(L to R) ANNALISE BASSO as Lina and ELIZABETH REASER as Alice, her mother, in "Ouija: Origin of Evil."  Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board, the supernatural thriller tells a terrifying new tale as the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit that opened at No. 1.  In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home.  When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.

Origin of Evil saves Ouija

Having not written about the original Ouija probably the only way to dissect this one is via a comparative analysis. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t go into a standard review with comparative analysis as one of my primary tools. I feel it is so separate and other from reviews that it is its own category on this blog.

Suffice it to say that the original film was one I disliked to such a degree that it was one of those I could describe as painful with a nearly precise degree of literalness. I was at times discomfited by my physical revulsion to the laziness, obviousness, and cliché of the so-called original venture.

Thus, going into this film I had a feeling that at best I’d end up saying after it was over: ”You know a prequel to a movie based on a board game has no business being this good,” but it went a bit beyond that, which in an of itself is quite a surprise.

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The only things that really hold it back from going beyond that level are some of the over-the-top moments which I knew were there. There are just more of them but they weren’t ruinous. Some of them were how far the physical manifestations went, but most of it was about the CG.

However, even that didn’t go very far due to the fact wasn’t always subpar. Perhaps, what is most impressive is that I found myself noting that this film did little things you don’t see enough of lately. Namely:

  • Visually it used focus, or lack thereof, to make some scares more subtle.
  • The sound mix and design is excellent and restrained as necessary.
  • Most of the jump scares are diegetic and involve the characters being jolted by real fright.

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Knowing Flanagan’s other work, namely Oculus and the short film upon which it was based, I expected the performances to be on and show some depth but it ought not be taken for granted. When all was said and done at the end of the year Lulu Wilson was nominated at the BAM Awards, and the cast as a whole is very strong.

Very pleasantly surprised though I am wondering why this proto-franchise seems like its being constructed in reverse in terms of quality.

Mind you this is not to say that this redeems the Hasbro brand on film, but what it does do is fly in the face of the notion that prequels are less-than simply for the reason that it’s painting by numbers. Yes, there may be a blueprint but effort and creativity can take you down a different path. Furthermore, to continue the paint-by-numbers analogy, art can still be made either by disregarding the prescribed color or through technique. This film does both.

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Music Video Monday: Nena’s Bilingual Balloons

Compared to some of the problems the world faces today, nuclear war induced by 99 red balloons seems innocuous. But it’s that very innocent incitement that made this anti-war anti-war anti-nuclear proliferation anthem a hit in the ’80s.

It’s worth remembering here on a Music Video Monday as it offers bilingual versions of its message (German and English) and two videos. Stepping back, even to admire heightened brooding of the 1980s (which I love) is always helpful. Enjoy!

“99 Luftballons” (Original German version)

“99 Red Balloons” (English Remake)

 

 

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Batman v. Superman: Everyone Loses

Much in the way that Batman v. Superman attempts to create pathos in thumbnail sketches and create drama through shorthand, I figured I’d share my disappointments in it in an equally sketchy way.

Secondly, the lack of timeliness of this posts owes itself to two things: One, I recently spoke of the film with my brother, whom had just seen it on Amazon, so some people may be discovering it in general and two, because it’s never too late to see a movie,per Edgar Wright, and as such never too late to discuss it.

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Yeah, Batman apparently uses guns in this one too. Because why not make a thing that was never a thing suddenly a thing. 

Here are my observations. First, in general terms:

Eisenberg is an annoyance rather than a legitimate threat. I attended this film with two kids. When those two kids (ages 10 and a 13) insist Lex Luthor is the Joker, and you can’t blame them, maybe the interpretation of the character is off. Regardless of what the actor.

The title is pumped up nonsense that is half-pointless. The battle between the two is wholly avoidable and like many sequences far too drawn out. It’s thin on character and humor but not the unmitigated disaster 2015’s “Fantastic Four” was in terms of superhero films.

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The latest run in the Batman series could learn a thing or two about how it’s OK to go away from a vocal decision mid-franchise. One of many issues with the second installation of the Narnia series is the decision to make Castilian accents double as otherworldly. I’m not for doubling down at all costs on creative decisions. It could’ve been changed.

Snyder’s equation if things go boom equals drama is in force so often that it dulls the senses. I can only 9/11 flinch so much before I can’t 9/11 flinch no more. While I appreciate that the film did build on Superman’s wanton destructiveness from the prior film the weariness of that and 9/11 exploitation is as real as superhero fatigue and this film plays into both things.

However, even if it got away with those things. It is far too drawn out. It’s an over-stuffed sausage of a film. It tries to do far too much lifting both to expand the DC cinematic universe too fast. One example is the fact that within the third act they decide to insert Doomsday, whose pursuit of and battle with Superman was a whole comic book arc, and here it’s a truncated add-on.

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Are these wonderful toys?

But that aspect alone is not enough to arrest forward momentum of a narrative. Take a simplistic understanding of characters and their conflict and conflate and a film can seem bloated anyway, then add a shortcut franchising when we are introduced randomly to other members of the Justice League to be and it just gets worse.

The inconsistency in vision in cinematic-universe building is not just implicit in the deficiencies that Snyder suffers from as a filmmaker but also from having an architect in the director’s chair rather than doing as Marvel does and building from the top down and finding director’s who inherently “gets” the character they’re working with.

You can’t create a plot wormhole in building a cinematic universe. Just because Warners seems jealous of Marvel’s head-start and the fact that they had the patience, guts, and foresight to build to a phase conclusion doesn’t mean we as an audience want one sub-par origin, one immobile versus film leading into what looked like may be the best team film they’ve made, Suicide Squad (and then that too was another massive disappointment), and then the Justice League.

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If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman?

Batman is a flexible character, but this film decides to play him as similar to the recent incarnation as possible, while still regurgitating his origin story, which we know Moreover, we see it unfold slowly, and in a far more entertaining way on television.

Batman has never been so uninteresting, it’s hard to believe Goyer had anything to do with it.

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Updates: Recent Posts and Upcoming Blogathons

The 2016 BAM Awards have been announced. Find the nominees here and the honorees here and here.

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The OA (Netflix)

Next there are blogathon announcements!

Typically, I’ve had the best results in limiting myself to one blogathon a month. First, for the O Canada Blogathon  (2/3) I will be profiling the work of Brendan Meyer, whom you may have seen on The OA. His credits are myriad and varied and I’ll take a look at most (if not all of them), plus Brendan has been gracious enough to grant me a brief interview, which will be included.

You Can't Do That on Television (CTV)

Next up on (3/24) I will stick with a Canadian theme and write about the infamous “Adoption” episode of You Can’t Do That on Television for the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon.

Come back as I’m trying to keep things varied and interesting here, y’all!

Best Films of 2016

Typically I post the best films of the year as a series of posts where I write about each individually. Since I didn’t see enough films in 2016 to make more than a top 10, and that list is reflected and discussed in the BAM Awards. I post merely a screencap of my Letterboxd list, in case anyone is curious as to the order the films appear in.

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2016 BAM Awards: Honorary Awards

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Awards

Dwayne Johnson

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To say that I never expected when he was making a name for himself in the WWE that I’d one day award Dwayne Johnson anything would be an understatement.

However, with the second season of the HBO show BallersCentral Intelligence, and one of the bigger Gray Area films of the year, Moana.

Johnson has come a long way, but has always seemed a parallel on a higher plain than another honoree on this page.

It was a great year for him, he has three big 2017 films and has become one of the more enjoyable personalities onscreen and one of the few movie stars.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Paris Agreement For Climate Change Signing

In an indicator of my 2016, both the men I chose as entertainers of the year, have additions to the Gray Area. With DiCaprio it is The Ivory Game that is in that category. His award is more a behind the scenes one, specifically in the link between The Revenant and Before the Flood which created a personal narrative in a macrocosmic view that enlightened and enlivened both.

DiCaprio is also one of a notable few (recently Emma Watson also has) speakers at the UN who are using their celebrity for some good.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Awards

If there was one thing that 2016 showed the world, it’s that there should not be a limitation on appreciation. While my lifetime awards want to try to award those “not on their deathbed” it’s become even clearer to all that there are not guarantees and being too premature awarding in a category like this is not the end of the world.

In that spirit I picked two this year, and may find a way to squeeze in three for 2017. Here they are:

John Williams

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50 Academy Award Nominations.

5 Oscars.

Nearly all of Spielberg’s credits.

The basis upon which the scoring of Star Wars and Harry Potter scores are built by others.

3 BAM Awards (1997, 2001, and 2002).

7 BAM Award Nominations.

Countless other memorable moments. Clearly deserving and frankly overdue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Movie stardom is a rare commodity now it seems, and Schwarzenegger definitely has always had that kind of magnetism.

However, after serving two terms as the governor of California, in 2011, as Arnold Schwarzenegger started to appear on the big screen again, I realized something: I’d missed him on-screen. 2016 was an off-year in as much as most of what he’s worked on lately will be out in 2017 and beyond, which is part of the tradition I like to follow (to have things forthcoming of note like (TripletsThe Legend of ConanJourney to China: Mystery of the Iron MaskAftermathWhy We’re Killing Gunther and more) but he still managed to make people take notice:

But while that brought entertainment value to his now-too-rare, sane conservatism this is not a political trophy. Since 2011 he has returned to the Terminator franchise (in which he was far superior to the narrative of the most recent film), delivered perhaps his best performance in Maggie, not only cemented his action legacy but muscled his way into Liam Neeson’s action niche, and, of course, we all know what he was to action in the ’80s.

Neutron Star Awards

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Walter Lantz

One series of viewings I was able to achieve was to watch my Woody Woodpecker box set this year. I always was a fan of that cast of characters, from my childhood, but I had gotten to such a removed perspective from having seen them that I thought it might’ve been mythologized nostalgia.

In finding things about Lantz, those characters (especially the secondary ones), I see that was not the case. There are more out there to find, they should not be overlooked, and I’ll be glad to see them. This man on a smaller scale made a world of characters to take note of. Not just Woody but Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, Wally Walrus, Buzz Buzzard, and others.

Qusai Abtini

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In a better world I never would’ve learned who Qusai Abtini was, in a better world the show he was one wouldn’t have needed to exist. However, it also shows the power of the arts as escapism, even when the comedy is very close-to-home.

Abtini starred in Um Abdou Aleppan, a sitcom started in 2014 in Aleppo’s rebel section, the first production to start as so:

A Syrian sitcom which takes place in one of the historic stone houses in the old city of Aleppo and in which all the roles are played by children has lost one of its stars this month: a tragic reality that has intruded on the innocence of the show. A 14-year-old boy Qusai Abtini, was killed when a missile struck the car he was in as he tried to escape Aleppo. Fresh-faced with a toothy grin and thick black hair, Abtini had become a local celebrity. His life and death underscored the suffering of Aleppans. Their city was once the commercial center of Syria with a thriving, unique culture. It has now been torn to pieces by fighting, with whole neighborhoods left in ruin. since the summer of 2012, when Aleppo split into rebel- and government-held districts and the two sides turned on each other, tens of thousands in the city have been killed. 14 year-old Qusai Abtini is now one of the killed.

Special Jury Awards

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

When I was young, in my teens most likely (based on how it looked in my mind) I daydreamed about death being no obstacle to a casting decision. Is a Ghost-Peter Cushing ready to headline a film? No, but knowing it would be there, it still had me in the first scene and I was surprised that they went there so much. It is marvelous.

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Debra Paget, For Example

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wins this award for exemplary for artistry of the video essay, and the best short of 2016. It was previously reviewed here.

This film is available to view on Fandor.

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2016 BAM Award Winners

2016 BAM Award Winners

In 2016 it was likely the year with fewest qualified films since I was a teenager. Having said that I only held back in fully nominating categories. Looking at this like a film festival, the program size can shrink or increase but the nominees and honorees are still the crème de la crème.

Honorees are pictured.

I’ll update this post live. If the list is incomplete when you visit. Check back!

Best Song

“Equal Rights” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Pink Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Incredible Thoughts” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, Michael Bolton, and Justin Timberlake (as Mr. Fish) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Turn Up the Beef” Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Atticus Schaffer, and Emma Stone Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Can’t Stop the Feeling (Film Version)” Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kunal Nayyar Trolls

“I Wan’na Be Like You” Christopher Walken The Jungle Book“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Regina Spektor Kubo and the Two Strings

and the award goes to…

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An honorable mention definitely goes to Christopher Walken’s marvelous rendition of “I Wan’na be Like You.”

Odds were always in Popstar‘s favor earning three nominations. However, “Turn Up the Beef” aside from catchiness, hilarity, and featuring Emma Stone; features the infamous “catch-phrase” verse which plays a huge role in the narrative.

It is the first BAM Award for Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone. The second for Stone.

Best Soundtrack 

Aquarius
Die Boskampi’s
Keanu
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The River Thief

And the award goes to…

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Last year I admitted I should’ve had this category back in this mix. This year I followed through. While many didn’t jump out, I liked all the nominees immensely. I got Popstar almost immediately, they’re catchy, I like the lyrics, and it still makes me laugh; and even in its stupidity it is also commenting on things, so that’s a bonus.

Best Visual Effects

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Pete’s Dragon
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

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Rogue One did a lot very well, and stood out with fewer weaknesses than the other films. More on this later…

Best Makeup

O Diabo Mora Aqui
Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie

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I tried to avoid having a movie about Donald Trump’s insipid book win anything. Believe me. As funny as it is, I was somewhat afraid he’d take it as a compliment. However, making Johnny Depp look like a circa 1987 Trump is a pretty YUGE feat. So YUGE it can’t be ignored. Kind of like Russian hacking.

Best Costume Design

Der Bunker
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just did more and better; it hit the trifecta (period, fantasy, and contemporary design) and was gorgeous in doing so.

Best Art Direction

Aquarius
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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In a similar way to its costume design, but on a grander scale, and in a terrestrial fantasy tale Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children does wonders.

Best Cinematography

Jarin Blascke The Witch
Greig Fraser Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant
Wolfgang Thaler Theeb
Pedro Sotero, Fabricio Tadeu Aquarius

And the award goes to…

Emmanuel Lubezki The Revenant

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All of these films had tremendous images that helped in telling their stories, The Revenant was replete with them.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

And the award goes to…

The Jungle Book

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Rewatching this at home recently really drove home how immersive and real the sound design and mix for this film was, essential in creating Mowgli’s jungle.

Best Editing

Brett Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski O.J.: Made in America
John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, and Jabez Olssen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt Captain America: Civil War
Louise Ford The Witch
Eduardo Serrano Aquarius

And the award goes to…

Brett Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski O.J.: Made in America

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This film is like a book in its detail, complexity, and plotting (the length helps) but it moves effortlessly like a long harrowing nightmare. It’s incredible and documentary editing is a daunting task. Well done indeed.

Best Score

Jerry Lane Theeb
Andrew Lockington Incarnate
Mogwai, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Gabriel Satolalla Before the Flood
Mark Korven The Witch
Dominic Lewis Money Monster

And the award goes to…

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This is always such a hard category to chose. Ultimately those shortlisted match the action well, and the nominees do that plus add a unique twist of some kind to its music. The Witch‘s music feels like a throwback like the film and it works brilliantly.

Best Adapted Screenplay

David Lowery & Toby Holbrooks, Malcolm Marmostein, Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field Pete’s Dragon
Justin Marks and Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Mark Millar Captain America: Civil War
Anders Øholm and Kenneth Bøgh Andersen Antboy 3
Christ Weitz, Tony Gilroy and John Knoll, Gary Whitta and George Lucas Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

Pete’s Dragon

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If you not only improve on the original but create something vastly different and superior, you get what Disney did with Pete’s Dragon. As a double-feature they’s be quite a contrast, but what is contained in the new version is special independent of that comparison, and why it stands tall above the rest of the field.

Best Original Screenplay

Robert Eggers The Witch
Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Byron Howard & Rich Moore & Jared Bush & Jim Reardon & Josie Trinidad & Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee; Jared Bush & Phil Johnston Zootopia
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius
J.K. Rowling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

And the award goes to…

Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker

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Some quotes from my review may explain why I chose this film:

Der Bunker is a film that almost needs to be seen to be conveyed but here goes nothing; I will begin by quoting the great John Waters in saying “Get more out of life. See a fucked up movie.”

In summation:

Der Bunker is a comedy that’s great for a laugh but it is of the far-too-rare variety in this day and age that makes you think as well.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Beau Gadsdon Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Astrid Juncher-Benzon Antboy 3
Oona Laurence Pete’s Dragon
Alexa Nisenson Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Faith Wood-Blagrove Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

And the award goes to…

Alexa Nisenson Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

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These girls are all spectacular in their roles but Alexa Nisenson breaks out when Middle School changes gears and tales it to an unexpected level and completely steals the show.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Thomas Barbusca Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Samuel Ting Graf Antboy 3
Isaiah Tootoosis The Revenant
Harvey Scrimshaw The Witch
Emjay Anthony Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie
David Mazouz Incarnate

And the award goes to…

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I couldn’t narrow this category to five as there were six very deserving nominees, but this award was sealed on my first viewing of this film in what is nothing short of a breathtaking performance. To say more would be to spoil The Witch.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Gabriel Bateman Lights Out
Thor Braun De Boskampi’s
Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat Theeb
Oakes Fegley Pete’s Dragon
Daniel Huttlestone London Town
Neel Sethi The Jungle Book

And the award goes to…

Daniel Huttlestone London Town

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This is another packed category, and any number of the actors could have been chosen. Many of these kids worked alone quite a bit, carried the films they were in, and had tough work to do. However, in a manner of degrees Daniel Huttlestone edges it out.

After his breakout in Les Miserables I wouldn’t have been surprised to find myself awarding Dan Huttlestone, but what was a minor upset is that while this film is musical he does not sing in this one. He plays some quite heightened scenes and conveys world-weariness, youthful enthusiasm of new things with sensativity.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ruby Barnhill The BFG
Jessi Goei Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Isabela Moner Legends of the Hidden Temple
Madison Wolfe The Conjuring 2
Lulu Wilson Ouija: The Origin of Evil
And the award goes to…

Madison Wolfe The Conjuring 2

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It’s commonplace for British actors to fool American audiences into believing that they are  from our country. It’s a rarer feat for the opposite to be true, even more rare for a young performer. That combined with her intensity and control is why Madison Wolfe gets the win in a highly talented field.

Best Youth Ensemble

Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Cade Mansfield Cooksey, Ava Alyse Anthony, Kennedy Anthony, Cameron Avants, Gabriel Byrd, Queen Byrd, Parker Hankins, Pixie Hankins, and Zach Mooney Bad Moms
Thor Braun, Rick Lens, Thijn Brobbel, Luciano Hiwat, Dylan Pijper, Joes Brauers, Maas Bronkhuyzen, and Dennis Reinsma De Boskampi’s
Adam Greaves-Neil, Gabriele Dentoni, Niccolò Alaimo, and Finn McLeod Ireland The Young Messiah
Isabela Moner, Jet Jurgensmeyer, and Colin Critchley Legends of the Hidden Temple
Griffin Gluck, Thomas Barbusca, Alexa Nisenson, Jessi Goei, Jacob Hopkins, Patrick Fagan, and Isabela Moner, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Oscar Dietz, Amalie Kruse Jensen, Samuel Ting Graf, Astrid Juncher-Benzon, and Cecile AsturpTarp Antboy 3

And the award goes to…

De Boskampi’s

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These were all talented and deep casts. What propelled De Boskampi’s (The Little Gangster) to the win is that many cast members in this film were leads in prior projects and all brought it here, some in roles rather different than they previously had. They’re funny with spot-on timing, and serious when they have to be. It’s worth looking for this one.

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Fripan Der Bunker
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Tom Holland Captain America: Civil War
Jack O’Connell Money Monster
Will Poulter The Revenant

And the award goes to…

Daniel Fripan Der Bunker

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In that same review I compare Fripan to a performance that came over thirty years prior that is iconic. That is how an extremely capable field is topped.

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bello Lights Out
Tiffany Haddish Keanu
Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms
Anna Kendrick Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Frances O’Connor The Conjuring 2

And the award goes to…

Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms

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This field is great, and mostly comedic, but I was unafraid of including comedy and horror this year. The most scene-stealingest, tour de force of the year in a I’ll-make-this-better-all-by-myself-if-I-have-to way was Hahn’s in this movie. The good news for Bad Moms is that it is pretty damn funny aside from her. She takes it above and beyond.

Best Actor

Joel Courtney The River Thief
Johnny Depp Donald Trump’s The Art the Deal: The Movie
Joshua Dickinson The Mirror
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
Diego Luna Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Andy Samberg Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

And the award goes to…

Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant

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First, yes, this is a six-nominee category again. Two of the nominees had only the strike against them that they are young. I did not want to hold that against them. There is validity to the argument that you don’t want Best Actor to turn into “Most Acting” but as opposed to the live-wire DiCaprio I loved seeing every so often this was an altogether new one, a borderline transcendent one, and that’s why I chose him as the recipient.

Best Actress

Sonia Braga Aquarius
Raleigh Cain The River Thief
Toni Collette Glassland
Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch
Oona Von Maydell Der Bunker

And the award goes to…

Sonia Braga Aquarius

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There is great potential in Cain and Taylor-Joy. Collette is a dynamo and Von Maydell a revelation, but one woman ran away with this: Sonia Braga.

When I heard this film was coming around, then that Sonia Braga was in it; I was pumped. Yes, I’m Brazilian but it’s been far too long since I saw her in a role of significance. More recently I’d seen her daughter Alice make a small splash here in the US. With this coming out of Brazil and her appearing on Luke Cage (which I need to see) it’s a bounceback for one of Brazil’s, and the world’s, finest actresses. But this is not a glorified achievement award. She is absolute dynamite in this film and jumps off the screen with cool, resolved, steel, rarely big, always connected, and intense; it’s masterful.

Best Cast

Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, and Alfre Woodard in Captain America: Civil War

Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines, Diego Goullart, Ivo Müller, Sidney Santiago, Clara Verdier in O Diabo Mora Aqui

Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccona, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Evan Fine, Max Jenkins, Elliot Smith, Ringo Starr, Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kevin Nealon, Mario Lopez, Will Arnett, Bill Hader, Eric André, Paul Scheer, Will Forte, Weird Al, Michael Bolton, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake , etc. in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk’o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur RedCloud, Christopher Rosamund, Robert Moloney, Lukas Haas, and Isaiah Tootoosis in The Revenant

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, etc. in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And the award goes to…

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This was another tough one two casts the awarded, and O Diabo Mora Aqui (The Devil Lives Here), whom had no glaring weakness. This cast extracted that much more pathos and gravitas in their work and moved me in a way I’d not been moved in this series beforehand. Spectacular work.

Best Director

Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker
Ezra Edelman O.J.: Made in America
Gareth Edwards Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Robert Eggers The Witch
Kleber Mendonça Filho Aquarius

And the award goes to…

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One thing that can play into these awards is improbability: if you told me some time ago that there would be a rather different take on a Star Wars film, in a spin-off mode, and that would deepen and enrich the myth, address some overarching concerns but still remain mostly autonomous, I’d have say you were crazy. Edwards overcame all that, the weight of expectation and brought som innovation to the film in other ways, too.

Best Documentary

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The honorable mention is for Before the Flood but O.J.: Made in a America is truly something special.

Most Overlooked Picture

Antboy 3
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui
The River Thief

And the award goes to…

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Typically this award had gone to films without US distribution. This time the one that deserves a wider audience most won out. For more on why The River Thief fits the bill check my review.

Best Foreign Film

Antboy 3
Aquarius
De Boskampi’s
Der Bunker
O Diabo Mora Aqui

And the award goes to…

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The tale of a woman who is the last holdout in her would-be gentrified apartment building sounds like a simple tale one that couldn’t be elaborated on too much or be that great, but the brilliance of this film is it realizes how to fit thoughts and dramatic expressions on many things into one cohesive story. Mesmerizing work.

Best Picture

Aquarius
Before the Flood
Der Bunker
O.J.: Made in America
Pete’s Dragon
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Revenant
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Witch

And the award goes to…

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I’m not going to expect Star Wars to change the game every decade or so, but sure enough after the installment that made me get it, there comes that makes me want to go all in for the anthology titles. Bring them!

NOTE: The honorary awards do not deserve a short shrift, so they will be move to tomorrow (1/10, or later today depending on your time zone).

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