Spirit Awards Review Nominee Screenings – week one

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So I am a member of Film Independent and every year they do a two-week long jaunt of screenings of all the Spirit Award Nominees. As a lover of Indie films, these two weeks are quite heavenly as not only are the screenings just a short distance from me, but let me see and open my eyes to many films that you don’t always get a media screening invite for. It gave me personally an extra benefit this year as I was quite ill, especially these past few months and missed quite a few of screenings I did have. So onward with brief thoughts and grades on everything I’ve seen so far. Mind you, I did miss some of these even, as not only do they do a whole block of them on weekends as in four in a row – I had a medical time-out for most of the week. Luckily, many of the films are luckily on Netflix, Prime or Hulu – and as voters are also provided with links to watch all of nominated films. But truthfully, watching films on a laptop just seriously isn’t how they are meant to be viewed now is it. So with that in mind – here we go. (following in the format of the Film Independent Screening Awards schedule)

Day One:
“SORRY TO BOTHER YOU” Dir: Boots Riley

I was really loving the first part of this film as it was satire sharp, imaginative and funny. But not only does it run too long, but that bizarro left turn it takes in the last third of the movie will surely leave most as bewildered as I was.
Grade: C-

Day Two:
“SHIRKERS” Dir: Sandi Tan

This was a great little women-driven documentary that takes on a journey of a lost film, a strange relationship that made that happen, and all the friends along the way. But maybe it’s the oddness of all of it put together that works so well.
Grade: B

“LEAVE NO TRACE” by Debra Granik

If you asked me if I thought I would enjoy a film about a man (Ben Foster) and his 13-yr. old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) who have been living off the grid in an urban park of all places, and what happens when they make a single mistake and get caught, well I would’ve have probably laughed a bit and given you a ‘NO’ in response. As it was, I loved this film. It was taunt with drama, and the age old question of what is right or perceived as so, and what is wrong, again, perceived as so.
Grade: A

“HEREDITARY” by Ari Astor

While the film wasn’t scary per se for me, nor a particularly good horror film by any stretch, it did stitch itself together enough to follow along and be entertaining mostly because Toni Collette took it there. I had forgotten about Gabriel Byrne somewhat over the years, but his supporting role along with Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff topping off with good performances of their own, helped bring this film up a notch to be sure.
Grade: C

“ROMA” Dir: Alfonso Cuarón

A completely different take on the trials and tribulations in the life of a maid in to a rather dis-functional wealthy family in 1970’s Mexico City. While Yalitza Aparicio is a breath of fresh air to be sure, along with Marina de Tavira and well, truly the whole cast, I do think it’s a bit over-hyped in the ‘how good it is’ department. Mind you it IS good and I will leave it at that.
Grade: B

Day Three:

“PRIVATE LIFE” Dir: Tamara Jenkins

Both Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti give a completely believable ordeal of what one couple goes through to have a child – including numerous fertility ordeals, tests, fake surrogates, family surrogates, money and most of all their own lives and relationships, in a series of choices that can only make one cringe at times as to what some will choose to endure.
Grade: C-

“THE FAVOURITE” Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

Let me just shout about how much and how long I’ve loved Olivia Colman. I always felt she was under-utilized so much or not given enough credit for her work. Here, she finally gets her lead role that will no doubt finally change all that and bring her an award. Alongside Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as her supporting, they do a commendable job of making this odd story come to life. While I didn’t love the film overall, the performances were so strong. Even Nicholas Hoult dons the old British wig and make-up to do a fun spin here as the strangest of cads. All said and done, just give Olivia her due already and be done with it.
Grade: C+

Day Four

“MADELINE’S MADELINE” Dir: Josephine Decker

I tried very hard to find a redeeming quality of this film and I just really didn’t find one. It was all over the place with nonsensical scenes cutting back and forth to add up nothing of what makes a film flow from scene to scene. It completely lacked any sense as you didn’t know if Molly Parker’s character was wanting Madeline (Helena Howard) to be crazy or making her crazy. All in all, it just lacked any and all of the Drama/Mystery/Thriller it is categorized as.
Grade: D-

“MINDING THE GAP” Dir: Bing Liu

As we know not all documentaries are going to be a pleasant, happy experience. This one however, made me feel as though I was watching a long drawn out episode of Teen Mom. And while I’ve never actually watched that show, I’m going to guess if you add in their boyfriends and skateboards, you’ve got it down pat. Enough said.
Grade: D-

“FIRST REFORMED” Dir: Paul Schrader

Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried both give good performances here and once again, without that this would be a truly hard film to sit through in it’s entirety. I just wish the movie didn’t drag so much for so long in many different parts. It’s seems as it’s trying to be a social commentary on despair, climate change, torment and tragedy all wrapped up in a bow that you see the ending coming right at you by the 30th minute leaving nothing to chance.
Grade: C

Day Five:

“If Beale Street Could Talk” Dir: Barry Jenkins

While I wasn’t Moonlight’s biggest fan, I did find Beale Street to be a far better film to be sure. I still didn’t love it as it left a lot of questions unanswered for me that I wanted to know and made it feel incomplete to me. While Kiki Lane and Stephan James are the leads, for me it was all about Regina King and Michael Beach (who is all of a sudden in so many projects and I love this fact) who really brought home the acting. And while so much of this hit hard, there was just still too much I wanted to know more about.
Grade: C+

And that’s all I’ve seen at this point – but I’ve still this weeks schedule and to make up some of last week’s also. So please come back as I will hopefully be posting more often again.

@pegsatthemovies

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GOLDEN GLOBES: TV PICKS

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Once again you can just cue into me singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the yyeeeaarrr…”
In case you haven’t guessed already.. it’s Awards season otherwise known as ‘My Happy Time’ ~ and the first big event is the Golden Globes this Sunday. It’s where the best of both the Film & TV worlds collide in one night. With so many categories, I’m breaking it up into two separate posts and of course, who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because they don’t always necessarily coincide with each other!!

TELEVISION

Best TV Series, Drama

The Crown
What a show this was. I couldn’t stop watching. The acting, the story – both all engrossing

Game of Thrones
This show took itself to a whole new level this year, and I loved every second of it even if Jon Snow coming back from the dead made me giggle for a sec.

Stranger ThingsMY PICK
Fantastic storyline of something so far-fetched, yet so made you think! I loved it. The fact the acting by kids was so strong here really made it all the better.

This Is Us
Is this show cute..yes..maybe a little to cutsey & sappy for me, but I will say it’s quite well written.

WestworldWINNER
There were times when I completely understood this show and others where I literally had no idea what the bejesus was going on. But you couldn’t help yourself to keep watching with the nagging feeling of “what if?” I think this one might steal the award just because of that.

Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical

AtlantaWINNER
While I haven’t watched all the episodes of this show yet, the ones I have seen I just love. I can’t stop laughing.

Blackish
I loved this show at the beginning, now I will say I just don’t watch it all that much anymore..Sorta went the Modern Family route for me.

Mozart in the JungleMY PICK
I LOVE this show. It’s so completely different and well done about a subject I really didn’t know much about, yet made me interested in and yes, laugh.

Transparent
See Transparent has never done ‘it’ for me. I know there are those that just love it. I was done after season 1, I just really didn’t like too many of the characters enough to go to the next season.

Veep
Kinda the same as above for this one. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus humour, but this one never grabbed me enough to keep watching.

Best TV Miniseries or Movie

American Crime
This season of American Crime was mind-boggling. The best written and acted so far. I couldn’t get enough of each cliff-hanging episode.

The Dresser
While this featured a great cast I would have loved to see, I don’t have Starz channel as I cancelled cable, so was never able to see it.

The Night Manager
I still am not getting the appeal of this one. It wasn’t done plausably or even well. Sometimes I was just in awe of how ridiculous it really got.

The Night OfMY PICK
Another mind-blowing HBO min-series that just took what could have been just another murder storyline and gave it more twists than you could keep your jaw from dropping instead. Acting was top-notch to boot.

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime StoryWINNER
I mean what can you say about this fantastic mini-series that hasn’t already been said. So many things you’d either forgotten or never knew about, told & acted by a unbelievable parade of good writing and acting. Blew me away.
By far my hardest category to decide on.

Best Actor, Drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Just love Rami and this show. Rami helped keep it fresh for it’s second season.

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
While I loved this character on ‘Breaking Bad’, I couldn’t even get through the whole first season and to those that love it, kudos.

Matthew Rhys, The Americans
While the show has always been a hit or miss for me, as in I could skip a few eps., come back and still know exactly what was going on, I feel the same about it’s lead, Matthew Rhys.

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Love Liev and the first 2 seasons his character was so something different. Now it’s just rambling as is the acting somewhat.

Billy Bob Thornton, GoliathMY PICK/WINNER
Never have been Billy Bob’s biggest fan, but damn this role was cater-made for him. He is excellent as was the show.

Best Actress, Drama

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
I’ve only ever been able to watch 2 eps. of this show considering it’s on a very pricey pay channel here, so I can’t really give a fair assessment of her acting.

Claire Foy, The CrownSLEEPER WIN
Oh Claire.. you are fantastic in this show. Simply sublime as the Queen herself might say. It’s so well written, cinematically beautiful and well acted. And you know us American’s love a good upper-class British show. Don’t anyone be surprised if she walks off with this award.

Keri Russell, The Americans
I mean who doesn’t like Keri Russell really now.. and I do, but she won’t be my pick or the HFP’s pick I’m guessing either.

Winona Ryder, Stranger ThingsMY PICK
Winona, Winona, Winona – I feel sometimes as if we’ve grown up together. And is essence we have and you are soooo good in this show. I’m so glad you’re back.

Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld WINNER
Same as the show, good acting here because sometimes you just wondered what in bejesus is she?! or WHO is she should be more the question 🙂

Best Actor, Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Blackish
I’ve adored Anthony Anderson for as long as I can remember. He started off doing drama, and segwayed into comedy as easily as could be. Not my pick, but I am so glad he is nominated as it’s nice to finally have some fresh faces in this whole category.

Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
I love this show and I love Gael in it. But can he pull off another surprise win here?? I would love it but I doubt it.

Donald Glover, AtlantaMY PICK/WINNER
Another first time, fresh nominee that I love. I’m going with a first timer here on this one because of the sarcastic brilliance of this show and his character in it.

Nick Nolte, Graves
I’m going to be honest – I’ve never even heard of this show. Sorry Nick!

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
As Jeffrey has won so many times for playing this character, I’d just love to see someone new win it again.

Best Actress, Comedy

Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom surprised us all with her win last year. Is there a repeat in tow?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
I kinda feel like Julia is the Meryl of TV comedy. 🙂

Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
While this show isn’t bad nor is SJP in it, I don’t think it’s going to grab a win.

Issa Rae, Insecure
I’ve not watched this one so truly can’t give it a nay or yay..

Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
While I think Gina Rodriguez is just adorable and I loved this show the first season, it waned very quickly on me during the second. Not saying she’s not still good in it, just haven’t watched in awhile.

Tracee Ellis Ross, BlackishMY PICK/WINNER
Tracee would be my pick. While I might not be watching the show all the time anymore, she should have been nominated and won like 2 seasons ago already!

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown, The People vs. O.J. Simpson
This mini-series was just filled with fantastic acting and Sterling is part of that.

Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
While I really thought TNM was a poorly done series, there were two standouts in it that made it somewhat bearable, and one of them was Hugh Laurie.

John Lithgow, The CrownWINNER
It’s rare that they get an American to play a Brit nowadays, but Lithgow as Winston Churchill is a brilliant piece of casting.

Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
I won’t lie. I kinda shook my head in disbelief when Slater walked away with this last year. I mean he’s good, but he’s not that good.

John Travolta, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonMY PICK
So yeah, I know people think it’s strange, but I’ve adored John Travolta since I was a child. yes, I admit and he’s done some really awful movies, but here, you can’t deny he was truly amazing.

Best Supporting Actress

Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Remember I said there was two things that saved the Night Manager – Olivia Colman is part two of that.

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
She’s always pretty damn amazing in this show. You can’t help but love to hate her character, but yet she still tugs at your heartstrings as she is just so flawed. Remember your show is only as good as your best evil person and she is truly fantastic at it time and time again.

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Again, I find the show just a little to sappy, but I admire and respect the writing and the characters are all well done. It’s a tough call which person from the show to say I like more..Chrissy or Mandy.

Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Again, between the two nominated here from this, I might actually pick Mandy because her transition to this character is pretty damn good.

Thandie Newton, WestworldMY PICK/WINNER
Thandie’s character here was the one I was never confused by. She was simply put ‘badass’

Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie

Riz Ahmed, The Night OfMY PICK
This show also gave us some fantastic performances with the two nominees in this category just making this show a spectacular watch.

Bryan Cranston, All the Way
I didn’t watch this one.

Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Really.. on this one. For those who me, I love and ADORE Tom Hiddleston – but there in points in time where I just rolled my eyes at some of not only the show, but his acting here. Sorry Tom.

John Turturro, The Night Of
Turturro knocked it out the park on this one. There just isn’t much else to say, you can’t be mad if he wins this one.

Courtney B. Vance, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonWINNER
Again, this show was just so good! Even though you knew what was going to happen, it held you and kept you coming back. Courtney Vance was one of the main reasons why.

Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie

Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Always a strong actress, this seasons AC was so good and she went for it in this role.

Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Only the 3rd show on an expensive pay-per-view that I never have had or probably will.

Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonMY PICK/WINNER
Again, mind-bending performance from this series. Sarah for me in the shoo-in to win this one.

Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
I watched this show so long ago, I forgot I’d even seen it. But I swear it was 2015 when I did see it so I’m not really quite sure why it’s under 2016 noms. Rampling always gets roles she excels at. This was no different.

Kerry Washington, Confirmation
I remember the story so we already knew what happened, but unlike the O.J. story, I didn’t get the feeling of still wanting to watch. Washington was good, but I don’t see her winning this one.