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: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood [2019]

Anything mentionable is manageable. Anyone who grew up watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” has a friend. Their parents might have smiled at what they inaccurately presumed was a performance, but the children smiled because the connection felt was real. Here was a man who looked them in the eyes and spoke truths with as much compassion and vulnerability as they possessed while watching. He was someone who listened even though the act itself was impossible through television. Fred Rogers cared—sometimes when it seemed like no one else did—because he understood what…

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REVIEW: Toy Story 4 [2019]

She’ll be okay. It was said upon the release of Toy Story 3 that the franchise was done as far as Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear’s (Tim Allen) adventures were concerned. These sentiments made sense because it ended nicely on a logical breaking point wherein the boy whose name adorned their feet grew-up and gifted them to a new owner (Bonnie) who promised a warm future of happiness and play. Because simply retiring the characters would be dumb, Pixar decided to branch out into a trio of short comedic…

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REVIEW: The Post [2017]

“Quality drives profitability” Let’s be real: every Steven Spielberg film is a must-see, hype-driving machine. He’s a cinematic giant who rarely chooses a project to direct without extreme enthusiasm and artistic purpose (whether the result proves timeless or not). But no one could be blamed for letting excitement crescendo higher than usual upon hearing about his latest, The Post. Still in the midst of post-production on Ready Player One, Spielberg chose to drop everything while the visual effects artists did their thing to put Liz Hannah‘s script in front of…

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REVIEW: Inferno [2016]

“We’re a minute to midnight” America loves popcorn thrillers as much as Hollywood and that suits Dan Brown fine. Having Ron Howard and Tom Hanks take an interest in his character Robert Langdon definitely helps too, but the “bestseller” label would have been enough if lesser names attached instead. Whether or not Brown anticipated his professor’s pop culture appeal to ensure each installment was a solitary unit (the initial adaptation, The Da Vinci Code, was actually Langdon’s second entry) is something only he can answer, but it’s served him perfectly…

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REVIEW: Sully [2016]

“A delay is better than a disaster” I found myself siding with snarky detractors when Clint Eastwood announced he was tackling a biopic about Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger because it seemed rather anticlimactic. Could you truly find a captivating feature length film in the paltry 208-seconds from engine failure to splash landing? We already know everyone survives and already hail the pilot as the hero he deserves to be known as. So where’s the drama beyond reenactment better suited for a documentary focusing on those who actually experienced the ‘Miracle on…

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REVIEW: A Hologram for the King [2016]

“Look. They are sweeping sand in the desert.” If you’re doubling-down on the existential content of your film as soon as it begins, you can do worse than Talking Heads classic “Once in a Lifetime”. Not only does it perfectly encapsulate the fallout of a mid-life crisis wherein everything you believed made you who you are disappears (Poof!), but it accurately mirrors Alan Clay’s (Tom Hanks) life too. He’s a recently divorced father forced to travel to Saudi Arabia in hopes of landing a huge deal selling holographic technology to…

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REVIEW: Bridge of Spies [2015]

“So everyone will hate me, but at least I’ll lose” I’m sure it was a foregone conclusion that Steven Spielberg would choose to direct Matt Charman‘s Bridge of Spies himself the instant it crossed his Dreamworks desk. The story possesses all the earmarks the director has gravitated towards for years, namely an unlikely hero finding himself in the position to do something historically extraordinary to save those who aren’t. “Unlikely hero” because who would peg an insurance lawyer—reveling in smooth talk about his firm’s willingness to cover one collision despite…

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REVIEW: Toy Story That Time Forgot [2014]

“Limitations are the shackles that we bind to ourselves” Following the success of last year’s Toy Story of Terror special, Disney and Pixar have presently tackled a holiday more on the nose: Christmas. Toy Story That Time Forgot opens two days after the presents have been torn apart and each new addition to the posable family introduced. A bit of cheer remains as Bonnie (Emily Hahn) has affixed antlers onto her triceratops Trixie’s (Kristen Schaal) horns to transform her into the unsuspecting victim of a terrible faux dinosaur played by…

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REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks [2013]

“A leisurely stroll is a gift” If you thought Mary Poppins couldn’t get more uplifting in its journey towards giving two young children the love they always desired from their downtrodden dad, Saving Mr. Banks will prove you wrong. Utilizing a script by Kelly Marcel (a second credit was later added to Sue Smith) that only lasted one year on the screenplay Black List before being scooped up by the studio prominently featured within it, we’re shown a rather humorous behind-the-scenes look at the culmination of a twenty-year business courtship…

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REVIEW: Captain Phillips [2013]

“A little air might do him some good” Despite my affinity for director Paul Greengrass‘ entries to the Bourne Saga, his cinéma vérité style will always in my opinion be better suited for gritty, true-life tales such as the contemporary classics Bloody Sunday and United 93. (We’ll just forget Green Zone ever squeezed its way into his oeuvre.) As a result, his attachment to Richard Phillips‘ harrowing tale of getting hijacked by Somali pirates and subsequently kidnapped as a hostage for ten million dollars was a perfect marriage from the…

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