Considerations for the 2013 Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award

Originally I didn’t want to list considerations for either Entertainer of the Year Award or Neutron Star Award. The reasoning behind this was that these awards being for a body of work should’ve had their winners be rather apparent. However, owing to previous memory lapses, I reconsidered this philosophy.

Therefore, any and all eligible, worthy candidates for either award will be kept on this list. It will be one of the running lists that I update on a biweekly basis.

In essence, this will give those who stand out in these categories their due. For example, last year I felt remiss in not mentioning Matthew McConaughey in my explication for the Entertainer of the Year Award for 2013. In my reasoning behind Samuel L. Jackson’s win I had to talk about his year and how great it was and why Jackson’s superseded it. With this list, at year’s end I will be able to discuss each of the prospective candidates works.

Please note that while this award only requires two ‘participations,’ no “eggs will be counted before they’re hatched,” meaning if I have yet to see a second title, though I may expect to, that person will not be listed yet.

Without further ado, the candidates…

Candidates

Nicholas Hoult
Dwayne Johnson
Ryan Simpkins
Ty Simpkins
Rebecca Hall
James Franco
Spencer Treat Clark
Michael Shannon
Bruce Willis
Chloe Grace Moretz
James Wan
Hailee Steinfeld
Sandra Bullock
Abigail Breslin
Ben Kingsley

BAM Award Winners: Best Cast

A few notes worth mentioning when it comes to the Best Cast category: First, I did borrow this concept from the SAG Awards. I just love the idea of honoring an entire cast from top to bottom and just wish they’d list and/or invite more people. There have been years when, if I was patient enough, I listed many of the players in the cast. Needless to say if one cast member wins they all do whether listed or not.

Second, there is one statistical oddity I noticed while assembling this list is that only four of the winners of Best Cast also were awarded my Best Picture prize. This kind of illustrates my point that acting is very important in a film but a film is so collaborative that its success does not necessarily hinge on its players’ ability.

Also interesting to note is that the Harry Potter series has two wins here whereas it has not captured Best Picture in a rather Susan Lucci-like fashion. Lastly, when looking closely enough you’ll note some actors played parts, whether lead, supporting or tertiary, in multiple Best Casts. One such case would be Trevor Morgan, who only really had one major scene in The Sixth Sense wherein he bullies Haley Joel Osment but then plays a much more significant part in Mean Creek. I have not yet verified it but then there’s also the odd case of Hugh Mitchell, who was Colin Creevey in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Boy Nicholas Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby and thus, is to my knowledge, the only actor to ever get nominated twice in the same year for the Best Cast category.

Were I to dig deep enough I’m sure there’d be other interesting stats to find like Alan Rickman’s three wins but alas here are the winners…

2020 We Can Be Heroes

2019 It: Chapter 2

2018 Black Panther

2017 Wind River

2016 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

img_3438

2015 Krampus

still-of-toni-collette,-conchata-ferrell,-david-koechner,-allison-tolman-and-emjay-anthony-in-krampus-(2015)-large-picture

2014 Into the Woods

Into the Woods (2014, Disney)

2013 Time of My life

Time of My Life (2012, Strand Releasing)

2012 North Sea Texas

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

2010 The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon (2009, Sony Pictures Classics)

2009 A Single Man

2008 Let the Right One In

2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

2006 Little Miss Sunshine

2005 Saraband

2004 Mean Creek

Rory Culkin, Trevor Morgan, Carly Schroeder, Scott Mechlowicz, Ryan Kelley and Josh Peck in Mean Creek (Paramount Classics)

Rory Culkin, Trevor Morgan, Carly Schroeder, Scott Mechlowicz, Ryan Kelley and Josh Peck in Mean Creek (Paramount Classics)

2003 Love Actually

2002 Nicholas Nickleby

2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

2000 Pay it Forward

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1999 The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (1999, Touchstone Pictures)

1998 As Good as it Gets

1997 Hijacking Hollywood

MSDHIHO EC006

1996 Mulholland Falls

BAM Awards: Best Supporting Actress Winners

What’s humorous, or better stated odd, is that when you finally start to amass these categories segregated from the totality of the yearly nominations you come across patterns that you wouldn’t have noticed. It’s a good thing I never noticed and it creates the smallest niggling doubt for years to come. The odd stat could very humorously and accurately be called “American Woman, Stay Away From Me.” Not only is there a high frequency of performers who speak English as a second language there are also English speakers from other nations: The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The only American-born winners to date have been: Melanie Griffith (’96), Michelle Pfeiffer (’97), Julianne Moore (’03), Anjelica Huston (’11), Anne Hathaway (’12), Laurie Metcalf (2017) and Molly Ringwald (2018). Regardless of the statistical shenanigans there are some great performances listed below that you should watch if you haven’t. Below you will find ladies who really know how to steal scenes.

2020 Alice Krige Gretel & Hansel

2019 Isabelle Huppert Greta 

2018 Molly Ringwald All These Small Moments

2017 Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird

2016 Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms

img_3457 

2015 Louise Bourgoin The Nun

louise-bourgoin

2014 Jessica Lange In Secret

In Secret (2014, Roadside Attractions)

2013 Imelda Staunton The Awakening

The Awakening (2011, BBC Films)

2012 Anne Hathaway Les Misérables

Les Misérables (2012, Universal)

2011 Anjelica Huston 50/50

2010 Susanne Lothar The White Ribbon

pic_903330

2009 Diane Kruger Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2010, The Weinstein Company)

2008 Penélope Cruz Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, The Weinstein Company)

2007 Judi Dench Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal (2006, Fox Searchlight)

2006 Catherine O’Hara For Your ConsiderationFor Your Consideration (2006, Warner Independent)

2005 Liv Ullmann Saraband

2004 Maia Morgenstern The Passion of the Christ

2003 Julianne Moore The Hours

2002 Toni Collette About a Boy

2001 Lília Cabral The Inheritance (A Partilha)

2000 Laura Fraser Titus

1999 Toni Collette The Sixth Sense

1998 Marília Pêra Central Station (Central do Brasil)

1997 Michelle Pfeiffer A Thousand Acres

1996 Melanie Griffith Mulholland Falls

BAM Awards: Best Actor Winners

Once again I am sticking to the “Live Era,” here (meaning I made my choices at year’s end). This is the third such article I’ve posted chronicling my choices in my personal awards (here are links to Best Actress and Best Picture).

2020 Sacha Baron Cohen Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

2019 Joaquin Phoenix Joker

2018 Kodi Smit-McPhee Alpha 

2017 James McAvoy Split

2016 Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant

img_3406

2015 David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country

Charlie'sCountry (2013, Entertainment One Films)

2014 Brendan Gleeson Calvary

Calvary (2014, Fox Searchlight)

2013 Johan Heldenbergh The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012, Tribeca Film)

2012 Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln

Lincoln (2012, DreamWorks)

2011 Michael Shannon Take Shelter

2010 Bill Nighy Wild Target

2009 Colin Firth A Single Man

2008 Sean Penn Milk

2007 Leonardo DiCaprio The Departed

The Departed (2006, Warner Bros.)

2006 Nicholas Hoult Wah-Wah

2005 Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote

2004 Jim Caviezel The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Newmarkey Releasing)

2003 Jeremy Sumpter Peter Pan

2002 Christian Bale Equilibrium

Equilibrium (2002, Dimension Films)

2001 Haley Joel Osment Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Kevin Spacey Pay it Forward

1999 Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense

1998 Jack Nicholson As Good as it Gets

1997 Billy Bob Thornton Sling Blade

1996 Nick Nolte Mulholland Falls
Mulholland Falls (1996, MGM)

BAM Award Winners: Best Director

So both here and in Best Cast there was some revisionism over the years, however, rather than try and readjust things I’ll just let things stand where they are at current.

The Best Director category is an interesting one because it is usually, in the mind of many, inextricably tied to the Best Picture winner. There is a certain logic to that, however, they are two rather different awards when you boil it down. In Best Picture you pick the story and the production. In Best Director you are picking a visionary and the architect of a production. There are times when the direction of a film will outshine its narrative or overall impact or a story that is wonderful but handled with a rather invisible hand that allows splits to occur.

I have five such splits in 1997, 1998, 20052012, 2015 and 2020; none of which I was hesitant at all about.

2020 Sam Mendes 1917

2019 Jordan Peele Us

2018 Bo Burnham Eighth Grade

2017 Andy Muschietti It 

2016 Gareth Edwards Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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2015 George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Tom-Hardy-George-Miller

2014 Daniel Ribeiro The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014, Strand Releasing)

2013 Gavin Hood Ender’s Game

Ender's Game (2013, Summit)

2012 Bela Tarr The Turin Horse

Bela Tarr

2011 Martin Scorsese Hugo

2010 Christopher Nolan Inception

zz5ecbaba4

2009 Spike Jonze Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (2009, Warner Bros.)

2008 Tomas Alfredson Let the Right One In

Thomas Alfredson

2007 Timur Bekmambetov Day Watch (Dnevoy bazar)

Timur Bekmambetov

2006 Richard E. Grant Wah-Wah

2005 Ingmar Bergman Saraband

Ingmar Bergman on the set of Saraband (Sony Pictures Classics)

2004 Jacob Aaron Estes Mean Creek

Jacob Aaron Estes

2003 PJ Hogan Peter Pan

Peter Pan (2003, Universal)

2002 George Lucas Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

George Lucas (2002, Lucasfilm)

2001 Steven Spielberg Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

Steven Spielberg (DreamWorks)

2000 Julie Taymor Titus

JULIE TAYMOR PRESENTS BOOK OF HER FILM 'TITUS'

1999 M. Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan on the set of The Sixth Sense (Hollywood Pictures)

1998 Steven Spielberg Saving Private Ryan

wpid-photo-sep-14-2012-622-pm1

1997 Neil Mandt Hijacking Hollywood

1996 Lee Tamahori Mulholland Falls

BAM Awards: Best Picture Winners

Here is the first of a series of articles in which I hope to chronicle, once and for all, the winners of my own personal film awards, the BAM Awards. I may not be able to ever post everyone I ever nominated as my record keeping has been faulty and fragmentary but I hope I can at least try to re-post all my winners and give them their due.

I created the BAM Awards when I was 15 as a reaction to the fact that many films, performances and so on that I liked were overlooked by major awards. At the time I didn’t know of top 10 lists and the like so I went full boar and much further than most. Later I tried to retroactively create BAMs all the way back to 1981 and earlier, however, for now I will confine myself to the “Live Era,” wherein I chose my favorites at the end of every year so most, if not all lists will begin in 1996.

Without further ado, the best picture winners (sans commentary by me) in reverse chronological order:

2020 Abe

2019 Us

2018 Eighth Grade

2017 It

2016 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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2015 Krampus

Krampus-USPoster

2014 The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014, Strand Releasing)

2013 Ender’s Game

Ender's Game (2013, LionsGate)

2012 Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

2011 Hugo

Hugo (Paramount)

2010 Inception

Inception (Warner Bros.)

2009 Where the Wild Things Are

2008 Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

Let the Right One In (Magnet Releasing)

2007 Day Watch

2006 Wah-Wah

Wah Wah ( 2006, Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films)

2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005, Disney)

2004 Mean Creek

Mean Creek (Paramount Classics)

2003 Peter Pan

Peter Pan (2003, Universal)

2002 Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002, 20th Century Fox)

2001 Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001, DreamWorks)

2000 Titus

1999 The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (1999, Touchstone Pictures)

1998 Central Station (Central do Brasil)

Central Station (1998, Sony Pictures Classics)

1997 Sling Blade

Sling Blade (1996, Miramax)

1996 Mulholland Falls

2017 BAM Award Nominations

Here are the nominees for the 2017 BAM Awards. Winners will be announced on January 9th. Some films did qualify after 12/24. Some gross omissions, as speculated in the shortlists were corrected. Collages that may feature in the honoree post will feature on my Instagram page over the course of the next week. Without any further ado … enjoy!

Best Picture

The Big Sick
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
Get Out
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Split
Wind River
Wonderstruck

Best Foreign Film 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Most Overlooked Picture

1922
All Saints
Columbus
The Dark Tower
The Glass Castle
The Space Between Us
Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein
Wind River
Wonderstruck
XX

Best Documentary 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Best Director

Andy Muschietti It
Jordan Peele Get Out
Michael Showalter The Big Sick
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina Coco

Best Actress

Carla Gugino Gerald’s Game
Sally Hawkins The Shape of Water
Haley Lu Richardson Columbus
Aubrey Plaza Ingrid Goes West
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird

Best Actor

James Franco The Disaster Artist
Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
James McAvoy Split
Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Supporting Actress

Betty Buckley Split
Carrie Fisher Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Holly Hunter The Big Sick
Catherine Keener Get Out
Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
Carla Juri Blade Runner 2049

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown Marshall
Dave Franco The Disaster Artist
Richard Jenkins The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Bill Skarsgård It

Best Cast

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Warwick Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gareth Edwards

The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howert, Erika Alexander

The Disaster Artist

James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Jacki WeaverMegan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Bob Odenkirk, Ike Batinholtz, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Kristen Bell, J.J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

It

Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, Molly Jane Atkinson

Wind River

Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Lange, Gil Birmingham, Althea Sam, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ella Anderson The Glass Castle
Sophia Lillis It
Millicent Simmonds Wonderstruck
Izabela Vidovic Wonder
Lulu Wilson Annabelle: Creation
Maddie Ziegler The Book of Henry

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Oakes Fegley Wonderstruck
Noah Jupe Suburbicon
Judah Lewis The Babysitter
Jaeden Lieberher It
Tom Taylor The Dark Tower
Jacob Tremblay Wonder

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Lilly Aspell Wonder Woman
Chiara Aurelia Gerald’s Game
Lola Flanery Home Again
Peyton Kennedy XX
Amiah Miller War for the Planet of the Apes
Olivia Kate Rice The Glass Castle

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Jack Dylan Grazer It
Wyatt Oleff It
Chosen Jacobs It
Noah Jupe Wonder
Jeremy Ray Taylor It
Finn Wolfhard It

Best Youth Ensemble

The Glass Castle 

Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Charlie Shotwell, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Olivia Kate Rice, Shree Grace Crooks, and Ellen Grace Redfield
It

Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott and Nicholas Hamilton

Wonder 

Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James Hughes, Elle McKinnon, Millie Davis, et al.

Wonderstruck 

Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Jaden Michael, Sawyer Niehaus, et al.

Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein 

Anton Petzold, Juri Winkler, and  Tristan Göbel
The Beguiled

Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard

Best Original Screenplay

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Jordan Peele Get Out
Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz & Matthew Aldrich & Adrian Morris Coco
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Martin McDonagh Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Adapted Screenplay

Zak Hilditch and Stephen King 1922
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and Philip K. Dick Blade Runner 2049
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Greg Sestero and Tom Bisse The Disaster Artist
Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard, and Stephen King Gerald’s Game
Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman,  and Stephen King It

Best Score

Carter Burwell Wonderstruck
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Wind River
John Williams Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Benjamin Walfisch It
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch Blade Runner 2049

Best Editing

Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss Baby Driver
Jason Ballantine It
Jon Gregory Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gregory Plotkin Get Out
Joe Walker Blade Runner 2049

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Cinematography

Roger A. Deakins Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte Van Hoytema Dunkirk
Ben Richardson Wind River
Edward Lachman Wonderstruck
Chung-hoon Chung It

Best Art Direction

1922
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Costume Design

 

The Dark Tower
The Greatest Show
It
Wonderstruck
Victoria & Abdul

Best Makeup

1922
Gerald’s Game
It
The Shape of Water
Wonder

Best Visual Effects

Bladerunner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Soundtrack

Baby Driver
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
Ingrid Goes West
The Disaster Artist
The Shape of Water

Best Song

“This Is Me” Keala Settle and The Greatest Show Ensemble The Greatest Showman
“Remember Me” (Reunion) Anthony Gonzalez, Ana Ofelia Murguía Coco
“Un Poco Loco” Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal Coco
“La Llorona” Alanna Ubach, Antonio Sol Coco
“Proud Corazón” Anthony Gonzalez Coco

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer(s) of the Year Award(s)

To be announced.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

To be announced.

Neutron Star Award(s)

To be announced. 

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced.

Welcome to Jurassic World, Part 4: A New Cast of Characters

Introduction

So now we finally come to the newest film. Clearly this was the one that made me want to take a new, multi-faceted look at all the films. Ultimately, in this series I believe I will have only skimmed the surface on the region and maybe gone deeper into this one than many have. It’s part of why I wanted to take my time in composing this, and I only really considered it after I had already put in multiple viewings.

One benefit of Jurassic World not bridging the gap is that it skips and origin story, which at times can be as trite as a prequel. In the end, when I got around to this film I finally figured that the headings had to be a bit unique to each film.

So to begin with on this film I will begin to the characters because, there are quite a few, and it’s here that most of the difficulties in the film lie.

Characters

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

One reason I think this film works is, in part because of the others, as I first saw it when I decided almost immediately that I viewed Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) as a cross between Muldoon (Bob Peck), game expert at the original Jurassic Park, and Dr. Grant. Which means he’s knowledgable through personal experience and interaction though not necessarily studied. The part where Dr. Grant comes in is with regards to the animals, he’s a voice of reason, one that respects them and is understanding at all times. His interpersonal skills may not even be that great due to that, with members of either gender.

Miscasting is a barb I don’t use often because it presumes far too much about our understanding of what a given character is supposed to be. If the film doesn’t accurately or fully portray the character that’s the bigger concern. Chris Pratt has had a specific persona since I first saw him on Everwood. He’s cultivated it, it’s become his type. When he joins this film there’s a projection of who Chris Pratt is supposed to be and not Owen Grady. Pratt fit Guardians of the Galaxy perfectly doing what he’d done already. I knew that going in based on what I presumed Star Lord would be like based on the recent arcs of the comics series. James Gunn translated that character across different media brilliantly.

Here too many of us came in with a notion of who this Chris Pratt by another name was supposed to be. Humor is subjective. I thought he was funny, but he wasn’t supposed to be as much of a cut-up. How he treats or doesn’t treat Claire could well have more to do with their shared past rather than feelings about women in general.

One of the mistakes the characters make in this film is that there is a communication lag. Grady is working with the raptors and doesn’t know a thing about what’s going on with the Indominus, or that it exists. He’s only brought into the loop because Masrani needs more insight after his briefing and inspection. So he starts meeting someone he shares a personal history of an ill-fated date, and he’s being called in on a new task for the most out-there genetic project the park has developed so far; one that frankly shouldn’t be a project (we all know it); his previous moment as a character and an actor is a ludicrous talk (in his estimation) with Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) about weaponized raptors, and now this while he’s trying to unwind and work on his bike. So, yeah, he may be a little more hostile with Claire than he otherwise would be, his sense of humor is crass, and inappropriate, but it’s step one on a long crazy trek to earning one another’s respect and admiration.

Ultimately, it comes down to watchability. A character doesn’t have to be likable just watchable. In an age of overly-sanitized, packaged protagonists, where gray areas are unacceptable to some especially in blockbusters; I found him rather refreshing, a slightly different tonality, what would be referred to in Portuguese as a babaca charmoso; roughly translated: a charming prick.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

As for Claire, establishing her through the pneumonic device for remembering names is a bit awkward as a first image both in its mise-en-scène and in terms of character building. When the catastrophe is unfolding and everyone is in the control room, and Grady is holding court trying to get people to listen to reason, his version of it, she snaps and says “You’re not in control here!” It may be Claire’s finest moment, if not Howard’s, because here’s where the essence of the character lies: she seeks to be in control, to be seen as a serious professional, yet seems to fear she is not in control and can’t be viewed as such. When faced with a situation where control is shown to be illusory (“You never had control, John! That’s the illusion!”) it will surely start to grate on her.

It’s also clear that there was not an attempt to make Claire’s career-mindedness seem like a negative. What she truly lacks is balance, insight to her true self and at times a sense of priority. When she’s running for her life Owen holds out his hand to assist her up a grade. She runs right through it. She doesn’t need his help, she eventually shows, despite her inexperience, she can fend for herself and for others, Grady included. The most common Claire talking-point will be addressed in its own section.

Masrani (Irrfan Khan)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

As has been discussed leading up to this post, one of the points in the canon left most unfortunately nebulous is how Hammond came to make a seeming 180 from the end of Lost World where he was leaning towards conservation rather than Park-building. Of course, it can be surmised that it was just damage control and PR in light of the latest disaster but that is never confirmed or denied.

Regardless, the world of this story is one wherein Jurassic World is a park that exists on site A and has not only thrived but had done so for so long that a very 21st century ennui about the awe-factor dinosaurs can even provide is the norm.

The interesting thing about Masrani is that he has even deeper pockets than Hammond, yet seemingly is spread more thin from competing interests. So while he seems to have a genuine concern for the animals’ well-being he is equally blind to some of the dangers posed by the way the park operates, and has operated. In the end, this makes him not much different from Hammond.

If anything his demeanor makes it more likely that something like this was bound to happen eventually as his comic relief inept helicopter piloting proves he has delusions of invulnerability that extends to all he touches.

Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio)

Jurassic World (2015, Jurassic World)

There is one point in their initial debate when Grady asks Hoskins “Do you listen to yourself when you talk?” It’s the perfect encapsulation of Hoskins really. After one successful drill/demonstration with the Raptors Hoskins is ready to go whole hog into his crazy InGen brainchild of using the raptors as a tactical military advantage. Within this series this is the follow-through on what’s now a given in the series InGen having an agenda of its own which allows for the propagation of genetically engineered dinosaurs contrary to common sense and contrary to the wishes of the public at large. This is a staple of series since The Lost World.

In the larger landscape of film it is another militarized plot point, which can be a bit tiresome amidst the landscape of superhero cinema wherein some martial element (like a technology that would be dangerous in the hands of military foes or terrorists) is commonplace. Granted Hoskins is useful to introduce the “At what price progress?” morale of the story, adds a human antagonist, and the occasional comic relief as well. He’s more rounded than he has any right to be as at one point there is an inkling that his crazy plan really is the only option to deal with the Indominus Rex. And it is a delicious moment of schadenfreude to see his best laid plans go up in flames for he too knows not what he’s dealing with, and even if he knew the creature’s genetic make-up he would’ve been convinced to do it anyway.

Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

One of the greatest difficulties this film faces is that some of its most awkward character moments occur within the first ten minutes, at times instantly, or just after first meeting a character. There is an early attempt to show not only Gray’s excitement but also the fact that he’s a little odd and at times says weird things. Here the exchange is:

“How big do you think the island is?”
“I don’t know. Big.”
“Yeah, but how many pounds?”
“That doesn’t make sense.”

No, it doesn’t. It’s a weird question especially in hindsight. Gray show’s himself to be smart enough to know to express the question with a scientific term like mass. After all he runs to displays and instantly points out ubiquitous elements in all living organisms, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of most dinosaurs, including knowing how many teeth they have. This allows him an assist in the heroism. Gray’s later concerns about prison, and how he expresses it is a lot more well done.

Gray is a character who is a necessity to the film, a kid who knows dinosaurs (something else The Lost World lacked). Simpkins brings out genuine enthusiasm, authoritative knowledge, in a less prodding, in-your-face way than Joseph Mazzello did.

Following Simpkins’ last blockbuster go-around (Iron Man 3) this is a natural progression for him as an actor as he aids in bringing the wonder, joy, and fear to the audience.

Nick Robinson’s big break was in The Kings of Summer, and he too gets a different kind of character to play here. His teenage angst here is a bit more a general malaise than anything specific, perhaps the given of his parents issues just colored his own world in a way he never realized. He has a girlfriend who’s hopelessly attached to him that he can take or leave, and he’s too cool to be at the park. Much like an older kid at Disney World it eventually wins him over before everything goes hopelessly wrong.

His arc is perhaps the strongest as he also has to step up and act like a proper big brother rather than thinking his little brother is just a nuisance he has to put up with. One step is helping Gray sneak away from their Executive Assistant cum Au Pair; as things get serious he has to be willing to console his brother about their parents’ impending divorce, try to get his brother to enjoy the experience, and then in crisis-mode protect his brother, put on a brave face when he’s scared and embolden and empower him.

Seeing how these are the characters who start the film they really do act as the backbone of the film and they help to hold it up.

Lowery (Jake Johnson)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

If Gray and Zach act as catalysts to bring kids or the uninitiated in (the Claire/Owen dynamic can do that too) Lowery is there at times speaking our mind, in a certain regard acting like a one-man Greek chorus. This, like most things, is only a negative if you don’t like the movie anyway. If the film’s other issues are too overwhelming for you this will be salt in your wound, if you’re enjoying the ride it’s welcome surprise.

Lowery is not just comic relief but the eternal optimist. He wants to hold on to some of his youthful wonder (hence the dinosaur toys) he still has an appreciation for the intent of the original Park even if the result was bad (hence the Jurassic Park shirt).

Since the crisis mode is entered to quickly one can suspend disbelief that his open defiance and vocal questioning of decisions would go unpunished. In a way it’s a needed catharsis as the oversights and at times insensitivity of the characters in charge needs to be addressed.

Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong)

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

Now this post is entitled A New Cast of Characters but another thing that’s been consistent in this series is that the sequels have always featured links to the original, not just in narrative conventions, but in cast members. Even series that rattle off sequels in short succession that’s kind of rare. When it’s been twenty-plus years it’s actually pretty impressive.

So Dr. Henry Wu is that link back to the first film, and through the years he’s climbed the ranks. However, he’s not just there to fulfill that purpose but he’s involved in the best scene in the film: when Masrani confronts him about the Indominus’ traits and genetic makeup.

I love a good turning-of-the-tables. Decisions were made hastily, for impure and profit-driven motivations without considering the inherent dangers before things went wrong. Wu simply points out things that are all correct about the relativity of it all, how unconcerned and lacking in foresight they were and these kind of genetic amalgamations are par for the course. It doesn’t make it right, it has a very “I was just following orders” ring to it, but it’s not untrue.

There’s a certain compromising of ethics either consciously or unconsciously that must occur to carry through this kind of scientific work. Both actors in the scene hit on that notion brilliantly. It’s the tightest, most logically sound, and the most reminiscent of the intellectual stimulation the first film provided. Add that to the fact that an actor who was quite young in the first film, now middle-aged is given a scene he can really sink his teeth into, and it’s a great thing.

Furthermore, Wu and his handshake agreement with Hoskins leave the door wide open for follow-ups and his further involvement. It’d be nice to examine his character, choices, and changes over time more in the future, but having not expected such an exceptional scene for a returning character I cannot complain.

Tokens?

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

When dealing with Hollywood blockbusters and ethnic minorities the question of screentime and whether or not the characters are tokens invariably come to the fore. I think the fact that I siphoned off discussion of two characters (Masrani and Wu) proves the film is trying. The only tertiary characters that really bear mentioning here is Barry (Omar Sy).

It becomes difficult to to develop all characters well, perhaps even impossible when we’re talking about as many as are in this film. Barry, seems as in tune and knowledgeable as Grady, they see eye-to-eye, and through a muttered curse under his breath in French its established he’s not American. Sy himself is French, which gets a European into the cast.

Considering that the park is located in Costa Rica the main ethnicity underrepresented are Hispanics, who were last significantly represented by Juanito (Miguel Sandoval) in the original.

Conclusion

The discussion on Jurassic World will continue tomorrow in Part 5: Of Footwear and Fan Service.