The reason that horror and humor tend to go hand-in-hand is because good jokes and good thrills are both based on the same concept: timing. Jordan Peele is not someone who you would think would write a good horror film, after all he’s spent three years on Key & Peele making light of the horror genre. Instead that experience has given Peele an understanding of how to use timing to make an audience uncomfortable in just the right ways, proving that comedy and horror are two sides of the same coin, and Peele shows a knack for both in Get Out. In this film Peele shows not only an excellent sense of timing, but also how to write a great story that smartly plays into an audience’s expectations and uses them to its advantage. It also succeeds as an incisive and brilliant examination of race relations in America in a way that few films of any kind are daring enough to attempt.
The 89th Academy Awards came and went on Sunday night, with an evening full of surprises and upsets. The evening began with Hacksaw Ridge winning Best Editing and Sound Mixing, then ratcheted up the weirdness when Suicide Squad won Makeup and Hairstyling, and peaked with Moonlight‘s momentous Best Picture win. The night was full of deserving winners, including Kevin O’Connell, the Hacksaw Ridge sound mixer who won on his 21st nomination, as well as Viola Davis’ win for Fences and Mahershala Ali’s win for Moonlight, both in supporting acting categories. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Jimmy Kimmel, who proved his worth as an Oscars host in spite of a painfully awkward tour bus segment. The event ended with some amazing and heartfelt words from the producers behind both La La Land, which won six awards, and Moonlight, which won Best Picture, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. As I posited might happen in my Oscar predictions, the night was similar to the 2014 ceremony when 12 Years a Slave won three awards while Gravity won mostly below the line awards.
Well the time is almost here, the 89th Academy Awards ceremony is this Sunday, February 26th! It has been a year since the 88th ceremony where Spotlight ended up besting The Revenant in one of the more interesting upsets in recent memory. A deserving winner for certain. Leonardo DiCaprio has an Oscar after a career of frequent snubs, but so does Adam McKay after finding the perfect mix of his style of comedy and drama in The Big Short. If you had tried to predict the Oscars a year ago it’s doubtless that films like Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The Birth of a Nation, Martin Scorsese’s Silence, and Collateral Beauty would have popped up. Of those only Silence managed to make it all the way, with a single nomination in Cinematography. Instead a 32 year-old director’s third movie, a contemporary musical starring two of our best young movie stars and with all original music managed to find its place perfectly in the zeitgeist and now La La Land threatens to tie or exceed Oscar records. Right behind it is a movie about a young African-American’s man struggle to find himself amid the projects, directed by a semi-retired writer-director and based off of a never-produced play. That film is Moonlight.
So the 89th Academy Award nominations were released at 8:18 EST this morning, and the news has been very positive for a number of movies. La La Land, the current Best Picture frontrunner, tied for the most Oscar nominations ever with Titanic and All About Eve at 14 nominations. La La Land was followed closely by, well not much, as the next films with multiple award nominations were Arrival and Moonlight, both of which got eight nominations, almost half of the number of La La Land. Then Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, and Manchester by the Sea, all of which got six nominations, Fences and Hell or High Water with four, then Hidden Figures and Jackie both with three. For the complete list of nominees look here. By the way, La La Land already has over $170 million at the box office, so I’m expecting that number to go north of $200 million after this weekend with news like this. So that being said, here are some major snubs or surprises that happened, as well as what these nominations mean for potential winners going forward.
Well 2016 has come and gone very rapidly, and although it wasn’t the best year for major blockbusters aside from some Marvel and Disney releases, it was a great year for smaller and more modest, personal films. From smaller, more intense horror films that weren’t afraid to scare people out of their wits, or intense dramas that got at the core of how people experience grief, this was a very diverse year. Just as in years past, there were some that decried the “death of cinema” but as always those calls were antithetical to the wide slate of excellent films of all sizes and sorts that we got last year. I went through various levels of appreciation for this past year in cinema while it was happening, from high anticipation at its beginning, to worrying about the state of big-budget features at the height of the Summer, and finally a sense that last year was full of great films as long as one was willing to look for them.
The 89th Academy Award nominations are almost upon us, with the actual nominations to be announced on the morning of January 24th. Between the end of 2016 and now, the Golden Globes have given their awards and the numerous movie guilds like the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and American Society of Cinematographers have announced nominees and some winners for their own awards, while the British Academy or BAFTA just announced their nominees. Guilds are good predictors for each of the categories at the Oscars because their members tend to overlap well with the various branches that actually vote on the Academy’s nominees. This year has offered up a number of excellent movies, some of which you can read my reviews for, and these will offer plenty of choices for the Academy to vote on. I have listed my predictions for the nominees below, along with some alternates or other nominees that might pop up. Each category will also have a short explanation of the choices made therein.
“I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?” Such is the ultimate line in the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Silence. Scorsese has spent about twenty-five years trying to make Silence since reading Shusaku Endo’s novel, and it’s clear why with some knowledge about Scorsese and his career. Martin Scorsese has professed in interviews that prior to becoming a filmmaker he contemplated a career in the priesthood, and even after going to film school internalized the messages of Christ and his teachings. Since then Scorsese has professed to having crises of faith as a lapsed Catholic, and it emanates through each film that he does. Each in their own way deals with the idea of faith in the face of obstacles, or people who ponder if their bad deeds will ever catch up to them. It’s what connects a film like Taxi Driver in which a Vietnam War veteran hopes that divine intervention will clean the filth off of the streets of New York with a film like Wolf of Wall Street in which a career conman is eventually forced to reap what he sows in the form of imprisonment. It’s a subject that Scorsese has been trying to put on film for decades, and at last he has done so in its clearest form.
It’s awards season and the Internet is chock full of websites about movies predicting Oscar nominations and awards winners, or talking about previous winners. While my own Oscar predictions will be up later this week, there’s plenty of Oscar history to talk about. This is the first part of a series in which I’ll be examining the best winners from particular categories at the Academy Awards. Plenty of others lists on the Internet like to rank the “Worst” of particular categories like the Worst Best Picture winners, or similar lists for Best Actor and so on. However, we like to stay positive here at The Reel Life and so our focus is here is going to be on the “Best” of a particular award. The first is going to be the Top 20 Greatest Best Picture Winners here, including some honorable mentions, that is going to be followed by others later in the week. Films on this list are ranked based on how well they have stood the test of time, becoming essential parts of film history and that are widely considered as being among the top award best winners, if not some of the best films ever made. Continue reading “Top 20 Greatest Best Picture Oscar Winners”
In the 1960’s there was such a palpable air of progress in the United States, the sense that so many great things were just beyond the horizon. This feeling existed despite the fact that there were dangerous things ahead in 1961, like the Vietnam War, the disruptions that plagued the year 1968, and so many other things. But the decade started off on a hopeful note as President Kennedy took office and the Civil Rights movement was on the march, the slow and steady march of progress. We’ve seen many stories on the big screen of the more high-profile steps in the Civil Rights movement like the Selma march or the fight for the Civil Rights Act in the past couple of years in films like Selma and All the Way, both excellent. Hidden Figures takes place in a part of the movement that has not yet been put on screen, but one that is still very essential to tell. The part of the movement that didn’t take place on the big public streets of America’s major cities, but in offices and working spaces where women like Katherine Johnson made progress. It just so happens that her story takes place in NASA at the height of the Space Race.
This article is part of a three-part series about the best Hollywood directors of all time, stretching from the birth of sound films until the modern day. This is the third and final part of that series where I will list the Top 25 Modern Hollywood Directors who are making their mark on the industry today. I have ranked them by their recent impact on Hollywood, general audiences, American culture, my own appreciation of film, as well as their upward career trajectory and consistent body of work at the present time. Considering the wide range of technology and techniques available for Modern directors, I will also consider those who have made use of these innovations to develop their own distinct style and that use that to make their mark on the industry. For the purposes of this list I have defined Modern Hollywood as beginning the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and lasting until the present day. Many of these filmmakers may have gotten their start as early as the mid 80’s, but by and large many of them started out in the 1990’s or reached peak form between then and the early 21st century. These directors remain our best artists working in the film industry today.