All posts by Ben Sears

Best and Worst of the 2022 Golden Globe Nominations

Note: This post will only reflect the film nominations for the 2022 Golden Globes.

Yesterday the nominations for the 2022 Golden Globes were announced. Since NBC terminated its relationship with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, many assumed the awards wouldn’t be handed out at all. It’s still unclear exactly how the winners will be announced, but it’s safe to say that the Golden Globes’ unbroken streak came as a surprise. Below are just a few of the surprises and snubs throughout the film and TV award nominations.

Perhaps the most shocking element of the nominations is how utterly normal they are overall. The Globes have always been criticized for valuing a good show over awarding worthwhile achievements in film and television, nominating A-list celebrities in lesser films when more difficult were just as deserving. We all remember where we were when The Tourist received three nominations.

To that end, there aren’t a ton of surprises in the Best Picture – Drama or Best Picture – Comedy or Musical categories. Though it’s racked up serious awards buzz since it premiered at Sundance, the only outlier amongst the two categories would be CODA because it doesn’t have any big-name stars amongst its cast. Mass had a chance to take its spot since it’s widely more beloved amongst those that have seen it, but I don’t think too many awards watchers are terribly surprised. Mass comes from a smaller studio and is dealing with a much less rosy subject matter than CODA. Given my general disdain for Don’t Look Up, I’m still not foolish enough to believe the HFPA would pass up the opportunity to nominate it in the bigger categories. It is disheartening to see In the Heights be all but forgotten around awards season, but with a loaded slate of musicals this year, and given its early release in the year, it’s not terribly surprising.

That being said, Anthony Ramos completely deserves his spot at the table amongst the Best Actor – Musical or Comedy nominees. Of all the Lead Actor nominees in both Drama and Musical/Comedy, Mahershala Ali stands out simply because Swan Song hasn’t been as heavily promoted as, say, C’mon C’mon or The Harder They Fall. And not that the Globes would ever go for a movie like Pig, but Nicolas Cage gave perhaps his best performance of his career this year and would be a great face to see amongst the crowd of nominees. Since the Globes don’t differentiate between genres when it comes to Best Supporting Actor, some bigger names are bound to be left out. Nevertheless, the HFPA seems to have just thrown its hands up and doubled-down on love for Belfast by nominating both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds when David Martinez could have easily taken a spot for West Side Story.

Meanwhile, Lead Actress had much stiffer competition in both categories, and there’s much less to complain about overall. Could Frances McDormand have taken a spot in the Drama category for her role in The Tragedy of Macbeth, especially since she was nominated in the category last year? Sure, but good luck deciding whose spot she would take. Hulu seems to have essentially forgotten that Barb and Star Go To Vista del Mar but could have easily campaigned for Kristen Wiig in Comedy – can you imagine her acceptance speech?? – but it’s hardly surprising that the Globes would rather see Emma Stone over her. Parallel Mothers remains a mystery to just about everyone that didn’t see it at one of the fall festivals, but by all accounts, Penelope Cruz gives one of her best performances ever and could have received a spot in Best Lead Actress – Drama. Never mind the film’s inclusion in the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language could simply be box-checking since it’s directed by Pedro Almodovar, a well-known, well-liked director. When it comes to the Best Supporting Actress category, it’s surprising that Jessie Buckley was snubbed for her performance in The Lost Daughter, given its love in other categories, but at least Ruth Negga rightfully shows up here to show that Passing wasn’t completely forgotten.

Best Director, is always a crowded field where several talented contenders are left off. It’s very possible that the Globes nominees could be matched on Oscar nomination morning. Though the film ultimately received four nominations, Paul Thomas Anderson’s snub in the category stings a little extra hard. Given its love in other categories, if the HFPA simply wanted to nominate a big star, it could have gone with Lin-Manuel Miranda for tick, tick… BOOM!. The Best Screenplay category is probably the Globes-iest category overall, opting for lesser offerings from mainstays like Adam McKay and Aaron Sorkin. This is another spot where Mass or even CODA could have made some noise.

There aren’t too many complaints to be made in the Best Animated or Foreign Language Feature categories, with a fairly limited slate in the former. Encanto was always going to be Disney’s big push for awards play over Luca, in the same way that Soul ate Onward‘s lunch last year. Still, it’s hard to complain when they still found room for an outside-the-box film like Flee. That it was shut out of the Foreign Language category is interesting, especially with a head-scratcher like Compartment No. 6 taking its place.

It was only earlier this year when the world learned of – and quickly forgot about – the existence of Sia’s Music. That the HFPA has avoided any nonsense like those nominations (at least on the film side of things) perhaps speaks to its newly changed outlook. Will we begin to take the Golden Globes as a serious predictor of quality film and television going forward, or will this year be a temporary blip? And how much does the lack of a televised broadcast have to do with the normality of this year’s nominees? There are a lot of factors at play, but this is at least a step in the right direction for the awards body.

At least they had the good sense to leave Dear Evan Hansen out in the cold.

Licorice Pizza – Movie Review

Licorice Pizza

  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Starring: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie

Grade: A

The San Fernando valley in the 1970s is the setting of Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakout hit, Boogie Nights. For his latest original creation, he returns to the time and setting to tell a coming-of-age tale that transcends the genre’s familiar trappings. Anderson is at his best when exploring the inner workings of his protagonists – usually grown men – as they’re thrust into situations that upend their rigidly-focused lives. And while he’s dipped his toes into the romantic comedy genre in 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, that film was ultimately about a neurotically isolated man as he accepts a new possibility for himself. Licorice Pizza concerns itself with the feeling of young love, and about discovering the difficulties of figuring out the rest of your life when you’re still so young.

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Don’t Look Up – Movie Review

Don’t Look Up

  • Director: Adam McKay
  • Writer: Adam McKay,
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet

Grade: C

Don’t Look Up is billed as director Adam McKay’s return to straight-up comedy after the Oscar-bait offerings of The Big Short and Vice. While it’s true that the film has more lighthearted bits of comedy than his most recent films, it continues the downward trajectory of his career as a maker of satire aimed at the easiest of targets. There’s plenty of satire to be mined from the end of the world – in this case an impending asteroid – but Don’t Look Up limps around for 145 minutes trotting out the same lazy observations without having anything new or interesting to say.

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West Side Story – Movie Review

West Side Story

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Writer: Tony Kushner
  • Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist

Grade: B+

Steven Spielberg has conquered nearly every genre throughout his illustrious career: from horror to comedy, from kid-friendly adventures to sci-fi, from Oscar bait dramas to summer blockbusters. Yet somehow he’s never tackled a Broadway musical. His adaptation of West Side Story is finally seeing theaters after being delayed in 2020, and the wait has paid off. Of all the musicals coming to theaters and streaming this year, Speilberg’s latest was one of the most anticipated. But why would the celebrated director choose to remake one of the most celebrated musicals of all time, one that won 10 of the 11 Academy Awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, in 1961? Spielberg has stated his desire to adapt one of Broadway’s musicals and that the West Side Story soundtrack was a staple in his home when growing up. Ever the source of the nostalgia of his childhood, the film feels like a natural choice for him under that lens (the end credits even reveal that the film is dedicated to his father, who died in 2020)

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Flee – Movie Review

Flee

  • Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Grade: B

Flee is a familiar film about refugees that excels because of its unique details. The documentary from director Jonas Poher Rasmussen tells one man’s story of his attempts to find a better life in a more hospitable country. Plenty of documentaries have tackled the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, both from a historical perspective and a modern one. But the film takes a micro approach by focusing on one specific family, and it’s all the better for it.

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Bruised – Movie Review

Bruised

  • Director: Halle Berry
  • Screenwriters: Michelle Rosenfarb
  • Starring: Halle Berry, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Adan Canto, Danny Boyd Jr., Sheila Atim, Adriane Lenox

Grade: C-

Bruised is a film that’s filled with so many sports clichés that it may as well be called “The Invincible Hoosiers Rocky Miracle.” Some familiarity is to be expected within such a well-worn genre, but the film barely brings enough to the table to justify its existence. That’s not to say that the film is a total slog; Halle Berry’s directorial debut is pretty to look at and includes some likeable performances. But you’ve seen this film before, in one form or another, and that is what ultimately holds back its potential.

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Encanto – Movie Review

Encanto

  • Directors: Byron Howard and Jared Bush
  • Screenwriters: Jared Bush, Charise Castro Smith
  • Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Maria Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo

Grade: B+

The biggest issue that Disney has with Encanto is that the film is a Disney production. With the bar already set so high from the prolific animation studio, it’s becoming harder and harder for a new film to rise above what has come before. That’s not to say that Encanto is a bad film by any means; rather, it can’t help but be compared to Disney’s other recent entries. The film has all the makings of a great animated classic – and it may even be Disney’s best of this year – but when looking at the Mouse House’s total output, it’s hard not to be reminded of other, more unique visions.

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tick, tick… BOOM! – Movie Review

tick, tick… BOOM!

  • Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Screenwriters: Steven Levenson
  • Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens

Grade: B+

In 2021 there will be a total of 9 musicals adapted from Broadway for the big screen. The world will also be subjected to 4 projects involving Lin-Manuel Miranda in one way or another in the same year (not to mention the hangover of Hamilton‘s premiere on Disney+ late in 2020). Those two worlds collide with Miranda as director in tick, tick…BOOM!. Say what you will about Miranda’s hegemony with his musical stylings, but he manages to distinguish himself with visual and dramatic flair in his debut film.

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2022 Oscar Predictions

The 94th Academy Awards will be presented on March 27, 2022. Here are our ranked predictions for who will be nominated and which films will win. Check back in, as the list will be updated often.

Best PictureBest Director
1. The Power of the Dog
2. CODA
3. Drive My Car
4. Dune: Part One
5. Belfast
6. West Side Story
7. Don’t Look Up
8. Licorice Pizza
9. King Richard
10. Nightmare Alley
1. Jane Campion “The Power of the Dog”
2. Kenneth Branagh “Belfast”
3. Paul Thomas Anderson “Licorice Pizza”
4. Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
5. Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Best Original ScreenplayBest Adapted Screenplay
1. Belfast
2. Licorice Pizza
3. King Richard
4. Don’t Look Up
5. The Worst Person In The World
1. CODA
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Drive My Car
4. The Lost Daughter
5. Dune
Best ActressBest Actor
1. Jessica Chastain “The Eyes of Tammy Faye
2. Nicole Kidman “Being the Ricardos”
3. Kristen Stewart “Spencer”
4. Olivia Colman “The Lost Daughter”
5. Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
1. Will Smith “King Richard”
2. Benedict Cumberbatch “The Power of the Dog”
3. Denzel Washington “The Tragedy of Macbeth
4. Andrew Garfield “tick, tick…BOOM!”
5. Javier Bardem “Being The Ricardos”
Best Supporting ActressBest Supporting Actor
1. Ariana DeBose “West Side Story”
2. Kirsten Dunst “The Power of the Dog”
3. Aunjanue Ellis “King Richard”
4. Jesse Buckley “The Lost Daughter”
5. Judi Dench “Belfast”
1. Troy Kotsur “CODA”
2. Kodi Smit-McPhee “The Power of the Dog”
3. Ciaran Hinds “Belfast”
4. Jesse Plemons “The Power of the Dog”
5. JK Simmons “Being the Ricardos”
Best Animated FeatureBest Documentary Feature
1. Encanto
2. The Mitchells vs. The Machines
3. Flee
4. Luca
5. Raya and the Last Dragon
1. Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
2. Flee
3. Writing With Fire
4. Attica
5. Ascension
Best CinematographyBest Visual Effects
1. Dune: Part One
2. The Power of the Dog
3. The Tragedy of Macbeth
4. Nightmare Alley
5. West Side Story
1. Dune: Part One
2. Spider-Man: No Way Home
3. No Time to Die
4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
5. Free Guy
Best EditingBest Costume Design
1. King Richard
2. Dune: Part One
3. The Power of the Dog
4. tick, tick… BOOM!
5. Don’t Look Up
1. Cruella
2. Nightmare Alley
3. West Side Story
4. Cyrano
5. Dune: Part One
Best Original ScoreBest Sound
1. Dune: Part One
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Encanto
4. Parallel Mothers
5. Don’t Look Up
1. Dune: Part One
2. No Time to Die
3. The Power of the Dog
4. West Side Story
5. Belfast
Best International FeatureBest Production Design
1. Drive My Car
2. The Worst Person in the World
3. Flee
4. The Hand of God
5. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
1. Dune: Part One
2. Nightmare Alley
3. The Tragedy of Macbeth
4. West Side Story
5. The Power of the Dog
Best Original SongBest Makeup & Hairstyling
1. “Dos Oruguitas” Encanto
2. “No Time To Die” No Time To Die
3. “Be Alive” King Richard
4. “Somehow You Do” Four Good Days
5. “Down to Joy” Belfast
1. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
2. Nightmare Alley
3. House of Gucci
4. Coming 2 America
5. Cruella
Best Animated ShortBest Live-Action Short
1. Robin Robin
2. The Windshield Wiper
3. Bestia
4. Boxballet
5. Affairs of the Art
1. The Long Goodbye
2. Please Hold
3. Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
4. The Dress
5. On My Mind
Best Documentary Short
1. The Queen of Basketball
2. Lead Me Home
3. Audible
4. Three Songs for Benazir
5. When We Were Bullies