What’s Opening While You’re Busy Seeing the Stuff That Officially Came Out in December: January 2017 Movie Preview

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.

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SAG Reactions: Whoa, There, Voters

E: I guess I have to figure out what Captain Fantastic is after all.  Now that it nudged La La Land – previously thought to be the frontrunner for Best Picture – out of a the Best Ensemble category, I can’t continue to ignore it.  (Of course, writing that I was ignoring it implies that I knew it existed before Monday, which isn’t exactly the case.  Rather sad, since it turns out that like Hell or High Water, another mysterious awards contender, it opened in August.)

Okay, so SAG was way off Oscar last year; it will be fascinating to see if the trend continues.  They’re certainly a good distance from the Golden Globes, with only 2 films overlapping the two lists.  2 films!  That’s crazy.  Frontrunners fall, sleepers push to the foreground. Let’s break it down.

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My Life As A What?: Golden Globe Nomination Reactions

E: Of all the movies snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press, my mind didn’t leap immediately to Martin Scorsese’s Silence, or to Tom Hanks’ starring role in Sully, or one of the many dazzling songs in Moana skipped over for a couple of unknowns.  No, the first thing that blew my mind was seeing Pixar’s stunning Finding Dory (not only one of the year’s best reviewed films but also currently the box office champion of 2016) passed over for My Life As A Zucchini.

Yes.  That’s right. My Life As a Zucchini.  An admittedly charming French stop motion animation flick about orphans and the power of love trumped the highest grossing movie in America.

You can not make this stuff up.  Or rather, you could, but no one would ever believe it, and that might be motto for 2016 when you think about it.

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Oscar Flicks and Rogue Blockbusters: December 2016 Movie Preview

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.

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November 2016 Movie Preview: Part Deux

E: Sorry for the delay, friends — after a fraught election week and all, we’re belatedly bringing you the rest of November’s movie offerings. Also, all three siblings have gone since last we wrote — and you know what?  Despite my dread, Trolls was pretty enjoyable.

M: And C and I separately saw Doctor Strange, which is not the best Marvel movie ever, but despite that is quite entertaining.

E: As with November’s first week, there are some pretty fine offerings to be had.  If you’re looking for a distraction, your multiplex can definitely accommodate you for a few hours.

C: There’s also a fair bit of random garbage, but yeah, some strong contenders too — one of which I already have tickets for. And if you all don’t know that’s Fantastic Beasts, you don’t know me.

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Fall 2016 Television Preview: Sunday

E: Welcome to the best night on TV, the night when cable pulls out all the stops.  Want prestige adaptations?  We’ve got ’em. Costume dramas?  You’re on.  Movie stars?  Check.

C: And I… don’t think I watch anything on Sundays. I’m the low-brow one on this gang, I guess.

M: Something tells me I’ll give you a run for your money there. In Thursday’s post we mentioned how that night has fallen off as the most competitive, best night on TV. Well, Sundays was always up there, now it’s the king of the hill (though, not Hank Hill). But it’s become a weird hill. NBC has football (which until about 5 years ago was on ESPN), CBS decided to go with a slate of similar-but-different, law enforcement-y procedurals, with acronym-happy NCIS:LA, Madam Secretary and Elementary. FOX, as it has for years, has gone all comedy on Sunday, and ABC is kind of schizophrenic, with the fantasty-ish Once Upon a Time, followed by the very heavy Secrets and Lies, and ends with the extremely soapy Quantico. What a weird night.

E: Two things you won’t get this fall? Game of Thrones (it’s such a long wait until April) and The Good Wife (sigh).

M: Poor E, her long-time favorite show has come to an end. Was it at least a satisfying end?

E: Confession time: I have still not actually watched the final two episodes.

M and C: WHAAAT!?  whaaatminion

E: I know.

C: Okay but seriously, that is shocking.

M: Like, “end of The Sixth Sense if you hadn’t heard there was a twist” shocking.

E: I know! I was really glad they were ending it (boy it got really dark and unsatisfying in later seasons, even though it still gave us the most brilliant, topical cases of the week and the most vivid characterizations on television), and I was glad it went out on the creators’ terms, but I don’t know.  It’s too emotionally fraught.  What if I don’t like it?  I heard mixed reviews, and I just could not — still cannot — bring myself to watch.

C: Well, I can’t say I don’t sympathize. I’ve given up on some of the shows I was the most emotionally invested in because I couldn’t handle the loss of the things I liked about it. But, you know, usually with a season or two left, not two episodes. Poor E 😦 Continue reading

Fall 2016 Television Preview: Friday

M: Ahhh, Friday: once a TV graveyard, now an odd mix of the “pity-move” where shows get sent before they get cancelled, and steady medium ratings earners. In other words, shows that aren’t going to get great ratings but, without costing too much, keep enough eyeballs (and advertisers) that the networks are willing to keep renewing them, yet aren’t willing to move them to more popular nights.

E: Friday Nights: lower your expectations.

C: I think Fridays have been like that for a while now, actually.

M: Yes, didn’t mean to imply that was brand new, just newer. There was also a trend (started by Grimm a few years back) of spooky shows on Fridays that seems to have come to an end, at least on the broadcast nets. However, this year there are some interesting new offerings.

C: I’d say it started with The X-Files… but maybe that wasn’t a trend so much as a lone beacon of Spooky in the night.

M: X-Files spent most of it’s life on Sundays, though.

C: Now a waning Vampire Diaries is trying to be that beacon…

E: Huh — I hadn’t noticed the lack of spooky programming, but you’re quite right.  Is that just happening now?

M: Seems to be.

E: Friday night’s the night I catch up on the TV I watch with my kids, so I’m never watching live, personally.

M: In past years we had combined Friday and Saturday.  However, in a development this year, it appears that the nets have given up on Saturdays completely, so we’re just mentioning one BBC America show…

E: And one cartoon, because my family is all about it!

M: …but that’s it for Saturday. So we’re not giving it a whole post, as we didn’t feel the need to tell you that most of the nets are showing news magazines and college football (including the very narcissistic-ally titled “FOX Sports Saturday: FOX College Football“).

C: LOL. What channel is that on, I wonder?

E: I haven’t a clue – but I can tell you that our other previews are here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Again, new shows are in blue, red asterisks (*) mean we’re watching. Continue reading