2019 Pick the Oscars Competition!
Are you ready for my 19th annual Pick the Oscars competition? All you have to do is pick the winner in the six tricky categories I have chosen. To enter, simply click here. Best of luck!
Mini Review - Vox Lux
Vox Lux (out Feb 21) is a wacky drama from actor-turned-director Brady Corbet about a teenager who survives a school shooting and then becomes an international music star. You can see Natalie Portman is pouring all she can into the lead role but I struggled to connect with her and the supporting characters. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (out Feb 21) is an unorthodox documentary that pulls from previously unseen archival footage to illustrate the talent (and flaws) of tennis star John McEnroe during his runs at the French Open in the early 1980s. The narration of Mathieu Amalric is trying to say too much but the film wins points for showing sport in a different way (and there's a great climax too). Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Stan & Ollie
Stan & Ollie (out Feb 21) isn’t a particularly adventurous script but it does a nice job keeping alive the memory of two gifted comedians from the first half of the 20th century, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, whose work should never be forgotten. John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan deliver strong performances with Rufus Jones stealing scenes as their cunning tour manager. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Happy Death Day 2U
Happy Death Day 2U (out Feb 14) is a sequel to the 2017 original about a girl caught in a Groundhog Day-style loop where each day ends with her death. There are splashes of creativity here (it bravely doesn't want to follow the same formula as the original) but other parts are unnecessarily goofy (such as the school's dean). Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Life Itself
Life Itself (out Feb 14) is an ensemble drama designed to illustrate the complexity of the world and the way in which our lives are all intertwined. It's an ambitious project but I've seen this done much better (e.g. Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia). Grade: B-.
Mini Review - What Men Want
What Men Want (out Feb 14) takes the premise of the Mel Gibson flick from 2000 (What Women Wants) and reverses the sexes. Taraji P. Henson plays a successful sports agent who finds her life upended when she can hear men's inner thoughts. The plot is uneven, the characters and unlikable and aside from a few decent laughs, there's little to take away from this. Grade: C.
Mini Review - At Eternity's Gate
At Eternity's Gate (out Feb 14) is from Oscar nominated director Julian Schnabel and takes us inside the world of artist Vincent van Gogh during the final years of his life. Willem Dafoe is great in the lead role and whilst the film offers points of reflection, it lacks something powerful to take away. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Alita: Battle Angel
Alita: Battle Angel (out Feb 14) is a futuristic action flick based on the manga series written by Yukito Kishiro. A robot girl with a human brain tries to find her place in the world after being discovered in a junkyard by a cyber-surgeon. There are some strong action pieces (e.g. a motor ball scene) but some characters feel very one-dimensional. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - If Beale Street Could Talk
If Beale Street Could Talk (out Feb 14) is from director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and is adapted from the 1974 novel by James Baldwin. Part of the film is a beautiful, poetic love story and part of the film is a sad, anger-inducing tale of racism in America. If you’re putting together a list of the 10 best films of the year, see this and you’ll only need 9 more. Grade: A+.