Picking Winners at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 9th, 2020 at 8:00pm on ABC. For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Let’s face it. The Oscars have been irrelevant from a creative standpoint since … probably forever. The whole thing is a marketing ploy to boost box office numbers and give trailer makers something to put next to names of creative. That’s why theaters re-release nominees. That’s why boutique studios hold wide rollouts until foreign…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2019

Below is my December 26th ballot for the 23rd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2019 calendar year. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners were announced on January 6th, 2020 and are labeled in red.

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REVIEW: The Laundromat [2019]

Bad is such a big word … for being such a small word. The first time writer Scott Z. Burns paired up with director Steven Soderbergh proved to be a rousing success. The Informant! had real life intrigue, absurd comedy, and an inspired cast to pull everything together in a way that simultaneously educated and entertained. After teaming for two thrillers in the years since, this cinematic duo has now returned to that lighter side of dark subject matter courtesy of The Laundromat—an adaptation of Jake Bernstein‘s book Secrecy World:…

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REVIEW: Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] [2019]

Compassionate and controlled. A lot has been said about Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest film Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] being autofiction, but the director says it best himself when explaining that the character (Antonio Banderas‘ Salvador Mallo) “wasn’t me, but was inside me.” There’s power to that statement because it accepts the notion that everything an artist creates is born from within. So the comparisons are unavoidable as a rule regardless of whether or not you write your script to be about a director who then lives in a set…

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TIFF REVIEW: Life Itself [2018]

Tell them I’m nice. Morbid or not: I love when stationary characters turn to the camera only to be hit by a vehicle coming from offscreen. There’s something that’s just immensely satisfying about watching one step into that sweet spot of quiet, empty space with a hindered view on either side. I brace for impact, disappointed when it doesn’t arrive because the blocking so perfectly sets up tragedy despite the filmmaker’s decision to squander the opportunity. So I of course smiled when the first such collision occurs during Dan Fogelman‘s…

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REVIEW: Knight of Cups [2016]

“You’re still the love of my life. Should I tell you that?” The evolution of Terrence Malick is a fascinating one. From regular narrative structure to voiceover-driven epics to visual poems, his style has been stripped down to beautiful imagery and pithily obtuse dialogue sending us on journeys as much about ourselves as they are about the characters onscreen. Many believed his last film To the Wonder was a sign of decline—hours of improvised footage cobbled together during post-production into something wholly different than how it began—but I still held…

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REVIEW: The 33 [2015]

“Aim to miss” As if being the international feel-good story of 2010 wasn’t enough, the Copiapó mining accident at the San José copper/gold mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile included the type of personal, human melodramatic intrigue ripe for cinematic interpretation. Sourced from Hector Tobar‘s non-fiction novel Deep Down Dark (commissioned with each miner’s help so one couldn’t benefit more than another), Patricia Riggen‘s The 33 could be fiction. Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) was working his day off, Álex Vega (Mario Casas) was days from fatherhood, and Mario…

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Posterized Propaganda June 2013: The Apocalypse is Nigh With ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘World War Z,’ ‘This is the End’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Summer continues chugging along with the America and/or Earth threatened by destruction at every turn. Whether comic book adaptations, zombie wars, terrorist assaults or a giant pit opening up to…

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REVIEW: Black Gold [Day of the Falcon] [2011]

“God hates what we do in his name” The “new” film Day of the Falcon has had an odd trajectory to American theatres. Originally titled Black Gold, Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s contemporary epic in sand debuted at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar and released in the director’s homeland of France way back in 2011. Kicked around the Middle East and Europe throughout 2012, critical acclaim was never earned as it for all intents and purposes got lost before being renamed and packaged for a United States audience that probably won’t…

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REVIEW: Ruby Sparks [2012]

“I will never write about her again” The debut screenplay from actress Zoe Kazan includes moments ringing absolutely true and others completely false. I can’t stop thinking about Harry Weir-Fields (Chris Messina) giving his brother Calvin (Paul Dano)—the film’s lead—notes on his new, very rough manuscript. Asking without a shred of patronization who the target reader is, he doesn’t believe the women inclined to read romances will care about a quirky, damaged girl with little going for her besides being the object of a man’s affections. It’s obvious to Harry…

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REVIEW: Haywire [2012]

“Oh, God. There’s a deer in the car.” If not for the cast list, I would treat Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire as the newest entry to the experimental, off-the-beaten path section of his oeuvre. Without mentioning the larger scale Che—which is quite possibly his least mainstream film of the aughts—this quiet actioner fits right in as a sibling to Bubble and especially The Girlfriend Experience by using an untrained dramatic actress inside a plot playing to her strengths. Mixed Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano won’t be winning awards for her thespian…

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