And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: The Adam Project

The Adam Project falls squarely in Ryan Reynolds’ wheelhouse. It’s a family-friendly, PG-13 time travel action adventure film packed with snark, humor and heart. It doesn’t rise to the level of Back to the Future or E.T.–two classic films to which it pays homage–but The Adam Project is an easy watch with an engaging cast. Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a pilot who travels back in time to stop the invention of time travel which, in the future, poses a fatal threat to the entire planet. For help, he turns to his younger self (Walter Scobell), a decent kid who’s been acting out at school, picking fights with the local bully, and being less than kind to his mom (Jennifer Garner). Young Adam and his mother are both struggling with the loss of their father/husband (Mark Ruffalo) in a car accident about a year earlier. It’s a life-changing event that older Adam is still grappling with decades later.

Review: Don’t Look Up

In this apocalyptic satire from Oscar-winning writer/director Adam McCay (Vice, The Big Short) astronomy PhD student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet hurtling straight towards the earth. She and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) try to alert the powers that be of the impending danger, but of course it’s not that easy to get people to listen. After all, it’s just too much of a downer and all that sciency stuff isn’t sexy. And the President of the US (Meryl Streep) can’t see how panicking the public can help in her train wreck of a reelection bid. Meanwhile there’s a tech billionaire (Mark Rylance) in the wings trying to see how it can make him even richer. Can anyone save the earth from the earthlings?

Review: The Lost Daughter

In her directorial debut Maggie Gyllenhaal demonstrates that she’s as talented behind the camera as in front. Oscar winner Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) stars in this psychological drama adapted from a novel by Elena Ferrante (“My Brilliant Friend”).  She’s Leda, a college professor on a working holiday in Greece who encounters a young mother named Nina (Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades,The Peanut Butter Falcon) and her unsettling family on the beach and becomes fascinated by her and  lost in the memories of her own fraught relationship with marriage and childrearing. It’s a strangely suspenseful film blessed with fabulous performances.

Review: The Hand of God

This coming of age drama from Academy Award-winning writer/director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) tells the story of Fabietto (Filippo Scotti). Set in Naples in the 1980s, it’s clearly a nostalgic look back for the director to a time that was filled with adolescent awakening, family joys and tragedies, and the beginnings of his love affair with cinema. It’s bursting with big characters seen through a many-years-removed lens. Told in a series of vignettes,  it’s by turns hilarious and warm and sad and violent, and serves as a love letter to the Naples of a certain time.

Quickie review: The Harder They Fall

The Western has always been a pretty white genre. The Harder They Fall turns that on its head. With a superb cast (Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathgi, Delroy Lindo, Jeymes Samuel, and many others) and the best soundtrack out there, it’s an uber-stylish revenge story pitting two men and their gun-toting crews against one another in a to the death battle. And it’s a ton o’ fun!

Review: The Power of the Dog

Set in the gorgeous wide open expanses of 1925 Wyoming, The Power of the Dog from Oscar-winning director Jane Campion (The Piano, Angel at My Table) is downright suffocating a lot of the time. This sure to be in the Oscar pool psychological thriller/western tells the story of a pair of rich ranching brothers, Phil and George Burbank, who are as different as night and day. Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch, TV’s “Sherlock”, The Courier) is the walking embodiment of toxic masculinity, violent and mean to everyone in his path. George (Jesse Plemons) is more gentle and less rugged. But when he marries the local widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst, Spiderman, Melancholia) and brings her and her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road, X-Men franchise) home, Phil is anything but the welcoming brother-in-law, leaving no opportunity behind to ridicule them all.

Review: My Octopus Teacher

With the Oscars just a few days away, I’m trying to catch up on all the ones that slipped by. I’d heard about My Octopus Teacher  from friends, but thought they must be exaggerating when they said they LOVED IT! I mean a movie about a man’s relationship with an octopus. Really? Well, now I get it. It is amazing filmmaking! And it’s in the running for Best Documentary for good reason. It’s a beautifully shot, touching story that teaches us all a thing or two about a creature we probably haven’t give much credit to for its intelligence and ability to communicate, and also about how we humans miss out by giving short shrift to so many fascinating creatures all around us.

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2021

 

The Academy Awards show will take place this year on Sunday, April 25th, much later in the year than usual after it was pushed back 2 months because of the pandemic. As we get ready to fill out our ballots, the shorts are always the big question. So here’s a quick run-down on all three categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action.

Review: Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

We’re all familiar with the celebrity-driven headlines: “Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Busted for Paying Beaucoup Bucks to get their Kids into Prestige Colleges!” But they weren’t alone. Dozens of rich parents whose names you’ve never heard of were doing the same. All aided by a sleazebag named Rick Singer who built a lucrative career as an expert manipulator of a college admissions system all too eager to make exceptions and turn a blind eye – if the price was right. There’s plenty of blame and shame to go around.

Review: The Dig

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea where Sutton Hoo was or that it was the site of one of the great archeological finds of the 20th century. But watching The Dig certainly placed it in my lexicon. Cary Mulligan stars in this “based on a true story” period drama. She’s Edith Pretty, a young widow with a young son who lives on an estate near a village called Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. It’s 1939 and Britain is just being drawn into the war when she hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes, Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel) to excavate some ancient burial mounds on her property. He’s a local man, self-taught, but very knowledgable about archeology. He thinks the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon, but the local museum experts laugh at the idea. They don’t laugh for long.