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: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker [2019]

Some things are stronger than blood. The return of Star Wars was always going to include a third trilogy because George Lucas had talked about his Skywalker saga being nine films way back in the 1980s. And since he eventually got chapters one through three on the big screen himself, it was guaranteed that Disney’s plans entailed pumping out chapters seven through nine. So why didn’t they game plan that arc? This isn’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe where tenuous connections over ten films allow for multiple cooks to be…

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REVIEW: Us [2019]

We’re Americans. If you’ve never questioned whether you’re a good person, chances are you’re not. That second-guessing of our actions and motivations is what makes us human—fallible creatures striving to be better and do right. Nobody wants to believe he/she is the villain in another’s story, so we generally find a way to learn and change upon discovering when we are. Some, however, don’t. Some discover the spoils of greed, lust, vanity, and the other seven deadly sins as too great to abandon. They spin a new yarn of self-sufficiency…

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REVIEW: Black Panther [2018]

We had to maintain the lie. It’s easy to forget how important Creed was to getting this specific Black Panther made. From Wesley Snipes wanting to get something off the ground in the 1990s to Kevin Feige courting Ava DuVernay as director post-Selma success, things could have been very different. Hiring Ryan Coogler before his Rocky sequel took the box office by storm with almost universal critical acclaim would have made it very different too. Suddenly the man who made his name off the fantastic indie Fruitvale Station was a…

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REVIEW: Queen of Katwe [2016]

“This is a place for fighters” The story of Phiona Mutesi is perfectly tailored for a Disney-produced true-life inspirational sports drama. As a nine-year old girl living in the Katwe slum of Kampala, Uganda selling maize with her siblings to help support their single mother after their father died of AIDS, who would have expected she’d become Woman Candidate Master at chess? But that’s exactly what happens shortly thereafter, her decision to follow brother Brian to his ministry-financed chess class one day in 2007 changing her life forever. It was…

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REVIEW: The Jungle Book [2016]

“You did not respond to reason so now you will know fear” Looking back at Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book objectively may surprise you as it’s little more than a sing-a-long loosely tied into a low-stakes adventure of escape from the big bad jungle that’s ultimately portrayed as sympathetic if still dangerous. Anyone over eight will be bored by its lack of substance and tired of its silly humor—Shere Khan’s menace providing the sole bit of resonant impact beyond its frivolity. So it’s not difficult to…

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens [2015]

“There’s still light inside of him” First thing’s first: there’s probably spoilers in this review. Because let’s face it, anything besides me plainly stating that I loved it is construed as a spoiler to a fandom as intense as that of George Lucas‘ Star Wars saga. Will I go into lineages and deaths? No. Does J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt‘s script seem to care about keeping such things secret in the context of this return adventure? No. But I’ll still leave it for their intuitive and refreshingly blunt…

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The 86th Oscars recap through tweets …

Welcome to the 86th Annual Academy Awards everyone! If you didn’t watch the festivities that occurred Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre you are probably a lot better off than most of us because it was a very lackluster affair. We all hoped Ellen DeGeneres would bring a fun, smart, witty return to her success with the 79th installment, but the reality ended up being one of the most dull and safe presentations in quite some time. I guess it wasn’t all bad, though, considering the Academy actually got most…

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Top Ten Films of 2013: A year in cinema to write home about

2013 has been a banner year for cinema with a slew of quality pictures that makes you wonder how only nine got enough first place votes to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Most of my favorites could have filled that elusive tenth spot for some added acclaim—whether having a chance to win or not. I hadn’t even seen a good chunk of these until the calendar flipped to 2014, the sheer amount of winners was too vast. And after only awarding three films a 10/10 rating last year,…

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Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris Best ActorBruce Dern: NebraskaChiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a SlaveMatthew McConaughey: Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall StreetChristian Bale: American Hustle…

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REVIEW: Non-Stop [2014]

“Status?” This film could have just as easily been called Deflection as Non-Stop because screenwriters John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach, and Ryan Engle (none of whom instill a stellar track record for Hollywood blockbuster success) have a lot of fun making sure to inject as many red herrings into the mix as possible. Even at start we wonder if our prospective hero Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) could be the perpetrator despite trailers leading us towards a frame job. His U.S. Marshal is an alcoholic, hot-tempered, and forlorn. A semi-threat to…

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