Posts tagged “Film

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…)


Oscars 2020: ADG Nominations

The Art Directors Guild announced nominations today. If it feels like we’ve barely gotten any guild precursors to this point, it’s because we haven’t. But starting next week, they’re gonna start coming fast and furious. Next week I think is like three out of five days and then after that it’s almost a full week straight of something new every day.

But, at the moment, we have this. This is gonna help us out in Production Design, and I’m keen to see what they’ve nominated, given the fact that this feels like a pretty ho-hum kinda year with only about six or seven major contenders out there. So I’m curious to see what they give us and if there are some films that I’m not expecting that can make this a race.

As a reminder, the BFCA list for Production Design was Emma, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, News of the World, The Personal History of David Copperfield and Tenet, and your BAFTA longlist includes Ammonite, The Dig, Emma, The Father, Ma Rainey, Mank, Midnight Sky, News of the World, Promising Young Woman, Radioactive, Rebecca, Secret Garden, Tenet, Trial of the Chicago 7 and Wonder Woman 1984.

And here’s what the Art Directors Guild has for us: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Animated Short Eligibles

Okay. So a little bit of a reverse of how this normally goes, but I wasn’t aware of the existence of this list beforehand. You already know the shortlist of ten, but here’s the full list of 96 eligibles for Animated Short.

I’m gonna go through and watch all the ones I can and then look at trailers for the rest and see which ones look great. All I’m really trying to do here is expose myself (and others) to some great animated shorts, which I feel are one of those things that we grow up with and then just sort of abandon along the way because we become less exposed to them. And we forget just how amazing they are to watch.

So, use this as a springboard to remind yourself of how great animated short films are. (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Animated Short Shortlist

And now Best Animated Feature. And you might be saying to yourself, “Mike, there’s only ten films on this shortlist and they’re all shorts. You probably could have done this one before some of the others.” And that’s true. Probably could’ve done it on day three or four if I wanted. But, I have a story to tell you…

On the day the shortlists came out, I was sitting around waiting for them to be released. I figured they’d put them out around 11/12 o’clock LA time. But they didn’t. They ended up putting them out at 3. And in those four hours in between as I was waiting I thought, “Let me see which ones people think might be nominated so I can try to get a hold of them preemptively.” Since the minute stuff gets shortlisted, they pull them down offline. Happens every year. So I start looking. Then, I find a list of all the eligible shorts for this year, which is a list I didn’t even know they released. But someone did. A list of all 96 eligible shorts.

Long story short, I decided to try to find all 96, ended up finding half of them and later on today I’m gonna post a full article going over all 96 eligible shorts (95% of which I either have seen fully or have seen a trailer for). Because I can and because it’s fun and because animated shorts are lost treasures among the filmgoing experience and I want to try to help bring them back. But before that, we’ll go over the shortlist. This is the dinner, that’ll be the dessert.

Here’s your animated feature shortlist:

Burrow
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You
Kapaemahu
Opera
Out
The Snail and the Whale
To Gerard
Traces
Yes-People (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Documentary Feature Shortlist

And we end with the Documentary Feature shortlist, because that was the one I decided was the one I was gonna focus on for this article. Because, back around Thanksgiving, I decided to start compiling everything I thought could potentially get nominated in the category so that when they eventually did release this shortlist, I’d already have a bunch covered and not have to worry about then finding them. It worked out, since I already had ten of the fifteen docs on hand and ready to go and then immediately found two more that day. And, even better, I knew the final three were ones I could see fairly easily.

So, long story short, I’ve watched all 15 of these in the past two weeks and am gonna give a full breakdown in this article, which will make my life easier in future articles and discussions about this category.

Here’s your Documentary Feature shortlist:

All In: The Fight for Democracy
Boys State
Collective
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Gunda
MLK/FBI
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
Notturno
The Painter and the Thief
76 Days
Time
The Truffle Hunters
Welcome to Chechnya (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best International Feature Shortlist

Today is Best International Feature. Because I kidded myself that I was gonna be able to find and see all 15 of these by the time this article went up. And honestly, I had other categories I was more focused on and I really only need to see as many as I can for nominations and not for this. So I’m just gonna do what I did with Live Action Short and Doc Short and just guess my way through it and see everything later.

Here’s your International Feature shortlist:

Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
The Mole Agent (Chile)
Charlatan (Czech Republic)
Another Round (Denmark)
Two of Us (France)
La Llorona (Guatemala)
Better Days (Hong Kong)
Sun Children (Iran)
Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast)
I’m No Longer Here (Mexico)
Hope (Norway)
Collective (Romania)
Dear Comrades! (Russia)
A Sun (Taiwan)
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia) (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Live Action Short Shortlist

Today we’re going over Live Action Shrot because, as much as I want to wait to see if I can find most of these, not only have I been unable thus far to do that, there’s also no chance I’d actually have done it by the time this article went up. So we’re just gonna go over it now, because the other categories actually do have stuff I’m watching. Plus, let’s not pretend like 98% of people give any fucks about this category (even though there’s usually some good stuff on it).

Here’s your Live Action Short shortlist:

Bittu
Da Yie
Feeling Through
The Human Voice
The Kicksled Choir
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers
The Van
White Eye (more…)


Oscars 2020: Makeup & Hairstylists Guild Nominations

The Makeup & Hairstylist Guild announced their nominations today. As a reminder, this is your Oscar shortlist:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Emma
The Glorias
Hillbilly Elegy
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
The Little Things
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
One Night in Miami
Pinocchio

Let’s see what the guild has to tell us about how this category is likely gonna play out: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Documentary Short Shortlist

And now Documentary Short, a category that’s usually immensely easy to guess because it’s all about what the issues are. The two almost guaranteed types of winners in this category are: people with mental or physical illnesses overcoming them to create art or people in third-world countries overcoming their surroundings to do something inspiring. Then you have the occasional Holocaust or hot-button issue thrown in. But by and large, you can tell which ones feel like what they normally go for.

So let’s see what they’ve given us this year. Here’s your Documentary Short shortlist:

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa
Call Center Blues
Colette
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
Hysterical Girl
A Love Song for Latasha
The Speed Cubers
What Would Sophia Loren Do? (more…)


Oscars 2020: WGA Nominations

The WGA nominations were announced today. And this is our main help in the Screenplay categories, with only BAFTA still to come (and the other primary help in the category).

Of note for the WGA, before I even look at what got nominated — they’re the one guild that routinely has major contenders (and even winners) not nominated because they require nominees to be guild members. So a lot of stuff is rendered ineligible this year. Which, for our purposes, includes: Ammonite, The Assistant, Emma, The Father, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Onward, Pieces of a Woman and Soul.

So, just from that alone, I see five potential (and even probable) nominees not eligible here, which means you’re gonna get a lot of extra nominees that may not actually have a chance in the end, which is why stuff like BAFTA and BFCA is so important. Because usually the Screenplay categories only have about six or seven major contenders (maybe you get to eight in a strong year) and you can usually reason your way through most of it fairly easily. So it’ll be interesting to see what the WGA used to fill in those gaps and how any red herrings get thrown into the mix that people will get baited on.

So, knowing all that, here are your WGA nominations for this year: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Makeup & Hairstyling Shortlist

We’re going over Makeup & Hairstyling today. I was originally gonna wait until the guild announces on Thursday and go over this Friday, but honestly, who cares. We’re gonna adjust all of this later anyway. This category has also historically been really easy to diagnose, so I don’t think we need to wait on this.

They did, if you forgot, officially bump this category up to five nominees last year, so this is a five nominees from ten on the shortlist situation. So it should be fairly easy to figure out what the top five are gonna be.

Here’s your Makeup & Hairstyling shortlist:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Emma
The Glorias
Hillbilly Elegy
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
The Little Things
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
One Night in Miami
Pinocchio (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Visual Effects Shortlist

Today we’re gonna do the Visual Effects shortlist, mostly because that category can usually be done by sheer logic and doesn’t take a whole lot to parse through. Plus we’ll eventually have a bunch of precursors, so that’ll help too.

The only thing I’m upset about with this one is that we didn’t get a longlist this year. Usually we get that preliminary list of 20 films that were eligible here and then get this list of 10. Now all we have is this, and I feel like we can almost instantly pick which five or six are the actual contenders. I’m gonna assume that the reason we didn’t get the list of 20 is because so many films pushed out of the year (mostly theater-going blockbuster type films) that they didn’t really have a list of 20. Which would also explain some of the films on this list, which made me look a bit sideways due to their questionable nature. They seem like films that would’ve been on the list of 20 and not made this. But, in a thinner year, I kinda get it.

Anyway, here’s your Visual Effects shortlist:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Bloodshot
Love and Monsters
Mank
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Soul
Tenet
Welcome to Chechnya (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Original Score Shortlist

Our second easiest category for me to go over: Original Score. Because I listen to 100 scores every year to list my favorite ones and find good ones to keep in my personal collection. So I’ve listened to the majority of what’s gonna get shortlisted, if not all of it. Not that having listened to them matters in terms of guessing, but at least I feel like I know as much as I possibly can for the moment.

There were 136 scores eligible this year, they’ve pared that list down to 15, of which 5 will be nominated. Here’s the Original Song shortlist:

Ammonite (Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka)
Blizzard of Souls (Lolita Ritmanis)
Da 5 Bloods (Terence Blanchard)
The Invisible Man (Benjamin Wallfisch)
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (John Debney)
The Life Ahead (Gabriel Yared)
The Little Things (Thomas Newman)
Mank (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
The Midnight Sky (Alexandre Desplat)
Minari (Emile Mosseri)
Mulan (Harry Gregson-Williams)
News of the World (James Newton Howard)
Soul (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste)
Tenet (Ludwig Göransson)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Daniel Pemberton) (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Original Song Shortlist

We begin out shortlist breakdown, and begin with the easiest one of the bunch to go over, mostly because I did all the work already when I went over all the eligible songs a few days ago. So if you want to go back and listen to all the ones that didn’t make it and see what my thoughts were about what was potentially going to be on this list, go do that. Otherwise, I’ll post all the shortlisted songs here anyway and we’ll still go over them.

But, here’s your shortlist for Best Original Song this year:

“Turntables,” from All In: The Fight for Democracy
“See What You’ve Done,” from Belly of the Beast
“Wuhan Flu,” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
“Husavik,” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
“Never Break,” from Giving Voice
“Make It Work,” from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
“Fight For You,” from Judas and the Black Messiah
“lo Sì (Seen),” from The Life Ahead
“Rain Song,” from Minari
“Show Me Your Soul,” from Mr. Soul!
“Loyal Brave True,” from Mulan
“Free,” from The One and Only Ivan
“Speak Now,” from One Night in Miami
“Green,” from Sound of Metal
“Hear My Voice,” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (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…)


Oscars 2020: BFCA Nominations

And it’s BFCA day. Which means that, for the acting categories, we now have 3/4 of all the major precursor help we’re gonna get (and partially the fourth, since BAFTA released longlists for all the categories). So, if one were so inclined (which I am definitely not), you could start lobbing category predictions a month early. But anyone who reads this site knows I’m not inclined to spurious speculation before it’s time to make guesses and abhor clickbait articles, so go somewhere else for that nonsense.

The importance these nominations to me is twofold: BFCA is usually a broad smorgasbord for everything that’s roundly in contention and usually is a catch-all that helps uncover some of the ‘false’ nominees that come from elsewhere. And also, this is our first look at what some of the tech categories might look like. Since guilds won’t start announcing nominations until at least a week from now. So this is where things start to take shape in a nice way.

The one thing you have to keep in mind, though — these are critics. They’re going to hit a lot of populist narratives are both something to listen to (because you do get to see some of the broad ‘narratives’ that will be taking place and do influence some of the voting, because publicity departments use that to get people to vote certain ways) and also ignore, because, again… critics. So, helpful, but grain of salt.

Here are your 2020 Critics Choice nominees: (more…)


Oscars 2020: BAFTA Longlists

This is new. I’ve never seen them do this before.

BAFTA released longlists of all their categories. Like, all the categories. Which means that the entire BAFTA nominees list is just gonna be a pared down version of what they released. Not sure why they did it, but I’m happy about it. Now that we’re about to get BFCA later today, it’ll be real easy to telegraph the acting categories and as other things announce we can get an idea of where things are headed even without having to wait for them.

But yeah. Let’s see what we have: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Original Song Eligibles

Aww shit, it’s that time again.

I’ve been on pins and needles every year since they went to this new shortlist system in 2018. That year, they didn’t give us the list of eligible songs and just gave us the shortlist, and I thought we might be deprived of the fun that list brings forever. Then last year, the list came out and all was right with the world. And I had no clue what was gonna be this year. BUT IT’S BACK!

This year, 105 songs were deemed eligible, and as we do every year, I’m about to find as many of the 105 as I can, listen to them, give my own personal opinion (which basically just means an off-the-cuff rating out of 5 just to show how much I like the song and a general idea of whether it sounds like it might stand a chance at a shortlist/nomination) and then try to figure out which 15 are gonna end up being shortlisted on Tuesday.

This is legitimately one of my favorite articles to do each year. To the point where I just straight up dumped what I had set for tomorrow to go up some other day and did this all last night. That’s how much I enjoy this. (Plus I didn’t actually have tomorrow’s article written yet, so the procrastination search I did ended up being the best possible scenario.)

So here are all 105 Best Original Song eligibles for 2020: (more…)


Oscars 2020: SAG Award Nominations

The SAG nominations were announced today. I always have the same reaction every time it’s SAG nominations day, which is, “Oh man, this is big.” And then the nominations happen and it’s just four categories. And I’m like, “Oh, right, it’s just that.” They mean so much and yet you can go over them in about five minutes (‘How did he do such fantastic stunts with such little feet?‘). I think it’s because PGA and DGA are just one thing. This gives the impression of a full show like the Globes or BFCA (which it is… if you care about TV, which I do not).

Anyway, the acting branch has spoken. They are the majority of Oscar voters and what happens here is usually a major sign for what’s to come at the Oscars. Now, I’ve said for about five years now that SAG has gotten oversaturated with voting members and that a lot of the nominees in recent years have felt more like a popularity contest more than anything else. Which is why you always see certain people and performances always seem to make it on even if logic says they’ll never get nominated for the Oscar. I’ve also noticed a definite trend toward a deliberate desire to vote for non-white performers. Which is admirable. But you also have to realize — you’re still dealing with a base of old, stodgy white people, so what happens at SAG does not necessarily equate to everywhere else. These are the things you need to know if you’re trying to guess this shit as I do each year.

So here’s what SAG has given us for 2020 (my guess is this is the year of inclusion and makeup awards since they have no fucking clue what to do and we don’t have the usual publicity cycle where people (who largely don’t watch anything) are told what to vote for and generally do): (more…)


Oscars 2020: Golden Globe Nominations

Okay, Golden Globes. Our first precursor. The train has started. It’s a one-way stop to April… what is it, 26th? I always like days like this, especially now, since I can wake up late and see a bunch of texts and know they’re about the nominations and then avoid everything and watch them cold and get my purest reactions.

So what you’re about to get are pure reactions from me literally rolling out of bed and seeing these with absolutely no forewarning whatsoever.

Here are your 2020 Golden Globe nominations: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Animated Feature Eligibles

Animated Feature time. There are 27 films eligible this year, down from the record 32 last year. I’m honestly surprised we got that close, since little to no American studio animated fare even came out this year. I’d wager that most people would have trouble recognizing more than about ten of these titles, unless they specifically pay attention to animated film.

In the end, though, there likely won’t be very much intrigue, as this category figures to go the way it goes most years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look over anything and maybe find a couple of cool movies you didn’t know about.

Here’s the list of 27 eligible films for Best Animated Feature: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best International Feature Submissions

And now International Feature. There are 93 countries that submitted films, which is the same as last year, only this time two countries haven’t been disqualified. So technically this year is the record. Last year was really only 91. But anyway, we’ll do what we normally do — go over each film and see what it’s about and get acquainted with all the choices.

Last year, they upped the shortlist from 9 to 10. This year, it’s now 15. How it used to work was, they’d do preliminary voting, and then the PriceWaterhouseCooper people would tell the results behind closed doors to the branch executive committee, who would then argue it out like it’s the NFL Hall of Fame. If I remember correctly, how it worked was six films would get on naturally and then they’d allow three ‘saves’, films that they felt belonged on the shortlist that didn’t get enough votes through the branch. Which is something they started pretty recently, when “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” generally regarded as the best foreign film of that year, didn’t make the shortlist. So now they can save some of the better, beloved or higher profile films for the shortlist. Though I feel like a lot of the time the stuff does make the shortlist and a lot of times gets left off the final list.

They don’t ever tell you what the saves were (but curiously a lot of first time countries always seemed to curiously make shortlists a lot of the time this past decade), but that was the norm for over a decade. Now, they’ve done away with it and it’s just top 15. Which I assume means they’ve done the math and looked at past voting and figured if they just go to 15 like Doc Feature everything people feel should get on will get on. Though there are some lower profile but great films that might not be saved, since I’m sure there’s no way a lot of people are gonna watch all the choices and will just vote for the handful they know about. But we’ll see. It’s the first year of this.

Anyway, here are the 93 submissions for Best International Feature: (more…)


Oscars 2020: Best Documentary Feature Eligibles

Okay, so three giant list of eligibles/submissions were announced the other day and so I’m just gonna go over them all. Because I like to and because I can. We’re gonna start with Documentary Feature, since it’s the list I don’t have to spend too much time with. I kind of already know which docs I want to see and which ones I’ll probably need to see when they announce a shortlist (week from today, by the way).

But I believe the number of documentaries eligible to be nominated this year is 238. Which is usually around what the Best Picture number is like. They’ll reduce this list to 15. Which means that 94% of this list will be discarded within a week. But in the interest of people who like documentaries, we’ll briefly go over what each of the 238 is about and then I’ll broadly guess which ones make the most sense as getting on the shortlist.

Since we have 238 to go over, I’ll waste no more time. Here we go: (more…)


The 2021 Film Release Calendar: February

What a weird year. Of course brought about by the weird year that was last year. It’s February 1st and I’m only publishing month two of my release calendar now. And only because I have to, to prevent me from seeing some of these before I post this and negating the guessing.

But that’s 2021, I guess. The good thing about this is that I have a much better handle on what’s actually coming out this month. So often do I get halfway through the calendar and stuff gets dated and shifts and gets pushed and I’ve already talked about it. Here, I can be pretty certain that the majority of these movies will be coming out this month.

Anyway, here’s February: (more…)