Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Oscar Predictions - January 2023

Top Gun: Maverick (c) Paramount Pictures

The Interested Bystander's Oscar Predictions (Ranked) 

Welcome to the first Oscar prediction column of the year. Now the nominations have been released, Oscar voters will be catching up on movies they missed, which is probably why “CODA” turned out to be a consensus alternative pick to “The Power of the Dog” last year. So, even though it feels like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the frontrunner with its 11 nominations, anything can happen. So, here is how I see the race shaping up to be at this moment, a week after the nominations announcement.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Film: Oscar Nominations 2022-23

Everything Everywhere All at Once (c) A24

And the Nominees Are 

Surprises in Green

Best Picture 

All Quiet on the Western Front 
Avatar: The Way of Water 
The Banshees of Inisherin 
Everything Everywhere All at Once 
The Fabelmans 
Top Gun: Maverick 
Triangle of Sadness 
Women Talking 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Film: The Interested Bystander’s Final Oscar Nomination Predictions: January 2023

Elvis (c) Warner Bros Picture

It’s finally here. The Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Jan 24th at 8:30am ET. And ever since September, I have been putting out my guesses as to who will get nominated. I have dropped some people who I thought were front runners like Anthony Hopkins in “Armageddon Time” and Vicky Krepes from “Corsage” as well as switcheroo categories as I thought possibly Brendan Gleason might get nominated for Actor alongside Colin Farrell for “The Banshees of Inisherin” but that does seem unlikely now. I do think there’s a chance Michelle Williams might get nominated for “The Fabelmans” in Supporting Actress since her shot at Best Actress is the most tenuous. But I've predicted “RRR” to get a Best Picture nomination since September, and I will stick to that. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

TIB's Broadway World Cabaret Review Debut

Nostalgia: A Love Letter to NYC (c) Avery Brunkus

Just a quick heads up that I've started to write reviews for the Broadway World Cabaret website.  My first review is for Eva Noblezada's solo concert: "Nostalgia: A Love Letter to NYC" which she performed last weekend at the Audible/Minetta Lane Theater and will be released by Audible as part of their concert series.   Noblezada is currently playing Eurydice in "Hadestown" for which she was nominated for a 2019 Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical.  She was nominated in the same category in 2017 for her Broadway debut, the revival of "Miss Saigon."

You can read the review here.

Again, please follow my Instagram to see when any of my reviews go live at The Interested Bystander, Broadway World Cabaret or Film Score Monthly (subscription required).

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Film Reviews: Consequences of Dysfunctional Relationships Are Examined in “Saint Omer,” “The Son” and “Alice Darling”

Saint Omer (c) Super

Film: Saint Omer 
In Cinemas 

There’s much to admire in Alice Diop’s “Saint Omer,” a fictional story about a writer covering the trial of a murder case, based on one that actually took place in the titled French city in 2013, making headlines all over the country. In the film version, the woman on trial for killing her 15-month-old daughter is Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), an immigrant from Senegal and a student. The writer from Paris is Rama (Kayije Kagame), also of Senegalese descent, whose newest novel (in the screenplay’s one awkward juxtaposition) is tentatively titled “Medea Castaway,” which is why the murder case interests her so. The majority of the film is the trial, which may seem dry at first, but it’s immensely fascinating because of the case itself (Diop supposedly adapted a lot of the dialogue from court transcripts of the real trial) and how the French court system differs from our own. As much as Diop tries to make Rama interesting (adding maybe one too many similarities between her life and Laurence’s), it is the luridness of the trial that gives the movie its power. Malanda keeps Laurence’s performance at an even keel, even when talking about the night of the alleged murder, her tenuous relationship with her parents and the most fascinating relationship in her life, what she has with her daughter’s father, the much older and already married Luc (Xavier Maley). Diop is a much-lauded documentary filmmaker, and her first narrative film feels very much like one. Her camera is unobtrusive, but always in need to hopefully find the truth just by being on. However, truth is an elusive thing, and this film may frustrate many looking for more easy answers. “Saint Omer” is never easy but hard to look away from. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Michelle Yeoh, Paul Mescal & Benediction receive 2022 LGBTQ Critics Dorian Award Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24), Benediction (Roadside Attactions), 
Tár (Focus Features)

Everything Everywhere All at Once and Tár Lead the Dorian Award Nominations 

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics today announced its 14th Dorian Film Awards nominations. The mind-bending comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once, starring Michelle Yeoh as a beleaguered, alternate reality-bouncing laundromat owner, leads with 9 nominations. Tár, the dizzyingly heady drama with Cate Blanchett as an orchestra conductor experiencing her own issues with reality, follows with 7. The cutting end-of-a-bromance tale The Banshees of Inisherin notched 5 nominations, as did the heartbreaking father-daughter drama Aftersun—including two for writer-director Charlotte Wells. 

Winners will be named February 23. And (shhh) I may be a member. 

Film: Spoiler Discussion and TIB’s Own Oscar Ballot

The Banshees of Inisherin (c) Searchlight Pictures

2022 Films: Spoiler Alert 

The following random thoughts came up during the writing of my review of certain 2022 movies which had to be edited out because it would be considered a spoiler. But now that many of these movies have now been for a while, I figured I will give you the choice to read these bon mot thoughts about the following films. 

Blonde (c) Netflix

Blonde or The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe by the Coward Andrew Dominik 
Could Ana de Armis receive an Oscar nomination just for surviving this grueling movie and an onscreen oral sex scene with a President? 

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Film Reviews: Enjoyable “A Man Called Otto,” “The Pale Blue Eye” and “Matilda” Get Wide Releases in Theaters and/or on Streaming

A Man Called Otto (c) Sony Pictures

Film: A Man Called Otto 
In Cinemas 

Late career Tom Hanks has been impressively prolific and varied, and yet somehow his characters’ decency have always shown through. This year alone, Hanks has played it safe as Geppetto in the dreadful live action Disney remake of “Pinocchio,” but he also over-reached as the shyster manager Colonel Tom Parker in “Elvis.” Somewhere in the middle, and the most satisfying of the three, is his curmudgeonly Otto in “A Man Called Otto,” who seems to be so discontented in his life that his only interactions with people is to lecture them on the rules whenever they break them (his most common complaint is people driving and parking on his street). His neighbors all seem to accept his quirky ways until a new family moves in, intertwining themselves into Otto’s life, innocently to them, but aggravating to him. Marisol (Mariana Treviño), the pregnant mother of the family, is especially persistent in calling out Otto’s behavior, and the two start a tentative friendship. I never read the book “A Man Called Ove” or saw the subsequent Oscar-nominated Swedish movie version this is based on, but this version directed by Marc Foster is probably lighter in tone, even when dealing with topics as serious as suicide and grief. Athough the movie held few surprises plotwise, I was drawn into this film mainly because of the chemistry between Hanks and Treviño. Hanks’ son Truman is also very effective as Otto in flashback, which helps to humanize Otto in the present. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, but on the strength of the performances and a jaunty score by Thomas Newman, people’s generosity of spirit (which is in short supply in real life) was a tonic I didn’t know I needed. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Best Films of 2022 (and 2021!)

Two Years in Films: Best of 2021 & 2022 

Close (c) A24

2022 was the first full year of film reviews for this website, as I try to watch as wide a swath films as I can: from big budget studio films as well as small indies, some of which are celebrated at various film festivals before quietly debuting on streaming and hoping not to get lost in the avalanche of online media. 

Like last year, I will only list my favorite twenty films of 2022, in alphabetical order and not actually list them in order of my top ten favorites until the end of 2023, after a year of reflection and catching up on films I may have missed. In fact, at the time of this article, I have not seen “Avatar: The Way of Water” or “Triangle of Sadness” yet. 

And as a result, my final Top Ten of films of 2021 is below. I am also pointing out some performances that haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve from award groups so far. 

So, enjoy my wrap up of 2022 and I hope you have a safe and cinematically rich 2023.