Posts tagged “Movies

Oscars 2020: Independent Spirit Award Nominations

As I wait for them to announce the NBR winners (which is really the only thing I care about today), they dropped the Independent Spirit Award nominations. So let’s go over those now.

Most people know I have a passive disinterest in these as they relate to the Oscars. On their own, they’re pretty great. They acknowledge films made in the true independent sense (most of the time. There were a few years there where it was clear the studios had gotten in there with their Oscar choices and even now a few questionable ones still get in) and do an awards show the way it’s supposed to be done — with everyone getting drunk in a tent on the beach. At this point, independent film is one of the only things keeping interesting movies going. So even though I dismiss these nominations as they relate to what the Oscars are gonna do (which reminds me of when Olivia Colman won Best Actress and said, “My kids are at home watching. Well, if you’re not then, well done.” It’s not like in the end that’s a good thing a lot of the time), I do love everything they’re about.

So anyway, here are the nominees this year: (more…)


Oscars 2020: AFI Awards

So the AFI Awards were announced today. They got the jump on NBR by a day. Usually I kick off my Oscar season with NBR, but apparently AFI just had to jump the gun. So let’s consider this the soft open. The dates article is already up, so it’s all fair game anyway.

Typically AFI is the most populist of this groups to announce, though they tend to get about half their list on the Best Picture list. Who the hell knows what the case is this year. I feel like I might have heard they were thinking of going back to a set ten, but maybe that was all just conjecture. So I’m just gonna look at this as a finger in the wind instead of a weather vane and just see where the winds are blowing before we start calculating it down to the exact direction and wind speed. (more…)


Oscars 2020: Important Dates

Here’s every date you need to know for this year’s Oscar season:

January 25thAFI Awards

January 26th National Board of Review Awards

Independent Spirit Nominations

February 3rd – Golden Globe Nominations

February 4th – SAG Nominations

February 8th – BFCA Nominations

February 9th – Best Documentary Feature Shortlist announced

Best Foreign Language Film Shortlist announced

Best Original Score Shortlist announced

Best Original Song Shortlist announced

Best Visual Effects Shortlist announced

Best Makeup & Hairstyling Shortlist announced

Best Animated Short Shortlist announced

Best Live-Action Short Shortlist announced

Best Documentary Short Shortlist announced

February 16th – WGA Nominations

February 18th – Makeup & Hairstylist Guild Nominations

February 20th – USC Scripter Award

February 25th – ADG Nominations

February 28th – Golden Globes

March 1st – MPSE Nominations

March 2nd – CAS Nominations

March 3rd – Annie Award Nominations

March 7th – BFCA Awards

March 8th – VES Nominations

March 9th – BAFTA Nominations

ASC Nominations

March 11th – ACE Nominations

March 12th – PGA Nominations

March 14th – SAG Awards

March 15th – Oscar Nominations Announced

March 21st – WGA Awards

March 24th – PGA Awards

April 3rd – Makeup & Hairstylist Guild Nominations

April 6th – VES Awards

April 10th – DGA Awards

ADG Awards

April 11th – BAFTA Awards

April 16th – Annie Awards

April 17th – CAS Awards

April 18th – ACE Awards

ASC Awards

MPSE Awards

April 24th – Independent Spirit Awards

April 25th – 93rd Academy Awards

– – – – – – – – – –

Also, reminder that my Oscar Trivia page is always available to view.

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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…)


The Underseen Films of 2020

And now our final one of this series of lists: The Underseen Films of 2020. This one’s pretty simple — I thought these films were great or simply interesting and worth your time, and I feel like not enough people saw them or gave them proper consideration. That’s it. For various reasons, these films feel like they deserve as wide an audience as possible, and I’m hoping my bringing them up gets you to see them and maybe gets a few of you to go, “I really liked that,” and then bring it up to your friends, and so on and so forth. They all deserve it for one reason or another. How is this notably different from Hidden Gems? Probably in that these are more likely to be films you’ve at least heard of in some way. That’s it, really. And it’s more about me saying, “Hey, this is why you need to see this,” instead of, “I think this is great, you should see this, and here’s why.”

So here are my top underseen films of 2020: (more…)


The Underrated Films of 2020

Okay, so Overrated was real difficult this year. And Underrated tends to be a mix of Hidden Gem plus stuff that I felt didn’t fully get a fair shake in theaters (which also overlaps with Underseen). There’s a weird alchemy to how I put stuff on lists (to the point where there might not actually be any real logic to it whatsoever. But what else have you come to expect out of me?), so I just kinda go with my gut.

This year, since you can’t really call much of anything underrated, I’ve decided to do something very specific with this year’s list, which is to make it all about representation. Because one thing I’m noticing over the past few years — there’s starting to be more and more films coming from places you would not have seen in years and decades prior. Films directed by women (and written by women at the same time. Sometimes even the same woman). Films authored and made by Black filmmakers. Films by and about LBGTQ+ people. And it’s not that all of them are amazing films (and should not be judged as such simply because they exist. Everything deserves the same equal shot to be deemed good or bad), but I find that they’re taking up some of the space of films that I’d normally see and shrug and go, “Whatever.” And now, there’s this increasing number of stuff that, while some of it will make me go, “Yeah, sure,” I can also go, “Oh, that’s a Black filmmaker who wrote and directed it. Good for them.” And I can be happy that it got made and got a chance to succeed as opposed to the same old boring white people shit.

So that’s what I want this year’s list to be about. I want to shout out all the films that are really worthy of your time and your respect, even if they might not all be my favorite films of the year (though I did like all of them. It’s not like I’m putting them on here just for representation. They’re all good movies). The point is — we’re not giving them enough credit for helping create this massive sea change in the industry and hopefully make it so anyone can tell any story about any subject, rather than it just be the same forty white guys making all the movies.

So here are the films I consider Underrated for 2020: (more…)


The Overrated Films of 2020

Okay, so we really only had about two-and-a-half months of moviegoing this year, so it’s hard to define the term ‘overrated’ for 2020. Usually, for me, overrated is people rushing out to see something and proclaiming it a masterpiece when really it’s just okay or just good. Or the media machine hypes the shit out of something and the movie’s just not worth it in the end. Or it’s an awards contender that people build up sight unseen and it turns out to be garbage. This list is always about hype and things not living up to that hype. (And again, based on my own feelings of things. I feel like people often misconstrue overrated to mean ‘bad’. When in reality, something could be the most lauded film of the year and still be overrated. The overrating only speaks more to the people talking about something than the thing itself.

But, whereas most years, the overrated films tend to be the ones that made a bunch of money and become runaway successes. But since we’ve all been stuck inside for the majority of the year and there’s really not much hype to be had, it’s hard to necessarily call things overrated. So I’m just gonna make this one a shorter list than usual. There are really only ten films I can put on here (and even then, I may have stretched it a little bit). The awards movies still have another six weeks to come out and we never had a summer movie season. It’s not an easy year to do this.

So, with as many caveats as I can give, here are my Overrated Films of 2020: (more…)


The Films of 2020 That Disappointed Me

So yesterday I talked about the films that surprised me in a good way… today’s the other list. The ones that I had some hopes for that just did not meet them. Not that I necessarily disliked them, but they just felt like they didn’t achieve what I was hoping they’d achieve, to varying degrees of disappointment. I’ll specify just how each of the films disappointed me, but in each one’s own way, it disappointed me. Again, I’ll specify that the list is only based on my own personal opinions, before you get all butt hurt about me putting something on here (hence the word “Me” in the title).

Here are the films that disappointed me most in 2020: (more…)


The Films of 2020 That Surprised Me

This is a list that’s slightly harder in a pandemic year, when a lot of the calendar was pushed to next year, but it’s not impossible, since if you’re gonna try to watch every movie that comes out, you’re gonna have some ones that you go into thinking will be one thing and come out going, “You know, that was way better than I thought.” I think the variance will probably be smaller this year, and the lack of big budget blockbusters will hurt it, but overall, I think I was able to find some movies that did, to some extent, made me go, “Oh, that was better than I was expecting.”

To put a finer point on it: this is mainly about why the films surprised me. The fact that they’re here is an implicit recommendation to go see them, and they count just as much as the Hidden Gems or any other list that I’ve put out around this one. I’m just trying to turn people on to some good movies here.

As usual, I’ll remind you that this list is entirely subjective and based solely on me and my own personal opinions on what I thought the films were gonna be versus what I actually thought of them. That said, here are the films that felt like pleasant surprises to me from 2020: (more…)


Some Hidden Gems of 2020

And so the lists begin. In a year like this, I feel like these lists are actually more important than they usually are (even though some of them will be made incredibly more difficult without having the theatrical experience and audience reaction to draw on), especially this one. Given that for the majority of this year, all the films that mattered essentially came out on VOD, a streaming service or PVOD, I’m guessing most people didn’t do a whole lot of movie watching. Maybe you watched some stuff here and there, but I’m thinking most people, if they could overcome the general dread and anger from the social and political events of 2020 and bring themselves to actually watch things, probably spent the majority of the year catching up on stuff they’d been meaning to watch from previous years and a lot of TV. Which means that you can use a list like this to tell you about all the cool stuff you probably missed.

Normally this list comes before my month wrap-up lists, so if you actually read those (doubtful, but possible), you’ll be aware of my feelings on most of these. But it’s still nice to have them out there. The next few lists (Films That Surprised Me/Disappointed Me and the Overrated and Underrated lists) are trickier, since they are more based on a shared viewing experience and reaction, but this one isn’t. So let’s just focus on this one.

Though I will say — I endeavor to only use films on one list. So if you see a movie on this list, you won’t see it on the, say, Underseen list. I try to spread the wealth as much as I can (with the possible exception being the Overrated list. That feels like it can afford a double entry if that’s how I feel).

Anyway, here’s just a sampling of some films I thought were really good and worth seeing that maybe you might not have seen or heard of: (more…)


Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (Top 50)

The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”

I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases), and a lot that doesn’t. And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not make you all have to hear about it?

This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s really just how much I like each of the movies and want to recommend them to you. That’s it. Because at this point, there’s so much stuff that’s put out on the platform that unless something truly breaks through, it immediately gets lost under the pile of the newer, shinier stuff. So the goal is to just talk about everything in relation to all the others, so you can gauge what you have seen versus where I’ve put everything and then maybe go, “Oh, what’s this one? This one sounds good.” (more…)


Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (51-100)

The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”

I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases), and a lot that doesn’t. And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not make you all have to hear about it?

This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s really just how much I like each of the movies and want to recommend them to you. That’s it. Because at this point, there’s so much stuff that’s put out on the platform that unless something truly breaks through, it immediately gets lost under the pile of the newer, shinier stuff. So the goal is to just talk about everything in relation to all the others, so you can gauge what you have seen versus where I’ve put everything and then maybe go, “Oh, what’s this one? This one sounds good.” (more…)


Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (101-150)

The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”

I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases), and a lot that doesn’t. And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not make you all have to hear about it?

This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s really just how much I like each of the movies and want to recommend them to you. That’s it. Because at this point, there’s so much stuff that’s put out on the platform that unless something truly breaks through, it immediately gets lost under the pile of the newer, shinier stuff. So the goal is to just talk about everything in relation to all the others, so you can gauge what you have seen versus where I’ve put everything and then maybe go, “Oh, what’s this one? This one sounds good.” (more…)


Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (151-200)

The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”

I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases), and a lot that doesn’t. And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not make you all have to hear about it?

This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s really just how much I like each of the movies and want to recommend them to you. That’s it. Because at this point, there’s so much stuff that’s put out on the platform that unless something truly breaks through, it immediately gets lost under the pile of the newer, shinier stuff. So the goal is to just talk about everything in relation to all the others, so you can gauge what you have seen versus where I’ve put everything and then maybe go, “Oh, what’s this one? This one sounds good.” (more…)


Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (201-250)

The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”

I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases), and a lot that doesn’t. And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not make you all have to hear about it?

This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s really just how much I like each of the movies and want to recommend them to you. That’s it. Because at this point, there’s so much stuff that’s put out on the platform that unless something truly breaks through, it immediately gets lost under the pile of the newer, shinier stuff. So the goal is to just talk about everything in relation to all the others, so you can gauge what you have seen versus where I’ve put everything and then maybe go, “Oh, what’s this one? This one sounds good.” (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 2010-2019

This decade is the first decade where this site existed while I was watching all the films. 2010’s list was the very first thing I posted on this site. So it’s the only Decade I’ve compiled in real time. And I really haven’t had a lot of time to consider just how I feel about it as a cohesive decade, since each year feels like it’s own entity to me (since I treated them as such for the past decade). But I can say, compiling this list was both pretty easy and pretty tough. Because it finally forced me to come to terms with certain films and say, “No, I truly like this movie over this other one, even though I spent the majority of the past decade saying otherwise.” But you know what? It was nice to do. I like that I’ve done it and can now live my truth.

My big takeaway from this past decade in terms of industry/history purposes — this is really the decade where the DVD market dried up and streaming services came about, PVOD became a thing and the theatrical experience became much more about niche art films or giant tentpoles with really no middle ground. But even despite all that, it still made me realize — no matter how they distribute the films, there’s still a baseline of directors and styles/genres that I will always gravitate toward, and this list is gonna reflect that.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 2019

So these recent years are difficult to talk about because — I just talked about them. I only posted the original Top Ten list for this year last year. Only a year has passed and usually that’s not a whole lot of time to see how your opinion changes. Usually it’s only enough to see where you overreacted to certain films or maybe undervalued others. But I’m happy to say — I think I got this one right. At least for now. We’ll see what happens in 3-5 years, but at the moment, aside from some minor number shifting (which is meaningless anyway), I’m very happy with the films I chose to be on this list.

That’s the one thing I’m seeing as we move further from this year — it was an incredible year of film. I knew at the time the top ten list was strong, but I didn’t realize just how strong. I’m only liking these movies more as time goes on. And all up and down the line, there’s some fantastic and memorable stuff. It’s gonna hold up.  Which is good, since the year after this is perennially gonna be a giant shit show, so at least we’ve got this one. (more…)


The 2021 Film Release Calendar: January

New Year, new movies.

This is the time of year when I go over all the movies set to come out this year. Because we have so much time between now and when I usually do awards stuff (and because I don’t actually know what film exhibition is going to look like for at least the first half of this year), it’s gonna be more spread out than usual. We’ll cover January today and I probably won’t cover February until we get to February. I kind of need to see what the lay of the land is going to look like before we get too deep into this whole thing. Don’t worry, I’m not even remotely close to starting to watch any of these yet, so the sanctity of the ratings won’t be violated.

But yeah. Here we are. Here’s all the movies set to come out in January: (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…)


2020: In Memoriam

As we end the year, we do as we always do, acknowledge those we lost over the previous year. Sure, we used to do this on January 1st, but I’ve retired the Unforgivables list, so something had to go here. Plus, let’s say goodbye to 2020 as soon as we fucking can, am I right?

Because this year was an extremely egregiously bad one, I’ve decided to expand this list from the usual 50 to 60. It seems like an inordinate number of great people died this year, and because the year’s felt like it’s been so goddamn long, you might need to be reminded about some of them. Because it’s a pretty insane list. And, as always, these are the ones that mean the most to me (which usually means music and movies). There are far more people who died this year than this, but these ones felt personal to me in some way.

Anyway, let’s celebrate all these people and the great things they’ve accomplished: (more…)