26 February 2017

NMW's 89th Annual Live-Blogged Oscar Results Show!

Stay Tuned at 8:30 pm New York Time for all the fun and pedantry!

For the record, here are my predictions, dated 31 January, 2017.

11:44 pm: Listen, the rest goes in chronological order, but three and a quarter hours in I thought I ought to make the note that should be obvious - be sure to refresh this page after each category for my inane, angry thoughts over my failed predictions. America!

8:31 pm: Ugh. Over "Got the Feeling" or whatever this horrible Song of Summer 2016 was. I can never even remember its generic title.

8:35 pm: You'd think Jimmy Fallon was hosting.

8:36 pm: So quick for a Mel Gibson crack.

8:38 pm: HAHAHA even quicker for a Kimmel / Damon crack. That's really the best thing Kimmel has going for him in his show, so it's pretty natural that continues.

8:41 pm: Jimmy's nailing the "None of us saw any of these films" schtick which is, c'mon - dead on.

8:43 pm: Love Hollywood's love of itself. And Meryl Streep. But that's also lame criticism. What, should Hollywood not love itself?

8:51 pm: Alright, let's go. Supporting Actor.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Predicted Winner: Mahershala Ali
Actual Winner: Mahershala Ali
Score: 1/1

First category, first not-really-a-surprise despite quite a few upsets in the lead-up awards. This always seemed Ali's to lose, and it's great that he's finally validated here. Ali's had a great year with this and Daredevil and I'm sure other stuff. I'd be excited to see what else this guy can do. So far largely apolitical, but I'm sure that will shift soon.

8:56 pm:

Best Makeup and Hairstying

A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Predicted Winner: Star Trek Beyond
Actual Winner: Suicide Squad
Score: 1/2

Is it "Ooo-vay?" I've been saying "oh-v" forever. Well, we're here. Oscar-winning Suicide Squad. This is a move I don't think anyone saw, because generally this ought to at least go towards the big blockbuster that everyone liked. I suppose Diablo and Harley get it. Or is this really for dressing up Jared Leto? Ugh.

Best Costume Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Jackie
Actual Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Score: 1/3

I almost never look up during the ceremony. 90% of my time tonight is spent re-italicizing movie titles when my HTML format breaks. Listen, one for three ain't great. This also seemed like a race between Jackie and La La Land, but I guess that didn't happen. This bodes well for Fantastic Beasts' efforts towards Production Design and the first chink in La La Land's armor? Stay tuned!

9:08 pm:

Best Documentary

Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America

Predicted Winner: O.J.: Made in America
Actual Winner: O.J.: Made in America
Score: 2/4

Okay, I feel a bit better. Life Animated should have known to throw some Black People in there. I just saw O.J. this past weekend and it was one of the most engrossing eight hours of my life. I still can't really understand how it's even allowed to be here - totally a TV mini-series despite its limited theatrical run. It's now the longest-running Oscar winner ever, and good on the Academy for still recognizing the great film. Also it's totally insane that O.J. is still in the news. That trial really is something, isn't it?

9:14 pm: Nice cut to Hailee Steinfeld for some reason when the Rock wants to sing from Moana.

9:16 pm: Time to do some hardcore phone checking.

9:17 pm: Listen, this just ISN'T "Let it Go."

9:27 pm: I need to check my timestamps from other years. Four categories down in the first hour. SWEET.

Best Sound Editing

Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Hacksaw Ridge
Actual Winner: Arrival
Score: 2/5

La La Land has yet to win, and the Arrival nod here isn't necessarily surprising - it's very much in line with where this category has gone in the past, but Hacksaw just felt like the more natural choice. Tonight is already a foregone shitshow - I'm going to predict that I won't be anywhere near my best prediction year. Also notable that La La Land is already 0/2.

Best Sound Mixing

Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: Hacksaw Ridge
Score: 2/6

So, Hacksaw does come out with a sound win, but not the category many and myself predicted! This is an important award - I have to win out to match my best year ever and La La Land now cannot match Titanic (1997), Ben Hur (1969) and Return of the King (2003) for highest Oscar count, since its 14 nominations include two in the same category for best song.

9:36 pm: Vince Vaughn is at a weird time in his life. Putting that out there. Good on ya, Jackie Chan.

9:41 pm: Fuck Mark Rylance. BFG my ass.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Predicted Winner: Viola Davis
Actual Winner: Viola Davis
Score: 3/7

Thank goodness for the gimmes. Good on Viola, and good on making this category a slam dunk for terrible predictors like myself. Hey - if I can just cruise through seventeen more categories we're good!

9:55 pm: This is when the ceremony really digs in and refuses to end. No one in America or the world cares about what Charlize Theron thinks about The Apartment (1960).

9:56 pm: I looked up last year - at this point we had gotten through eleven categories and I was 7/11. UGHHHH

9:57 pm:

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Predicted Winner: Toni Erdmann
Actual Winner: The Salesman
Score: 3/8

This is now actually a big award, since the director of The Salesman was unable to come to the country because of Trump. No excuses, because up to today I still thought Erdmann had the populist edge, but yeah, it became more and more obvious that this was all Salesman. Fuck! Fuck The Salesman. I identify with your plight, pro. But fuck this shit, this year has been absolutely awful so far.

10:05 pm: What the hell is this Jack the Ripper Time Travel show?

10:09 pm:

Best Animated Short Subject

"Blind Vaysha"
"Borrowed Time"
"Pear Cider and Cigarettes"

Predicted Winner: "Borrowed Time"
Actual Winner: "Piper"
Score: 3/9

You gotta be fucking kidding me - Pixar / Disney never wins when I think they're actually going to. "Piper" was the long-time favorite here but I never bought in. This is shaping up to be a decently awful night for me.

10:12 pm:

Best Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Predicted Winner: Zootopia
Actual Winner: Zootopia
Score: 4/10

Jeez this banter is stilted. Good win for Zootopia. It's crazy what Disney has been able to do in this category lately. I'm really glad Kubo didn't rise up, even if it probably deserved to.

10:14 pm:

Best Production Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Arrival
Actual Winner: La La Land
Score: 4/11

This is fairly undeserved for La La Land. This seemed like it'd be Fantastic Beasts' if anything now. A lot of people out there thought this would be the one to lose it, although now that La La avoids the shut-out, will it keep rolling on from here? I haven't predicted it for much more than the obvious categories coming up. This ceremony is still a huge question mark.

10:22 pm: I want to note that I've been YouTubing Norm MacDonald O.J. jokes on every commercial, song, and Cheryl Boone Isaacs speech since Made in America won.

10:32 pm: See, we can't go 10 minutes here between awards.

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Winner: The Jungle Book
Actual Winner: The Jungle Book
Score: 5/12

I always thought this was a given, although it seemed to stump a lot of pundits who for some reason thought it might lean towards the horribly misguided Rogue One. This is probably the most well-deserved award of the night and could very well save my ass.

10:36 pm: Best presenters of the night - Seth Rogen and Michael J. Fox.

Best Film Editing

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: Hacksaw Ridge
Score: 5/13

Whelp. I'm boned. So damn boned. La La Land just is not sweeping, and somehow Hacksaw Ridge is raking up some nods here! I don't think it's actually nominated for too much other awards tonight, actually, but there is apparently some love in the room for this thing. It's bizarre. This flick did nothing for me. I'm cautious about even Moonlight's chances now.

10:43 pm:

Best Documentary Short Subject

"4.1 Miles"
"Joe's Violin"
"Watani: My Homeland"
"The White Helmets"

Predicted Winner: "Extremis
Actual Winner: "The White Helmets"
Score: 5/14

Okay, whatever, fuck this. Who knows how to call these categories. O.J. did it.

10:49 pm:

Best Live Action Short

"Ennemis Entreniers"
"La Femme et le TGV"
"Silent Nights"

Predicted Winner: "Timecode"
Actual Winner: "Sing"
Score: 5/15

Do American directors make short films anymore? Ever? I think I was mistaking "Timecode" for Timecop (1994). If I win out, I'm going 14/24, which is dismal. This could be my worst year ever, which is really depressing. Deeper in this race it really seemed like it was "Sing" or nothing. Maybe it's foolish to put out predictions a week after nominations are announced, but I'll conform to that challenge!

10:51 pm: I'm sure I'm the only one who googled what year Timecop was made during this year's ceremony.

10:59 pm:

Best Cinematography

La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: La La Land
Score: 6/16

Well that's a relief. No Lion upset tonight. We should all strive to pronounce La La Land the way Javier Bardem pronounces La La Land. There's still a lot of potential to go here I suppose. This was all that evening one-take I assume. Also this dude is totally an uglier Brad Pitt.

11:14 pm: I definitely just thought Sam Jackson said the best movies "leave you coming." Okay then. Humming. Humming, people.

Best Original Score

La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: La La Land
Score: 7/17

I'm wondering if they left all the La La Land favored categories for later in the ceremony so it seems like it's won a ton. Anyway, maybe I can break 10!

11:16 pm:

Best Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Predicted Winner: "City of Stars"
Actual Winner: "City of Stars"
Score: 8/18

Feeling a little better. Slightly, but all these are obvious now. "City of Stars" is as good a song that's been attached to a film for a long time, and it's great that it's emerged through a bunch of tracks that in any other year would have been fearsome to compete with.

11:20 pm: An already long ceremony is about to go till 4 am honouring all we lost last year. Too dark?

11:29 pm: The ceremony really should be only Matt Damon jokes.

Best Original Screenplay

Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Predicted Winner: Manchester by the Sea
Actual Winner: Manchester by the Sea
Score: 9/19

Alright, I'll admit this was huge. A huge win. FOR ME. Finally, the writer of The Adventures of Rocky and Bulwinkle (2000) has an Academy Award. Good on Kenny Lonergan, whose career has wildly oscillated between good and shit.

11:33 pm: Aww, good for you, Amy Adams, you got to come to the ceremony anyway. I'm sure that makes you feel great!

Best Adapted Screenplay

Hidden Figures

Predicted Winner: Moonlight
Actual Winner: Moonlight
Score: 10/20

And just like that I'm back up to a cool 50%. Only big awards left - at this rate my running prediction is probably 13/24, maybe 12/24 - I have no confidence over my Best Acting predictions. Also, great job Barry Jenkins for sneaking one for Moonlight, which for a moment looked like it didn't have much going for it. It's possible he still gets Best Director, but this is likely a consolation prize.

11:37 pm: Do you kind of feel like Kimmel's chasing that Ellen DeGeneres Pizza selfie moment that was completely sublime in 2014? Or just acknowledging that the best way to win over this starving crowd is feeding them all night?

11:42 pm:

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Predicted Winner: Chazelle
Actual Winner: Chazelle
Score: 11/21

This is all kinds of amazing. Good for Damien. It's almost a guarantee now that La La Land goes on to win BP instead of splitting like this category has done with the big one over the past few years. I know a few were predicting Barry Jenkins for that precise reason. Now, though, things appear to be falling into place.

11:47 pm: I'll admit that although this ceremony is somehow taking longer, I'm very appreciative of the avoidance of going through all the actors and all the Best Picture nominees and all the other crap this ceremony usually fills itself with.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck
Actual Winner: Casey Affleck
Score: 12/22

It'd be cool to see Vigio Morgenstein get an Oscar some day. BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY! So, that was scary for a bit but I'm not guaranteed at least 50%. I really thought Denzel had that for a second, but I guess Casey pulls it off. I'm glad I stuck with the original frontrunner pick. Never doubt! Until it fails, which it does all the time. I'm pretty confident about coasting from here on out.

11:54 pm: I wonder how Halle Berry feels about seeing her 2003 self up there winning an Oscar. Not like she looks any worse, but like, that was definitely a different career back then.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Predicted Winner: Emma Stone
Actual Winner: Emma Stone
Score: 13/23

Huppert was visibly pissed. Great for Emma. Now Jonah Hill really needs that Oscar. Leo looks like a bronze god. I'm pumped that my tally has rallied back from a whole big steaming pile of shit.

12:03 pm: Amazing that those two are still kicking around, looking pretty good. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, for future, non-live readings of this post.

Best Picture

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: La La Land

Amazing, if not completely predictable win for La La Land, which finishes with seven Oscars for the night - pretty well-rounded, too. More importantly, I finish with 14/24, which in my eight years of doing this, is the fourth time I've done so. The technical categories this year really tripped me up, as they did somewhat with Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) last year. That said, I went 5/15 for the first...

HOLY SHIT Warren Beatty pulled a Steve Harvey

soooo 12:12 pm: yeah. Yeah, this is nuts. I'm going to keep everything up here I was mindlessly writing when I thought La La Land had won - which it's totally insane that it didn't, but time to make some adjustments!

Predicted Winner: La La Land
Actual Winner: Moonlight

Jimmy doing a nice improv here. And I'm down to 13/14, which I nailed in 2015. Not great. I was about to say I went 5/15 for the first fifteen categories and then 9/9, but make that 8/9, which kind of sucks. What more can you ask for? I suppose not have 800-year old Warren Beatty reading the Best Picture Winner? It's kind of awesome that young people will now know who Warren Beatty is. This is stunning. Not nearly as stunning as Hacksaw Ridge winning for Editing, but pretty crazy.

I don't think I could have done much better. If I had made these predictions today I probably would have gone with "Sing", "Piper", and The Salesman, so maybe that pushes me to 16, but that's still kind of pathetic. This is all what makes the Oscars an exciting event - no one can really predict this shit. So, a hard-fought 13/24 this year to really accentuate my long-term average. Here's to next year!

22 February 2017

One More Oscar Preview

Well folks, the long Academy Awards Season is finally coming to a head this Sunday, and although we won't be trolling through every category there is, we thought this a fine opportunity to slog through the most prestigious race, the Best Picture category. We can at least begin to examine what makes these films tick and what their odds are in the major categories. With nine mostly okay films to dig through, they represent a good chunk of this year's nominations. So let's go from least likely to most likely to win Best Picture:

Hint: we'll cover this soon.
#9: Arrival

Nominations: 9
Predicted Wins: Production Design

Arrival is weirdly treading water between great and irrelevant more and more, with some people really digging it, but most seemingly disinterested in its brilliant screenplay. I think it deserves consideration for Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography, but it's leaning towards neither. Production design tends to be a bit more friendly to films like this, but director Villeneuve has little history with the Academy, and considering this couldn't even carry Amy Adams to a nomination, the Academy appears to have little love for it.

#8: Hell or High Water

Nominations: 3
Predicted Wins: 0

I saw this back in December and sort of liked it, although that passion has grown quite a bit since then. This is in many ways the ultimate underdog film - a Best Picture nominee without much of a following, pedigree, or nominations under its belt, but almost universally loved by those who have experienced it. Love residue for Jeff Bridges was burned off with Crazy Heart (2009), and despite work here equal to anything he's ever done, his old grizzled cowboy shtick is wearing thin. The real stars are Ben Foster and Chris Pine, who haven't gotten much love or notoriety at all. There's virtually no chance of the flick winning a statue.

#7: Hidden Figures

Nominations: 3
Predicted Wins: 0

Hidden Figures gets a lot of points by virtue of being mainstream popular and earning that SAG Ensemble win. Still, that's more a product of every other film here not really being an ensemble at all, yet still widely respected by the acting branch of the Academy. Hidden Figures, despite all its Oscar bait wrapped up in a decently non-bait-y package, feels like it came on too late, with perhaps too much saccharine appeal rather than offering the hard brutal look at race relations the Academy seems to favor both this year and in the past.

#6: Hacksaw Ridge

Nominations: 6
Predicted Wins: Sound Editing

This is a lock for Sound Editing, which has gone to the sort of action film with high art pedigree like Hacksaw Ridge every year since forever. Its nominations are strong, and in surprisingly redemptive categories like Andrew Garfield's Best Actor and Mel Gibson's Best Director. It also fits that popularity bill that Hidden Figures hit (odd bedfellows for sure), but if it didn't work for American Sniper (2014), which seems to be the easiest modern equivalent, it won't work for Hacksaw.

#5: Fences

Nominations: 4
Predicted Wins: Viola Davis, Best Actress

This could easily become two wins if Denzel's surge maintains and he upsets Casey Affleck, but there just isn't enough else around this film to warrant a Best Picture nomination. It's all excellent heady family drama stuff, but it's also very much a filmed play, which is fine for story and all, but not really for best picture. There's some chance that the acting branch just loves every great actor involved here, but it doesn't have the wide appeal to go along with the acting love that even lesser nominees have here.

#4: Lion

Nominations: 6
Predicted Wins: 0

I didn't call any category for Lion, but more and more it's looking like it could through down some upsets, notably for Dev Patel in Supporting Actor and in Cinematography. It's weirdly somehow the hottest film going into the Award ceremony, but really, no one has watched it, and there's nothing exceptionally sexy about the premise. Sure the little Indian kid flashback thing worked for Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - like, crazily good, but that had such a sexy premise. Sexy premises are a thing! Shut up! Just because your mom likes it doesn't mean it's suddenly an Oscar frontrunner.

#3: Manchester by the Sea

Nominations: 6
Predicted Wins: Casey Affleck, Best Actor; Best Original Screenplay

It's always fascinating to see the sort of narratives that develop around films, particularly when ya'll have to vote for them. La La Land has embodies this sort of relentless, the point of dick-sucking, optimism, while Manchester by the Sea has this endless aura of bummerville. By all means it's pretty good but also an endless depressing spiral. That's the driving narrative here, and it'll be hard to escape. Still, the momentum it once had will be hard to stop, and although Casey Affleck is less a given than he once was, I'm convinced that La La Land is mortal and Manchester will steal at least one award from it.

#2: Moonlight

Nominations: 8
Predicted Wins: Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor; Best Adapted Screenplay

Moonlight is the closest thing that can threaten La La Land, and it's arguably even more well-liked by critics, although there's just no way that it pulls the insider upset. Ali is not nearly as strong as one might have thought months ago, with Dev Patel threatening and Aaron Taylor-Johnson upsetting him at the Golden Globes (though not nominated here). There are a lot of areas where it can gain traction, though, including Cinematography, which more and more seems like that one category where La La Land will lose its sweep. La La wins more than Moonlight loses Best Picture

#1: La La Land

Nominations: 14 in 13 categories
Predicted Wins: Emma Stone, Best Actress; Cinematography, Editing, Score, Song, Sound Mixing, Director, Picture

Nine wins might be a bit too much, but the only one I have doubts on since my initial predictions is that pesky Cinematography I keep bitching about. There's a lot going for this, mostly the fact that it totally sucks up to the Hollywood dream. I'll contend that it is in fact about a bit more than that - that its themes of dreams coming true are actually more complex and universal. The point is, there seems to be a coherent La La Land backlash that I'm not on board with, and you better believe that Hollywood isn't on board with. It doesn't even prop up actors at the expense of executives or hold any kind of damning commentary on the faults of the system or industry, while extolling living in Los Angeles as a special and magical way of life. In short, yeah, this will win everything. I still liked it, everyone did, it'll win Best Picture.

We have just a few short days left! Which films are you predicting to win?!

10 February 2017

Never Ending Darkness! Fifty Shades of Wick and Batman

This weekend is all about black, and after a few terrible weeks at the Box Office, where we got a lot of ratshit movies that nevertheless have a lot of history that we probably could have dissected, from xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017) to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017), these are momentous continuations of pop culture. Of course, xXx really exists so singularly in 2002, and Resident Evil has churned out enough films since 2002 that they all really blur together. 2017 so far has mostly just been about Hidden Figures (2017), which came out late and out of no where in 2016 and another follow-up (sorta?) to an early-2000s film, Split (2017). I won't say which, because that end reveal is pretty nifty that it connects for some reason.
So many darker

This is the first weekend where we've got three high profile films launching and they're all sequels, of course. I'm most intrigued at how one seems to be getting much less hype than its original, and another is getting much much more. So, as we are wont, let's dig into the commercial, critical, and cultural potential of everything coming out this weekend, in order of my personal least to most want to see it:

First we have Fifty Shades Darker, the follow-up to 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey, which came out around the same time of year (Valentine's Day! awww) to little acclaim by either its supporters or critics, but a ton of cash. $85 million in fact. It dropped an absurd 73.9% by its second week, though, and although through its own way of mainstreaming sexual bondage fantasies, it's had a lot less staying power than one would think. Or maybe exactly as much, to be fair. The sequel promises uh...nothing new at all. Less intrigue, if anything. There's a certain novelty that's required with this stuff - and considering that nothing actually happens by the end of Fifty Shades of Grey, there's not really anywhere this story can go.

Now, I'm not really an expert on the horny housewife market, but interest seems pretty low this time around. The critical reaction isn't hard to guess - it's likely to be dismal. Even though there seems to be some undercurrent of this movie actually happening, its cultural effect also seems non-existent. I feel like we can all get through this weekend without checking in on this disaster. And disaster I would handily expect this to be. F's all around!

Let's quickly move on to John Wick: Chapter Two (2017), which is growing more and more fascinating to me. John Wick (2014) was a great flick, although not really the end all be all of action films its more die-hard supporters would make it out to be. It's more good by way of every other modern action film falling on its face hard. Still, that movie came and went pretty quick a few years back. It wasn't until everyone caught up on Netflix and DVD or whatever that we all realized what we missed out on. Keanu Reeves' stock has only risen (after a few years of making 47 Ronin [2013] and shit for some reason). The film purports to pick up from the exact moment John Wick left off, although it adds Neo's old buddy Morpheus Laurence Fishburne for reasons that seem more like a cheeky fun reunion than anything else. We're all on board.

I think this will still play to a pretty specific crowd - it is an R-rated action film after all. I will guarantee, though, that the action and stunts will be among the most steady and clear that we'll see all year. John Wick didn't necessarily catch on critically or commercially, because it rides its genre pretty hard, and supposedly Chapter Two digs deeper into the secret assassin world mythos that its predecessor flirted with, which ought to appease fans and alienate newbies. Unless it's handled with the same cavalier flair for story and focus on action that made Chapter One work so well, of course.

Culturally, John Wick has aged pretty well, and its slow burn has worked great wonders for its potential, and likely is a major reason why this film even exists. It's an interesting capper for Keanu's career, which has mostly been breezy surfer dudes. John Wick has proven to be one of his more signature characters, which after a long line of ageless action and genre films, is an impressive achievement. It's sort of a reminder that despite all the hate, we all actually really love Keanu. I know I do. It's as much wrapped up in his mythos as anything he's ever done, and so lives and dies on his credentials. I can see this not earning the huge bank some people out there might think it will, but if it's at all good, or at least full of thrillingly coherent action sequences like its predecessor, we could be talking about it for a while.
Do you think that the big screen interpretations of Polka Dot Man
and Crazy Quilt will be controversial?

Finally we have The LEGO Batman Movie (2017). Everyone will be seeing this this weekend, and there's a reason why it's also my number one pick for the weekend. Will Arnett's interpretation of Batman as delusional frat bro somehow takes the grimdark and turns it into camp, with both common Batman threads mixed in a delightful LEGO cocktail. This is a spin-off of 2014's similarly-released The LEGO Movie, which is still infinitely watchable, both for its surface humour and to unpack its complex metatext. Putting its break-out character, or at least its interpretation of a previously successful character, in his own film is a brilliant ploy to give the audience the same shit coated in something new.

That novelty ought to bring in the cash, allowing it to match or surpass the original's bank. It probably won't attract the hardcore Batman v. Superman (2016) fans, but little kid Batman fans haven't really had any great movie to jam out to in a while. Since those crappy Schumaker films, really. The LEGO DC brand is actually roaring, with plenty of sets, video games, and direct-to-streaming movies under its belt. LEGO Batman gets the professional directorial treatment, though, although it's surprisingly the first film made by Adam McKay after winning the Oscar for The Big Short (2015). His career has certainly taken its share of left turns, and this is actually some unproven subject matter for him to take on. I imagine that a director who follows the principles of quality like McKay does will put forth a strong effort.

The cultural key here is for LEGO Batman to differentiate itself from both the previous LEGO Movie and previous incarnations of Batman and to surpass all the great lines, Batman moments, and NO PARENTS lampshades of its predecessor. If it can fulfill all these expectations then it will do fine. Critically The LEGO Movie did fantastic, but it was largely ignored by end of the year awards. It's tough to predict whether LEGO Batman will do the same or be even more ostracized for its blatant commercial-ness. It is quite the specific brand, after all. I still think it does pretty well here.

What do you think? What will you be eye-jamming out to this weekend? No more football and we're a bit away from the only basketball that matters all year. Let's go to the movies!
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