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Entries in A Star is Born (61)

Tuesday
Mar122019

Nathaniel's (Belated) Top Ten List of 2018

by Nathaniel R

Given that we're two months into a new year, the best cinema of 2018 is receding in our mind's eye, still shimmering but moving out of focus. But so much vivid color and feeling remains. Before we are fully blinded to its beauties (until, that is, they are "old films" and we can revisit) by a whole new batch of cinematic images to obsess over, here's one last post to honor the year that was. Here's your host's choices for the 25 best films of 2018.

This year's HONORABLE MENTIONS are a varied bunch taking us from horny self-discovery in Swedish woods to a trash-heap island in Japan. Strangely, grief was the year's most defining theme across genres as diverse as horror, tragicomedy, bopics, thrillers, character studies, and romantic dramas.

The films are listed in loosely ascending order, though we always reserve the right to change our minds where lists and rankings are concerned:

  • Paddington 2 (Paul King, UK) If all franchises were crafted with this much heart and warmth and wit, Hollywood wouldn't feel souless at all.
  • Border (Ali Abassi, Sweden) A refreshing oddity which totally commits to its own hybrid identity as its protagonist discovers hers.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Ramsey, Persichetti, and Rothman, US) If all superhero movies were this fun, inclusive, and inventive, they'd deserve their now automic success in the marketplace.
  • First Man (Damien Chazelle, US) A nation's epic ambitions paired with a marriage's intimate drama. So elegantly crafted.
  • Burning (Lee Chang-dong) as elusive and mysterious as a cat that doesnt want to be seen, until it saunters boldy into sight to stare you down.
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader, US) The year's most disturbing drama. Hard to shake and necessary.
  • Widows (Steve McQueen) Overstuffed and strangely paced, but reverberating with provocative ideas and juicy characters. 
  • Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon) For all that urgency and visceral feeling, not to mention one of the great child performances.
  • Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski, US) for its ramshackle charms and subtle character-portrait
  • Hereditary (Ari Aster, US) What a calling card debut, from that dollhouse opening shot all the way through that psychotic break ending, a new horror classic. 

RUNNERS UP. Oh, if there were room in the top ten for all of these...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar012019

New in Theaters: Greta, Transit, Climax, and Woman at War

by Nathaniel R

Woman at War -- see it before the American remake dumbs it down!

Consider this weekend a warm-up to the 2019 Film Year! Yes, yes, we've technically had 2 full months of releases but for us each new year begins once we've recuperatd from the Oscars. So our personal rebirth begins next weekend with a double dose of Best Actresses Brie Larson and Julianne Moore (in Captain Marvel and Gloria Bell, respectively) -- Actressexuality forevah!

But if you're ready to dive into 2019 already, there are a lot of films opening this weekend and we happen to have covered three of them already so check it out. ★ = highly recommended...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb272019

Soundtracking: The 2018 Oscar Performances

by Chris Feil

Thank you Lady Gaga, all of the nominated Original Song performances were given a shot to perform on the Oscars! That "Shallow" leverage reportedly kept the ceremony as much of a musical night as possible. Sadly logistics kept us from getting a Kendrick Lamar and SZA performance of Black Panther's "All the Stars", but I found it frustrating that the producers didn't find some way to work the song into the telecast somehow. A montage needle drop, underscoring for the pre-commercial announcements, something?!

Even without Lamar (who also missed the Grammys), the night was a mostly solid salvage of Oscar musical tradition. It certainly fared better than some recent years, and also helped set variety and a pace for the night that otherwise felt a tad too amorphously rushed. A Star is Born's "Shallow" triumphed for the win as expected all season long, but what of the performances themselves? Time for a ranking!...

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Monday
Feb252019

Ranking the Oscar Clips

by Ben Miller

Of all the decisions the Academy Awards producers/directors must make, the Oscar clip decisions are surely the most covetous -- who among us wouldn't want to chose? They're fairly crucial, too.  I ranked all the clips last year, and Nathaniel was nice enough to let me do it again.  The clips preceding each of the categories ranged from brilliant to “what the hell was that?”  Let’s rank them 20-1…

Cringe-worthy

I sometimes wish I'd never been born at aaaaaaallllllll 🎵

20. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
19. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Woo boy.  I would personally defend the work of both of these performances, but the snippets shown on Sunday did not lend any firepower to those arguments.  Viggo gets to wax on like an idiot about not knowing the difference between Russian and German before laying on some casual racism. Malek has plenty of good moments in the Queen biopic, but a simple shot of him lipsyncing reads like an Oscar producer’s opinion on the performance itself seeping through.

Not Doing Anyone Any Favors...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb152019

Why *None* of the Nominees Can Win Best Picture This Year

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

For those of us who live within the world of Oscar history and statistics, every year brings with it the proclamation that certain benchmarks need to be achieved in order to merit a Best Picture win. In just the past decade, multiple insurmountable obstacles have been bypassed, with Argo triumphing without a Best Director nomination, Birdman winning without a film editing mention, and The Shape of Water managing a win even after it didn’t make the SAG list for its ensemble. All eight films nominated this year have a variable number of impediments standing in their way this year – here’s a breakdown of the top limitations for each nominee.

BlacKkKlansman
This incredible tale of a black cop who infiltrated the KKK has actually checked most of the boxes. It has nominations for directing, writing, and editing, and earned bids from all the relevant guilds. The problem is that it hasn’t won anything, suggesting that it doesn’t have the momentum it needs to garner first-place votes. If anything, it will be Lee who upsets to win the Best Director prize or the film’s screenplay that takes home an award. Being everyone’s third choice won’t help it win the top prize.

Black Panther
As if being the first comic book movie to contend in this race wasn’t enough, the seven-nomination haul for this Marvel blockbuster is actually pretty disappointing...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb112019

Grammy Winners List. Is Anyone Closer to an EGOT?

by Nathaniel R

Lady Gaga won 3 more Grammys tonight (her total is now 9), one of which was shared by Bradley Cooper

In answer to the title question, well yes, technically. After all, any first time Grammy winner is closer to the EGOT now. But let's look at the more visible people in the mix... did anyone take a step closer than they already were? Actor/rapper/writer Donald Glover, BlacKkKlansman composer Terence Blanchard, and actress/singer Lady Gaga all won Grammys tonight but none are closer to the EGOT since they have previous Grammys at home. Glover has two Emmys (for Atlanta) and multiple Grammys (for "This is America" and the previous statue for "Redbone") but he was already halfway to the EGOT before tonight. Blanchard, nominated at the Oscars this year for the first time, now has six Grammys. Lady Gaga now has nine Grammys, but that's the only one of the four major showbiz prizes she's won. We suspect she'll get the Oscar part of the equation in just two weeks time, though.  Gaga's singing and co-starring partner in crime Bradley Cooper also picked up a Grammy, sharing the Pop/Duo prize. Yes, absurdly, he got the Grammy before the Tony (where he's been nominated once) or the Oscar (where he's been nominated 7 times across multiple categories) even though he's an A list actor and only a novice singer but showbiz can be so strange like that. One imagines he'll pick up an Emmy with ease should he ever deign to do TV again but he's steered mostly clear since Nip/Tuck. Once movie stardom hit, he was big-screen only apart from that Wet Hot American Summer sequel series.

But there are four people who did take an actual step closer to EGOT, since they added a Grammy to take another step closer...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb032019

"Awards season is trying to kill me," a paranoid confession.

by Nathaniel R

You guys. WHAT is happening? Not to sound paranoid but award season is trying to kill me. Day after day things worsen. Am I inside a Black Mirror episode through the use of some technology I wasn't even aware of? Or have I fallen through a rabbit hole to an alternate dimension where all obsessions curdle in on themselves to become one's worst fears? Are you also experiencing this nightmare with me? Please tell me it's not all in my own head.

The film year started out so well...

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