I have a bit of an attachment to this film. “Stutterer”, written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, was submitted to a film festival of which I was a member of the screening committee. I loved it. Of the 100 or so films I screened that year, it was one of the best I had seen. I championed it to the programmers in hopes that they’d agree and add it to the festival’s slate. Alas, the film didn’t make the cut—not because it wasn’t good or deserving. Great films are often rejected from festivals for any number of reasons. Months later, “Stutterer” was nominated for an Oscar, along with one other film I screened for the same festival (which I also championed and was also rejected). “Stutterer” won. (I should start my own damn festival.)
Continue reading Short Film: “Stutterer”
Best Picture: La La Land
Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Animated Feature Film: Zootopia
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Costume Design: Mary Zophres, La La Land
Directing: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Documentary (Feature): O.J.: Made in America
Documentary (Short Subject): “The White Helmets”
Film Editing: Tom Cross, La La Land
Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Makeup and Hairstyling: Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, Star Trek Beyond
Music (Original Score): Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Music (Original Song): Justin Hurwitz and Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, “City of Stars,” La La Land
Production Design: David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, La La Land
Animated Short Film: “Piper”
Live Action Short Film: “La Femme et le TGV”
Sound Editing: Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan, La La Land
Sound Mixing: Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow, La La Land
Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
Writing (Original Screenplay): Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Eight years later, I’m still waiting for that magical piece of mail, inviting me to join your fine organization. But that’s not keeping me from sounding off on a few Oscar categories. I’ve seen all the nominated films, and I have some thoughts that should be considered. So allow me to make your job easier. Here’s who should win. You’re welcome.
Continue reading 2017 Memo to the Academy
With the Oscars just days away, we’re once again reflecting on last year’s theatrical releases. This year, I’m releasing my list later than usual so that I could have more time to watch as many 2016 films as possible. Many fan favorites didn’t make my list, including several Best Picture nominees. And some overlooked films are among my top films. If you’re still catching up, hopefully this list gives you a place to start.
Since 2002, I’ve presented a list of 20 movies. This year, I’m simplifying—really honing in on the top 10 pictures that represent a mix of personal favorites, as well as the best-made films of the year. Enjoy!
One of the most notorious feuds in Hollywood history is that of rival sisters Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. And they’re the subject of my most-anticipated show of 2017, Ryan Murphy’s newest anthology series, Feud, starring Jessica Lange as Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Davis. Have a look at the show’s recently released opening sequence. The pair’s 1962 psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? airs as part of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar on March 2, just three days before Feud‘s March 5th premiere on FX.
I’ve been having conversations lately with friends who aren’t quite buying into the frenzy. They may like or dislike La La Land, but either way they’re just not getting it. “Fourteen Oscar nominations? Tied for the most in history?” La La Land may be good, but it’s not a juggernaut, they might say. Its effect on our culture is hardly titanic in scale. So why all the hype?
Continue reading “La La Land”: Overhyped?
I’ve been seeing a deluge of posts online about how great Hidden Figures is. I like the movie, but it’s by no means as terrific as people say, in my opinion. Yes, it’s a good thing that this story has come to the surface, giving due recognition to these important people. But…
Full disclosure: I’m not black.
However, I do believe the film trivializes the African-American experience in the 1960s. There are nearly no hurdles for the women in the film to overcome. How can that be? They’re black in the 1960s South! Every obstacle is cleared in the same scene in which it’s presented. Three examples (minor spoilers ahead):
Continue reading Does “Hidden Figures” Trivialize the Black Experience?
There are few SNL sketches that will top “Schweddy Balls,” based on my personal tastes and sensibilities. That sketch, perfectly written by Ana Gasteyer, is so multi-layered, so well performed, and just plain hilarious.
And then there was “Short Film” (watch here).
No, “Short Film,” which aired on last week’s Emily Blunt-hosted episode, does not top Gasteyer’s and Molly Shannon’s NPR-set sketch, but it comes pretty damn close—again, per my personal tastes and sensibilities (it’s likely not everyone’s cup of tea).
Continue reading It’s Funny Because It’s True: SNL “qua” Sketch
I’m thrilled to announce the official selection of my short film, “In-Kind,” with International Film Festival Manhattan! The film will screen in New York City on October 20. For more information about its making, view the “Anatomy of a Short Film” section of this site.
On the occasion of the poster release for new film Christine, allow me to tell you a brief story about why doing means so much more than just talking.
Some years ago, I happened upon my college’s Wikipedia page. As I scanned over the “Notable Alumni” section, one name stood out to me—one that I didn’t recognize: Christine Chubbuck. I clicked on her name and found myself reading this story of a troubled woman whose tragic actions shook the world of live television. I happened to think about her again just last year when a psychotic man gunned down a reporter and her cameraman during a live feed in Roanoke, Virginia.
Continue reading “Christine,” Starring Rebecca Hall: The Film I Should Have Written