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Well, it is official. After over two years of speculation and rumors Ben Affleck appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live this past week to make it official: he's out as Batman. No more Caped Crusader for him. This should come as no surprise to anyone that is familiar with Affleck's tenure as The Dark Knight. Regardless, it can't help but feel like a colossal disappointment. Despite three appearances over three movies: two leading roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and a small cameo in Suicide Squad (2016), Affleck never got a chance as Batman. With this official and with the DC cinematic universe heading in a new direction, there's no better time than now to explore why Ben Affleck was so underutilized.
The complete list of nominees for the 91st Academy Awards, the most prestigious award in Hollywood, have been announced today (from Oscars.org). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the nominees this morning via live broadcast. This has been one of the most controversial and frustrating awards seasons in a long time, with so many great films going unrecognized - but these Oscar nominations are surprisingly solid. There's no need to spend any more time introducing, let's get right into it! This year, The Academy selected a total of eight Best Picture nominees, including: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Roma, and A Star is Born. Rami Malek also got a nod. Without further ado, here's the full list of nominees.
Great films need an equally great score to back them up. And 2018 has been an incredible year for both! The marriage between sound and image is a special craft that too frequently goes unrecognized or under-appreciated. Depending on your school of thought (what you were taught), original scores should either fold in seamlessly into the fabric of a film or they should stand out as a way to enhance the storytelling. A perfect film, however, knows how to balance both where we can marvel when necessary. The few I've chosen to highlight as my favorites have a shared through-line. Not only are there superficial commonalities (like former members of rock groups making the list), collectively they form a musical time capsule for the year's universally-shared emotions. I've excluded musical creations that are primarily soundtracks (sorry, A Star in Born), but it was still a challenge to narrow down the 10 that deserve to be highlighted (and purchased).
"All that matters is that you have an angle." Playing in theaters now is an indie film titled Vox Lux, the second feature made by actor-filmmaker Brady Corbet (his first was The Childhood of a Leader). Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy both play a pop star named Celeste, and the film tells her story and follows her into fame. Mike and I have really wanted to talk about Vox Lux, and we finally recorded this episode - it's an intense back & forth discussion about the good, the bad, what it all means, what it doesn't mean, and everything else about the film. We also chat about a few new trailers including Avengers: Endgame and the new Men in Black. Friends Alex Billington (@firstshowing) and Mike Eisenberg (@Eisentower30) team up to bring you a podcast providing in-depth discussion, analysis, and interviews about the latest movies, and some old ones too. This time we dig into Brady Corbet's provocative film Vox Lux with a full breakdown.
The list of nominations for the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards (of 2019), the yearly precursor to the Academy Awards, have just been announced today - you can find all the film nominees below. The infamous Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees this morning from The Beverly Hilton. The selection this year is crazier than usual, with musicals in the drama category, despite there being a musical category. Damien Chazelle's First Man only got a few nominations, but none of the big ones - a big upset. Obviously the HFPA loves A Star is Born, The Favourite, and Vice more than almost anything else, but they always have their favorites that they feature. Another odd year of picks but not that surprising for the HFPA.
It is time for the most important debate of our lives. Is Netflix really, truly good for cinema? In all honesty, there is no answer to this question (at least not yet), but it's a discussion worth having anyway. Our latest episode of The First Word podcast is a debate about Netflix's prominence in 2018 and how it's affecting the entertainment industry. Is it making things better? Is it making things worse? How can they improve? Have they released good films? Have they released bad films? We cover a variety of interesting topics in our discussion. Our special guest on this episode is Peter Sciretta, founder and owner and editor of movie site SlashFilm.com, whose extensive knowledge on both TV & film makes him the perfect guest for this episode.
"It's the best movie of the year. You'll hate it." Nothing like defending your pick for the best film of the year by saying "you'll hate it", but that's why we always have to feature this Top 10 every year. One of our favorite lists that kicks off this time of the year is from filmmaker John Waters - his Top 10 favorite films from this year. For 2018, Waters has chosen yet another (expected) eclectic mix of films, lead by Bruno Dumont's historical musical Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. I haven't heard a single person say they've seen this film much less mentioning it at all, but it's his #1. He also picks a few other underrated films from this year: Carlos López Estrada's Blindspotting, Guy Maddin's cinema mash-up The Green Fog, and yet another French film - Xavier Legrand's Custody, which first premiered last year but just got a release in the spring.
Thank goodness for Letterboxd. I was originally going to title this article "Hitting My Mark", but I'd rather go with the catchphrase "Always Be Watching" - meaning, simply, always be watching films. New films, old films, big films, small films, just keep watching. It's my mantra and has been for years, since the early days of running this website. If I don't want to watch a film that was just released, there's always (always!) more old films to watch. And there's always something that I haven't yet seen to watch. As someone whose job it is to watch movies, my goal is to fit in a movie every day. It's not always possible, but I try. This year I decided to keep track of all the films I've seen using the wonderful Letterboxd, so I can actually keep count and look back at it all. It's the end of July and I'm already over 200 films. Do I get a medal? Nah, I just need sleep.
"You've changed things… forever. There's no going back." On July 18th, 2008, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight opened in theaters worldwide and changed everything. The seminal sequel to 2005's Batman Begins would have an indelible impact on pop culture, the superhero genre, and movies in general. Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance and tragic passing would send shockwaves throughout the industry. With a groundbreaking marketing campaign leading up to its highly anticipated release, The Dark Knight became an unforgettable big screen experience. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, let's take a look back at how Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight changed things forever and remains a masterpiece to this day.
"We are our choices." -Jean-Paul Sartre. Life is all about choices. The choices we make, or that we don't make, in small decisions, in big decisions. Everything is about these choices and every choice we make, even subconsciously, leads us down one path or another. We can't go back, but we can continue to be aware and learn what influences us to make decisions. This is an endless philosophical discussion with no conclusion, but the concept of "choices" has been on my mind a lot at film festivals - ever since a discussion I had with my friend & fellow critic Pamela Jahn at the Cannes Film Festival. Then it continued while I was at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic. I chose to go to this festival because I enjoy it, and I really want to catch up with and see more films. I'm very happy I went to this festival, and strangely enough even though a number of my friends were also there we never ended up at the same screenings. This isn't uncommon at film festivals, but it did make me think more about the choices we make - especially at fests.
It all began in 2015. After seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we started messaging each other furiously. For nearly two weeks there was non-stop chatter - on theories, ideas, things to look for, things we noticed, fleeting thoughts, any- and everything related to the movie. Two years went by, and after many many more text message debates like this, Mike and I decided to launch a podcast so we could just talk directly about everything. So in December of 2017, with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we launched The First Word Podcast - in-depth discussion, analysis, and interviews about the latest movies, and some old ones, too. We just released our 10th episode this week, so it's time for a recap of all the episodes so far. You know, in case you might've missed one. Or maybe you've never listened? There's no better time to start than now.
What are the best films out of this year's Cannes Film Festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What films should be a priority for you to see? After 12 days at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, after 33 screenings, it's time to present my 2018 list of my Top 8 Favorite Films. This was my 9th time back to this festival, and I love being there in the middle of all, committing fully to seeing as many films as I can. These eight listed below are the ones that I adore, that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope everyone plans to check them out when they arrive in their neighborhood. They are worth the wait. There were many outstanding films this year, and this is my final recap of the 2018 festival - see all of these.