The less-than-satisfactory Oscar post

I saw all the Best Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay noms!

EmmaYeah, it’s been a less-than-satisfactory Oscar viewing season for me. I haven’t seen many of the nominees, certainly in comparison with most years. Although, seeing THREE Best Picture nominees in the last three days, which I haven’t yet reviewed, has made the list a bit more complete.

So this is a post for this moment, and I’m hoping to see the others eventually. The ! means I saw it. I’ll link to my reviews the first time.

BEST PICTURE
! The Father – I just saw this; well-acted, of course, depressing and a little stagey
! Judas and the Black Messiah – I saw this yesterday; the best in my opinion.
Mank – this played at the newly-reopened Spectrum Theatre, but I didn’t catch it.
! Minari 
! Nomadland. I’m aware of the controversy over how the movie doesn’t fully address the working conditions at Amazon, which the book apparently does.
! Promising Young Woman – I just saw, and I liked it a lot
! Sound of Metal – this is the movie I saw the earliest of the nominees, the only one before the noms were announced. It’s very good.
! The Trial of the Chicago Seven. Good film.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
! Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy – she’s overdue, but this movie reviewed terribly
! Olivia Colman, The Father. She’s very strong in a demanding role.
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
! Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – my favorite

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – all great performances
But it is absurd that the two leads of Judas are both up for best supporting. I blame the studio.
! Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
! Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
! Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami
! Paul Raci, Sound of Metal – probably my #2 pick
! Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah, narrowly my #1 pick

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Another Round – Denmark. A good film but this is the only one I saw in the category.
Better Days – Hong Kong
Collective – Romania
The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia
Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
! Time 

ORIGINAL SONG
! Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah
! Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7
Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
lo Sì (Seen) from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)
! Speak Now from One Night in Miami – my rooting interest

Screenplays and other things

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
! Wolfwalkers 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
! Borat Subsequent MovieFilm
! The Father
! Nomadland
! One Night in Miami – my favorite of the four
The White Tiger – there’s a 2021 movie called White Tiger about a tank. That isn’t this movie.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
! Judas and the Black Messiah – my #1 pick
! Minari
! Promising Young Woman – my #2 pick
! Sound of Metal
! The Trial of the Chicago 7

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
! Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal – excellent
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – like a lot of others, I’d be thrilled if he wins posthumously
! Anthony Hopkins, The Father – great, as usual
Gary Oldman, Mank
! Steven Yeun, Minari

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – I always root for her
! Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday – she is WAY better than the movie; review soon
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
! Frances McDormand, Nomadland
! Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman – possibly my favorite

DIRECTOR
! Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
! Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
! Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
! Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman. My pick.

The techie awards

PRODUCTION DESIGN
! The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
News of the World
Tenet

CINEMATOGRAPHY
! Sean Bobbitt, Judas and the Black Messiah
Erik Messerschmidt, Mank
Dariusz Wolski, News of the World
! Joshua James Richards, Nomadland – I can imagine this winning
! Phedon Papamichael, The Trial of the Chicago 7

COSTUME DESIGN
! Emma – hmm. I bought this DVD for my wife and we watched it some months ago, but I never reviewed it. It was pleasant enough, not great. But the costumes WERE fabulous.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Mulan
Pinocchio

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND
Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul
! Sound of Metal – the sound, and lack of, is pivotal here, and very effective

ORIGINAL SCORE
Da 5 Bloods
Mank
! Minari
News of the World
Soul

VISUAL EFFECTS – I’ve seen none
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet

FILM EDITING
! The Father
! Nomadland – will probably win
! Promising Young Woman
! Sound of Metal – rooting interest
! The Trial of the Chicago 7 – secondary rooting interest

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
! Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Pinocchio

 

Movie review: Sound of Metal

Metalhead

Sound of MetalSound of Metal is a movie in three acts. The first section involved punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) playing a series of one-night gigs. He’s crossing the country with his bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) in their Airstream vehicle.

Darius starts experiencing severe hearing loss. A doctor tells him that his condition will rapidly worsen, especially if he continues to perform. What is a musician if he can’t hear? Lou rightly fears that this trauma will destroy his four-year record of sobriety.

In Act 2, Lou checks the reluctant Ruben into a secluded sober house for the deaf. The hope is that he will learn to adapt to his new situation. The place is run by a no-BS fellow addict and Vietnam vet named Joe (Paul Raci). He is welcomed into the community, and in fact, makes some strides with signing and teaching drumming to deaf children, generally fitting in.

In the final section, Ruben chooses between his old life and his new one.

Based on…

The movie was based on an unfinished 2009 project by director Derek Cianfrance called Metalhead, based on a drummer who actually did blow his ears out and had to adapt to silence. First-time director Darius Marder received Cianfrance’s blessing to complete it.

The Sound of Metal succeeds because it rings true. As this Den of Geek article explains, Marder required Ahmad to learn to play the drums for real, “without resorting to cutaway shots or using another drummer’s hands or feet for the close-ups.

“The actors would also perform live at a real-life club (the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts) in front of a real audience of, as Marder puts it, ‘actual music lovers that are specific to this subset of music..’ His plan was to make the music sequences ‘impossible to fake.'”

More impressive was Ahmed’s “living with deafness and becoming part of the deaf community.” Early in that section of the film, folks at the house were signing to each other. The character Ruben at that point hadn’t learned American Sign Language and was baffled by what was going on. And so was the movie viewer.

Marder also used “startling, innovative sound design techniques” to “vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world.”

“Another crucial piece of the puzzle was finding an actor to play Joe… ‘Finding Paul [Raci] was really hard,’ reveals Marder.  ‘Not only is he a two-time Vietnam War veteran and has dealt with addiction and taught deaf AA groups, but the man’s been acting for 30 years.'”

Adding to the verisimilitude of Sound of Metal was the deaf teacher Diane, played by Lauren Ridloff. She was a former teacher, and the-then Lauren Teruel was a former Miss Deaf America (2000 – 2002).

The critics liked the movie, giving it a 97% positive rating. The audience agreed, with 89% positive responses. Rotten Tomatoes said it was the 47th best film this past year. I watched it on Amazon Prime., and was very impressed, especially with the middle section.