You’ve Heard It All Before
The Oscars are a joke.
The Oscars are a marketing gimmick for an industry full of pedos, rapists and liars.
They never nominate the right films.
Oscars so woke. Oscars so white.
Still, what the industry nominates as what it believes are the best movies is pretty telling about its outlook. And based on these nominees, it looks like this is good news for people who don’t want soapboxing and pandering in their entertainment.
Here are the thoughts of the Film Goblin staff on the Best Picture nominees, even if they haven’t seen them!
Ford v Ferrari
I liked the movie Rush — the one with Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruel — and this looked like more of the same. James Mangold is fitted squarely in that Ron Howard camp of solid, workman-like directors that don’t possess much real magic.
Won’t win a thing.
Maybe Sound Editing? But that’s 1917‘s big category.
If there were any justice in the world, this film would win Best Picture. I’m actually stunned beyond all belief that it was even nominated because the films that surround it aren’t stronger than it.
Where to begin on this film?
Well, it is really a story about men without women, solving hard problems, and fighting against corporate ennui, blindness, stupidity and a bureaucracy focused more on the bottom line than on the goal or outcome they tell everyone they’re focused on.
The best moment in the film is when Henry Ford III cries in the car. This was a moment of the industrialist stripped away from his blinkered, corporate power and brought down to the ground by the pure beauty and magnificence of art, perfectly executed.
In a cinema world where the one audience demographic is most often ignored, that is, the 45-64-year-old male demographic, this film touched the heart of people who remember what it’s like to actually work with your hands, dominate something hard with work and perseverance and good old fashioned American guts, and then to fade into history to never get a simple “thank you.”
Ford v Ferrari is that “thank you.” And it was long overdue.
In Theater x5
I meant to review this movie. It’s the perfect example of how to write a screenplay. The direction of the drama changes ever five or ten minutes without losing the main throughline of the story. First, the IRS is closing in, then Ford is demanding results on race tracks, next the filthy boot gypsies are pulling tricks, etc.
You don’t need explosions or capes to generate excitement, you just need a writer and director who understand how to build tension and intensity.
In Theater x1.5
I watched this at home on a 48-inch flat-screen and broke it up over two viewings. Having the Casino gang — plus Al Pacino — back together created expectations that couldn’t be realized.
Overall, it was good but not as good as it should have been. Much like Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, it needed a more ruthless editor. One who was less impressed with the talent and more focused on delivering the best story because there was material there to make an amazing film if not mini-series.
Despite the generous use of anti-aging software, all the actors are just too old. See the scene where DeNiro kicks the shit out of his daughters, played by the alluring Anna Paquin, boss for reference.
The one standout, besides Pesci playing a proper thug boss, was Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa. It was over the top and he was in full not giving a fuck mode but it was fun to watch and a much-needed injection of energy into what often felt like a slog.
I’m not the only person who had to split this up into multiple viewings.
I did enjoy the týing together of a few historical events as well as somewhat plausible look at what may have happened to Jimmy Hoffa. I give The Irishman 3.5 cremated corpses out of 5.
At Home x1
Gawd, I hope it doesn’t win anything. I thought it was an absolute snooze. Scorsese’s worst — worse than Hugo.
At Home x1
When I saw this over Thanksgiving weekend, I was of two minds about this movie at the same time: The first thought I had was that this was a slow, meandering plotless mess, with no point to it, and that the “de-aging” was a cheap gimmick to get me to watch.
The second thought after that one was that I did watch the whole thing and, just like Godfather 3 before it, Scorcese is going to get raked over the coals by fans expecting Goodfellas and getting this.
But, how else was he going to end his meditation on crime, Italians, Catholic guilt, and fathers and families?
There aren’t any explosions, long speeches, or fireworks at the end of a life spent in crime, or even in a life as a director in making crime movies. There’s just DeNiro sitting in an old folks’ home at the end with regret. Old man Saito at the end of Inception was right.
And Scorsese brings this home.
That’s the real reason this film being nominated pisses off so many Oscar watchers, shill entertainment media critics and others who are more “woke” or into the meaningless superhero genre.
Scorsese nailed the truth of getting old, getting forgotten, and getting what you deserve without grace or mercy, at the end of a misspent life.
At Home x4.5
I’m Irish, I’m a driver. I’m Irish, I’m a killer. I’m Irish, I’m in a fucking nursing home.
As too long as the movie is, visiting with the boys again, maybe for the last time, was a treat in the theater. As with Goodfellas, I could watch Deniro, Pesci and the rest of the crew in a Scorsese movie yap about making sausages and I’d sit there with a grin on my face. Unfortunately, that’s all the movie was for me.
Some of Hoffa’s theories about how people and the world work were interesting digressions but I much prefer the David Mamet, Danny Devito, Jack Nicholson version of the character that they put together in Hoffa.
In Theater x1
The Irishman’s biggest problem is Martin Scorsese. Even though it’s a great film, since his name is attached to it, many people who watch it are disappointed because it’s not a sequel to Goodfellas.
But that’s the point and the main criticism he received when he made Casino.
The Irishman is a slow journey to the end with old men falling asleep in cars, not nonstop killing and stabbing. If you can get past that then it’s one of Scorsese’s best films.
At Home x1
I saw this at home on a screener. I’m not connected in any way to the film business but what is connected is my computer to a torrent site… is this thing on?
Okay, before I show myself out my attempt to add mirth to this dour subject matter is quite appropriate because that’s just what Taika Waititi managed to do with this movie… yes, I’m just about to get my coat.
The horrors that were endured by the people of Germany in the waning days of WWII when the Nazis were at their most desperate is a somewhat underrepresented subject in mainstream films.
The Germans are generally presented as smug, mindless killers who won’t be reasoned with so it’s up to our plucky group of heroes to et cetera and whatnot and — yaay — freedom and capitalism.
The titular JoJo is a disillusioned youth who believes not only in his imaginary friend Hitler but also that he can help change the tide of the war. His moments were among the most touching and his chubby friend was a reliable source tension breaking hilarity. All in all, this was an innocent’s look at his country at war who only knows the propaganda.
Sam Rockwell was great here as well if a bit underused, regardless he goes to show the benefits to an audience when a character actor gets an Oscar. When their confidence goes up so does their willingness to take risks because why the fuck not.
The movie looked great, sounded great and the costumes were great which was cool because the 1940s Germans were, in fact, a well dressed, if tragically hip, lot.
What I think really held this movie back from being maybe the film to beat was casting Scarlett Johansson as the mother. I’m not sure what her appeal is and if you do then great. I’ll leave my forwarding address on the stoop, but she’s not a really strong actor.
I did appreciate she seemed to kind of understand the character but she’s a novice playing a role for where a pro was needed. Talent-wise anyway. Despite this, I give the movie 4 Fraulein Rahm’s out of 5.
At Home x1
I don’t care what anyone says this looks like it came straight from the mind of Yahoo Serious, (Google him!) which is the vibe I get from Taika Waititi anyway. If the Academy fell for Life Is Beautiful they just might fall for this one. I sure ain’t.
I will never see it.
That’s a promise.
A claustrophobic character study of a mentally ill man living in a time and place where those people are marginalized and discarded, Todd Phillips’ Joker is an uncomfortable but weighty film.
Although I recognized it as a great piece of film making after my initial viewing, I could not pretend to have enjoyed it; and after thinking on it for days afterward, and several subsequent viewings, I realized a movie doesn’t have to be pleasant to be important.
A great movie can be one that simply transforms the viewer in some way.
Bolstered by Joaquin Phoenix’s fascinating, if discomforting, portrayal of Arthur Fleck and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s constricting score, Joker was always going to end up among this year’s best picture nominees.
While unlikely to take home the statuette, Phillips has almost certainly delivered us this year’s best actor winner, because Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is incredible.
In Theater x1, At Home x2
Joker was not what everyone made it out to be. I really liked the last 15 or so minutes. Joaquin was great, but put anyone else in that role and the movie is straight trash.
In Theater x1
I saw this at home on a screener. It looked great, sounded wonderful and had a good story but overall I found it was waaaaaay overhyped.
Joaquin Phoenix, perhaps bravely, cranked the weird up to 11 and kept it there unwaveringly. Robert DeNiro was fine but miscast, same for Chris Cooper, but it was nice to see Francis Conroy and Zoe Kravitz in high profile roles and both did a good job with pretty thankless characters.
I loved the message, hated all the violence and think this was one of the best origin stories ever delivered, especially given the Joker character’s, perhaps, overexposure.
As the first entry into a trilogy where they eventually introduce an equally well-crafted Batman as the only one who can stop him this has epic potential. As a stand-alone, I feel it was just sort of okay. 3 bloody shoe prints out of 5.
At Home x1
Sigh. Still can’t bring myself to see it.
Seems like the backlash against its “angry white clown-man” themes are enough to keep it as a polite nod.
Though Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor GG already so that’s a possibility — but beware the sting of the offended SJWs.
When people talk about this being the Taxi Driver Of Comedy they are missing the point.
Travis Bickle’s vigilante took out the trash that society couldn’t be bothered with.
Arthur Fleck kills people because they hurt his feelings.
Oddly, this has been not only glossed over but excused by mainstream critics included Red Letter Media who commented, “well, they made fun of him.”
I realize life was hard for you in school but get a fucking grip, nerds.
In-universe he’s not only celebrated for his murderous rampage, but he also suffered no meaningful consequences, as confirmed by the final sequence: Joker murders his state-appointed therapist of color and then gleefully dances around the asylum, giggling while he easily eludes the staff.
Message: this is fun.
I can’t recall a movie, or at least a movie in popular culture, where the villain is the hero and the villain-hero is excused for his atrocities as we see in Joker.
That’s dangerous. Taxi Driver showed unstable anti-social types that they could change society and get away with it. Just look at the jump in serial and spree killers that occurred in the United States right after that movie was popularized.
Will Joker lead to similar mayhem? Flip a coin.
And yeah, a bunch of scenes are ripped off from Scorsese movies.
Ripped off. Like a mattress tag.
In Theater x1.5
I will brave any nerd’s wrath on this one. I thought it was a well-crafted, well-acted and emotionally honest movie that should win Best Picture. Doesn’t stand a chance.
In Theater x1
Did not watch. One of our big brains did a review on Little Women where he called it “the best movie of the year.”
I can believe it. Gerwig is our Greta Good Witch.
Maybe give her a superhero movie, you scared cowards.
I like Noah Baumbach. I like Adam Driver. I like Scarlett Johansson. Why didn’t I like Marriage Story? The little fucking kid. Jesus Christ that kid was annoying.
I saw this in my home once with my girlfriend. We both agree: Marriage Story gets two thumbs down because of the kid.
At Home x1
Noah Baumbach is to divorce what Scorsese is to gangsters or Woody Allen is too creepy relationships. I can dig a director who meditates or obsesses on the same topic over and over and I thought Marriage Story was spiffing as a lil’ Netflix movie about divorce.
But Best Picture? Get the fuck out of here.
At Home x1
Noah Baumbach is to Millennials and divorce what Woody Allen was to Baby Boomers and post-divorce relationships: A nebbishy director who writes and directs stories that are really designed for the Upper West Side of New York audience but that doesn’t play well in Dubuque, Iowa.
I started watching Marriage Story and about 45 minutes in, by the time that woman divorce lawyer was ranting uncontrollably, I had fallen asleep.
I don’t remember how it ended and it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to win a Best Picture anyway, because too many Oscar voters still believe that Netflix is inherently not cinematic. They believe that anything that shows up on a streaming platform is either another update version of the old “direct to DVD” format or is just basically a cable film, redux.
With Marriage Story, they might be right.
At Home x1
Looked to me like this year’s Gravity. i.e. a lot of bells and whistles covering a hoary old B-movie. The best comment I read was on the Youtube trailer page where someone wrote, “Does Matt Damon play the brother?”
It will likely win the way Crash won back in 2006. Do you remember Crash? Does anyone? At any rate, 1917 won the Golden Globe and the Hollywood morons have that as their marching beat.
I haven’t seen 1917 but I’m going to sound off on this one anyway, for two reasons: 1) there are no good World War One focused films, All Quiet on the Western Front is so old it doesn’t count anymore, and particularly no good ones in the range of what directors, writers, and actors have done with World War Two as a subject matter, and 2) I like Sam Mendes as a director when he’s not controlled by a studio.
Just from watching the trailer you can tell that 1917, while gimmicky, is at least trying to inject some flavor into the World War One film genre. Yes, Peter Jackson tried the same thing in a better way with They Shall Not Grow Old, but Mendes is a different director with a different vision and 1917 is trying to tell a different kind of story.
As to Mendes, well just look at his IMBD resume and you see where he can fail: I thought that Skyfall was an overrated mess, and you can see where he can succeed: I thought that Revolutionary Road was Marriage Story before Marriage Story and done better.
When I watch 1917 from the comfort of my home I think I’ll see more of the Revolutionary Road or American Beauty Sam Mendes in the direction than I will see the Jarhead or Skyfall Sam Mendes.
A gimmick movie beset by a terrible earnestness leading to unforgivable boredom.
It also doesn’t help if you’ve seen the excellent Peter Jackson documentary on World War I, They Shall Not Grow Old, on which I wrote a glowing review last year this time.
If you missed Grow Old, then maybe the set pieces and production design will wow you. Otherwise, I don’t get it.
In Theater Walkout 45 mins
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
If there’s any justice in this world, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood will take home the prize for Best Picture this year. I say this as someone who only saw three of the films nominated and one of those, Parasite, evidently just went right over my head.
Enjoyed it, didn’t get it; or maybe I just don’t particularly like movies where almost everyone is despicable to the end.
With Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino transports his audience back to 1960s Hollywood, where we get to spend a day with Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, and boy is that a lot of fun.
Suffering Rick’s grievous hangover right along with him is an exercise in friendly sympathy. You just want this guy to get his shit together. Cruising around town with Cliff Booth is like hanging out with an old friend (who totally killed his wife).
When the movie finally picks up the pace, hurtling through a few years of Rick’s sagging career, with Cliff always in tow, we find ourselves enjoying a soothing few moments of historical therapy.
It’s funny and moving and exhausting, and when it’s over you feel cleansed as if that horrific wrong had actually been corrected, and leaving the theater it was difficult for me to believe it hadn’t.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, and if he doesn’t take home the statuette I’ll blame it on the goddamn hippies in 2020’s Hollywood.
In Theater x3, At Home x5
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood is the best film I have seen in a while.
I saw thrice in theaters and two times in the comfort of my own home. It deserves the Oscar. From start to finish, a classic.
In Theater x3, At Home x2
I saw this at the drive-in in the summer, which I thought was a very appropriate venue. Though overly long and suffering from too much of its own head-up-its-ass the old-timey Hollywood was well served by the bleak, busy but still a bit lonely experience of the outdoor cinematic viewing experience.
I won’t go into the plot besides it was kernel head DiCaprio and a ridiculous Brad Pitt character intermingling with the inhabitants of a business they were becoming increasingly alienated from. Sharon Tate was there as was Bruce Lee, as well as a bunch of other somebodies and nobodies, and in the middle of it all, was me wondering what the fuck Tarantino did to terrify every editor in Hollywood off of his productions.
Was it that their feet were too small? Or were their opinions too big?
Did they attend the same dreaded film school instead of just watching films they could later rip off?
I don’t know and don’t care.
Tarantino, if you’re going to retire just fucking do it already.
I loved Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown was solid but Kill Bill was where you started to lose interest in a telling a good story over just telling the one you wanted.
I give Once Upon A Time In Hollywood 3 flame throwers out of 5 with .5 stars being earned because he let the pregnant lady live.
This was a fabulous movie for Production Design, Cinematography and Brad Pitt’s performance. I liked it just fine, until the finale and the flame thrower, where it just seemed that QT was indulging his childish sides as he often does. (see Hateful Eight).
And I’m not sold on this whole “Rewriting history the way I want it to be!” gag of Mr. Tarantino’s.
But it’s likely another Best Screenplay win for QT.
In Theater x1
An interesting travelogue where Tarantino is allowed to entertain his every digression.
There is even a meta response to the tabloid rumors about his foot fetish.
Wholly unnecessary, OUATIH comes from a place of fear: fear of becoming irrelevant, fear that you might be the one-trick pony the chattering class has always labeled you as.
I wish QT has made a different movie.
In Theater x1.5
I didn’t like Parasite, didn’t even enjoy it while I was watching it for church.
We follow a family of South Korean dirtbags, their mobile devices always gripped in their filthy hands, who are constantly on the search for free wi-fi. They’re an unsavory clan, mostly because I think I know too many people who are just like them.
One by one, the members of this family insinuate themselves into a role in the service of a wealthy family, who are themselves not particularly likable. When everything predictably goes to hell for pretty much everyone involved, I didn’t really care.
Somebody said it last year: you get what you fucking deserve.
In Theater x1
As I wrote in my half-drunk review, Bong Joon Ho’s Bizzaro-world home invasion piece is easily the most entertaining, the most insightful and the biggest waste of effort.
If there was an award for blowing your whole premise to make a clumsy political point, then Parasite should win every award until the end of time.
In Theater x1
Movies The Academy Dissed
After having immensely enjoyed Hereditary (in truth being disturbingly obsessed with it for a while), I was excited for director Ari Aster’s followup. The first trailer for Midsommar was disappointingly bright and colorful. Where was the horror? Well, it was there, alright, in broad daylight and in all the vibrant colors of spring.
Like Hereditary, Midsommar is a movie to think about and piece together for days after, one to return to again and again because you’re pretty sure you missed something, and you probably did. Midsommar is, after taking us from the bleak cold of a family tragedy to a Swedish student’s ancestral commune in Hälsingland, a psychedelic spectacle. The trees and flowers breathe. The grass grows right up through protagonist Dani’s hand, welcoming her.
Despite the horrific rites recognized as part of the community’s midsummer celebration, at its foundation Midsommar is a movie about finding one’s home, one’s people. Or maybe about them finding you.
In Theater x1, At Home x10
The Two Popes
Though I detest the subject matter I was drawn to this production because of the attached pedigree. Directed by the always solid and visually impressive Fernando Meirelles, it serves as more of a professional biography of Pope Francis be Jorge Bergoglio played by Jonathon Pryce who effectively owns the role.
Two Popes forgoes historical details in favour of a more personal story it does touch on key moments in the recent scandals without burdening the story.
Anthony Hopkins plays Cardinal Ratzinger cum (tee hee) Pope Benedict and aptly represents the old church and its resistance to evolving despite decades of pressure. The Two Popes who, after denied permission to shoot in the Sistine Chapel built their own, is another example of Netflix stepping up its game.
This was also the setting for the best scene of the movie. They intercut real footage with it. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. 4.5 out of 5 crucifixes.
At Home x1
This might have been 86 year-old Clint Eastwood’s last film and what a way to go out.
Unfortunately, this well-written, competently-directed film with riveting performances got ignored because it went after two cornerstones of The Temple: the US government and the corporate media.
A coordinated boycott of Richard Jewell, organized by blue checks and journasarries on Twitter, also hurt the movie at the box office. Their complaint? Clint Eastwood portrayed a craven female reporter sleeping with a source to get a story.
Which is obviously something that has never, ever, happened.
Clint Eastwood deserved better than that. But that’s what you get for trusting backstabbing cosmopolitan Coastals.
In Theater x2
Dragged Across Concrete
Thank God there was a movie this year I actually looked forward too.
Dragged Across Concrete was what all action movies should have become a while ago, but don’t really have the guts or ability to get to.
People knock S. Craig Zahler on his dialogue and pacing, but he can stand up in the Pepsi Challenge against anything that Tarantino has written in the last fifteen years. And yes, this is the guy who wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in CellBlock 99.
I really liked seeing Mel Gibson provide strong performance in this and if there were any justice in Hollywood, which there isn’t, he would have pulled a Best Actor nomination for his role. Instead, we’re left with half-wits, half-men, and half-actors who couldn’t pull off his performance in this film if you paid them.
But, as Gibson’s Brett Ridgeman says on a stakeout:
“For a lot of years I believed that the quality of my work, what we do together, what I did with my previous partners… would get me what I deserved. But I don’t politic and I don’t change with the times, and it turns out that shit’s more important than good honest work.”
At Home x4
What a fucking hardcore movie.
But what unnecessarily clunky and verbose dialogue.
Again, Zahler’s dialogue can come out of the mouth of sheriff in the 1890s Bone Tomahawk but when it’s delivered in a modern setting I want to set something on fire.
At Home x1
Parting Thoughts On 2019 In Film
I believe 2019 was a solid year for film. No real standouts aside from Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood, but a serviceable year none the less.
I decided early on that 2019 would be the year I’d grow up. With Avengers: Endgame on the horizon, I could see my exit approaching.
I saw that one at the theater three times, and then said farewell. Referring back to my Fandango purchases, I notice that I didn’t see that many movies in the cinema last year.
In January, there was the disappointing Glass. Boy, nobody can let an audience down like M. Night Shyamalan.
I didn’t return to the theater until April. I was so excited for Shazam! The trailers made it look like so much fun. That movie made me so angry. I hated the children. And on a personal level, I’m always offended by this modern thing where any group of strangers can be your family if you get on well enough. Zachary Levi’s angry face was the only thing I liked about it.
Avengers: Endgame three times in a row. A satisfying, satisfactory conclusion. So long, MCU!
In May I saw Brightburn, the best part of which was seeing Elizabeth Banks dropped from 20,000 feet. Interesting concept, poor execution, except for the one I just mentioned.
Midsommar in July. Initially annoyed by what I perceived as cultural projection on the part of the director, I was eventually able to let it go and just enjoy it.
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood three times in a row between July and August. An absolute delight.
Joker in October. Initially disturbing and always unpleasant, I’ve learned to embrace it.
The Lighthouse in late October. Odd, also unpleasant. Willem Dafoe is always good, but… more masturbating than I was prepared for. Parasite in November. Blech.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in December. There was a good movie in there somewhere. The protagonist is a guy you just want to punch. I think that’s what ruined it for me. Tom Hanks is great, of course, and if I weren’t pulling for Brad Pitt to take the supporting actor prize, I’d want it to go to Hanks.
There’s really nothing coming to theaters this year that’s got me excited. I’m intrigued by The New Mutants, because I’ve known those characters since their inception, and I think they lend themselves well to Josh Boone’s horror movie/superhero movie mashup concept.
Also, Anya Taylor-Joy, right?
The 2019 Oscar/Film lineup was a limp one in that I barely felt compelled to see any movies. I have kids and… aw hell, who am I kidding?
I’m a fucking dork so I went dutifully to all the Marvel movies and saw that JJ Star Wars shitshow like the enabling whore that I am, but this is the year that the dork fire in my belly got doused by a big bucket of ice water.
I couldn’t give two figs for what’s coming next and I certainly am not going to watch the goddamned Academy Awards.
I don’t rate movies based on artistry, cultural significance or any other bullshit. I rate movies based on whether I like them and, more importantly, whether I would see them again.
Based on that criteria, 2019 was a terrible year, maybe the worst year ever:
- I was only interested in seeing seventeen movies in the theater this year, down from 22 last year.
- I walked out of five of them: Gemini Man, Captain Marvel, Us, Ad Astra and Hobbs & Shaw. That’s down from eight last year.
- There were no 5-star movies, there were no 4-star movies. That’s the first year that has happened since 2016 and marks three years this decade without a great movie being released. This didn’t happen in the 1990s or 2000s and only once in the 1980s (1985, I’m not into Back To The Future, sue me in the World Court). Yes, movies are getting worse and the MCU is the reason.
- My favorite movie was Glass, which is still a very bumble-fucked .
Even though Guy Ritchie delivering a good smashmouth Cockney gangster piece at the end of January with The Gentlemen, 2020 is looking worse than 2019. Maybe Hollywood will surprise me but I’m not looking forward to anything until Villeneuve’s Dune drops ten months from now.
Still awaiting trailers to decide on Without Remorse and Greyhound, Tom Hanks’ World War II sub-hunting movie.
Oh well, more time to make more money so I can afford more fairydust.