15 March 2023

52 in '23: Man Bites Dog

Movie: Man Bites Dog (1992)
Method: Netflix DVD

Why Did I Watch This?

I have no idea how this got on my radar. I honestly forgot. I thought it was just like a phrase and I remember it as a joke in Spaceballs (1987). Now I'm not sure I've ever known less about a movie going into it. They literally started speaking French and I thought, "Oh, is this French?" I did not know it was black and white. Or actually what year it was made. I figured like, old? OR how violent and insane this would be.

How Was It?

This is assuredly a good movie, maybe one of the best of all time. But it's decidedly not for everyone. It is starkly violent and wholly uncompromising in its depiction of the worst actions imaginable. I mean, child murder, gang rape, it's all in there. Fun for someone who has no idea any of this is coming.

The whole bit is that it's amazingly matter of fact. The premise is that a documentary crew is following this guy who is incredibly charismatic and jovial, but also kills quite a few people. He seems to be maybe a professional robber or assassin or something? But no one gives him a job, he mostly just mugs and kills folks. He sees it as a job, though, he is remarkably detached. But there is some kind of moral code in there, when he kills a family and finds they have nothing for him to steal he's lascient about it.

That's not to say he has any redeeming qualities. He's one of the worst human beings to appear on any screen. It's like how Goodfellas (1990) showed all these really charismatic crooks who were so complacent and comfortable with death. Except this depiction is taken far far further. The documentary crew at first just seems to be taking it all in, but they slowly get more absorbed into his deeds, until they are helping him dispose of bodies, join in on killing children and raping wives, and all sorts of nonsense.

It's unnerving, to say the least. You wonder at first what their deal is, like is this some alternate universe where these actions or more acceptable? Or are they just morally apathetic? We don't get insight into why they are creating this project, but they keep moving forward, even after a few are caught in stray gunfire in the line of duty. Slowly all possible redemption for every character melts away.

It's shot super cheap, on 16MM. You know, I wonder if I put this on my list after watching "Truth in Journalism" which as I'm watching now is definitely the same movie, down to the hairstyles and really short tie. I'm really the worst film blogger of all time. Or maybe I just don't pretend to know everything. Anyway, they ingeniously got around hiring a cast by just hiring themselves to act and be the crew at the same time. It's pretty fun. The cinematography isn't super awe-inspiring, but I was struck by how good black and white looks. Especially the blood effects. Every film really should probably just be black and white.

This only works because lead actor Benoit Poelvoorde is amazingly engaging and charismatic. There's this weird satisfaction in knowing how he'll react to a situation, even if it's invariably horrific. He's incredibly well-defined for what must have been mostly improv, or a quick and dirty script. There are such large stretches of him on camera, it really is fantastic. There is just nothing held back, this is really humanity at is most raw and visceral.

The editing is unreal, too. Man that shot that cuts between kids with toy guns to actual guns being fired gets me every time. There is such wise use of editing to imply violence, but they also then definitely go for graphic violence as well. It all works in service of a story that feels somehow satirical? It's as if you have no choice but to laugh. But you also do really feel for these inhuman monsters! Their desires are so well articulated - not just killing folks, but the loss of a communion bracelet or wanting to hang out and eat some bad mussels. It's all as real as the horrific violence.

I don't know about this one, you have to be into it. It's really compelling and will stick with you for quite a while, but also definitely not for Grandma. I say check it out if you're able to. Netflix DVD for the win again!

13 March 2023

For the 95th time...OSCAR RESULTS!

This was such garbage. Not even a single on-stage assault or incorrect nominee read out! Why am I even watching this? By all accounts it's a very smooth ceremony when the major thing that happens is Elizabeth Banks almost falling. In general, my predictions were noticeably terrible, but that's really because so many films were shut out! How does Tar, Elvis, and Banshees of Inisherin all come home empty handed? I thought Everything might sweep, but this was a hell of a sweep. Let's dive in!

2023: 11/23
2022: 12/23
2021: 12/23
2020: 13/24 
2019: 13/24 
2018: 16/24 
2017: 13/24 
2016: 14/24 
2015: 13/24 
2014: 20/24 
2013: 14/24 
2012: 16/24 
2011: 14/24 
2010: 12/24

Best Picture

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick
Triangle of Sadness
Women Talking

Predicted Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Actual Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Heyyyy got this one right. I am so bad at Best Picture predictions, I did get Nomadland right in 2021 but it had been seven years before that. This is super weird and also full of heart and to be really honest, should be a poster child for how unpredictable Oscar Best Picture winners have really become.


Best Director

The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg
Tár, Todd Field
Triangle of Sadness, Ruben Östlund

Predicted Winner: Kwan and Scheinert
Actual Winner: Daniels

Yay! Loved Swiss Army Man (2016) and it's insane that they win Best Director in their follow up going against this insane field. But it's deserved, EEAAO is a bonkers movie that they keep smooth and coherent. In lesser hands this would fall apart immediately.


Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis
Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser in The Whale
Paul Mescal in Aftersun
Bill Nighy in Living

Predicted Winner: Colin Farrell
Actual Winner: Fraser

Listen, I'm all about the Fraserssance. Airheads (1994), Gods and Monsters (1998), The Mummy (1999), and uhhhh....surely others in the past twenty years. Doom Patrol? The dude is great and so genuine and sweet, he deserves this. Except he doesn't, I don't really like exploitative performances behind a bunch of make-up and how is this Colin Farrell's first ever nomination? And Austin Butler is right there! I'm very torn, this isn't an Eddie Redmayne thing where it's so blatantly undeserved, but there just feels like there was better work to recognize, despite everyone loving Brendan Fraser.


Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Tár
Ana de Armas in Blonde
Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie
Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Winner: Yeoh
Actual Winner: Yeoh

Ye-haw! This was tough between Blanchett, Yeoh, and de Armas, but it's great to go to Yeoh. You could tell Blanchett was over it and get real, Tar is so hard to get through, man. This is a great win.


Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway
Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan in The Banshees of Inisherin
Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Winner: Quan
Actual Winner: Quan

Harrison Ford giving Quan the Best Picture award was really, really surreal. Great win, I think Keoghan really deserved it but this was such a dark horse. It's really fun. Barry will be back.


Best Supporting Actress

Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau in The Whale
Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Winner: Bassett
Actual Winner: Jamie Lee Curtis

I could have maybe seen this coming if I had made predictions closer to the ceremony. This was definitely going to be an award to honor a lifetime of work and although Bassett seemed to crush awards early on, it felt more like JLC going into the ceremony. I might even say that both performances weren't either actress' best, but it's surely going to deserved person here.


Best Original Screenplay

The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Triangle of Sadness

Predicted Winner: Banshees
Actual Winner: Everything

This really tripped me up, it's crazy to win director, screenplay, and three quarters of the acting awards these days. I wonder if this will signify changing trends or be the outlier. Dude, Banshees was better. Like, I love both movies and I know Everything was a lot to keep track of, it certainly owns every moment, but I just thought they'd spread the love.


Best Adapted Screenplay

All Quiet on the Western Front
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking

Predicted Winner: Western Front
Actual Winner: Women Talking

See, this is why I thought Banshees would win. It's such a pared down and dedicated, dialogue-focused screenplay. I don't know. I suppose they couldn't read German so now my prediction there seems stupid. But also All Quiet on the Western Front won everything else, so who knows. Now my predictions will really crater.


Best Film Editing

The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Winner: Maverick
Actual Winner: EEAAO

Yeah, dude. I get it, it's tough to edit this kind of film to make sense and the sequences come together with really crisp efficiency. But Top Gun: Maverick needed to win something to acknowledge how insane its flying hours came together, right? I mean, it was nominated everywhere, I thought it had more love. I guess not. It's a good win, it just comes down to the same deal - I thought awards would be spread out, instead this film won seven out of ten nominated categories!


Best Animated Film

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Sea Beast
Turning Red

Predicted Winner: Pinocchio
Actual Winner: Pinocchio

Yay! Well deserved although I just watched Puss in Boots and that might actually be a bit better! This is fantastic, no whining from me.


Best International Feature Film

All Quiet on the Western Front
Argentina, 1985
The Quiet Girl

Predicted Winner: Quiet
Actual Winner: Quiet

Yep. No brainer here.


Best Cinematography

All Quiet on the Western Front
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Empire of Light

Predicted Winner: Quiet
Actual Winner: Quiet

Same. The best of the lot.


Best Original Score

All Quiet on the Western Front
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans

Predicted Winner: Babylon
Actual Winner: All Quiet on the Western Front

Everyone was saying Babylon so I went with it, then I watched the movie and the score was actually amazing and tied the entire film together and added such driving energy that it towered over all other nominees. But I guess people just hated this movie so went with their default, which was somehow the only other movie to win anything last night!


Best Original Song

“Applause” from Tell It like a Woman
“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick
“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Naatu Naatu” from RRR
“This Is A Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Winner: "Naatu"
Actual Winner: "Naatu"

Hell yeah. How is this actually the first India-produced song to win anything? We really ignore Bollywood huh? Tollywood too.


Best Production Design

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Fabelmans
Predicted Winner: Elvis
Actual Winner: All Quiet on the Western Front
It just seems so easy now. Like, that was just going to win everything. Sure. Folks were predicting Babylon, which I resisted, but I just didn't pick the right upset.

Best Costume Design


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Predicted Winner: Wakanda Forever
Actual Winner: Wakanda Forever
Hey, it wins again! Got this right, no notes, clearly the best.

All that Breathes
Fire of Love

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Predicted Winner: Fire of Love
Actual Winner: Navalny
Neither what people thought nor what I thought. Fire of Love was not that great, I actually did end up watching it. Navalny sounds like nuns in the navy to me for some reason, I'm going to assume that's what that was about, so a well deserved win.
Best Visual Effects
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Batman
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Top Gun: Maverick
Predicted Winner: AVABAR
Actual Winner: AVABAR
Sure, makes sense.
Top Gun Maverick
Avatar the Way of Water
All Quiet on the Western Front
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Predicted Winner: TOP GUN
Actual Winner: TOP GUN
Sure, makes sense.
Best Animated Short

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud
“The Flying Sailor” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
“Ice Merchants” Joao Gonzalez and Bruno Cactano
“My Year of Dicks” Sara Gunnarsdottir and Pamela Ribon
“An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe It” Lachlan Pendragon
Predicted Winner: "Ostrich"
Actual Winner: "Boy, Mole, Fox, Horse"
Meh, whatever.
Best Documentary Short

“The Elephant Whisperers” Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga
“Haulout” Evgeniaq Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev
“How Do You Measure a Year?” Jay Rosenblatt
“The Martha Mitchell Effect” Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison
“Stranger at the Gate” Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones

Predicted Winner: Martha Mitchell
Actual Winner: Elephant Whisperers



Best Live Action Short

“An Irish Goodbye” Tom Berkeley and Ross White
“Ivalu” Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan
“Le Pupille” Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuaron
“Night Ride” Erik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen
“The Red Suitcase” Cyrus Neshvad

Predicted Winner: Le Pupille
Actual Winner: Irish Goodbye


Best Make-up and Hairstyling

The Whale
Wakanda Forever
The Batman
All Quiet on the Western Front

Predicted Winner: Did not predict
Actual Winner: The Whale

Hey! I didn't actual predict this somehow. I probably would have honestly slid into Elvis, because it just seemed more viable at the time, but whatever. Give it to double Oscar winner The Whale I guess.


Man I just got tripped up this year. Usually I'll get at least one or two documentaries or shorts go my way, so that hit hard, as well as some acting and technical awards that didn't spread the wealth the way I thought they usually do. I suppose that's every year. But for real, best writing, directing, acting, editing and picture is friggin WILD. Good for them, Everything Everywhere All At Once is spectacular and one we can be pretty proud of. We really don't want to be in this timeline right now, do we?
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