And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

[Post-Oscars Update: I did okay! Though I could not have predicted the Chris Rock-Will Smith debacle; there’s no excuse for the show cutting out eight worthy categories from the live show while including unnecessary bits and still running a bloated 3:40; Amy Schumer was the best of the hosting trio; I still think Andrew Garfield should’ve won best actor (and wouldn’t hit anybody); and most importantly– yay, CODA!!!!!]

I’m making my picks with the Oscars just a few short hours away. I have no idea what will win this year. I have my favorites of course, but that doesn’t translate into Oscar gold, or Oscar pool/party bragging rights (though how I do miss those—maybe next year!).

The past few years, I’d seen just about everything on the ballot, including the shorts. But this year, I’m coming up, well, short. So I’ll just make my predictions with all sorts of caveats and maybe delete this whole post tomorrow! 

Here goes:

Review: Lucy and Desi (documentary)

Everybody loves Lucy. So it only follows that everybody will at least like the documentary Luci and Desi about the mutually dependent success of one of Hollywood’s original power couples, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The film explores the partnership and legacy of the pair who first met on the set of the 1940 musical comedy Too Many Girls, got married, started a family, created DesiLu productions, developed and starred in the iconic sitcom I Love Lucy, divorced in 1960 after the last Lucy episode was filmed, and remained lifelong friends.

Cinema Clash Podcast: Dear Evan Hansen; I’m Your Man; The Eyes of Tammy Faye; The Guilty and more!

Since I’m seeing more films than I have time to formally review in writing, I’m sharing out the latest edition of the Cinema Clash podcast featuring yours truly – and Charlie. This way, you can hear my thoughts on a bunch of flicks and know before you go – or don’t go. This week, we’re chatting about: the film adaptation of Broadway’s award-winning musical drama Dear Evan Hansen; the German romantic psychological drama I’m Your Man (Ich Bin Dein Mensch); the televangelist biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye; the American remake of the intense Danish crime thriller The Guilty. Plus, Charlie’s take on the family-friendly mystery horror film Nightbooks and the new sci-fi drama series “Foundation.” And we reveal the earworm that dominates episode 10 of season two of the Emmy-winning dramedy “Ted Lasso.” Tune in — and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your favorite podcasts!

Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

If Oscar History is any judge, it doesn’t matter that The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a pretty dull film. Jessica Chastain is brilliant in it. And I suspect she will be rewarded with an Oscar nomination for best actress—and quite possibly, the award itself. The Academy loves to reward biopic ‘transformations’ and Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Molly’s Game) certainly disappears into the role–and makeup–of the late celebrity televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. She even does her own singing, belting out some of Tammy Faye’s signature gospel tunes.

Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business

“What happens on the playground stays on the playground.” Lines like this are what made the first Boss Baby a cute little hit in 2017, and what makes its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business easily watchable now for kids and adults. There is a caveat however. While Boss Baby 2 is entertaining enough for a family film night, it’s no Boss Baby 1. The magic is gone – largely because we already know the drill. And, there’s simply not enough (for my taste) of the bitterly sarcastic talking wizard alarm clock “Wizzy”!

Review: In The Heights

Welcome back to the movies! In The Heights is the first movie I’ve seen in an actual movie theater in over 14 months. And while it is premiering simultaneously in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, In The Heights is the type of movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen first; and then perhaps, in repeat viewings at home. Especially if you’re a fan of movie and broadway musicals. The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical runs a tad long, but hits all the key notes in terms of story, acting, singing, message and homage.

Review: Profile

If you’re looking for a film that may actually play better on a desktop computer or laptop than in a theater, then look no further than Profile. The story takes place in the confines of a computer screen, which we all have intimate knowledge of these days. Video chats, Skype calls, bandwidth issues, posting cat pictures on Facebook and Instagram, juggling personal and professional accounts. You know the drill. Too bad Profile is being released in theaters first. It’s intriguing, but not compelling enough to warrant a theater experience, even if vaccinated. The film is based on a true story that I (as a former journalist) was vaguely familiar with, and it’s basically a thriller for geopolitical and journalism junkies.

Review: Four Good Days

Four Good Days is a movie about addiction and the toll that the cycle of rehab and relapse can take on relationships and family. We’ve seen it all before — many times in fact. And this one falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, buoyed by solid performances from Mila Kunis and Glenn Close as a mother and daughter navigating issues of trust and love, frustration and disappointment. It’s based on a true story by Pulitzer-Prize winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow who co-wrote the screenplay with director Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child).  For the most part, Four Good Days sticks remarkably close to the narrative featured in the 2016 Post article.

Review: Coming 2 America

Hard to believe it’s been more than 30 years since Crown Prince Akeem Jaffer (Eddie Murphy) and his sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall) fled the palace – and an arranged marriage – in the wealthy African nation of Zamunda, and landed in Queens, New York, on a comical quest for true love. The 1988 comedy classic Coming to America was a real gem. Its sequel, Coming 2 America, is more like cubic zirconia. It has a bit of sparkle but pales against the original.

The trip is still worth taking, for nostalgia’s sake and a few good laughs. Just keep the expectations in check.

Quickie Review: Raya and the Last Dragon

The only opinion that really matters here would be that of a kid who likes animated movies. Especially Disney animated movies. And for that particular demographic, Raya and the Last Dragon is a pretty safe bet. The movie stays true to the conventional Disney formula with a story, animation and voices that kids can embrace and parents can easily tolerate. It’s not top-tier classic Disney, but it’s a pleasant enough family-friendly diversion if you have Disney+ with Premier Access (i.e. it’ll cost ya extra). It’s also being released in select theaters, but I still can’t suggest anyone of any age go that route before we reach something close to herd immunity.