Quartet has announced two new re-releases of previous score CDs -- a 30th anniversary release of their expanded edition of Howard Shore's score for the 1991 Best Picture winner THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and a slightly remastered and resequenced edition of Claude Bolling's evocative orchestral score for the 1980 mummy thriller THE AWAKENING, starring Charlton Heston and directed by, amazingly enough, Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced shortlists for the nominations for nine categories for the 93rd Oscars, including the following music categories:
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
AMMONITE – Dustin O’Halloran, Volker Bertelmann
BLIZZARD OF SOULS – Lolita Ritmanis
DA 5 BLOODS – Terence Blanchard
THE INVISIBLE MAN – Benjamin Wallfisch
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY – John Debney
THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE) - Gabriel Yared
THE LITTLE THINGS – Thomas Newman
MANK – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
THE MIDNIGHT SKY – Alexandre Desplats
MINARI – Emile Mosseri
MULAN – Harry Gregson-Williams
NEWS OF THE WORLD – James Newton Howard
SOUL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
TENET – Ludwig Goransson
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Daniel Pemberton
The biggest surprise inclusion is Blizzard of Souls. I suspect I'm not the only one here who wouldn't be aware of this film or its score if La-La Land hadn't made the soundtrack available. Most unexpected exclusions are Let Him Go (Giacchino), Pieces of a Woman (Shore) and two scores by Hans Zimmer, Hillbilly Elegy (written with David Fleming) and Wonder Woman 1984 (aka WW84).
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Fight For You” - JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH- Gabriella Wilson, Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas
“Free” - THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Diane Warren
“Green” - SOUND OF METAL – Abraham Marder
“Hear My Voice” - THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Daniel Pemberton
“Husavik” - EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA – Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus, Rickard Goransson
“lo Si` (Seen)” - THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE) – Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolo Agliardi
“Loyal Brave True” - MULAN – Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan, Billy Crabtree
“Make It Work” - JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY – John Stephens
“Never Break” - GIVING VOICE – Nasri Atweh, Benjamin Hudson McIldowie, Greg Wells, John Stephens
“Rain Song” – MINARI – Emile Mosseri, Stefanie Y. Hong
“See What You’ve Done” - BELLY OF THE BEAST – Mary J. Blige, Darhyl Camper, Denisia “Blu June” Andrews, Brittany “Chi” Coney
“Show Me Your Soul” - MR. SOUL! – Robert Glasper, Muhammad Ayers, Lalah Hathaway, Melissa Haizlip
“Speak Now” - ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI... – Leslie Odom Jr., Sam Ashworth
“Turntables” - ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY – Janelle Monae Robinson, Nathaniel Irvin III, George “George 2.0.” A Peters II
“Wuhan Flu” - BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN – Anthony Hines, Sacha Baron Cohen, Erran Baron Cohen
(The specific songwriters on the list above have not been officially announced as the contenders, but are merely the result of my own research into the topic).
None of the songs from the animated films Over the Moon or Trolls World Tour made the cut, and other highly-touted songs that didn't make the list include “The Plan” (Tenet), “Tigress & Tweed” (The United States vs. Billie Holliday), “Together” (Music) and “Wear Your Crown” (The Prom). Continuing a recent trend, four of the songs are from documentaries -- All In: The Fight for Democracy, Belly of the Beast, Giving Voice and Mr. Soul!
The rest of the shortlists are at the end of this column.*
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Da Uomo a Uomo - Ennio Morricone - Beat
The Devil All the Time - Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans, various - ABKCO
Fear and Desire - Gerald Fried - Caldera
Hard Rain - Christopher Young - La-La Land
Tutti Dentro - Piero Piccioni - Beat
IN THEATERS TODAY
The docudrama Judas and the Black Messiah, score by Mark Isham and Craig Harris (and featuring the shortlisted song "Fight For You") opens tomorrow where theaters are still running.
Zappa - John Frizzell, songs - Zappa Records
Flesh Contagium - Daniele Marinelli, Luca Maria Burocchi, Riccardo Adamo - Digitmovies
I Cosacchi - Giovanni Fusco - Digitmovies
Tranquille donne di campagna - Nico Fidenco - Digitmovies
His Dark Materials: Season Two - Lorne Balfe - Silva
The Tattooed Torah - Daniel Alcheh - Notefornote
Alex Hugo - Jerome Lemmonier - Music Box
The Awakening (re-release) - Claude Bolling - Quartet
Fireball XL5 - Barry Gray - Silva
The Great Gatsby Ballet - Carl Davis - Carl Davis Collection
The Silence of the Lambs (re-release) - Howard Shore - Quartet
Symphonies No. 6 & 7/Night Voyage - Christopher Gunning - Signum
Ulysse 31 - Denny Crockett, Ike Egan, Shuki Levy, Haim Saban, Seji Suzuki - CSC
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
February 12 - Howard Blake born (1938)
February 12 - Leo F. Forbstein died (1948)
February 12 - Bill Laswell born (1955)
February 12 - George Antheil died (1959)
February 12 - Harry Geller records his score for the Land of the Giants episode “Target: Earth” (1969)
February 12 - Benjamin Frankel died (1973)
February 12 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for Sky Riders (1976)
February 12 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for The Rescue (1988)
February 12 - John Williams begins recording his score for A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
February 12 - Dennis McCarthy begins recording his scores for the Star Trek: Voyager episodes “Workforce, Parts I & II” (2001)
February 12 - Marco Beltrami begins recording his score for Hellboy (2004)
February 12 - George Aliceson Tipton died (2016)
February 13 - Lennie Hayton born (1908)
February 13 - Erik Nordgren born (1913)
February 13 - Fred Karger born (1916)
February 13 - Nino Oliviero born (1918)
February 13 - Gerald Fried born (1928)
February 13 - Peter Gabriel born (1950)
February 13 - W.G. Snuffy Walden born (1950)
February 13 - William Axt died (1959)
February 13 - Joseph Mullendore records his score for the Lost in Space episode "Junkyard in Space" (1968)
February 13 - Fred Myrow begins recording score to Soylent Green (1973)
February 13 - Jerry Fielding begins recording his score for Funeral Home (1980)
February 13 - David Newman begins recording his score for The Sandlot (1993)
February 13 - Paul Baillargeon records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Lifesigns” (1996)
February 13 - Gregory Smith records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Honor Among Thieves” (1998)
February 13 - Brian Tyler records his score for the Enterprise episode “Canamar” (2003)
February 14 - Werner Heymann born (1886)
February 14 - Elliot Lawrence born (1925)
February 14 - Merl Saunders born (1934)
February 14 - Andre Previn begins recording his score for Challenge to Lassie (1949)
February 14 - Jocelyn Pook born (1960)
February 14 - Warren Ellis born (1965)
February 14 - David Holmes born (1969)
February 14 - Ken Thorne begins recording his score for Superman III (1983)
February 14 - Frederick Loewe died (1988)
February 14 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Spirit Folk” (2000)
February 14 - Piero Umiliani died (2001)
February 15 - Georges Auric born (1899)
February 15 - Harold Arlen born (1905)
February 15 - Wladimir Selinsky born (1910)
February 15 - Miklos Rozsa records his replacement score for Crest of the Wave (1954)
February 15 - Stephen Edwards born (1972)
February 15 - Johnny Harris records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Space Rockers” (1980)
February 15 - Lucio Agostini died (1996)
February 15 - Pierre Bachelet died (2005)
February 16 - Alec Wilder born (1907)
February 16 - Dennis Wilson born (1920)
February 16 - Kunio Miyauchi born (1932)
February 16 - John Corigliano born (1938)
February 16 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for King of Kings (1961)
February 16 - Dennis McCarthy and Kevin Kiner begin recording their score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Observer Effect” (2004)
February 17 - Ron Goodwin born (1925)
February 17 - Karl Jenkins born (1944)
February 17 - Fred Frith born (1949)
February 17 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Death Scene” (1965)
February 17 - Alfred Newman died (1970)
February 17 - Gavriil Popov died (1972)
February 17 - Bear McCreary born (1979)
February 17 - Jerry Fielding died (1980)
February 17 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Ex Post Facto” (1995)
February 17 - Samuel Matlovsky died (2004)
February 18 - Nathan Van Cleave records his score for The Colossus of New York (1958)
February 18 - John Bisharat born (1964)
February 18 - Tommy Tallarico born (1968)
February 18 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)
February 18 - Nathaniel Shilkret died (1982)
February 18 - Paul Baillargeon records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Hatchery” (2004)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
THE DIG - Stefan Gregory
"Goodbyes are unspoken. Forgiveness implicit. Love unbreakable. That Stone allows this tale to move beyond history’s physical scars to address the emotional ones (if not to also strive and heal them) turns what may seem like a generic period piece on paper into a transcendent look at what makes us tick underneath the cultures, customs, and stations we’re conditioned to believe trap us from reaching our full potential. These people are excavating past the soil and into their own hearts, vulnerably laying bear their hopes and regrets in ways that shatter the divisions between to reveal the humanity connecting them instead. With superb performances (Fiennes, Mulligan, James, and Flynn shine), gorgeous cinematography, lyrical editing, and a complementary score, the film proves a melancholic wonder that isn’t easily forgotten."
Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage
"A secondary plot threatens to take over when it's revealed that Peggy is rarely troubled in the bedroom and Stuart gets visibly jollier around Phillips' reedy young associate Brailsford (Eamon Farren). When the two men head off to do lab work on some relics, the yearning glances between Peggy and Rory make it safe to assume where things are headed. But the drama never becomes trite or overly sentimental, even if Stefan Gregory's tinkling score sometimes pushes those limits."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
LOCKED DOWN - John Powell
"The cinematography stays tight on Hathaway and Ejiofor throughout the film, which Liman shoots mostly with close-ups and tracking shots, mirroring the leads’ confinement to their house. Keeping the angles close lets Liman keep the tension high, though he finally allows some wide shots once the film moves to Harrods. These choices bring a sense of claustrophobia to each scene, making the characters’ anguish more of a setting than the actual house they live in. The lighting also builds on the psychological sense of confinement, with most of the scenes filmed with low or indoor light. Even the soundtrack, or lack thereof, gives the film a sense of suspended time: the score’s evolution from silent-movie-style piano in the beginning to a cooler electric-guitar score is the only hint of passing time besides the change between night and day. The one time a song with lyrics comes on, it feels like an interruption to the film’s stasis, similar to a window breaking."
Quinci LeGardye, Polygon
MLK/FBI - Gerald Clayton
"This story is told through a combination of archival footage, clips from film and television, images of documents, still photography and other materials. The score is simple and to the point, and the overall mood of the film is strictly informative, with very little editorializing or speculation. These choices make clear that Pollard (who has edited several Spike Lee films and directed 2017 doc 'Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me') approached the film with purely journalistic intentions. For the majority of the runtime, there are no talking heads; the voices of interviewees are heard over the images, with their names appearing in the left corner of the screen. Pollard waits to reveal the faces of his interviewees until the film’s final moments."
Jourdain Searles, The Hollywood Reporter
THE MARKSMAN - Sean Callery
"Technically speaking, cinematographer Mark Patten (TV’s 'Pennyworth') and editor Luis Carballar ('Amores Perros') deliver competent work that never threatens to color outside the lines, while composer Sean Callery’s often generic score occasionally sounds like Vangelis run through an Aaron Copland filter."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI... - Terence Blanchard
"All four scenarios are framed in Tami Reiker‘s fluid photography and impeccably scored to Terence Blanchard‘s rich, energizing compositions, giving a real sense of scale, from epic to intimate and of mood, from upbeat to despondent. But then we arrive at the Miami hotel, following Clay’s first world title win which Brown, Malcolm and Cooke had all come to town to witness, and even such dynamic craftsmanship can’t quite buoy up an increasingly talky and claustrophobic middle third. Instead the film becomes a series of emblematic confrontations, most pointedly between Cooke and Malcolm X, here portrayed as a constant buzzkill during a night the others all want to spend partying."
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
"One could nitpick that the period production design is a tad too spiffy and unlived-in; when Sam says of the Hampton hotel room, 'It's a damn dump,' his disdain is slightly undermined by the fact it could almost pass for a midcentury-modern design spread. But this is a classy-looking endeavor, with crisp, agile widescreen cinematography from Tami Reiker (hot off 'The Old Guard') and punchy editing from Tariq Anwar helping to maintain visual interest. King also makes judicious use of Terence Blanchard's cool, jazzy piano score."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
OVER THE MOON - Steven Price
"That’s also true of a moon chase that recalls 'Ad Astra,' and a handful of high-energy bangers that effectively split the difference between kids music and mainstream K-pop; the tunes are credited to Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, and Helen Park (who wrote music for the sensational off-Broadway show 'KPOP'), and the ones that embrace any kind of Asian production emphasize the missed opportunities elsewhere. What does K-pop have to do with Chinese folklore? 'Over the Moon' would rather you didn’t ask. Traditional Chinese instruments like the pipa are buried amidst the layers of Steven Price’s unmemorable score, and someone delivers a chorus in Mandarin at a crucial moment in the third act, but most of the big songs can’t help but feel like thawed out 'Frozen' rejects. After a half-hour of watching Fei Fei, Chin, and their obligatory cute animal companions scramble around the moon in search of the MacGuffin that Chang’e demands, it’s easy to lose sight of where these characters came from, or even what the moon goddess means to them."
David Erhlich, IndieWire
"For as long as children’s animation has existed, it has been used to confront how children process grief. It’s one of the greatest changes that a child can face, and the best family entertainment addresses it without talking down to young people. 'Over the Moon' doesn’t exactly talk down, but it clutters its serious themes every chance it gets. The music is generally forgettable, though a song near the end that directly addresses loss is easily the most powerful in the film because it’s the first time the movie feels like it calms down and confronts what it should have been about instead of throwing flashy colors in pursuit of dull quest storytelling. There’s a tenderness in some of the beats near the conclusion that one wishes the rest of the movie leaned into instead of just hurtling itself through the stars."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"Sometimes charmingly fantastical, 'Over the Moon' definitely doesn't have the fairytale elegance of Keane's earlier work. That's exemplified by the number of adorable creature sidekicks: Between Fei Fei's fluffy rabbit Bungee, Chin's pet frog, Chang'e's mythical jade rabbit, Gobi the green glowing space dog-lizard thing (Jeong, tapping his inner Olaf to surprisingly restrained and sweet effect), a trio of biker chicks (literal space birds), and even the Lunar Rover, there's a lot going on. The soaring songs by Steven Price help buoy the story along, which a kid-friendly film where the only real villain is deep and abiding loss really needs."
Richard Whitaker, The Austin Chronicle
PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME - Gabor Keresztes
"Horvat cites Francois Truffaut's historical bio-drama 'The Story of Adele H.' (1975) and the work of Polish maestro Krzysztof Kieslowski as influences on 'Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time.' There are other pleasing echoes here too, from Hitchcock to Haneke. Marta's regal detachment and chic, vividly hued outfits invoke the visual grammar of vintage Hollywood more than contemporary indie cinema, while the grainy warmth of Robert Maly's 35mm cinematography reinforces this analogue retro mood. Gabor Keresztes's spare score, punctuated by snippets of opera and chamber piano music, also lend Horvat's absorbing film an agreeably ageless European art-house mood."
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
THE REASON I JUMP - Nanita Desai
"This is a film about mapping that middle ground, and so it makes sense that Rothwell presents it in a way that tries to thread the needle between the experience of living on the spectrum and the experience of living with the spectrum, each of which can be confusing in its own way. His sense-oriented approach creates an effective-enough approximation of what it may be like to see the world through Higashida’s eyes (or those of someone like him), with scenes taking shape from their smallest details. Individual stimuli -- the hum of a radiator, the light of a screen, the texture of a metal piece of mesh -- receives the kind of attention that most documentaries reserve for talking heads, while Nainita Desai’s score builds little symphonies out of ambient noise."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
SOME KIND OF HEAVEN - Ari Balouzian
"Oppenheim’s bountiful footage and apparent free-range access to the resort-like community allows him to assemble a complex ecosystem around each portrait. Aided by cinematographer David Bolen and Ari Ari Baouzian’s hypnotic score, 'Some Kind of Heaven' develops a surreal kind of awe around its unusual milieu, the impression of a place at once at odds with the universe and powerful enough to forge one of its own. Shades of Errol Morris’ first feature, 'Vernon, Florida,' as well as last year’s 'The Mole Agent,' crop up in the way the movie allows its idiosyncratic personalities to dictate the mood, which shifts from playful to tender and tragic in lockstep with their lives."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"But all this seriousness about love, loss and the human needs that start up early and continue until the end aren’t without a sense of fun. 'Some Kind of Heaven''s glib punchlines (like its title) and aesthetic choices (like a voyeuristic camera and thrillery score accompanying Dennis’ more slimy schemes) work best when they’re paired with some nicely dry moments of undermining honesty. Moving music and a lovely montage are great to watch, but when the plug pulls on the score -- immediately hitting silence more effectively than than a record scratch -- for some hardened words between a married couple, the meaty filmmaking is seasoned with unflinching honesty. That makes up for some of the stagey conversations that can crop up throughout the ultimately very natural doc."
Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
THE WHITE TIGER - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
"Even on the bigger, splashier international canvas of 'The White Tiger,' there’s a becoming modesty to Bahrani’s filmmaking and a palpable reluctance to sensationalize or aestheticize his protagonist’s poverty. The movie naturally pulses with life and energy, invigorated by its narrative sweep, its nimble camerawork and propulsive musical score composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. But Bahrani scrupulously resists the temptation to turn India into a flashy, exoticizing spectacle, as more than a few critics accused 'Slumdog Millionaire' of doing. The filmmaker may be as much of a cultural outsider as the Chinese premier, but every decision he makes feels born of a desire to see the country and these characters as honestly and matter-of-factly as possible."
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
"Considering that the rags-to-riches story contains bitter betrayal, disillusionment, abandonment of familial responsibility, chilling coercion and even murder, Bahrani keeps the tone relatively light. Italian cinematographer Paolo Carnera (the 'Gomorrah' series) brings a sharp eye for color and is adept at establishing visual distinctions among the various locations, particularly between the muddy village and the teeming city streets, where his camerawork becomes jostled and nervy. And even if the pacing falters here and there, the evocative score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (who did the music for 'Ozark'), keeps things generally buoyant, sprinkled with Indian songs and hip-hop tracks."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: A Tribute to Michael Kamen (Kamen), Damn Yankees (Adler/Ross), Time Bandits (Moran), Philadelphia Stories/UFO (Daugherty), John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (Bates/Richard), Love Is the Thing (and more) (Cole), Midsommar (Krlic), Napoleon Dynamite (Swihart), Uncut Gems (Lopatin), Mandingo/Plaza Suite (Jarre), Dimentia/Piano Concerto (Antheil/Gold), Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (Morricone), Red/Family (Hyldgaard), Scenes for Orchestra/Scenario for Orchestra/Stewall (Kubik), Creation (Young), The Verdict/The Seven-Ups/M*A*S*H (Mandel), The King and I (Rodgers), The Cardinal (Moross), Jeepers Creepers: Classic Songs from Horror Films (various), Complete Works for Orchestra vol. 2 (Debussy), The Man and His Music (Cooke), The Red Shoes: Music from the Golden Age of British Cinema (various)
Read: The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins**
Seen: A year ago I was seeing a flock of downbeat, female-driven new movies -- Beanpole, The Last Thing He Wanted and The Lodge.
Watched: Children's Hospital (season one); Fawlty Towers ("Waldorf Salad"); Blackmail; Star Trek: Discovery ("Such Sweet Sorrow"); Westworld ("The Absence of Field"); Tower of Evil; Deadwood ("Complications (Formerly 'Difficulties')"); Firefly ("Jaynestown")
*The rest of the 93rd Oscars shortslists:
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
IF ANYTHING HAPPENS I LOVE YOU
THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE
ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD
THE MOLE AGENT
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA
I'm so well caught up on reviews of recent films that I've actually read the notices on most of these, except for Gunda, My Octopus Teacher and The Truffle Hunters, but a few months ago a friend was raving about how much she loved My Octopus Teacher.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
ABORTION HELPLINE, THIS IS LISA
CALL CENTER BLUES
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION
DO NOT SPLIT
A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA
THE SPEED CUBERS
WHAT WOULD SOPHIA LOREN DO?
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
ANOTHER ROUND (Denmark)
BETTER DAYS (Hong Kong)
CHARLATAN (Czech Republic)
DEAR COMRADES! (Russia)
I’M NO LONGER HERE (Mexico)
LA LLORONA (Guatemala)
THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (Tunisia)
THE MOLE AGENT (Chile)
NIGHT OF THE KINGS (Ivory Coast)
QUO VADIS, AIDA? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
A SUN (Taiwan)
SUN CHILDREN (Iran)
TWO OF US (France)
Two of this year's International Feature Film shortlisted movies are also shortlisted documentaries -- Collective and The Mole Agent; last year Honeyland was nominated in both categories. Another Round is considered a strong contender, as well as for its lead performance by Mads Mikkelsen.
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
THE HUMAN VOICE
THE KICKSLED CHOIR
THE LETTER ROOM
TWO DISTANT STRANGERS
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
THE LITTLE THINGS
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...
BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN
LOVE AND MONSTERS
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA
With so many high-profile releases pushed to 2021 and 2022, there were much fewer major effects films to choose from, but notably Wonder Woman 1984 still failed to make the cut (normally the branch begins with a list of 20 films and narrows it down to 10, but the longer list hasn't been made publicly available as it had been in previous years).
The most intriguing inclusion in the VFX category is the shortlisted documentary Welcome to Chechnya, about the mistreatment of gays in the eponymous Russian republic, which uses CGI to disguise the faces of some of the film's subjects to protect them from repercussions. It's probably the most novel use of CG imagery I've ever heard of, and certainly suggests a notable new use for the ubiquitous, oft-maligned VFX technology.
Because, as a Los Angeles resident, I have been unable to see a film in a movie theater for the last eleven months -- and have not had access to drive-ins nor interest in streaming new films -- I have only seen four of this year's shortlisted movies: Birds of Prey, Bloodshot, Emma and The Invisible Man. Bloodshot was so forgettable that when I saw a poster for it outside a closed theater during the pandemic, I had to remind myself that it didn't go directly to streaming, that I'd actually seen it in a theater.
**I recently finished reading all of George V. Higgins' novels, including his final few (The Agent, At End of Day), and enjoyed them so much that I decided to start re-reading the earliest ones, which I probably haven't read for many many years. I've long felt that, along with Elmore Leonard, Higgins is probably the biggest literary influence on Quentin Tarantino's screenplays -- an average Higgins novel is comprised mostly of crime-related conversations.
Only two of Higgins' books have been filmed, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (which I was thrilled to write the liner notes for), and Cogan's Trade, which was filmed as the too-little seen Killing Them Softly. (Students of great film acting should check out a scene that Scoot McNairy has with Brad Pitt late in the film; the only thing I can compare McNairy's peformance in that scene to is Tom Hanks in the final scene of Captain Phillips).
When Tarantino filmed Leonard's Rum Punch as Jackie Brown, he changed the main character's name from "Jackie Burke," presumably to evoke star Pam Grier's title role in Foxy Brown. So I was very amused to notice that literally the first two words in the book Eddie Coyle are "Jackie Brown." (In the film of Eddie Coyle, Brown was played by Steven Keats, who readers of this site probably best remember as Robert Shaw's young sidekick in Black Sunday.)