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Entries in sci-fi fantasy (92)

Monday
Mar062017

Saturn Award Nominations: Rogue One... and Hidden Figures?

The Saturn Awards were created over 40 years go to honor the then generally dishonored genres of sci-fi fantasy and horror. Whether they're still needed in a pop culture climate that veritably worships these things is up for debate. But even if they are -- and its certainly true that genre shows and films are still considered poor cousins to more respectable "drama" and "biopics" when it comes to mainstream awards --  are the Saturn Awards the ones to do it?

Now in their 43rd year, they seem to have lost the thread a little. They have so many categories it feels like they're eager to displace the Grammys, Satellites, or BFCA for "MOST!" and in addition to the ridiculous amounts of categories, they have 6 to 8 nominees per category which negates the need to have much in the way of discernment as to what constitutes "best". The problem in a nutshell: It's great to have an awards group that can say "Captain America: Civil War is superb" with a straight face, but when they also hold up Batman v Superman for the same honor, it kind of kills the impact.

Rogue One leads the nominees with 11 nominations. All 41 categories and more commentary after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan122017

Interview: Denis Villeneuve on "Arrival" and his Future with Sci-Fi

by Nathaniel R

Though awards season is a roller coaster of emotion each year, one of its purely happiest annual trends is the sudden recognition of talent that have been doing consistently fine work all along. This year's "it's about time!" contender is surely 49 year old French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. A famous director at home with six wins at Canada's own Oscars, "the Genies," people are still learning his name in Hollywood and beyond. His international breakthrough was Incendies (2010) about twin siblings journeying to the war torn Middle East. It was nominated for the BAFTA and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Since that breakthrough his profile in Hollywood has steadily risen and he's shown a gift for directing movie stars, versatility with genre, and a particularly refined skill at building and maintaining tension at feature length which has provided thrilling moments in all of his recent films from Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015), and on to his current biggest hit yet  Arrival (2016).

Today he received a DGA nomination for Best Director, the surest awards season sign that a movie will be a Best Picture contender at the Oscars. Our conversation follows...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan022017

2016's Box Office Scorecard. Big & Minor Hits (Some Flops due to Budget)

Each day for the past two weeks we've been looking back on the year that was from different angles. Today, the biggest hits of 2016 in two different categories (franchise vs original).

It will surprise no one that the year's biggest hits continue to prove Hollywood right (sigh) in pursuing nothing but animated and superhero pictures and franchisable intellectual property and neglecting the nurturing of movies for adults. On the bright side quality pictures do occassionally break through audience resistance to original concepts and voices, often with the help of awards at year's end. So next time you hear people complain about awards season, remind them that we might never get movies made for adults if there weren't shiny gold statues to chase.

How many of these 35 pictures have you seen and which will you hit next? 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec242016

Review: Assassin's Creed 

by Eric Blume

A movie doesn’t necessarily have to make sense to succeed.  Many of us are still mystified by the red pill and the blue pill and The Matrix but that film has such force and style that subtleties of plot were insignificant.  Assassin’s Creed makes less than zero sense, and mere mortals could not possibly explain the plot  It has something to do with the Spanish Inquisition, a descendant of an elite group of assassins, evil scientists, and the acquisition of the Apple of Eden, since the Holy Grail and Ark of the Covenant have been claimed elsewhere in better movies.

The confusing mechanics of this potboiler wouldn’t matter much if the film delivered on action sequences, compelling characters, or overall tension.  Unfortunately director Justin Kerzel seems overwhelmed by the entire enterprise, and buckles under the seriousness of the effort. This is saying a lot, because last year Kerzel directed MacBeth, and his great lead actors from that film, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, are back on this picture...

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Wednesday
Nov302016

Why Amy Adams May Have to Sit This Oscar Year Out... 

The news of Amy Adams winning the NBR delighted many and also stirred up the usual "The Film Experience hates her!" complaints in the commentary. We do not. Being frustrated by an actor's ubiquity and dullness at one particular annual event is not the same as hating them or their work. Amy Adams is a very fine actress. She has given many delightful performances, two of which would have even made non-controversial Oscar wins had she managed to actually nab the statue (Junebug or The Fighter).

Amy Adams (5), Albert Finney (5), and Glenn Close (6) are the living actors with the most Oscar nominations who have never won.

And it's true that she's quite amazing in Arrival, serving as the audience vessel to in two simultaneous and important ways that the movie couldn't succeed without: she's awestruck by what she's watching (she's our eyes and surely our facial expressions in the dark); apart from that awe she's emotionally and intellectually engaged with the events in order to grapple with them and suss out meaning which is what the audience is always doing when they're watching grand films that demands that they pay attention with both their heart and their mind.

But for all of that I don't think she's making the Oscar lineup and here's why...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov132016

Podcast: Arrival, Loving, and Cape Fear

We're back to weekly podcasts! This week Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel discuss two new Best Picture hopefuls and one bold remake

Index (43 minutes)
00:01 Arrival - thinky empathetic sci-fi just when we're starved for understanding in the real world + Amy Adams!
19:35 Slight spoilery territory on Arrival and comparing it to other movies
27:05 Cape Fear's 25th anniversary. One of our favorite Scorsese's.
33:30 Loving a quiet civil rights drama
41:11 Almost Christmas and goodbyes

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you?  

Loving and Arrival...

Friday
Oct142016

Jack Arnold Centennial

Tim here. Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of director Jack Arnold, and if your response to hearing that name is a polite look of blank incomprehension, I wouldn't feel bad. Arnold's not exactly a household name and never has been, but you wouldn't want to imagine what classic sci-fi would look like without him. For a short time in the 1950s, Arnold was possibly the most admirable genre film director in Hollywood. I can't think of any better way to demonstrate how singularly iconic his work has been than to point out that he's the only filmmaker to have two different films named dropped in "Science Fiction/Double Feature", the opening number from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Undoubtedly the film for which Arnold remains best-known is the 1954 Creature from the Black Lagoon (and it's dimwitted first sequel, Revenge of the Creature, but it wouldn't be sporting to hold that against him), and it's fairly easy to argue that it's his best work, too.

on the set of The Black Lagoon

But however impressively he handled that last gasp of the Universal Horror machine, it's by no means his only noteworthy achievement...

Click to read more ...