A Private War — Review

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Rosamund Pike in a scene from Matthew Heineman’s A Private War

3Star

“[Rosamund] Pike’s portrayal of celebrated war journalist Marie Colvin is a towering accomplishment.”

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Christopher Robin — Review

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Ewan McGregor returns to the Hundred Acre Wood in a scene from Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin

25Star

What’s the value of espousing the creative joy that can be found in sitting back and relaxing if the movie that contains those messages feels so insipid on the whole?”

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A Host of Surprises: Thoughts on the 91st Academy Awards

by Ken Bakely

Throughout the tumultuous sprawl of this Oscar season – specifically in conjunction with the actual production of the Oscar ceremony itself – I’ve had a lot of changes of heart with past opinion. My belief that the show should be as short as possible was challenged when the Academy tried to grotesquely edit the program’s schedule to make that happen. The kind of time-cutting measures I once thought I wanted turned out to feel disastrous and unbecoming of an evening intended to celebrate all aspects of film production. But as reliably as the Academy introduced bad ideas, they seemed pretty consistent at walking them back after they incurred tremendous backlash. By the time Oscar Sunday rolled around, the only remaining question mark going in was the lack of a host. Countless jokes were made about the calamitous 1989 Oscars, the last to go without an emcee, and the embarrassing musical numbers used to fill up space that year. And as Sunday’s show began with an otherwise stirring performance by Queen and Adam Lambert – which ended up serving as an immediate reminder that Bohemian Rhapsody, an aggressively mediocre concert film directed by Bryan Singer, was nominated for five Academy Awards (and would go on to win four of them) – it felt like anything could happen.

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BLOG: Fyre Sale

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by Ken Bakely

It seems like some kind of bizarrely fitting joke – the kind of of-course onslaught that seemed to mirror the source material’s surreal slew of events – that two documentaries about the ill-fated Fyre Festival would premiere the same week. Watched in tandem, the collective surrealism of their anecdotes presents a distorted, funhouse mirror effect of the combined input of social media advertising, a voyeuristic pleasure that many took in watching the affluent-millennial-aimed music festival crash and burn, and the  delusions of grandeur that were behind the scheme in the first place. Both Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason’s Fyre Fraud, and Chris Smith’s Fyre, rightly paint the festival’s creator – venture capitalist Billy McFarland – as a con artist, but his actions are viewed differently in a broader spectrum, thus creating interesting fodder for how even the slightest changes in filmmaking approaches and access create radically different narratives. They present fascinatingly mounted investigations, but neither comes close to the sweeping conclusions that they aim for – though that’s not to say that they don’t each have their share of evocative achievements as they pursue their own ideologies, and have an odd synergy when taken together.

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BLOG: 2019 Oscar Nomination Predictions

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by Ken Bakely

Another year, another awards season. And this one has been particularly chaotic: from upset wins to wide arrays of controversies, it’s impossible to tell exactly who or what is in the lead for many of the big prizes in this year’s Oscar race. But tomorrow, the nominees will be announced and we’ll know who our finalists are. As with every year, I’ve compiled some predictions for the top categories. They’re ranked by my estimated likelihood of nomination. Listed are my predicted five (or ten for Best Picture), plus one possible contender that could upset (or two for Best Picture).

Without further ado, let’s get started.

UPDATE (January 23): Like last year, I have added my accuracy score and initial thoughts on the final nominees to each category. Continue reading