Tag Archives: Forrest Hartman

‘Most Wanted’ reinforces the power of the press

Photo courtesy of Saban Films

Josh Hartnett (right) and Antoine Olivier Pilon star in “Most Wanted.”

AT A GLANCE

Most Wanted

Written and directed by: Daniel Roby

Starring: Josh Harnett, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Jim Gaffigan, Amanda Crew and Stephen McHattie

Rated: R

Available: In select theaters and on demand July 24

Critical rating: 3 stars out of 4

By Forrest Hartman

As a film critic and journalism professor, I have a particular interest in movies focused on media. These pictures undoubtedly play a role in shaping public perception of my profession, and reporters have been cast – historically speaking – as everything from cartoon villains to tireless champions of democracy and justice. In “Most Wanted,” the latest journalism movie making the rounds, Josh Hartnett plays the latter. 

Hartnett plays real-life Canadian journalist Victor Malarek, whose career includes a number of film-worthy moments, but the focus here is on a late-1980s investigation alleging an entrapment scheme by government agents. According to the movie – and allegations by Malarek and Alain Olivier – Canadian law enforcement officials coerced Olivier into running a drug operation in Thailand that led to the death of a Mountie and a 100-year prison sentence. Olivier has since been released, but only after spending eight years in a Thai jail. 

Although “inspired by real events” the story is fictionalized, and Malarek’s real name is the only one retained for the film. The broad strokes of the story follow Olivier’s and Malarek’s account of events, but the timeline has been significantly compressed. It is also important to note that Olivier – an admitted junkie at the time of the story – lost a civil lawsuit seeking $47 million as restitution for the time he spent imprisoned.  

One needn’t be familiar with the true story to enjoy the film. In fact, it is best viewed as a loose representation of reality that can serve as a springboard for further investigation. From that standpoint, “Most Wanted” is solid. It will not be remembered as one of the finest media movies ever (a category reserved for classics, including “Spotlight” and “All the President’s Men”), but it is a worthy reminder of the importance of quality investigative journalism.   

The story starts by introducing Daniel Léger (standing in for the real-life Olivier), a struggling drug addict doing his best to stay afloat financially while nursing inner demons. As portrayed by Canadian actor Antoine Olivier Pilon, Daniel is a mess. His short-lived attempts to do the right thing always descend into drug-fueled benders, making him an easy mark for Picker (Jim Gaffigan), a police informant who trades information for cash. 

The film features a fractured timeline, slowly revealing the details leading to Daniel’s arrest as Malarek (who comes to the case long after) attempts to make sense of how the young man wound up imprisoned overseas. As a seasoned reporter, Malarek quickly ascertains that Daniel is not the hardcore international drug dealer that Canadian law enforcement asserts … so he convinces his editor to send him to Thailand. The more Malerek investigates, the more resistance he faces from authorities, but that only fuels him to push harder, convinced they are hiding an important truth.   

Hartnett, a one-time A-lister poised to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, has flown under the radar for years, by most accounts having chosen this path. Regardless of why we haven’t seen much of Hartnett prior to 2020, he’s a talent, and he does Malerek proud. Sporting a hip ’80s haircut and thick mustache, he feels right for the period. Those working in journalism today will laugh when he demands an exorbitant travel budget and copious time to write a two-piece feature about Daniel’s case. But … we must remember that this is the ’80s. There was indeed a time when newspapers were raking in profits, and the right player could talk a well-funded publication into investing in a scoop. Even then, the practice was not widespread, but “Most Wanted” nicely demonstrates how much has changed in journalism over the past three to four decades. Sadly, many of those changes have been for the worse. 

Hartnett paints Malarek as a hard charger who will stop at nothing to get his story, and viewers watch that story unfold as each new detail emerges. The non-linear structure is complicated, but easy enough to follow thanks to writer-director Daniel Roby’s straightforward style. Roby presents the action simply, letting his actors drive the emotion and his camera go where it needs in order to keep us tuned in. He doesn’t go overboard with artistic flourishes nor does he get overly sentimental or preachy with the plotting. Rather, he presents a mystery with Malarek relentlessly searching for the truth. 

There are times when “Most Wanted” drags. Journalism can, after all, be tedious. Mostly, however, Roby sticks to the good stuff. Malarek takes physical and financial risks, and even sacrifices his home life in pursuit of the story. This is cliché material, to be frank, but it is also entertaining, and Hartnett, Pilon and the supporting cast are charming enough to keep our attention.

At a time when many newspapers are closing or transitioning to the Internet and “fake news” is a rallying cry for pundits, it’s nice to see a film assert that the free press plays a crucial role in society. “Most Wanted” not only does this, it demonstrates how one good piece of journalism can change lives for the better.  

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Tom Hanks offers gripping return to WWII with ‘Greyhound’

AT A GLANCE

Greyhound

Directed by: Aaron Schneider

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham, Michael Benz, Rob Morgan

Rated: PG-13

Available: July 10 on Apple TV+

Critical rating: 3 stars out of 4

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

By Forrest Hartman

Tom Hanks is giving movie fans another compelling, World War II history lesson and – intentionally or not – proving that Apple TV+ is a bargain. 

“Greyhound,” Hanks’ new WWII drama, was originally intended for theatrical release, but Apple purchased the film, and subscribers to the company’s premium streaming service have access beginning July 10. Considering that the service costs only $4.99 a month and that subscribers get not only “Greyhound” but a host of other content, it’s tough to find a downside. For the $40 or so a family would have dropped to see “Greyhound” in theaters, everyone can watch and gain access to eight months of additional content. Quick aside – check out “The Morning Show,” “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” and “Dickinson” before you cancel. 

Hanks – who wrote the “Greyhound” screenplay with inspiration from the C.S. Forester novel “The Good Shepherd” – has lamented the small screen-only approach in at least one interview, and his concerns have merit. “Greyhound” is the type of production-heavy spectacle that truly benefits from larger-than-life presentation. Because the movie centers on naval warfare, the crashing of waves and thump of depth charges would play better in a theater. That said, watching at home is still a pleasant experience and – again – it’s hard to beat the price. 

The movie is a simple-but-well-crafted affair that runs only 91 minutes, most of that time spent establishing the unpredictable and frightening nature of high seas combat. Hanks plays Ernest Krause, a first-time destroyer captain charged with protecting a merchant ship convoy during a dangerous Atlantic crossing. Set during the Battle of the Atlantic, the movie pits Krause against a group stealthy U-boats determined to destroy as much of the convoy as possible. 

Although the movie has a substantial cast, the emotional focus is on Krause and his personal struggles. As a first-time captain, he rarely rests and frequently second guesses his own decisions, but he does so quietly, maintaining a confident and grim demeanor for his crew. Additional players, including Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham, Michael Benz and Rob Morgan are included entirely as background, demonstrating the type of leader Krause is and showing that combat decisions take a personal toll no matter the outcome. 

There are movies that do a far better job examining the moral quandaries of combat. There are also films that span a greater time period, putting World War II into sharper focus. In fairness, neither Hanks nor director Aaron Schneider (“Get Low”) attempt these loftier goals. They seem entirely satisfied telling the story of a single man … while also doing a fine job allowing the audience to experience naval warfare. That is a reasonable goal for a movie, and they succeed. 

Just as “Saving Private Ryan” allowed moviegoers to storm the beach at Normandy and “Memphis Belle” put them aboard a B-17, “Greyhound” gives a close up look at life aboard a WWII destroyer. During the course of the film, viewers witness everything from near collisions to a showdown with a surfaced U-boat. The production design is outstanding, and the combat sequences are harrowing, as they should be. “Greyhound” may be a modest movie, but it is effective. Although it is fiction, viewers comes out of the picture with a better understanding of the dangers that seamen faced during the height of World War II, so Schneider and Hanks receive high marks for execution. 

“Greyhound” is easily worth a one-month subscription to Apple TV+ … even if one watches no additional content. This is especially true when one considers that many other movies that were originally planned for theaters are charging  on-demand fees as high as $19.99. 

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‘Mighty Oak’ collapses under its own weight

AT A GLANCE

Mighty Oak

Directed by: Sean McNamara

Starring: Janel Parrish, Carlos PenaVega, Tommy Ragen, Alexa PenaVega, Levi Dylan, Raven-Symoné

Rated: PG-13 for thematic content involving substance abuse, language, some accident images and brief suggestive language

Available July 7 on: Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Sony PlayStation Video, Fandango NOW and more

Critical rating: 1½ stars out of 4

By Forrest Hartman

There’s nothing like a good music movie. The truly great ones – think “A Star Is Born,” “La La Land,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Almost Famous” and “Whiplash” – reinforce the importance of art. They can be inspiring, tragic, even funny; and they are always moving. But when a music movie stumbles, the result is often a forced, schlocky experience. 

With “Mighty Oak,” director Sean McNamara (“Soul Surfer”) and writer Matt Allen (“Four Christmases,” “Soul Surfer”) attempt a spiritual journey aimed at demonstrating the healing power of music. They instead deliver a melodramatic hodgepodge that’s light on authenticity and heavy on melodrama. 

The movie centers on Gina (Janel Parrish), the beautiful young manager of an up-and-coming rock band named Army of Love. The group is driven by the vocals and songwriting prowess of Gina’s brother, Vaughn (Levi Dylan). The remaining members — guitarist Pedro (Carlos PenaVega), drummer Alex (Nana Ghana) and bassist DB (Rodney Hicks) — are also extremely close. In fact, Gina has an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with Pedro. Just when it seems that the band is about to explode, the entire crew is involved in a devastating auto accident that leaves Vaughn dead and Gina unable to move on. 

Gina emerges from her depression, however, when she meets Oak Scoggins (Tommy Ragen), a 4th grade prodigy who expresses a willingness to reunite Army of Love. The youngster reminds her so much of Vaughn that she can’t say, “No.” 

The setup is sweet, but it feels as forced as it sounds … especially when Gina and company begin to view Oak as a new version of Vaughn. Ragen is a real-life musician, and he is extremely talented for an 11-year-old. That said, he is 11, and his age is obvious each time he sings. That makes every sequence with him leading the band play like a novelty act on “America’s Got Talent.” It’s hard to believe Gina – or anyone else – would see Oak as a legitimate savior of the group. Since the entire movie is built on the premise that he is an apt replacement for Vaughn, it’s problematic. 

To their credit, Allen and McNamara have bigger ideas on their minds. They are clearly hoping viewers will ponder worthwhile topics ranging from mortality to mental illness. They also want us thinking about the connections that define human beings. These are worthwhile ideas, but they are presented so awkwardly that it’s tough to buy in, as many viewers will be busy analyzing the maudlin plot contrivances instead. 

Ragen, Parrish, PenaVega and the rest of the cast are charming enough, but some elements of the story are underdeveloped while others batter the audience like a sledgehammer. One doesn’t watch “Mighty Oak” so much as he/she is manipulated by it. Some filmmakers – Steven Spielberg chief amongst them – can get away with this type of manipulation. But Spielberg is nuanced. With “Mighty Oak,” one can feel McNamara and Allen tugging at the heartstrings, and it’s more uncomfortable than effective. 

Since Ragen is a charismatic presence and a talented musician, it feels curmudgeonly to critique his coming-out party. But the cruel fact is, “Mighty Oak” isn’t the best stage for his gifts. It’s easy to imagine him maturing into a formidable artist. When that happens, this film may be remembered as his big break, but it will not be remembered as his seminal work … nor that of anyone else involved.       

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‘Hamilton’ brings revolutionary theater to the small screen

AT A GLANCE

Hamilton

Directed by: Thomas Kail

Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson

Rated: PG-13

Available on: Disney Plus beginning July 3

Critical rating: 4 stars out of 4

Photo Courtesy of Disney Plus

Leslie Odom Jr., left, is Aaron Burr and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Alexander Hamilton in the musical “Hamilton,” streaming on Disney Plus.

By Forrest Hartman

Reviewing “Hamilton” now is like deconstructing the Super Bowl the day after America watched. Everyone already knows what happened, so your job is to bring context … or at least avoid looking stupid. Here goes. 

“Hamilton,” with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been a smash since opening off Broadway in February 2015, and many who fancy the theater have already seen either a Broadway or touring production. Beyond that, casual fans are aware of the wildly popular “Hamilton Mixtape.” 

So, why talk “Hamilton” now? Because a filmed adaptation of the 2016 Broadway show is debuting on Disney Plus July 3, bringing “Hamilton” into even more lives and putting Miranda one step closer to world domination. The exquisitely shot production is about as close as one can come to a quality Broadway experience during the Covid-19 pandemic and … although not as thrilling as a live performance … it’s really, really good. 

First, the obvious. “Hamilton” is a great piece of musical theater. The music, heavily infused with hip hop, R&B and other pop elements is lively, unique and beautifully rendered. Add a smart book about a largely ignored American founding father and you have the foundation for a genre-changing work. 

“Hamilton” isn’t a flash in the pan. People will likely be talking about this musical in theater circles for decades … not just because it’s good, but because it’s smart enough to appeal to the traditional Broadway crowd and cross over to pop music audiences who might otherwise shy from the theater. This Disney Plus run will only cement that, exposing oodles of youngsters and their families to both the show and live theater. 

But is “Hamilton” the movie actually theater? I think it is. This filmed version captures the Broadway cast at work in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in June 2016. It is not a single, front-to-back take. Rather, filmmakers shot a number of live performances (including one with no audience) over the course of several days. This … and six cameras shooting from varied viewpoints … allowed director/producer Thomas Kail and his editors to replicate the live experience while allowing viewers to hang on facial expressions and appreciate dance numbers in a manner that would be impossible in the theater itself. 

It’s a treat in large part because this is a great cast. Miranda stars as Hamilton, rapping, dancing and acting his way through one number after another, dropping a ridiculous amount of verbiage in the process. Because so much of the “Hamilton” soundtrack involves rap and hip-hop, the score is always moving, and the cast members aren’t just singing. They are spitting important exposition at a furious pace. Had Miranda simply created the show, he would have earned a place in theater history. The fact that he is so compelling in the title role is a bonus. His Hamilton is alternately ambitious, melancholy, rambunctious and wise, and it all seems a fitting tribute to a man who helped build a fledgling nation. 

Miranda is bolstered by memorable supporting turns from a host of great talents. Daveed Diggs plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. Phillipa Soo is Eliza Hamilton. Renée Elise Goldsberry is Angelica Schuyler. Christopher Jackson portrays George Washington. Leslie Odom, Jr. plays Aaron Burr. All are tremendous. 

“Hamilton” uses what some might call color blind casting, but it goes beyond color blind. The show is intentionally diverse, meaning white historical figures are often portrayed by minority actors as a point of course. This is particularly poignant in the wake of the George Floyd protests. One might be able to overlook the fact that a black man is playing Thomas Jefferson, were it not for that fact that Jefferson ran a plantation and owned slaves. That juxtaposition is jolting, and it is meant to be. It is also a powerful statement, asking viewers to think about the founding of America differently than they might have previously.  

For those who have somehow missed the “Hamilton” hype, the story itself focuses on U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, who played an outsized role in the American revolution and economic policy in early America. As noted in the show, he is oft overlooked by pop culture, but Miranda and company have set the record straight. Today, you are far more likely to hear a teenager humming the Hamilton anthem “My Shot” than an ode to Ben Franklin, and we can thank Miranda for that. 

This is not a simple history tale, however. Hamilton’s story is recited using music that many would find more at home on a hip-hop station than a Broadway stage. The soundtrack is a hybrid really. It’s part rap, part pop, part melodramatic theater ballads, and it blends into a wonderful, inspired mix. 

One should not, of course, take the history lesson too seriously. Although the broad strokes are right, Hamilton – arguably – is too sympathetic. He wasn’t a perfect man, and a number of his transgressions (although addressed) are glossed over. Also, Aaron Burr is the unquestioned villain of the story, which is equally oversimplified. That said, “Hamilton” could very well convince viewers (particularly the young) to read more about American history, leading them to a more nuanced view of the men who shaped America’s past. But, to dwell on that idea is to risk a reputation for stodginess. Whether or not “Hamilton” inspires scholarship, it is a thrilling and inspiring piece of art … and the movie version is an exceedingly nice stand in for the live production. 

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‘7500’ is a thriller that feels perfect at home

AT A GLANCE

7500

Directed by: Patrick Vollrath

Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Carlo Kitzlinger, Aylin Tezel

Rated: R

Available on: Amazon Prime Video beginning June 18

Critical rating: 4 stars out of 4

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the thriller “7500,” available June 18 on Amazon Prime Video.

By Forrest Hartman

German writer-director Patrick Vollrath has created one of the most claustrophobic, intense, well-acted movies of 2020, and these qualities are advantageous in a streaming media environment. Since the Covid-19 pandemic has largely put big-screen features on hold, we’ve had time to reflect on the difference between watching at home versus in a theater. The shared big-screen experience has joys that will never be recreated in one’s family room, but there are certain pictures that actually play better at home. I believe “7500” is one of them. 

The terrorist thriller is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, included with the popular Amazon Prime delivery service, and the reason it feels so good in a home setting is that Vollrath and co-writer Senad Halibasic have gone out of the way to make it the antithesis of blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Much of the appeal in the latter movies is spectacle. The scope of those pictures is massive, as they transport viewers to different worlds, balancing dialog and exposition against action sequences that are literally packed with mind-blowing special effects. “7500” is smaller in every way, and that’s a good thing. 

The movie starts at a leisurely pace, with Vollrath introducing us to our protagonist, Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one of two commercial pilots in charge of a flight from Berlin to Paris. Viewers enter the cockpit, where Tobias gets to know the flight’s captain, Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), and works through routine pre-flight tasks. There’s not much space in the plane, and cinematographer Sebastian Thaler keeps the framing simple. This works well in a home viewing environment. If you watch with the lights dim, you might even feel as though you are sitting beside Tobias and Michael, helping them prepare for the trip. Unlike the spectacle that makes “Avengers” films special, “7500” is intimate, and intimacy works in our houses.  

Vollrath does some of his finest character development before the plane leaves the ground. Before takeoff, we know that Tobias is in a serious relationship with one of the flight attendants. They aren’t married, but they live together and have a child. They also strive to keep their professional and private lives separate. Michael is established as a serious-but-amiable captain, and we learn that – despite Tobias’ youth – he has been flying for a decade. Each of these seemingly mundane details matters, and Vollrath refuses to rush through them with shortcuts. That patience pays dividends later. 

Although “7500” begins at a trot, it hits full gallop about 20 minutes in, when one of several terrorists forces his way into the cockpit. This starts a chain of events leading Tobias to a series of near-impossible choices, all elevating the tension for the remainder of the picture’s 90 minutes. Throughout, Vollrath and Thaler remain focused on Tobias because this is his story. 

Gordon-Levitt is a talent, who has turned in impressive work in projects ranging from the Christopher Nolan thriller “Inception” to the cancer drama “50/50.” Here, he is typically self-assured. Tobias is mild-mannered and kind, but also smart and disciplined. He doesn’t always make the right choices, and it’s enjoyable for viewers to imagine what they would do in his place. But … what is the right choice in an impossible situation? The movie is intriguing because it shows a good man doing his best to find hope in a terrible place. Saying that Gordon-Levitt’s performance is among the best of the year so far, is minimizing his efforts since the cinematic year is so off-kilter. But this is great work.  The supporting cast is also solid, but this is Gordon-Levitt’s film, as every twist centers on Tobias’ decisions.  

Vollrath makes the most of the confined setting … something that could hurt a weaker filmmaker. In some respects, “7500” must have been easy to produce. A single location, small cast and minimal set dressing all speed the shooting process, but these things come with restraints. When all the action is set in an airplane cockpit, there are no astonishing backdrops or special effects to use as a crutch. The weight of the storytelling is relegated to the script and its handful of actors … each forced to make up for the fact that the scenery is unchanged for 90 minutes. Again, this plays into the strengths of at-home viewing. 

As long as one watches distraction-free, it is easy to get sucked into Tobias’ world. It is easy to feel his pain, his anguish, and his uncertainty. And “feeling” is what great directors make us do.          

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‘Escape Room’: Snapshot Review

ESCAPE ROOM                                              

2½ STARS OUT OF 4               1 hours 39 minutes

PLOT:A group of strangers meet for an escape room adventure, only to find that the stakes are life and death.

SCOOP:Like most modern horror films, the plotting is silly and predictable. Characters are slowly picked off, and their psyches unravel as they come to grips with the situation. Director Adam Robitel does a nice job with the pacing, making the movie a pleasant – if entirely derivative – distraction. This isn’t an inventive picture, nor is it one that you need to see, but there are certainly worse ways to pass a Friday night.

STARRING:

Taylor Russell – Zoey Davis

Logan Miller – Ben Miller

Jay Ellis – Jason Walker

Tyler Labine – Mike Nolan

Deborah Ann Woll – Amanda Harper

Nik Dodani – Danny Khan

DIRECTOR: Adam Robitel (“Insidious: The Last Key”)

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‘Glass’: Snapshot Review

3  STARS OUT OF 4                 2 hours 9 minutes

PLOT:“Unbreakable” hero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has adapted to life as a vigilante superhero, but he faces his greatest challenge in the form of a killer with multiple personalities (James McAvoy). Ultimately, hero and villain come face to face with another key character from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero universe: Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson).

SCOOP:For fans of “Unbreakable” and “Split” – the predecessors to this movie – “Glass” is a must-see. Although not as well-crafted as either of the earlier pictures, it completes the arc of the main characters. “Glass” also has a decent Shyamalan twist and offers a fascinating take on superhero lore. Just as those who loved the first two films will want to see “Glass,” those who didn’t like them can safely stay away.

STARRING:

Bruce Willis – David Dunn

James McAvoy – Multiple Personalities

Samuel L. Jackson – Elijah Price/Mr. Glass

Sarah Paulson – Ellie Staple

Anya Taylor-Joy – Casey Cooke

Spencer Treat Clark – Joseph Dunn

DIRECTOR:M. Knight Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs,” “After Earth”)

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Critics’ Choice Award Winners

abstract analog art camera

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

The 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards were doled out Sunday in Santa Monica. The awards are voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Forrest is a voting member) and Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Following is a complete list of winners.

FILM AWARDS

BEST PICTURE

“Roma” (Netflix)

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale – “Vice” (Annapurna)

BEST ACTRESS – TIE

Glenn Close – “The Wife” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Lady Gaga – “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali – “Green Book” (Universal)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Regina King – “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna)

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Elsie Fisher – “Eighth Grade” (A24)

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

“The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight)

BEST DIRECTOR

Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma” (Netflix)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Paul Schrader – “First Reformed” (A24)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Barry Jenkins – “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma” (Netflix)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart – “Black Panther” (Disney)

BEST EDITING

Tom Cross – “First Man” (Universal)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Ruth Carter – “Black Panther” (Disney)

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

“Vice” (Annapurna)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Black Panther” (Disney)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (Sony)

BEST ACTION MOVIE

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (Paramount)

BEST COMEDY

“Crazy Rich Asians” (Warner Bros.)

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Christian Bale – “Vice” (Annapurna)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Olivia Colman – “The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight)

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

“A Quiet Place” (Paramount)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“Roma” (Netflix)

BEST SONG

Shallow – “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros.)

BEST SCORE

Justin Hurwitz – “First Man” (Universal)

 

TELEVISION AWARDS

BEST DRAMA SERIES

“The Americans” (FX Networks)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Matthew Rhys – “The Americans” (FX Networks)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Sandra Oh – “Killing Eve” (BBC America)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Noah Emmerich – “The Americans” (FX Networks)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Thandie Newton – “Westworld” (HBO)

BEST COMEDY SERIES

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Rachel Brosnahan – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Henry Winkler – “Barry” (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Alex Borstein – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

BEST LIMITED SERIES

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX Networks)

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)

BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Darren Criss – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX Networks)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION – TIE

Amy Adams – “Sharp Objects” (HBO)

Patricia Arquette – “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Ben Whishaw – “A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Patricia Clarkson – “Sharp Objects” (HBO)

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

“BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)

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‘The Predator’: Snapshot Review

THE PREDATOR

(2 stars out of 4)                     1 hour, 47 minutes

PLOT: A sniper, his autistic son, a scientist and a ragtag group of ex-military friends face off against an angry, king-sized predator. The latter has come to Earth to hunt another of his species.

SCOOP: The film – the 4thor 6th in the franchise depending on if you count the “Alien Vs. Predator” flicks — has a retro vibe but doesn’t feel dated. It also has more humor than past entries, giving it some entertainment value. That said, the picture seriously overstays its welcome. Although only 107 minutes, it feels longer thanks to standard action-movie tropes and a plot that isn’t inventive or special. Director Shane Black (“The Nice Guys,” “Iron Man 3,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) has a nice style, but he doesn’t overcome the fact that this movie is basically a standard-order guilty pleasure.

STARRING: Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane

DIRECTOR: Shane Black (“The Nice Guys,” “Iron Man 3,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”)

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Snapshot Review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS 

the-fate-of-the-furious-FF8_Tsr1Sht_DwayneVin_RGB_7SM_rgb

Photo courtesy of EPK.TV

Critical Rating: 2 stars (out of four)

Rated: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content and language

Directed by: F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton,” “The Italian Job”)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russel, Luke Evans

Story snapshot: Dominic “Dom” Torretto (Vin Diesel) finds himself working against his own team. Because Dom is such a fearsome opponent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Tyrese Gibson) and the rest of the crew take on an unlikely partner, their one-time enemy Deckard (Jason Statham).

The scoop: Like all the “Fast & Furious” films, “Fate of the Furious” is big, dumb fun. Plot holes? Yeah, it’s got ’em. Great acting? Not so much. Of course, fans of this franchise don’t queue up for witty dialogue and philosophical ideas. Mostly, they want to see fast cars do impossible things. And … there’s plenty of that. Since it’s in the trailer, it’s no spoiler to note that one sequence features a tank, a nuclear submarine and a Lamborghini. “Fate of the Furious” is not a good movie, but it moves like lightning, and it’s hard not to smile at the goofiness. In other words, see it if you liked the first seven pictures. Avoid it at all costs if you didn’t.

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