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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REVIEW: Bombshell [2019]

Praise all tangled up in an insult. The downfall of Roger Ailes is a captivating tale because it shows what can be done without glossing over the difficulty of achieving it. The women at Fox News who came forward to put his decades-long pattern of sexual harassment into the public forum had to weigh the truth and their duty to future generations forced into similar positions against the very real fact that doing so could mean career suicide. They had to search within and find the balance between what they…

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REVIEW: Long Shot [2019]

Olive oil and mayonnaise. I hate to use the word “refreshing” to describe a film lambasting the twenty-first century hellhole that is American politics, but it’s what comes to mind after watching Jonathan Levine‘s Long Shot. I’m not talking refreshing as far as its humor or rom-com machinations since both are blatant retreads. No, I mean the ability of Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah‘s script to let its satire of Fox News and Donald Trump populate the background with the nuance and intelligence gags like those on “Saturday Night Live”…

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REVIEW: Tully [2018]

“You’re empty” After loving their first collaboration (Juno) and disliking their second (Young Adult), I didn’t know what to expect with director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody‘s third pairing behind the camera. The best I could do was enter the theater unprejudiced and hopeful for the best since I do like most of their work regardless of that mutual misstep. I can’t say Tully initially made it easy, though. Just because Marlo (Charlize Theron) and Drew (Ron Livingston) aren’t the generic rich, white, suburban couple able to afford a…

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REVIEW: Gringo [2018]

“Why’s everyone talking about gorillas all of a sudden?” You wouldn’t be wrong to view the trailer for Gringo and think, “I’ve seen this before.” You wouldn’t be wrong to assume it gave away the entire plot either—mild-mannered American is used by his ruthless bosses to perform a dangerous job they refuse to attempt and is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel for his trouble. Will he survive the chaos? Will his bosses save him or extricate themselves from blame? Or will the hapless victim of an increasingly escalating ordeal somehow…

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REVIEW: Atomic Blonde [2017]

“This is the game” It’s hard to believe that I was thinking the stylish, punishing action of John Wick was being dismantled upon as its stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch deciding to go solo two years ago. Stahelski would helm John Wick 2, the result proving a worthy follow-up both in aesthetic and mythology (with more coming). Rather than join him, Leitch shuffled over to Kurt Johnstad‘s adaptation of Antony Johnston and Sam Hart‘s graphic novel “The Coldest City”—a project he and Stahelski were supposed to migrate towards after…

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REVIEW: The Fate of the Furious [2017]

“That’s a lot of ice cream and Tay Tay concerts” A new era in The Fast and the Furious lore has begun almost four years after original co-star Paul Walker passed away doing exactly what his character Brian O’Conner did in the films: drive fast. With his role shelved by retirement rather than death, the goodness Brian provided Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of miscreants remains in the background as an unseen sense of morality and justice. It lingers to bolster the group’s sense of “family” and togetherness…

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REVIEW: Kubo and the Two Strings [2016]

“Memories are powerful things” The narrator of Travis Knight‘s Kubo and the Two Strings demands us to look closely and never blink. His story delivers fantastical wonders and poignant metaphors concerning family, love, and traditions to uphold if not an archaic remnant of a lost time meant to be broken. We’re to pay attention because details are intentionally only thinly-veiled, alluding to discoveries Marc Haimes and Chris Butler‘s script shortly reveal. A mirroring of roles proves critical to the tale’s resonance, our own dreams as children coaxing the real world…

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REVIEW: The Huntsman: Winter’s War [2016]

“Do not love. It’s a sin and I will not forgive it.” They tricked me. Yes, the deflective, vague, and completely false marketing campaign had me believing—no matter how slim the chances were considering my lack of feeling anything for Snow White and the Huntsman—that The Huntsman: Winter’s War had something special under its sleeves. It did away with the least interesting character of the first movie (thank you Kristen Stewart/Rupert Sanders sex scandal), decided to go prequel on us with the Huntsman’s back story (Eric is his name), and…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2015

Below is my December 12th ballot for the 19th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2015 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1 Inside Out . #2 Carol . #3 Spotlight . #4 Ex Machina . #5 Mad Max Fury Road #6 Brooklyn #7 The Revenant #8 Room #9 The Martian #10 Sicario Best Animated Film #1 Inside Out . #2 Shaun the Sheep Movie #3 Anomalisa . #4 The Peanuts Movie #5 The Good Dinosaur…

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REVIEW: Dark Places [2015]

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If Gillian Flynn wasn’t the “It” author after the phenomenon that was Gone Girl the book, she surely was once David Fincher adapted it into a huge moneymaking win. What’s interesting, though, is that Gone Girl wasn’t the first of her novels to head into production cinematically. That honor goes to her sophomore effort Dark Places, which began shooting one month sooner in August 2013. Scripted and directed by Frenchman Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who last helmed the critically acclaimed Sarah’s Key,…

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