Posts tagged “2020

93rd Academy Awards Recap

So I know the Oscars are never a ‘fun’ show to watch. They’re always overlong and tedious and full of bad jokes and filler. But man, this year just felt so tedious, the way they did it. Which is weird, because I was into Soderbergh being one of the producers and loved how they set it up at the beginning. It started off so relaxed and seemed like it was gonna be something different and fun. Everyone hanging out at a cocktail hour beforehand outside and then going into that room and trying to do a different type of ceremony…

Then we had those overlong presenter intros that took way too long and didn’t translate as well in person as they maybe seemed when they thought them up. And then it felt almost like they were rushing through stuff rather than focusing on the right parts of the night. Somehow they avoided filler until right near the end, when they did that one bit with Glenn Close (which I didn’t hate, just because I know they have to do stuff to go viral nowadays, but you’d think they’d have done it an hour earlier, and not when we were all looking at the time like, “Okay, let’s wrap this up, guys”).

And then there was that ending, where you had three hours of Black presenters and Black winners and Black music, and an Asian woman winning and all sorts of diversity… and then the two older white people won to end the night. Honestly, how fitting. How ironically fitting, the Academy trying to go, “Look at us! We’ve changed!” and then the older white contingency still going, “…not so fast.”

It was the absolute perfect unintentional metaphor to end that ceremony, especially after you take into account how truly meaningless a lot of this is anyway. (more…)


And the Nominees Are: Analyzing the 93rd Academy Award Nominations

Okay, so we got here. Nominations have finally been announced. And now all that thinking I’ve been doing about what was gonna get here is gonna cease to be relevant the minute I finish this article. From here on out it’s only about what’s gonna win.

Quick thoughts about everything as a whole — generally this all felt in line with what I’d have expected. Some minor surprises and really only one or two that felt like they came out of nowhere, but nothing earth-shattering (and mostly of them positive developments). It’s more of a category by category thing, so let’s go through each of them, see how they differed from what was expected and what that means for who’s going to win going forward.

Here are your 93rd Academy Award nominations: (more…)


And the Nominees Are… (2020)

Here are your Oscar nominations. I’ll be back later with full analysis:

Best Picture

The Father

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

Minari

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

(more…)


Mike’s Favorite Film Scores of 2020

I love doing this article every year even though I always leave myself mountains of work to be done in very little time. Fortunately this year I started compiling scores two months in advance, started listening to them just after New Year’s, had a rudimentary version of this list by the end of January and even finished writing this article two weeks ago. Which is way better than how things usually go with me. Usually a month out I’m like, “Oh shit, I need to do scores.” And then I rush and get everything and the whole thing is done in the span of like, three weeks. But I do it because I love listening to film scores. I have almost 40 gigs of film scores on my computer. I’m not bullshitting you. I really do like this stuff. That’s part of the reason I started writing this article.

The other part is because, when I would look up what the best film scores of the year were, I’d only ever find one of two lists: the list that’s just mainstream movies and designed to get people to engage with the site and doesn’t remotely care about the scores themselves, or the ‘cool kids’ list that’s almost exclusively festival darlings, one or two really obvious foreign films and then scores by underground indie music artists that you’d know about if you lived in Bushwick. And sometimes, god help you, you got the third list, which is when a site would lump a staff of 3-4 people in one article and have them talk through their favorites. So you’d end up with some weird mutant stepchild version of lists A and B, but worse, because it would be in paragraphs, so now you’re skimming through trying to figure out where the fuck one entry ends and the other begins. And on top of all of this? There are only like seven total lists! Maybe things have gotten better since I stopped looking and just started doing it myself, but at the time there were only a couple of actual lists and everyone else parroting those. And they all had the same scores on them. To the point where you just felt like no one was actually listening to the scores. So I said ‘fuck it. I’ll do it myself’. Because I’m doing this stuff anyway. Maybe it would’ve been 40% less than it is now, but I still would’ve done it. And unlike everyone else, I don’t give a fuck if anyone reads this. I’m in this for love of the game.

I’m very up front about how I do this. I don’t know much of anything about music except knowing what I like. Sometimes I can say something smart but a lot of the time it’s just simply liking stuff. I have no idea how similar or different my list ends up being to everyone else’s but at least I know that I did listen to a broad spectrum of stuff (this year was 73 scores, which is a lot for someone who doesn’t make that their primary duty as a filmgoer and probably 50-60 more than most people who put out a scores article), actively considered each one on its own merits and picked the ones that sounded the best to me, based solely on my own ears and my own opinions.

In a year where movies generally fell by the wayside given all the real-world stuff going on, film scores for sure were gonna get overlooked. So here’s a bunch that I felt are worth a listen. Here are my favorite film scores of 2020: (more…)


Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of 2020

Okay. Time for trailers. One thing I noticed this year in particular — which is something we still get a lot of anyway, in the age of streaming platforms — a lot of ‘only one trailer’ situations. Which, if it’s a well-cut trailer, is perfectly fine. But I did notice a lot of things just got the one trailer and then you get the later on ‘TV spot’ trailers, which aren’t the same. I think only four films on this list got more than one trailer. Two of them came out before the pandemic/lockdown period started in March. And on another… the difference between the two trailers is negligible. But, as I said… cut a good trailer and it’s fine if that’s the only one. Nine trailers on this list come from either Netflix or Amazon, and if you add Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO, that adds another five.

It’s not like the trailer-making process has changed, it’s just that the odds of great trailers are decreasing, since so often now, films tend to have the first teaser trailer, which is more abstract and gets you in the mood for the film, and then there’s the second trailer, which pretty much spells out the entire plot of the movie. So I have concerns that we might be only getting those second trailers from now on, but we’ll see where it goes.

Anyway, here are my favorite movie trailers of 2020: (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten Movie Posters of 2020

What’s my refrain whenever this article comes up? The movie poster is a lost art. And there’s no better proof of that sentiment than this year. Theaters were closed for the majority of the year and films were either pushed until next year entirely or released on streaming services or on demand. As such, you didn’t get the prolonged media blitz that we usually get when things are ready to come out. Which usually means, for the bigger films, incessant commercials, banners on websites, corporate tie-ins, billboards – you know the drill. But since nothing came out the ‘normal’ way, things felt pretty low key. Maybe that’s just because we had much larger issues to deal with for the majority of the year, but I do feel as though, unless you were specifically paying attention to when stuff came out, you really weren’t that privy to when they did. It was more of a, “Oh, that came out?”

And because of that, I feel like even less effort was put into movie posters than has been in years past. Which is just another mound of dirt on top of the movie poster, which is already struggling because of the increasing amount of films getting released on streaming services, meaning at most those movies are getting a single (usually uninspired) poster designed to tell you it’s theirs and it’s coming out soon.

This year was difficult for a lot of reasons, but picking my favorite posters definitely was made a lot harder task than it has been in previous years. I still managed to get to 50, but that’s just because I love movie posters and not because I was necessarily thrilled about my options.

So, with hope for the future, here are my favorite movie posters of 2020: (more…)


Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2020 (30-11)

What’s my refrain whenever this article comes up? The movie poster is a lost art. And there’s no better proof of that sentiment than this year. Theaters were closed for the majority of the year and films were either pushed until next year entirely or released on streaming services or on demand. As such, you didn’t get the prolonged media blitz that we usually get when things are ready to come out. Which usually means, for the bigger films, incessant commercials, banners on websites, corporate tie-ins, billboards – you know the drill. But since nothing came out the ‘normal’ way, things felt pretty low key. Maybe that’s just because we had much larger issues to deal with for the majority of the year, but I do feel as though, unless you were specifically paying attention to when stuff came out, you really weren’t that privy to when they did. It was more of a, “Oh, that came out?”

And because of that, I feel like even less effort was put into movie posters than has been in years past. Which is just another mound of dirt on top of the movie poster, which is already struggling because of the increasing amount of films getting released on streaming services, meaning at most those movies are getting a single (usually uninspired) poster designed to tell you it’s theirs and it’s coming out soon.

This year was difficult for a lot of reasons, but picking my favorite posters definitely was made a lot harder task than it has been in previous years. I still managed to get to 50, but that’s just because I love movie posters and not because I was necessarily thrilled about my options.

So, with hope for the future, here are my favorite movie posters of 2020: (more…)


Mike’s Favorite Movie Posters of 2020 (50-31)

What’s my refrain whenever this article comes up? The movie poster is a lost art. And there’s no better proof of that sentiment than this year. Theaters were closed for the majority of the year and films were either pushed until next year entirely or released on streaming services or on demand. As such, you didn’t get the prolonged media blitz that we usually get when things are ready to come out. Which usually means, for the bigger films, incessant commercials, banners on websites, corporate tie-ins, billboards – you know the drill. But since nothing came out the ‘normal’ way, things felt pretty low key. Maybe that’s just because we had much larger issues to deal with for the majority of the year, but I do feel as though, unless you were specifically paying attention to when stuff came out, you really weren’t that privy to when they did. It was more of a, “Oh, that came out?”

And because of that, I feel like even less effort was put into movie posters than has been in years past. Which is just another mound of dirt on top of the movie poster, which is already struggling because of the increasing amount of films getting released on streaming services, meaning at most those movies are getting a single (usually uninspired) poster designed to tell you it’s theirs and it’s coming out soon.

This year was difficult for a lot of reasons, but picking my favorite posters definitely was made a lot harder task than it has been in previous years. I still managed to get to 50, but that’s just because I love movie posters and not because I was necessarily thrilled about my options.

So, with hope for the future, here are my favorite movie posters of 2020: (more…)


My Favorite Directorial Efforts of 2020

I should stress that these are going to be slightly odd lists because this year, the Oscar season is split between two years. Typically a fair portion of what makes these lists are the late-year ‘awards’ type movies. But since we still have January and February for those to come out… I’m working with what I have. That being the 2020 calendar year. Which, as we all know, was a strange one. So while this list is normally my prep for what would be my own personal Oscar choices… it can’t be that this year. Which might be a blessing in disguise.

I’m just gonna shout out the stuff from this year that I liked. Not even gonna rank anything. I felt like trying to do things by my normal standards was keeping some stuff off the list, since I kept looking for things that weren’t there. This way, I’m just telling you what I liked. We’re not trying to say one is better than the other and this way I’m just telling you, “Hey I thought this was good.” It’s probably better. And honestly, it’s actually getting me, in some cases, to put more than the usual 15 that I try to get to for each category.

This one I thought about for a long time, because not a whole lot really jumped out at me like, “Oh wow. That was a great job.” Maybe it’s a byproduct of the year and my thoughts will change. But I got the 15 I at least felt best about.

So here are my favorite directorial efforts of 2020: (more…)


My Favorite Female Supporting Performances of 2020

I should stress that these are going to be slightly odd lists because this year, the Oscar season is split between two years. Typically a fair portion of what makes these lists are the late-year ‘awards’ type movies. But since we still have January and February for those to come out… I’m working with what I have. That being the 2020 calendar year. Which, as we all know, was a strange one. So while this list is normally my prep for what would be my own personal Oscar choices… it can’t be that this year. Which might be a blessing in disguise.

I’m just gonna shout out the stuff from this year that I liked. Not even gonna rank anything. I felt like trying to do things by my normal standards was keeping some stuff off the list, since I kept looking for things that weren’t there. This way, I’m just telling you what I liked. We’re not trying to say one is better than the other and this way I’m just telling you, “Hey I thought this was good.” It’s probably better. And honestly, it’s actually getting me, in some cases, to put more than the usual 15 that I try to get to for each category. (Slightly tough here, but I got to 15.)

Here are my favorite female supporting performances of 2020: (more…)


My Favorite Male Supporting Performances of 2020

I should stress that these are going to be slightly odd lists because this year, the Oscar season is split between two years. Typically a fair portion of what makes these lists are the late-year ‘awards’ type movies. But since we still have January and February for those to come out… I’m working with what I have. That being the 2020 calendar year. Which, as we all know, was a strange one. So while this list is normally my prep for what would be my own personal Oscar choices… it can’t be that this year. Which might be a blessing in disguise.

I’m just gonna shout out the stuff from this year that I liked. Not even gonna rank anything. I felt like trying to do things by my normal standards was keeping some stuff off the list, since I kept looking for things that weren’t there. This way, I’m just telling you what I liked. We’re not trying to say one is better than the other and this way I’m just telling you, “Hey I thought this was good.” It’s probably better. And honestly, it’s actually getting me, in some cases, to put more than the usual 15 that I try to get to for each category. (Not this one, though. This one I actually had trouble with.)

Here are my favorite male supporting performances of 2020: (more…)


My Favorite Female Lead Performances of 2020

I should stress that these are going to be slightly odd lists because this year, the Oscar season is split between two years. Typically a fair portion of what makes these lists are the late-year ‘awards’ type movies. But since we still have January and February for those to come out… I’m working with what I have. That being the 2020 calendar year. Which, as we all know, was a strange one. So while this list is normally my prep for what would be my own personal Oscar choices… it can’t be that this year. Which might be a blessing in disguise.

I’m just gonna shout out the stuff from this year that I liked. Not even gonna rank anything. I felt like trying to do things by my normal standards was keeping some stuff off the list, since I kept looking for things that weren’t there. This way, I’m just telling you what I liked. We’re not trying to say one is better than the other and this way I’m just telling you, “Hey I thought this was good.” It’s probably better. And honestly, it’s actually getting me, in some cases, to put more than the usual 15 that I try to get to for each category.

This list has 25 entries on it! Which I’m thrilled about. I feel like most years there aren’t enough female lead performances to go around, so this year I get to go extra hard and talk about all the great ones. This is the list I’m most excited about of all of them.

Here are my favorite female lead performances of 2020: (more…)


My Favorite Male Lead Performances of 2020

I should stress that these are going to be slightly odd lists because this year, the Oscar season is split between two years. Typically a fair portion of what makes these lists are the late-year ‘awards’ type movies. But since we still have January and February for those to come out… I’m working with what I have. That being the 2020 calendar year. Which, as we all know, was a strange one. So while this list is normally my prep for what would be my own personal Oscar choices… it can’t be that this year. Which might be a blessing in disguise.

I’m just gonna shout out the stuff from this year that I liked. Not even gonna rank anything. I felt like trying to do things by my normal standards was keeping some stuff off the list, since I kept looking for things that weren’t there. This way, I’m just telling you what I liked. We’re not trying to say one is better than the other and this way I’m just telling you, “Hey I thought this was good.” It’s probably better. And honestly, it’s actually getting me, in some cases, to put more than the usual 15 that I try to get to for each category.

This list in particular has 20 performances. I probably could have pared five of them off, but I figured, why bother? The point is to talk about stuff I liked, not do some weird gatekeeping. Honestly, this might be the trend going forward.

But anyway, here are my favorite male lead performances of 2020: (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2020

This… was a weird year. We had a global pandemic, brought on by a government that ignored it and abandoned people in need and we all ended up stuck inside for most of the year. I believe it’s been in the papers. All of this, of course, had a trickle-down effect on movies. Theaters were closed for the majority of the year, which forced most studio releases onto streaming platforms if not into 2021 entirely (especially awards-level films, which usually make up a good portion of this list). And so, while I was still left with some quality choices, I did feel like this year was a lot thinner at the top and more populated with stuff I’d consider ‘just okay’ rather than truly noteworthy. So I guess what I’m saying is — a government abandoning people during a crisis, trickle-down effects and a spate of mediocre movies — I’m just gonna go ahead and blame 2020 on Ronald Reagan.

I know it’s a tradition for me to say that the year felt pretty underwhelming and that I had a hard time coming up with this list, but that is legitimately how I felt this year. And since it’s funny to me to go back and read myself say that same thing every single year, I’m gonna leave it in. Because one of the most underrated things you can do is something that will make your future self laugh.

It also brings me to another point (which is something I always stress when I make these lists): the only thing that makes a year good or bad and really lets you know what movies you like the best… is time. That’s all it is. You can say you love something now, but wait a year. Wait five years. Wait and see what you end up going back to watch the most. Is it that one critically-acclaimed movie that everyone had on their list that you felt had to be on yours too or is it the rom com that makes you feel happy every time you watch it that you left off because it didn’t feel as ‘important’ as the other one? Time levels all playing fields. I said last year felt underwhelming at the time and now I think it’s one of strongest years of the decade. I like all my choices even more now than I did at the time.

So, as always, what I’m trying to do when I make up this list (which is always done on the fly, under pressure and after seeing most of the films once, maybe twice. The second usually very quickly, especially if it came out late) is try to find the ones that I know in my heart are the ones I like the best. The ones I’ll keep getting excited about as time passes. And that requires looking past the trappings of the present. So, if it seems like things are ranked on this list differently than my ratings might suggest, that’s because the only proper way to make a list like this is to ignore ratings and ignore reviews and ignore hype and just go with what your instincts tell you. And so, despite a pandemic, despite the decimation of the year’s film calendar and despite what feels like a crop of films that, in the moment, feels every bit as uninspiring as all the other crops of films did in all the other years that worked out just fine, I’m gonna throw that paper airplane into the future one more time and hope it stays as in tact as possible. (more…)