Picking Winners at the 91st Annual Academy Awards

The 91st Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 24th, 2019 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: It’s the type of year where hashtags rhetoric simply won’t work. There’s just not one all encapsulating buzzword to touch upon the myriad problems these nominations face. What do you do when you have a film up for Best Picture that was directed by a known presumed sexual predator who was fired for not…

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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. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners are labeled in red. (No option to abstain was supplied this year.)

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REVIEW: The Favourite [2018]

We’ve been laying very different games. This isn’t your parents’ period piece. If the name Yorgos Lanthimos under the header of director didn’t already give you that impression, there it is. The Favourite has everything you’d expect from one, though: real-life characters, powdered faces and wigs, wars discussed from perches miles away from the battlefield, and political jockeying for power. The difference is what Deborah Davis discovered in a corner of British royal history, namely the love and affection shared between Queen Anne, Lady Sarah Churchill (yes, a descendant of…

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REVIEW: The Mercy [2018]

What if I tell them I’m here? I had never heard of Donald Crowhurst before seeing James Marsh‘s film The Mercy. This is unsurprising since the British Sunday Times‘ Golden Globe Race of which he was a competitor occurred in 1968, not quite fifteen years before my birth. And if his would-be return-date to Teignmouth, England of July 1969 after yachting around the world without stop or assistance was ingrained in my mind for any event—auspicious or infamous—it was the moon landing. So when the synopsis described this amateur sailor…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Disobedience [2018]

“We must then choose the tangled lives we live” It starts with a London-based rabbi speaking from his heart about the complexities of life. He stammers through—obviously ailing—until collapse. Suddenly we’re in New York City watching a photographer in-session with tattooed seniors. The phone rings and we know. She (Rachel Weisz‘s Ronit Krushka) is the daughter of that rabbi and he has passed away. The assumption is that both these worlds will subsequently collide in reunion. Tears will be shed and hugs had. But that’s not quite the case with…

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REVIEW: The Light Between Oceans [2016]

“There’s always something to fix” Writer/director Derek Cianfrance isn’t done with cinematic tapestries of emotion quite yet as The Light Between Oceans fits his still burgeoning oeuvre perfectly. Based on M.L. Stedman‘s debut novel, the structure delivers a similar duality as both Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines before it. We spend so much time with lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) and his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander) that it proves a jarring switch to suddenly shift towards heartbroken widow Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), especially knowing her place…

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REVIEW: The Lobster [2015]

“That is none of your concern” Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos‘ English language debut The Lobster is a dystopian sci-fi romance depicting a world where Paula Abdul doesn’t exist. If these mechanical creatures devoid of emotion heard her 1988 single “Opposites Attract” their woes of the heart might be eased. I say this because while life is hazardous to your health without someone to share it, Lanthimos’ non-descript City strictly inhabited by couples is impossible to traverse without that someone also sharing your “defining characteristic”. To be a match is to be…

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REVIEW: Youth [2015]

“Levity is an irresistible temptation” What strange beauty writer/director Paolo Sorrentino finds within the sadness of his palatial Swiss Alps resort’s inhabitants in Youth. The story plays like a surrealistic existential revelation—the aftermaths of each character’s crisis as they discover exactly who they are in the midst of tragic knowing. Age transforms bodies and minds into a monotonous amalgam of flesh and fatigue, years worn as wrinkles and memory gaps while ego remains untouched except by the grace of but a single reveler who truly gets who we are when…

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REVIEW: Constantine [2005]

“You still trying to buy your way into Heaven” At the height of the first new wave of comic book adaptations, Warner Bros. delved a little deeper into the literary medium’s annals for something dark like New Line’s Blade. It was three years before Iron Man ushered in cinematic universes and a year after Spider-Man 2 and X2 provided a one-two punch of the genre’s potential. Batman Begins was always going to be the studio’s 2005 crown jewel, but you could call Constantine a precursor to its pitch-black, cynical atmosphere…

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INTERVIEW: Adam Brody, star of Some Girl(s)

Best known as geeky Seth Cohen on “The O.C.”, Adam Brody has become a familiar comedic face in Hollywood over the past decade. With a recent turn in Whit Stillman‘s Damsels in Distress and now this Neil LaBute adaptation from his own play Some Girl(s), however, he’s beginning to branch out towards scripts and filmmakers with more palpable weight. It’s a welcome evolution that I believe he’s embraced and excelled at. Taking the time to talk to us—and being nice enough to call back after his first attempts came while…

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REVIEW: Oz the Great and Powerful [2013]

“What’s the third up?” I have to reevaluate my distaste for everything Oz not existing inside the mind of Dorothy Gale now that I’ve discovered Victor Fleming’s seminal work The Wizard of Oz wasn’t as faithful to its source material as I once assumed. I could never ignore how the simple attempt to craft a prequel within a fictitious fantasy world was in direct opposition to what made the original so timeless and important to lost children yearning for more than they have. And then I read how L. Frank…

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