E: Yep, that’s what I figured was going to happen. Oscar loves what it loves – in this case, Joker, 1917, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, and The Irishman. Films by white men, for white men, starring white men, featuring almost no women or people of color. Let’s review:
C: April’s underway, but if you’re anything like us, you probably haven’t been to the movies yet this month. Perhaps you have a vacation coming up though, so it’s time to start thinking about what to see!
E: Well, today’s the first official Friday of April, so unless you were seeing March movies, you won’t have needed this preview. Now, this isn’t the explosion into summer we get in May, but still, this April brings us a veritable bouquet of interesting spring movies. As befits the season, I have hope that some of these films are very much worthwhile.
M: Again this month we’re running on a tough timetable, so we have fewer of the limited-release movies than we normally include. Apologies! Now to it.
E: More and more, March is becoming a hot movie month.
M: And March 2017 is becoming a month of increasingly insane schedules for at least two of the three Quibbling Siblings. Our apologies, but this will be a late, bare bones preview.
C: A preview-slash-review, if you will. What’s come out already in March, and what’s still to come? Some pretty intriguing stuff!
E: Like January, February is a month I mostly reserve for seeing Oscar movies and writing about them. There’s normally not much to see in the theaters that isn’t a Best Picture or acting nominee. Expect more great box office for Hidden Figures and La La Land, for example – and see them if you haven’t already. If you can only choose one? La La Land will win the Oscar, but Hidden Figures is the experience you really want.
M: Which says all you need to know about the Oscars.
C: I really want to see it. I know I said that a month ago, so I need to get off my duff, but I really do!
E: Do it! Do it now!
M: This month, we have mostly the usual February mumbo-jumbo: there’s a strong chance the more promising-looking films may under-deliver, otherwise they wouldn’t be opening in February. Except for Lego Batman. That might not suck.
C: I loved The Lego Movie (unexpectedly), so high hopes here.
E: It’s true. We can say that much for this February, because of Lego: it probably won’t all suck.
M: That aside, the movie news we’re really excited about this week is the announcement of the cast and crew for 2018’s Ocean’s Eight. Yes, it’s Hollywood again proving that it either has no original ideas, or that even when they have a semi-original idea they have to package it in something that sounds familiar so that it has a built in audience and (theoretically) less chance of total failure.
C: Normally I’d complain, but HEIST MOVIES. They never get old.
M: Right, plus: Sandra Bullock is the new lead, in the Sinatra/Clooney role, with Cate Blancheit, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna among the women filling out the other seven members of the heist crew. Gary Ross, who’s awesome and wrote things like Big and Dave and directed Seabiscuit and the first Hunger Games, is writing and directing. Awesomeness!
C: I totally freaked out when I heard about that. But let’s save our comments for that preview, huh?
E: Just noting that we are crazy excited about it, because the wait is soooo long!
M: And now, back to February.
E: How has this day come already? There almost seems like there’s too much going on to think about movies. But hey, by all means. Let’s have an abrupt focus shift from politics to entertainment as Hollywood picks out what they want us to remember them by, what they consider the best and the brightest lights of the past crazy year. Tomorrow is nomination morning.
That’s right folks. Ready for a little Oscar speculation?
E: Ah, January. A prime movie-going month in which almost nothing worth seeing actually opens.
C: Right, because some of us haven’t even seen all the things that opened in November yet.
E: And of course, because actual mega-blockbusters (hello, Rogue One) will continue to dominate the box office at least through this month. And also because lots of cool movies faux-opened in December.
C: Meaning that they premiered sneakily on a few screens to qualify for Oscars.
E: For example, Hidden Figures and A Monster Calls — both of which look terrific to me and get great reviews from critics — expand into wide release on January 6th. We already reviewed them in our December preview, but they may not have arrived at a theater near you till now. There’s Patriot’s Day, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence, and also Gold, in which Matthew McConaughey sports a Trump-ian comb over, going into wide release at the end of the month.
C: Wow, and I already thought McConaughey was unbearable to watch.
E: Yet it can get worse. Also? I guarantee you that both the true and faux-December flicks (including obvious blockbusters like Rogue One) are going to be far better movies than the few ones that actually come out in January. Prepare yourself for an anemic preview, in terms of both film quantity and quality, and comfort yourself with the knowledge that there’s great stuff already out there.
C: Way to tantalize the people, E. Now read our post about the tepid losers you won’t see! At least it’s very, very short.
M: Star Wars. Oscars. Assassins. December starts off slowly, but once it gets going it’s got it all.
E: If a film’s going to be eligible for Oscar, it has to play for at least a week before the year’s out. So Christmas, particularly, is packed full of last minute contenders jostling for attention.
M: It’s been a few years since I voiced this complaint, so I’ll do it again now. I hate the system that allows movies to be released on literally two screens (one in NY, one in LA) in December, then get release wide right around when people are actually voting for the Oscars. My proposal is this: to qualify for Oscars, at the time of the voting deadline the total number of screens your film is being shown on must be equal or higher in the calendar year you are qualifying for. So, if you release on two screens in December, you can’t expand beyond two until after the voting is complete. If you want to be eligible in 2016, really be a 2016 movie.
E: Thanks, M; that was not predictable at all. You get that it’s strategy, right? Studios want their movies to be fresh in voters’ minds when they vote. Almost never does a movie from the first half of the year get Oscar attention. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying, that’s the game.
M: That’s my point. The attention span of the Oscar nominators and voters is so insanely small that studios play to it, and movies that are really 2017 movies end up winning awards for 2016 because they play the game. I’d prefer to try to minimize the game playing, or at least punish people for the manipulation.
E: I’m not sure it really qualifies as manipulation. That said, the real point is that there’s so much good stuff in December; it’s a heady mix of blockbusters and grown up dramas, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.