Green Book Award People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival

I didn’t know much about Green Book until I saw the trailer and found myself quite invested in it. The film recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival and was awarded the prize of People’s Choice Award. The award, which has been given to five future Best Picture winners at the Oscars, was given last year to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a major Oscar contender which was nominated for Best Picture.

A lot of reviews out of Toronto have been for the chemistry between its two leads, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and the way these two give standout performances that never take away from each other.

As I said above, I’ve been more than a little excited for this film since seeing the trailer, and learning that Peter Farrelly of the Dumb and Dumber Farrelly brothers was behind the wheel made me more and more curious. Green Book winning the People’s Choice Award only furthers that excitement. This is such a drastic departure from what Farrelly is known for.

For me, Green Book was not in the discussion as far as major awards consideration this year. Without having seen the film, I’ve heard a lot of chatter for some acting nominations, but not much more, so having this film take an award so notable for Best Picture chatter is something that elevates it for me. Now, I may just hate the film, but all signs point to good news here.

So there you have it. Green Book has just risen on my most-anticipated list. Does the news of its winning People’s Choice at the Toronto Film Festival do anything to your excitement of this film? Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe for more content.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[Early Review] Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotomo

Screenplay: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan

135 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.

 

I was blessed earlier this week with the opportunity to see Solo: A Star Wars Story before its initial release. I cannot express in words the feelings I had sitting in a theater with my best friend and taking in the experience. I’ll get to it another time.

Solo has had a long and difficult journey to get to the big screen. After original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the project, seasoned director Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon, Inferno) stepped in to complete filming. By that, I mean to reshoot most of the film. So after all this, and making its May 25th release date, is Solo a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise?

The film picks up about ten years before we meet the titular smuggler in A New Hope and witnesses the major events in his life leading up to that point, from his joining up with Wookie Chewbacca (Joonas Suotomo) to his initial interactions with con artist Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, Spider-Man: Homecoming, TV’s Atlanta). Han (Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!, Rules Don’t Apply) struggles between making the right choices and the smart choices, and he finds that the good in him is capable of outweighing the bad.

So, there’s still a lot of spoilery territory with Solo, so I’ll tread as best as I can. First of all, I can say that this film is not an improv-heavy comedy. It’s probably the funniest Star Wars film in some time, but it never hinges too heavily on it.

The best sequences in the film rely on the relationship built between Han, Chewie, and Lando, and thankfully these three performers steal the film. There was a lot of talk about Ehrenreich’s performance and his need for an acting coach, but the final product was some solid work from the actor. I have to imagine there is a great deal of stress in taking on the mantle of a character from four previous films and dozens of books and comics, and I’m sure it was difficult to switch director’s and styles as much as I’m sure he had to, but I thought he did quite well in the role, never falling into Harrison Ford impressions.

Joonas Suotomo has had some practice as Chewie from the past couple Star Wars installments, and he provides Chewbacca with youthful charisma that meets, but never passes, Peter Mayhew. Donald Glover is excellent as Lando, again never falling into caricature, but driving his own path that makes for some truly smarmy work from Glover.

The supporting cast is admirable as well, with specific love given to Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, TV’s True Detective) as Beckett, Han’s mentor. The scenes he shares with Val (Thandie Newton, Crash, TV’s Westworld) are tender and joyful. There is also an interesting parallel to the relationship between  master and apprentice in both Jedi and Sith lores.

I also want to touch on the score. While I enjoyed the previous non-Williams score from Rogue One, Solo’s score from John Powell is fantastic and thrilling and feels more like it is a part of Star Wars. John Williams crafted the Han Solo theme and then handed off duties to Powell, and the partnership created something truly special.

Solo is not without its faults, however, and the issues with the film are particularly glaring when they happen. First, the film has some serious pacing issues. This is an issue Ron Howard’s films tend to have. It just feels like it went on far too long and when I thought the finale was coming, it didn’t.

There’s also a checklist feeling to the film. One thing I really enjoyed about Rogue One was that they took a sentence, a mere moment, of the lore and expanded it for a film. Solo instead chooses to hit every major Han Solo milestone in one film, and it feels like someone at Lucasfilm has a checklist and is checking items off as they happen in the film:

“Oh, he has to meet this character.”

                “Oh, he has to do this major event.”

                                “Oh, we have to explain this throwaway line.”

The film suffers from it, and they should have just picked one major event or relationship from his life to dive into. I disagree with reviewers saying this adds nothing new to the franchise, but I can also kind of understand what they mean.

Finally, there’s a scene at the end, when you see it, you’ll know which one I mean, where the film takes a major turn down a different path and it feels both forced and confusing, and while I, a major Star Wars fan, get it, I feel like casual fans won’t. Not that they can’t understand it, but it felt very out of place. While I won’t divulge this scene, but you will definitely know what I’m talking about.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a thrilling adventure, one that I quite enjoyed. While it feels like a missed opportunity to do something more unique, and I still can’t claim that we needed this film, it was a nice pallet cleanser for the serious tone of The Last Jedi. There are some fine performances and some really cool sequences, the film still feels like it’s trying too hard to do too much. That being said, I cannot wait to see it again.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, click here.

For my review of Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, click here.

For my review of Richard Marquand’s Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, click here.

For my review of J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, click here.

For my review of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, click here.

 

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Frances McDormand Owns Oscar Night

Hey all,

I hope you had a terrific Oscars night. I certainly did. Granted, my fiancé got sick at our party and we had to leave, but the event was still a lot of fun to watch.

One of my favorite moments of the night was the win for Frances McDormand for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Her speech, which you can see in full online if you missed it, was one of sheer joy, and it ended on a truly enlightening note. She asked that all female nominees in all categories please stand up and there was a rousing applause. The entire moment was inspiring.

Finally, she ended with the words “inclusion rider.” Specifically, this is a term used in contracts that requires a diverse cast be hired.

It was, altogether, the reason why we watch the Oscars. It was emotional, powerful, and fitting.

What was your favorite moment of the awards? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[#2018oscardeathrace] Lady Bird (2017)

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen Henderson, Lois Smith

Screenplay: Greta Gerwig

94 mins. Rated R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Picture [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Director [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actress [Saoirse Ronan] [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Supporting Actress [Laurie Metcalf] [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Original Screenplay [Pending]

 

I’ll be real here. I had no idea what Lady Bird was about. In fact, a small part of me thought it was a biopic about a certain famous First Lady. I had seen none of the promotional material, had heard nothing but the fact that it was a great movie. I’ve seen it twice now, and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn, Loving Vincent) is a rebellious youth experiencing her senior year in Catholic high school in 2002 Sacramento, California. The loose narrative follows Lady Bird’s senior year while exploring her strained relationship with mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf, Scream 2, Toy Story 3), father Larry (Tracy Letts, The Big Short, The Post), and best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising). Lady Bird is a little lost in her life. Her attempts at romantic relationships aren’t turning out how she plans, she is receiving a lot of rejection letters from colleges, and the lies she is spinning to make new friends are about to unravel at the seams in this coming-of-age tale.

Lady Bird is an absolute delight. It’s not too often that I sit in the theater with a big damn joyful grin spread across my face for 90 minutes, but that’s what Lady Bird did to me. I found it to be one of the sweetest and emotionally-strong experiences I’ve had at the movies in a long time, and it’s filled with terrific performances. I loved Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Hostiles) as Danny and Kyle, two of the potential love interests in Lady Bird’s life.

Greta Gerwig (Nights and Weekends) wrote and directed this deeply personal tale of youth so well that I found pieces of my own experience all over the film. I saw pieces of my fiancé’s life in the film. I saw pieces of my friends’ life in the film. Gerwig doesn’t judge Lady Bird or condemn her for her bad experiences. In fact, she celebrates them. It’s a celebration of bad choices and learning, one that mothers and daughters should experience together.

Lady Bird is a perfect film. There isn’t a single thing I would change about it. I wanted to watch it immediately after finishing the film, and even now, I could sit through it again. This coming from writer/director Gerwig on her first solo outing behind the camera is excellent, and it makes her a force to be reckoned with as her career continues.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[#2018oscardeathrace] The Nominees for the 90th Academy Awards

 

My favorite time of the year for film: The Oscar Death Race. I’m ready for it this year, are you?

The Oscar Death Race is a yearly attempt to see all or most of the Oscar Nominees. It officially kicks off after the nominations, which were announced early this morning.

Here are the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, hosted again by Jimmy Kimmel.

 

Best Picture

 

Best Director

 

Best Actor

  • Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

 

Best Actress

 

Best Supporting Actor

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

 

Best Original Screenplay

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

 

Best Animated Feature Film

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent

 

Best Foreign Language Film

  • A Fantastic Woman
  • The Insult
  • Loveless
  • On Body and Soul
  • The Square

 

Best Documentary Feature

  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  • Faces Places
  • Icarus
  • Last Men in Aleppo
  • Strong Island

 

Best Documentary Short

  • Edith + Eddie
  • Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
  • Heroin(e)
  • Knife Skills
  • Traffic Stop

 

Best Live Action Short Film

  • DeKalb Elementary
  • The Eleven O’Clock
  • My Nephew Emmett
  • The Silent Child
  • Watu Wote/All of Us

 

Best Animated Short Film

  • Dear Basketball
  • Garden Party
  • Lou
  • Negative Space
  • Revolting Rhymes

 

Best Original Score

 

Best Original Song

  • “Mighty River” from Mudbound
  • “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name
  • “Remember Me” from Coco
  • “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall
  • “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

 

Best Sound Editing

 

Best Sound Mixing

 

Best Production Design

 

Best Cinematography

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Darkest Hour
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Wonder

 

Best Costume Design

 

Best Film Editing

 

Best Visual Effects

 

There you have it. I better get started.

#2018oscardeathrace

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage

Screenplay: Martin McDonagh

115 mins. Rated R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.

 

Writer/Director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) definitely has a flavor to his work. His is a violent, darkly comedic world, one this writer wouldn’t want to live in. But I’ll definitely watch others live in it.

McDonagh’s newest film, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, introduces us to Mildred (Frances McDormand, Fargo, Hail, Caesar!), a grieving mother who decides to question local law enforcement’s handling of her daughter’s murder case when she rents and erects three billboards in a quiet part of town, asking if the cops have done enough in their search for the killer. This brings her to a head with Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson, Lost in London, TV’s True Detective) and hotheaded officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell, Moon, Poltergeist). As the public takes sides in the matter, arguments and violence ramp up and Mildred and Dixon are forced to confront their anger and their past in order to move forward.

Martin McDonagh is a very accomplished character storyteller. His characters live by the principle that a character doesn’t have to be likable as long as she is interesting. Mildred isn’t very likable. Willoughby isn’t very likable. Dixon definitely isn’t likable. Dammit, though, they are interesting, as are the supporting players, particularly Peter Dinklage (Rememory, TV’s Game of Thrones) as a man who takes a liking to Mildred but can’t quite match her level of motivation.

McDonagh uses his characters and his hyper-violence to tell a deeply personal story, more so than either of his previous features. Mildred has deep personal pain and her motives are admirable, There’s a lot that makes sense in the confines of the story, with the exception of one thing.

If there is an issue with the film, it’s the ending. McDonagh chooses an ambiguous ending to his story, one that leaves character plot threads unresolved. In some cases, this can work, but after spending two hours with these people, the question he is asking is a no-brainer. The film ends with two possible paths, but one path would completely betray the character arc, so it doesn’t make sense to leave it open.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is another fascinating character piece from writer/director Martin MacDonagh. This film should be praised for its performances, particularly McDormand and Rockwell, but it is the brilliantly written screenplay that gives them so much to work with. This is a story for anyone who has ever done something crazy out of grief, and its deeply moving and yet somehow completely unhinged, and I highly recommend it.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

Have you seen Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri? What did you think? What’s your favorite performance from Frances McDormand? Let me know/drop a comment below!

 

 

For my review of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, click here.

 

 

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Wins Audience Award in Toronto

The newest film from writer/director Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, has won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. The award, an indicator of Oscar chances, sounds good news for McDonagh and his film.

Now, let’s be honest here. The Grolsch award is awarded based on people that bought a ticket and then put that ticket stub in a box after the film. There isn’t a lot of hardcoded deliberation. All that aside, I’ve been looking forward to seeing McDonagh’s latest as the trailers have all been unique and engaging. McDonagh, known for black comedies like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, has assembled a unique cast with Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson and hits theaters in November.

I’m very excited to see this news, and while I don’t put much stock in the Grolsch as a Best Picture predictor, it is certainly nice to see this director getting some critical acclaim come the start of awards season.

What do you think? Have you seen the trailers for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? Will you be seeing it in November? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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