20 After 20: 2000

While I plan on continuing this project for years, this pandemic didn’t exactly make this project easier. “Free time” really felt like a myth, so I ran out of time to revisit more of these titles, which might have resulted in a slightly different list, particularly in the 11-20 range. But this mix of old and new favorites once again shows us how good we once had it.

20. Unbreakable (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
After the success of The Sixth Sense, anticipation was sky-high for his next film. Despite a fantastic trailer, the film couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelming. But given two decades, its deconstruction of superhero myths looks much better, especially as film and TV have been swallowed whole by comic book adaptations. Like Shyamalan’s best films, the genre trappings are a Trojan horse for quiet family stories and broken people forging connections .

19. Quills (dir. Philip Kaufman)
There’s really no biopic quite like Quills, which uses the Marquis de Sade’s last year at a French insane asylum as a springboard to explore sexuality, freedom, religion and power. Geoffrey Rush – in an Oscar-nominated turn – dazzles as de Sade, who lives life with no filter, a provocateur to the very end. While it bears little resemblance to real life, it’s an unforgettable film about the very real power of words.

18. Love & Basketball (dir. Gina Prince-Blythewood)
One of the most confident debuts of all time, Gina Prince-Blythewood shoots and scores. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps have chemistry that radiates off the screen, making the film romantic, sexy and compelling. (Harder than it looks.) While the film can’t help but come up against some clichés, it more than makes up for it by accurately depicting the gulf of opportunities for male and female athletes after college.

17. Hamlet (dir. Michael Almereyda)
Michael Almereyda updates Shakespeare’s revenge tale for the world of hostile corporate takeovers, capturing Ethan Hawke at his hipster peak. He delivers the famous “To be or not to be” monologue in a Blockbuster, a wild swing they pull off. Its use of modern (for the end of the 20th Century) technology actually keeps it from being dated. Instead, it gives it a surreal, detached quality that absolutely works in the film’s favor.

16. Wonder Boys (dir. Curtis Hanson)
Out of his long and storied career, this is my favorite Michael Douglas performance. Grady Tripp’s life and novel are a bigger mess than he’d care to admit, yet he’s constantly putting himself out there for other people. He walks through life with a smile and a joint. The film’s supporting cast is phenomenal, including the always reliable Frances McDormand and Rip Torn, plus a trio of actors pre-superhero fame (Katie Holmes, Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr.) The crackling, Oscar-nominated script by Steve Kloves won him the gig adapting the Harry Potter series. But oh, what could have been if he’d taken a crack at other Michael Chabon novels.

15. American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron)
More than a decade ago, I cited Christian Bale as one of the best performances of the century so far. That’s still true, even as he’s given more intense and more nuanced turns in the years since. But American Psycho stands out for more than that. Mary Harron’s satirical, pitch black comedy improves on its source material in every way, with an exploration of the literally cutthroat world of Wall Street bros that hasn’t aged a day.

14. Requiem for a Dream (dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Here’s a movie I absolutely have no plans to revisit. Schools should just show this to kids instead of D.A.R.E. programs. There have been plenty of movies made about drug addiction, but none this visceral and horrifying. Ellen Burstyn should have won the Oscar for her portrayal of Sara Goldfarb, already teetering on the edge of sanity when she becomes addicted to amphetamines. Her son (Jared Leto) is even further down the hole of heroin addiction, dragging his friend (Marlon Wayans) and girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) down into hell with him. It’s stylish but unrelentingly depressing. An experience you’ll never forget.

13. Remember the Titans (dir. Boaz Yakin)
For Millennials, it’s a safe bet that this is in their most rewatched films of all time. Or at least I’m assuming that to be the case, based on how many times teachers who just wanted to pop in a video and do some grading threw this on in middle school and high school. Denzel Washington and Will Patton – a pairing I wish had happened more often – are terrific, the football scenes are rousing, and the soundtrack is nothing but classics. But it’s also a stronger film about race relations than some recent Oscar nominees. (Looking at you, Green Book and Hidden Figures.)

12. Snatch (dir. Guy Ritchie)
This is Guy Ritchie at the peak of his powers: A wild, twisty, devilishly entertaining crawl through the London underworld in search of a diamond. The jewel, of course, doesn’t matter. It’s just a way to bring a bunch of dangerous but thrilling characters together. Chief among them is Brad Pitt’s Mickey, who steals the film in an unhinged turn as a nomadic fighter.

11. Beau Travail (dir. Claire Denis)
I didn’t totally connect with this extremely loose adaptation of Billy Budd when I first saw it a few years ago. But Denis’ images have burned into my brain. Denis Levant is the chain-smoking trainer of a battalion of the French Foreign Legion. In the sweltering Djibouti sun, he becomes obsessed with a new cadet (Grégoire Colin), and vows revenge when the feelings are unreciprocated. Even with minimal dialogue, its themes of desire, anger and desperation are the same in any language.

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What I Watched This Week: 28 Mar 2021

BINGEING
The X-Files – Season 3 (A- average)
The best season yet, with only two outright stinkers that unfortunately come back-to-back. But we get three Darin Morgan-scripted episodes, and they’re all fantastic. Feeling like this show is going to peak soon, but I’m loving the journey.

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Streaming Picks: April 2021

FILMS
Top Picks
Bringing Up Baby – HBO Max 4/1
My Cousin Vinny – Prime 4/1
Rush – Netflix 4/16
Baby’s Day Out – Disney+ 4/23
It seems like we could all use some laughs and some excitement. The first two films are among the greatest comedies of all time. They’re required viewing.

The latter two films are the best offerings among those streamers’ meager offerings. Baby’s Day Out might not hold up entirely, but it does have a Tex-Avery-cartoon-come-to-life quality that I will always appreciate. Rush may be Ron Howard’s best film, with some spectacular racing scenes and career-best turns from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.

Recent Selections
Art of Falling in Love – Prime 4/1
Love in Harmony Valley – Prime 4/1
Smiley Face Killers – Prime 4/1
Unhinged – Prime 4/2
What Lies Below – Netflix 4/4
Coded Bias – Netflix 4/5
Girl – Hulu 4/5
Out in the Open – HBO Max 4/9
The Standard – Hulu 4/9
Stars Fell on Alabama – Hulu 4/9
Knuckledust – Hulu 4/10
The New Mutants – HBO Max 4/10
The Stand-In – Netflix 4/10
Diana: The Interview That Shook the World – Netflix 4/11
Spontaneous – Hulu and Prime 4/12
Burden – Prime 4/14
Dark City: Beneath the Beat – Netflix 4/15
Fly Like a Girl – Hulu 4/16
The Kid Who Would Be King – Disney+ 4/16
Songbird – Hulu 4/16
Synchronic – Netflix 4/16
Wander – Prime 4/16
Modern Persuasion – Hulu 4/17
1, 2, 3, All Eyes on Me – HBO Max 4/22
Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World – Hulu 4/22
Princess Cut – HBO Max 4/22
Rizo – HBO Max 4/22
The Heist of the Century – HBO Max 4/23
Heroes: Silence and Rock & Roll – Netflix 4/23
The Place of No Words – Hulu 4/23
Wild Mountain Thyme – Hulu 4/25

Originals
Tersanjung: The Movie – Netflix 4/1
Concrete Cowboy – Netflix 4/2
Just Say Yes – Netflix 4/2
Madame Claude – Netflix 4/2
Sky High – Netflix 4/2
WeWork, or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn – Hulu 4/2
Have You Ever Seen Fireflies? – Netflix 4/9
Night in Paradise – Netflix 4/9
Thunder Force – Netflix 4/9
New Gods: Nezha Reborn – Netflix 4/12
The Soul – Netflix 4/14
Ride or Die – Netflix 4/15
Ajeeb Daastaans – Netflix 4/16
Into the Beat – Netflix 4/16
Mortal Kombat – HBO Max 4/16
Stowaway – Netflix 4/22
Tell Me When – Netflix 4/23
Things Seen and Heard – Netflix 4/29
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – Prime 4/30
The Disciple – Netflix TBD

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Reactions to the 2021 Oscar Nominations

Biggest Snubs (in order from most to least egregious)

1. First Cow – Adapted Screenplay, Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Production Design
For the first time ever, the New York Film Critics’ Circle pick for Best Film wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar. Like another championed film we’ll get to later, it was a victim of opening (or at least screening) before the pandemic, which may as well have been a thousand years ago. It was a long shot anyway, but I had hoped it would at least get the consolation prize of being nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. But alas, Kelly Reichardt will continue to be underrated by mainstream Hollywood.

2. Da 5 Bloods – Actor, Picture, Director
Not sure what more Delroy Lindo could have done. He’s tremendous in a movie that had a Netflix push behind it, and that actors clearly loved (at least judging by its Best Ensemble nomination at the SAG Awards). But I guess they were too busy watching Mank to pay attention and just nominated Gary Oldman (who’s fine, but come on). And considering Spike Lee was nominated and won (in the Adapted Screenplay category) for the inferior Black Klansman, blanking here is baffling.

3. Boys State – Documentary Feature
I had predicted this, but it’s still disappointing. This was one of my favorite films of the year, and it’s timely without being utterly depressing.

4. Time – Film Editing
There should be a documentary in this category every year, but Hoop Dreams remains the only one to pull off a nomination. (The last time I caped this hard for a documentary here was for the massive O.J.: Made in America.) The astonishing mix of new footage and home movies underlines the intensity of the film and the importance of the title in real life. At least it got nominated for Documentary Feature.

5. One Night in Miami… – Picture, Director
It was a long shot for Regina King to pull off the directing nod after only getting the First Time Feature nomination at the DGA Awards. But blanking in Best Picture is really shocking. It’s surprising that there were four major Black-led and directed films competing for Best Picture and the Academy went with the weakest one. (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom also missed in Best Picture.)

6. The Invisible Man – Actress, Sound
I knew it was in trouble when it somehow missed the Visual Effects shortlist, but the film works as well as it does because of Elisabeth Moss’s incredible performance and its tremendous use of sound, particularly in the opening sequence. Almost certainly a victim of opening in February and the sound categories being combined.

7. Tenet – Film Editing, Cinematography
The biggest film of the pandemic era managed just two nods: the expected one for Visual Effects (where it’s the front-runner) and a somewhat surprising one for its excellent Production Design. But how it isn’t leading the way in Film Editing makes zero sense to me. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is also outstanding, no matter how much your mileage may vary on the film itself.

8. Palm Springs – Original Screenplay, Film Editing
I hadn’t expected much, but an original screenplay nomination would have been a pleasant surprise in such a staid category. But a comedy in Film Editing? That’s unheard of.

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always – Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay
While I think the screenplay is the least stunning part of this incredible film, I thought Eliza Hittman would at least get a consolation nomination. But alas, this was another victim of opening in March. Had it arrived in November, I think it would had a better shot.

10. I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Actress, Film Editing, Production Design, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay
One of Netflix’s prestige projects that got zero traction (even the Christmas bauble Jingle Jangle got some consideration), I’m Thinking of Ending Things is absolutely not for everyone. But even if it doesn’t all make sense, its individual parts are worth celebrating, especially Jessie Buckley’s lead performance. On a technical level, it’s superb.

11. The Assistant – Actress, Original Screenplay
Julia Garner has won two Emmys already (and probably should have a third, for The Americans). I had a tiny hope that could translate into a Best Actress nomination for Kitty Green’s claustrophobic workplace drama. But it was yet another movie that opened at the wrong time.

12. The Vast of Night – Cinematography, Sound
Amazon bought this out of Sundance, but didn’t give it a deserving awards push. It makes the most of its small budget, stunning with its tracking shots and SFX.

13. Possessor – Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound
This never would have happened in a million years, but Brandon Cronenberg’s deeply unsettling sci-fi/horror flick gets under your skin precisely because of its top-notch below-the-line work.

14. The Way Back – Actor
Oh, Ben. Most people are rooting for you, but your movie opened over a year ago, so you were forgotten. Hope you got an extra-large iced coffee today.

15. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Original Song
Amazon has nothing to be upset about this morning. It got nods for Maria Bakalova and the film’s screenplay. (That last one is a little baffling, considering how much of the film is improvised.) But I was still hoping its in-your-face, joke’s-on-you number “Wuhan Flu” (actually performed in the film and not merely over the end credits!) would shake up a category that’s almost entirely forgettable, very serious, quasi-inspirational tunes. At least Eurovision Song Contest is there to keep it from being a total drag.

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Final Oscar Picks 2021

BEST PICTURE
Judas and the Black Messiah
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
One Night in Miami…
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7


Dark Horse: Da 5 Bloods
Long Shot: Sound of Metal
Total Shock: Never Rarely Sometimes Always
The skinny: Proof that the Academy is stupid: They’ll have forgotten about Da 5 Bloods, which came out all the way back in June. Judas and the Black Messiah is the beneficiary of the lengthened eligibility period, and could end up with anywhere from one to six nominations, though only four seem likely. Given that this is such an unusual year, it is within the realm of possibility that there are nine or even 10 nominees, which is the only way I see Sound of Metal getting in here. Sadly, this means that a lot of smaller independent movies – some of which actually played in theaters before the pandemic hit! – are still going to get the shaft, including Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which will likely have to settle for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Dark Horse: Regina King, One Night in Miami…
Long Shot: Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
Total Shock: Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
The skinny: This slate matches the DGA nominees, which is not necessarily a guarantee the Oscars will go for the exact same group. I’m fond of The Trial of the Chicago 7, but letting Sorkin in over first-timer Regina King is absolute foolishness. It would be awesome if Fincher was also the only white dude, and Kelly Reichardt could finally get her do as one of this country’s finest filmmakers.

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Dark Horse: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Long Shot: Ben Affleck, The Way Back
Total Shock: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The skinny: Poor Delroy Lindo. He’s given a lifetime of great performances on screens big and small (He’s the one in that viral “So say it!” clip from The Good Fight). And his performance in Da 5 Bloods is the best in the film and one of the very best in any film this year. But like I said, it’s already been forgotten by most Academy members, so these will be our five. (Unless Sony Pictures Classics has screwed up worse than I thought, and Anthony Hopkins is in danger.)

Now, about that Borat sequel. It’s widely believed newcomer Maria Bakalova is a shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actress nod. While I think that’s true, the film has received even more recognition than expected, and not just for her performance. Baron Cohen won the Golden Globe for Actor in a Musical or Comedy (where Bakalova didn’t), and the film itself won Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. But now it’s also been nominated for Best Picture of the Year by the PGA. While I don’t think there’s any way it becomes a Best Picture nominee, that luck could extend to Best Actor, or it could even repeat its predecessor and pick up an Adapted Screenplay nod.

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Dark Horse: Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot
Long Shot: Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
Total Shock: Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
The skinny: While Rosamund Pike is coming on strong after a Golden Globe win, and with a movie likely seen by more people than all the other nominees’ films combined, I still think she’s on the outside looking in. If anyone’s in danger, it’s Kirby, whose film isn’t quite as old, but has faded, and seen its other possible nominees vanish over the last month. As beloved as Amy Adams is, I would be shocked if Hillbilly Elegy gets anything other than another nod for Glenn Close. But while the BAFTAs radically changed their eligibility rules – and thus can’t be used as a reliable predictor – Radha Blank has hung out on the fringes of awards season, picking up awards and nominations here and there for her semi-autobiographical comedy The Forty-Year-Old Version. Will that have been enough reason for the Academy to fire up Netflix and check it out? Probably. Will that be enough for her to get nominated? Probably not.

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What I Watched This Week: 7 Mar 2021

BINGEING
Party Down – Season 2 (A- average)
Even with the loss of Jane Lynch (who pops in the season finale), the show was even tighter and funnier than in its terrific first season. “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday” remains an all-time classic episode.

The X-Files – Season 2 (B+ average)
A lot of the Monster of the Week cases were consistently solid, but only a few blew me away. This show is a lot more confident than in its first season, but is still finding what works. The mythology is where it really shines, which is a statement I know will come back to haunt me in later seasons.

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Streaming Picks: March 2021

FILMS
Top Picks
Enemy of the State – Hulu 3/1
Coming 2 America – Prime 3/15
Zack Snyder’s Justice League – HBO MAX 3/18

Enemy of the State might be Tony Scott’s best movie. A quasi-sequel to The Conversation, it’s at once entertaining as hell and incredibly bleak and eerily prescient. It’s a must-watch.

Coming 2 America is the long-delayed sequel to Eddie Murphy’s fantastic 1988 fish-out-of-water comedy. There’s almost no chance it will be as good and funny as the original, but since there’s a lot of the creative team from the excellent Dolemite Is My Name, there’s still hope.

And then there’s the elephant in the room. I still can’t believe after a years-long insane fan campaign to see the version of Justice League unsullied by Joss Whedon’s involvement was successful, but here we are. I don’t think there’s any way to actually save this movie, especially by adding two more hours, but this is such an weird curio that I have to see for myself.

Recent Selections
Charles and Diana: 1983 – Hulu 3/1
Mae West: Dirty Blonde – Prime 3/1
Tokyo Rising – Hulu 3/1
Ammonite – Hulu 3/5
Iron Mask – Hulu 3/5
Triggered – Hulu 3/6
Proxima – Hulu 3/7
The Block Island Sound – Netflix 3/11
Farewell Amor – Hulu 3/12
Honest Thief – Prime 3/12
Audrey – Netflix 3/14
Buddy Games – Hulu 3/14
1 Night in San Diego – Hulu 3/15
Here Awhile – Hulu 3/15
Intersect – Hulu 3/15
The Last Blockbuster – Netflix 3/15
Missing 411: The Hunted – Hulu 3/15
Naughty Books – Hulu 3/15
Pink Wall – Hulu 3/15
Sister Aimee – Hulu 3/15
The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World – Hulu 3/15
Tracks – Hulu 3/15
Deadly Illusions – Netflix 3/18
Skylines – Netflix 3/18
Words on Bathroom Walls – Prime 3/19
Jiu Jitsu – Netflix 3/20
100% Wolf – Hulu 3/23
Collective – Hulu 3/25
7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story – Netflix 3/30
Godzilla vs. Kong – HBO MAX 3/31

Originals
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell – Netflix 3/1
Moxie – Netflix 3/1
Shadows – HBO MAX 3/1
The Undocumented Lawyer – HBO MAX 3/1
Boss Level – Hulu 3/5
Dogwashers – Netflix 3/5
Cross the Line – HBO MAX 3/5
Sentinelle – Netflix 3/5
Bombay Rose – Netflix 3/8
Coven of Sisters – Netflix 3/11
Kid 90 – Hulu 3/12
Our Mothers – HBO MAX 3/12
Paper Lives – Netflix 3/12
Yes Day – Netflix 3/12
Cabras de Peste – Netflix 3/18
Caught by a Wave – Netflix 3/25
Secret Magic Control Agency – Netflix 3/25
Bad Trip – Netflix 3/26
Hotel Coppelia – HBO MAX 3/26
A Week Away – Netflix 3/26
The Yin Yang Master – Netflix TBD

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What I Watched This Week: 21 Feb 2021

BINGEING
Party Down – Season 1 (A- average)
An exceptional ensemble comedy that manages to do just about everything right: romance, multilayered characters, cringe-inducing moments, verbal gags and a perfectly fine-tuned ensemble.

The X-Files – Season 1 (B+ average)
Like a lot of shows, it took a while to figure itself out. But by mid-season, it was more confident in its tone, acting and storytelling. There were some embarrassments along the way (like “Space” and “Born Again”), but its highs made for absolutely thrilling television.

REWATCH
Schitt’s Creek – Season 6 (A average)
Perhaps the greatest final season of a sitcom of the 21st Century. Feels neither hurried nor belabored. A lovely show that got to go out on its own idiosyncratic terms.

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The Anniversary Albums Project: Best of 2020

New music has lost a lot of hold on me over the last few years. And two years ago I decided that instead of trying to keep up with it all, I’d look back at music history and listen to the albums celebrating milestones. Some of these I’d heard before, but many I had not. The project ended up being more than I could keep up with at times – there’s a list of at least 50 albums I didn’t get to – but it was much more enjoyable to discover and rediscover classics instead of just whatever was being dumped onto Spotify every Friday.

So below are my top 10s from each year I covered, along with some honorable mentions.

1970

  1. Van Morrison – Moondance
  2. The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
  3. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory
  5. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water
  6. Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman
  7. The Velvet Underground – Loaded
  8. The Who – Live at Leeds / James Brown – Sex Machine / Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs and Englishmen
  9. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
  10. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection
• Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III
• John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band
• Randy Newman – 12 Songs
• Santana – Abraxas
• The Stooges – Fun House

1980

  1. Talking Heads – Remain in Light
  2. Bruce Springsteen – The River
  3. Prince – Dirty Mind
  4. Pretenders – Pretenders
  5. Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Get Happy!!
  6. AC/DC – Back in Black
  7. Betty Carter – The Audience with Betty Carter
  8. The Clash – Sandinista!
  9. XTC – Black Sea
  10. Peter Gabriel – Melt

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• The B-52’s – Wild Planet
• David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
• Dire Straits – Making Movies
• The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms
• Genesis – Duke
• The Jam – Sound Affects
• Joy Division – Closer
• Killing Joke – Killing Joke
• The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
• Rockpile – Seconds of Pleasure
• The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight
• Squeeze – Argybargy
• U2 – Boy
• Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine
• Various Artists – The Blues Brothers

1990

  1. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
  2. A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
  3. Prefab Sprout – Jordan: The Comeback
  4. Garth Brooks – No Fences
  5. Pixies – Bossanova
  6. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas
  7. Angelo Badalamenti – Soundtrack from Twin Peaks
  8. The KLF – Chill Out
  9. Ride – Nowhere
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Brand Nubian – One for All
• Eric B. & Rakim – Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em
• Fugazi – Repeater
• Kronos Quartet – Black Angels
• The La’s – The La’s
• Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
• Sinéad O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
• Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet
• Selena – Ven Conmigo
• They Might Be Giants – Flood

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Oscar Picks: 15 Feb 2021

We finally got a load of precursors to help us see who were contenders and who were pretenders, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. I’ll have my final picks a day or two before the nominations are announced on Monday, March 15.

BEST PICTURE
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
One Night in Miami…
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7


Falling off: The Father
Rising star: News of the World
The skinny: Not much has changed, except Sony Pictures Classics has once again bungled their campaign of an acclaimed film. I don’t think anything can derail these eight, although a narrow path remains for News of the World to sneak in here and be the ninth film.

BEST DIRECTOR
Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Regina King, One Night in Miami…

Falling off: None
Rising star: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
The skinny: Unless the DGA surprises with a left-field nominee, this field is set. Woe to us all if that dark horse is Aaron Sorkin. (And I say this as a fan of The Trial of the Chicago 7.)

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Falling off: Delroy Lindo
Rising star: Ben Affleck, The Way Back
The skinny: Don’t know what else Delroy Lindo needs to do here. Been well-respected for decades and is giving arguably his best performance in a movie that is getting nominations across the board. It’s a real shame. No SAG nomination for Affleck means he’s done, I think, but it would be less shocking to hear his name on Oscar morning than for the Academy to actually nominate three non-white guys.

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Falling off: None
Rising star: Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
The skinny: Adams survives because of SAG, and if she knocks off anyone it will be Andra Day in a movie that few people have seen and even fewer people like. This one will be a coin flip up until the day of.

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