Rejoice! The Critics Choice Nominations Are Here!

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Image by BFCA

I completely missed the announcements but what a wonderful treat to learn that they are here for all of us to see! The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards are upon us and the Broadcast Film Critics Association has declared who they considered to be the best of the best films of 2017. Let’s take a look at the nominees, shall we?

Best Young Actor/Actress:

  • McKenna Grace, Gifted
  • Dafne Keen, Logan
  • Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, The Florida Project
  • Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck
  • Jacob Tremblay, Wonder

Best Acting Ensemble:

  • Dunkirk
  • Lady Bird
  • Mudbound
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Animated Feature:

  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Despicable Me 3
  • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • Loving Vincent

Best Visual Effects:

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Best Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
  • Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • Dario Marianelli, Darkest Hour
  • Benjamin Wallfisch & Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049
  • John Williams, The Post
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Song:

  • “Evermore”, Beauty & The Beast
  • “Mystery of Love”, Call Me By Your Name
  • “Remember Me”, Coco
  • “Stand Up for Something”, Marshall
  • “This is Me”, The Greatest Showman

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • BPM
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • First They Killed My Father
  • In the Fade
  • The Square
  • Thelma

Best Costume Design:

  • Renée April, Blade Runner 2049
  • Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
  • Jacqueline Durran, Beauty & The Beast
  • Lindy Hemming, Wonder Woman
  • Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water

Best Editing:

  • Michael Kahn & Sarah Broshar, The Post
  • Paul Machliss & Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
  • Lee Smith, Dunkirk
  • Joe Walker, Blade Runner 2049
  • Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water

Best Production Design:

  • The Shape of Water
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Dunkirk
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Beauty & The Beast
  • Phantom Thread

Best Cinematography:

  • Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
  • Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water
  • Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
  • Liz Hannah & Josh Singer, The Post
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
  • Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
  • Dee Rees & Virgil Williams, Mudbound
  • Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
  • Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad & Stephen Chbosky, Wonder

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Hong Chau, Downsizing
  • Tiffany Haddish, Girl’s Trip
  • Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Arnie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Patrick Stewart, Logan
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

Best Actress:

  • Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Actor:

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
  • Tom Hanks, The Post
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Director:

  • Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Picture:

  • The Big Sick
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • The Florida Project
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The full list of nominees can be found right here! The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards will be televised on The CW Network on January 11, 2018 at 8:00. My personal predictions should be posted before then so stay tuned. So exciting!

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Review: Justice League

All that was going through my mind as I entered the theater to watch this week’s feature film was one simple sentence on repeat until the trailers ended and the show began: “In the name of Sweet Jesus, please don’t suck!”

Justice League opened to show us a world without Superman. Hopeless, fearful, chaotic, dark and vulnerable and in this moment of vulnerability, Earth is wide open to those who wish to do it harm both on world and off.

The death of Superman also triggered an awakening of three vessels of power called Motherboxes and signaled the coming of a being named Steppenwolf who, with his vast army of Parademons, lays siege to various corners of Earth to retrieve the Motherboxes and enact his ambition to alter the Earth into the image suitable for him and his master.

All that stands in this conqueror’s way are five remarkable individuals: Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Victor Stone, Barry Allen and Arthur Curry. These individuals must learn to become a team capable of protecting the world and living up to the legacy of the Man of Steel.

Image by Warner Bros. and DC

I went into Justice League hoping for the best but ultimately preparing for the worst because I was ready to find any reason to hate it. I came out of Justice League ready to give my official and resolute perspective: I believe Justice League did enough to not fail. In fact, it is my most forthcoming opinion that I actually enjoyed watching it!

By no means is the film perfect but I do believe that Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio with the assistance of Joss Whedon did in fact learn from the mistakes of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and they did make a fun, coherent, simple picture about the world’s finest heroes: Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg and Superman.

What really held this film back was the fact that it was a short movie and I get the sense that there were a lot of scenes and details that were left on the cutting room floor. The editing team of David Brenner, Richard Pearson and Michael Walsh didn’t do justice (no pun intended) to allow the film to truly highlight the impact of these characters and I believe equal blame should fall upon Terrio, Snyder and Whedon because audiences didn’t get enough depth and scope on these amazing characters and especially what drives and motivates the villain of the film: Steppenwolf.

On the other hand, I think the plot of the film, despite how it was self-restrained, did enough to truly showcase these characters and focused on bringing these heroes together and that was in fact satisfying. It’s what the audiences came to see and it did enough to win them over.

The cast did a good job. We’ve already seen what Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth) brought to the table as their respective characters from previous features but we see for the first time what Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman), Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/The Flash), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone/Cyborg) can bring to the table and they are in fact fun.

I was hoping to see more from the supporting cast including J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Ciarán Hinds, Connie Nielsen, Joe Morton and Billy Cudrup but I guess that’s what the future films are for.

Fabian Wagner’s cinematography was on-point, Danny Elfman did a good job with the score though I would have liked to hear what Junkie XL could have brought to the table instead, Patrick Tatopoulos’ production design was very nice, the art direction was good, the visual effects were solid, Michael Wilkinson’s costumes were awesome and Dominic Capon’s set decoration was good as well.

Do I count this as a major win for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment? It does enough to not lose, I will say that. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but it is better than the films that came before Wonder Woman and that is victory enough.

Going forward, I still want Geoff Johns and the creative team to really consider handing the keys to another director for a potential sequel. Zack Snyder did an okay enough job to keep the future of the DCEU alive but these movies need to reach their full potential.

From this critic’s perspective, Justice League is good enough to go see.

Movie of the Week: Justice League

Superman was regarded as a savior to some, a god to a few and a threat to many but his sacrifice in defeating Lex Luthor’s abomination known as Doomsday cemented his legacy as a hero. With the Man of Steel out of the picture, the world grows darker by the day as feats of injustice occur on a daily basis, but Bruce Wayne works to honor Superman legacy in the shadows for he knows that a mysterious and massive force is coming to Earth. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince scour the Earth to recruit special individuals in Arthur Curry, Barry Allen and Victor Stone to stand against this global threat. A new age of heroes is about to begin and it begins with a team. Justice League is upon us.

Director: Zack Snyder (and Joss Whedon)

Written by: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Ciarán Hinds, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Billy Cudrup, Kiersey Clemmons, Jesse Eisenberg and Henry Cavill.

What am I expecting to see?: This is the movie that cannot afford to fail! Warner Bros. and the DC Extended Universe already have their first win with Wonder Woman and for this franchise to get back on track, they need Justice League to be a success! I’ve gone on record expressing my lack of confidence in Zack Snyder as the guy in charge of these films but I’m going into Justice League expecting nothing but excellence, in light of the fact that Joss Whedon stepping in to finish what Snyder started. I DO NOT WANT THIS TO FAIL!!!

Review: Wonder Woman

I’ve had a good reason to be hard on the efforts of the DC Extended Universe over the past few years; especially last year considering my thoughts on their previous two pictures: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. This year, the producers of the DC Extended Universe look to turn the page on last year and seek to do so with their first superhero adventure starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

The film opens with Gadot as Diana Prince who receives a parcel from a new friend that compels her to reminisce on her earlier years. From her upbringing on the island of Themiscyra, home to the Amazons, where she was raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta, trained by her aunt Antiope, and encountered a man named Steve Trevor, who would guide her to the world of man on a journey that would change her life and the world at large forever.

To reiterate: I’ve been hard on the DC Extended Universe and I had good reason to be so. Their previous films have compelled me to set the bar low on their films going forward and I had to go into Wonder Woman with a low set of expectations. That being said, I must be blunt: THIS. MOVIE. IS. GOOD!

I must give credit where credit is due. Producers Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg crafted a solid origin story with coming-of-age themes that culminated in a very engaging, charming and the most entertaining DC movie to come out in years! I was satisfied with how they handled this movie; it wasn’t perfect but this was a great effort that really paid off!

I thought that the strength of this movie lied solely with Gadot’s performance meshed with Heinberg’s script and Jenkins’ execution. Wonder Woman is basically looking at the outside world with the perspective of childlike innocence, guided by a man who exposes her to the good and bad that a world at war has to offer someone who doesn’t exactly need to help.

If Gadot’s introduction in Batman v. Superman didn’t sell you on her ability to embody this iconic character, than this movie will most assuredly convince you! It was a treat watching her carry this movie and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Pine is splendid! Whether Diana is trying ice cream for the first time or feels concern or sympathy for the wounded soldiers on No Man’s Land, she just embodies the strength, compassion and innocence in this iconic character and she is relatable to audiences.

While I enjoyed watching this film, I only wish that the film could have done more with the supporting characters such as Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. I also hoped that the film would take more time to explore and examine Themiscyra, the Amazons and their cultures.

The cinematography of Matthew Jensen was solid, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music was satisfactory, Martin Walsh’s editing was solid, the production design of Aline Bonetto was good, Lindy Hemming’s costumes were very good, the visual effects were to my liking and technically Wonder Woman was very well put-together to give this character the strength to stand on her own.

Wonder Woman clearly raised the bar for films coming from the DC Extended Universe because what separates this movie from the films that came before it: fun! This movie allowed itself to have its own natural fun and that allowed the audience to have fun watching it; this is leaps and bounds better than any DC film that came before it!

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

For too long, the fight against the forces of evil has been spearheaded by men. The greatest heroes who have fought for humanity against foes driven to bring hurt and pain to the innocent are great men, but still men. The time has come for a woman to rise against those who would do harm to those who cannot protect themselves. It is time. It is her time! The Princess of Themiscyra, with shield on one arm, a sword in her hand, and a mystic lasso at her hip will rise to bring an end to the war that will end all wars. Diana’s crusade for justice is only the beginning of a journey that will place her in a league of her own. This is the story of a new age of heroism. This is the tale of Wonder Woman.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Written by: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Florence Kasumba, Ewen Bremmer, and Saïd Taghmaoui.

What am I expecting to see?: The last three films produced from the DCEU have underwhelmed to say the least, especially the films that flew under Warner Bros. and DC Comics from last year, so Wonder Woman is going in with an advantage of a low-bar already set. In the limited time we’ve seen her in the role already, Gal Gadot has done enough to sell audiences on her as Wonder Woman and now that she has this feature film to elevate herself, I’m hoping that she has clout to seize this initiative of being a powerhouse film hero in her own right.

Joss Whedon sends up the Bat-signal for BATGIRL!

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Image by shamserg

Filmmaker Joss Whedon’s last two forays into the superhero genre, The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, were hits as far as I was concerned and as far as the world was concerned, he retired from the realm of heroes after Ultron made its way into theaters.  I never expected to hear this news though and it’s surprising and exciting: Whedon will produce, write and direct a standalone Batgirl movie!

Batgirl first appeared in DC Comics in 1967 as Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon in “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” by writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino.

Now in the past few weeks, Batman’s presence in this expanding DC Cinematic Universe has certainly opened up many doors. For instance, The Batman, starring Ben Affleck, has roped in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves to helm the project, which has been delayed due to rewrites and other circumstances, the character Nightwing will be given his own standalone feature and now this?! Color me excited!

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Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Batgirl will be DC’s second film with a female-driven lead, the first being Wonder Woman and I for one, am certainly looking forward to seeing how Whedon will shape this film going forward. At this juncture, Whedon leading the project is the only details I can give; there are no actresses or actors attached, nor any mention of a specific story that will be adapted for this film. Furthermore, there is no telling when this movie or The Batman or Nightwing will make its way into theaters.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!