Ant-Man and the Wasp Review (No spoilers)

ant-man-and-the-wasp-126582-nqjxplamyfbke0d62j529jhaylxcf3u8z2dgsxzsouIn Ant-Man & the Wasp, Marvel turns it down a couple notches from the high-stakes world-shattering events in some of their more recent films, and instead delivers a smaller-scale (no pun intended) while still fun story.

Let’s start by talking about what things this movie did right. First and foremost: the action scenes. They were choreographed extremely well to make great use of the size-changing abilities of the title characters. Whether it was the fight scenes, or the car chase scenes, or any others scenes, the filmmakers took a gimmick that could easily be cheesy and instead made it visually interesting. Additionally, the comedy was all on-point. There were several running gags throughout the movie that I felt paid off every time (especially the ones about the truth serum, and Baba Yaga).

The characters were also all great. In the first film, the main villain (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket) was easily the weakest part of the movie. When I rewatched it recently, I remember thinking about 7 minutes into the film, “Why don’t I love this movie more? It’s great!” And then his character showed up: “oh yeah, that’s why.” However, in this sequel I can’t think of a single weak character – all of them are interesting, amusing, and have motivations that mostly make sense. The character of Hope/Wasp I think particularly shines in this movie. With as cool as she is, some may wonder why this movie wasn’t called The Wasp & Ant-Man.

Lastly, I really enjoyed many of the sci-fi elements of this movie. Some people (myself included) have jokingly said that The Incredibles is the best Fantastic Four movie ever made. I may now have to change the joke to: Ant-Man & the Wasp is the best Fantastic Four movie ever made, as the kind of zany sci-fi adventures that happen here are exactly the kind that you’d see in a Fantastic Four story. In fact, the Quantum Realm (called the Microverse in the comics), is actually a location that tends to be associated more with the Fantastic Four than with other heroes in the comics.

All of that said, this movie still had some weaknesses. Perhaps the most blatant one was the overall story structure. Most of the things that the characters do in the movie are in response to events that seem to happen for the convenience of the story (and usually for the inconvenience of the characters). Additionally, while I did enjoy many of the overall sci-fi elements of the film, many of the specific aspects require a large suspension of disbelief, possibly more so than any previous MCU film. This is definitely a movie that expects you to just accept what is happening, rather than question why it is happening.

Overall, I’d say this was a very enjoyable movie. Certainly not among the highest tier of MCU films, but not among the lowest either. If you enjoy some of the more of the light-hearted and comedic Marvel movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But if you haven’t jumped on the Marvel bandwagon yet, or if you’re starting to lose interest, this isn’t the movie that will convince you to join or stay.

 

P.S. As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been particularly diligent about writing reviews this summer. I’ve been thinking of making up for that by writing a post wherein I briefly share my thoughts on all of the summer movies that I’ve seen but not reviewed so far, but I wasn’t sure if you all would still be interested in hearing my takes on movies that have now been out for anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. If that’s something you do want to see, let me know, and I may throw something together. If not, no worries on my part, as that’s less work for me. Thanks for stopping by!

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My Brief(ish) Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story (No Spoilers)

KCJwEj9Have you ever had that experience where you’re not particularly hungry, but you decide to eat anyway, and so you just eat whatever happens to be there, even though you’re not particularly craving it at the moment, and while you don’t necessarily dislike that food, after you eat it and get that full sensation, you’re just kind of like “why did I just eat that?” That’s kind of how I felt walking out of Solo. It’s not a particularly bad movie, but it wasn’t really a movie that I was clamoring for, and I pretty much only watched it because I didn’t want to be out of the loop in the nerd and/or movie community (both online, and irl).

But yeah, it’s a perfectly adequate movie. It has some flaws, but nothing too egregious. Likewise, it has some high points, but nothing overly remarkable. It you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll probably enjoy it, but it probably won’t be one of your favorites of the series. If you want answers to such *thrilling* questions as: “Why does Lando pronounce Han’s name with a short ‘a’ (like ‘hand’ without the ‘d’), while everyone else pronounces it ‘Hahn’?”, “What does it mean that Han did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, when a parsec is a unit of distance?”, “How exactly did Han beat Lando in a card game to win ownership of the Millennium Falcon?”, and other “intriguing mysteries” [/sarcasm], then you should probably check this out.

I’m probably sounding more down on this movie than I should. Again, I didn’t really dislike it. I just didn’t walk out of it saying “well, I can’t wait to see that again!” either. See it if you want, don’t if it you don’t. For those who are on the fence about whether to see it in theaters, or just wait to stream it, I’ll say this: there is one somewhat spoilery surprise that you might not want ruined, so if you’re very very anti-spoilers, you might want to see it in theaters before someone spoils it for you, but at the same time, it’s not something huge and mind-blowing. It probably won’t rock your world. People who talk about it would probably say something more along the lines of: “Oh, yeah, I was surprised to see that happen. Definitely didn’t see it coming.” As opposed to: “OH MY GOSH. I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED. MIND BLOWN.”

So yeah, definitely not the must-see movie of the summer, but it’s an entertaining enough way to spend two hours. You’ll probably enjoy it if you see it, but you’re not missing out on a lot if you skip it or wait to stream it.

The Definitive Ranking of Every Marvel Movie Ever

Marvel

In preparation for Infinity War, I thought now might be the best time to release not one, not two, but THREE different lists that provide an in-depth ranking of every Marvel movie ever made (all 48 of them). Why three different lists? Well, one is the ranking according to critics (determined using the Rotten Tomatoes’ Average Score, Tomatometer, and MetaCritic Score), one is the ranking according to general audiences (determined using CinemaScore, the average score on IMDb, and the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), and one is my own personal ranking based on my own personal preferences (I should note that I made this list while metaphorically wearing my “devoted Marvel fan” hat, not my “cinephile/aspiring film critic” hat). For the stats nerds who want the nitty-gritty specifics of how I determined each ranking based on the sources listed above, you can find them detailed at the end of this post after all of the rankings.

One more quick note before we dive into these lists—each of the 48 movies listed here had to fit two criteria to be included in the ranking. One: it had to be a film that received a theatrical release in the U.S. (so none of the direct-to-video animated movies, or TV movies that got a limited international theatrical release). Two: it had to be based off of an original Marvel Comics property, not something based on a comic property that was licensed to Marvel (so no Men in Black, or Kingsman: The Secret Service, for example). With all of that in mind, here we go:

Here is the ranking according to critics:

  1. Spider-Man 2
  2. Black Panther
  3. Avengers
  4. Logan
  5. Iron Man
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  7. Captain America: Civil War
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  9. Spider-Man
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  12. Thor: Ragnarok
  13. X2: X-Men United
  14. X-Men: First Class
  15. Big Hero 6
  16. Doctor Strange
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  18. X-Men
  19. Captain America: The First Avenger
  20. Deadpool
  21. Iron Man 3
  22. Ant-Man
  23. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  24. Amazing Spider-Man
  25. Thor
  26. Iron Man 2
  27. The Wolverine
  28. Incredible Hulk
  29. Spider-Man 3
  30. Thor: The Dark World
  31. Hulk
  32. X-Men: The Last Stand
  33. Blade II
  34. Amazing Spider-Man 2
  35. X-Men: Apocalypse
  36. Blade
  37. Daredevil
  38. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  39. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  40. Fantastic Four (2005)
  41. The Punisher
  42. Blade Trinity
  43. Ghost Rider
  44. Punisher: War Zone
  45. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  46. Elektra
  47. Fantastic Four (2015)
  48. Howard the Duck

Here is the ranking according to general audiences:

  1. Avengers
  2. Black Panther
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Deadpool
  6. Iron Man
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  10. Big Hero 6
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  12. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  13. Doctor Strange
  14. X2: X-Men United
  15. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  16. Ant-Man
  17. Iron Man 3
  18. Iron Man 2
  19. Logan
  20. X-Men
  21. Spider-Man 2
  22. Spider-Man
  23. Blade
  24. Amazing Spider-Man
  25. Thor: The Dark World
  26. X-Men: Apocalypse
  27. Captain America: The First Avenger
  28. Incredible Hulk
  29. The Wolverine
  30. X-Men: The Last Stand
  31. X-Men: First Class
  32. Thor
  33. Amazing Spider-Man 2
  34. Blade II
  35. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  36. The Punisher
  37. Spider-Man 3
  38. Blade Trinity
  39. Fantastic Four (2005)
  40. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  41. Daredevil
  42. Ghost Rider
  43. Elektra
  44. Punisher: War Zone
  45. Hulk
  46. Howard the Duck
  47. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  48. Fantastic Four (2015)

And, lastly, here is my personal ranking:

  1. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  2. Logan
  3. Avengers
  4. Captain America: Civil War
  5. Spider-Man
  6. Black Panther
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Amazing Spider-Man 2
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Spider-Man 2
  12. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  13. Thor: The Dark World
  14. Captain America: The First Avenger
  15. Iron Man
  16. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  17. X2: X-Men United
  18. X-Men: First Class
  19. Big Hero 6
  20. Thor: Ragnarok
  21. Guardians of the Galaxy
  22. X-Men: Apocalypse
  23. X-Men
  24. Doctor Strange
  25. Ant-Man
  26. Incredible Hulk
  27. Thor
  28. Amazing Spider-Man
  29. Blade II
  30. Iron Man 2
  31. The Wolverine
  32. Spider-Man 3
  33. X-Men: The Last Stand
  34. Blade
  35. Daredevil
  36. Deadpool
  37. Fantastic Four (2015)
  38. Blade Trinity
  39. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  40. Fantastic Four (2005)
  41. Ghost Rider
  42. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  43. Hulk
  44. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  45. Punisher: War Zone
  46. The Punisher
  47. Elektra
  48. Howard the Duck

So for the extra curious who stuck around, let me explain the specifics of how I determined these rankings. First, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the post I made a few weeks ago that explained how the various movie review sites of Rotten Tomatoes, CinemaScore, and MetaCritic work. That post should hopefully provide some of my logic as to why I gave a certain weight to one metric over another. To determine the critics’ ranking, I sorted all of the movies from highest to lowest by average score (NOT the Tomatometer) on Rotten Tomatoes first, then I used the MetaCritic score as a tie-breaker between those with the same average RT score, and lastly I used the Tomatometer score to break the last few remaining ties. Similarly, for the audience score, I first separated all of the movies into groups based on their Cinemascore (A+’s, A’s, A-’s, B+’s, etc.). Once in those groups, I ranked each according to the average score from IMDb users, and lastly I used the average score on Rotten Tomatoes to break the ties. For my personal rankings, I ranked each by how much I personally enjoyed the film, not by how well I thought it was made (again, I wore the my Marvel fan hat rather than my film critic hat). I should also note that my personal rankings have changed over time, and will likely continue to change. If you asked me to make this list again in six months, several of the movies would likely shift places in the list.

So there you have it. What are your personal rankings for these films? Were there any rankings that surprised you? Which movies do you think are overrated or underrated? Sound off in the comments below!

A Quiet Place Review (No spoilers)

f568606d8e8644259f1eedd92f5fb272*Sigh* You guys, I honestly don’t even want to write this review. A Quiet Place was a well-crafted movie that most moviegoers will enjoy, but it didn’t really speak to me personally, and I didn’t really enjoy it. That’s it. Thanks for coming. See you next time.

…. I guess you’re probably wanting more than that, so here we go:

As I said, this movie was very well-crafted. So far it has critics raving, and it looks likely to get a positive response from audiences, so perhaps I should mention what it did well first. This movie really plays up the “quiet” angle. This is definitely a film that follows the mantra “show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fan of visual storytelling, this film is for you. Most of the key plot points, backstory, and other stuff that would normally be established through exposition are shown to you in this movie rather than told. So pay attention to what you’re seeing, otherwise you might miss something really important.

In addition to that, as I mentioned, the movie is very quiet. There’s very little spoken dialogue (it’s mostly sign language with subtitles) and the music is usually subdued. It was actually so quiet for much of the movie that I was nervous about eating my popcorn for fear that the sound would potentially bother those sitting around me. There was a point about 20 minutes into the movie where the man sitting next to me tried to whisper something to the woman that he was with, and she quickly shushed him saying: “This movie’s too quiet! We can’t whisper! They’ll hear us!” Luckily, that seemed to be the sentiment of the rest of the patrons: I’ll admit, I was worried when I initially walked into the auditorium and it was mostly full of loud and rambunctious teenagers, but I was pleasantly surprised that they quieted down once the movie started. (Unfortunately, I’ve had a few past experiences where that was not the case).

This movie is also a slow burn that earns its suspenseful moments. While there are a few scares sprinkled throughout the movie, it saves most of them for its climax. (It actually reminded me a lot of Signs in terms of its structure and pacing, if that’s a helpful reference for anyone).

Lastly, this movie is surprisingly minimalistic in its storytelling. It gives you exactly as much information as you need to know, and nothing more. In fact, at the end of the movie (no spoilers, I promise) it literally just gives you enough information so that you know exactly how the story is going to resolve, and once that information is provided, the credits roll. Most movies will show you the conclusion, no matter how obvious it is. Instead, A Quiet Place is like “So you know how this is going to end now, right? We cool? Okay, thanks for coming.”

So why didn’t I like this? Two main reasons: first, this was a very suspenseful movie, but it wasn’t very creepy. This is a great movie to see if you want to be on the edge of your seat, but not so great if you’re expecting chills to be sent down your spine. I’m not sure if it was the advertising, or just my personal mindset going into it, but I was expecting more of the latter than the former. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy horror movies that are suspenseful rather than creepy. Psycho is one of my favorite films of all time, and I’d say that it is more about suspense than an unnatural creepiness that gets under your skin. A Quiet Place seems partially like this was just a case of mistaken expectations. I thought the movie was going to be one thing, but instead it was something totally different, and even though the different thing was good, I was disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted.

However, there was a second and much bigger reason that I didn’t enjoy this movie: fairly early in the movie (about 30 minutes in), it is revealed that the two main characters have made a decision that’s going to significantly affect their lives, the lives of their children, and their chances of survival. I don’t think the filmmakers wanted you to ponder whether or not it was a good decision, or whether you would have made the same decision were you in their shoes. Rather, I think they just wanted you to take the decision for granted and roll with it. But I didn’t. Instead of saying, “okay, that’s the direction they’ve decided to take this story” and moving on, I spent most of the rest of the movie weighing the pros and cons of this decision, and contemplating whether or not the decision was in the best interest of the characters, and even humanity as a whole. (In a somewhat vague summary: it may have been a good idea in the long term, but in the short term, at that point in time, it was likely a very very bad idea that significantly endangered the main characters and their children.) And so, rather than focusing on the events of the movie as they happened, I spent most of the movie internally debating whether or not the characters made the right choice, and, to be honest, I never really came to a definitive conclusion. Again, I don’t think the filmmakers intended for this to happen. Questioning the merits and disadvantages of this decision certainly didn’t seem to be the point of the film. But for whatever reason, it stuck out to me and distracted me for the entire movie.

Anyway, if you want to see a film that knows how to build suspense and uses its sound design and visual storytelling extremely effectively, you’ll probably enjoy A Quiet Place. Just try not to overanalyze the characters’ choices. It may prevent you from enjoying an otherwise well-made movie.

Should I Let Websites Like Rotten Tomatoes Influence My Movie Choices?

ReviewSitesI was really looking forward to seeing Pacific Rim: Uprising today. The first Pacific Rim was dumb, but it was a lot of fun. When the Rotten Tomatoes score for Uprising dropped earlier this week (currently at 47% as I write this), I wasn’t too worried: Pacific Rim isn’t a movie you go to see for its artistic merit, you go to see it to enjoy watching giant robots fight giant monsters. Before finalizing my plans to see it this morning, I checked to see its CinemaScore: a “B.” That was enough to convince me to stay home. But what is CinemaScore? Why did it convince me when Rotten Tomatoes did not? Should I even care about what such sites say?

The short answer to the last question is: probably yes. But before I explain why, let me explain a bit about some of the major websites that people go to for aggregated film reviews and how they work.

Rotten Tomatoes assigns a Tomatometer score by compiling anywhere between dozens and hundreds of film reviews from professional film critics and boils each review down to a simple question: did the critic like the film, yes or no? The score then reflects the percentage of critics who liked the film. It is NOT a reflection of how much critics liked the film. For example, Black Panther’s 97% on Rotten Tomatoes does not mean that critics gave it a score of 9.7 out of 10. It simply means that 97% of critics liked the film. To get an idea of how much critics liked the film, you need to look at the number (in much smaller font) of the Average Rating located under the Tomatometer. In the case of Black Panther, you can see that the average score from critics was 8.2 out of 10. CapturefdfdsfsLikewise, Rotten Tomatoes also provides an Audience Score detailing what percentage of an audience liked the film, with an Average Rating located underneath. (Note that the Average Rating for both critics’ and audience scores isn’t even visible in the mobile version of Rotten Tomatoes’ site. You’ll have to view the desktop version to see them). However, while the Tomatometer score is determined based on reviews from verified professional film critics, the Audience Score is determined by anyone who decides to create a Rotten Tomatoes account and rate a movie. Most of the time, this isn’t problematic, but every now and then, a group of angry and overzealous “fans” will organize online and work to artificially alter the Audience Score by having individuals create multiple accounts and provide multiple ratings. This happened recently with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther (with the Audience Score being driven down) and Batman v Superman (with the Audience Score being driven up). To get a far more accurate (and less manipulable) audience rating, I prefer CinemaScore.

(Before I discuss CinemaScore, a brief note about MetaCritic. MetaCritic works similar to the Average Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: it averages all of the critics’ ratings to let you know how much critics liked the film, rather than what percentage of critics liked it. It’s also pickier about which film critics it includes in its score. While Rotten Tomatoes can use reviews from as many as a few hundred critics, MetaCritic tends to use reviews from around 50 or fewer critics. Thus, MetaCritic can be a good resource to turn to if you’re specifically interested in how some of the more prestigious critics actually rated a film.)

CinemaScore, on the other hand, is a market research company that’s been around since 1979. Every Friday night, CinemaScore visits movie theaters in 25 randomly chosen cities throughout North America and asks audience members of newly released films to grade the movie on a scale from A to F. CinemaScore then averages the results of these surveys to give the movie a grade (note that these grades include a plus or minus scale, e.g., A-, B+, etc.) Thus, there is significantly less of a chance of artificially manipulated scores. (It should be noted that one downside of CinemaScore is that its scores don’t come out until late Friday night/early Saturday morning since the surveys aren’t administered until Friday night).

Aside from the fact that Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic use critics’ reviews and CinemaScore uses feedback from a general audience, it is important to highlight one additional difference between RottenTomatoes/MetaCritic and CinemaScore: film critics go to see almost every movie that comes out (that’s their job, after all) whereas film audiences are composed of people that specifically chose to go see a specific movie. Thus, the critics are probably likelier to be harsher judges (not only because they tend to look for more of the artistic aspects of the film, but also because they probably didn’t choose to watch that movie), whereas the audiences on CinemaScore will tend to skew positive (because they were interested enough to go see the movie on a Friday night in the opening weekend).

So, coming back to the original question, should you use these sites to guide your moviegoing choices, and if so, how? I think the important first question to consider for any movie is: are you interested in seeing it? When it comes to knowing your personal movie preferences, no one is a better expert than you. If there is a movie that you think you might like, then you should consider seeing it. And, while it’s important to expand your moviegoing horizons and try new things, if there is a particular movie that you don’t think you’ll like, you’re probably right, even if critics and/or audiences are raving about it. So, for the films that you are considering seeing, this is when I think it is helpful to look at critics’ and audiences’ reactions. If both audiences and critics like the film, I consider that a green light: go ahead and see it. If both audiences and critics dislike the film, I consider that a red light: unless you think that there is a specific reason that you’re likely to disagree with both critics AND the fans who were interested enough to go see it in the opening weekend, you should probably avoid it. When the critics and audiences disagree (a yellow light) that’s when things get more interesting: here you have to pick who you think you’ll side with in that particular situation. I’ll provide a few recent examples.

A couple years ago, X-Men: Apocalypse got 48% on Rotten Tomatoes and 52 out of 100 on MetaCritic. Thus, critics thought it was pretty mediocre. However, I love superhero movies, and unless they’re really terrible, I tend to enjoy them (I even have a bit of a soft spot for Spider-Man 3). So because I tend to approach superhero films as more of a fan than a critic, the fact that Apocalypse got an A- on CinemaScore meant that I was likely to enjoy it (and I did; while I recognized some of its flaws, I still loved it). Conversely, I tend to enjoy intellectual sci-fi films. When Annihilation came out last month, it got a C from CinemaScore. This may seem discouraging, but it also got a 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 79 out of 100 on MetaCritic. In this case, because I was more interested in the intellectual and artistic filmmaking aspects, and less interested in the spectacle and popcorn-flick-iness of it, I decided to trust the critics (and it paid off; while it won’t go down as one of my all-time favorite films, I did enjoy it, and thought it was intellectually stimulating). Flash forward to this morning: even though Pacific Rim: Uprising wasn’t particularly well-received by critics, I still planned on seeing it, because I expected it to be a bit of mindless fun – until I saw its CinemaScore. A “B” grade may not sound that bad, but since CinemaScore tends to skew positive, a B usually indicates that audiences found the movie to be somewhat mediocre. (If I’m expecting to agree with the audiences, I tend to use a B+ as my cutoff score). So rather than invest the time and money to go and see a movie that audiences didn’t find to be particularly fun, I decided to stay home (and write this post, actually). I’ll probably still rent it.

As for how this can help you, if you’re planning to see a movie that critics and audiences disagree on, ask yourself: are you planning to approach that particular movie with more a critical eye, or are you just looking for some fun entertainment? Depending on your response in that situation, it can be helpful to give more weight to the advice from whichever of the two groups you’re likely to side with.

Anyway, there is my advice (that ended up being way more long-winded that I intended) on how to use movie review sites to your advantage. What do you think? Did you find this particularly helpful? Also, what did you think about this in-depth discussion of moviegoing habits? Should I write similar posts in the future? (I’m already considering writing one about whether box office numbers actually matter – spoiler warning: they do – and how to interpret them.) Be sure to let me know!

Oscar Predictions 2018!

The Oscars are just a few hours away, so I figured I should probably post my official predictions before it’s too late. Note that these are NOT the nominees that I *want* to win (I haven’t seen many of these movies, so I don’t think I’m qualified to choose personal favorites), rather, these are the nominees that I predict will win based on current buzz, previous trends, and/or just plain guessing. When all is said and done, I predict that the winners will be:

Best Picture: Get Out*
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro
Best Actor: Gary Oldman
Best Actress: Frances McDormand
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe
Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf
Best Original Screenplay: Big Sick
Best Adapted Screenplay: Logan**
Best Animated Feature Film: Coco
Best Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman
Best Documentary Feature: Strong Island
Best Documentary – Short Subject: Heroin(e)
Best Live Action Short Film: DeKalb Elementary
Best Animated Short Film: Lou
Best Original Score: The Shape of Water
Best Original Song: Remember Me
Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk
Best Sound Mixing: Baby Driver
Best Production Design: Blade Runner 2049
Best Cinematography: Dunkirk
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour
Best Costume Design: The Phantom Thread
Best Film Editing: Baby Driver
Best Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049

*Note: The two generally accepted front-runners to win Best Picture tonight are either The Shape of Water, or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. However, I’m going to place my bets on an upset that Get Out will win. (It’s considered by most to be the third most likely to win, so it’s not that crazy of a guess on my part, but we’ll see whether or not my somewhat risky choice pays off.)

**Also note: Logan for Best Adapted Screenplay is the only one where I chose my personal pick, rather than what I think is likely to win. This award will probably go to Call Me By Your Name, but I had to put at least one personal preference choice in here.

The McKoovies – “And the Winners Are….”

Nominees

Earlier this month, I announced the categories and nominees for The McKoovies, and now the time has come to announce the winners! Be sure to check out the nominees post (if you haven’t already) to learn what the categories are, who the nominees are, and how they were selected. And now, with no further ado, here are the winners:

unnamedBest Score – War for the Planet of the Apes – To be totally honest, I could probably copy much of what I said last week about the score of Black Panther and just paste it here. So I will: “Unlike many movies where the score is unnoticeable and forgettable, throughout pretty much the entire film I found myself amazed by how much the music enhanced what we were seeing on the screen.” To continue my streak of honesty, pretty much any time I see a movie where the score stands out to me, my thoughts tend to be along these lines. Apes just so happens to be the movie from last year that did this the best. This effect definitely holds up on rewatch – I watched it again a couple months ago and was again blown away by just much the score “enhanced” the on-screen events. It also doesn’t hurt that the composer is Michael Giacchino, a musical genius, who I consider to be one of the three best currently-working film composers, along with John Williams and Hans Zimmer.

thor-ragnarok-poster-mainBest Visuals – Thor: Ragnarok – I’ll admit, my choice here might be a little biased, but let me explain why I chose this film above the other contenders: pretty much the entire movie is an homage to the artwork of Jack Kirby (arguably the greatest, or at least most prolific and influential, American comic book artist who has ever lived). Most of the other nominees for this category had several visually stunning scenes (think of the hyperspeed destruction scene or the finale on the planet Crait in Star Wars, or the many of scenes on Ego’s planet in Guardians), but Ragnarok brings to life the zany and fantastical style of Jack Kirby with virtually every. single. frame. And it’s not simply that the movie pays tribute to a great artist, rather, it takes top-notch art from one medium and is able to nearly perfectly convert it to another medium. You’ll excuse me for comparing Kirby to these other legends, but imagine if a movie was able to successfully capture the look of art as distinctive as van Gogh’s or Picasso’s while still being believable within the world of the movie, and you may get a sense of what they were able to pull off here. Admittedly, the art of van Gogh and Picasso were much less realistic than Kirby’s, but Kirby still had a very bombastic style that would be difficult to faithfully adapt under many circumstances, and the fact that they pulled it off so well here is remarkable.

loganBest Acting in a Supporting Role – Dafne Keen as Laura in Logan – Dafne Keen’s acting in this film cannot be praised enough. More than any other Oscar category, I feel that Logan most deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Dafne’s work, and I was disappointed to see that she didn’t get one. (Best Adapted Screenplay isn’t bad, though). Not only does she display some of the best child acting this side of The Sixth Sense’s Haley Joel Osment, her work in this role was also some of the best acting this year, period. For one, she spends much of the movie silent (aside from rage-filled screams), and is still able to convey so much of her character and personality without needing to speak a single word. And when it’s finally revealed that her character can, in fact, speak, she peels back another layer of her character’s personality that we didn’t even know was there. Hugh Jackman may have been the star of Logan, but the film wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it did without Dafne Keen.

wonder-woman1Best Acting in a Lead Role – Gal Godot as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman – There were a lot of skeptics when Gal Godot was originally cast in this role. As a former model whose biggest role was a supporting character in some of the Fast and the Furious movies, many people didn’t think that she could carry an entire film. They were certainly wrong. Wonder Woman is a delightful film for many reasons, but one of the biggest is Godot’s performance. For example, she’s completely believable as both someone who is a bad-@$$ warrior who can take on just about anything, as well as someone who runs across a street just to adore a cute baby. In my opinion, Gal Godot embodies Diana Prince in this film just as well as Robert Downey Jr. did as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man.

logan-poster-sunset-2Best Picture – Logan – This film is phenomenal. In my opinion, it’s the only other superhero film besides The Dark Knight to truly transcended the genre. Logan wasn’t just my overall favorite film of 2017, it has quickly become one of my favorite films of all time. Logan is more than just your typical superhero story of good vs. evil. It isn’t a story about Logan saving the world. It’s a story of Logan regaining his humanity, struggling with mortality, and learning what it truly means to have a family. Central to his experiences are the characters of Xavier, the father figure who refuses to give up on his wayward “son,” and Laura, who forces Logan take on an unwanted parental role, but also allows him to (finally) see the fulfillment that parenthood can bring. If the final bit of dialogue between Logan and Laura doesn’t bring tears to your eyes at the end of the film, I don’t know what will.