Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Moonlight", "Live by Night", "Split", "Monster Trucks"

Julien Faddoul

Moonlight ***

Triptych story of a young black homosexual – from childhood to adulthood – as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Beautiful, gripping, penetrating drama with an almost electric delicacy. It presents such a wide viewpoint of empathy that is rarely seen on screen, despite its affected air of broken-hearted yearning. The performances are uniformly remarkable.

wd – Barry Jenkins   (Based on the Play by Tarell Alvin McCraney)
ph – James Laxton
pd – Hannah Beachler
m – Nicholas Britell
ed – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
cos – Caroline Eselin-Schaefer

p – Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Cast: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Jaden Piner, Patrick Decile

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Reactions to the 89th Academy Awards Nominations

Julien Faddoul

Below is the full list of nominees for the 89th Academy Awards with my written reactions.

A few notes:

Overall I did well in terms of predictions this year, frequently predicting 5/5. Everything else was well within the realm of possibility. No real shockers.

Nomination Tally:
14 (La La Land),
8 (Arrival, Moonlight),
6 (Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, Manchester by the Sea),
4 (Fences, Hell or High Water),
3 (Hidden Figures, Jackie)
2 (Deepwater Horizon, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Kubo and the Two Strings, A Man Called Ove, Moana, Passengers, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

For the first time since 2013, they went with 9 BEST PICTURE nominees.

La La Land makes history by joining All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997) as the now golden three who have received the most nominations ever at 14! Pretty big deal.

Hidden Figures’ low nomination tally is fairly odd, missing out in COSTUME DESIGN and both MUSIC categories, despite its inevitable placement at the top.

Um, where the hell did Passengers come from? Really?

Manchester by the Sea’s BEST PICTURE nomination marks the first nomination for Amazon Studios and the first for a theatrical division of a streaming service of any kind.

How they treated Arrival might be the oddest thing of all, as it received plenty of nominations (8) yet it missed in at least two of its more assured categories: ACTRESS and VISUAL EFFECTS.

That MAKEUP category cracks me up every year.

Michael Shannon!

Mica Levi!




Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

9/9 correct, though I did throw the net to 10 for the sake of fortuitousness.

I feel validated in sticking with Fences when others abandoned it.

The fact that Jackie received the same amount of nominations as the lowest numerated film here leads me to the conclusion that it was probably the 10th film. Oh well.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Predictions for the 89th Academy Awards Nominations

Julien Faddoul

The nominations for the 88th Academy Awards are tomorrow morning. Despite their nonsensicality, I always have fun predicting them every year. Here are my final predictions.

I have made the necessary amount of predictions correlating to the limit of each category – 10 for PICTURE, 3 for MAKEUP and 5 for everything else – after which I list my alternates which I have limited myself to only 3.

BLUE = A lock at a nomination. Bet some money.


La La Land is obviously head and shoulders above everything else. It could very well receive 14 nominations, which would tie it with All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997) as the most nominations in history. Maybe 15 even…probably not.

Moonlight, Manchester and Lion are all secure. Arrival is almost there. The question here is how many will the academy ultimately settle on. I have placed 10 here just because. But in all likelihood a Silence inclusion would be a shock. Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures and Hacksaw Ridge all have good reasons to be included, as their positions have remained strong throughout the ongoing race of awards.

If we stop there, then there’ll be 8 nominees. That seems feasible. Everything under Fences is shaky.


1.     La La Land
2.     Moonlight
3.     Manchester by the Sea
4.     Lion
5.     Arrival
6.     Hell or High Water
7.     Hidden Figures
8.     Hacksaw Ridge
9.     Fences
10.  Silence


11.  Jackie
12.  Nocturnal Animals
13.  Loving

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Collateral Beauty", "Neon Bull", "Creative Control"

Julien Faddoul

Collateral Beauty

Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of collateral beauty.
One of the most heinous concoctions for a film ever made, in which characters are rewarded when they should be punished at every juncture. From premise to plot to message to execution, it is self-indulgent rubbish designed for an audience whose lives are so boring that judicious thought no longer assumes any part of their personality. It insults the intelligence of any group imaginable: Men, women, parents, blacks, whites, believers, atheists… It is a crumbling ruin of a movie.

d – David Frankel
w – Allan Loeb
ph – Maryse Alberti
pd – Beth Mickle
m – Theodore Shapiro
ed – Andrew Marcus
cos – Leah Katznelson

p – Anthony Bregman, Brad Dorros, Kevin Scott Frakes, Allan Loeb, Michael Sugar

Cast: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Jackie", "A United Kingdom", "Christine", "Kate Plays Christine"

Julien Faddoul

Jackie ***

An account of the days of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Staggering, emotionally incalculable portrait of a historical figure despite the script’s singular focus on grief. It characterizes its principal depiction as a woman who is struggling to secure someone else’s place in history while the clock is ticking, a woman having to deal with being a part of a very public murder and a woman who, for what would be the worst week of her life, has complete authority of all the men around her. It is a superb mélange of anguish, vanity and loss of power, anchored by an equally superb and rather risky central performance.

d – Pablo Larrain
w – Noah Oppenheim
ph – Stéphane Fontaine
pd – Jean Rabasse
m – Mica Levi
ed – Sebastián Sepúlveda
cos – Madeline Fontaine

p – Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Juan de Dios Larraín, Mickey Liddell

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Max Casella, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Caspar Phillipson

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Crisp Criticism - "The Edge of Seventeen", "The Eyes of My Mother", "Paterson", "Author: The JT Leroy Story"

Julien Faddoul

The Edge of Seventeen **

Two high school girls are best friends until one dates the other’s older brother, who is, like, totally his sister’s nemesis, you know.
A movie that suffers from a lot of “first film” problems: schizophrenic theses, abandoned narration, some faulty casting and an inauthentic accentuation of teen relationships. But as a coming-of-age comedy it functions fairly well and gains immeasurably from its lead performance.

wd – Kelly Fremon Craig
ph – Doug Emmett
pd – William Arnold
m – Atli Örvarsson
ed – Tracey Wadmore-Smith
cos – Carla Hetland

p – James L. Brooks

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Hayden Szeto

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Crisp Criticism - "Assassin’s Creed", "Little Men", "Right Now, Wrong Then", "Sing"

Julien Faddoul

Assassin’s Creed

A movie based on a video game.
Joyless, choppily edited action film based on a product from a medium that still has yet to prove its virtue alongside cinema. Despite the prominence of those involvement, this is strictly for fans. The rest are screwed.

d – Justin Kurzel
w – Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
ph – Adam Arkapaw
pd – Andy Nicholson
m – Jed Kurzel
ed – Christopher Tellefsen
cos – Sammy Sheldon Differ

p – Jean-Julien Baronnet, Gérard Guillemot, Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Michael Fassbender, Conor McCaughan, Arnon Milchan

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ariane Labed, Callum Turner