“La La Land” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

La La Land was one of my most anticipated films of the year. From the moment that excellent first trailer arrived, I was hooked. First of all, I’m a huge sucker for musicals. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, he seemed to be aiming towards evoking the nostalgia of the great Hollywood musicals of the past, with a modern spin which I was totally down with. I’ve also been a huge fan of Emma Stone’s since her brilliant star making performance in Easy A, and this seemed like the perfect project for her talents. And she had such great chemistry with Ryan Gosling in CrazyStupid Love so what could go wrong, right?

Since then, La La Land has gone on to become the Best Picture frontrunner. It’s racked up wins from the New York Film Critic’s Circle, the coveted People’s Choice Award from TIFF, a bunch of Critic’s Choice wins and a bunch of Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild nominations. It’s been written to death about how La La Land is the perfect antidote for our flaming garbage pile of a year, because after 2016, what we need is a breezy, delightful musical.

But La La Land simply doesn’t live up to the premise or hype bestowed upon it. And while it has some charming moments, they can’t hide the flawed and flimsy plot beneath all of the glitz and nostalgia.

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“Rogue One” is a Great Addition to the Star Wars Saga That Can Stand On its Own

Last year, The Force Awakens burst onto the screen at the end of the year and kickstarted a love of Star Wars for a whole new generation, while (sort of) making up for the dreadful prequel films that still feel all too recent to longtime fans of the series. The film was, in a word, fun; it had everything that made the original trilogy so enjoyable, while not being so wrapped in nostalgia that it felt old and recycled.

We still have another year before we get a look at the next chapter in the adventures of Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron but damn it we need something to hold us over until then! Enter Rogue One, a stand-alone film that sets back the clock a bit to before the events of A New Hope and some time after Revenge of the Sith. The Empire looms large over the galaxy, the Jedi are gone and Luke Skywalker has not yet had his fateful encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi, nor has Princess Leia been captured.

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“La La Land” and “Moonlight” Lead Golden Globe Nominations

As they always do, the Globes threw us some curveballs. Nocturnal Animals surprised in a number of categories (Supporting Actor, Screenplay and Director) in a way I don’t think it will repeat with future awards. Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water showed their continued strength, with the former getting both a Picture and a Director nomination. 

DeadpoolFlorence Foster Jenkins and 20th Century Women were all helped by the Musical or Comedy categories (which I predict will swing in La La Land‘s direction) paving the way for a battle between Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight in the Drama categories. 

With two of the presumed big names (Annette Bening and Emma Stone) over in Best Actress Comedy or Musical, that left two slots open in the Drama categories. Both Portman and Huppert showed up, as did Amy Adams, Ruth Negga and Jessica Chastain. Two of those ladies won’t repeat as we near closer to SAG and Oscar, but who will it be? 

The Globes will air on Sunday January 8th, hosted by Jimmy Fallon on ABC.

See the full list of nominations below.

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Broadcast Film Critics Go Wild For “La La Land”

It was clear that the Broadcast Film Critics loved La La Land; they gave it the most nominations of any film with 12, and ended up winning eight including the top prizes: Picture and Director while picking up a lot of the below the line prizes in Editing, Production Design and Cinematography. Many have predicted La La Land will sweep in a similar fashion at the Oscars. And while it’s true the Broadcast critics don’t vote on the Oscars, they are more predictive and align more accurately with the Oscars than any other precursor group, including the Globes and even Screen Actors Guild (sometimes).

Where La La Land missed out, however, was in Best Actress which surprisingly went to Natalie Portman. After suffering from missed citations from recent critics groups, Portman roared back into the race and Jackie picked up additional awards in Costumes and Hair & Makeup. Only two actresses in the past 6 years that have won this award missed out on winning the Oscar; though many were quick to declare this a cakewalk for Emma Stone, it’s clear Best Actress is still a two woman race. 

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The other two frontrunners, Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, had their moments as well. Mahershala Ali won yet another trophy for Supporting Actor with the cast winning the group’s ensemble prize. Casey Affleck beat out his biggest competition in Denzel Washington for Best Actor, while Kenneth Lonergan tied in Original Screenplay with Damien Chazelle’s screenplay for La La Land. After winning some notices with the critics, Michelle Williams lost Supporting Actress to Viola Davis, who has begun what I suspect will be a clean sweep of the televised awards. Look out for her next conquest: the Golden Globes (nominations are announced tomorrow). 

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Read the full list of (film) winners below.

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“Manchester By The Sea” is By Far the Year’s Most Frustratingly Overrated Film

For months I’ve been hearing nonstop talk about Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea, which seemed to be the only film out of Sundance that could, at the time, find any coverage outside of Nate Parker’s Birth Of A Nation. As the year has gone on, Manchester has chugged along and slowly been building steam as one of the three Oscar heavyweights. It was named Best Picture by the National Board of Review, with lead actor Casey Affleck winning Best Actor honors from both the Gotham Independent Awards and New York Film Critic’s circle.

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Watch the New, Powerful “Fences” Trailer

We’re still about a month away from the premiere of Denzel Washington’s Fences, but Paramount isn’t wasting any time getting the film out in front of people.

After a splashy premiere at the AFI fest and several industry screeningsFences has moved up into the Oscar race in a big way.With so much of the Academy comprising of actors, Fences should have no problem raking in a bunch of nominations. The only question now is just how big will Fences be? And can it win Washington a Best Actor Oscar, making it his third trophy?

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“Moonlight” leads Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Moonlight and American Honey were the leaders of the Independent Spirit Award nominations with a total of 6 nods each. Manchester By The Sea trailed behind with 5 while Jackie raked in 4.

Moonlight missed out in categories such as Best Supporting Male (Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland, or any of the actors who played Chiron) and Best Supporting Female (Naomie Harris and Janelle Monáe). The entire cast, however, is being recognized with the Robert Altman Award, which will also honor director/writer Barry Jenkins. The cast’s inclusion in this award bars them from being nominated in the separate acting categories.

Best Actress features four of the five presumed frontrunners for the Oscars, with only Emma Stone being absent (La La Land is probably not eligible here). This is probably Natalie Portman’s to lose, while Huppert has a nice boost to land her first ever career nomination.

Best Actor, on the other hand, features only one of the frontrunners; Casey Affleck will most likely be taking this one. Machester‘s Lucas Hedges and Other People‘s Molly Shannon got a nice boost to their campaigns with notices in the Supporting categories.

Take a look at the full list of nominations below.

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“Arrival” Is Timely, Fascinating and a Showcase For Amy Adams’ talents

It’s been hard to muster any kind of enthusiasm, or any kind of feeling besides grief, hopelessness and rage since Tuesday night. No matter what song I put on, what channel I flipped to or what episode of Portlandia I streamed on Netflix, I just wanted to melt into a puddle. I could not stop thinking about the next four years, and they mean for black, latinx and LGBTQ Americans. So when I sat down for my screening of Arrival last night, I was looking to just escape my mind for a minute; I wanted to turn off the thoughts so that I could come back fully reenergized to figure out how I was going to tackle fighting the racism, bigotry and intolerance that is now America’s President-elect.

Arrival is the escapist entertainment I was seeking. Even if it was for two hours, director Denis Villeneuve’s excellent sci-fi character study manages to transport and astound in every frame.

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