A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place

John Krasinski not only caries the safety of his family on his shoulders, but the movie as a whole.

I doubt even the biggest fan of The Office would have predicted that they would see John Krasinski stepping out with his talents like this. He not only stars in A Quiet Place, but directs and helped with the screenplay. It is only his third time at the helm as director, but it is certainly the charm.

Krasinski and Emily Blunt (his wife in real life) star as Lee and Evelyn Abbott, who live with their two kids Regan and Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, respectively). They are some of the very last survivors on earth after creatures with super sonic like hearing have killed everyone else. They have lived just under five hundred days, with a strict schedule of normal life, provided they don’t make a sound. It is fortune for them that they do live in a farm in the outside parts of New York, and have already learned how to use sign language (the daughter Regan is deaf). New dangers do arise, as we find out that a new baby is on the way.

It is obvious that there is jump scares a plenty in the film, which I am not ashamed to admit got me shaken a few times. Still, what scared me the most of the film is not the jump scares or even the creature (which is creepy, no doubt.) For me, it was knowing off the bat that, if this happend in the real world, and we all had to be quiet. I would not last long at all.

It is also refreshing how such a small cast can give strong performances. Krasinski and Blunt are obviously good (especially in one scene they share by themselves as they dance), but the kids are equally impressive. Both kids were in 2017 films: Simmonds in Wonderstruck and Jupe in Wonder (he was Auggie’s friend Jack Will). It is really Simmonds who is given the most moments to shine (she is deaf in real life).

Parents, the movie is PG-13, mainly for the horror and violence (there is bloody images, but nothing worse than what is on cable these days). Due to the lack of dialogue (though there is some), there is no real swearing. Middle school and up is fine.

It is not perfect: A second or third viewing will be needed to see if there are sounds that are made that you would think the creature would have heard. Still, undoubtably, the man responsible for A Quiet Place is Krasinski. In years to come, he could be in races for an Oscar. Still, the most impressive thing (and creepiest) came after the credits. It is not a scene, but a name of a producer that John Krasinski has linked to a good movie.

That name is Michael Bay.

When you make a good movie with Michael Bay’s name attached to it (in any way), you know a movie is not only good, but a rarity.

Overall: Four Stars ****

My predictions of the 90th Academy Awards (2018)

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#Metoo has been what Hollywood was known for in 2017 more than any film title. People went so far as to making sure that all the presenters at the SAG awards were all female (which I thought was too much).

I mention this because that is what is still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and what may be the key indicator of certain categories at this year’s Academy Awards.

That, and talent, of course.

 

And the Oscar will (probably) go to…

 

Best Picture

 

Best Picture

 

It has become a two-way race between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The former is my favorite (as well as my second favorite of 2017), but I am going with the latter. The Shape of Water does have more nominations (it was a technical marvel), but I think the Academy will go with the top-notch acting, smartly written, and daring power of Three Billboards.

 

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win/Should Win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Actor

Best Actor

There is no way, in any shape or form, I can see anyone beating Gary Oldman. His turn in Darkest Hour is the easiest win of the night. Not even legend Daniel Day-Lewis in his last role (which I still hope is not true) has a chance. Also, kudos to young Timothee Chalamet from Call me by your name.

 

Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Could win: Timothee Chalamet, Call me by your name (again, won’t happen)

Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

 

Best Actress

Actress

It says something when Meryl Streep (The Post) is the least likely to win. In any other year, these woman would have won easily, but it is far too competitive. The one who has emerged is Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The only possible upsets would be Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird, or Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. Still, like the character she plays, I would not mess with McDormand.

 

Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Should win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

 

Best Supporting Actor

Best

 

All talented men, but Sam Rockwell of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri has become the frontrunner. This is one of the few categories where I agree with the Academy. Rockwell had one of the best character growth arcs I saw last year. However, if he splits the votes with his co-star Woody Harrelson, it could possibly go to Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project (who was the backbone of that film).

Will win/Should win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

 

Best Supporting Actress

BSA

An upset could still possibly occur in the form of Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, but it is still a safe bet to call Allison Janney will be winning her first Oscar as I, Tonya ‘s mom from hell.

 

Will win/Should win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Could Win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

 

Best Director

Director

If you win the DGA award, it is very hard to not win the Oscar. So expect the winner to be Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water.

 

Will win/Should win: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Could win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk 

 

Best Original Screenplay

Best

Easily one of the toughest categories, nearly any one of these films can win. However, since Martin McDonagh did not get a best director nomination, I am pulling for him to win for writing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could Win: Get Out

Should win: Lady Bird

 

Best Adapted ScreenplayBest

Despite three past nominations for Best Director, expect the 89-year-old James Ivory to finally win for his work on Call me by your name.

Will win: Call me by your name

Could win: Mudbound

Should win: Logan

 

Best Cinematography

Cinematography

Kudos to Rachel Morrison for becoming the first woman nominated in this catagory. Still, with his 14th nomination, can we please just give an Oscar to legendary Roger Deakins for his work on Blade Runner 2049? It has been far too long.

Will win/Should win: Blade Runner 2049

Could win: Mudbound

 

Best Costume Design

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Will win: Phantom Thread

Could win: The Shape the Water

 

Best Film Editing

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Another close one, but I am having a gut feeling the action packed (and underrated) Baby Driver will win.

Will win/Should win: Baby Driver

Could win: Dunkirk

 

Best Sound Editing

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Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Sound Mixing

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Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Original Score

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One of the central parts of The Shape of Water was the score, which is why it will win.

Will win: The Shape of Water

Could win/Should win: Phantom Thread

 

Best Original Song

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Another close call, but I am going with “Remember Me” from Coco. While the songs were the only universal praise for The Greatest Showman, it was near impossible to not cry during the scene between Miguel and his great grandma.

Will win/Should win: Coco “Remember Me”

Could win: The Great Showman “This is Me”

 

Best Make-Up/Hairstyling

Make up

Despite great make up on a fantastic young actor (Jacob Tremblay) in Wonder, expect the winner to go to make up on another fantastic actor (Gary Oldman) for Darkest Hour.

Will win/Should win: Darkest Hour

Could win: Wonder

 

Best Production Design

 

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Will win/Should win: The Shape of Water

Could win: Blade Runner 2049

 

Best Animated Feature

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It is not wise to mess with Disney/Pixar.

Will win/Should win: Coco

Could win: The Breadwinner

 

Best Foreign Language Film

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Will win: A Fantastic Woman

Could win: The Square

 

Best Documentary Feature

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Will win/Should win: Faces Places

Could win: Icarus

 

Best Documentary Short Subject

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Will win: Edith + Eddie

Could win: Heroin(e)

 

Best Animated Short

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Kobe as an Oscar winner? It could happen, and should.

Will win: Dear Basketball

Could win: Lou

Best Live Action Short

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Due to the terrible recent school shooting in Florida, expect the Academy to award Dekalb Elementary, which revolves around a similar situation.

Will win: Dekalb Elementary

 

Best Visual Effects

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Will win: Blade Runner 2049

Could win: War for the Planet of the Apes

 

The Top 20 Movies of 2017

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Even with 20, these films did not make the cut.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for.

 

I went back and forth as to whether make the traditional top ten, or go with twenty. I decided on the latter for a few reasons. First, in a great year for movies, there were too many to ignore (and even at twenty, films such as Wonder Woman, Detroit, Mudbound, and Darkest Hour did not make it). Second, so what if I added more than ten? If you really want see just the top ten, here is a trick: skip down to number ten, and go from there (though you will be missing a lot of great films along the way).

 

20.

The Disaster Artist.JPG

“YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!!!”

 

A passion project for director/actor James Franco, The Disaster Artist tells the tale of another passion project (and cult favorite), The Room. Franco is so wonderful in the role of the aloof Tommy Wiseau that it goes beyond comedy and becomes very human. It truly tears you apart!

 

19.

Molly's Game

Jessica Chastain, fantastic as Molly.

 

Renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, is full of electricity. As always, his dialogue snaps like fire crackers, no doubt due to the wonderful casting of greats such as Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.

 

18.

Faces Places

JR and Agnes Varda, on a quest you have not seen before.

The most recent film I have seen as of this writing, Faces Places is the unique documentary about legendary french film maker Agnes Varda and her friend JR (whose eyes she has never seen). They go around meeting people as they post big pictures of their subjects on vast walls. As in all great films, it goes far beyond that. It reminded me a lot about Errol Morris’s masterpiece, Gates of Heaven.

 

17.

Logan Lucky

No peaking!

Even with an all-star cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Hillary Swank, Seth Macfarlane, and (especially) Daniel Craig, a film like Logan Lucky could have gone wrong on so many levels. Thankfully, the script is so tight that every moment is real, authentic, and down right ludicrously hilarious.

 

16.

The Last Jedi

Sometimes, questions don’t need concrete answers.

A prime example of a movie you either love or hate, I am on the former when it comes to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. No, we did not get any “answers” to questions we may have had, but so what? It was a Star Wars film that gave us new twists and turns we had not seen before, plus was much better than the overrated Rogue One.

 

15.

Blade Runner 2049

Deckard returns.

From one sci-fi sequel to another, Blade Runner 2049 is full of a lot of questions that are also unanswered. What no one will question is the gorgeous scope of the film, thanks in part to cinematographer Roger Deakins (who may finally get his Oscar now).

 

14.

Logan

Logan and his daughter.

In one of the best years for superhero films, my pick still goes to Logan. A swan song of epic proportions, Hugh Jackman truly goes out swinging. Or clawing.

 

13.

 

The Post

Meryl Streep as Kay Graham, owner of The Post.

 

Even if the film was rushed, Steven Spielberg’s The Post has a fire burning in the soul, which shows in the cast led by Hollywood giants Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It is a movie that, had it not been made, I would not be reminded of the right I have to be typing these words in the first place.

 

12.

I Tonya

Just before the show, Robbie’s Harding is set to go…

How wickedly devilish is the film I, Tonya! So fun, and self-aware of itself, it gives a stellar Margot Robbie performance, and heaven knows how wonderful Allison Janney is as one of the worst mom’s in recent cinema history.

 

11.

Coco

Miguel’s passion for music knows no bounds…

As Miguel tugs at the guitar strings, so does Coco tug at our heart-strings. Which, by now, is totally the standard Disney/Pixar films have set for all animated films (and others in general).

 

10.

Lady Bird

Ronan as the title character.

One of the most original scripts in recent memory, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is full of outstanding wit and charm. It is also more proof why Saoirse Ronan is truly one of the best actors of her generation.

 

9.

Wonder

The Wonder that is Jacob Tremblay.

Of all the movies I saw this year, I fought the hardest (okay, fought myself) for Wonder to be in the top ten. Based of the book of the same name (which I highly recommend), this wonderful fable of why it is important to #choosekind is something I cannot imagine parents not taking their kids to.

 

8.

Dunkirk

Many of the soldiers at Dunkirk

 

Very few, if any, director has a current positive track record than Christopher Nolan, and Dunkirk is no exception. Packed with more than enough tension and grit, it is as fitting a war film as they come.

 

7.

A Ghost Story.JPG

Time moves by in an instant for the ghost

At only around an hour and a half, few films of this (or any) year have given me more questions than that of A Ghost Story. Like a pool, you soak in it, look at the reflection, and see all the questions you want answered. Multiple viewings are needed, and are something I plan to do in the time I have left on earth.

 

6.

TBOEM

Mildred is a role only Frances McDormand could play

Another one of the most original scripts in years, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a tough sit through at many times. Yet it has so much dark peppered humor and spot on performances (mainly McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and especially Sam Rockwell) it is hard to turn away.

 

5.

The Big Sick

A love story unlike any seen before

The true story of how one man met his wife, The Big Sick is still the best rom com I have seen in nearly a decade. All the actors are hilarious and convincing, and the writing is top-notch. I still can’t get over that 9/11 joke.

 

4.

The Florida Project

Bobby (Willem Dafoe), the hotel manager who is tough but kind-hearted.

I had never thought of what could be outside the walls of Disney World before I saw The Florida Project. I doubt I am alone. With some of the best acting from children you will see, and a sublime Willem Dafoe, the movie takes us to a place that has been under the shadows of Disney for far too long.

 

3.

Phantom Thread

DDL, the master at work

Like most, I had to wait nearly a month before I could see Phantom Thread, but it was far worth the wait. Daniel Day-Lewis gives (no surprise) a perfectly majestic performance as a dress-maker in 1950s London, whose new muse (Vicky Krieps) must put up with him. Director Paul Thomas Anderson treats the film as gentle as the fabric that Woodcock works with in his shop.

 

2.

The Shape of Water

Though mute, Eliza (Sally Hawkins) lets herself be heard.

Of all the love stories of this year, my favorite still goes to that of a mute help worker and a sea creature in The Shape of Water. Guillermo Del Toro gives us a world of endless possibilities, filled with memorable characters (don’t get me started on how much we love to hate Michael Shannon here), astounding visuals, and a love that is not easy to forget.

 

1.

IT

“Hello Georgie”

I can imagine a lot of people being surprised at my number one pick, but after more than one viewing, I just could not deny IT. Undoubtably one of the top four or five adaptations of Stephen King, the film is far more than a horror masterpiece. It is also about coming of age (I have yet to meet anyone who though negatively of the kid performances, all of whom are perfect in their roles), young love, bullying, and, of course, clowns.

Floating has never been so terrifying. Or enjoyable.

 

Wonder (2017)

Wonder

Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), who has Treacher Collins syndrome, starts his first day of school.

There are many reasons why Wonder hit home for me, but the biggest has to be because I am such a supporter of anything that has to do with anti-bullying. As a small, autistic child with a larger sized head (“Big head” was a huge nickname for me as a child), it is easy to see why I was picked on as a kid. If only Wonder had come out two decades earlier (Note: I did have friends as a child so don’t feel too sad for me or anything.)

Based off of the book by R.J. Palacio (which I highly recommend), the film centers on August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay, from Room). After being home schooled by his mom  Isabel (Julia Roberts) and having 27 surgeries, the time has come for him to attend public school. It is the first year of middle school for all fifth graders, so Isabel thinks now is the best time, despite the doubts from her husband Nate (Owen Wilson). Both walk him to school on his first day, along with his older sister Olivia “Via” (Izabela Vidovic).

We have learned that Auggie has already met at least a few kids, as well as the principal Mr. Tushman (“I have heard all the jokes”), played perfectly by Mandy Patinkin. There are some who just revel in bullying poor Auggie, such as Julian (Bryce Gheisar), but others who eventually warm up to him, mainly Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Summer (Millie Davis). Both Davis and Jupe are rather sensational.

If you have read the book, you know that it is divided into sections that are not just narrated by Auggie, but by other friends and family members. I was not sure how the film would have approached this, but it does so wonderfully (though some parts do seem a little jumbled). Some may think subplots like that of Via (who goes to her own school across town) and her time in the drama club would seem off base, but it is still essential to the film as a whole. Her potential romance with Justin (Nadji Jeter) is as sweet a budding relationship as they come.

All the cast is spot on. To start with, there were times I was watching Owen Wilson as the dad and forgetting we are looking at the same guy from movies with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. It is truly one of Wilson’s best performances. Of course, Julia Roberts is pitch perfect as the mom, as are all the rest of the adult cast (including Daveed Diggs as Mr. Browne).

Still, it is the young cast that shines the most. The kids don’t act over the top like you would expect in a Disney Channel show, but like real kids (though there is no swearing, so as to keep the movie at PG). Even small roles like that of Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell), Via’s best friend, are played with depth and insight.

In the end though, it all goes down to Tremblay as Auggie. Ever since his huge breakout performance in 2015’s Room (which I still feel he was snubbed for at the Oscars), I knew he had a big career ahead of him. Now, more people will be able to see him in Wonder and jump on board. The kid is a born natural actor.

Parents, it has been quiet some time since I have seen a great, non-animated family film. It put a smile on my face that the majority of audience members were kids. There is no sex or nudity (some kissing), and next to no swearing (I think I heard “crap” only once). Basically, I would say ages 7 and up are not only okay with seeing this film, but should see the film.

In a nutshell, Wonder is a pure heart warmer, one that will inspire a lot of discussion in families long after the credits role (Note: I am not a parent, but I would assume a lot of parents will say there are some things the kids do that are not right, such as helping a friend cheat on a test, or fighting.) While Wonder is not my favorite movie of the year, I have a feeling that, when the time comes to make my top ten films of 2017, I will be fighting hard for Wonder to have a spot on the list.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****