2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 8: Who Should Win And Who Will Win

Emilia Jones on a boat in CODA

After the long and winding road, awards season has reached the end of its journey with the 2022 Oscars.

Remember when Belfast was the frontrunner for Best Picture and House of Gucci was going to dominate the acting categories? That was Fall 2021, which feels like 10 years ago.

Things have drastically changed the last few weeks as new contenders have emerged. I won’t waste anymore more time. Below are my predictions for every category.

P.S. Please move the Oscars back to February 2023.

BEST PICTURE

Belfast
CODA

Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

This is a two-horse race between The Power of the Dog and CODA. The Power of the Dog dominated critics’ circles and picked up huge wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Critics’ Choice Awards. On the other hand, CODA is the sentimental favorite and surged to wins at the SAGs and PGAs.

Best Picture is a preferential ballot, which means voters rank the nominees from most favorite to least favorite (1-10). If a film gets 50% of the first-place votes on the first try, it’s over. That’s not going to happen. The film that receives the least number of votes is eliminated. For the ballots that were eliminated, the Academy then takes their number two selections and applies those votes to ballots with that film at number one. This process happens with selections three and four until one film receives 50% of the vote. Here’s a quick diagram to explain.

Voter A: 1) The Power of the Dog 2) CODA 3) Don’t Look Up
Voter B: 1) Nightmare Alley 2) CODA 3) The Power of the Dog
Voter C: 1) CODA 2) West Side Story 3) Dune

Let’s say Nightmare Alley comes in at 10th place after round one so it’s eliminated. Go to Voter B’s number two selection, which is CODA. Essentially, CODA becomes Voter B’s new number one so it’s redistributed to ballots with CODA at one (like Voter C) and adds to CODA‘s first-place tally. The elimination process will occur until a film receives 50% of the vote.

Because of this balloting system, Best Picture is an award given to the film that voters liked the most, or close to it. Don’t think about which film is number one on ballots, but think about which film will fall at numbers two and three. This is why CODA has a legit shot at winning because it will probably fall within the top 3 on many ballots. Can the same be said for The Power of the Dog?

My heart says Coda, and after thinking it over, so does my head. From Sundance to the Oscars, what a run for this heartwarming film.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: CODA

BEST DIRECTOR

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story

This is Jane Campion’s award to lose. The Power of the Dog is not my favorite movie, but I can’t deny Campion’s expertise and execution. Plus, she’s virtually won every directing award on the circuit. My vote would be for Denis Villeneuve and Dune… oh wait, he was completely snubbed. You deserve better, Denis.

Who Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, Dune (not nominated)
Who Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

BEST ACTOR

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!
Will Smith, King Richard
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

The kid from West Philadelphia should give the speech of the night. I can’t wait.

Who Should Win: Will Smith, King Richard
Who Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Do you want chaos? Then this is the category for you! Jessica Chastain is the favorite, and as much as I love Chastain, Olivia Colman is tied with Frances McDormand as the best working actress in Hollywood. Colman is a master of her craft. I like all of these actresses so I won’t be upset with whoever wins. I’ll go with Colman in a slight upset because the Academy loves her.

Who Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Who Will Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
Troy Kostur, CODA
Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Troy’s Oscar moment.

Who Should Win: Troy Kostur, CODA
Who Will Win: Troy Kostur, CODA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Judi Dench, Belfast
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Ariana is the lock of the century.

Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Belfast, Kenneth Branagh
Don’t Look Up,
Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
King Richard,
Zach Baylin
Licorice Pizza,
Paul Thomas Anderson
The Worst Person in the World
, Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

The screenplay categories are the hardest of the night. Is this the spot where the Academy rewards Belfast? Does Don’t Look Up have enough momentum following its win at the WGAs? I’m predicting the Academy rewards the man who has been knocking at the door for over two decades, looking for his first Oscar win. That man is Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson.

Who Should Win: Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
Who Will Win: Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

CODA, Sian Heder
Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion

If Coda or The Power of the Dog wins this category, then they become the favorite for Best Picture. CODA picked up a huge win at the WGAs, but The Power of the Dog was ineligible. Campion previously won an Oscar for screenplay, and she’s a lock for Best Director. Does the Academy spread the wealth and reward Sian Heder of Maggie Gyllenhaal? I think they share the love so my pick is Heder.

Who Should Win: Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
Who Will Win: CODA, Sian Heder

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

The Encanto momentum is real.

Who Should Win: The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Who Will Win: Encanto

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Drive My Car, Japan
Flee, Denmark
The Hand of God, Italy
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Bhutan
The Worst Person in the World, Norway

Had Drive My Car not been nominated for Best Picture, this would go to The Worst Person in the World. Both films are worthy of this win.

Who Should Win: Drive My Car, Japan and The Worst Person in the World, Norway (tie)
Who Will Win: Drive My Car, Japan

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ascension
Attica
Flee
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
Writing with Fire

Will Questlove be drumming on Fallon the next night after his win? That is the million-dollar question.

Who Should Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
Who Will Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Don’t Look Up, Nicholas Britell
Dune, Hans Zimmer
Encanto, Germaine Franco
Parallel Mothers, Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog, Jonny Greenwood

HANS ZIMMER, STAND THE F UP! The legend created new instruments for Dune. He wins easily.

Who Should Win: Dune, Hans Zimmer
Who Will Win: Dune, Hans Zimmer

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Be Alive, King Richard, Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Dos Oruguitas, Encanto, Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Down To Joy, Belfast, Music and Lyric by Van Morrison
No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Somehow You Do, Four Good Days, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

Why Encanto submitted this song over “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is something I’ll never understand. This comes down to who the Academy wants to give an Oscar to, Lin-Manuel or Billie & Finneas? I think not submitting “Bruno” will come back to haunt Encanto. James Bond wins the Oscar.

Who Should Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Who Will Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Dune, Greig Fraser
Nightmare Alley, Dan Laustsen
The Power of the Dog, Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Ari Wegner
West Side Story, Janusz Kaminski

Let me just say that all five of these films look spectacular. But Dune is on another level, and its dominance in the technical categories continues.

Who Should Win: Dune, Greig Fraser
Who Will Win: Dune, Greig Fraser

BEST SOUND

Belfast
Dune
No Time To Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

I’m running out of ways to explain how Dune is a stunning technical achievement.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

One word: Arrakis.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci

With Jessica Chastain the favorite to win Best Actress because of her big transformation, it makes sense to reward the people behind her makeup and hairstyling.

Who Should Win: Cruella
Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Cruella
Cyrano
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Emma Stone in Cruella / Disney

Who Should Win: West Side Story
Who Will Win: Cruella

BEST FILM EDITING

Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Power of the Dog
Tick, Tick… Boom!

King Richard picked up a surprising victory at the ACE Eddies. However, Dune avenges its loss and wins yet another Oscar.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Dune
Free Guy
No Time To Die
Shang-Chi and the Legend
of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: No Way Home

In 10 years, we are going to look back and question why Dune won so many technical awards, but not Best Director nor Best Picture.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

***Full disclosure – I haven’t seen any nominees in the final three categories. I’m using my best judgment as well as gambling odds to determine winners.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Who Should Win: The Queen of Basketball
Who Will Win: The Queen of Basketball

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
The Dress
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Please Hold

Who Should Win: The Long Goodbye
Who Will Win: The Long Goodbye

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Aairs of the Art
Bestia
Boxballet
Robin Robin
The Windshield Wiper

Who Should Win: Robin Robin
Who Will Win: Robin Robin

Thank you for reading my discussions about the Oscars all year. I really appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter, @danny_giro.

Favorite TV And Movie Performances Of 2021

We did it, everyone. We made it to the end of 2021. Movie theaters aren’t dead, television continues to thrive, and the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. It wasn’t such a bad year, all things considered.

Optimism, baby!

For movies and television, 2021 was far superior to 2020. A lot of the 2020 movie releases that were pushed to 2021 because of the pandemic finally hit theaters (yes, theaters). Prestige television is still rocking thanks to hits like Succession and Mare of Easttown.

Below is a list of my favorite performances of 2021. It’s a mix of Oscar buzz with underrated performances. Enjoy!

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

As one of the most prolific filmmakers of his generation, Paul Thomas Anderson can work with anyone he wants. In 2021, PTA chose two first-time actors, Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, to headline his movie, Licorice Pizza. Haim, known for her work in the band, HAIM, and Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, were stunning revelations. Whenever the two interacted, I couldn’t look away. Their chemistry was magnetic, and these were two movie-star performances.

Kieran Culkin, Succession

Jeremy Strong gives the best performance on Succession. However, the MVP of Season 3 was Kieran Culkin. I’m sure most of his one-liners are in the script, but Culkin’s comedic delivery and improvisation are superb. Throughout the season, Roman went from an immature suckup to one of Logan’s most trustworthy allies. It’s why Roman’s revelation that Logan will do anything to win even if it means fucking over his children was so heartbreaking to watch. Also, his face after sending the dick pic to Logan is a first-ballot meme hall of fame.

Frank Grillo, Boss Level

I want to give a shoutout to my favorite “B” action movie of the year, Boss Level. The film is a fun, thrilling addition to the time-loop genre. I found it on Hulu on a random Sunday night in the Spring and loved it. I didn’t know Frank Grillo could be this witty and charming. I hope to see him in more of these half-asshole/half-good guy roles aka the Ryan Reynolds.

Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, And Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

West Side Story / 20th Century Studios

We, as a society, look silly for every doubting Steven Spielberg. The legendary director loves musicals, and yet most people had doubts about his reimagined West Side Story. The egg is on our face because Spielberg crafted one of the five best movies of 2021. For a story set in the 1950s, Spielberg made it feel modern and injected a new energy and fresh reinterpretation of a classic. The three standout performances come from Rachel Zegler as Maria, Mike Faist as Riff, and Ariana DeBose as Anita. These three actors jump off the screen thanks to their charisma and confidence. I can’t wait to watch this again.

CT, The Challenge

CT is pulling a Tom Brady, winning challenges in the latter part of his career. Bananas is still the GOAT with 7 season wins, but things are starting to get very interesting has won 3 of the last 5 challenges, bringing his total to 5 season wins. Does Bananas come out of retirement to put an end to CT’s dominance? MTV, pay CT and Bananas whatever they want because the fans need to see this epic showdown.

Jason Momoa, Dune

Jason Momoa in Dune / Warner Bros.

To quote the kids, Jason Momoa “knew the assignment.” Momoa is having so much fun in Dune. While most of the characters are doom and gloom, Momoa’s Duncan Idaho will put a smile on your face.

Rapid Fire

  • Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki
  • Florence Pugh in Black Widow and Hawkeye
  • Ana de Armas in No Time to Die
  • Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera in In The Heights
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up
  • Evan Peters in Mare of Easttown
  • William Zabka in Cobra Kai
  • Tom Thibodeau on the sidelines at Knicks games

What were your favorite performances this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me, @Danny_giro.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Spoiler-Packed Discussion

Spider-Man: No Way Home

If you’re reading this, then it’s too late. There’s no turning back now. The biggest movie of the year is Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I’m ready to talk about it. Spoilers are on the way. You have been warned.

Seriously, turn around if you haven’t seen the film yet.

I’m running out of videos so this is your final warning.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Thoughts And Reactions

– Wow.

– Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the most obvious talking point. We got the meme.

I knew this moment was coming and it still surprised me. When Ned opened a portal and Spider-Man ran closer to it, you knew it was Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire. Once Garfield removed his mask, my theater exploded like it was a buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. People were screaming with joy, jumping out of their seats with huge smiles on their faces. As Ned tried to open the second portal, the same murmur began as the entire theater waited for Tobey Maguire to enter. Tobey enters the screen, and the theater once again broke the sound barrier. These reactions are exactly why Sony and Marvel choose not to reveal these former heroes in the trailer.

– One of the first swerves of the film occurred when Doctor Strange agreed to cast the spell for Peter, which would make the entire world forget about his identity. However, Strange decided to stop the spell when Peter asked for multiple exceptions as to who would remember him.

Here’s my issue. Doctor Strange is supposed to be one of the smartest and most powerful sorcerers in the world. This is the same guy who went forward in time to view alternate futures to see all the possible outcomes of the battle with Thanos. I’m supposed to believe that Peter’s requests would distract Doctor Strange from completing the spell? Peter asked for MJ, Ned, Aunt May, and Happy to remember his identity as well as anyone else who previously knew his identity. It’s not like he named his entire high school by name. There’s no way Doctor Strange messes this spell up. I refuse to believe it.

– The best part of this trilogy is the relationship between Peter, MJ, and Ned. No Way Home went out of their way to emphasize this three-way friendship. From the college decisions to their final goodbye, you could argue that Ned is just as important to Peter as MJ. These three young stars have such good chemistry that I would love to explore these characters in another film. Perhaps they go to MIT and Peter tries to be Spider-Man in Boston.

– The villains. For me, superhero films are only as strong as their villains. The Dark Knight went from great to iconic because of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. In No Way Home. The film had five supervillains from previous iterations of Spider-Man including Electro, Lizard, and Sandman. But, the two that deserve the most praise are Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. In my opinion, these two performances are on the Mount Rushmore of Supervillains in the 21st century. When highly-trained actors like Dafoe and Molina get to play in the comic book sandbox, great things will happen.

Dafoe’s over-the-top and downright evil performance as Green Goblin is so effective that it works as the main antagonist of the film. Another swerve I enjoyed involved Molina’s Doctor Octopus. The trailer sets up Doc Ock as a true villain, but once Peter cures the harness, he becomes an ally of the Spider-Men. (Can we call them the “Spider-Men?”)

– Everything about the Spider-Men team-up worked. The inside jokes, the speeches about grief, the interactions during the fight, etc. It was all executed to perfection. Jokes about Tobey’s back and Peter 1’s inclusion in the Avengers were crowdpleasers. I couldn’t stop smiling when the three Peters’ were onscreen.

– Garfield’s dive to save MJ as a callback to when Gwen died absolutely wrecked me.

– Speaking of Garfield, he probably channels the essence of Peter Parker the best out of the three actors. Peter is supposed to be this witty and charming persona and Garfield’s the best when it comes to these characteristics. Tobey had the tough job of going first while Holland played teenage Parker admirably, but Garfield is the best actor to play the role. He stole the show out of the three Spideys. I just wish he had better superhero movies to showcase his talents. As it turns out, he may get the chance!

– Tom Holland is a really good Spider-Man. I’m excited to see where he goes from here since he’s now an A-list actor.

– I liked the ending of this film. I’m a fan of conclusions, and this felt like the ending of a successful trilogy. However, it does leave the door open to see how Peter has moved on in a world post-spell. Did he make new friendships? Did he make new enemies? Can he win back MJ and Ned? I’d be interested in a fourth film.

Overall, No Way Home lived up to the hype. It’s a theater experience that I will never forget.

My official rankings:

What are your thoughts on No Way Home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 2: Licorice Pizza And West Side Story Arrive In Style

Licorice Pizza

In my first column for the 2022 Oscars, I talked about how Belfast and The Power of the Dog were 1 and 1A in the Best Picture race with a lot of unknowns trailing behind. Two of those unknowns arrived this past week and became legit contenders. Buckle up.

Licorice Pizza And West Side Story Have Arrived

Never count out the power of well-respected directors. Coming into the Fall, very little was known about Licorice Pizza and West Side Story besides the two powerhouses behind the camera, Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg. Projects from two of the best directors of their respective generations will garner a lot of attention.

In both cases, the hype was real.

Licorice Pizza landed the best debut at the independent box office during the pandemic with $335,000. PTA’s coming-of-age story set in the 1970s San Fernando Valley received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with RogerEbert.com calling it the “best movie of the year.

Fittingly, another organization called it the best film of the year. The National Board of Review named Licorice Pizza the Best Film of 2021. In addition to the top prize, PTA won Best Director, and Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman won breakthrough performance.

The win at the NBR foreshadows an Oscar nomination. Since 2010, only two films* that won Best Film did not go on to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. With a Best Picture nomination all but guaranteed, PTA should receive at least one more nomination for screenplay or direction with the former being his best chance to win.

*2014’s A Most Violent Year and 2020’s Da 5 Bloods

While PTA searches for his first Oscar, Spielberg is trying to win his fourth Oscar with West Side Story. When Spielberg first announced he would remake one of the greatest musicals of all time, many questioned why take on this legendary work of art.

Not this guy!

We should know better than to question a 17-time Oscar nominee.

According to the first reactions, West Side Story is a “true Spielberg classic.”

West Side Story quickly inserted itself into the Best Picture race with its inclusion on NBR’s 10 Best Films of the Year. The film is a lock for nominations in Best Picture and Best Director. Expect newcomer Rachel Zegler (Best Actress), who won Best Actress at NBR, Ariana DeBose (Supporting), and Rita Moreno (Supporting) to be major players in their respective races.

Gotham Awards And National Board of Review Results

This past week, the Gotham Awards gave out some hardware. The biggest winner was Netflix’s The Lost Daughter, which won four awards: Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress. Will it translate to Oscar nominations? It will be difficult for Maggie Gyllenhaal to crack the directing category, but she’s a shoo-in for an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Olivia Colman is a guarantee for a Best Actress nomination while the film still has some work to do for Best Picture.

As for the rest of the NBR winners, Will Smith began his “I’m going to win every award in site” campaign with a victory for King Richard.

Until next time, my friends.

After strong premieres, Licorice Pizza and West Side Story are now contenders in the race for Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars.

Previous Discussions:

Tweet me, @danny_giro, with your best Oscar predictions!

Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Shows Just Enough To Keep Us Guessing

Spider Man: No Way Home

So that Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer looks pretty awesome, huh.

It’s hard to put into words how much of grip No Way Home has on pop culture. It’s easily the most anticipated film of the year, and not since Avengers: Endgame have we seen a film dominate the conversation on the Internet to this extent. Between spoilers, leaks, predictions, you can’t go a few hours without another writer or publication posting an article about No Way Home.

The film’s first trailer smashed the record for the most viewed trailer in 24 hours with 355.5 million views. That record will be hard to beat, but the second trailer served more as a preview of what’s to come.

“We started getting visitors… from every universe.”

The big reveal for this trailer revolved around the return of previous villains from multiple movies in different universes. Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and the Green Goblin returned from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films while the Lizard and Electro arrived from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films. These five supervillains could form the Sinister Six, but that begs the question about the sixth and final member. Will there be a sixth villain?

More importantly, who is the true villain of No Way Home? Perhaps it’s Ned, who arrives from another universe as the Hobgoblin. Maybe, Kang, the Conquerer, shows up to wreak havoc on the timeline once again as he did in Loki. It’s crazy to say this, but could Doctor Strange be the “bad guy” since he’ll do anything to shut the door on the multiverse even if that means taking out Peter Parker?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Here’s what I do know. The trailer revealed just enough to satisfy the audience without giving away too much. Most of the villains appeared, but not every villain. The main idea of the plot is known, and yet there’s still so much unknown.

If No Way Home is a game of Texas Hold ’em, then we just saw the flop. The river, or the fifth and final card, is the end of the movie and how it sets up the future of the MCU. Every fan including myself is focused on the fourth card known as “the turn.” That’s the moment went Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield show up to give us our three Spider-MEN.

Look, it’s going to happen. Do not believe anything that Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield are saying. They are paid to deny this earth-shattering reveal. It’s going to be an awesome moment in the theaters that might rival the moment when Doctor Strange opened the portals to form the Avengers Army in Endgame.

For those still skeptical, the moment when Doctor Octopus pins Spider-Man to the wall and says, “You’re not Peter Parker” is a dead giveaway that Maguire and Garfield will appear at some point. He’s looking for “his” Peter. Marvel will make sure to pay off this moment. Would it have been cool to see the reunion in the trailer? Of course, but this special moment will fucking rule on the big screen.

I can’t wait for December 17. Say your prayer that no leaks or spoilers hit the Internet. I’m looking at you, critics.

Leave your predictions for Spider-Man: No Way Home in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Taste Is His Best Quality

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of his generation and one of the most desirable men in Hollywood. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green.

We know Leo is great at what he does. With six Oscar nominations including one win for Best Actor, the proof is in the pudding. Countless actors who have worked with Leo have praised his talent, with Carey Mulligan calling him “the most incredible actor on the planet.

It also helps to be one of the most attractive men ever, but that’s neither here, nor there.

On November 11, Leo turned 47. First of all, happy birthday to one of my acting heroes. Second, I started to reflect on Leo’s career, and one thing stood above the rest.

It wasn’t his acting ability or good looks or legendary paparazzi photos. All of those things are important, but it’s not his best quality.

Leo’s taste is his best quality.

No, I’m not referring to the time he ate raw bison liver in The Revenant.

I’m referring to his taste in projects. Leo arguably has the best taste in all of Hollywood. He consistently chooses great project after great project with very little misses on his filmography. In a time where superhero movies dominate the box office and streamers churn out new movies every week, DiCaprio continues to play by his rules and only participates in movies that he wants to make.

Leo is one of the last true movie stars in Hollywood. Leo hasn’t made the jump to prestige television just yet and up until this year, never headlined a movie for a streamer. (This will change with Netflix’s Don’t Look Up.) Every Leo movie feels like an event, which is rare. The days of actors being able to generate high box office returns based on their name alone is a thing of the past, and yet DiCaprio still has that power.

I view Leo’s career in two phases. B.S. and A.S. – Before Scorsese and After Scorsese. Leo rarely misses, meaning the film is either received negative reviews or flopped at the box office. Most of his “misses” came before his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, which occurred in 2002 with Gangs of New York.

Below are Leo’s movies B.S.

Is The Man in the Iron Mask or Celebrity going to be shown on DiCaprio’s highlight tape? Probably not. I haven’t even seen Total Eclipse, but I’d imagine it won’t be on the tape, either. However, most actors would kill for an 11-year span that includes a supporting acting nomination at age 19, a leading role in the highest-grossing movie ever at the time, and a starring role beside Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg movie.

Leo had a lot of juice in 2002 and can headline any movie he wants. But he does the smart thing and pairs himself with one of the greatest directors ever, Martin Scorsese. Aligning himself with Scorsese was the smartest thing Leo could have ever done.

Below are Leo’s movies A.S.

Look at this success rate. Time and time again, DiCaprio chose movies that succeeded both critically and financially. The run of Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Blood Diamond is better than Murderers’ Row. There are no bad misses on this list. I’m not a fan of J. Edgar, but that movie was still named as one of the top ten films in 2011 by the National Board of Review.

The man doesn’t miss, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Long live Leo.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 1: The Race For Best Picture

Belfast / Focus Features

Gentlemen, start your engines. We’re on a one-way trip to the 2022 Oscars.

Right now, we’re about five months away from the 2022 Oscars, which airs on March 27, 2022. That may seem like a long time away, but the races are starting to take off in each major category. “Oscar movies” will be released every single week until the end of the year. which means it’s time to start up the “2022 Oscars Discussion” column.

The first and (probably) last column in this discussion will cover the ceremony’s top prize, Best Picture. Will this year’s winner be the next Parasite or The Artist?

Early Breakdown Of The Race For Best Picture

As of November 5, there is no clear-cut Best Picture frontrunner, which is a change from last year after many experts predicted Nomadland would win the top prize after its victory at the Venice Film Festival in Sept. 2021. Having no true frontrunner isn’t a bad thing. I’m all for a competitive race with a variety of films trading wins at major guilds and festivals throughout awards season. Those tight races lead to wonderful surprises like Parasite‘s win back in 2019.

As of Nov. 5, the favorites to win Best Picture are Belfast and The Power of the Dog. Belfast is a black-and-white period piece from Kenneth Branagh about a working-class family from Northern Ireland in the 1960s. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s giving me major “Roma in Northern Ireland” vibes.

Some critics have cited the film as Branagh’s most personal film ever, a personal love letter to his childhood. Belfast features performances from Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, and great child performance from Jude Hill, the latter campaigning for Best Actor. It’s currently tied with The Power of the Dog for the best odds (15/2) to win Best Picture via Goldderby.

Belfast has history on its side thanks to its People’s Choice Award win at TIFF. Since 2012, every film that won this award received a Best Picture nomination and three of those films went on to win at the Oscars. In other words, Belfast is guaranteed to be in contention for Best Picture.

Belfast premieres in the U.S on November 17.

Speaking of The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s western starring Benedict Cumberbatch is the other frontrunner for Best Picture. Without giving too much away, Cumberbatch plays a domineering rancher who torments his brother’s new wife and son, until a secret may tear him apart.

Campion has a good history with the Academy as she was the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director for 1993’s The Piano. She’ll probably become the first two-time female nominee at this year’s ceremony. Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are shoe-ins for nominations in Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Plus, The Power of the Dog was second-runner up at TIFF.

Just like Belfast, The Power of the Dog will be a Best Picture nominee come March.

The Power of the Dog streams on Netflix starting Dec. 1.

The Contenders

After those two films, there’s a bit of a drop-off. Some of that has to do with the fact that no one has seen the film yet. I haven’t seen one word from a critic about Licorice Pizza, West Side Story, Nightmare Alley, House of Gucci, and Don’t Look Up. Seriously, not one single word about five films from Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning directors.

King Richard and Dune should make the final list of Best Picture nominees. The Tragedy of Macbeth from Oscar-winner Joel Coen has six Academy Awards between the two stars, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, so expect the film to be in the mix. Other than that, a few smaller films like The Lost Daughter and CODA will try to claw their way into the contention.

My prediction for Best Picture nominees as of 11/5.

  • Belfast
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Nightmare Alley
  • House of Gucci
  • King Richard
  • Dune
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Licorice Pizza
  • West Side Story
  • Don’t Look Up

Let the games begin.

Tell us your predictions for Best Picture in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

Dune: Reaction, Comments, And Looking Ahead To Part II

Dune / Legendary Pictures

I went to Arrakis, sniffed some spice, and rode a giant sandworm across the desert. In other words, I finally saw Dune. One of the most anticipated films of 2021 finally arrived in theaters and on HBO Max, and opinions are being thrown all over Twitter.

As the responsible man that I am, I waited a few days to gather my thoughts. Here they are.

Dune
Dune / Warner Bros.

Dune Reaction And Comments

Dune ruled.

– Denis Villeneuve is in his bag. I’ve said it a hundred times before, and I’ll say it again. Villeneuve is one of the five best working directors in Hollywood. He’s in my personal top three. No one besides Christopher Nolan understands the importance of scope and scale more than Villeneuve. The wide shots of Arrakis and Caladan are a wet dream for those who love cinematography. Every single frame is carefully crafted and executed at the highest level. Simply, it was a privilege to watch a master execute his vision.

– This cast might have the highest approval rating ever for an ensemble. Ocean’s Eleven and Knives Out both have an A-list cast, but Dune wears the crown for cast right now.

– Why didn’t Legendary and Warner Bros. market the film as “Dune Part I?” I read an interview where Denis Villeneuve explained how he secured a two-movie deal and he wouldn’t agree to the project unless it was multiple movies. Why not market the film as the first film in a two-part saga? After Warner Bros. upset Villeneuve with the decision to stream the film on HBO Max simultaneously with a theatrical release, you would think they would have greenlit the sequel immediately. But no, the sequel wasn’t guaranteed because of the unknown box office returns and subscriber numbers due to the pandemic.

– Furthermore, had this film been marketed as Part I from the very beginning, it would have cleared up a lot of confusion in terms of the story. There’s A LOT of world-building and exposition in the 156-minute film so much so that it would have been impossible to tell a complete story in one film. This is just a hunch, but critical reception would have improved if it was “Dune Part I” from the start. Many critics would have seen it as the franchise’s version of The Fellowship of the Ring, knowing another film was coming to complete the story.

– The movie is kind of plotless? Now that I wrote it out, plotless is the wrong word. As I said, Dune is a lot of exposition as Villeneuve attempts to explain this complex world throughout the movie. Let me rephrase “plotless.” The inciting incident to the story – the Harkonnen betrayal and invasion – begins more than an hour into the movie. Then, Jessica and Paul wander in the desert for the rest of the film, attempting to survive the sandworms, the Harokonnens, and the Freemans. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but it’s a lot of set-up for very little payoff.

– The sandworms were AWESOME. Super effective.

– The action sequences were incredible. Between the Harkonnen invasion, Duncan Idaho vs. an entire army, and the sandworm attacks, Dune perfectly balanced political thriller to an edge-of-your-seat action-adventure.

– Don’t move your hand!

Timothée Chalamet in Dune / Legendary Pictures

– Best performances:
1. Jason Momoa
2. Rebecca Ferguson
3. Oscar Isaac

– Jason Momoa is the coolest man on the planet. He stole the damn show as Duncan Idaho.

Jason Mamoa in Dune / Legendary Pictures

– Thankfully, our wish was granted when Legendary greenlit Dune Part II.

– I have a confession. I watched this movie on HBO Max. I want to apologize to my Lord and Savior Denis Villeneuve for seeing his work of art on a small screen. Have no fear, I’m headed to a movie theater this weekend to watch the sandworms.

My Letterboxd Score: 4/5.

I can’t wait to spend more time with Zendaya and Javier Bardem as we all watch Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm in Dune Part II.

Did you enjoy Dune? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Scream: The Brilliant Horror Still Shines 25 Years Later

Scream / Dimension Films

There are two camps involved when discussing Scream, the 1996 slasher film about a killer in a Halloween costume that wreaks havoc on a small town. You either believe Scream is a good movie or a great movie.

Let’s start with the first camp. Why is Scream a good movie? For starters, the story is pretty straightforward to understand. A killer known as Ghostface, who wears a ghost mask and black gown, targets a high school girl named Sidney Prescott one year after the murder of her mother in the town of Woodsboro, California. The killer begins to murder teenagers and townspeople as he fights to get closer to his main target, Sidney.

In two sentences, the main character and plot are established without confusion. It’s a classic “whodunnit,” as the audience seeks to learn the identity of the killer, and why they’re targeting a teenage girl.

Good premise? Check.

Good writing and direction? Double-check.

For the latter, you couldn’t find a better director in this genre than the “Master of Horror,” Wes Craven. As a pioneer in horror, Craven is the mastermind behind the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise as well as cult classics like The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and Swamp Thing.

The script was written by Kevin Williamson, who was an unknown writer at the time. Williamson wrote a script called Scary Movie, which became Scream, that combined elements of a slasher film with a black comedy. Though mostly known for his horror projects, I always find it ironic that Williamson created the teen drama, Dawson’s Creek. Imagine a Scream and Dawson’s Creek double feature. Sign me up.

In terms of its cast, Scream elected to go with established actors at the time instead of unknowns, which was typically common in horror. Neve Campbell was on Party of Five, Courtney Cox was on Friends, and David Arquette had roles in Parenthood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to go along with being from the famous Arquette family.

All of these elements (premise, script, director, cast) set Scream up for success. Add in a twist ending where it’s revealed Ghostface was not one, but two killers and Scream was an instant, entertaining thriller.

It’s a good movie.

But it’s not just a good movie.

Scream is a great movie. In fact, I’ll go one step further and describe it as brilliant.

The seismic impact of Scream in the horror genre cannot be overstated. Scream combined the meta-humor of a black comedy with the gore and frightfulness of a horror film. Williamson was clearly a huge horror fan as his script is an homage to Halloween. The concept of introducing characters who were self-aware and in on the joke was ingenious. The teens openly discuss horror films and poke fun at the cliches throughout the film. Everybody is a suspect, don’t have sex, don’t have alcohol or drugs, never say you’ll be right back, etc. Randy even explains the rules for survival in a horror film!

I left out one very important cast member, and her presence adds to the genius of Scream. The actress I’m referring to is Drew Barrymore. In 1996, Barrymore was a huge name in Hollywood. Barrymore was very established in pop culture by 1996, having been in E.T., Batman Forever, Guncrazy, and Poison Ivy. She even flashed David Letterman. Barrymore was about to hit the A+list, which is why it came as a surprise that she signed up for a small horror film after reading the script one night.

Barrymore was set to play the leading role of Sidney but had to drop out due to previous commitments. Most stars would leave the project entirely, but Barrymore stayed on and asked to play Casey Becker, the girl who appears in the opening scene. Although she’s in the film for around 10 minutes, it’s arguably the most important scene in the entire franchise.

As Barrymore mentioned on Hot Ones, she wanted to change the rules of a horror film. Most of the time, you never think the main character is truly in trouble since they’ll never die, and if they are murdered, it’s never at the beginning.

Not Scream.

Here’s your biggest star in the movie and she’s killed within the first 10 minutes. That’s a Red Wedding-type move. Killing Barrymore was jaw-dropping moment that confirmed nobody was safe. Anyone could be killed at any time. Even Henry Winkler (in an uncredited role)!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special shoutout to Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard, who played Ghostface as a duo. To steal a phrase from The Rewatchables podcast, this duo gave the biggest heat check performance in the movie. It’s so over-the-top and filled with memorable one-liners, but it fits their characters. Psycho teenage murders are probably going to be a little dramatic and crazy.

Now, Scream is getting a fifth movie this January. It’s not an official reboot, but it appears to mirror themes and ideas from the first film.

Scream rewrote and revitalized the slasher genre, and its legacy should still be celebrated 25 years later.

Besides, if you remove all the humor and violence, Scream is simply an advertisement for landlines.

Scream / Dimension Films

Leave your thoughts about the movie in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

New Trailer For Marvel Studios’ Eternals Looks Terrific

Marvel's Eternals / Disney

Eternals, assemble.

Wait, those aren’t the words. The next team-up movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not include Iron Man, Captain America, or Spider-Man. The assembled team is an immortal alien race that’s called upon to fight upon a new enemy after secretly living on Earth for over 7,000 years. The movie is Eternals, which arrives in theaters on November 5.

The little voice in my head just said, “Wait, this is a Marvel movie?” Eternals includes powerful aliens who fight to protect the fate of humanity so yes, this is a superhero movie. However, there’s something different about Eternals. It doesn’t look like your typical superhero film with an abundance of CGI and VFX. This clearly wasn’t all shot in a studio in front of a green screen.

Eternals has its own visual style, and that signature vision belongs to the director, Chloé Zhao. Zhao is fresh off of the highly successful Nomadland, which won three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. I am not saying that Nomadland and Eternals are in the same ballpark in terms of genre. However, watch Nomadland, and then watch this trailer, and it becomes clear they belong to the same director. The sweeping wide shots, the use of natural light, and the facial closeups are apparent in both films thanks to Zhao’s distinct style. In an interview with Variety, Kevin Feige couldn’t hold back his praise for Zhao, saying,” This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all! A beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside… this is a signature style.”

The plot of the Eternals revolves around one question: Why now? If the Eternals have been around for over 7,000 years, why did they sit back and watch Thanos wipe out half the population? That’s a question they will have to answer once when they come out of hiding. The trailer also cites the arrival of the Deviants, the Eternals’ evil enemy, as one of the reasons why the powerful heroes must come together to defend humanity.

The MCU needs some new star power with the (alleged) departures of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson. Eternals includes big-name actors and actresses like Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek. The cast also includes emerging stars from popular franchises like Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), and the leaders from Game of Thrones, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington.

The tide is changing in the world of film and television. Superhero films and TV shows are starting to become more respected within their respective critical academies. Wandavision and The Falcon & Winter Soldier both received multiple Emmy nominations this year. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both won Oscars for their portrayal of the Joker. James Mangold received a screenwriting nomination for Logan. Black Panther was the first MCU film to be nominated for Best Picture. At some point, a superhero film is going to break through at the Oscars in non-technical categories. Under Zhao’s direction, perhaps Eternals will resonate with the Academy and result in multiple Oscar nominations.

In a post-Endgame world, world needs a new group of heroes. The Eternals might be the answer to the future of the MCU.

Are you excited about Eternals? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.