Oh “mother!” Darren Aronofsky’s Lurid Fever Dream

Darren Aronofsky’s first film since 2014’s Noah is, to put it simply, a lot. That’s certainly saying something; this is the director of Requiem for A Dream and Black Swan after all. But mother! makes those films feel like an warm up in a much larger exercise in psychological terror. The marketing campaign for mother! has revolved around keeping direct details about the film’s plot shrouded in secrecy. As the film has played at various film festivals, Aronofsky has moderated Q&A’s and screenings, hyping up the movie’s disturbing and polarizing nature. 

“Sorry for what I’m about to do,” he said on the stage at the Toronto Film Festival, going on to describe the film as “an assault” and “a cruise missile shooting into a wall.” “At the film’s premiere, he told reporters that, “You’re all really going to hate me in about an hour and a half.” 

There’s something to be said about a director wearing the negative press about his film like a badge of honor (Cinemascore revealed yesterday that audience members gave the film a rare F grade). In the case of mother! and Aronofsky, it only adds to my frustrations about the film. As I said, mother! is certainly a lot, and I did find my mouth hanging wide open during some moments, including the ludicrous climax, but not for the reasons the director/writer may have been hoping.

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Oscar Predictions: Who Will, Could, And Should Win?

After a wild ride of an awards season that started out with so much hope and promise, only to end with major disappointment, Oscar night is just about here. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is assured his elusive first trophy, and unfortunately it’s come down to The Revenant and Mad Max with some heat from Spotlight.

Yes, the races have solidified pretty quickly; there’s a general consensus of who’s winning. But that doesn’t mean were in for a total snooze fest, right? (I can hold out some hope).

So, let’s get on with putting a cap on this season already by looking at the major races. Who will, could and should win? And who got snubbed?

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Academy Award Nominations: Another Year Of #OscarsSoWhite

I expected a few upsets with this morning’s Academy Award nominations. But more than anything, I’m just disappointed. This was such a groundbreaking year for film. You had Mad Max: Fury RoadCarolSicarioTangerine… the list goes on. And while Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the nomination leaders, there was less to be excited about over in a lot of the other categories.

For starters, let’s talk about the most glaring offense. After The Academy had controversially nominated all white actors in the leading and supporting categories last year, they followed the same trend this year; There’s not a person of color to be found among your 20 acting nominees. And while many will say that contenders such as Michael B. Jordan from Creed and Mya Taylor from Tangerine were long shots, I say that’s not an excuse. There were more than a dozen surprises this morning from the various categories that included many names we didn’t expect to hear this morning. Lenny Abrahamson scored a Best Director nomination over Ridley Scott, who had more support from the various precursors and guilds. Mark Ruffalo, despite not receiving an individual Screen Actors Guild nomination, or really any important precursor awards, landed a nomination in Best Supporting Actor over one of the presumed frontrunners, Idris Elba from the fantastic Beasts of No Nation. Oscar Isaac, one of this year’s breakout stars, was fantastic in Ex Machina, Benicio del Toro delivered one of the best performances of the year in Sicario and Straight Outta Compton found no love in either the acting or Best Picture categories, despite having support from the guilds.

They clearly vote for what they like, and what they like is becoming increasingly evident with each year. Jennifer Lawrence for JOY, REALLY? As someone who is a die hard film buff, and has grown up watching the Oscars, this is something that matters to me. In hindsight, The Academy Awards are not the most important thing in the world. But as our world, and our film industry, grows to be more diverse, so should the awards. We hear all the time that they’re constantly adding new members and trying to diversify their membership, but where is that reflected in the awards? Though I was not so high on the film itself, I’m glad Alejandro G. Iñárritu, last year’s winner, found his way into Best Director, but that was about the only major nomination landed by a person of color this year.

Some more glaring omissions to discuss: Carol, easily one of the best films of the year, was omitted from Best Picture. Rooney Mara from Carol and Alicia Vikander from The Danish Girl were both nominated in Supporting Actress, despite the high profile backlash (and just common sense) that both are the leads of their films. Vikander’s nomination comes especially as a shock, because she had a perfectly great supporting performance from Ex Machina they could have rewarded, one that was picking up steam in recent weeks.

All I’m saying, is that The Academy is very clearly out of touch and has turned into a dog and pony show. This is far from news, excuse me trying to make sense of this mess.

The full list of nominations are below. The winners of the Academy Awards will be announced February 28th.

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“The Revenant” Wins Big At A Dull Golden Globes Ceremony

If there’s anything we learned at last night’s Golden Globes, it’s that we still have no idea who the front runner for the Oscars are this year.

That being said, the Golden Globes aren’t really related to the Oscars in any way besides being awards, but they do indicate where the passion is for the films in contention. Though, I’m not really sure what the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were smoking when they filled out their ballots.

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“JOY” Is A Misfire On All Fronts

Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell have made three feature films together since 2012. Silver Linings PlaybookAmerican Hustle and now JOY. It’s easy to see why, as O. Russell has directed her to 2 Oscar nominations, and one win. He also gives her the space to breathe, something she doesn’t receive in The Hunger Games films. While I’ve not always agreed with Lawrence’s casting in these roles (she’s way too young) she has delivered some compelling moments, even if it never amounts to a whole performance.

JOY, however, is O. Russell’s messiest film thus far, with Lawrence’s casting sticking out like a sore thumb.

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