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: Richard Jewell [2019]

I’m me. There’s a major difference between fact (Richard Jewell is currently being investigated as a potential suspect) and editorial conjecture meant to carry your byline and publication into the national spotlight (Richard Jewell epitomizes the lone bomber profile and the FBI are nearing an arrest). Some journalists can’t unfortunately spot the difference. Why? Because sensationalized speculation sells. Once the 24-hour news cycle generated for-profit entities more worried about ratings than transparently calling a spade a spade, our ability to discern truth from opinion became eroded to the point where…

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REVIEW: Booksmart [2019]

‘Your ugly’ what? Does Olivia Wilde‘s directorial debut Booksmart call to mind Superbad? You bet. Not only is it about two nerd best friends trying to punch above their weight class and party hard before graduating, but it also stars that film’s co-lead Jonah Hill‘s sister in a very similar mode. She (Beanie Feldstein‘s Molly) has just discovered (due to a ham-fisted loop-hole in plotting where students can’t reveal their collegiate destinations) that her slacker classmates somehow got accepted into Ivy League universities like her and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever). While…

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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: Drinking Buddies [2013]

“I am a bourgeois pig” I really liked Drinking Buddies and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure that would be the case. The Mumblecore movement has always been one that has eluded me—well, the early stuff at least since I have found myself enjoying what the Duplass Brothers have done post success—and the prolific Joe Swanberg comes off as a “love him or hate him” kind of auteur. But how could this thing go wrong with a cast of Olivia Wilde (Kate), Jake Johnson (Luke), Anna Kendrick (Jill), and Ron Livingston…

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REVIEW: Rush [2013]

“You fat little inbred beauty” The story of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is one we can all relate too. It’s a tale of two extremes: the easygoing partier with ideas of immortality and the calculating taskmaster who knows the odds and understands the consequences. In keeping with the Formula One spirit cinematically, we could even metaphorically pit Rush‘s Hunt against Senna’s Lauda—the Hollywood pretty boy opposite the riveting documentary—to see how your tastes align with personality. I’m a Lauda, always have and always will be.…

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REVIEW: The Girl Next Door [2004]

“I’ll always remember … “ A film not necessarily loved upon release—many actually reviled it for “glamorizing” the life of a porn star—Luke Greenfield‘s The Girl Next Door was and still is a hilarious coming of age story for a post-American Pie world. It’s about finding yourself on the cusp of high school graduation without a memory worth telling as hitting the books and being a consummate student leaves you wanting. Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) did everything he was supposed to on his quest to Georgetown and only found a…

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REVIEW: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone [2013]

“Pretend I’m still here and tell me all about it” I’m a big magic fan—always have been. Armed with a set of tricks needing extensive instructions before allowing my parents to feign astonishment at my implementation, I watched every David Copperfield special and even went to a weekly magic class one summer as a kid. There is something about making the impossible possible through hard work and dedication that is utterly satisfying. Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing the look in someone’s eye when they’ve been genuinely surprised by a flawless illusion…

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Posterized Propaganda March 2013: ‘Stoker,’ ‘Place Beyond the Pines,’ ‘Spring Breakers’ & 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. I’m honestly not sure if it is possible to cram more movies in one 31-day period (five Fridays!). Let’s just say the dump month doldrums have ceased and we’ve moved…

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REVIEW: In Time [2011]

“Your mind can be spent even if your body’s not” A watered-down Gattaca from the same creative mind, Andrew Niccol‘s In Time takes his human story of survival onto a global level. Rather than watch one man succeed in following an unattainable dream by taking the charity of another no longer wanting the gifts he was born with, we experience an entire dystopia’s upheaval. This world isn’t about a genetic propensity for excellence; it’s about time ticking down for the poor and being muted for the rich. Living in the…

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REVIEW: The Change-Up [2011]

“Rotate your turret and go night night” It may be overly derisive to say, especially from a guy who watched Like Father Like Son and Vice Versa religiously during the late-80s, but The Change-Up has to end up being the laziest piece of cinema released this year. Scribed by the duo behind both Hangover flicks, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore appear to be making a conscious effort to create ‘modern updates’ of tired concepts. After the ho-hum, not as bad as it should have been Ghosts of Girlfriends Past redid…

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