After The Initial Reviews For First Man, Ryan Gosling Is A Lock For A Best Actor Nomination

After the release of the First Man trailer, I knew that Ryan Gosling would be in contention for Best Actor at every major awards show.

First Man opened the Venice Film Festival a few hours ago and after reading the initial reviews, I KNOW that Ryan Gosling will be nominated for Best Actor at every major awards show.

Here are a few reviews that I have read.

Variety – “Gosling gives a tricky, compelling performance that grows on you. He plays Armstrong as a brainy go-getter who has learned to hold most of what he feels inside (he wrote musicals in college, and is now ashamed of it). Yet he lets out just enough emotion, especially when someone crosses him, to exude a quiet command.”

The Guardian – “Gosling gives a performance of muscular intelligence and decency as Armstrong, a man of calm and restraint, lacking what no one in the 1960s called emotional intelligence.

The Hollywood Reporter – “Gosling downplays his natural charisma here to portray a man simply intent on doing a job, approaching it with the utmost seriousness and without ego. Armstrong shows zero willingness to consider what he’s doing in any self-aggrandizing historical context, his taciturn demeanor proving frustrating to the press, which wants uplifting soundbites. That makes the characterization almost antithetical to the standard Hollywood conception of a historically significant figure of this type.”

I’m no expert, but those reviews sound more than promising. Truthfully, once Damien Chazelle announced that Gosling would star as Neil Armstrong in a biopic, these positive reviews were not only predicted, but expected. If First Man is a hit, Chazelle’s three movie run of WhiplashLa La Land, and First Man will be one of the best stretches ever.

Back to Gosling. I tweeted this out earlier today about Gosling’s acting transformation.

Who would’ve thought that the kid who couldn’t play cornerback if his life depended on it in Remember The Titans would turn into an Academy Award nominated actor? Gosling had some hits in mid 2000s with The Notebook and Half Nelson (nominated for Oscar), but Gosling disappeared for 3 years from about 2007 – 2010. It turns out that this was the best decision he could have ever made because Gosling came back with a vengeance in Drive and Crazy, Stupid, Love in 2011. Fast forward a few years and Gosling has been in some of my favorite movies of recent memory such as The Big ShortLa La Land, and Blade Runner 2049. Gosling can now do any project he wants because he is a must-see attraction.

Let’s just cut to the chase. Ryan Gosling is going to be nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. See you at the ceremony.

Christopher Robin Review: My Heart Is Very Full At This Moment

I need to talk about Christopher Robin, for an abundance of reasons. The first being that this is the first time a movie or TV show has ever made me cry, and I did it twice (though I promise you this is not an Always Sunny Dennis situation with my feelings).

Another being because this is one of the better movies I’ve ever seen, but not in the way you think. It’s very much like eating at a restaurant. No, it’s not an STK or some 5-star blue ribbon place where you expect the best meal of your life. It’s more like when you’re looking for a place to casually eat on a Friday night, and you pass a place that looks good enough. So you sit down and eat and it blows away your expectations. It’s delicious, not because it’s the best meal ever, but because it’s a tiny burger and wing joint that very much knows what it is and is excellent at what they do.

Now, before I get to into spoilers (and also too hungry), I want to say my criticisms about the movie, because I did have some. The acting by every person not named Ewan McGregor was a bit much and over the top, I had some trouble understanding some characters (read: Tigger), and they spent a bit too much time on Christopher’s work life and dilemma as opposed to making this more about him and his friends, though I get it. The biggest problem with this movie is the plot. Outside of the existing plot of “Pooh needs to find his friends”, “Christopher needs to get closer to his family and to rediscover his childhood”, the basics of it is that Christopher needs to cut 20% of his company’s budget or else everyone is going to get laid off. He spends all of his time working on it and his personal life and family go by the wayside. After his expeditions with his old friends, he solves it by suggesting that (SPOILER) the company should do nothing at all and offer vacation to it’s employees(?). I’m still not sure but this honestly barely detracts from the enjoyment I got from the film, because I’m never trying to figure out how Christopher is going to save all of these jobs. I just want to see the old Hundred Acre Woods gang together again.

I have to talk about the emotional aspect of the movie, because it hit me like a freight train. The intro of the movie is incredibly sad. It starts off with Christopher Robin as a boy, about to be sent off to boarding school, so he has to say goodbye to all of his friends for the last time. After everybody eats too much at the dinner, Pooh and Christopher go for a walk, and they embrace one last time. At this point my eyes were dripping tears, because a lot came to me in that moment. I realized how much I missed being a child. How, at one point, my father picked me up and put me back down for the last time. How I stopped finding the enjoyment in the little things in life, and how fast life has moved when at one point, every moment seemed to inch past. The movie follows that gut punch with a montage of Pooh waiting outside the door to the Hundred Acre Woods to keep the memory of his friend, which was like Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson teaming up on you. Winnie at one point cannot find any of his furry friends, and the majority of the middle of the movie is Christopher and Pooh looking for them.

The middle of the movie is very enjoyable and is filled with plenty (if almost too many) classic Winnie The Pooh quotes and pieces of wisdom. There’s Heffalumps and Woozles (both of which I had totally forgotten about since my Pooh-watching days). There’s the beautiful moment where Christopher pretends to fight a Heffalump so his old friends will stop being afraid of him, cumulating with Eeyore (who’s dark sense of humor had me rolling in laughter the whole movie) recognizing him and saying, “It’s Christopher Robin…playing again!” And there’s the “Up Down Touch The Ground” song, which legitimately almost made me applaud. All of the friends eventually reunite and when Christopher Robin has to go home to get to his meeting, he forgets his very important papers (well, Tigger replaces them, but you get it). On his way home, a notably different Christopher starts playing Winnie’s game, Say What You See, on the train. On their way to return his papers, they all run into Christopher’s daughter and travel to London to bring him these papers, and when they eventually reunite, Christopher is a changed man who brings his family to the Hundred Acre Woods, has one last conversation with Pooh, and everyone lives happily ever after. A simple plot and yet it is it’s simplicity that makes it so perfectly Pooh.

One thing that crushed me emotionally is that it got me thinking about life and my friends. We have all lost a friend; maybe it was a disease or an accident, maybe it was simply to distance or time. But it has happened to everybody in one way or another. This movie made me miss people and times that I did not even realize or remember. It made me remember how much fun it was to be a kid, even for that hour and forty-five minutes. It reminded me that, before we filled our time with alcohol and responsibilities, there was once just our friends and our imaginations. I guess, what I’m saying, is that this movie just made me happy to see my old friends again. Score: 85/100

winnie-L

Eighth Grade Review: Heartfelt Take On Adolescence Is Spectacular From Start To Finish

If Bo Burnham has plans from November 2018 to March 2019, he should cancel them immediately because Burnham and Eighth Grade will be invited to every major awards ceremony.

Eighth Grade follows Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) throughout her last week of junior high school. Kayla is a sweet, kind 13-year-old who battles with nerves and social anxiety in her day-to-day life. From the pressures of attending a pool party to the constant struggle to be cool, Kayla will do anything to fit in. To combat her shyness, Kayla posts advice videos on YouTube as a way to make her life meaningful and combat her lack of a social life. Besides dealing with her snobby classmates, Kayla also battles with her quirky, but sweet father, Mark Day (Josh Hamilton), who would give anything for his daughter to be happy.

The three-headed monster of Burnham, Fisher, and Hamilton elevate Eighth Grade from a typical coming-of-age film to a spectacular view of adolescence in 2018. Burnham, in his feature-film directorial and writing debut, expertly captured the social media craze of 2018, where kids are glued to their phones and obsess over the right angle to take a selfie. Burnham’s script gives viewers who did not grow up in the social media era a taste of what it’s like to live in this day and age. Because the same problems associated with puberty, sexuality, and awkwardness are universal, Burnham’s film is relatable to all age groups.

This film does not succeed without its fantastic lead, Elsie Fisher. The word “incredible” does not even begin to describe this young actor’s performance. Fisher’s ability to capture the timid and nervous eighth grader was second to none. The scenes over sexual issues make you cringe, but they are real issues that both young boys and girls experience everyday. Discussing blowjobs with her crush, looking up techniques for oral sex, and practicing on a banana are awkward to watch. The culmination of these sexual issues happens when an older boy named Riley (Daniel Zolghadri) pressures Kayla into taking her shirt off, which makes you feel sick to your stomach. There are times in the film where I wanted to jump through the screen and give her a hug and tell her that everything is going to be alright.

Although the audience could not give her a hug, the man that could be there for Kayla was her caring father, Mark, played by the superb Josh Hamilton. Kayla’s mother left the duo early on in their lives so a single father trying to build a strong relationship with his daughter is no easy task. Despite Kayla’s reluctance to talk to her father, Mark never gives up because he only wants what’s best for her daughter. In the climatic scene of the movie, Mark delivers an emotional speech that won’t leave a dry eye in the theater.

It scenes like Mark’s speech that captures the essence of growing up. No one ever said it was easy, but it can and it will get better and that’s the message that Burnham successfully conveys. Although this is a small independent film, the word-of-mouth alone should keep the film in theaters for awhile. Are Oscars in the future for the trio? Let’s just say that if Burnham receives zero nominations for his work, it will be a travesty.

Eighth Grade is awkward, cringeworthy, heartwarming, and accurate, which is why it is one of the best films of the year.

9.2/10

DG

Follow me on Twitter @danny_giro

The Winners and Losers From ComicCon Trailer Weekend

ComicCon 2018 took place in San Diego this last weekend, and with it came the usual wave of trailers and big reveals generating tens of thousands of retweets and think pieces. This year came and went, with a ton of blockbuster potential in the works. So, without further adieu, here’s the big Winners and Losers list from ComicCon 2018.

*note this will not contain all show and movie trailers, just some very notable winners and losers*

Winners

Godzilla

The last Godzilla movie was a huge disappointment for several reasons. For starters, the billing of Bryan Cranston as a top character, only for him to *spoiler* die 30 minutes into the film. Then there was the noticeable lack of, well, Godzilla. He didn’t get nearly enough screentime and the movie suffered as a result. What time he did have on the screen was awesome, and I think this movie will avoid these mistakes again. This adaptation of the monster involves Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga, and showcases a whole lot of monster action. It was pound-for-pound the best trailer to make its debut, and has the biggest blockbuster potential despite not being a traditional film in the Oscars mold. My only concern is highlighted perfectly by Lights, Camera, Barstool’s Jeff Lowe:

This is Millie Bobby Brown’s first real foray outside of Stranger Things and it’ll have plenty of hype after this trailer. It’s an interesting concept and could be a ton of fun. Either way, the trailer did it’s job and the hype train is going full speed.

Shazam

I’ll start by saying I have very little interest in this film. The concept never grasped me and for a superhero movie, Shazam never moved the needle for me. It looked corny with the set photos of the Shazam costume and it still looks a little ridiculous to me in the trailer. That being said, there is a TON of hype now about the movie and it’s getting good feedback online after the trailer release. It looks like a fun time and a very self-aware DC movie, which are the two big caveats everyone has had about DC superhero flicks. Outside of when Zachary Levi does the floss dance, which literally made me cringe harder than I have in a long time, it looks like a decent movie that might punch above it’s weight and actually made me a little excited about it despite my early pessimism.

M. Night Shyamalan

After 2 decades, the Shyamalan Universe is coming together with Glass. The trailer looks absolutely incredible (if not a bit convoluted), but it appears to tie together Split and  Unbreakable very well. Unbreakable is a movie that has aged very well and this movie has a ton of buzz. Shyamalan has not had the best of luck with many recent films (After Earth, Devil, The Last Airbender, and  The Happening). But this could be a bona fide hit, and with it’s incredible cast (Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson) it could crush at the box office. Also, this doesn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyways, Sarah Paulson is a goddess and one of the best actresses out there. I’ll watch anything she’s in, and this is no exception. It’s good to have M. Night back in the fold with genuine blockbuster potential.

Aquaman

My favorite trailer at CC18. Jason Momoa is EXACTLY what the DCEU needs, and he brings a ton of life to a role that many were pessimistic about having it’s own movie (not in the Entourage extended universe). The man best known for being in 1 season of Game of Thrones as Khal Drogo and commenting on Emilia Clarke’s Instagrams is a genuine star and I think he could carry this movie with a lot of lighthearted jokes and barbs. If he can carry this movie to monster box office numbers, his star will continue to rise and I think that, despite some pitfalls to this movie (extensive use of CGI is a big criticism, but again this is a movie where the residents of UNDERWATER CITY ATLANTIS RIDE SHARKS INTO BATTLE, so let’s all take a breather). Overall this might be the film to push DC into genuine competition with Marvel at the box office.

 

Losers

Titans

I very nearly named DC the big winners here. I was so close. And then the trailer for Titans dropped. DC’s new tv show based on their animated counterparts Teen Titans looks absolutely ridiculous. And it all starts with this.

I mean, maybe don’t say “fuck our most successful comic book character that is beloved by millions” for the sake of promoting a TEEN TITANS SHOW. Second, the characters are not fleshed out at all. If I hadn’t watched the show as a kid, I couldn’t tell you any of their identities or powers. I still have no idea what their motivations are other than they seem like angsty 20 and 30 somethings playing angsty teens. Finally, the trailer was just plain bad and almost seems like a parody of itself. I have very little faith in this being good and even less motivation to see it. One aspect of this that is getting a lot of heat is having Anna Diop playing Starfire. This is absurd, because having black actors/actresses play “traditionally” white characters is not remotely a bad thing. There’s been calls for Idris Elba to play James Bond for years now, Morgan Freeman crushed the role of Red in The Shawshank Redemption, Halle Berry played Catwoman (an awful movie, but certainly not because of her being cast as the lead). Grow up people.

Fantastic Beasts

Sure, we get Young Dumbledore and some more Johnny Depp. But I swear we’ve seen this trailer before…oh yeah. IN EVERY OTHER HARRY POTTER MOVIE! I didn’t like the first version of this film and while this does appear to get grittier and more interesting, I just don’t think you need to keep pressing this. As a book reader (no big deal) and avid Potterhear, I really really don’t like this anymore. Hard pass.

The Purge (TV Series)

I want to like The Purge Universe so badly. The concept is brilliant and, with the right director and vision, could really be incredible and borderline revolutionary as a film franchise. Unfortunately, there’s a reason why the movies never really worked out in the critics eyes, and has now moved to television. In a last-ditch effort to save the franchise, they’ve watered everything down and hit a wall, and I won’t be taking part. I appreciate the effort and vision that The Purge started out with, but it’s just not working out anymore.

Life Itself, The New Movie From The This Is Us Creator, Looks Spectacular

Calling all This Is Us fans. Bring your tissues because this one is going to be a tearjerker. Leave it to Dan Fogelman to translate his family dramas to the big screen. I’m not going to call Life Itself the “This Is Us movie,” but if this film is anything compared to the show, it will be a huge success.

This is the official synopsis and casting notice for Life Itself.

Deadline – “The story follows a New York couple that goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child. The movie follows the unexpected twists of their journey and how they create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes. Life Itself examines the perils and rewards of everyday life in a multigenerational saga featuring an all-star acting ensemble including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Sergio Peris- Mencheta, Laia Costa, Alex Monner and Mandy Patinkin.”

An all-star cast with multiple timelines and stories that are connected? Sign me up. Maybe this is the This Is Us movie. I’m expecting a big twist at the end that rivals the reveal at the end of the first episode of This Is Us when the audience finds out that Randall is apart of the Big Three. I bet Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde are figments of someone’s imagination and they died 50 years before the story takes place. I’m just spitballing here because I have still yet to nail an accurate prediction from Fogelman’s work. It’s like in Crazy, Stupid, Love (which Fogelman wrote) when Steve Carrell finds out that Ryan Gosling is dating his daughter, Emma Stone. Fogelman productions have more twists than a maze so I’m expecting something that will blow my mind.

Life Itself opens September 21. This Is Us season three premieres September 25. Life is good.

Leonardo DiCaprio Shares First Image With Brad Pitt In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Holy Handsome!

It appears as if Quentin Tarantino’s next film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is ready to start filming. Not much has been said about the film, but it will revolve around the Manson Family murders and in particular, the murder of Sharon Tate. Here is what Tarantino said about the film in an interview.

“A story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), former star of a western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor…Sharon Tate.”

It’s a very interesting premise and one that can go in a multitude of directions. The cast is actually a cheat code. One movie should not have this many stars in it.

DiCaprio, Pitt, and Robbie were enough to get me interested, but Pacino, Lewis, and Fred Andrews himself, Luke Perry, took me from 6 to midnight. Speaking of interesting relationships, I have a weird relationship with Tarantino. My favorite Tarantino film is Reservoir Dogs. Yes, I don’t have Pulp Fiction as my favorite Tarantino film. Don’t burn me at the stake. Inglorious Bastards was great. However, I wasn’t crazy about Django Unchained and I never even saw The Hateful Eight. That being said, Tarantino is a creative genius so if you give him an all-star cast, I have faith that he’ll deliver.

See you next August for the premiere!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review – The Battle Between Humans And Dinosaurs Rages On

“A rescue op. Save the dinosaurs from an island that’s about to explode. What could go wrong?”

Those words uttered by Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, could not have been more true in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The entire Jurassic Park franchise can be summarized by Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. One would think that after four films, humans would stop genetically engineering dinosaurs? Wrong.

*There will be light spoilers in this review.*

Owen Grady, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), and the rest of her team are sent to Isla Nubar to save certain dinosaurs from extinction before a volcanic explosion destroys the island. Grady and Dearing are sent by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), John Hammond’s former partner, and his manipulative assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). The main objective of the expedition is to transfer a number of species from Isla Nubar to a new sanctuary so dinosaurs can continue to live freely. The most important dinosaur is Blue, the last living velociraptor that Grady trained, who is arguably the smartest creature on the planet.

Fallen Kingdom has drawn comparisons to the second movie in the franchise, The Lost World, for a similar premise, which is fair to say. In both films, pro-dinosaur groups return to the island to save certain species only to soon realize that the corporations running the missions want to sell the dinosaurs for profit. Instead of creating future attractions with dinosaurs, the objective of retriving them in Fallen Kingdom is to sell them for military use on the black market. Fallen Kingdom has also not been met with critical acclaim with only a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Personally, I had issues with the pacing of the film and character development. The rescue mission on Isla Nubar felt rushed without any true suspenseful moments and not enough cat and mouse games between the humans and dinosaurs. The heart of the Jurassic Park franchise are the relationships between the humans. Owen and Claire made a strong bond with her nephews that built thought the entire film in Jurassic World. However, despite a few heartwarming moments with Maise (Isabella Sermon) towards the end, they were too little too late.

Despite those issues, Fallen Kingdom is not a step back in the franchise. The main goal of this film was to introduce new elements to keep the audience on their toes as well as to set up the third and final film in the trilogy. Concepts of human cloning and more genetic breeding add a new layer of science as well as continue to the morality debate of the whole series (Can humans play God?). Plusthis is the first Jurassic movie to have an ending that is not finite, where previous sequels were only created because of box office success. Fallen Kingdom served a purpose and the third film will build on director J.A. Bayona’s vision.

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom still delivers with signature shock and awe moments as well as exciting battles between humans and dinosaurs. As a massive fan, I am excited to see how the trilogy will come to an end in the third film.

Top Five Scenes From Jurassic Park

If you can believe it, Jurassic Park turned 25 years old this month. Without a doubt, Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all-time. It’s one of those movies that whenever it comes on television, I stop whatever I’m doing to watch. The Dark Knight also has that effect on me. What’s not to love about Jurassic Park? Action, adventure, mystery, suspense, and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s one of the rare movies that is both entertaining for children and adults. Scientific cloning, thievery, and memorable deaths satisfy the older crowd while the unimaginable thought of seeing a dinosaur brings out your inner child. Jurassic Park was a once-in-a-lifetime movie. On the eve of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I want to relive the movie that started it all by discussing my top five scenes from Jurassic Park. Hold on to your butts.

5. Welcome to Jurassic Park

Nothing will ever beat the feeling of seeing the dinosaurs for the first time. Everyone was in shock and awe just like Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler. The visuals in Jurassic Park are so spectacular that you would think it was all CGI. Wrong. Remember, this was 1993, not 2018. In fact, very little CGI was used in this film. A lot of the dinosaurs such as the T Rex and raptors were full scale models. In fact, only 14 minutes of the 127 minute run time have dinosaur effect shots (CGI generated). This is why the film holds up so well. It feels real. Plus, it’s a scene from gif heaven.

4. Jump, Tim! Jump!

Tim, what are you doing, bro? JUST JUMP! Stop messing around. You are holding on to an electric fence that is about to turn back on. I don’t care if Dr. Grant is wearing gloves with nails in them. You obviously struggle in gym class because you were too slow to climb down the fence. Your only option is to jump because let me tell you, there is no way you are surviving that electrocution and fall in real life. It’s bad enough you were electrically shocked, but your body ricocheted 50 feet backwards from 20 feet in the air. Also, the cuts between John Hammond / Malcolm, Ellie, and Dr. Grant/ kids were excellent. Edge-of-your-seat suspense.

3. Life Finds A Way

“Life, uh, finds a way.”

Besides “Hold on to your butts,” “Life finds a way” is the most memorable quote from the movie. Malcom is making a scientific speech about evolution, but what makes it special is how relatable and easy to understand the speech is to the viewer. Essentially, Malcom is saying that the scientists cannot play God. They might think have all the answers, but once the dinosaurs come to life, all bets are off. Dr. Grant stumbling upon the raptor eggs brought Malcom’s theory full circle. Life DID find a way.

2. Raptors In The Kitchen

For my money, this is the scariest and most suspenseful scene in the movie. Tim and Lex just went through hell. They survived a T Rex attack, avoided a stampede, and escaped death via electrocution. All they want to do is relax and have a bite to eat.

Not on the raptors’ watch.

I rewatched this scene a few minutes ago and I still do not know how these kids not only survived, but outsmarted Velociraptors. Every time the raptor charges at Lex, I still don’t believe it’s her reflection. Side note, as smart as Tim is, he has no common sense. Tim didn’t jump on time. He made noise after noise in the kitchen to attract the raptors. If it wasn’t for Lex, Tim would be swimming in the stomach of a raptor.

1. The T Rex Attack On The Vans

I am putting this sequence in the Top 10 Most Memorable Scenes in Movie History. Steven Spielberg deserves an Oscar for this scene. I watched old promotions and trailers for the film and Spielberg purposely hid the T Rex as much as possible in order to reveal it in a grand and dramatic moment like this one. Every detail and camera angle is executed to perfection. The water cup, the flashlight, the missing goat, the powerless fence. The fear of the unknown is a powerful device.

The T Rex reveal is the culmination of making the impossible, possible. When people think of dinosaurs, I guarantee that the ones they reference are from Jurassic Park. That’s why this movie is so special. After 25 years, it not only withstood the test of time, but it will go down as one of the most revolutionary movies ever made.