Picture: The Power of the Dog (alt. CODA, Belfast). While CODA seems to have the momentum (PGA, SAG Ensemble, Casting Society, WGA – where TPotD was not ellegible, beware), the Little Miss Sunshine feeling is too huge, and also I am unsure if they are going to really buy the story of “the little film that could”, given it’s Apple, behind it. That “streaming bias” factor, makes me think that Belfast may surprise along with an Original Screenplay win.
Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog… pretty locked up.
Actress: EDITED (March 25th, I switch to Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers) Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Look, she doesn’t deserve it, for this performance, too histrionic, too out of touch with the rest of the cast (except Garfield), and it is a too one-dimensional performance to be deserving of a victory… Still, there’s room for any of the other four contenders to win, specially Penélope Cruz, which is the last minute champion in campaigning with plenty of names urging to see Parallel Mothers before casting the ballots. I think that if anyone beats Chastain, it will be her… but I wouldn’t be in shock by Colman, Stewart or Kidman winning. It’s the most exciting category of the night.
Actor: Will Smith, King Richard. Locked up, as well.
Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story. Ditto
Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, CODA (minor chance for Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog, to upset, though)
Adapted Screenplay: The Power of the Dog (alt. CODA)
Original Screenplay: Belfast (alt. Licorice Pizza, Don’t Look Up)
Score: Dune (alt. Parallel Mothers)
Song: No Time to Die, No Time to Die (alt. Dos Oruguitas, Encanto)
Cinematography: Dune (alt. The Power of the Dog)
Production Design: Dune (alt. Nightmare Alley)
Costume: Cruella (alt. Dune)
Film Editing: Dune (alt. Don’t Look Up, King Richard)
Make Up: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (alt. Dune)
Documentary: Summer of Soul
International: Drive my Car
Animated: Encanto (alt. Flee)
Animated Short: Bestia (alt. Robin, Robin)
Live Action Short: The Long Goodbye
Documentary Short: Audible (alt. The Queen of Basketball)
Disclaimer: temptative – might be updating, reshaping, before issue 2. Limiting it, so far to 20 in Picture and 10 in Director and each Acting categories, as 10 in Screenplays. Also, BOLDED, quite confident on them.
“In the Heights”, by John M. Chu (Warner Bros / HBO) Jimmy Smits (Supporting) SAG Ensemble Alert
“The French Dispatch” by Wes Anderson (Fox/Disney) SAG Ensemble alert.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing”, by George Miller (UA/MGM) – Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton
“West Side Story”, by Steven Spielberg (Disney as 20th Century) – Rita Moreno (Supporting) SAG Ensemble Alert
“The Tragedy of Macbeth” by Joel Coen (A24) – Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, Brendan Gleesom (Supporting) SAG Ensemble alert
“Dune” by Dennis Villeneuve (WB/HBO)
“House of Gucci”, by Ridley Scott (UA/MGM) – Adam Driver, Lady Gaga
“Stillwater”, by Tom McCarthy (Focus) – Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin
“Nightmare Alley”, by Guillermo del Toro (Searchlight)
“Next Goal Wins”, by Taika Waititi (Fox/Disney) – Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss – against: Arnie Hammer scandal
“Blonde”, by Andre Dominik (Netflix) – Ana de Armas
“Luca” by Enrico Casarosa (Disney/Pixar)
“Marvel’s The Eternals”, by Chloe Zhao (Disney/Marvel)
“The Woman on the Window”, by Joe Wright (Netflix) – Amy Adams
“Don’t Look Up”, by Adam McKay (Netflix)
“Last Night in Soho”, by Edgar Wright (Focus)
“The Last Duel”, by Ridley Scott (Fox/Disney)
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, by Michael Showalter (Fox/Disney) – Jessica Chastain
“Respect”, by Liesl Tommy (MGM/UA) – Jennifer Hudson
“King Richard”, by Reinaldo Marcus Green (WB/HBO) – Will Smith
Commentary: this is the year of the battle of the musicals, beforehand and both of them seem almost locked already for both the Golden Globe and the SAG Ensemble nominations. I think that In the Heights won’t be facing the shadow of an original hanging, and given the trailer, it seems completely cinematic and full of color and imagination, plus it features a cast including some familiar names that may seem due for some recognition, even if more famous on another mediums (i.e. Stephanie Beatriz and Jimmy Smits are both extremely likeable and I could see both of them making award-worthy performances). I think WSS will also be nominated as well, and there’s an overload of genre films competing for the attention, from Swan Song to Three Thousand Years of Longing, with Dune, Nightmare Alley, The Eternals or Last Night in Soho being well positioned, and also Pixar’s Luca looks it could have the extra punch to break through into Best Picture… it’s odd that Ridley Scott will be competing against himself with two baity films, but House of Gucci looks like a slam dunk while The Last Duel seems a bit more shaky, to me. Blonde, I think it may overperform the expectations, given Dominik’s previous career and style, and attention on Waititi, del Toro, Miller, McKay among others is warranted. If I had to mention a film as frontrunner – sorry, Steven – it would be “In the Heights”, with Lin-Manuel Miranda coming fresh from “Hamilton”, which was not ellegible for 2020 (despite the Globe nominations)
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Ridley Scott, “House of Gucci”
Wes Anderson, “The French Dispatch”
John M. Chu, “In the Heights”
George Miller, “Three Thousand Years of Longing”
Joel Coen, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Tom McCarthy, “Stillwater”
Denis Villeneuve, “Dune”
Andrew Dominik, “Blonde”
Guillermo del Toro, “Nightmare Alley”
Commentary: Spielberg really wants his third Oscar, and I am not going to be the one doubting that he might end winning it, as the film itself is a challenge, a suicidal one, that he can technically pull off… but given Scott’s strong year with two baity offerings, and how overdue he is, in Hollywood’s eyes, it’s really, really difficult to consider Spielberg the far away frontrunner… personally, I would rather see Anderson, Miller or Waititi taking Best Director, but talking about dueness, out of the three, Miller probably has the edge after Mad Max Fury Road, and closely followed by Anderson, after Grand Budapest Hotel. Chu seems like a no brainer to me, judging from the trailer and his creative choices, for a nomination, but I have doubts in front of so many big names (and egos)
Will Smith, “King Richard”
Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Matt Damon, “Stillwater”
Adam Driver, “House of Gucci”
Michael Fassbender, “Next Goal Wins”
Anthony Ramos, “In the Heights”
Idris Elba, “Three Thousand Years of Longing”
Ansel Elgot, “West Side Story”
Johnny Depp, “Minamata” (7.8 IMDB User rating)
Mahershala Ali, “Swan Song”
Commentary: Candy role for Smith, who is due, anyways, so I think that he may be in the lead already. Washington in Macbeth? You can bet he may be in when dust settles. Damon seems to have a candy role as well, and he’s due at this point for an acting Oscar… Driver is hot and those four make a solid cuartet already… the problem comes with the 5th spot and I’d go with Fassbender doing comedy for Waititi… unless the Hammer scandal damage the whole film’s chances, but at this point I would say that they will just ignore Hammer in the race and salute the film, which has a lot of potential, specially as a crowdpleaser. Watch out for Johnny Depp, “Minimata” is a baity role and the film seems to be liked by audiences already, so this may be saluted as a return to form.
Jennifer Hudson, “Respect”
Ana de Armas, “Blonde”
Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci”
Akwafina, “Swan Song”
Abigail Breslin, “Stillwater”
Tilda Swinton, “Three thousand years of longing”
Frances McDormand, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Elisabeth Moss, “Next Goal Wins”
Amy Adams, “The Woman in the Window”
Commentary: if Day or Davis had won this year, I wouldn’t put Hudson as #1 but their defeat makes the AMPAS avoid the sense that they just awarded a similar performance, the year before… Hudson may take her 2nd with her 2nd nominations, but de Armas and specially Gaga are also extremely likely chances with candy roles. Despite being a sci-fi drama, Swan Song features a really strong cast, and Akwafina was buzzed twice already for Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell (plenty say, that she was completely snubbed, so she’s on the verge of bigger awards attention, and this film may help her chances, despite being a possibly unconventional Oscar pick). At this point, I would say that this is a completely open race and I lowered McDormand to 7th because she just won her 3rd leading Oscar, but that may change. Moss is on the verge of an Oscar nom, and Chastain has a candy role that she could make hers, easily.
Best Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleesom, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Jimmy Smits, “In the Heights”
Rhys Darby, “Next Goal Wins”
Bill Murray, “The French Dispatch”
Adrien Brody, “Blonde”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “In the Heights”
Pedro Pascal, “The Bubble”
Timothée Chalamet, “The French Dispatch”
Anthony McKie, “The Woman in the Window”
Bradley Cooper, “Nightmare Alley”
Commentary: Gleesom is overdue, and I doubt the AMPAS will waste the chance to nominate him for a possible Best Picture contender. Smits and Miranda look likely/possible and I have a hunch that Rhys Darby may steal scene after scene in Next Goal Wins (and with Hammer probably apart from awards-consideration, they will have to focus on him, probably). On Pascal, I have the feeling that “The Bubble” may be a SAG Ensemble contender and it looks really good in advance, and he’s a hot name in Hollywood right now, thanks to The Mandalorian (and despite Wonder Woman 1984). Brody and Murray and Chalamet and Cooper I’d say that are usual suspects, and McKie might benefit from all his buzz as the new Captain America, in one of the year’s series, that is making him a big star.
Best Supporting Actress
Rita Moreno, “West Side Story”
Stephanie Beatriz, “In the Heights”
Karen Gillian, “The Bubble”
Cate Blanchett, “Nightmare Alley”
Glenn Close, “Swam Song”
Frances McDormand, “The French Dispatch”
Salma Hayek, “House of Gucci”
Maria Bakalova, “The Bubble”
Thomasin McKenzie, “Last Night in Soho”
Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Commentary: the nostalgia factor will help Moreno inmensely, and I think that she’ll be one of the selling points (Awards-wise) of Steven Spielberg’s film. Beatriz shines continuously in Brooklyn-Nine-Nine and watching her playing against type might do wonders for her chances. Gillian and Bakalova in “The Bubble” may be having good chances, and both are hot names for different reasons… Bakalova is lower just because she was nominated this year (but she lost!) and Gillian has been increasing thanks to the MCU, where she nails the Nebula character. Then we have the Blanchett-Close-McDormand set that could easily sneak in, just on pure prestige alone… and Hayek, who hasn’t been nominated since Frida (almost 20 years ago!) may be the film’s bet for Supporting Actress… McKenzie was snubbed twice already recently, despite being so young, and Ellis plays opposite to the likely Lead Actor frontrunner, so I have to include her, as it’s a role that seems guaranteed to have plenty of baity moments.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Tragedy of Macbeth
House of Gucci
In the Heights
The Woman on the Window
The Power of the Dog
Marvel’s The Eternals
West Side Story
Commentary: a Coen brother adapting Shakespeare? Inmediate frontrunner status. House of Gucci also seems like a no brainer, a year in advance. If I am giving In the Heights the frontrunner status, certainly it should score a nom here as well, and Dune is a similar case to Lord of the Rings (if the film is great, it will be nominated here). Aside for that, what you read here… I have some faith in The Eternals, as it seems a really challenging screenplay for Zhao, who just lost this category. I throw also Jane Campion’s next film because, it’s been SO LONG since her The Piano win.
Best Original Screenplay
Three Thousand Years of Longing
The French Dispatch
Next Goal Wins
Last Night in Soho
Don’t Look Up
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Commentary: Key point, George Miller writes the Screenplay (and he only has one Oscar: Animated Feature for Happy Feet) and it looks exactly what the AMPAS may go for. The rest of the suspects… well, they all look possibilities, and I am going to give Luca the edge to be nominated due to the audacious subtext (if made obvious, of course).
Mmm… thinking it would be fun to see what would have won (let’s say since 1970) this “Popular Film” category, and who would have taken Best Picture if the actual winner would have been deemed a “Popular Film”. These are my takes (1970-present):
DISCLAIMER: this is my speculation, if you disagree, perfect, post yours. Overall, my sensation is that Popular Film would have been an oportunity to reward Best Picture runner ups (the biggest b.o. would go for Popular while giving Picture to the critic darling), to films that could have been perceived of snubbed big way (while popular, with a combo of b.o. + critical acclaim), or films that were loved but the AMPAS would shy off to give them Best Picture because either feeling they were too comercial or too away from the most “acceptable” norm (specially genre films). In some cases, Popular probably would have costed Best Picture wins that would have gone to Popular, allowing the runner up to win Picture instead… in a few cases, I think that the actual Best Picture winner could have won BOTH awards, without the risk of split voting, which would be the huge problem with this category, making it harder for blockbusters to take Best Picture, and transforming Popular into a ghetto.
1970 tricky… Patton took Best Picture but could have gone Popular film as well. But that could have perfectly gone to M*A*S*H, Love Story or Airport as well. Any combo of winners of those four, would have worked… I would go with M*A*S*H winning popular film as it even spawned a TV series. Arguably Airport could have done it as well.
1971 I could see Bedknobs and Broomsticks taking Popular Film. Or The French Connection and then we can dream of A Clockwork Orange taking Picture.
1972 Too easy. Cabaret would have won Best Picture while The Godfather would have taken Popular Film. Just look at the final Oscar count of both of them and how The Godfather became the highest grossing film of all time, that year.
1973 Another easy one… the AMPAS would have been comfortable with awarding The Exorcist as popular film and leave The Sting as Best Picture
1974 Easy again… The Godfather, Part II would have kept Picture (I don’t think they would have given it “popular” which would have seen as less prestigious) and would probably give Popular to “The Towering Inferno”
1975 Not even a contest… Jaws would have won Popular film while One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest would have taken Best Picture
1976 Rocky would have won Popular, Network would have won Best Picture. And I would have been happy with that
1977 Obvious. Star Wars: A New Hope would have taken Popular Film, and Annie Hall would have kept Picture
1978 The Deer Hunter would have kept Best Picture, but for Popular film, it would have been a toss up between Superman and Heaven can wait. I would go for Superman.
1979 Kramer vs Kramer as Picture and Alien as Popular Film
1980 Ordinary People as Picture and Airplane! as Popular Film (GG and WGA nominee) even thought there could be cases made that it wasn’t nominated for anything else while Private Benjamin, Empire Strikes Back and Fame did show up at several categories… but that is why it was possible that Airplane! would concentrate the love as it would be its only nomination and it had the bigger impact of the four (just expanded the spoof beyond limits)
1981 Chariots of Fire for Picture and Raiders of the Lost Ark for Popular
1982 again, easy call… Gandhi in Picture, E.T. the Extraterrestrial in Popular (that would have made Spielberg’s THIRD Popular film win in 8 years)
1983 Terms of Endearment for Picture, Return of the Jedi in Popular (pending on 1980, that could have made 3 for 3 or 2 for 3 for Star Wars in the category)
1984 Amadeus for Picture, Ghostbusters for Popular (however, cases could be made for Beverly Hills Cop, Footlose or Karate Kid, as well… I don’t think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom would have had a real shot).
1985 Out of Africa for Picture, Back to the Future for Popular (possible spoiler: Witness)
1986 Platoon for Picture, Aliens for Popular (outside shot for Little Shop of Horrors, though)
1987 The Last Emperor for Picture, The Untouchables for Popular (but also, Good Morning Vietnam, Dirty Dancing or Lethal Weapon could have taken it as well)
1988 Rain Man for Picture, and Die Hard OR Who Framed Roger Rabbitt? for Popular. Given the amount of nominations, I’d say Roger Rabbitt would have taken it, easily…
1989 Driving Miss Daisy for Picture and The Little Mermaid (or Batman) for Popular film. I choose the animated given the Best Picture buzz for it, which Batman lacked.
1990 Dances with Wolves for Picture and Ghost for Popular film (Best Picture nominee + Supporting Actress winner)
1991 JFK for Picture and Silence of the Lambs for Popular film. But chances that Silence of the Lambs could have taken BOTH. Tricky, though… Silence of the Lambs would face Beauty and the Beast and Terminator 2: Judgement Day at Popular, so it could really have gone on to win 2 acting awards, adapted screenplay and director, only to lose both Picture and Popular films to the insane competition in a really great year for film (and popular film)
1992 Unforgiven for Picture, Popular would have been wide open, I think it would be for Basic Instinct, but Aladdin, Scent of a Woman (Best Picture nominee, Lead Actor winner) or even The Bodyguard could have defeated it
1993 Easiest year, maybe. Spielberg would win both with Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park, respectively
1994 Again, easy year. Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, but question is which one would have taken which… the Popular Film mix could have made The Lion King win in Popular and then make even Forrest Gump lose both, with Pulp Fiction winning Best Picture. So far, I’d say Pulp Fiction would have taken Picture and Forrest Gump Popular or both.
1995 Braveheart for Picture and either Apollo XIII or Babe for Popular film. I think our favorite pig would have won it, given the 7 noms and 1 win for such of an underdog of a film.
1996 The English Patient at Picture, Jerry Maguire for Popular, but Independence Day could have upset it
1997 Titanic would have taken both. Simple as that. If they gave Titanic Popular and give Picture to anyone else, it would have been to L.A. Confidential, but it’s no sense to give 11 Oscars to a film and not give it Best Picture, isn’t it?
1998 Tricky again… Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan would have shared the honors, question remains, which one would have won what. I’d say SPR would have taken popular as it was – if I remember correctly – the biggest at b.o. out of the two.
1999 American Beauty would have won Picture and The Sixth Sense, Popular, over The Matrix, just because The 6th Sense was nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay and 2 acting awards…
2000 Gladiator would have taken Popular, and Traffic would have taken Picture. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was taking Foreign Film anyways.
2001 A Beautiful Mind (ugh) still would have won Picture, but Moulin Rouge! would have been a Popular film winner if it wasn’t for Fellowship of the Ring, that would have lead the nominations with 14 including Picture and Popular film.
2002 Chicago in Picture, The Two Towers in Popular
2003 Return of the King would have taken both, tying with Titanic for the most wins ever, with 12. HOWEVER, winning 3 Popular films in 3 years, could have left the hands free to give Lost in Translation, Best Picture.
2004 Million Dollar Baby could have taken Popular, leaving The Aviator or even Sideways a way for Best Picture, but I don’t think so… specially on how crowded and open Popular would have been, with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban, The Incredibles, Spider-Man 2, Shrek 2, The Passion of the Christ… I’d say Harry Potter 3 would have taken it, as it was raved.
2005 Crash for Picture, Batman Begins for Popular (but Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, or King Kong could have a word about it)
2006 The Departed keeping Picture, Popular… I’d say Borat. No kidding. Little Miss Sunshine looks like the biggest competitor, and was winning Supporting Actor anyways, Popular would have been the only viable way to reward the critically acclaimed sleeper of the year.
2007 No Country for Old Men for Picture… Popular.. Hairspray, blatantly snubbed from any other possibility, it was one of the biggest b.o. of the years, and also one of the best reviewed films, so it would make sense they would throw it this bone, specially after the SAG Ensemble nomination.
2008 Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight, easy call. After the creation of Animated Feature Oscar, Wall·E wouldn’t have stood a chance versus The Dark Knight, winning each one, a “Best Picture” Oscar, outside from Best Picture.
2009 The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Another easy call. Count me among the few, that thinks that Avatar is actually better than “The Hurt Locker” (and more important and relevant).
2010 The King’s Speech and The Social Network, again, an easy call. I feel a trend would become that if 2 films are really close each other in consideration, the one with the biggest b.o. would go on to win Popular by default leaving BP to the one that scored less money. Popular film would have completely killed any hope of The Social Network to win Best Picture in my opinion. I think it was a close call, but it wouldn’t have been, if the AMPAS was offered a way to reward both films with a “Best Picture” Oscar. The King’s Speech looked as the most classic, prestigious choice, while The Social Network was more “hip”, making this an easy decision to the AMPAS members.
2011 The Artist for Picture and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II for Popular film, to reward the franchise. Outside shot for Bridesmaids, though. There is no paralel universe in which this would’t have gone this way, the franchise NEVER won an Oscar, and this was the most nominated film of the whole franchise, with rave reviews on par with Azkhaban’s, plus also the farewell of the franchise. It was a no-brainer choice.
2012 Argo for Picture and Skyfall (or Django Unchained, or Avengers) for Popular. I’d say that Marvel wasn’t just that ready for Oscar, despite the insane success of Avengers, and that Skyfall offered the chance to the AMPAS to fully reward the Bond franchise in a big way, for probably one of its better films, that also, had Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor buzz…
2013 12 Years a Slave for Picture and Gravity for Popular
2014 Birdman for Picture and I am going to think that The LEGO Movie would have taken popular given its tremendous snub at Animated (but I doubt it would have missed Popular, though, given the competition)
2015 Supereasy, barely an inconvinience: Spotlight in Picture, Mad Max: Fury Road in Popular
2016 another supereasy call: Moonlight in Picture, La La Land in Popular… unless they surprised with Deadpool’s only nomination. While I think Deadpool SHOULD have been the winner, La La Land couldn’t lose this one, but also that would underline its ultimate loss at Picture.
2017 Look no further: The Shape of Water in Picture, Get Out in Popular. It won Original Screenplay, and it was all the rage.
2018 tricky, tricky one… Green Book taking Picture, but I think Bohemian Rhapsody would have taken Popular, despite all the claims of Black Panther (or A Star is Born or Avengers: Infinity War), making it a 5 Oscar winner film (and having most wins than the “Picture” winner).
2019 Parasite in Picture, and despite the 11 noms of the Joker, that would have been 12 with Popular, I think the AMPAS would have given Kevin Feige his Oscar for Avengers: Endgame
2020 Nomadland seems to be taking Best Picture, but if we had a Popular film it would be between Soul, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Tenet, one of them, for the win… given that Soul is winning animated, it would be a toss up between Borat and Tenet, and the vote would be a sign of the old Hollywood (pro-theaters to death, they would vote for Tenet) and the new Hollywood (that it’s OK with streaming, that could vote for Borat). I would say Borat only because it has a screenplay and an acting nomination while Tenet was snubbed in SO MANY departments…
Is it me, or the Popular film winners list could be actually better than the Best Picture one?
It’s hard to believe that the DCEU is so lost in its path to compete with Marvel… it’s quite embarrassing that so far, there are only two good films on its run (Wonder Woman and Shazam), and considering both of them “good” but not “great”, because their many flaws.
It’s even harder to believe, that they would take so many wrong choices with “Wonder Woman 1984”, coming obviously, most of them, by studio executives obsessed with following “Shazam” and the MCU line of action / comedy / poignancy…
But the hardest to believe, is that professional film critics are giving good and very good reviews to this disaster, this trainwreck of a film, that never gets to take the audience as intelligent or mature. I am afraid that it is not possible to fully analyze why this film is pure garbage, without huge spoilers – so I will leave them, to the end… mild spoilers in the outline of the plot, though.
It’s 1984 and after an admittedly exciting opening sequence in Themyscira, that would deliver the key – hypocritical – message of the movie (or at least, one of them)… that cheating, you can’t acquire real success. Sounds familiar? Look at the year… 1984, Reagan is President and Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good. So yeah, we are treated to a Donald Trump lookalike as main villain of the film, and that holds one of the many overused clichés that hit us like a sledgehammer throughout this overlong movie: he has a child that wishes that he could spend more time with his father. But that would come a bit later in the film, after an embarrassing resolution of a set piece in a mall, culminating in a callback to one of Michael Jackson’s most infamous incidents, and that honestly feels stupid, force and even out of character itself, when watching how the scene plays out. It’s also the first nod, that Wonder Woman is now Spider Woman… yes, you read right. The Mary Sueing of Diana Prince just started, and we aren’t even 15 minutes into the film.
Because new powers will come and call us back from other superhero movies… sometimes better (Dr. Strange’s cape who has its own life and intelligence, is copied to… the Lasso of Truth seems to have a life ot its own as well), sometimes worse (now Diana, has one of the abilities of Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman). It doesn’t matter that this film is set in 1984 and those powers would have been so useful in Batman vs. Superman and Justice League, but never addressed, creating a continuity plothole worthy of the worst Fox X-Men films. But let’s dive back into the film… this is the 80’s and Barbara (Kristen Wiig) is clumsy and not specially socially gifted, so she’s introduced in the most cliched slapstick and overused trope: the falling of her papers. Sigh. Of course she wears glasses and has no sense of fashion, but don’t worry, soon she would discover that it’s-oh!-so-simple! to make a wonderful, empowered woman out of herself (so easy, that you want to smash your forehead to a wall!). But she’s shown to be light-hearted, a good soul, and unaware of the loss of her inocence… One of the few things that I can praise out of Wonder Woman 1984 is how it works as a parable of the obsession with success and cruelty developing through the 80s, with the Yuppie culture, but it is so poorly written, so puerile, that becomes annoying, and ultimately hypocrital, as the very own film does exactly what it critiques (anything for success), never trusting the audience or having internal logic, or coherence.
I was really worried how they were going to bring back Chris Pine’s character and I have to say… they nailed it. However, this brings a deplorable plot point that I see no one discuss, and I will discuss on the full spoiler section… The other male character, is basically Donald Trump, but with some actual love for his son. As in the also horrible “Marriage Story”, the son is just a tool to manipulate the audience, and with no real personality beyond a basic outline (I miss dad), and that brings a couple of really embarrassing moments, specially at the end.
I don’t really want to delay it more… from here, now, SPOILERS for the whole “film”.
Without any order: Wonder Woman uses the lasso of truth as Spider-man uses his webs… but with the difference that she uses them with CLOUDS helping herself to basically fly like Superman, long distances. Yes, you read right. Wonder Woman can also turn things invisible – therefore the Invisible Plane! – something that is used once and never used again, despite the fact that it could have been useful. Chris Pine has zero problems to fly a 80s fighter, despite being a pilot in World War I. Not only that, but as they see some beautiful fireworks, they decide to fly the invisible plane THROUGH THEM, which are – remember – rockets exploding. Barbara soon developes into a powerful woman, but AGAIN, another cliché with the revenge to a drunk abuser (first time she was saved by a Deus ex Machina by Diana)… paralelly, Pascal’s character grows obsessed with accumulating power and begins losing health, but it would still take him long to understand he can requires health in exchange for the desires… pretty dumb con man, isn’t he? When Diana learns how to “fly”, it looks awesome and sounds spectacular – but unless I heard wrongly, did they use an excerpt of John Murphy’s score to “Sunshine”? – and also feels stupid and completely Mary Sue fan fiction (specially as Diana had never been shown in any movie that happens afterwards, doing so, quite on the contrary). We find out that the ultimate villain’s plan involves a technology – also “ex Machina” – that allows him to introduce himself into EVERY technological device in the planet – even if switched off, it seems – to acquire more power… if that sounds familiar to you, yes, that is an iteration of Batman Forever’s Enigma plot to take over. But of course, there is a scene in Egypt with callbacks to both X-Men Apocalypse (bad CGI disaster scene) and World War Z (Jerusalem’s wall)… and how they get to Egypt is over-the-top ridiculous… it seems that the planes in exposition in the Smithsonian – Diana conveniently works there and has full access to them – are always ready to be flew, with the tanks completely full, and that the fighter they choose, however, has a flying range that allows them to go to Cairo, from DC, no escales needed… and they even have time to enjoy themselves, invisible, going through fireworks that could seriously damage their vehicle. Wow. Cheetah and Diana’s final fight becomes first a dark revision of Venom’s climatic fight, and suddenly, they go electric and underwater, as in Ang Lee’s Hulk final comfrontation… ugh! And Pascal’s character, also, somehow, can hear his son, whatever far away he is, and is able to find him without any indication, in the epilogue… But the most important thing… the treatment of Pine’s character “host”. Yes, the spirit of Steve Trevor is possesing an alive man… while we have the mirror fashion scene with role reversal from the original film, with Trevor adjusting to the 80s fashion, this brings an issue, a moral issue, that is never addressed. Both Steve and Diana are literally raping an stranger, by having sex. Yes, he is unaware of it, but I find it disturbing that a film written, directed by a woman, would go so merrily on sexual abuse and the treatment of a human body as an object. This is how dumb this film is.
Summary: Wonder Woman 1984 is a corporate product, that does not care about its audience, and trust them to be completely oblivious of coherence, without actual care on making anything with real sense, or delivering an important message with an approach wiser than the one you would give to an 8 years old. Avoid, or just use it for a drinking game, to have a shot, anytime anything stupid, puerile, incoherent or embarrasing happens. I guess most will be drunk, 45 minutes into the film. It’s hard to say this, but Suicide Squad was actually better. And Batman & Robin looks like a masterpiece, beside (at least, B&R was Schumacher’s labor of love to Adam West’s run, but with his own personality imprinted, and thus, was a brave, fascinating wreck of a film, that I like to enjoy again and again, for maybe the wrong reasons?). I doubt I will rewatch WW84 more than once or twice in the rest of my life… it’s just overlong, puerile, subpar, and coward.
“Batman & Robin” is a film oh, so easy to hate… admittedly one of the biggest trainwrecking blockbusters ever produced, trashed beyond belief by critics and audiences alike… a film that I was tempted of walking out from the theater on my first viewing, that was how visceral my rejection of this film was, more than 20 years ago… even more so, as I actually enjoyed “Batman Forever” despite its flaws, more than any of both Tim Burton films which are clearly overrated, beyond the visual aspects and Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer’s performances.
Because I dare to say that “Batman & Robin” may be the most personal and intimate Joel Schumacher film in his resume… Schumacher already started playing tribute to the iconic Adam West starred Batman series and movie, with his camp in “Batman Forever”, which is a so fun film: goofy, never taking itself too seriously and still introducing a psychological study on Batman’s sexuality and a commentary on his relationship with Robin, always close to be the spartan role model of master and trainee, in pedophilian key… at the climax, The Riddler offers Batman the chance to choose between the woman he loves and his male sidekick… Batman refuses to choose and finds a way to save them both, therefore sending the message that Batman’s bisexual, in the code Schumacher has stablished throughout the film. Thanks to the still not so bad reviews and huge b.o., Warner Bros and DC gave him more room to “play” with the franchise, and did he just felt free to do whatever he wanted… he went full steam with the gay, camp, trashy coda and produced the best “worst” film of all time, all full of excess, unfunny jokes and puns, wooden acting, clichès and wtf action sequences… exactly in the line of Adam West’s delightful run.
In “Batman & Robin”, Batman holds an auction contest with Robin, bidding for a night with Poison Ivy, and he shows off his “Bat-credit card”… it is a joke delightfully unfunny, as a call back to the 60’s Batman series and their Bat-whatever was needed. Poison Ivy is deliberately a drag-queen look alike, and Uma Thurman goes full steam over the top, as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gives one of his worst/best performances by also allowing himself to be as bad as possible, understanding to perfection what film he is in, and what Schumacher is aiming for. George Clooney, a competent actor (rather than a great one, even if I think he is best in comedy, and his Syriana Oscar does not bother me, as it is a quite good performance), also understands Schumacher and admitted he played Bruce Wayne and Batman as gay (unlike Val Kilmer’s bisexual incarnation in “Forever”) but restrains himself of going full Adam West mode (that is one of the main problems of the film: heros take themselves too seriously, causing a tonal difference that provokes the chain reaction to a disaster and misunderstanding of the whole production… Elliot Goldenthal’s score also does not help: too epic, not goofy nor camp as it should have been… there are deliberate toony slapstick sound effects here and there but Schumacher chose not to include the classic letters of “Boom!”, “Slap!” and so on, which maybe would have made too clear what he was going for.
As remembered, the film’s only half-celebrated performance is the late Michael Gough’s Alfred Pennyworth, despite the melodramatic clichés he’s given to work with, essential to stablish the parallels between Bruce and Alfred to Dick and Bruce: son to father, and probably even more. The less said about Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone, actually the better… the film’s failure almost killed their careers for a reason… Clooney, Arnold and Uma survived because even in the worst moments, it is clear that they are aiming for a goal that the director indicates, Chris and Alicia simply do not get or go to the places they are required to be given the movie they are in… they look too worried to look good and not too campy, so they can look great in the magazines, while the three stars don’t really care about how ridiculous the whole film could look like.
The film, over 20 years after, also marked the future of Hollywood. Technology was making possible to finally transfer super-hero films to the big screen and they have proven themselves to be b.o. juggernauts, but B&R set the limits of what you could do with the genre and the limitations that would shoot itself in the foot… only a few years later, “X-Men” and “Spiderman” marked a more grounded tone and while never going back to Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns” mode, they skipped goofyness as much as possible and put character over action, first. Later came Nolan and with “Batman Begins” and specially “The Dark Knight” went into grimmer and more realistic iterations, while Marvel with “Iron Man” started the MCU in the exact middle point between grounded to reality, fun, and faithfulness and respect to the source. Without “B&R” probably we wouldn’t have the MCU as we have it, now.
“Batman & Robin” is a really wonderful disaster, and proud to be so. The magnificently over the top and beyond campy production design, costumes, make up, visual effects (do they some of them look dated, even a couple of years after!), are too evidently intentional. It is the rare case that a studio let a filmmaker to run amok and be completely free to fulfill his vision. It recently happened also with Tom Hooper’s “Cats”, which has been so maligned, as well. Both films are brave, unique, fearless, deeply flawed but with the heart in the right place, and if only for that, they deserve to be seen and celebrated.
Originally, at first viewing I rated the film with 0 stars, an F.
After many rewatching and analyzing and thinking about it… the film was so underrated and it is a *** 1/2 / C+ failure, rather than a total trainwreck. You are in, with the joke, or you just aren’t, and while it took me years to understand what was going on, specially after cast and crew opened about it, I am completely in for the joke. Rest in Peace, Joel Schumacher, a way better director with a way better career than you were credited, in life.
I write these lines while assisting in perplexity to the shot-for-shot remake of Charlie Brooker’s brilliant satire, “Dead Set”, which was a foreplay for what later became his hit series “Black Mirror”.
“Dead Set” which despite its presentation as a miniseries is basically a 3 hours film split in 5 chapters, thought to be released on a daily basis before Halloween, it has gone down as one of the best zombie films of all time, and for good reason, the mirror game between reality and fiction, the use of horror as an allegory of our dystopian present (even more so, before Covid19 hit) and was never scared of going full horror, keeping the comedic elements exactly as they should be: never distracting from the core of the satire, and just to give the audience enough oxygen to take a deep breath and jump into the next horror vignette. Even the progression of the events were always a “because” and were full of inner logic. Claudio Torres, who is credited as the writer (and co-director) of the remake, probably thought that why change anything that isn’t broken.
The classic question, that has an easy reply… if it is not broken, unless you have something extra to say, just do not touch it. The remake is not only shot-for-shot… it is unconvincing and subpar, with moments that are embarrassing in comparison to the original. This said with all my respect to all the cast and crew… because the main problem, goes beyond this…
This is part of the Netflix offering, stated as a Netflix “original” (which sounds like a pun, if you ask me). This comes as a major disappointment to me, after the Blumhouse produced Bollywood horror miniseries “Betaal”, also distributed by Netflix, and that despite some limitations, never ceased to be interesting and somewhat original, and was a binge-worthy horror offering that never felt as a rehash (even more so, had a lot to say in politics and history, from a satyrical point of view). But “Betaal” is mostly an exception to the rule… even Netflix’s biggest hit, “Stranger Things” never stops feeling as a family-friendly rehash of everything 80s, but very well done and with generous budget. For every “Betaal” or “Stranger Things” we have 8 to 15 mediocrities, and same with the Netflix films… they finance “Roma”, “The Irishman” or the extremely good looking “Da 5 Bloods” that opens on Friday… but for every one of them, we have to cross by some really bad stuff like “The Silence”, “Io”, “Naked”, “Birdbox” and so many other trashy films. I would include the disgustingly bitter personal revenge vehicle by Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”, but I am in the minority on this one…
Still, the point being, Netflix is heading the 50s Disney route of production… the more mainstream, the less risky, the better. They do some risky, prestige productions here and there, but they now that the cheaper and less troubling the better… they are full of stand up comedians shows, reality shows… cheap television for a cheap audience?
It took me only one month to fall in love with HBO and the high standard of most of their productions and distributions… they do not shy off making material like “7 Days in Hell” or “Tour de Pharmacy”, or distributing the genius spoof of Chuck Norris that is Chris Elliott’s “Eagleheart”, and the rest of Adult Swim…
Or Disney + that despite having the (self) imposed limitation to family friendly fare (which I think it is a complete mistake, and will end up with the unification with Hulu, when people starts cancelling their subscriptions), offers an amount of classics (The Sound of Music! Mary Poppins!) that anyone with children can’t really get rid off (and well, there’s Marvel, Star Wars and The Simpsons). Three brands that warrant inmediate attention and sumission.
And then, there’s Amazon Prime, completely ecclectic and extremely cheap… and what they do not have included… you can rent it. That’s why all three are way ahead of Netflix right now, in terms of perspective of growth and endurance. It is a matter of time that Netflix will control who sees what, where, and the trick of many families paying only one subscription but sharing with friends (so you have even up to 4 or 5 families paying together for only ONE), and introduce new terms and conditions, and cancellations will ensue, because of the price, and also of the offering being the most uninteresting all together, specially in correlation with the price requested.
I may be wrong in the end, but I feel that not having such corporations as Disney and Amazon behind, warrant Netflix’s reign might be reaching an end (and bankruptancy) in less time than many imagine.
West Side Story, by Steven Spielberg. Remake of the 10 Oscar winner original.
In the Heights, by John M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), with Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn 911), Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jimmy Smits. It looks outstanding, a latino La La Land.
Rifkin’s Festival, by Woody Allen, with Elena Anaya, Sergi López, Christoph Waltz, Gina Gershon, Steve Guttenberg… an all over the place cast for a movie that seems to take place during San Sebastian’s Film Festival. A film about movies, Oscar loves them.
On the Rocks, by Sofia Coppola, with Bill Murray
Mob Girl, by Paolo Sorrentino, with Jennifer Lawrence
It snows in Benidorm, by Isabel Coixet, with Timothy Spall
Historias Miserables, by Javier Fesser
Da 5 Bloods, by Spike Lee, with Chadwick Boseman, Paul Walter Hauser, Jasper Pääkkönen, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito, Delroy Lindo… a great cast.
The Little Things, by John Lee Hancock, with Denzel Washington, Jared Leto and Rami Malek