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Reframe: Paris, Texas

For more than two hours of Paris, Texas’ two hour and twenty-five minutes of running time, you will likely have no idea where this film is going. It’s an epic-length film (it’s basically two road movies in one) about big things in what appear to be small lives. Harry Dean Stanton plays Travis, a clearly broken (even catatonic) man who walks out of the Mexican desert into a Texas wasteland. A doctor treats him after he passes out and finds a business card on him and calls the number. Travis’ brother, Walt (played by the terrific Dean Stockwell) answers. In...

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Predictions Friday – How You Build a Best Picture Winner

Predicting a Best Picture winner is hard. As one Oscar voter once told me, ideally it's simply the "best picture." But in reality that's not often what it is. It is the one film the most people can agree upon, given the selections set before them, as the best. That's like walking into a fast food restaurant, looking at the ten top items and the one most people select is what gets chosen. Does that mean it's the best when measured against all other films offered up in a year, or of all time? No. It just means most people...

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The Prom Trailer Drops – Streep, Kidman, Oh My

2020 just got another addition for potential Oscar glory - the film adaptation of The Prom. The Prom follows Dee Dee Allen (three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (Tony Award winner James Corden) who are New York City stage stars with a crisis on their hands: their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop that has suddenly flatlined their careers. Meanwhile, in small-town Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman) is experiencing a very different kind of heartbreak: despite the support of the high school principal (Keegan-Michael Key), the head of the PTA...

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Giving Thanks to the Risk Takers, the Listeners, The Watchers, the Seers

Well folks, we made it all the way to Thanksgiving in a year that seems like a concoction you'd throw into the blender if you wanted to freak people out and make them sick. That's what 2020 has been. Who would have ever thought it would go like this -- or that it would end like this. It feels like we've been through a long voyage across a stormy sea. We've finally made landfall and now we're crawling towards a craggy beach, gasping for breath. I don't know about you, but no other year has ever made me miss the...

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Inclusive Perspectives Are Good For the ‘Soul’

Fans of animation - particularly Disney animation - approach a new Disney/Pixar film nearly holding their breath. The late 2000s trifecta of Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up set such high standards in animation and storytelling that even the sterling studio itself struggles to replicate that brilliance. The past ten years brought more hugely popular and Oscar-winning films (Inside Out, Coco, Toy Story 4), but that spark of imagination and sense of something completely new previously seen, more often than not, evades the studio. Following on the heels of the perfectly fine Onward, Soul comes with an enormous amount of new expectations. Many saw the initial trailers and thought...

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Chris Columbus Delivers Holiday Magic When We Need It Most with ‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two’

I believe that Christmas movies are tricky to pull off, especially modern holiday stories. They tend to have an artificial quality to them that signals to the audience that it was filmed in the summer time and they tend to be, dare I say, hokey and contrived. You need a director who truly loves the holiday season. Chris Columbus steps in to direct the sequel to Netflix's cheerful, action-packed adventure, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, and it's such a good time that it will help distract you from everything going on outside your home. Columbus, who served as a producer...

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Introducing the Sunset Circle Award Nominees for 2020

Full disclosure, I was asked to participate in this voting panel of a small number of people. While in general I do not belong to any voting group that decides nominees and awards I did participate in this one because I could not think of a good reason why I shouldn't. My only objection to these awards, which I think are pretty good overall, is I would have Mank in for Screenplay because I think it's the best, or one of the best, of the year. I also had Spree down in quite a few categories but that only got...

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Under the Radar: Ben Affleck Quietly Gives the Performance of His Career in The Way Back

The Oscar race can sometimes leave the best performances and films behind. That's because the Oscar race is less about "Miss Right" than it is about "Miss Right Now," (credit Robin Williams, R.I.P.). One of those is definitely Ben Affleck in The Way Back. The film was dropped into the COVID time warp and never really had its moment. What that would have meant in real time was seeing Affleck on the red carpet, doing guest appearances on talk shows, raising the publicity profile -- probably fairly decent box office, being that it's a heartwarming sports movie that would have...

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Director Alex Winter on Making ‘Zappa,’ the Definitive Frank Zappa Documentary

While the average moviegoer probably knows Alex Winter as Bill from the Bill and Ted films, he has been creating quite a career behind the camera as well -- particularly in the area of documentaries. Some of Winter's acclaimed docs include Deep Web, The Panama Papers, and from earlier this year, Showbiz Kids. Now comes Winter's most ambitious effort yet: Zappa, a full-fledged attempt at capturing one of the most complex and challenging artists of the 20th century, Frank Zappa. There's no straight line to a true iconoclast like Zappa, no way to capture such an unconventional personality in a...

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Writer/Director Sean Durkin Reveals How They Pulled Off That Scene in ‘The Nest’

After working in TV, writer/director Sean Durkin is back on the big screen with The Nest, his first film since 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene. One of the most talked-about movies of 2011 was Martha Marcy May Marlene, the story of one woman's escape from an abusive cult (a precursor to NXIVM?). And now, writer/director Sean Durkin returns with The Nest, his first film since Martha, a project that is completely different from the drama that made a splash 10 years ago. The Nest is a slice-of-life glimpse into the O'Hara family, as they move from New York to England in 1986....

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2020 Oscar TRACKER
Of films that have been seen or released, PREDICTIONS HERE
Best Picture Nomadland
Mank
The Father
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Minari
One Night in Miami
On the Rocks
Hillbilly Elegy
Promising Young Woman
The Outpost
Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always
Tenet
Spree
Da Five Bloods
 

Best Actor Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami
Delroy Lindo, Da Five Bloods
Joe Keery, Spree


Best Actress Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
Kate Winslet, Ammonite
Michele Pfeiffer, French Exit
Rashida Jones, On the Rocks
Elisabeth Moss, Invisible Man, Shirley
Jessie Buckley, I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Best Supporting Actor Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami
Bill Murray, On the Rocks
Frank Langella, Trial of the Chicago 7
David Strathairn, Nomadland
Charles Dance, Mank
Sacha Baron Cohen, Trial of the Chicago 7
Mark Rylance, Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Supporting ActressGlenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of Woman
Julianne Moore, The Glorias
Alicia Vikander, The Glorias
Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite

Best Director David Fincher, Mank
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Florian Zeller, The Father
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari 
Regina King, One Night in Miami
Aaron Sorkin, Trial of the Chicago 7
Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks
Rod Lurie, The Oupost
Eugene Kotlyarenko, Spree 
Christopher Nolan, Tenet
Francis Lee, Ammonite
Spike Lee, Da Five Bloods

Original Screenplay Mank, Jack Fincher
Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin
Minari, Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell
On the Rocks, Sofia Coppola
Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, Eliza Hitman
Ammonite, Francis Lee
Da Five Bloods, Spike Lee, et al
Spree, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Gene McHugh


Adapted ScreenplayNomadland, Chloe Zhao
The Father, Christopher Hampton
One Night in Miami, Kemp Powers
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ruben Santiago-Hudson
The Outpost, Paul Tomasi, Eric Johnson
I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Charlie Kaufman


Cinematography Mank
Nomadland
Tenet
The Outpost
Mulan
Da 5 Bloods


Editing Nomadland, Chloe Zhao
Kirk Baxter, Mank
The Outpost, Michael Duthie
Trial of the Chicago 7, Alan Baumgarten
Spree,Benjamin Moses Smith


Production Design Mank
Tenet
Mulan

Sound Mixing + EditingMank
Tenet


CostumesMank
Mulan


Visual EffectsTenet
Invisible Man


Original Score Mank
Nomadland
Trial of the Chicago 7


Original Song

Makeup and HairMank
French Exit


Animated Feature Soul
Wolfwalkers


Documentary Feature The Social Dilemma
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Gunda
International Feature

Live Action Short The Human Voice

Documentary Short

Animated Short

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