Picking Winners at the 90th Annual Academy Awards

The 90th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, March 4th, 2018 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: This new look Academy is really starting to pay dividends. The fight for representation might have begun with a focus on the acting categories (there are four POC actors nominated this year out of twenty slots), but it’s expanded much further in a very short period of time. This 90th year of Oscar becomes…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2017

Below is my December 24th ballot for the 21st annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2017 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. (We were only allowed to vote for one nominee per category this year, but I ranked them all like previous years anyway.) Best Picture #1 Dunkirk #2 Call Me By Your Name #3 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri #4 Get Out #5 The Shape of Water #6 The Florida Project #7 mother! #8 Lady Bird ABSTAIN…

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REVIEW: The Shape of Water [2017]

“We’re all alone” Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to create an adult fantasy in the vein of Beauty and the Beast wherein there is no “beauty,” only the “other.” It’s one thing to read or watch a tale of overcoming the odds as a child with a specimen of perfection finding it in his/her heart to give a “monster” love, but such utopic vision is too reductive to the mind of someone who has experienced the difficulties of living in a world built on advancement and superiority. Kids are…

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REVIEW: White House Down [2013]

“My father is a very special man!” It’s a shame Hollywood blockbuster fare has a contractual obligation for contrived happy endings with unnecessary and unsurprising “twists” because Roland Emmerich‘s newest disaster porn entry White House Down is a legitimate winner until its cheesy finale. There’s actual suspense, authentic humor, and charismatic leads to hook us into its plausible terrorist attack scenario with plenty of action to sustain our interest over its two-hour plus runtime. But just as James Vanderbilt’s script inches towards the finish—and our government protocols are severely tested—cliché…

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REVIEW: Jack Reacher [2012]

“Weird to meet you” It appears it was only a matter of time before author Lee Child—or Jim Grant to his parents—saw the sole protagonist of his life’s work on the big screen. Jack Reacher is the type of character audiences adore; one easily catered towards the sequel model paved by Tom Clancy‘s Jack Ryan if and when Tom Cruise finally gives up action flicks. An ex-Army Military Police Major who spent his childhood abroad before a stint at West Point led to thirteen years in the service, he now…

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REVIEW: Killing Them Softly [2012]

“America’s not a country. It’s just a business.” Now I know why writer/director Andrew Dominik changed his film’s name to Killing Me Softly. It’s not because star Brad Pitt uses the phrase to describe his preferred method of murder; that just supplied the words. I’d like to believe he did so because he knew how different a beast it was from the novel by George V. Higgins on which it’s based, Cogan’s Trade. Written in 1974, the book obviously couldn’t have had our recent global recession in mind let alone…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: The Company You Keep [2013]

“We made mistakes, but we were right” In Robert Redford and Lem Dobbs‘ adaptation of Neil Gordon‘s novel The Company You Keep, the personal futures fought for by the militant Weather Underground during the Vietnam War risk being destroyed as the last surviving members of a Bank of Michigan robbery find their past catching up to them after thirty years. Hidden with new identities and normal, domestic lives far from the bombings and murders of a previous era, they’ve begun to take stock and find the guilt of what they…

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REVIEW: The Cabin in the Woods [2012]

“He has the husband bulge” After reading all the Twitter hoopla and angry comments about spoilers, I thought The Cabin in the Woods was going to have some amazing, unforeseen twist to do more than just bend genres like we all knew it would. I made sure to avoid all reviews and news, retaining my fresh, untainted mind that yearned to be excited, perplexed, and possibly even confused. And then the opening scene rendered any ideas of being kept in the dark moot as Sitterson (Richard Jenkins), Hadley (Bradley Whitford),…

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REVIEW: Friends with Benefits [2011]

“Shut up Katherine Heigl, you stupid liar” I refuse to call it a romantic comedy. Yes, there are clichés, there’s love, some sex, and a little bit of heart, but Friends with Benefits is not just the sum of those parts. It is a raunchy buddy comedy that excels despite its genre’s limitations, a fun, witty, and smart tale of two damaged souls who find their best friend and successfully add a physical relationship to the equation. This tale weaves us through the delicate emotional turmoil of a couple twenty-somethings…

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REVIEW: The Station Agent [2003]

“Would you mind not looking at me right now?” Actor Thomas McCarthy is quite the paradox. The man has a face full of smugness and unchecked attitude, making him ideal for intelligent, arrogant jerks. Maybe jerk is too strong a word since he also has the capacity for remorse, but I do find it apt after just recently seeing him become one of the most amoral characters on the HBO series “The Wire”. What makes him a paradox, however, is his foray into writing and directing. For some reason—perhaps because…

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REVIEW: Hall Pass [2011]

“Anyone thinking chocolate chip cookie dough on a waffle cone?” It’s a shame that Peter and Bobby Ferrelly never realized their time had come and gone by 1998 with Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary—you don’t get much better in the stupid comedy field than that trio. 2003 gave hope they might have found a way to balance their crude, crass, potty humor with comedy’s new, more subtle 21st century ways as Stuck on You was surprisingly good, but, alas, hope died. And now the brothers try…

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