Oscar Predictions 2019

The 91st annual Academy Awards airs Sunday February 24, 2019 on ABC

Back again for 2019 are the Beard Blog Oscar picks.

I made a determined effort to see as many nominated films this year before the awards.

Overall I feel like this was a weak year compared to last. A lot of mediocre films made the list and we’ve now seen our film superhero / blockbuster move, Black Panther, make the nominee list several times. This could be signaling a shift in how the academy picks award winning films, but we shall see how the results play out.

My picks, based on my opinion, of which film or which person should win, are below in bold:

  • Best Picture
    • Black Panther
    • BlacKkKlansman
    • Bohemian Rhapsody
    • The Favorite
    • Green Book
    • Roma
    • A Star is Born
    • Vice
  • Actor in a Leading Role
    • Christian Bale – Vice
    • Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
    • Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
    • Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
    • Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
  • Actress in a Leading Role
    • Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
    • Glenn Close – The Wife
    • Olivia Colman – The Favourite
    • Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
    • Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Actor in a Supporting Role
    • Mahershala Ali – Green Book
    • Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
    • Sam Elliott – A Star is Born
    • Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    • Sam Rockwell – Vice
  • Actress in a Supporting Role
    • Amy Adams – Vice
    • Marina de Tavira – Roma
    • Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
    • Emma Stone – The Favourite
    • Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
  • Directing
    • Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
    • Pawet Pawlikowski – Cold War
    • Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
    • Alfonso Cuaron – Roma
    • Adam McKay – Vice
  • Writing (Adapted)
    • Joel & Ethan Coen – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
    • Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowtiz – BlacKkKlansman
    • Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    • Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
    • Eric Roth & Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
  • Writing (Original)
    • Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara – The Favourite
    • Paul Shrader – First Reformed
    • Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, & Peter Farrelly – Green Book
    • Alfonso Cuaron – Roma
    • Adam McKay – Vice

Beard Blog Movie Review: The Shape of Water (2017)

Academy Award Winner: Best Picture – 2018

shape of water
The beast and the beauty

The Shape of Water is a fantasy love story about an amphibious god and a mute woman, taking place during the Cold War era. It’s a very simple movie that seems to draw some inspiration from The Beauty and the Beast tale. 

The Shape of Water is filled with glorious scenes of cinematography and color.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, and Octavia Spencer. Sally Hawkins plays a mute middle-aged woman named Elisa who lives alone and works the night shift at a Navy research center near DC. Her neighbor, played by Richard Jenkins struggles with both his sexuality and his art career. Elisa and her neighbor Giles find comfort in each other during various struggles in this film.

Michael Shannon plays an eccentric antagonist who is set to torture and kill the amphibian man.

The Shape of Water is filled with glorious scenes of cinematography and color. The story is a little weak in the fact that we have no idea why the government wants this thing or what Elisa’s backstory is. There’s a lot of moving parts put into this two hour movie, but by the end, we’re left wanting more information about what just happened.

It’s easy to see what The Shape of Water won this year’s best picture award, but all in all it proved to be a weak year in terms of everlasting classic movies.

Who should see this movie? Fans of fantasy love stories, people who like the previous work of Guillermo del Toro, and if you want to see what the best movie of the year is.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who can’t grasp the fact of a “human” loving a “beast” and children because of sexual content.

Score

8 / 10 – A great movie overall, still not convinced it was this year’s best. After watching The Shape of Water you might find yourself saying “That was weird…”.

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Spoilers

 

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Beard Blog Movie Review: The Post (2017)

To publish, or not to publish.

In the early 1970s The Washington Post has to decide whether they owe it to the nation to publish secret White House documents or forever be controlled by the government.

post
The Washington Post

Meryl Streep stars a Kay Graham, the first female newspaper publisher, as she navigates through one of the most important times in media / White House relations. The New York Times uncovers a report written by a former member of the Department of Defense that details the why the United States could not win the Vietnam war.

Tom Hanks co-stars as the editor of the Washington Post who desperately tries to get the papers published after the NYT was barred from doing so.

This movie is not that deep, not that complicated, and if you are up on American history, you already know the outcome. That being said, the acting in The Post is superb. Streep and Hanks show off their seasoned skills and Steven Spielberg shines through as usual.

The Post starts off slow giving us background information on how this whole thing came about. It isn’t until about half way through when it pulls you into the suspense.

This is one of the year’s best movies, but I wouldn’t call it the best. True to history stories can be entertaining and rewarding, but most of the time they are just average.

Who should see this movie? People who like American history especially dealing with Vietnam-era details, Fans of Streep, Hanks and/or Spielberg, and lovers of dramatic-suspenseful stories.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who find true stories or political dramas boring and viewers who may not fully understand the relationship of the media to the White House.

Score

8 / 10 – The Post tells the story of the Pentagon Papers very well and Streep & Hanks make it entertaining to watch.

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No Spoilers

If you want to know what happens, read this Wikipedia article.

Beard Blog Movie Review: I, Tonya (2017)

”It wasn’t my fault.”

The true story of how Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding became one of the most well-known people in the world, for all the wrong reasons.

tonya
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

I, Tonya is told from the perspective of Tonya Harding through recreations of interviews over the last 40 years. She always maintains her innocence and we get to see the (supposed) true story of what really went down.

Being a young kind in the early 90s, I wasn’t fully aware of everything that had happened between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Up until seeing this film, I always believed the narrative that Tonya smashed Nancy’s knee with a lead pipe of some sort. This was incorrect, and I’m glad to know the truth.

This film’s writing is stellar and makes me feel like I’m getting the whole life experience of Tonya Harding. Better than the writing is the acting. Margot Robbie is phenomenal as Tonya; she is perfect for this role. Allison Janney steals the show with her tough love, foul-mouthed, hard working persona. I know Janney is getting a lot of press for this role, but I still think it’s underrated.

The other acting is passable by themselves, but without Robbie and Janney this movie would never leave the cutting room floor.

Before seeing I, Tonya I thought there would be less actual ice skating and more about her life outside of skating. I was wrong and that’s not a bad thing. Turns out, I, Tonya is a biopic that paints Tony Harding in a very good light.

This movie may also help victims in a abusive relationship see how things really look from the outside. Hopefully anyone going through that can find a way to get help.

Who should see this movie? Ice skating fans, people who follow(ed) the Harding/Kerrigan story, and viewers who like a good biopic with dark comedy.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? Viewers who do not like profanity or domestic violence, people who hate ice skating, and those who can’t find the humor in this story.

Score

8.5 / 10 – I, Tonya is a fun, emotional, and riveting tale of one of the biggest news stories from the 90s.

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Spoilers

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Beard Blog Movie Review: Molly’s Game (2017)

Deal with her.

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is the true story behind skier turned poker criminal Molly Bloom. The film is based on the book by Molly Bloom of the same name and it’s referenced throughout the movie as it takes place after the books release. 

Molly bloom
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom

“I don’t recall a point during the whole movie that I was waiting for something to happen.”

As always with Sorkin films, there is a lot of intense, descriptive dialogue and Molly’s Game is no different. Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain are great on the screen together as they argue why Molly is not the real criminal. 

The story is told in sort of a flip-flop fashion with the scenes cycling between early in Molly’s life and then after her book was published. This allows the story to be told from Molly’s point of view while her legal issues get worked out on screen.

I don’t recall a point during the whole movie that I was waiting for something to happen. The next scene is beautifully woven into the story as to not leave you hanging. It’s a long movie, but goes by very quick.

Can’t wait to see more movies from the great Aaron Sorkin. This is one of the few films I can’t wait to watch again.

Who should see this movie? Fans of Molly Bloom’s story/book, fans of crime and gambling movies, and those who like Aaron Sorkin’s writing style

Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who find it hard to keep up with Sorkin’s writing style, movie-goers who aren’t into real-life drama tales, or those who can’t sit through a 2.5 hour film.

Score

9 / 10 – Molly’s Game is a well-written, well-acted, true story with all the high stakes of an action movie.

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Spoilers

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Beard Blog Movie Review 2017 Roundup

Beard Blog movie rankings for 2017

Ranking the movies I’ve seen in 2017 from best to worst. Some I have reviewed and some I have not. Click on the link to read the full review for each applicable movie.

  1. Lady Bird – 9 / 10
  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 9 / 10
  3. Star Wars – The Last Jedi – 8.5 / 10
  4. Get Out – 8.5 / 10
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 8 / 10
  6. The Big Sick – 8 / 10
  7. The Disaster Artist – 8 / 10
  8. Baby Driver – 8 / 10
  9. Thor: Ragnarok – 8 / 10
  10. It – 8 / 10
  11. Jigsaw – 7.5 / 10
  12. Mother! – 7.5 / 10
  13. Stronger – 7.5 / 10
  14. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 7.5 / 10
  15. Kong: Skull Island – 7.5 / 10
  16. Murder on the Orient Express – 7.5 / 10
  17. Battle of the Sexes – 7 / 10
  18. Logan – 7 / 10
  19. Life – 7 / 10
  20. John Wick: Chapter 2 – 7 / 10
  21. Logan Lucky – 6.5 / 10
  22. Alien: Covenant – 6.5 / 10
  23. Dunkirk – 6.5 / 10
  24. The Hitman’s Bodyguard – 6 / 10
  25. The Fate of the Furious – 6 / 10
  26. The Wizard of Lies – 6 / 10
  27. The Circle – 6 / 10
  28. American Made – 5.5 / 10
  29. Baywatch – 5 / 10
  30. The House – 5 / 10
  31. CHiPS – 5 / 10
  32. All Eyez On Me – 4.5 / 10
  33. XxX: Return of Xander Cage – 4 / 10
  34. Suburbicon – 3 / 10

 

More reviews to come in 2018!

Beard Blog Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: Episode VIII

Now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise we will be treated to a new movie every year for the foreseeable future. In 2015, a new trilogy taking place after the original trilogy, started with The Force Awakens. With so many Star Wars fans having a salty taste in their mouth after the prequel trilogy from the early 00s, everyone was eager for a fresh start. Episode XIII brings us The Last Jedi.

the last Jedi
Luke, Rey, and Kylo

The Last Jedi picks up right where we left off in The Force Awakens with Rey and Luke on some random island planet. That’s about all The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have in common. A new director brings new storytelling and style to the same characters. Rian Johnson lends his talents from directing Looper to Star Wars. The changes he makes are for the better, and hopefully this trend continues. The next episode will be directed by J.J. Abrams again who brought Episode VII to life. We will see how he brings everything together.

Due to the high profile-ness of this movie, I’m not going to go on and on and on about it. If you want to read more, just Google the movie and you can spend the rest of your life reading about rumors, spoilers, theories, and opinions.

However, I will give you my opinion about The Last Jedi, in short.

The Last Jedi was much better than The Force Awakens because we didn’t have to deal with backstories or introduction of characters. This is one of the few times a sequel excels and gets right to the action. We already know and love Rey, Finn, and Poe, so now we get to see them do what they do best, fighting the New Order.

Episode XIII is a great continuation of the story set by The Force Awakens. There are a few points where it could have been better, but that’s not worth mentioning. I’m definitely looking forward to the finale in Episode IX coming in 2019.

Who should see this movie? Star Wars, sci-fi, and Rian Johnson fans.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? Haters of Star Wars and people who aren’t into fake futuristic space tales.

Score

8.5 / 10 – The latest episode of the Star Wars proves that similar stories can be retold in new and better ways.

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Spoilers

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Beard Blog Movie Review: The Disaster Artist (2017)

“You are tearing me apart Lisa!”

The Disaster Artist is the (mostly) true story of about how the cult classic movie The Room came to be. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been a hit since 2003 for all the wrong reasons. The production, writing, acting, and directing is awful, but that is what makes it so popular. The Room is one of those films where you just shake your head and laugh at the mess you’re watching. Fans now gather around the country at midnight screenings to watch The Room to laugh and carryon throughout the showing. Sometimes Tommy Wiseau stops by, adding to the fanfare.

disaster artist
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau

I went to see The Disaster Artist knowing three things; 1. This movie was directed by and starring James Franco (I love most of his stuff). 2. It was a movie about making a movie. 3. It was a comedy. That’s all. I hadn’t seen The Room and never heard about what makes it so appealing. 

“This is one of those movies you can quote with your friends and always get a laugh.”

In a crowded theater my wife and I sat through roughly 100 minutes of audience laughter and inside jokes we didn’t understand. The movie was very well done and I found a lot of it funny despite not knowing what they were poking fun at. After the movie I was kind of in shock, and continually asked myself, “what did I just watch?”.

I continued to think about The Disaster Artist for three days before writing this review. The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed it. James Franco was great as always and he seems to have a knack for portraying Tommy Wiseau and his unusual accent.

This is one of those movies you can quote with your friends and always get a laugh.

I highly recommend The Disaster Artist, but please do yourself a favor and watch The Room first. Even if you can’t get through the whole thing, at least watch the first 45 minutes.

Who should see this movie? Fans of the subject matter The Room, comedy fans especially of James and/or Dave Franco, and people who enjoy true stories about movie production.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who have never seen The Room or viewers of The Room who thought it was not funny and stupid.

Score

8 / 10 – The Disaster Artist continues to grow on me and I am already looking forward to watching it again.

 

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No Spoilers

Beard Blog Movie Review: Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird, time to fly.

lady bird
Saoirse Ronan as “Lady Bird”

Lady Bird is an odd-titled coming of age story set in the early 2000s. The film follows Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson played by Saoirse (Sir-sha) Ronan as she navigates high school, sex, family, and getting into college. 

“With great writing and even better acting Lady Bird will be a film to remember.”

To put in bluntly, Lady Bird is a roller coaster of emotions. You get the sense of how tough it is to be a teen getting ready to enter the real world. This film feels very nostalgic to me, mainly because I was also in high school in the early 2000s.

Lady Bird offers laughter, tears, hatred, and compassion. There’s rarely an emotionless scene. You won’t get a lot of sugar-coating or TV sitcom scenarios. This film delivers a lot of truths and a lot of real family experiences.

Saoirse Ronan is fantastic in Lady Bird. She will be deserving of a Best Actress nominee for this role. Throughout the whole movie Ronan’s character is ever-changing and she plays those changes so very well. Normally she has a thick Irish accent, but I would have never guessed that from this role.

Laurie Metcalf, who I grew up watching play Rosann’s sister, is fantastic as Christine’s mother. She’s tough and loving, just like all the best moms. Her character’s actions at the end of the movie really pull on the heartstrings.

The rest of the cast was amazing as well. The director, Greta Gerwig, who also wrote the script, did a great job delivering the emotion to the screen. With great writing and even better acting Lady Bird will be a film to remember.

Who should see this movie? People who like realistic tales, viewers who want to see great screen acting, and “coming of age” fans.

Who shouldn’t see this movie? Young children and people who don’t have a heart. This is another movie I feel that almost everyone needs to see.

Score

9 / 10 – I loved this movie. Everything about it makes me smile. Great movies impart lots of emotion and Lady Bird does just that.

 

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No Spoilers

Beard Blog Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Raped while dying and still no arrests? How come?

three billboards
Mildred Hayes and her billboards

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a dark and twisted tale about a mother and the tragic loss of her daughter. Frances McDormand plays a foul-mouthed smooth talking country woman who seems to have reached the end of her wits. After almost a year since her daughter was brutally murdered and no news from the Police, Mildred (McDormand) calls out the police chief in a very public way, on three billboards.

This movie isn’t about catching the murderer of Mildred’s daughter. It’s not about how she was raped and burned alive. It’s also not about how small town police departments are often notoriously complacent. This movie is about exactly what the title says, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The billboards go up and the the small town around them comes crashing down. 

“An emotional ride with plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises.”

Sam Rockwell is becoming one of my favorite lesser-known actors. After Three Billboards… he cements himself on that list. Rockwell’s performance should land him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Officer Jason Dixon. Throughout the film you can see his character evolve and by the end you start to feel sorry for him, even after almost two hours of hatred.

The rest of the cast is great and they all turn in amazing performances. Woody Harrelson somehow jerks the tears right from your face while still making you laugh. McDormand’s rough exterior eventually cracks and you can see the shining light that’s been trying to get out for the entire movie. John Hawkes has a great supporting role as Mildred’s estranged husband. There’s even a surprise role by Peter Dinklage. Dinklage’s portrayal of James is delightful and well-spoken as usual.

In summary, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri is fun, but deep down it’s tragic. We are carried through various instances of death and despair but writer Martin McDonagh peppered in enough comedy to keep us sane.

Who should see this movie?
Fans of dark comedies, viewers looking for an original movie, and people who like great screen performances.

Who shouldn’t see this movie?
People who don’t like natural (vulgar) language – It is rated R. That’s it. Everyone should see this film.

Score

9 / 10 – An emotional ride with plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises. One of the most original ideas I’ve seen in a long time.

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Spoilers

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