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What I’ve Watched Lately + Fall Stuff!

Hey there, welcome back to Stale Popcorn. After a lengthy vacation, preceded by a lengthy vacation, I’m here with some content! So first off, it’s good to be here. I haven’t written for the site in a good bit, so this is fun! Now, an update on where the show stands. Right now, it’s still in a bit of a hibernation state. Not sure if we’ll ever really get back into it. It’s more like, “If we feel like it, we’ll do it, and if we don’t, we won’t.” And today I dropped an episode, so go check that out wherever you listen to podcasts. We’re everywhere! But rest assured that the bills are still being paid and the lights still work; they’re just a little bit dimmer than before. I hope that doesn’t sound too sad.

So anyway, I’m Josh–let’s talk about some movie stuff. Here are all the things I’ve watched within the past month or so: Minions. Thor, Nope, Lightyear, World War Z, and DC League of Super Pets. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it except I really, really like going to the theater, and occasionally I’ll check out something at home that I’ve been wanting to watch. Out of the ones I saw in theaters, Nope was probably my favorite of the bunch, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed DC Super Pets. World War Z was a lot better than I thought it would be. I’m not into gross zombie movies, but I can handle a decently told story about a zombie outbreak, and this was a good watch. Apparently, it had the ending changed after testers responded harshly to the original end, and the one I saw fit the story well. Glad I watched it.

What’s coming up soon that I really want to watch? Unfortunately, in the theater, it might be a bit before I get to see something. It looks pretty dead until we get to Halloween Ends, followed by Black Adam. There are a few streaming movies I’ll want to see. Disney’s Pinocchio will be released on streaming in September, as well as Hocus Pocus 2. But looking over the landscape of it, it might be a good time to check out some stuff that I’ve wanted to get to but haven’t had the chance to. Recently, I watched Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with my kids and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it this time around. I had never really given them a fair shake–I watched them all a few years back and thought they were okay–well-made but I didn’t really connect with them. Watching it this past weekend, with the subtitles on I have to add, I definitely felt the story a lot more and it actually has me wanting to check out the books sometime. I tried to read The Hobbit a few years back but got to around page 20 and fell out of favor with it, so not sure how it would go trying to read Lord of the Rings. As far as why I liked the movie more this time, I think a lot of it has to do with age and mood. As I get older, I’m appreciating films more than I didn’t connect with earlier in life, and really, I was just in the mood for that genre when we watched it.

Looking down the road, we’re a month or so away from fall, which brings on the spooky stuff, so going back to Halloween Ends–I’ll probably watch it and I already know how it’s going to play out. Even though I enjoyed Halloween 2018, I thought Halloween Kills was awful in just about every way, so I have zero hype for Ends. But as is typically the case with this franchise, the lore of it all drags me back in and I can’t help but get excited, even just a little bit, about a new Halloween movie. I hope they learned their lessons from the second movie, but typically, these filmmakers are a stubborn group and are pretty set in their ways, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this one just tanks on the story, but you know it’s going to do great at the box office.

Hocus Pocus 2 will try to bring back the charm of the first one, which, in my opinion, isn’t a very good movie, but is a fun movie to watch, obviously during the fall and around Halloween. It’s definitely got the 90’s straight-to-video feel to it, even though it released in theaters–coming out in July of all months. Why would they do that? And I’m a little surprised that the sequel isn’t getting a theatrical release. I think it would have done really well, but as it is, it’s straight-to-streaming on September 30th.

And lastly today, my favorite movie of the year, Top Gun Maverick, will be coming out for digital purchase on August 23, but won’t come out on physical media until November. I can’t wait to watch this movie again, and I bet it will stand up really well for years to come. It’s a superior film to the original, and what makes its success so incredible to me is that it had to go through so many delays because of the pandemic and still captivated crowds and dominated the box office, as it’s made over $1 billion for Paramount. It’s the highest grossing film of Tom Cruise’s career, which is really cool considering how long he’s been at the acting game. There’s no word on when it’ll release on Paramount Plus. If Tom Cruise has a say, and I’m sure he does, it will be a while before it shows up on the streaming service.

That’s all for now! If you haven’t done so yet, check out our podcast wherever you listen to your content, and make sure to connect with us on all of our social media! Take care!

Tenet Review: Nolan’s Ear-Splitting Inversion Epic Falls Way Short

So, after a long wait, we finally have our latest Christopher Nolan film. To say many of us were excited to get back to the theater and experience a brand-new film would be an understatement. It has been a tough summer for movie fans, and Tenet would seem to be the perfect reintroduction to the cinematic experience. And Tenet is certainly an ambitious notion. The inversion of time, where moments essentially fold into themselves, is probably the most mind-bending concept the acclaimed director has put to film yet, and that is saying something.

To many avid film goers, Christopher Nolan is Michelangelo. His films teeter on the brink of Renaissance-era art. Many of them are considered too sophisticated for single viewings. If you were to go and observe the Sistine Chapel, you would never be able to take it all in in under two hours. It would take time to observe and ponder the sheer magnitude of what your eyes were being blessed with. For some, seeing a Nolan film is that big of a deal; you are being blessed, so do not fight it, and certainly do not argue with it, for Nolan knows best. What we criticize some director’s for, Nolan gets recognition as a true independent and savant. He plays by his own rules and we are supposedly all the better for it.

The complexity with which Nolan tries to navigate the trenches of Tenet is never done with the subtle care of someone who really wants you to “get” the film. If Nolan gets it, that is really all that matters here. In musical terms, Tenet is death metal rock, but what it desperately needed was some smooth jazz. Both are valid and interesting genres, but they do not work in all situations all the time, and it seems that Nolan went full throttle when he should have eased into it a bit.

So, what is Tenet? At its most basic, it is a time looping doomsday film. The idea is that World War 3 is on the cusp, and utilizing the concept of inversion, the main character, simply named The Protagonist, is fitted to dive deep into the underground world of inverted weapon manufacturing and distribution—basically, who stands to gain the most from this and who has the power? The Protagonist must figure out who is at the helm of this operation and stop them before everything is destroyed.

The idea is fantastic and very Nolan-like. But the execution is so very sloppy, and disappointing to see coming from someone so admired as Nolan. First, let us talk about the absolute biggest flaw in the film, the sound. It is not an exaggeration to say that this may be the worst sounding film I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. I had heard the rumors beforehand that it was atrocious but knowing that does not prepare you at all. It is obnoxious and blistering. Any action scene is muffled by total distortion. Every sound is blasted into your ears at a rapid and unrelenting pace. It is unbearable.

Once you get past the barrage of sound effects, there’s little chance of being able to understand anything the characters are saying. Sentences run together like a trash compactor jumbling everything around in a big, hot pile. Moments meant to be subdued are spent trying to comprehend what you think you have just heard. Plot-points through exposition come and go in the blink of an eye, and anything good that comes from being able to understand the characters is always drowned out by the most ear-piercing round of explosions you’ve ever heard at the theater.

Nolan seems determined to frustrate the viewer, and his penchant for narrative frustration is compounded even more by his erratic and unintelligible dialogue. The man cannot seem to get out of his own way to make a film that is accessible. I do not want to say Nolan thinks he is better than his audience but let us just say he seems to relish the opportunity to confuse the viewer. And if you do not get it, that’s a you problem, not a Nolan problem.

The viewer is forced to watch our characters meander through flat conversations with B-side characters about rare artifacts, distributors, and…plutonium? It is all a bit disheveled.

Dialogue is muffled and just plain indistinguishable. This is clearly a complex film. And to simply not be able to hear what is being said is really an unforgiveable film sin. Sound be balanced. The director’s intent here seems to be complete disruption and chaos. This is an awful mix created with deliberate intent. It is nothing to praise Nolan for, and everything to blame him for. His choice to have Tenet be mixed so poorly is one of the most head-scratching decisions I can remember in a film. If Nolan is so keen to bring us inside of these complex worlds, it might be advantageous for us to simply hear the story. Any other director would be rebuked for this atrocity.

But how is the acting? Well, it is admirable and watchable. I like the cast and what they offer. There is a dire grasp of the enormity of the story here that those involved seem to want to convey on screen. But while the acting is a pleasure to watch, the characters are totally forgettable and unworthy of the magnitude of the moment. I simply do not care about their plight. They are cookie-cutter, lacking depth and meaning.

The inversion effects are very good and give the viewer a real treat to watch, enough to throw your brain for a loop as you try to comprehend what is happening. Our brains are not accustomed to processing inverted footage in this way. It is disorienting, but in a way that somehow enhances the experience.

Nolan’s Tenet is ambitious and there is a high-quality film in here somewhere. But Nolan overcomplicates everything to the point of pure exhaustion. I just wanted this movie to end. Nolan is obviously a great mind. He wants to do things that many would scoff at and say is unfilmable. It is admirable. And if this were a singular experience for only Nolan himself to consume, none of the problems with this film would matter. But when your job offers the opportunity for an audience to come in and experience the world you’ve created, you have an obligation to the audience to get us to the end where we say, “Aha! I get this!” Instead, Tenet begins with chaos and ends with exasperation and when it is all said and done, the idea of Tenet remains the best thing about it. I think it is time for Nolan to get out of his own way and remember that it is not to anyone’s benefit if he tries to play us for fools

1.5 out of 4

Onward is a Magical Adventure for Families

Pixar’s Onward is one of the more peculiar films in the legendary animation studios amazing history, one that covers the last quarter of a century and has delivered some of the best films in that time frame; the Toy Story franchise, Inside Out, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles. You’ll even find folks who enjoy The Good Dinosaur for its sweet story and amazing visuals. Wall*E is found on a lot of top Pixar lists. The Cars franchise has become a merchandising behemoth and has its own theme park section at Disneyland. Basically, whatever Pixar gives us is almost sure to leave some kind of lasting impression.

So where does Onward fall in the ranks of the collection? The answer, as is usually the case, may not be as easy as simply putting a number on it and filing it alongside the rest of the batch.

Directed by Dan Scanlon, who also helmed Monsters University, and starring Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer, is the story of two elf brothers who embark on a journey to bring back their deceased father for one day. And as Ian and Barley, voiced by Holland and Pratt respectively, find themselves on an adventure met with some precarious circumstances, they find out more about themselves along the way that will help guide them in their quest and help them in the next phase of their lives.

Scanlon wrote the story from personal experience, having lost his father at a young age and wondering what it would be like to meet him, and anyone who has lost a parent–especially at a young age when the memories and moments may be few–will immediately connect with the story. And how could you not? Ian is a teenage elf who is completely unsure of himself in pretty much every situation. He’s essentially a loner who is desperately craving socialization, and in one meant-to-be-cringey moment, something as mundane as inviting others to a birthday party becomes an exercise in humiliation. Nothing goes right and Ian is left feeling the pain that comes from not knowing how to pull himself out of this and become the confident young elf he desires to be. And he does desire to be many things, as he keeps his own to-do list on how to become the elf he dreams of being.

Barley, Ian’s older and wilder brother, is carefree and happy. He is the epitome of positivity and adventure. He wants to take the road less traveled because it’s probably filled with all kinds of mysterious shenanigans. He’s really the opposite of Ian, and is an example of how two people who have lost someone so very close can handle their loss in very different ways. Ian is closed off, more alone to himself and his thoughts, but wants to break out. Barley wants to rush out and do the crazy things without much regard for what seems more practical. He’s not so much the rule breaker as he is the curious fan of life. But as you watch the film, it’s so very obvious that he’s in pain from the loss of his father, and he’s had to bear a great weight for his family.

The mother, Laurel Lightfoot, voiced by Dreyfus, is as you would expect her to be; a loving mom who is struggling to be the sole parent for her two kids who have entered into that wild age between older child and young adult. It’s all coming at her so fast that she’s just trying to make due the best she can. The character of Laurel certainly isn’t a main point in this film, and thus the themes of the role take a backseat to the main story of the Lightfoot Brothers. But it’s no less important in the overall story; she wants to see her boys safe but also understands that they are at a fork in the road and they may need to take some chances. Still, she’s a mother, so of course she’s going to go after them, and she has some tricks up her sleeves in her own quest to make sure her boys have their best chance of succeeding.

The story is predictable in nature, and as such, the characters have to be that much more interesting to make up for anything that would be easy to catch. Scenes happen pretty quickly, and some could do with some extension. You can feel a moment happening at certain points and then as quickly as it hits, it’s on to the next one. Beat to beat, the story suffers from being rushed. But the characters of Ian and Barley are so incredibly endearing that–while it doesn’t make up for the faster pace that hurts the impact–it definitely keeps it from falling into the well of mediocrity.

And that’s where the rubber meets the road with Onward. It’s less about the story and much more about the relationship of Ian and Barley. Barley really is trying to guide his younger elf brother through the trenches of teenage life–in the best way he can–while also not having any fatherly guidance himself. He’s been tasked with a difficult job. And Ian is trying to fill the void of not having his father in his life. And it’s the little moments where the characters get to breathe that show the heart of the film. When Barley admits to Ian that his longing for magical quests and his decision to be completely fearless stems from a moment where he gave in to the fear, is really something that we can all connect with on some level, even if we haven’t experienced what Barley has.

Onward is filled with fun moments, of course. My favorite is shown in the trailer, when Ian shrinks Barley, and we get to watch how Ian is forced to make some tough decisions that will either end their dream of seeing their father, or keep them on the path towards their ultimate treasure.

It’s also quite sweet. Not heartbreaking, per se, but you hurt for the Lightfoot family, not because they want to be pitied or are even pining for anyone’s sympathies, but because they keep going despite the hurts of the past. They are an incredibly endearing family, and can be a shining example of hope and decency when you are facing tough times.

Onward gets a B+ grade from me. Whatever weaknesses may come from the predictable story are simply minimized by the charming characters that we track with over this movie.

Where does it rank in the echelon of Pixar films? I don’t know. I don’t like to play that game. I would much prefer to be entranced with the film in front of me than worry about how a film like Onward lines up with Toy Story or The Incredibles. It’s a different kind of movie than those, and whether you enjoy it or not will totally depend on what you like to see from your story. For my time and money, it’s a winner.

Captain Marvel Brings 7th Biggest MCU Opening, Haters Suffer Humiliating Defeat

After what seems like forever since we last saw an MCU film (Ant-Man & the Wasp seems so long ago), Captain Marvel opened to much anticipation and made-up controversy to jolt the domestic box office out of its stupor, hauling in an impressive $153 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo. This number puts it as the seventh biggest opening weekend for the much acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After all the hubbub before the film’s release, which saw incessant and nauseating attempts to troll, and those hoping to cause a rift in the MCU success continuum, it was really all for naught, as folks ran to the theater to check out the origin tale of Carol Danvers, and left generally pleased with the end result.

The Next Few Months

We realize that not everyone gets out to the theater like we do, and we know that our podcast is just not accessible for everyone. To help bridge that gap, over the next few months, we’re going to focus on reviewing and discussing older movies. Our goal has always been to appeal to the widest group we can, and in simply reviewing the latest movies in the film industry, not everyone wants to listen, and I totally get that. If there’s something happening in the world and I don’t know anything about it, I’m less likely to engage in the associated content. It makes sense, and we want to use common sense on the podcast.

August feels like the perfect time to take a break from reviewing the latest film releases; it’s kind of a slow month, and September doesn’t seem to be all that impressive either. And our schedules are getting busier (hello, new school year)! So we’re going old school on the podcast, talking about classic films that we love, and allow ourselves the chance to finally watch ones that we’ve never sat down to enjoy.

Next week we’ll be seeing, “The Meg,” a monster movie that my co-host has little to no interest in watching. So in that same arena, we felt it would be a great time to start our Old School series, and we’ll be watching and discussing the all-time classic, Steven Speilberg’s “JAWS.” YES!

We hope that you enjoy this new chapter on the podcast. Other than a few movies sprinkled here and there, we’ve never really been focused on the older stuff. What my goal for this is two-fold: to allow ourselves to not feel terrible if we can’t get out to the theater that week, and to make our content more friendly–most people will have seen these movies that we’ll be checking out.

Thanks for being a listener/reader to the podcast, and we look forward to the next few months!

5 Ways to Make Your Movie Theater Experience Awesome

I believe that the movie theater is sacred ground. It’s an institution that should be respected and held in high regard for its unbelievable ability to give us a place where we can see the latest in cinema magic. It’s a unique experience unlike anything else in our society, and it should be revered and treated with dignity!

However, respect for the theatrical experience has taken a bit of a nosedive. It’s tough to go watch a movie nowadays and leave without incident. Just recently our viewing of Hereditary was ruined by a few youngsters on their phones, screen-hoppers, etc. Not the best film for that to happen to, trust me.

But there are a few things that you and I can do to improve our overall experience, because we all want our time on this tiny blue planet to be enjoyable, and we all want our movie-watching to be the best it can be.

1 – Arrive early
I know it’s cool and hip to reserve seats now and skip the endless number of previews (seriously, 25 minutes of trailers is a BIT much!), but getting there early allows you to take in the energy and the anticipation of the film you’re about to watch. Try it if you haven’t in a while. It’s worth it. If you’re not reserving your seats, get there 15 minutes early so you can get the seat you want and you won’t have to wade through the crowd.

2 – Dress for the occasion
We like to dress for the event when we go to the movies. And when I say dress, I mean throw on whatever t-shirt goes with the film. I went out and bought a $5 Jurassic Park shirt so I could wear it to Fallen Kingdom, and it was fun, and it was neat, and it made the night all the better. Just recently we took the whole family to see The Incredibles 2, and we dawned our masks and Incredible shirts and we took pictures and just had a great time. Try it!

3 – Put your phones away
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but you know, 2018. When the trailers start, put your phones away! Seriously! Turn them off! Just turn the thing off, put it in your pocket, your bag, your cup holder, and just forget it exists for two hours. Not only will you feel better being off your phone, you’ll be more present in the film, and you’re spending too much money on a ticket to be on a device that you’re always on anyway. Let it go!

4 – Don’t be critical right away
I know the tendency is to find things to pick apart in the film, but if you just resist the urge for a few moments and instead look to what you preferred in the film, I think you’ll find the experience much more rewarding and fulfilling. Movies, like any art, shouldn’t be subjugated to our buzzword criticisms (caveat: if you’re prone to the critical side and you find actual enjoyment from this, criticize away, but just don’t do it at the expense of others’ enjoyment).

5 – Talk about it!
This doesn’t contradict rule 4. I think it’s fun to talk about movies after you’ve seen them, but without the need of trying to break everything down and rip it to shreds. If it’s a movie you genuinely love, it makes it all the easier. Riding in the van with the kids after Incredibles 2 was awesome because we got to talk about all the fun things we saw. It’s also fun to theorize a little bit and create some of your own fan-fiction.

There you go! Five simple rules to make your movie-going experience awesome! Do you have any others to add? Let us know on Twitter at @StalePopcorn or on our Facebook page! Happy movie watching!

Top 5 MCU Films Post-Infinity War

It was inevitable that Infinity War would shake up the rankings. And after such build-up, and for it to actually surpass most expectations, it’s now time to update the ole list. Here are my Top 5 MCU Films, post Infinity War.

5. Thor: Ragnarok

Hard to believe that a Thor movie could be this good, but Director Taiki Waititi deftly handles the tone of this film perfectly. It’s the Thor we didn’t know we wanted until we had it, one that was now “Earth-ized” and thus, a personality was born! While the seriousness of the film takes a major hit, it’s not at the expense of entertainment. Thor 3 is so entertaining and re-watchable, and it sets up Thor for great things in the future.

4. Avengers

The one that really started it all. It certainly has shown its age. Remember when Joss Whedon was prematurely crowned as the King of the MCU? Yeah, we were all on that train for a while. And even though it hasn’t aged well, it’s still a fantastic team-up, and I remember just how amazing the concept was to bring Thor, Hulk, Cap, and Iron Man together. Now, it almost seems commonplace that these characters are going to share the screen together. At the time, though, it was massive.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by Tony and Joe Russo, Winter Soldier marked a turning point in the Universe, as it created a rift in the philosophy of Captain America’s purpose, and the fabric of all the films are affected because of this. The emergence of Bucky as the Winter Soldier, an out-of-time Steve Rogers, and the team-up between Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon, all lead to a great time, and one that is highly relevant to the events that are currently taking place within the MCU right now.

2. Captain America: Civil War

If bringing the Avengers together the first time around was significant its unique inclusion of iconic characters, Civil War took it one step further by adding even more characters such as Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man, and gave us a battle we were all wanting to see: Iron Man vs. Captain America. Also directed by Tony and Joe Russo, they showed here that they were capable of weaving a narrative that played out so seamless on the big screen–and their incorporation of new characters without taking anything away from anyone else spoke volumes to their abilities to truly handle the magnitude of a huge film with a lot of moving parts. It’s exceptional.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Surprise! Avengers: Infinity War is the best film that the MCU has to offer. This massive film hits all the right notes in all the right ways, and it’s absolutely stunning how well the Russo Brothers were able to direct all of these aspects without ever taking away anything substantial from anything. Not only did they welcome Thanos into the film–a character who had been hyped for years as the true villain in the MCU–but in the end, this was HIS film. He’s the ultimate protagonist here, and he has catapulted himself atop the mountain as one of the best characters in the entire catalog of films. He’s now the best villain that we’ve ever seen in these films.

Being able to give us a grand two and a half hour epic that is both satisfying and somber, while leaving us with so many questions, is simply astonishing, and what was accomplished in Infinity War is something to be commended.

In the end, it’s difficult to give a Top 5 and not include films like Black Panther or Spider-Man: Homecoming or Guardians of the Galaxy, but that really speaks to the nature of this Universe. There are just so many fantastic films, and almost all of them are worthy considerations for anyone’s best-of list.

What are your top 5 MCU films? Let us know on Twitter @StalePopcorn or on our Facebook page!

Avengers Infinity War Breaks Weekend Box Office Record

Avengers: Infinity War is a massive hit. Everyone went to see this film this weekend, and I feel like if you didn’t see it, you were one of the few, and I hope you get to check it out very soon!

Box office numbers are still coming in, but one thing we know for sure is this: the payoff film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has indeed paid off in dividends, as it has broken the all-time record for biggest opening in film history, upending 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Reports suggest at least a $250 million opening, and when all the dust settles, it could very well make it’s way towards $260 million, which is not only insane, but just flat-out awesome, because the film is incredible in just about every way.

Infinity War is a juggernaut of a film, and handles the breadth and depth of its characters will such intelligence and sophistication that it is hard to deny this is one of the greatest cinematic achievements in the history of film, and fans went on in absolute droves to check it out. We all want to be apart of the discussion, and the numbers don’t lie: MCU is King.

To listen to our review of Avengers: Infinity War, check out the link here: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR REVIEW

Why I’m Rooting for Get Out at the Oscars


The Oscars are this Sunday, and a case can be made for just about all of these Best Picture nominees. They are all different and they each cater to a different audience. There are no films on this list that you say to yourself, “Man, I just don’t get why this is here.” And no film represents that concept more than Get Out, a film that really caught a lot of people off guard with how well-made it was. It became one of the most talked about films of the year and it is absolutely deserving of a Best Picture nominee and, dare I say, a Best Picture Award?

I’m rooting for Get Out this Sunday at the Oscars, and let me tell you why.

1 – It came out in February!

In a day when we have very strong recency bias, Get Out has stayed with us for over a year now. It was released in February of 2017, and with each passing month, it became a stronger film for its themes, for its dark comedy, for its brevity in storytelling. And as the months went on and more and more films came out, it became evident that Get Out was beginning to prove itself to have staying power. The mere notion that we are just as hyped about Get Out now as we were when it first came is a testament to how well-constructed this movie is. Most of the films on the Best Picture list came out during award season. They have the aroma of award season. Get Out isn’t like that. It doesn’t “feel” like it was made for the awards. It feels like it was made for the people. And as such, it doesn’t cut corners. It doesn’t try to manipulate the audience in any way. It allows the audience to take in the story and form their own thoughts on it. It’s not a preachy film. It’s a movie that knows the story it’s telling and goes all in on the unique concept.

2 – Watch it once, get hooked. Watch it again, get educated.

When I watched the film the first time, I was terrified by the things on that screen. The subtlety of the themes, the dark humor that was boiling, the oddities of character that hovered over everything, I was pretty much blown away. It’s easy to just watch and film and move on. That’s what happens most of the time. But when I saw Get Out, my jaw dropped, and I was left wanting to learn more about the universe that Jordan Peele created. And finding out the attention to detail that went into weaving the themes throughout the narrative was quite eye-opening. This film wasn’t made haphhazardly. It was made with great care. So going back to watch it again, you begin to see those little details start to stand out so much more, and it’s like watching a completely different film. When there’s a story within the story, you know you’ve got something special. It’s unlike any of the other Best Picture nominees in that regard. And while they all tell their own unique story, Get Out does it in a way that keeps you coming back to figure out what you can learn. And you’ll learn a lot.

3 – It’s flat-out entertaining!

There’s a problem that I’ve seen with Best Picture nominees. Not all of them, but a lot of them, tend to be just…hard to watch. They aren’t easily accessible. A movie like Phantom Thread was riveting, engrossing, and challenging, but it’s not all that entertaining. Three Billboards was built on the shoulders of great performances, but it’s not something that everyone can get into. It’s a tough watch. Dunkirk is telling a complex story of hope in the middle of despair, but it just isn’t that intriguing with its lack of character growth. Lady Bird is highly enjoyable, but it’s eccentric and odd. Gary Oldman gives an incredible performance in Darkest Hour but he’s on the screen for 90% of the time. The Post may find itself to be too on-the-nose for our current times even though it has an all-star cast. The Shape of Water looks great, but it’s a quirky, R-rated story about a fish-man and a woman that you’ll either love or hate. And Call Me By Your Name, with its abundance of nominations, isn’t going to be for everyone.

Get Out, for my money, is incredibly thought-provoking about the landscape of covert racism and low-key relatability (“I would have voted for Obama for a third term”) while also being highly entertaining. It’s something that everyone can watch and gain something from. It can be a popcorn film if that’s what you want, but it can also be a deep journey into the human complexity.

All of the nominees in the Best Picture category feel like Best Picture nominees. Get Out feels like the one that shouldn’t be there, and yet, it’s the one that deserves to be there the most because of its bold approach to taking a lot of ideas and allowing each of them to breathe within the film. It never forces the viewer to see the film from a pushed point of view. Rather, each viewer is able to take something different and significant away from this near-masterpiece. That’s why I’m rooting for it to win Best Picture. It’s a head above the rest.

Oh, That’s Why The Cloverfield Paradox Went to Netflix

In what was originally looked at as a stroke of genius, we were all treated to trailer spots for The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl, and as the game went on, more information starting flowing, and it became apparent that we were going to treated to a new Cloverfield film immediately following the game.

This all happened really quickly.

The Cloverfield Paradox, at one point named God Particle, has been in the pipes for a while–many Cloverfield fans had been anticipating it, and we thought we were going to be getting a theatrical release in February. However, as the date got closer and closer, with no news, no trailer, nothing at all, it became clear that we weren’t getting this film in February, and so rumors started floating that it would get a release around April. But–still, no trailer?! Where’s the news for this film? Where’s the marketing? Where’s that Cloverfield charm that we all know and love so dearly?

We didn’t get any of that.

But then, the Super Bowl spots. And a lot of excitement. Hey, this is a big deal, and not just to fans of Cloverfield. To have a full, feature length film, one that was scheduled to be released in theaters, to now be released moments after the Super Bowl ends? That’s a trailblazing moment.

The problem with this, however, is that the movie needs to deliver. It needs to resonate with folks. For this movement of releasing big budget films straight to Netflix or other streaming platforms to gain true momentum, yes, the name matters, but the results matter even more.

And The Cloverfield Paradox is a complete sham on almost every front. It’s an embarrassing film, and it hurts all the more because this was supposed to continue in the lineage of Cloverfield films–to say, they are unique, they have an aura of charismatic frustration, and they rely on tense performances to maneuver the story along and continue to cultivate the enigma surrounding this universe.

But…the movie has to be good. The Cloverfield Paradox is awful. Perhaps even more frustrating is that the Cloverfield mythology feels completely squeezed in to this film. On its own, it’s already not very good–mainly due to a really flat and boring story that is convoluted enough to make your head spin, and some of the worst characters you’ll encounter. Sci-fi, to a large extent, should be campy and have an element of oddball fun. But spoiler–when a guy loses half his arm to the deep unknown, and doesn’t at all respond in any significant way but to crack a joke when he sees the hand slithering around on the ground–whatever fun and creepy element the movie is going for just loses its attempt to surge the story in a palpable direction that is satisfying.

10 Cloverfield Lane worked because A) the cast was legendarily good. John Goodman owned his role and was subsequently snubbed at the Oscars for it (I know, it was always a longshot, but hey, he deserved some award recognition there), and B) it actually felt like it was apart of the Cloverfield universe. We all saw the first Cloverfield and knew what the little details of 10 Cloverfield Lane were alluding to. We knew there was a greater presence at play within the overall context of the story. The ending notwithstanding, this was a film that was pretty dang good, and even if you take all of the Cloverfield stuff–it’s still a really, really good movie. Paradox plays off like a film that’s trying way too hard to conjoin itself with the great Cloverfield franchise, and it really leaves a bad taste to view this film as a continuation of what this franchise has done, and what it’s trying to do moving forward.

Let’s be real here: there’s an opportunity with this property. A real chance to do something good and unique and interesting. It’s clear at this point that we’re never going to get a true sequel to Cloverfield, and yes, that is definitely a punch to the gut. But if they’re going to keep trying to expand our surroundings and the scope of what is happening within this world, they’ve got to do a better job of injecting stories that at least make sense within the context of what we’ve gotten so far, without trying to manufacture the Cloverfield brand.

J.J. Abrams, you’ve got a fanbase here that is giving you the benefit of the doubt, but I believe patience is running thin. If Overlord doesn’t pan out, I just don’t know how this franchise can regain its footing.

Or you could, you know, just give us the true Cloverfield sequel we all want and stop playing with our emotions. That would fix this right up.

Oscar Nominations 2018 – Who I Hope Wins

Well, the nominations are out! We all woke up this morning and waited with anticipation to see if our favorite movies were given nods for their extreme awesomeness, and we now have the official list. It’s an exciting day and a wonderful reminder of how fun movies can be. If the Oscars are the Super Bowl for movies, the Oscar nominations are like Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. So–here’s who I would like to see win, which, in some (or most) cases, will be different than who I think will ultimately win. Hopefuls are in blue.

Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kuluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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 in a Supporting Role

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Directing

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Best Animated Feature

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

Best Documentary Feature

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Man in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Original Song

“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Best Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Documentary Short

Edith and Eddie
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Life Skills
Traffic Stop

Best Animated Short

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Best Live Action Short

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Five Films to Look Forward to Until Infinity War

2018 is here, and we’ve got movies we’re looking forward to. Here are five I’m excited about up until Avengers: Infinity War releases.

1 – Ready Player One

2 – A Wrinkle in Time

3 – A Quiet Place

4 – Black Panther

5 – The New Mutants

Josh’s Top 25 Films of 2017

Josh’s Top 25 Films of 2017

  1. Baby Driver
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  3. Thor: Ragnarok
  4. Coco
  5. Wonder Woman
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  7. Spider-Man Homecoming
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Get Out
  10. Split
  11. Darkest Hour
  12. Logan
  13. War for the Planet of the Apes
  14. Logan Lucky
  15. Wonder
  16. Lady Bird
  17. Wind River
  18. The Big Sick
  19. The Greatest Showman
  20. Cars 3
  21. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  22. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  23. IT
  24. Detroit
  25. Jumanji