Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2018

Below is my December 27th ballot for the 22nd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2018 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. (No option to abstain was supplied this year.) Best Picture #1 If Beale Street Could Talk #2 You Were Never Really Here #3 Hereditary #4 Eighth Grade #5 BlacKkKlansman #6 The Favourite #7 Annihilation #8 Roma #9 A Star Is Born #10 First Reformed #11 Suspiria Best Animated Film #1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse #2 Mirai…

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REVIEW: Leave No Trace [2018]

We can still think our own thoughts. It’s easy to depict PTSD-suffering war veterans as unstable, dangerous, and beyond help from inevitable tragedy. This depiction has sadly become the Hollywood norm to conjure volatile dramatics devoid of the empathy those struggling to combat their demons deserve. If anyone could supply the necessary humanity to portray that plight, writer/director Debra Granik is she. Never afraid to take exploitation-free narratives into the desperate yet manageable rural squalor (relatively speaking) of mid-west locales—blind spots to the narrow vantage of urban dwellers (see Winter’s…

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INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, director of Stray Dog

If you don’t think someone fresh off an Oscar nomination would spend five years to follow her critically acclaimed fictional narrative with the first feature-length documentary of her career, you don’t know Debra Granik. When I interviewed her back in 2010 in support of Winter’s Bone, she was already talking about documentary observation as being key to her work. After all, that movie and her debut Down to the Bone both utilized real people from the towns in which she filmed for visual and contextual authenticity. One of those locals—Ronnie…

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REVIEW: Stray Dog [2015]

“It’s veterans helping veterans. Who else do we got?” Five years after writer/director Debra Granik‘s sophomore effort Winter’s Bone earned four Oscars nominations including Best Picture, she returns to the big screen with a documentary spawned from her experience filming in Missouri. Far from a novice to the genre-she lensed a documentary called Thunder in Guyana before making her feature length debut Down to the Bone-it may still seem strange she’d follow an acclaimed work of fiction with an uncensored look at an old Vietnam War vet. But as she’d…

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The 83rd Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • Oscar time … congrats to The King’s Speech … why bother with the show when everyone thinks they know the winner? The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony was quite possibly its worst incarnation the past decade. And things finally seemed to be going the right way. Hugh Jackman was fun; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were lukewarm, but the show was fun; and Neil Patrick Harris is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH can do no wrong. Much in that vein, I thought the pairing of James Franco and Anne…

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INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, writer/director of Winter’s Bone

While attending the 360|365 George Eastman House Film Festival in Rochester, I was struck by the selection of festival winners screening for its Upstate New York audience. With so many award-winners, I went in blindly to whatever fit into my schedule, experiencing work I wouldn’t have a chance to see in theatres for months, if at all, here in Buffalo. After three straight days of movies, Winter’s Bone, the winner of the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Drama, ended up being the final film of my tenure there. I…

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REVIEW: Down to the Bone [2005]

“What do you think about these tiles?” I remember watching 15 Minutes back in 2001 and thinking Vera Farmiga‘s captivating foreigner played quite well off of Ed Burns and Robert De Niro. Sadly, until five years later with a spate of high profile films leading to the A-list status she now holds, I still never knew she was an American born in New Jersey. I therefore had no knowledge of independent film Down to the Bone despite it proving a Sundance-winning piece for both her and director Debra Granik amongst…

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360|365FF10 REVIEW: Winter’s Bone [2010]

“Never ask for what ought to be offered” If you are going to adapt a novel by author Daniel Woodrell—the self-coined writer of “country noir”—you better make sure you get the look and feel of the Missouri Ozarks correct, no matter how dark, dirty, or devastating its hellish journey. I haven’t seen Ang Lee’s attempt to do just that with Ride with the Devil, but after catching Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone at the 360|365 George Eastman House Film Festival as well as listening to co-writer and producer Anne Rosellini afterwards,…

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Top 25 Films of 2004

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 130 releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood. #24: The Dreamers directed byBernardo Bertolucci #23: The Brown Bunny directed by Vincent Gallo. #22: Hotel Rwanda directed by Terry George #21: Friday Night Lights directed by Peter Berg #20: Down to the Bone directed by Debra Granik #19: Sideways directed by Alexander Payne #18: Mysterious Skin directed by Gregg Araki #17: The Incredibles…

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