killer music, that film may be for you. “Babylon” takes place during the transition from when Hollywood was going from silent film to talkies, I love this premise, and I think Chazelle is going to kill it with “Babylon.”
# 1: Dune
At one point, this was my most anticipated film of 2020, as it was supposed to come out last December. But it got delayed to October 2021, so I can now confirm that “Dune” is my most anticipated film of 2021! If you know me, you know I am all about the theatrical experience. I have a seemingly unhealthy obsession with it. Let’s just start off with the obvious. Having seen the first trailer, both at home and in cinemas, “Dune” looks like it was made for the big screen. There are a few action scenes that look intricate and awe-inspiring to the naked eye. The sand environments are beautiful and are magnificently captured by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who returns alongside Denis Villeneuve, another one of my favorite directors working today. I’ll admit, I’m a bit behind on his films. I have not seen “Prisoners,” I have not seen “Sicario,” but having seen “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049,” I can only imagine the sheer scale and glory that “Dune” will encapsulate. Villeneuve has proven that he can bring great sci-fi to the big screen, and I am hoping he continues that with “Dune.” I have not read the book, although I do have the book and I plan to read it. I’m very excited to get on that. I also have not seen the David Lynch adaptation. Who knows if I’ll have time for it? But speaking of not acknowledging source material, this film is being scored by one of my favorite Hollywood composers, Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, Man of Steel). Not only is the legend himself gearing up to make some hopefully great music for “Dune,” but he has pointed out in 2019 that he has not seen the David Lynch version of the story. I like this, because for all I know, this maybe allows for a fresh take, unless somehow the movie ends up unintentionally coming off as David Lynch’s story 2.0. The cast is incredible! Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar, Call Me by Your Name), Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman), Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Greatest Showman), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Doctor Sleep), Josh Brolin (The Goonies, Avengers: Infinity War), Oscar Isaac (Annihilation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). It’s like they pulled out the whole cavalry on this film! The screenwriters, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth had some great outings in recent years with “Doctor Strange” and “A Star is Born” respectively. And of course, you have Denis Villeneuve himself. This is the first thing he’s written in a while, but I have faith in him because he seems to have an enormous reverence to the source material that I think he can pull this film off. We’ll just have to see. And that is why “Dune” is my most anticipated film of 2021!
Thanks for reading this countdown! There is definitely a lot to look forward to as we head into 2021 and all it has to offer, but I am not going to say that we’re actually going to get all of it. For all I know, six of these films might not even come out until 2022. If 2020 has taught us anything, never underestimate the power of a fiendish year. If you like this sort of material but want to go back to 2020 for whatever reason… Wait, nobody wants to do that. But still! If you like this post, you may also want to check out my countdowns titled Top 10 BEST Movies of 2020 and Top 10 WORST Movies of 2020. Check those out, I think you might enjoy them! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the official Facebook page, so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what are your most anticipated movies of 2021? And do you think we’re even going to see any big movies this year? I can tell you that “Nomadland” is practically a lock given all the festival buzz, but as for everything else, you can put a question mark on all of them to some degree. But hey, the vaccine’s coming! Here’s hoping for some good news! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Wonder Woman 1984” is directed by Patty Jenkins, who also directed the first “Wonder Woman” film starring Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses, Fast Five) back in 2017. Gadot returns to play the iconic heroine alongside a cast including Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones), Chris Pine (Star Trek, This Means War), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters), Robin Wright (House of Cards, Forrest Gump), and Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, One Hour Photo). This film takes place many years after the original, which was set in World War I. This time, we journey to 1984, where Wonder Woman has to take on two new foes, Max Lord and the Cheetah. Also, Steve Trevor, reprised by Chris Pine, comes along for the ride.
It has been three and a half years since I first watched “Wonder Woman,” which I originally gave a 10/10. By the way, that 10/10 still stands. The film is somewhat cliché. It contains things that have been done before, there is no denying that. But it does so with excellence and in a way that feels fresh and exciting. Plus, you can also add on that we have not had many successes with comic book movies specifically centered around characters portrayed by women. This felt like not just a proper, but a *massive* step in the right direction. It was also my favorite film in the DCEU at the time. In my review for the original film, I go onto mention that when it comes to “origin stories,” “Wonder Woman” may be my all time favorite in regards to movies. Part of it has to do with the singular and stellar vision provided by director Patty Jenkins and all the performances from cast members including Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. The villians were… okay. However, each action sequence, even those that others say are heavy in CGI, are exciting and heart-pumping. I know some people find the final act to be clunky, I had a great time with it. Plus, Wonder Woman’s theme music, which was first introduced in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is arguably my favorite superhero theme of all time. Maybe except the one created for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.
Going into “Wonder Woman 1984,” it was hard to imagine that such a movie could surpass the original. However, based on early reviews, it seemed as if such a thing would be possible. After all, we’ve already gotten the been there done that origin story out of the way, if you want to call it that. It was time for something new, innovative. Going in, I already had my expectations blown away. I did not expect Chris Pine to return. Like, literally. At all. Then again, this takes place in a comic book universe where anything is possible. There were also some new things in regards to tech. Not that they haven’t been done before, just not in the original “Wonder Woman,” because this new flick was partially shot on IMAX film. And if you have read a number of my posts, you know I rave about IMAX film. By the way, while the movie is shot in the heavy duty format, there is barely any footage that will expand the frame in IMAX. However, it may be worth the extra few bucks if those theaters are open near you.
But is “Wonder Woman 1984” worth the hype? Absolutely not.
Well! Well! Well! 2020 strikes again! “Wonder Woman 1984” is not only a massive disappointment to one of the most anticipated films of the year. “Wonder Woman 1984” is not only a step down from the original 2017 film. “Wonder Woman 1984” is not only the worst comic book movie of the year. Yes, more than “Bloodshot” for crying out loud! But it is also the worst entry to DCEU thus far.
Now, let me just get one thing out of the way. I am a straight white male in his early twenties. I am not one of those people that is trying cancel Gal Gadot. After all, I met her in person, I have her autograph, and she is a decent actress. I am also not trying to cancel Patty Jenkins, which the Internet seems to be doing according to many people. If they come out with a “Wonder Woman 3” with these two at the front lines, I am there. Their work on the original film justifies such a thing, and Jenkins is a director that is completely capable of making something magical. In fact, most of the problems of the film do not have to do with how the movie is made. It instead has to do with the pacing, the editing, the way everything plays out, the characters, and the writing. Admittedly, Jenkins is responsible for that last mistake, given how she has a screenplay credit. I don’t know if I should blame her entirely given how she wrote the script with a couple other people, but I should also point out that she did not have a screenplay credit for the previous “Wonder Woman” installment. This time around, Jenkins collaborates with Dave Callaham, who wrote the script for one of last year’s best comedies, “Zombieland: Double Tap.” Also along for the ride is Geoff Johns who has plenty of experience of creating DC content. So, what went wrong? Was there not enough time to draft everything out? Were there so many ideas colliding from three different minds? I don’t know. Patty Jenkins seems very passionate about the Wonder Woman character. In fact, throughout the movie, Jenkins properly visualizes the character as a beacon of hope and inspiration for people, especially women.
This movie starts off pretty great. By the way, for those who want to see the film in IMAX, this is one of the two scenes that were actually filmed in the IMAX format. The scene not only looked articulate and felt immersive, but it may have ended up being the best part of the movie. It is action-packed, exciting, and lets you escape into the world Themyscira. Sadly, the movie kind of blows its load in the first ten minutes. Because it spends time showing you young Diana Prince (Lilly Aspell), progresses to a time where we see a matured Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), and in these initial scenes, the action never stops whether Diana is trying to win an athletic event for herself, or she saves the lives of others. Even so, it does kind of feel like action that does belong in the beginning of a superhero sequel. The main character kicks ass while you get reintroduced to them, and the movie sets a footprint for where the story is going to go. “Wonder Woman 1984” sets up a vibe that fits the title. You see people walking around in eccentric clothing, there’s record stores, CRT television sets, and a multi-story colorful mall. When it comes to the first hour of “Wonder Woman 1984,” these scenes were fine. What wasn’t fine in the first hour is perhaps just about everything else.
What do I mean? Let’s take a moment to talk about the worst “Lord of the Rings” film. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” I’ll be fair. I did have fun with the movie, but one of the worst things about “An Unexpected Journey” was the pacing. This may partially be due to the need to adapt one book into three parts, but the evidence comes in towards the beginning where we see the 13 dwarves coming into Bilbo Baggins’s home. A lot of the screentime almost feels extended and nearly tiresome. There are some decent moments, but it does not always make for a good time. It takes like 45 minutes to an hour to actually get the movie going. With “Wonder Woman 1984,” I got the same feeling. It just took forever to actually get into gear. Mainly because this film feels like a stockpile of exposition. “Batman v. Superman” sort of felt the same way, but I think I had more fun watching that, exposition included, than I did sitting through whatever the hell “Wonder Woman 1984” turned out to be. To add onto that, you have some cringe-worthy lines, less than stellar characters, and a surprisingly boring storyline, part of which includes a role reversal.
Chris Pine is back as Steve Trevor in this movie. I will not go into detail of his return, but this was heavily marketed, so if you’re considering this a spoiler, I’m sorry. In the 2017 “Wonder Woman” film, Gal Gadot’s character has to deal with the new sights of earth and learn the normalcies within. To do so, she had the assistance of Steve Trevor along the way. Diana Prince came off occasionally as eccentric, she said certain things that maybe would be better left unsaid, and there’s a montage where she’s trying on unfamiliar apparel. This time around, Diana assists Steve in 1984, because now he’s the fish out of water. Much like the last movie, there is a reversal where Steve is trying on different clothes that defined the 1980s. He occasionally had a fanny pack, “parachute pants,” and so on. That scene kind of entertained me. However, the rest of this storyline was mostly either boring or impractical. There is a scene where Diana and Steve are flying through the sky looking at fireworks. And sure, fireworks are a sight to be seen. There is reason why Disney World charges you your entire blood supply to see them up close. But this movie made me ask if Steve has never actually seen fireworks in his life. The way I viewed the scene made me wonder why he was actually as amazed as he was in those exact moments. Fireworks have been around for a long time. Many years, centuries even! Why is Chris Pine acting like he’s never seen fireworks before?
This movie features a couple respectable actors, you have Pedro Pascal who I liked in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” he’s also in hit TV shows including “Game of Thrones” and “The Mandalorian.” The guy has been certain cores of nerd culture over the years. You also have Kristen Wiig, who I have rather mixed feelings on. I was not a fan of her in the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot. I don’t think I find her as funny as other people do. But I also am a fan her in other regards. I think she did a fine job in “The Martian” and her voiceover work in projects like “Sausage Party” and the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise are highlights in her career. Sadly, their performances are very on and off here. I would not ease myself into saying that the actors themselves are specifically at fault, but these two portray their characters to a degree that feels cartoony and off-putting. “Wonder Woman 1984” gets into the problem that people have criticized movies like “Batman & Robin,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” for realizing. MULTIPLE MAJOR THREATS.
I am not saying you cannot make a movie with more than one villain. It has been done before with “Return of the Jedi,” “The Dark Knight,” and if you really think this counts, “Back to the Future Part II.” But the beauty of having one major threat in your movie is that you get to make them the source of everyone’s struggle. Time is taken to specifically focus on that one character and why they must stopped. We somewhat get that in “Wonder Woman 1984” with Max Lord (Pascal), but when it comes to Barbara Minerva (Wiig), the way she is handled is sort of similar to how they handled Eddie Brock in “Spider-Man 3.” Only thing is, I was actually entertained whenever Eddie Brock had a scene in “Spider-Man 3.” Topher Grace played the part well, even during lines that were not up to par. Wiig tries, but the problem is that some of the writing in “Wonder Woman 1984” makes some of the writing in “Spider-Man 3” look like Shakespeare. Maybe that’s not the best comparison, mainly because I am one of the few people who genuinely enjoyed “Spider-Man 3.” However, there are a few lines and storytelling methods in that film that do not fall into place.
But if you want me to compare “Wonder Woman 1984” to another film I did not enjoy, let’s use “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” In that film, you have Electro and the Green Goblin. There’s also the Rhino, but we’re gonna leave him out for this. The two major threats in “Wonder Woman 1984” are basically just like Electro and the Green Goblin in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but instead of being exact carbon copies, they take various qualities of each character, but they are switched around to make something new. Like Electro, Barbara is eccentric, kind of shy, almost a nobody. But kind of like the Green Goblin, she barely has any screentime as Cheetah. And whatever screentime there is almost feels forced or nearly unmemorable. As for Max Lord, he’s got funky hair like Harry Osborn, he’s affiliated with a big company. And like Electro, he has a more significant screen presence when it comes to dealing with our main hero. This all adds up to an underwhelming evil duo in an underwhelming movie. But I do have to say one thing about Max Lord, and it kind of turned me off. He’s basically Donald Trump.
Think about it! This movie is painting a picture of an obsessive, failed businessman and kinda sorta television personality who has little time for their kids. In fact, my first impression of his son was that he was sort of a spoiled brat, which does not always seem to stick for the rest of the movie. Again, the hairstyle feels like something out of a meme. There is even a scene, and you saw this in the main trailer for this film, where he stands in front of a background representing the White House Press Room! Granted, having compared Pedro Pascal to his comic book counterpart, the casting and makeup departments did a good job at being faithful to the source material. But knowing that this was made in the late 2010s, and originally supposed to release in 2019, I could not help but make this comparison. And part of why I did not like this is because, and this may be a personal thing, it slightly ruined the escapism factor of the film. I’m not going to say whether I like Donald Trump, whether I dislike him. I am not here to get into politics. But Max Lord in “Wonder Woman 1984” feels like a Trump parody. The makeup department could have easily sprayed orange spray paint onto Pascal’s face and boom! Donald Trump impersonation!
I will say, there is one thing about “Wonder Woman 1984” that could be an improvement over the first one, and that is Gal Gadot’s performance. Gal Gadot, as much as I adore her as a person, as good-looking as she is, is not Meryl Streep. When it comes to “Wonder Woman,” she’s always looked the part, and she’s had good moments since her inception. Even though her character was the best part of “Batman v. Superman” for me, her acting ability was a far cry from what I saw out of Ben Affleck or Henry Cavill or Laurence Fishburne. When she shows up alongside the two titular characters in “Batman v. Superman,” she comes off as a badass, but there’s a line that she releases out of her mouth that feels like a first take. In “Wonder Woman 1984,” Gal Gadot has a commanding presence, she is charismatic, she is emotional, and occasionally witty. I liked Gadot’s performance in the original “Wonder Woman” because she did a good job at interpreting a goddess who has to adapt to a new normal, embracing the ups and downs along the way. But there were also signs that Gadot needed to work more on her craft and do a little more than be a pretty face in armor who can say words here and there. I will admit, her acting towards the end of “Wonder Woman” occasionally gave me chills, but I could tell that there was still work that needed to be done. “Wonder Woman 1984” is a sign that Gal Gadot is getting better, she deals with dialogue better than she used to, and her range is improving. I am looking forward to seeing Gal Gadot in “Death on the Nile” and if they come out with a “Wonder Woman 3,” count me in.
Gal Gadot’s performance is not the only positive here, because I will admit, even though I think Patty Jenkins and the other writers could have done a better job with the screenplay, she did alright with crafting the film. When it comes to her vision, I do not think it was as well represented as the original, but a crappy script can make that happen. Some of the cinematography is marvelous to look at. The visuals are just as good as the original film. Many scenes felt big and grand, and while I imagine some people will stick to watching “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max for now, if you feel safe going to a theater right now, do not rule that option out. There are some cool scenes that look great on the big screen. Speaking of things that feel grand, they got Hans Zimmer to do the score, which I was onboard with from the beginning. I saw the first few minutes of “Wonder Woman 1984” on YouTube, and from that moment, I was excited to hear the rest of the score, and it is really good. There was a scene where I was completely taken out of the movie and I almost did not care about what would happen, but the one saving grace in that moment was the music composed by Hans Zimmer. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has one of the best themes for an on-screen superhero, and I am glad that Zimmer got to work his magic to carry out his singular vision regarding it. I will likely listen to the soundtrack sometime in the future. The film had a passable ending. Granted there was some cringe surrounding it, but it good parts.
Too bad the movie’s boring, forgettable, and another big blow in 2020. F*ck. This. Year.
In the end, “Wonder Woman 1984” is a visually grand mess. Am I looking forward to what Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot have in store in the future? Yes. But does my anticipation take away from my thoughts on “Wonder Woman 1984?” No. I think “Wonder Woman 1984” is a gigantic misstep of a film. And the worst part is that it was not worth all the waits from the delays. I’ll be honest, and some of you may find this surprising, I would rather watch the live-action version of Disney’s “Mulan” again! Just to paint a picture of how much I did not like this film, let me just boil it down to a simple sentence. I did not have fun. Ironically, 2017’s “Wonder Woman” took place in World War I, where people are fighting, people are dying, times are desperate, but I managed to have fun. This sequel takes place in 1984. In real life, that year was much more lighthearted, at least from the perspective of the United States. Yes, there was the War on Drugs. AIDS broke out. Indira Gandhi was murdered. But there were plenty of big songs and movies that came out like “Jump” by Van Halen or “Ghostbusters.” People were having fun! “Wonder Woman 1984” manages to take a time that is significantly more fun than World War I, and makes it the most boring thing imaginable. The action sequences don’t save this movie. Gal Gadot’s improved performance doesn’t save this movie. A couple new and talented faces do not even save this travesty. “Wonder Woman 1984” is a gigantic disappointment, the worst film in the Detective Comics Extended Universe, and I am going to give it a 3/10.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open. Due to the lockdown in the United Kingdom, the movie will debut on January 13th, 2021 on PVOD. If you live in the United States, you can also watch the film right now on HBO Max if you are a subscriber and it is available at no extra cost until the near end of January 2021, where it will finish it’s theatrical release, go to PVOD for a price, likely hit store shelves through DVD and Blu-ray, and eventually return to HBO and HBO Max sometime next year.
Thanks for reading this review! Who knew that in the SAME WEEKEND, we would get my least favorite Pixar film, and now, and perhaps on a more significant scale, my least favorite DCEU film! This year has kicked my ass, called me names, and made me eat dirt. We are approaching the end of 2020, THANK HEAVENS. So it is almost time for me to post my top 10 BEST movies of 2020 and my top 10 WORST movies of 2020. That will be up sometime early next year and I may have one or two more reviews coming your way if I can fit them in. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Wonder Woman 1984?” What did you think about it? Also, did you watch the movie in the theater? At home? Or both? Tell me about your experience! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
CORRECTION: When I said, “There was a scene where I was completely taken out of the movie and I almost did not care about what would happen, but the one saving grace in that moment was the music composed by Hans Zimmer,” I was wrong. Turns out the music in that scene was Adagio in D Minor, originally composed by John Murphy for the film “Sunshine,” which has been used in several marketing pieces for “Ready Player One,” the “2010 Winter Olympics,” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” I will not spoil where it plays for those who have not seen the movie.
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! During the second half of 2020, I have been to the movies 13 times so far. In a normal year, this would be a pretty decent number, especially when the second half is only halfway through. During a pandemic like the one we are going through today, some might question why I go to the movies. SPOILER: It’s not just for fun, although that is part of it, but I need to make content, and much of it is brought to you courtesy of the theatrical experience. Now, as one of the first penguins to dive into the water, I wanted to take this moment to go over some of the things I like about what the theaters have been doing during the pandemic, and some things they should improve on. And I think a lot of people who read my stuff and know me in real life think I’m some evangelical for movie theatres, which… I wouldn’t say you’re wrong. But I consider myself a brainy evangelical as I am willing to recognize their flaws. So let’s dive in, here are my pros and cons regarding cinemas during the COVID-19 pandemic!
PRO #1: Cheaper tickets
You may have noticed that there are not many new movies coming out. So with that in mind, theaters have to get creative. They started showing throwback movies like “Back to the Future,” “The Goonies,” and “The Dark Knight.” For shows like these, tickets are often discounted, usually around the $5 range. Now you can watch an old film at home on a service such as HBO Max, Prime Video, or Disney+ for free on top of your subscription. But if you went to throw a few bucks out the window, you can see these movies with surround sound and a bucket of fresh popcorn. Sure, those costs can add up depending on where you go, but movie theaters provide one thing that streamers and “at home” methods of viewing content cannot, an experience. When I saw “Back to the Future” in a cinema, I felt things there that I am not able to feel while watching it in my room. I think I even laughed harder too. Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to AMC for their reopening deal, where they sold tickets for fifteen cents! This was done in honor of the chain’s 100th anniversary, but it is nevertheless a grand way to welcome patrons back to the theater. I also noticed that for regular shows, AMC’s afternoon prices were also a little cheaper than usual. Pre-pandemic, there was one theater near me that had tickets for a price a little over $10 until 4PM, now, the prices are under that mark until 5PM! Good job, AMC! Now don’t be jerk about those prices down the road… I’M WATCHING YOU.
Pro #2: Cleanliness
Keep in mind, this could change depending on how things go from here on out, in fact in the state of Massachusetts, the governor required that ALL indoor gatherings must have a maximum of 25 people. However, that has recently been altered, and the indoor max capacity for places such the cinema has since been increased. I should also note for a period of time, said state did not allow food in theaters. But every time I went to a theater during the pandemic, everything is spotless! Who’s running this place, Howie Mandel? Everything is very well kept, and I feel incredibly safe. The major chains like AMC and Cinemark have implemented new cleaning protocols, part of which includes new electrostatic disinfectant sprayers, HEPA filter vacuums, and proper air filters. Theaters also give a longer break between each showtime, which can allow for a greater cleaning process. They even encourage guests to stay clean themselves by providing hand sanitizing stations! Bravo! Personally, I’m more of a wash your hands guy, but I like the commitment!
Pro #3: Mask requirement
Now, this next part is going to be agreed upon by half of my readers, and probably get hammered by the other half. But I don’t care! Many theaters require masks in their policies. They must be worn in the auditorium, the lobby, the restroom, pretty much anywhere you can imagine. The only time you can take it off is when you are enjoying food or drinks. Kind of like when you’re at a restaurant, you have to wear a mask once you walk in, but you’re all good when you get to your table. Although, difference is, in a theater, if you’re not having food, you must keep it on. Given how masks are required everywhere else, it makes sense that theaters would jump on the train. I should also note that I’ve been to AMC a lot and they’ve added a new video to their preshow stating that masks are required at all times. So I hope that other theaters are focusing their efforts on reminding their customers to obey safety precautions not only enforced by the theaters themselves, but the areas in which they reside. Also, Regal Cinemas posted something that I honestly admire, because it speaks to much of the American audience on both sides of the mask debate.
Do I like wearing a mask? Of course not! I barely know one person who does! But we might as well suffer together! I do want to say one thing though, even though I am often focused on a film at the cinema, I sometimes get a little concerned that someone fails to abide by the mask policy. Of course, that’s not what I want to focus on, as I have no desire to confront anybody. I don’t want to be one of those people… But this brings me to my next point…
Con #1: More in-person monitoring needed
I will be completely honest with you. I don’t like being watched. It gets me a little anxious. But in a theater, it may be necessary at this time. One thing I think theaters need to do right now is have someone either monitor an auditorium for an entire screening, or occasionally check in on screenings to see what’s going on. Honestly, there are times I wish they had this BEFORE the pandemic, given how the big concern back then was about whoever would be the butthead fiddling with their phone. I get it, we’re attached to our phones. But we paid for AN ESCAPE. I went to the Chinese Theater in Hollywood one time and they have a great warning for using your cell phone. There’s a guy who comes out, introduces the show, reminds you not to use your cell phone, and he adds on that the images up on the big IMAX screen are going to be much more magnificent than what’s on the phone. Thankfully, I have not noticed as much cell phone use in a cinema, allowing for quieter experiences. However, it is still something to be concerned about, and with masks being enforced due to a health crisis, it gives an even greater reason to make sure everyone is following the rules. Such monitoring could also prevent people bringing in outside food and drinks, and piracy, which is of greater concern now in areas where theaters remain closed.
Con #2: Minimal Marketing
This is partially a con for the theaters, but also a con for the flicks. And honestly, I think it is part of why “Tenet” could not make as much money as Warner Brothers would have wanted. It did fine given the circumstances, but still. I’m noticing that a lot of the advertising for theaters coming back and “Tenet” comes my way through the Internet. Granted, a lot of people use the Internet nowadays, but I also think television would be a very effective tool. As for movie theaters themselves, this topic could be somewhat debatable, but when a company like Lord & Taylor has recently decided to promote their going out of business campaign on television, I think theaters and “Tenet” need to step up. I’ve seen more TV ads for “Bill and Ted Face the Music” than “Tenet” for crying out loud! The only TV ads I remember seeing for “Tenet” since its theatrical debut were during a golf tournament and during the recent “Saturday Night Live” premiere. If “Tenet” wanted to save theaters, they should have advertised on television, which many people resorted to in some way during the pandemic as it was the go to option for watchable new entertainment. If “Tenet” ads got more airtime on television than I’m pointing out, let me know, but I’ve watched a lot of television during the pandemic, and I can’t say “Tenet” was in my circles that much. If you want customers back, get their attention. Sure, it might cost some money, but if you spend enough money, you’ll make some money!
Con #3: AMC and Universal are crazy
This last con has less to do with theaters being open, and more to do with theaters existing, and what can happen to them in the future. Movie theaters and studios have maintained a 90 day theatrical window. Granted there are some smaller movies that have a shorter run before it hits streaming or DVD, some movies might even debut at home and theaters at the same time. But for a studio like Universal to come in and suggest that they can play some movies in theaters for a reduced theatrical window, it’s just a little preposterous to say the least, especially during a time where theaters are struggling as it is. In a recent deal negotiated by AMC and Universal, the studio is now allowed to release movies at home as early as 17 days after its theatrical release. I get it, studios have nothing to put out, and them putting movies on VOD early is a good way to get the film out there. However, 17 days is not a long time for a movie to be in theaters. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of movies would be lucky to play in a theater for one week! But Universal is one of the richest and most valuable movie studios out there. They’ve got tons of intellectual properties, a couple big animation studios, and they have a rich history when it comes to film. They’ve been around for over a hundred years and many of their films have been critically acclaimed throughout. I don’t just blame Universal here, but I also blame AMC for giving into this. Originally they were flat out against Universal’s shortening terms, thus leading them to ban their movies from playing at their locations. In fact, the day afterwards, Regal alleged themselves on the side of AMC by initiating their own Universal ban. Thankfully, studios like Warner Brothers, and filmmakers attached to them like Christopher Nolan and Patty Jenkins have expressed the importance of theaters. Sure, the option of the movie coming home early will be convenient for the consumer, but it’s lost money for the theaters. These are community businesses, and it’s hard to tell where things will go from here, but local jobs could be lost if this is taken to heart.
Universal, let me ask you this… Why would I want to watch the new “Fast & Furious” movie for the first time at home? I’d literally lose much of the excitement, exhilaration, and maybe even some laughter. Remember how “F9” was supposed to come out in MAY?! REMEMBER MOVIES COMING OUT?! THAT WAS AWESOME! I bought tickets for that film as early as February! I was outright convinced it would be the highest-grossing movie of the year. “Fast & Furious,” even though it is not my favorite movie franchise, is made for the same format that we get to experience a new “Spider-Man” movie every year. Not the same format where I can watch two old guys “debate” for U.S. presidency and hopefully not pass out. I don’t talk politics, but you cannot help but be concerned for both candidates while standing on stage.
Speaking of AMC being a little crazy, one of the big concerns many people had before AMC’s reopening was that they were not going to enforce masks. The company’s CEO Adam Aaron suggested that he did not want to get involved in a political debate. I can’t believe I have to say this. CORONAVIRUS IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE (unless you bring someone like Facui into this). CORONAVIRUS IS A HUMAN ISSUE. CORONAVIRUS IS A HEALTH ISSUE. MASKS ARE NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. And trust me, I would love it if I were told that masks are not allowed, because if you want my honest opinion, they are uncomfortable and they make me look like an out of shape “Mortal Kombat” character. But if everyone else has to deal with it, I do too. Thankfully, they reversed course on this. But even so, it reveals how the United States treats this pandemic. They say we’re all in this together, but our mask-wearing views may suggest otherwise.
In the end, I have enjoyed my ventures at the movies since times changed, and I think there’s a lot that they’ve gotten right. In fact, I’ll be honest, I had an easier time coming up with things I think they’ve gotten right than things I think they’ve gotten wrong. If I had to add a few more things, I think the seat distancing protocols are effective, I like how some theaters have been doing curbside popcorn, and speaking of popcorn, to celebrate Massachusetts bringing back theater concessions, Showcase Cinemas gave out popcorn for free on Monday, October 5th at all Massachusetts locations. I think that’s a sweet deal, and I’m somewhat sorry for myself for missing out on it. I think the theaters are getting things right, both in terms of value and safety. I would love to see more theaters open. But it’s 2020, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. WHERE ARE THE MURDER HORNETS?!
Thanks for reading this post! Just this past Tuesday, I watched the new Amazon documentary “Time,” which is about a woman whose husband was sent to prison for a 60 year sentence. The film hits theaters October 9th, and will stream on Prime Video the following week, starting October 16th. I will have my review up as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, have you been back to the movies yet during these times? If you have, tell me about your experience! If not, what have you been doing instead? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!