Movies and Television

Capone

Capone

Directed by: Josh Trank

Written by: Josh Trank

Starring: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Al Sapienza, Kathrine Narducci, Noel Fisher, Kyle MacLachlan

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama

Score: 0.5/5

I’ve thought long and hard about this one, analyzed it from several different perspectives, and taken into account all that it does well, but it’s still a disappointing, dreadful slog. To be fully transparent I will state here that we aren’t the biggest fans of gangster movies, as evidenced by our opinions on Goodfellas and The Irishman, but Capone is on another, lower level of filmmaking than your typically long and boring mobster movie. But let’s begin with the good, of which, surprisingly, there is a fair amount.

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Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow

Written by: Jeff Wadlow, Christopher Roach, and Jillian Jacobs

Starring: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, and Michael Rooker

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Mystery

Score: 2/5

This movie didn’t initially inspire much confidence in me, but Michael Pena and Michael Rooker are both in it, and it’s a Blumhouse production, which always earns a few points, so I gave it a chance. Even if it didn’t exactly amaze, I don’t regret spending the time to watch it either. You’ll find this film somewhere between a low-budget Lost and a high-budget flop.

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I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Directed by:  Steven Spielberg

Written by:  Steven Spielberg

Starring:  Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr

Reviewed by:  Rob Leicht

Genre:  Science-Fiction

Score:  3/5

This might be the most surprising edition of “I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen” yet. A movie buff and science-fiction nerd who has not seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You might be saying, “get your shit together, Rob.” And you would be right to question my life choices. I’m working on it. Get off my case. Gee whiz. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Close Encounters. I found it enjoyable, but not overly so.

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Center Field of Gravity Presents: List in Space

Center Field of Gravity Presents: List in Space

With all the remakes, reboots, and never-ending  stream of comic book movies inundating our screens, small and large, viewers can hardly be blamed for feeling overwhelmed. Allow us to help. In List in Space, we detail our ten most anticipated upcoming science-fiction and fantasy releases. Some have been delayed due to the virus while others have simply been delayed, but we’re looking forward to all of them.

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Creep 2

Creep 2

Directed by: Patrick Brice

Written by: Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice

Starring: Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Karan Soni

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Horror

Score: 3.5/5

Creep 2 is the sequel of the horror film Creep, which we reviewed here. And as it happens, discussing the nature of sequels is a good place to begin our analysis of Creep 2. Every moviegoer knows the common pitfalls here: meaningless characters, directionless plots, dispassionate filmmaking, and unsatisfying conclusions. But Creep 2 encounters none of these villains of creativity; where Creep succeeded, Creep 2 excels. It is clear with this film, if it wasn’t already before, that both Brice and Duplass have significant talent.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Directed by:  Sergio Leone

Written by:  Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone

Starring:  Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach

Reviewed by:  Rob Leicht

Genre:  Western

Score:  2.5/5

Western movies have never been my favorite. The few I have seen over the years have largely been derivative and predictable, and so I haven’t sought out others within the genre. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is one of the better western films I have seen from that time period, but also contains many of the same faults I associate with the others.

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Creep

Creep

Directed by: Patrick Brice

Written by: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass

Starring: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Horror

Score: 3/5

This type of movie is the reason I give random low-budget films a chance. Most of the time I turn them off before they finish, but sometimes, like with Creep, you get pleasantly surprised. To be clear: Creep is not a masterpiece and is far from perfect. It is, however, a uniquely executed horror movie; it’s also one of the best found footage films I can remember ever watching.

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Cargo

Cargo

Directed by: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke

Written by: Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Simone Landers, Susie Porter

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Score: 1.5/5

Many actors have trouble separating themselves from famous roles, but Freeman once again proves he can do anything. Sadly, his performance is Cargo‘s only redeeming quality. Set in a post-apocalyptic Outback, Cargo tells the story of an infected man trying to find a family for his infant daughter before he fully transforms. Good premise, I thought.

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Mindhunter: Seasons I and II

Mindhunter: Seasons I and II

Directed by: David Fincher and Carl Franklin

Written by: John Douglas, Mark Olshaker, Joe Penhall

Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Stacey Roca, Cotter Smith, Albert Jones

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Crime / Biopic

Score: 4.5/5

This unforgettable series chronicles the FBI’s efforts during the 1970s to develop a method of psychological profiling with which to identify and catch serial killers, but it doesn’t stop there. It also examines the cultural, racial, and political reasons for the sudden prominence of serial killers during this era, as well as the effects this work has on the brilliant and varied cast. And it does all this nearly flawlessly.

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Halloween

Our first two entries into this new series examining movies that we had never watched until recently were Goodfellas and The Dead ZoneThe Dead Zone  is a very famous science-fiction adaptation with television spin-offs, so we felt it an appropriate inclusion; Goodfellas, while being one of our least favorite genres in general, is one of the most awarded and heralded films of the previous 40 years and obviously belongs in the series. Our third review, however, is even more surprising to have gone previously unwatched:

Halloween

Directed by: John Carpenter

Written by: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Horror

Score: 4.5/5

Quite simply, this is one of the best horror movies of all-time, belonging among such classics as PsychoThe Shining, and Alien, all of which we have seen and won’t be appearing later in this series.

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Greenland

Greenland

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh

Written by: Chris Sparling

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin , Roger Dale Floyd, Holt McCallany

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Disaster

Score: 1.5/5

Disaster movie, or disastrously boring? Of course that’s being a little harsh, but equally harsh is the disappointment of a disaster movie with no thrills or tension.

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The Outpost

The Outpost

Directed by: Rod Lurie

Written by: Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson

Starring: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jack Kesy, Cory Hardrict, Milo Gibson, Jacob Scipio, Taylor John Smith, Jonathan Yunger, Alexander Arnold, George Arvidson, Will Attenborough, Chris Born, Ernest Cavazos, Scott Alda Coffey, Jack DeVos

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: War

Score: 4/5

While I don’t typically enjoy war movies, the best can be incredibly important to both film and history. Art like 1917 and Band of Brothers is vital in showing us the despicable nature of battle. Although war might be difficult to view, it is important to remember that it was worse for those who lived through it. The Outpost isn’t quite a masterpiece of cinema, but it does everything a war movie should, and it does it all well.

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Battle Scars

Battle Scars

Directed by: Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

Written by: Samuel Gonzalez Jr. and Christopher Lang

Starring: Kit Lang, Arturo Castro, Jonathan Peacy, Arielle Brachfeld, Jason Vail, Emily Trosclair

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: War / Drama

Score: 2.5/5

Battle Scars tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who fails to readjust to life after the war. Part graphic war movie, part heist flick, and part drama, this film is all over the place while still being focused on the idea of the effects of war on the psyche.

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Mnemophrenia

Mnemophrenia

Directed by: Eirini Konstantinidou

Written by: Eirini Konstantinidou and Robin King

Starring: Freya Berry. Robin King, Tim Seyfert, Tallulah Sheffield, Jamie Laird, Robert Milton Wallace, Dominic O’Flynn, Angela Peters, Anna Brook, Michael Buckster Gary Cargill, Steve Hope Wynne

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Science-Fiction / Documentary

Score: 3/5

The basis of Mnemophrenia is that as virtual reality develops and people spend more and more time within technological realities, new mental disorders will spread within our species. The film takes its title from the name of the proposed disorder that causes users of virtual reality to incorrectly remember their pasts…

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Mulan

Mulan

Directed by: Niki Caro

Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, and Lauren Hynek

Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, Xana Tang, Ron Yuan, Jun Yu, Chen Tang, Doua Moua, Jimmy Wong, Nelson Lee

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Historical / War / Fantasy

Score: 4/5

Based on current reviews and opinions, this is one of my most controversial write-ups. Still, I’m going with my gut and out on a limb to say that the movie was fantastic. In Mulan we finally have a Disney remake that becomes a classic of its own, possibly even eclipsing its great predecessor. It pays homage throughout while standing on its own, telling the story in a brilliantly new and elegant way.

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Directed by: Tom Tykwer

Adapted for the screen by: Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger, and Tom Tykwer

Starring: Ben Whishaw, John Hurt, Francesc Albiol, Simon Chandler, David Calder, Richard Felix, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Alan Rickman

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Crime / Fantasy

Score: 3.5/5

I usually read the book first following an adaptation, but in this case I watched the movie. And I must admit, it will now be the next book I buy. However, it’s a strange film. Grotesque imagery, overdone slow-motion and music, an orgy involving nuns and the pope, and sociopathic murders all sandwiched between brilliant acting and beautiful sets create a tone I’ve never quite felt before. The movie lies somewhere between Cloud Atlas, Sweeney Todd, and Les Miserables without feeling akin to any of them, or to anything else.

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I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen:  The Dead Zone

This review of David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone continues our “I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen” series, where we’ll be analyzing and reviewing classic movies that, for one reason or another, we never watched until now. As huge fans of science-fiction it is rare to find a film, especially one so famous, that both of us haven’t watched. I’m unsure why I never checked this one out before now. Perhaps Stephen King’s catalog is just so long that I’ve only now made it to The Dead Zone; alternately, maybe I just never had a chance to watch it until it came to Netflix. Either way, I’ve now seen it, and here are my thoughts: 

The Dead Zone

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: Jeffrey Boam

Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe, Colleen Dewhurst

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Science-Fiction / Thriller

Score: 3.5/5

Watching an old movie for the first time can be a good thing. You don’t get swept up by the reviews and popular opinion surrounding its release. You get to see how it has held up over time. You don’t have any childhood bias or troubles comparing how your thoughts on it have changed. In many ways it’s like opening a time capsule. And though I love science-fiction and am familiar with much of Stephen King’s work, I had never watched The Dead Zone until recently.

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Tenet

Tenet

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Elizabeth Debicki, John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Kenneth Branagh, Clémence Poésy, Fiona Dourif, Michael Caine

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Science-fiction / Action

Score: 4/5

The meaning and purpose of the title of the movie goes totally unexplained if you’re looking for guidance while watching the film, but it’s a palindrome. Beyond that, I’ve no clue, but maybe that’s all you need to know about it to understand its significance. Much like the rest of the movie, a full explanation is always just out of reach, but the allure, entertainment, and mystery is more than enough to keep a wide range of viewers engrossed until long after the heartfelt, yet frustrating ending.

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I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen:  Goodfellas

We have seen thousands of movies in our lifetimes, but sadly there are many classic films, considered among the greatest of all time, that at least one of us has passed over for years. In an attempt to rectify this situation, we now bring to you a new series: “I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen”, where we explore classic and popular movies that have previously escaped our attention.  Here in this first edition, Rob reviews the 1990 film Goodfellas.

Goodfellas

Directed by:  Martin Scorsese

Written by:  Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi

Starring:  Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and Paul Sorvino

Reviewed by:  Rob Leicht

Genre:  Crime/Gangster

Score:  4/5

This movie had a lot of build-up for me. Since its release, Goodfellas has been hailed, along with The Godfather, as a quintessential gangster film. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and many people whose opinions I respect claim it among their favorite films. And while Goodfellas is far from the only film I have neglected among Scorsese’s oeuvre (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Gangs of New York are all likely to be future entries in this series), The Departed is included among my own favorite films. Viewed for the first time, 30 years after its original release, Goodfellas does not disappoint.

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Last Breath

Last Breath

Directed by: Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson

Written by: Alex Parkinson

Starring: Chris Lemons, David Yuasa, Duncan Allcock, Kjetil Ove Alvestad, Michal Cichorski

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Documentary

Score: 4.5/5

The best documentaries amaze, educate, and pique your interest in topics you never knew you were fascinated by. Last Breath does all that, and much, much more. One of the best documentaries I can ever remember seeing, it takes you on an adventure you would never believe if you watched it on film; even after watching proof, you still won’t believe what happened.

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Dark: Season 3

Dark: Season 3

Directed by: Baran bo Odar

Written by: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese, and Marc O. Seng

Starring: Louis Hofmann, Karoline Eichhorn, Lisa Vicari, Maja Schöne, Stephan Kampwirth, Jördis Triebel, Andreas Pietschmann

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Science-Fiction / Mystery

Season Score: 3.5/5

Show Score: 4.5/5

The third and final season of Dark leaves none of its many questions unanswered, is well-made in nearly every facet of production, and is one of the most philosophically interesting pieces of art created this century; it is also strangely disappointing.

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Paddington 2

Paddington 2

Directed by: Paul King

Written by: Paul King and Simon Farnaby

Starring: Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Ben Whishaw, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Hugh Grant

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Adventure

Score: 4.5/5

It took me six years to watch Paddington because I didn’t know what I was missing, but I learned my lesson and it only took me six minutes to start Paddington 2 after the credits rolled. 

I’m glad I didn’t wait this time.

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Paddington

Paddington

Directed by: Paul King

Written by: Paul King

Starring: Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Ben Whishaw, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Tim Downie, Madeleine Worrall

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Adventure

Score: 4/5

In my mind Paddington is forever paired with Hugo. Both movies were unexpected treasures that I asked nothing from but which absolutely blew me away.

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Tusk

Tusk

Directed by: Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Horror / Thriller

Score: 2.5/5

Tusk is one of the most difficult movies I’ve ever tried to score, because the good is so good while the bad is really bad. What do you give a movie that has perfection and genius mixed with horrible comedy, bad editing, and misused themes? I originally thought the good slightly outweighed the bad and considered rating Tusk a 3 or even 3.5, but after some thought, the bad is just too bad, and the movie results in an average score. Still, it is definitely not an average film, and here’s why:

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Better Call Saul: Season 5

Better Call Saul

Directed by: Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould

Written by: Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould

Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, Kerry Condon, Mark Margolis

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama / Thriller

Score: 4.5/5

As Better Call Saul goes on, it only gets better. With every season, episode, minute, and scene, the plot constricts and the tension rises. And season 5 is no different. If you ever doubted that a Breaking Bad spin-off could live up to the original, don’t worry; my bold take here is this: Better Call Saul actually surpasses Breaking Bad.

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Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga

Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga

Directed by: David Dobkin

Written by: Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele

Starring: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Mikael Persbrandt, Pierce Brosnan

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Comedy / Musical

Score: 3.5/5

I’ll start this review with a note: I’m from the United States, live in South Korea, don’t know much about mainstream popular culture, and had never even heard of Eurovision until I watched this movie. Now then…

Aside from Lalaland, the opening scene of this film might be the most sensible, musically entertaining, and downright hilarious introduction to any movie in recent memory.

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Onward

Onward

Directed by: Dan Scanlon

Written by: Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Animation / Fantasy

Score: 4/5

Set in a magical land yet mirroring our own society, Onward is equal parts parody, action, family drama, and epic fantasy. Though not quite peak Pixar upon first viewing, it is very, very good, and I think it might be one of those films that only improves over time, the true mark of greatness.

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Zombieland: Double tap

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Dave Callaham

Starring: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Comedy / Parody

Score: 2/5

Zombieland: Double Tap is a direct sequel to 2009’s hilarious parody, Zombieland, but maybe it shouldn’t have been made. While I love the entire cast and enjoyed snippets of the film, it didn’t have much purpose.

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Spenser Confidential

Spenser Confidential

Directed by: Peter Berg

Written by: Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Hope Olaide Wilson, Wilson Bokeem Woodbine

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Action / Comedy

Score: 1.5/5

I wanted to like this movie and the acting was, in general, decent, but it was very far from a good film.

Arkin, Wahlberg, and, despite her brief screen time, Hope Olaide Wilson were very good (I would unabashedly call her the film’s standout), everyone else was acceptable, and Shlesinger got dealt a bad hand.

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Altered Carbon Season 2

Altered Carbon Season 2

Created by: Laeta Kalogridis

Written by: Nevin Densham, Richard Morgan, Alison Schapker

Starring: Chris Conner, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Mackie, Torben Liebrecht

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Action, Science-Fiction

Score: 1.5/5

As a huge fan of science-fiction, I can be shamelessly entertained; much as I enjoy them, I don’t need the next Blade Runner, Dune, or Space Odyssey to love a futuristic tale. Still, Altered Carbon fails in almost every aspect.

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1917

1917

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Written by: Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: War

Score: 5/5

From beginning to end, 1917 is a flawless film; it’s also a beautiful contradiction. A war movie without severe violence, a single two-hour shot that never lulls, all with a tiny cast, 1917 is a special experience.

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2020 Academy Awards Nominees, Winners, and Commentary

2020 Academy Awards Nominees, Winners, and Commentary

Written By: Brad Williamson

Topic: 2020 Academy Awards

The Oscars have been exceedingly frustrating in recent years, and with many of the nominees, they seemed primed to continue this tradition in 2020. But this year, in the end, turned out to be one of the Academy’s most accurate set of results in my memory. Here we will present a summary of the nominees, winners, and brief commentary:

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Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems

Directed by: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie

Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, and Benny Safdie

Starring: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, and Eric Bogosian

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama

Score: 2/5

Uncut Gems is one of the most confusing movies I’ve ever seen, but not because of its plot structure, philosophy, cinematography, or character development. It’s confusing because I don’t know if I loved it or hated it, if it’s a masterpiece or a dumpster fire, if it’s a drama or a comedy or a horror film.

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Bad Boys for Life

Bad Boys for Life

Directed by: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Written by: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan

Starring: Will Smith, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Martin Lawrence, Paola Nuñez, Kate del Castillo, Joe Pantoliano, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Action, Comedy

Score: 3/5

It’s almost impossible to believe Bad Boys came out in 1995; that was 25 years ago. At the time of its release, Will Smith could still be seen on new episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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The Witcher: Season 1

The Witcher: Season 1

Created by: Lauren Schmidt

Starring: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra, Mimi Ndiweni, Eamon Farren

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Fantasy

Score: .5/5

Rarely have I finished such a bad show, but I wanted to review this, so I gave it a fair shot. And I’ll never regain that lost time.

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Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari

Directed by: James Mangold

Written by: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller

Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Biopic / Sports

Score: 3.5/5

I usually write my movie reviews soon after watching the film in question, but Ford vs. Ferrari presented a perfect storm of uncertainty.

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The Endless

The Endless

Directed by:  Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Written by:  Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Starring:  Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, & Callie Hernandez

Genre:  Science Fiction, Thriller

Reviewed by:  Joe Bones

Genre Score:  3.5/5

Score:  2.5/5

What if someone you cared about saved you from what they perceived as a horrible fate, but then you came to realize your new life is pretty awful? Would you try to be content with the life you have? Or seek out the life you once lived? These are the questions Aaron faces in The Endless. When he was a child, Aaron’s older brother Justin facilitated their escape from a UFO death cult. Years later and now adults, they receive a video tape showing that the cult members are still very much alive.

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The Two Popes

The Two Popes

Directed by: Fernando Meirelles

Written by: Anthony McCarten

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, Juan Minujín

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama, Biopic

Score: 3/5

As a story this film succeeds wonderfully, but as an entertaining movie it falls short of greatness. Still, it’s one of Netflix’s very best offerings to date. Though heavily doused with Catholicism, you don’t need to be Catholic, or even religious, to feel the power of this tale.

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Marriage Story

Marriage Story

Directed by: Noah Baumbach

Written by: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama

Score: 2.5/5

Simply put, this is a misleading title. A better representation would have been, “A Divorce Story.”

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The Irishman

The Irishman

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Written by: Steven Zaillian

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Anna Paquin

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama

Score: 1.5/5

I have no problem with long movies or slow movies. Boring movies with no good story to tell, however, are nothing more than a waste of time. And while I don’t quite consider this film a waste, it wasn’t far from it.

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Frozen II

Frozen II

Directed by: Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck

Written by: Jennifer Lee

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Alan Tudyk

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Animation

Score: 3.5/5

I waited a week to see Frozen II to avoid the crowds, but I also avoided spoilers, and I’m glad I did because it was completely different than I expected. While this is mostly a good thing, the movie wasn’t perfect. It’s also a difficult movie to assess, and especially to score, because of the music. How much should the soundtrack—good or bad—affect the score of a regular movie? And how much is this affect magnified in a musical?

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Terminator: Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate

Directed by: Tim Miller

Written by: David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Action / Science-fiction

Score: 3/5

There is always hope surrounding a new Terminator release returning to past glory, but with the cooperation of many of the original cast and crew who made the first two so great, Dark Fate seemed primed to make good on this elusive promise. Then they chose Tim Miller to helm it, immediately tempering these expectations. Still, I was excited about this film for a number of reasons.

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Directed by: Joachim Rønning

Written by: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, and Linda Woolverton

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, and Robert Lindsay

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Fantasy, Action

Score: 2.5/5

Maleficent was a nice surprise, a movie that not much was expected of but which delivered an enjoyable tale. I would even say it is the best of Disney’s recent remakes, probably because instead of being a direct retelling, it’s more a reimagining. Thus I was curious and, against my instincts, a bit excited to see how this sequel turned out.

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기생충 (Parasite)

기생충 (Parasite)

Directed by: 봉준호 (Bong Joon-Ho)

Written by: 봉준호 (Bong Joon-Ho) and 한진원 (Han Jin-Won)

Starring: 송강호 (Song Kang-ho), 조여정 (Jo Yeo-jeong), 박소담 (Park So-dam), 최우식 (Choi Woo-sik), 박서준 (Park Seo-joon), 이순견 (Lee Sun-kyun), 정지소 (Jung Ji-so), 이정은 (Lee Jeong-eun), 장혜진 (Jang Hye-jin)

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Black Comedy, Drama

Score: 5/5

기생충, which means Parasite, is one of the most powerful movies about wealth to arrive this century. From 봉준호 (pronounced Bong Joon-Ho), the director of Snowpiercer (설국열차), Mother (마더), and The Host (괴물), this film eclipses an already-great catalogue of creations.

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Joker

Joker

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Written by: Todd Phillips and Scott Silver

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Leigh Gill

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama, Comic

Score: 3/5

Relying on shock value and great acting, Joker feels like more than the sum of its parts, but you’re left feeling like something is missing, unfulfilled. Let me explain.

Phoenix is great, but he feels too restrained, which is the opposite of what the joker should be. His actions certainly aren’t, but his laugh, while in character, seems too prevalent; his most joker-like moments are while dancing, staring at someone, awkwardly conversing, and using his body’s great physical comedy and acting, but Phillips overuses the simplistic laughter.

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Written by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Dakota Fanning, and Al Pacino

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Score: 4.5/5

Viewing Mindset: Very late showing on opening night, excited but always tentative with expectations at Tarantino films.

Tarantino is one of the most divisive directors out there; as such, I might be the only person who is luke-warm on him. Most either love him or hate him or love to hate him, but I’m torn. On one hand are such true masterpieces as Pulp Fiction and Hateful Eight, and to a lesser degree the Kill Bills; while in the other hand we hold overrated films such as Inglourious Basterds and Resevoir Dogs; and still leftover, unable to decide quite how good they really are, we have Jackie Brown and Django Unchained.

And now we have Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, something completely different, something wholly un-Tarantino.

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Ad Astra

Ad Astra

Directed by: James Gray

Written by: James Gray and Ethan Gross

Starring: Brad Pitt, LisaGay Hamilton, Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre: Science-Fiction

Genre Score: 5/5

Score: 5/5

Viewing Mindset: Eager to watch but tempering expectations

Quick, name a movie with no useless scene. Bet you can’t, or at least that you struggle to do so. Even some of the greatest films ever made fail in this regard: 2001’s longer-than-necessary dialogue in the opening, Return of the King’s epilogue, The Matrix’s romance. But Ad Astra qualifies.

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Seinfeld & Baseball Series:  George Costanza, Hitting Instructor

Seinfeld & Baseball Series:  George Costanza, Hitting Instructor

Written by:  Rob leicht

Topic:  Baseball, Television

Larry David’s classic sitcom Seinfeld is widely considered to be the greatest sitcom of all time. Over 20 years since its conclusion, the “show about nothing” remains massively popular—when Hulu’s current deal expires in 2020 bidding for the streaming rights is expected to reach half a billion dollars. Seinfeld has indelibly inserted itself into our popular culture, and while it may be a show about nothing, there are many topics that are prevalent throughout its entire run. Of them, the most relevant to this website is baseball, from the Mets posters on Jerry’s apartment wall in the pilot episode to George’s front office career with the New York Yankees. As series creator Larry David is a lifelong Yankees fan and star Jerry Seinfeld a lifelong Mets fan, this intersection of sport and pop culture was inevitable. Thus I am excited to present to you a new Center Field of Gravity series: Seinfeld & Baseball.

 

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Angel Has Fallen

Angel Has Fallen

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lance Reddick

Genre: Action

Reviewed by: Rob Leicht

Genre Score: 2/5

Score:  1.5/5

Angel Has Fallen is the third installment in Gerard Butler’s action franchise following Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016). Stamped with the same general action movie template as the two previous films, the conclusion to the series now has Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning on the run after being framed for attempted assassination of the POTUS. I actually enjoyed the preceding movies for what they were, mostly forgettable action flicks, but Angel Has Fallen fails to meet that already low standard.

 

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Atlanta Seasons 1 and 2

Atlanta Seasons 1 and 2

Created by: Donald Glover

Starring: Donald Glover, LaKeith Stanfield, Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, Khris Davis

Genre: Music, Comedy

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score: 4/5

Score:  3.5/5

Neither sports nor sci-fi, this show cannot be ignored. At its heart a very simple tale: Atlanta’s underground rap scene.

But the charm of this show is the side of rap rarely portrayed: usually non-violent, sensitive, poverty even following shows and deals, families and children, mental illness, and everyday life. Also, the acting is some of the best on television, while the writing is some of the absolutely funniest.

Not much more to say: Go watch, now.

 

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Dark Season 2

Dark Season 2

Created by: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

Starring: Louis Hofmann, Karoline Eichhorn, Jördis Triebel, Maja Schöne, Stephan Kampwirth, Tamar Pelzig, Lisa Vicari, Deborah Kaufmann

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score:  4/5

Score:  3.5/5

Dark is a show with a premise that shouldn’t work on the screen, but somehow it does so majestically: time travel is possible in 33-year increments, and the same characters become older and younger embodiments of themselves due to the nearly-perfect generational time slip. With a core of around only ten characters, the cast nevertheless grows into the dozens without ever introducing new personalities. You’re never unfamiliar with anyone, even if it’s their first appearance, because you know them from the past or future, or both. 

 

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Midsommar

Midsommar

Directed by: Ari Aster

Written by: Ari Aster

Starring: Florence Pugh. Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia

Genre: Horror, Cult

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score: 3.5/5

Score: 3/5

Viewing Mindset: Sober and excited to see the follow-up to “Hereditary”; watched immediately after “Spiderman: Far From Home”.

This is the second full-length feature from the exciting new horror director Ari Astor, following his controversial but undeniably spectacular “Hereditary”. With “Midsommar”, he remains firmly entrenched within the horror genre, and even within the cult sub-genre, but we begin to see his true leanings and inspirations here; as so often happens, following a successful mainstream (mainstreamish in this case) debut, the director is given more freedom with the second offering. Less mainstream, more shocking, much slower, and more environmental, this film seems like something cobbled together between Wes Anderson, Lars von Trier, and George A. Romero.

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Spiderman: Far From Home

Spiderman: Far From Home

Directed by: Jon Watts

Written by: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers

Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei,Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon

Genre: Action, Comic

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score: 3/5

Score: 2.5/5

Viewing Mindset: Sober and slightly pessimistic regarding Marvel films in general; watched back-to-back with “Midsommar”.

I’ll start with this: outside of animations, this is, without a doubt, the best Spiderman film ever. It isn’t the best at any one aspect, but as a whole, the sum of its parts adds up to the best. Though still not reaching the upper-echelon of comic book films, it firmly asserts itself into that respectable second tier.

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Stranger Things Season 3

Stranger Things Season 3

Created by: Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard,Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Cara Buono, Gaten Matarazzo, Dacre Montgomery

Genre: Comedy, Monster

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score: 3/5

Score: 2/5

For those who have viewed previous seasons, the tone, plot, and themes will feel familiar because, well, not much has changed. However, this safe familiarity manages to be more charming than stale. Still, this season is not without both its great moments and major flaws.

 It starts by asking whether or not everyone truly wanted Eleven to close the gateway, or at least it seems like that is the question being posed with the tentative story telling. After all, maybe we could use the upside-down as a…as an energy source? This scene immediately raises many more questions than answers, and is the major downfall of the season: while some of the questions are answered (kind of?), so many more are left unaddressed. How did these mysterious Russians get here? The scenes with the mayor explaining he was threatened are insufficient to explain such a strange situation.

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Zone Blanche Seasons 1 and 2

Zone Blanche Seasons 1 and 2

Created by: Mathieu Missoffe

Starring: Naidra Ayadi, Brigitte Sy, Renaud Rutten,Camille Aguilar, Samuel Jouyk, Laurent Capelluto, Hubert Delattre, Suliane Brahim

Genre: Episodic Crime, Fantasy

Reviewed by: Brad Williamson

Genre Score: 3/5

Score: 2/5

A French show with a pagan premise, Zone Blanche shines with its unique episodic structure while also maintaining a larger one.

Their little town has an astronomically high death rate, but no one knows why. When a disgraced DA shows up to find answers, he finds much more than he bargained for.

Each episode examines another death or gruesome situation and as they examine these–which always end up having earthly causes yet remain oddly unreal–the truth uncoils in the form of a god of the forest that has been murdering since the Romans invaded France in order to protect its land and animals. But that can’t be true, can it?

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