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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Batman receive multiple Oscar nominations

The Oscars

The nominees for the 2023 Academy Awards was announced today and it was a mix of blockbusters and smaller films. While Marvel and DC were shut out from the “Best Picture”, Angela Bassett has been nominated for “Actress in a Supporting Role” for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Bassett wasn’t the only nomination for comic films though. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Batman have been nominated in multiple categories including the expected technical, costume, and makeup categories.

Everything Everywhere All at Once led with 11 nominations followed by All Quiet on the Western Front and The Banshees of Inisherin which tied with nine. Black Panther: Wakwanda Forever received five nominations while The Batman received three.

Check out the list of nominees below and congrats to everyone. The Academy Awards are set to take place on Sunday, March 12.

BEST PICTURE

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Malte Grunert, Producer
  • “Avatar: The Way of Water,” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers
  • “Elvis,” Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss, Producers
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, Producers
  • “The Fabelmans,” Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Producers
  • “Tár,” Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert, Producers
  • “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producers
  • “Triangle of Sadness,” Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, Producers
  • “Women Talking,” Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Frances McDormand, Producers

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
  • Hong Chau, “The Whale”
  • Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  • Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”
  • Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”
  • Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Germany) 
  • “Argentina, 1985” (Argentina) 
  • “Close” (Belgium)
  • “EO” (Poland) 
  • “The Quiet Girl” (Ireland) 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

  • “The Elephant Whisperers,” Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga
  • “Haulout,” Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev
  • “How Do You Measure a Year?” Jay Rosenblatt
  • “The Martha Mitchell Effect,” Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison
  • “Stranger at the Gate,” Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • “All That Breathes,” Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer
  • “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov
  • “Fire of Love,” Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman
  • “A House Made of Splinters,” Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellström
  • “Navalny,” Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman,” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop
  • “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler
  • “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR,” Music by M.M. Keeravaani; Lyric by Chandrabose  
  • “This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; Lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley
  • “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan and Paul Mezey
  • “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” Joel Crawford and Mark Swift
  • “The Sea Beast,” Chris Williams and Jed Schlanger
  • “Turning Red,” Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Screenplay by Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
  • “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Written by Rian Johnson
  • “Living,” Written by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • “Top Gun: Maverick,” Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
  • “Women Talking,” Screenplay by Sarah Polley

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Written by Martin McDonagh
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
  • “The Fabelmans,” Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
  • “Tár,” Written by Todd Field
  • “Triangle of Sadness,” Written by Ruben Östlund

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Austin Butler, “Elvis”
  • Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
  • Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”
  • Bill Nighy, “Living”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Cate Blanchett, “Tár”
  • Ana de Armas, “Blonde”
  • Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”
  • Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”
  • Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

DIRECTOR

  • Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  • Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”
  • Todd Field, “Tár”
  • Ruben Ostlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper
  • “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; Set Decoration: Vanessa Cole
  • “Babylon,” Production Design: Florencia Martin; Set Decoration: Anthony Carlino
  • “Elvis,” Production Design: Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy; Set Decoration: Bev Dunn
  • “The Fabelmans,” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front”, James Friend
  • “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,” Darius Khondji
  • “Elvis,” Mandy Walker
  • “Empire of Light,” Roger Deakins
  • “Tár,” Florian Hoffmeister

COSTUME DESIGN

  • “Babylon”
  • “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
  • “Elvis”
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  • “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  • “Avatar: The Way of Water”
  • “The Batman”
  • “Elvis”
  • “Top Gun: Maverick”

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

  • “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud
  • “The Flying Sailor,” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
  • “Ice Merchants,” João Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano
  • “My Year of Dicks,” Sara Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela Ribon
  • “An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It,” Lachlan Pendragon

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

  • “An Irish Goodbye”
  • “Ivalu”
  • “Le Pupille”
  • “Night Ride”
  • “The Red Suitcase”

ORIGINAL SCORE

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  • “Babylon”
  • “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  • “The Fabelmans”

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank and Kamil Jafar
  • “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett
  • “The Batman,” Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands and Dominic Tuohy
  • “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White and Dan Sudick
  • “Top Gun: Maverick,” Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson and Scott R. Fisher

FILM EDITING

  • “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
  • “Elvis,” Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Paul Rogers
  • “Tár,” Monika Willi
  • “Top Gun: Maverick,” Eddie Hamilton

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

  • “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  • “The Batman”
  • “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
  • “Elvis”
  • “The Whale”

Angela Bassett wins a Golden Globe for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Queen Ramonda

During the 80th Golden Globe Awards, Angela Bassett won the Golden Globe award for “best supporting actress” for her portrayal as Queen Ramonda in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

In her speech, she honored the gone to soon Chadwick Boseman:

We embarked on this journey together with love. We mourned, we loved, we healed. And we will be surrounding each and every day by the light in the spirit of Chadwick Boseman.

We have joy in knowing that with this historic Black Panther series, it is part of his legacy he helped lead us to, we showed the world what black unity, leadership and love looks like beyond, behind and in front of the camera.

She’s the first performer to win a Golden Globe for their role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Lift Me Up” from the film was also nominated for “best original song”. The original Black Panther was nominated for “best motion picture – drama,” “best original song,” and “best original score” in 2019.

Movie Review: Bumblebee

Bumblebee

On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

I’m a big Transformers fan having grown up on the original cartoon, played with the toys, read the comics, and still collect the toys (I stopped playing with them, too complicated now). I’ve been a patient fan watching the Michael Bay relaunched films and their progression down the tubes and attempting to get my enjoyment from the animated releases (some aimed at my demographic and some not). So, going into Bumblebee I, as I usually do, hope for the best and expect the worst. Bumblebee it turns out is the best and what we’ve been waiting for.

All those years ago, before the release of Michael Bay’s first Transformers, Steven Spielberg described the concept as “a boy and his car.” That’s not what was released but 11 years later we finally get that vision courtesy of director Travis Knight and writer Christina Hodson.

The duo of creatives have taken some of the best concepts of the original Transformers Generation 1 (ie the cartoon) and infused it with kids classics like ET and Iron Giant.

At its heart, Bumblee is about family. Hailee Steinfeld stars as Charlie Watson who is struggling after her father has passed away and her mother has found a new boyfriend (assuming that they’re not married, it’s never really said) and her brother has accepted the new family dynamic. Charlie is also turning 18 and doesn’t fit in with the kids in her school. She’s rocking 80s to the California bright pop 80s around her. She doesn’t fit in. Enter Bumblebee who has escaped Cybertron to hide out on Earth, protect it from Decepticons, and begin a new beachhead in the Autobot resistance.

Bumblebee has come to Earth after an opening that’s everything fans of the original Transformers have wanted. With designs hearkening back to those designs, it’s a who’s who battle on Cybertron as the planet falls to the Decepticons and the Autobots abandon the planet realizing it’s lost. The opening is a flag in the ground to forget the five live action films that have come before. This one has more in common with the cartoons.

Bumblebee is lost on Earth. Separated from his fellow Autobots, he’s more ET than anything else. A military is pursuing him, he’s scared, lost, and afraid. Knight and Hodson have made sure to focus on the heart of it all, emphasizing this is a story of two outcasts coming together in friendship and forming a new family in a way.

The conflict is both Decepticons who are in pursuit of Bumblebee and the US military who mistaken him for an enemy after a series of mistakes. The film falls into tropes in a way but delivers them in such a way it feels more of an homage at times to films that have come before than anything else. The idyllic suburban homes remind us of a certain setting for an alien who also wanted to phone home, including the lock down of the home due to the threat. The pursuit of the military and want by the military to use these aliens as weapons reminds us of another animated robot film.

The film is an homage in a way diving deep into its 80s setting in both movies it winks at and everything we see. There’s cassettes, old televisions, the music, so much will take you back and that includes the robots themselves.

Is any of the film new? No, not really. What we see on screen is nothing new but it’s done at a level that’s so good, we can forget that and just enjoy the fun. And that’s exactly what the film is, fun. It never forgets what it is and pokes fun at itself (with John Cena delivering one of the best lines as far as that). It also has a lot of heart as well. And that’s where the film soars. There’s touching moments, just like those classic films. The family dynamic, the situations presented, they’re all something we can relate to. There’s something here for everyone to see themselves in.

A lot has to do with the casting who beyond Steinfeld and Cena include the underrated Pamela Adlon as Steinfeld’s mother, Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. as Memo, the love interest for Steinfeld, Jason Drucker as her younger brother Otis, and Stephen Schnelder as her mother’s new love interest. They’re the main humans and behind the scene there’s an impressive voice cast that includes Dylan O’Brien as Bumblebee and Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, Peter Cullen, and more. The list of Transformers present is long and fans will go wild trying to see them all. But, it’s the humans that bring the film down to a level we can relate to a grounds it in so many ways.

Bumblebee is one of the best blockbusters of the year and an unexpected triumph. It’s everything we’ve wanted in a Transformers film and shows how off the mark the original five were and are. This screams Spielberg in both its plot and its heart. It’s one of the best family films of the year and hopefully the start of something special going forward.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Fallout

IMI Fallout postert’s rare for a franchise to almost completely reinvent itself in almost every outing. It’s even more rare for it to deliver, arguably, its best film twenty years in. Writer and director Christoher McQuarrie delivers his best film ever, as though he’s taken everything he’s learned from his past two and a half decades of experience, writing such classics as The Usual Suspects and being frequent Tom Cruise collaborator, to craft a great movie about the stakes of failure.

Failure is one of the great recurring themes in the film, as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt just wins by sheer luck. Several times in the film you think the good guys lose — because they do, repeatedly — and wonder if maybe this film will end with them losing, or with a noble self-sacrifice.

Our story begins with some stolen plutonium, and a failed recovery plan where Ethan chooses to save the lives of his longtime teammates Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) rather than recover the nuclear materials. So the CIA Director (Angela Bassett) does her best Amanda Waller impersonation and assigns one of their most deadly agents, August Walker (Henry Cavill), to provide “oversight” on the IMF team. Translation: he will kill anyone who gets in their way, including Hunt and his team if they go rogue.

Their clashing styles and the chemistry between Cruise and Cavill provide some of the best material of the film. Cavill is an imposing presence and director McQuarrie somehow makes it look like he hits harder here than as Superman. Cavill is also just really good as a spy and an action movie star, but somehow in a completely opposite way from his turn in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

But the emotional core here is with Pegg and returning actors Rebecca Ferguson and Michelle Monaghan. First, all three of them give great performances. Pegg has perhaps the most interesting character arc of any person in the franchise, going from computer geek in MI:III to hero-in-his-own-right in this outing. But it’s each of the characters’ connections to Hunt and his need to protect them that make the stakes of this so much higher and more personal than in previous outings. PS- If you need more reason to love Simon Pegg, you should see his recent apology for mocking Jar Jar Binks here. Really insightful stuff.

The last Mission Impossible film was full of bombastic stunts and plot, but two years later I couldn’t tell you a thing about it or what happened. Its villain, Solomon Lane, was supposedly so much smarter and always a step ahead of Hunt, but you never really felt that. In Fallout, you feel very much like the good guys are constantly being outsmarted and the stakes for failure — nuclear annihilation for a huge portion of the world’s population — are possible.

McQuarrie writes this in the same way as his tour de force The Usual Suspects, with layers upon layers of misdirection and snappy dialogue. He builds tension and releases it, hiding important exposition n moments of humor to help the explaining go down. Like Usual Suspects, there’s real humor in here. And if you’re familiar with the principle of Chekov’s Gun, he loads and cocks so many guns and leaves you waiting for the payoff. Even when you see something coming — especially when you see it coming — you just are left waiting in anticipation for sweet release of the payoff.

He’s also willing to take some risks. There is a point about two hours into the movie when I was convinced it was over, and this would be The Empire Strikes Back of a trilogy about Ethan Hunt and Solomon Lane. Indeed, in a world where Hobbits, Hunger Games, and Harry Potters are split into multiple movies for financial reasons, you can imagine wanting to extend this franchise in that way. But it doesn’t, and gives you this brilliant denouement of a final thirty minutes that gives specific payoff to everything not only from the previous two hours but the last twenty years. Yes, this is two and half hours long. It doesn’t feel like it. Bravo, Chris McQuarrie, bravo.

And then there’s his visual style. Wow, just wow. The cinematography here is brilliant. The pacing is unbelievable. There’s an extended chase scene through Paris that goes on for what seems like twenty minutes, and there’s never a dull moment. Eat your heart out, French Connection. 

This may be the best Mission: Impossible movie. And it is certainly the best spy thriller we’ve had in a long time. This is a cure for what ails the late summertime blues and the rare summer blockbuster that doesn’t require you to turn off your brain to have fun with it.

4.25 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Black Panther

Lets get this out of the way, Marvel films are rather formulaic. We get the origin of the hero in the first third of the film, the second third is the set up where they are beaten down, then the last third turns into a fist fight. This is generally what we can expect and as more films are released, that formula grows a bit old. So, the question is, with each new release, can Marvel Studios deliver enough “new” to keep the audience engaged and interested. Black Panther delivers a lot new and then some, though suffers in that last third due to the formula.

The story is a bit James Bond as Black Panther must bring to justice a man who stole the country’s precious Vibranium decades earlier. Cool gadgets are plenty as illegal deals are attempted to be broken up all as we learn more about these cast of characters.

While we know some of Black Panther and the Dora Milaje (his elite bodyguards/warriors) from Captain America: Civil War where they debuted, the world of Wakanda is mainly unknown and this film is far more than the few that debuted in what seems forever ago. In a sense, this is an origin story like so many other Marvel Studios releases as T’Challa takes up the mantle of King as well as Black Panther. But, where Black Panther stands heads and above what’s come before is how it does that origin story and it’s focus on not just one man.

Played by Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa is conservative in many ways. There’s not as much ego or brashness, instead Boseman plays the character as the leader of a nation but also one who is clearly learning. He doesn’t go it alone or “have to learn,” he seeks council and relies on those around him. This is a very different superhero and the movie does an excellent job of recognizing that. Where it really stands out from those before is the supporting cast which is large and in charge. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, it’s the women (especially the Dora Milaje) who steal the show. Wonder Woman showed us kick-ass women, this film takes it to the next level in so many ways. And, while they definitely kicked ass, their presences was a statement too. The Dora Milaje are not one size fits all. While all members are athletic, the heights, build, and skin tone differ for each. While I expected a general uniform look (something more like the Amazons in Wonder Woman), I was surprised at the vast differences. In one scene in particular one rather tall member is next to a shorter member and I can only think this was done on purpose to emphasize this. Wright especially stands out for her enthusiasm and Q like character. She delivers the tech that makes Black Panther (and Wakanda) function. As T’Challa’s sister, there’s also a healthy relationship that feels fresh and like it’s been missing from movie screens.

But, it’s not just the young brilliant and kick-ass women who add to the film. Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as Zuri add a gravitas in a way and feel like they’re passing the baton to a new generation of Black actors.

But, what is a Marvel film without its villains? Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger step into those roles in what may be the best Marvel villains to date. We’ve seen Serkis’ briefly in a previous Marvel film, but here he’s able to amp up the sleaze to the next level both having fun with it all and making the audience feel dirty. But, it’s Jordan’s Killmonger that delivers a character that’s complicated at at times sympathetic. It’s difficult to truly dissect everything without spoilers but he’s an American whose goal is to take over the throne of Wakanda. His Western Imperialism embodied but one whose past and history makes him sympathetic.

And that complicated nature is what also makes Black Panther stand out as one of Marvel’s best films. This is a film, that in numerous scenes, debates the isolationist policy of Wakanda. It debates how this wealthy African nation leaves other nations and specifically Black individuals to suffer. While it prospers it does not provide aid, instead pretending it too is a Third World Nation. It directly addresses the concept of Black individuals “making it” then leaving others, the debate about supporting one’s own community. While the film takes place in Wakanda, it’s a debate that’s had right here in American communities, about supporting Black owned businesses or creators. It’s that sort of layering and detail that again makes the film stand out and the films’ writers Ryan Coogler (who also directed) and Joe Robert Cole deserve accolades for that.

Coogler’s direction, while good, falls a bit short of my expectations. Coogler is known for Fruitvale Station and Creed (both starring Michael B. Jordan). When it comes to direction, both of those films surpass Black Panther. But, visually, the film is amazing delivering us something that would make Jack Kirby cry. This is Afrofuturism on screen and through all the wonders of the city, when we get to the streets it feels lived in and real. Visually the film is stunning and you do see Coogler’s touches with small looks and moments that create a story that feels natural and how individuals actually interact.

As I said, the film does stumble a bit towards the end with a typical battle that has become standard in Marvel Studio films. This one feels like a bit of escalation with the amount of individuals involved so it does shake things up in some ways. It’s not just the usual hero fighting bad guy. But, the film does stumble in typical Marvel fashion. If it had come out earlier, before the pattern of stories was clear, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. But, the pattern and formula is pretty clear now.

Black Panther feels fresh though. The women steal the show. The first 2/3s feels more like a James Bond film than typical superhero movie, and there’s a healthy dose of exploring real world issues. There’s an enthusiasm and enough freshness about the film to make it stand out from the pack as one of Marvel’s best. The fact that everyone on screen doesn’t look like me is a large portion of that. Hopefully the film is as much of a success as I expect it to be and we see much more of this to come.

Overall Rating: 8.75