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.

Advertisements

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.

Black Panther Review (No Spoilers)

black-panther-hr-posterHere’s my spoiler-free review of Black Panther:

I said in my initial reaction that this might be my new favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but that only time would tell. Two days and an additional viewing later, I’m still not exactly sure where it will land in my personal MCU rankings, but I’m still pretty certain it will be very near the top. So what makes this movie so good? To honestly answer that question, I feel like I’d have to make feature-length commentary track for the entire movie, akin to a director’s commentary. Instead, I’ll just have to settle for a few general statements.

I may as well start with one of my favorite aspects of the film: the score. It may seem odd to point this out first, but the score was absolutely phenomenal. It almost felt like it was its own character within the movie. Unlike many previous Marvel 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. In fact, I made sure to listen to the album in its entirety yesterday, and I’m even listening to it again as I write this. (To be clear, I’m talking about the instrumental score by Ludwig Göransson, not the original music by Kendrick Lamar, though that was used to good effect as well.) It will almost certainly be nominated for “Best Score” in next year’s iteration of the McKoovies (shameless plug).

An additional amazing strength of this film was its cast. The amount of great characters is so high, it’s possible that Black Panther’s character was overshadowed in his own film. It’s not that T’Challa was particularly uninteresting. On the contrary, several times throughout the film, I found myself thinking “T’Challa is freaking cool.” However, the film just happens to feature several other characters that may be cooler: Killmonger, Shuri, Okoye, M’Baku, Nakia, and so on. I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite character from this film. Two brief side notes about Shuri: one, I love that this might be the best sibling relationship we’ve seen in a superhero movie yet; the banter and interactions between T’Challa and Shuri are completely believable and entertaining. Two, someone online mentioned that it’s cool that Shuri now gets to be the second quick-witted sciencey teen in the MCU in addition to Peter Parker, and the second that they pointed that out, I suddenly realized that I needed to see a Peter/Shuri relationship on screen NOW. Heck with Liz or Michelle, I better see Peter meet Shuri in Infinity War, and I better see SPARKS FLY. The world needs this, Marvel. You better not hold out on us.

An additional great aspect of this film is how NOT black-and-white it is (no pun intended). The good guys are flawed and the bad guys have understandable motives. There are times when you may not agree with the good guys’ philosophies and what they do. There are times when you may actually agree with the bad guys’ philosophies and what they do. This is not your typical good vs evil story that you see in many superhero films. However, ultimately Killmonger (the main villain) goes too far in trying to pursue his goals, which leads to Black Panther needing to stop him. That said, this might be the best ideological conflict we’ve gotten in a Marvel film so far.

Despite this, Black Panther is still a superhero movie at its core. While it takes many of the basic elements of superhero movies and improves upon them (and includes so much more than just your basic superhero movie), it doesn’t quite transcend the genre like The Dark Knight or Logan did. So if you hate superhero movies, you may still end up disliking this for some of its superhero-ish elements, but if you’re merely picky about which superhero films you choose to see, this is highly likely to be one that you’ll enjoy (and if you like/love superhero movies, you probably like/love this).

One other thing that bears mentioning: upon my first viewing, I thought that the pacing and suspense were great. While the movie did have some predictable moments, I found myself genuinely not knowing what was going to happen several times. I also walked out the movie completely PUMPED. Yet some of the enjoyability and suspense that was there on my first viewing wasn’t present the second time around. In my experience, it’s possible to know everything that’s going to happen within a movie but still feel suspense (Jurassic Park, Psycho, and 10 Cloverfield Lane provide some good examples of this), but it just wasn’t there for me on the second viewing. However, it’s entirely possible that this was simply due to some inconsiderate patrons seated near me that were distracting me throughout the movie. (The guy next to me had his phone in his lap, and he had some kind of notification light that kept blinking every few seconds throughout the entire first half of the movie until I finally asked him to put his phone away, and a guy about 3 or 4 people down from me was muttering commentary throughout the entire movie – and not just occasionally, it was literally like once a minute he would say something. Anyway, the moral of the story is please be considerate and actually do the basic theater etiquette things – keep your phone put away, and if you need to make a comment, keep it quiet and do it exceedingly sparingly). All of that said, when I finally see this movie a third time (likely when it’s available for home purchase), it’s entirely possible that I may find myself liking it as much as the first time. Stay tuned.

There’s a ton more I could say about this film, but I don’t want to turn this into a full-length essay. In short: this movie is great in several ways that I haven’t even mentioned, and it deserves to be seen. Get to the theater as soon as you can, because it’s worth it. The only other thing I have to say is:

anigif_sub-buzz-30613-1515781563-1

Nominations for this Year’s McKoovies Announced!

I love the Oscars. They are a great opportunity to celebrate the art of filmmaking and the magic of movies. I also love them because they make me aware of good films that I may have otherwise missed. However, one common complaint that many people have is that they rarely nominate “mainstream movies.” (Or, as some say, “why can’t they nominate movies that I’ve actually seen?”) While I’m happy with the Oscars staying the way that they are, I thought I’d take the chance this year to recognize some films that had a more widespread audience. Thus, I present: The McKoovies™.

The criteria for selection are pretty simple: in order to be nominated, a movie had to be one of the top 25 highest grossing films (domestically) in 2017. (For the curious, the complete list can be found here.) Of course, a disclaimer should be given that I have not seen all 25 of the highest grossing films last year, so it’s possible that I’ve left off a movie that deserved a nomination, but what’s a nominee list without some snubs? (Be sure to let me know your thoughts on which films deserved nominations, but didn’t get any.)

The five categories (and their explanations) are as follows:

  • Best Picture – Pretty self explanatory, this will be my favorite film of the year (from among the eligible nominees).
  • Best Acting in a Lead Role – Also pretty self-explanatory, this will be for whoever gave what I see as the best acting performance for a lead character.
  • Best Acting in a Supporting Role – Ditto but for a supporting character.
  • Best Visuals – This category encompasses almost every visual aspect of a film: cinematography, visual effects, costumes/makeup, production design, etc. In other words, if you were to mute the movie and ignore the acting and story, which film simply looks the most impressive?
  • Best Score – A film can get nominated for this in one of two ways: one, it can employ the score in such a way that significantly adds to the storytelling and overall feel of the film, and/or two, it can simply be a score that is amazing to listen to even when isolated from the film that it comes from. For example, had this year’s Power Rangers been eligible for nomination, its score would have likely gotten a score nomination (and possibly even a win) because even though the movie itself was pretty mediocre, its score is a blast to listen to (and might actually be the 2017 score I’ve listened to more than all others).

And the nominees are….

Best Score:

  • Coco
  • Dunkirk
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Best Visuals:

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Best Acting in a Supporting Role:

  • Cate Blanchett as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Dafne Keen as Laura in Logan
  • James McAvoy as the various personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb in Split
  • Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in Logan

Best Acting in a Lead Role:

  • Gal Godot as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman
  • Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Hugh Jackman as Logan in Logan
  • Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington in Get Out
  • Andy Serkis as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Picture:

  • Coco
  • Logan
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Well, there you have ‘em. Be sure to let me know what you think of this list, and who you think should win! The winners will be announced some time in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Nominees

The Cloverfield Paradox – Review

DVPD_0XXkAAyTbWMe, for the first half of this movie: “it’s dumb, but I love it.” Me, for the second half of this movie: “it’s just dumb.” Read on for the rest of my (mostly spoiler free) thoughts.

Travel back in time to a little over ten years ago: a trailer dropped for a monster movie, and the marketing campaign was crazy enough to give you the release date of the movie, but not the title. It was eventually revealed that the title was Cloverfield and the movie went on to become a surprise hit. Fast forward to two years ago: out of nowhere, a trailer dropped for a movie called 10 Cloverfield Lane and audiences were surprised to discover that not only was Cloverfield getting a (sort-of) sequel, but that the movie was only two months away from release. Upon release, it received high praise from critics and audiences alike, and was seen by most as a superior film to the first. Now, jump to last night. Viewers of the “big game” were treated to a commercial for a third film, The Cloverfield Paradox, that not only promised to explain what happened in the first movie, but also came with a surprising release schedule: you can watch it tonight, on Netflix. It appeared that the marketing and the release schedules were getting crazier with each film. Would this movie also continue the trend of being of higher quality than its predecessor? Unfortunately, no.

A cliche, but more accurate, title for this movie would be Cloverfield: Origins because it not only blatantly explains the first movie (and to some degree the second), it also seems like it is going to be the set-up for any future Cloverfield movies (a fourth one is purportedly already on the way). That’s a bit of a bummer, because even if all of the other films are great, viewers of them who wonder “why did this event happen?” are going to have to go back and watch this mediocre film for an explanation. Another way to think of it – this movie is for the Cloverfield series what the prequel trilogy was for Star Wars: it was the backstory that you thought you wanted, and it had some cool bits, but it mostly makes you wish you didn’t know the backstory and leaves you wondering if this movie retroactively lessens the coolness of the previous ones (and potential future ones).

That said, there were parts I enjoyed. As I mentioned above, despite some of its flaws (and we’ll get to those in a moment), the first half of the movie has some genuinely mind-bending horror elements. I’m not a huge fan of horror movies, but, oddly enough, when this movie was simply trying to be pure horror, that’s usually when I enjoyed it the most. Also, throughout the film, they provide several puzzle pieces that explain the backstory connecting the three Cloverfield films. For the first few such pieces I had some “Oh my gosh, mind blown!” reactions, but as the film progressed, each new revelation had diminishing effects, to the point where the big revelation that we get in the final shot of the film pretty much just made me say (rather unenthusiastically), “cool, I guess.”

27540205_10160015883600374_8847721534562164590_nHowever, the two biggest flaws in the film are probably the writing and the editing. It took me most of the film to figure out which of those two elements was the real problem before I finally realized that it was both. A lot of the dialogue is simply not good and the movie is put together in a very jarring way – it switches tones and scenes and settings and storylines at seemingly random points. In other words, this movie tends to be rather confusing. Not in a good, keep-you-guessing and trying to figure out what’s going to happen next kind of way, but mostly just a “wait, what just happened, and why was that important?” kind of way. Given, most of the seemingly random things are addressed later in the film (as in “Ah! So that’s why they randomly showed us that scene 20 minutes ago”), but there are also several elements that are not. For example: *Minor spoiler* – what was with the husband back on earth randomly going to a friend’s bunker? Other than the crazy guy from the second movie, who just happens to have a bunker? Were they trying to draw some kind of weird parallel to the second film? If so, what was the point? Also, what’s up with the little girl that he randomly rescued? Again, she could have been part of the aforementioned weird parallel, but it seems like a weird and unnecessary Easter egg. “Hey, we’re gonna have a guy rescue a girl and take her to a bunker!” “Does this storyline serve any purpose in the film whatsoever?” “Nah, we just wanted to remind you of the clearly superior film that we made two years ago.” *end spoiler*

So, should you watch this movie? Well, it’s on Netflix so if you don’t mind potentially wasting an hour and half of your life, then go for it. If you’re a little more choosy than that, this movie is pretty much only for the hardcore Cloververse continuity nerds who want more of a backstory to the first movie, and also want to know how the first connects to the second. If neither of those questions intrigue you, skip this, and just go over to Amazon Prime and watch (or re-watch) 10 Cloverfield Lane (it stands on its own just fine).