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!

Year In Film: 2020 Sucks, But 2021 Could Be Spectacular

Dune and No Time to Die

In the film industry, 2020 was supposed to be the “Year of Dan.” If there was a checklist of franchises and actors I liked, 2020 was set to hit all the boxes. From Daniel Craig and Vin Diesel to Steven Spielberg and Zendaya, 2020 was oozing with star power.

Then, as we all know, the pandemic happened.

The first real “Oh shit” moment in the film industry happened when No Time To Die, the 25th installment in the James Bond franchise and Craig’s final film as the iconic character, pushed back its release date to November. Not even Nostradamus himself could have predicted the shitstorm that’s still occurring to this day.

Were you excited to watch Dominic Torretto drive off a cliff and somehow cross the ocean while attached to a steel chain? Unrealistic and kickass action sequences will have to wait since Fast Nine won’t be released until May 2021. Were you prepared to rejoin the Jets or the Sharks in West Side Story this December? Unfortunately, Christmas is canceled due to the fact Spielberg’s iteration of West Side Story was moved to Dec. 2021. If Timothée Hal Chalamet and Zendaya in the seems like a dream, then you need to keep dreaming since Dune moved from Dec. 2020 to Oct. 2021.

But wait, there’s more. The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe shifted, restructured, and besides WandaVision, punted entirely to 2021. Movies from Ridley Scott, Tom Cruise, Lin-Manuel Miranda were all delayed to 2021. Wonder Woman 1984 is holding out hope for Christmas 2020, but barring a miracle from Wonder Woman herself, it’s almost guaranteed to move. The only theatrical blockbuster that stuck around was Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, and I haven’t even seen it yet!

The only studio that’s thriving is Netflix. The streaming service has been a juggernaut, releasing new films every week including some critically acclaimed gems like Da 5 Bloods and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Unlike most studios, Netflix will have the strongest Oscar contenders with Mank, Hillbilly Elegy, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom coming later this year. Plus, streamers like Hulu had a strong year with Normal People, Devs, and Dave, three of my favorite shows of the year.

2020 has been terrible and frankly, we all need a break. However, as Bradley cooper said in Silver Linings Playbook, “You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”

Maybe finding a silver lining is a bunch of horse shit, but one can’t look at the film slate in 2021 and not be filled with excitement. From January to December, every week will provide a high profile release. Maybe MoviePass should make a comeback in 2021 because there’s a high chance I’m at the theater four times every month. This stretch from April through the beginning of June will make it tough to pay rent.

All of these dates could still change if cities like New York City and Los Angeles keep theaters closed. However, I’m choosing to stay positive for now.

If No Time to Die moves one more time, I’m out for blood.

What 2021 movie are you looking forward to the most? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

What Movie Has The Greatest Soundtrack of All-Time?

Greatest movie soundtracks of all time

So this question has been making its rounds on Twitter. What movie has the greatest soundtrack? Soundtracks have the ability to elevate a bad movie to a good movie (Batman Forever) and turn a good movie into a great movie (8 Mile).

For me, the soundtrack should reflect the overall themes of the movie. Songs can tell a story into how the main characters think and feel. If I listen to songs from a soundtrack outside of the theater, that’s when you know the film will stick with you.

Narrowing down my choice for greatest soundtrack is proving to be impossible. Instead of choosing one soundtrack, here are a few of my favorite soundtracks over the years.

Forrest Gump

When I first saw the original tweet asking for the greatest soundtrack, Forrest Gump instantly came to mind. Since Forrest Gump spans from 1954 to the early 1980s, the film covers a variety of musicians, bands, and genres. Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, The Supremes, Jackson Browne, and Lynyrd Skynyrd are just names off of the iconic soundtrack. Instead of running across the country like Forrest, roll down the windows, go for a drive, and blast the Forrest Gump soundtrack on your next road trip.

Dazed and Confused

Alright, alright, alright. If you love 70s classic rock, then you will love the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. The soundtrack reflected the rebellious personalities for these rising high school seniors. With an uncertain future, finding the next party and enjoying summer break was the main priority, which a lot of us can relate to at the age of 17. With so many classic rock songs to choose from, “Slow Ride” by Foghat during the final scene is the song that sticks out for me.

La La Land

Make Jazz Great Again. If you think you are “too tough or macho” for a musical film, then I don’t want to be friends. La La Land is a delightful film about a jazz pianist and an aspiring actor who fall in love while chasing their dreams in Los Angeles. Unlike a traditional musical, there is a lot of dialogue so it’s not all singing. However, when stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone decide to sing and dance throughout the city, it’s movie magic. I would say I listened to at least one song from La La Land for about 8 straight months in 2017. After you fall in love with the piano arrangements and huge dance numbers, you’ll be listening to a lot of jazz in the future.

A Star Is Born

If you want to tell me that I’m suffering from recency bias or it’s too early to name this the “greatest soundtrack of all-time,” I’ll hear your argument. However, I know for a fact that it’s not to early to call this a great soundtrack in general. Who knew that Bradley Cooper can sing? Cooper and Lady Gaga had unreal chemistry throughout the entire film. The soundtrack is a mix of rock anthems, ballads, and powerful duets. I dare you to say something about about “Shallow.”

West Side Story

The title of “best film adaption of a broadway musical” belongs to West Side Story thanks to the iconic score and lyrics from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. West Side Story has it all: romance, action, conflict, and great music. This tragic love story and its themes of loyalty, revenge, and class warfare are still prevalent in 2019. If I had to recommend one musical to watch that any person would appreciate and enjoy, my recommendation would be West Side Story

Honorable Mention:

Almost Famous, Black Panther, Fifty Shades of Grey (100% serious), Grease, Garden State, Purple Rain, Saturday Night Fever, The Sound of Music, Straight Outta Compton

Do you agree with my choices? Do you hate every single one of them? Let me know your choices for greatest soundtrack on Twitter @danny_giro.