The 2018 Golden Slice Awards

Every year, I hold an Oscar-like awards ceremony to see what my Instagram followers’ favorite films of the year were. This year, I had many categories and many people who voted, so thank you to all my followers who participated. Usually I post the winners here, but this year I’m trying something new — a YouTube video! This is my first video in a long time, and it won’t be the last. If you want to find out the winners of this year’s Golden Slice Awards, please check out my video below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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In the final chapter of the Maze Runner trilogy, Thomas embarks on a mission to save his friend Minho from the sinister organization WCKD and find a cure for the deadly disease known as the Flare.

I enjoyed reading the Maze Runner books so when the films were announced, I was excited. Though I did enjoy the first film, the second one wasn’t very good and put the potential of this final film at risk. Though this did take much longer to release due to Dylan O’Brien’s injuries on set, the franchise has finally concluded, and though it’s often bland in its execution, it wraps things up pretty well. The cast that includes Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Giancarlo Esposito are quite good, but some of the writing, especially in the first half, is so forced it’s hard to care for the emotion they try to deliver. Too much time is spent discussing a disease and its cure and not enough about Thomas’ internal and external conflict which we cared so much about in the first film. It does recover from the mess of The Scorch Trials, which strode away from the main focus of the series and was too unevenly paced and unnecessarily crowded. This film knows which cast members to put in the center and which characters it doesn’t need, and it begins with a very entertaining action scene but then goes to the predictable “main character on a rogue mission to save the world” route. The dialogue feels either too rushed or too direct and cliche to care too much about, and though the action is quite fun, the character development is sometimes not in the right places. However, the second half does recover with a dramatic and thrilling final battle for the series, that hits the right emotional marks at the end and often keeps the viewer in their seat. As someone who is somewhat a fan of this series, I enjoyed this movie by the end and thought it was an improvement over the second one, but I wouldn’t defend it over the mixed reviews it’s getting because despite the entertaining action and cast, there isn’t much to love. It’s a serviceable conclusion to a series that wasn’t all that great but ends on a good note for the franchise. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll definitely have a lot of fun with this finale, but if you’re not a fan or haven’t seen the other films, don’t bother.

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The Greatest Showman

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The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, and is loosely based on the true story of how he rose from rags to riches by founding a circus that ended up running for nearly 150 years. Jackman has proven talent and range in his career, from 17 years as Wolverine, to impressive and deep performances in films like Prisoners and The Prestige. Here he finds himself another suiting role as Barnum, the showman who inspired those who were different to be proud of themselves and brought joy to many watchers with his entertainment. Jackman not only brings charm and confidence to this role, but can also sing well. Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife, Zac Efron as his newly-found business partner, and Zendaya as a trapeze artist are all delightful too, despite some wasted supporting roles like Rebecca Ferguson’s character. The Greatest Showman will definitely appeal to fans of musicals and younger audiences, with very entertaining songs written by Oscars winners Pasek and Paul, which are fun and the best parts of the film. In addition to that, there’s a charming story about family, love, embracing those who are different, never giving up and bringing happiness to others. However, we’ve seen it all before and it’s not hard to predict where everything will go. The story of a character with nothing but a bold idea who convinces himself and others to never give up on their dreams has been explored many times before, and as a family film you can’t expect it to take many unexpected turns, but many times has this plot been shown and it’s not done very differently here to make the story stand out from others. Even the recent film The Disaster Artist was able to deliver this story in a way that felt creative and unique. Some of the plot elements feel heavily fictionalized to follow this family-friendly story, and I wish it had stuck true to the real events, which I’m not familiar with but I bet would have made a much deeper and resonating story and not just a fun one. Like I said before, Jackman is great as Barnum, but we never explore his inner self other than his love for his family and show business which has come out of nowhere. We don’t feel any conflict in him, only the positive decisions and emotions, which I understand as it’s a kid’s movie, but even younger audiences could learn a little more from him. I wouldn’t push audiences away from this film, as everyone in my theater clapped in the end and even I had quite a fun time watching it. However, I wish it had aimed for more than the cliche plot and themes and gone for something more daring.

The Greatest Showman will definitely please families with its entertaining musical numbers and cast, and has some familiar but sweet themes for kids and sequences that parents will enjoy watching with their children. I had a delightful time myself watching this one, and I would overall recommend it for families to go and watch. If only this had something for adults to grip onto and remember as well, and not just bring their kids to see.

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Phantom Thread

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Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

I’ve always been a big fan of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, so I was glad to hear when this film was announced, as his previous collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis was excellent and even got Day-Lewis an Oscar. He is definitely one of the greatest actors of our time and it’s unfortunate that he recently decided to retire from the profession, but this is a very impressive film and a great sendoff for his career, with a superb final performance from him. He completely dominates every scene with his clever but quietly terrifying and greedy protagonist, a well-written character by the name of Reynolds Woodcock. Woodcock is a fashion designer who is too caught into his work sometimes to care about others and demands to stay in his routine, but his lover in the film finds a soft spot in him as they fall in love. The actress who plays his lover Alma is also very good and has great chemistry with the lead, and their relationship is the center of the film. It’s a dark and twisted love tale in a way but also deep and tense, but Anderson knows how to make us care for this relationship overall. Astounding production and cinematography can be noted throughout, but one of the best technical aspects of the film is the beautiful music which fills every scene artistically. This is a very different film than most, like all Anderson’s films are. He makes movies that don’t fit in certain genres, but films about people and the traits that construct them. Phantom Thread is a great example of what he can do, and this genius director hasn’t lost his steam since the ’90s. It’s occasionally slow, but at best it’s gripping and done like something not many other filmmakers would create. The ending is something I have to think about as well, as though I haven’t grasped the complete meaning of it, it will probably grow on me over time. Phantom Thread is not for everyone, but the elegant technicality and smart writing make this a nicely done character piece with a scene-stealing performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, and once again a home run for Paul Thomas Anderson.

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Nominations Announced for the 90th Academy Awards

It’s that time of year again, where the best films of the year get to shine and take home to golden statues! Today, the nominations were announced for the 90th Oscars. In case you haven’t heard who got nominated yet, here are the nominees (in bold is who I think will win):

Best Picture:
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director:
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Jordan Peele – Get Out

Best Actor:
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress:
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Best Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Best Original Screenplay:
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Logan
Molly’s Game
Mudbound

Best Cinematography:
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Mudbound
The Shape of Water

Best Visual Effects:
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Film Editing:
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Sound Editing:
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Sound Mixing:
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Production Design:
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Best Original Score:
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Song:
“Mighty River” from Mudbound
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me” from Coco
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

Best Costume Design:
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Darkest Hour
Wonder
Victoria and Abdul
I am overall pretty satisfied with these nominees, despite a few snubs. James Franco failed to get a Best Actor nomination although he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy. This was due to sexual harassment allegations that were made against him, and though I see why the Academy wouldn’t want to nominate him due to this, there isn’t anything we have to prove this was true, and though I won’t take sides on whether or not I think he did or didn’t do what he’s been accused of, his performance in The Disaster Artist was amazing nonetheless. I am disappointed that Armie Hammer for Call Me By Your Name and Jessica Chastain for Molly’s Game weren’t nominated but these acting lineups were very good nonetheless. Two great films that didn’t get nominated for Best Picture like I hoped were The Big Sick and I, Tonya, which I think deserved to be on there. I am surprised to see Woody Harrelson nominated for Best Supporting Actor but he deserves it. Martin McDonagh was not nominated for Best Director which is unfortunate considering his great work with Three Billboards. The Shape of Water nearly tied the all-time record and although I didn’t love it as much as most people, it deserved most its nominations but I think Dunkirk should win most of the technical categories. As for Best Picture, I do think Three Billboards will win this year. Not only did it win the top prizes at the Golden Globes and the SAG awards, but it’s a terrific movie and better than nearly all of what was nominated this year. Overall, despite a few positive/negative surprises, this year should be quite a great one for the biggest awards of the year! We’ll find out if our predictions were right on March 4!
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The Post

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The Post is the latest film from Steven Spielberg, and follows the true story of a cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents and pushed Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) the country’s first female newspaper publisher and her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.

There isn’t much to be said about why everyone is seeing this movie: Nothing can possibly go wrong when you have a trio like Spielberg, Hanks, and Streep, right? Well, the three of them continue to prove themselves in this timely tale of one of the biggest battles the press has ever faced, and how the biggest secrets of the Vietnam War were exposed to the public. Nobody could have delivered a story like this better than Spielberg himself, with the energy he brings into his sets and his extended camera movements (shot incredibly by frequent Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski) never leaving the film. Meryl Streep is at her best (like always) as an important female figure in the history of the press, as Kay Graham was the first female head of the newspaper and helped publish classified secrets in the Washington Post. The strength she gives to her strong lead will captivate the audience and even have them clapping at some of Streep’s best moments in the film. Teaming up with Spielberg once again is the one and only Tom Hanks, whose talent is once again evident as the spirited Ben Bradlee who never loses faith in Graham and in the Post. Hanks and Streep have great chemistry and always demonstrate dedication to their roles and bring a lot of what makes Graham and Bradlee so important to the screen quite convincingly. This historical topic has a very important story that wasn’t just relevant then, it still is now. This movie is about telling the truth and about the freedom of the press, which we mustn’t forget is supported by the First Amendment. What happened then may happen in the future, and we must fight to let our people know what is really going on and not let the government punish what is supported by the Constitution. This is a very relevant theme to today’s politics and journalism, and I learned a lot from this fascinating story about perseverance and taking risks to do what’s right. Nobody could have executed this story better than Steven Spielberg, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better Kay Graham than Meryl Streep (same with Hanks for Bradlee). Streep’s empowering female protagonist is powerfully portrayed, as women were facing sexism while mostly men worked at these kind of jobs. Graham took a leap and brought the Post and this country to where it was today, and this kind of leading role is what will inspire many. Although a few scenes were a little long/slow-paced, and some of the editing could have used a little more music, speaking of which is incredibly done by John Williams, but other than that, I don’t see a reason why not to go see this relevant and thought-provoking true story that’s now in theaters and bound to shine at this year’s Oscar season.

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The 75th Golden Globe Awards

The 75th annual Golden Globes were tonight! As a big fan of cinema and of the awards, I of course was watching. There were definitely some big surprises, some good and some a little disappointing. However, I was mostly pleased by the winners of tonight. My in-depth thoughts are below the winners list. In case you didn’t catch them, here are the winners of tonight’s Golden Globe Awards:

Best Picture – Drama: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture – Musical or Comedy: Lady Bird

Best Director: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Best Actor – Drama: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Best Actress – Drama: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy: James Franco – The Disaster Artist

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Best Screenplay: Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

Best Original Song: “This is Me” – The Greatest Showman

Best Animated Feature: Coco

Best Foreign Language Film: In the Fade (Germany/France)

Before I talk about my thoughts on the winners, I’ll talk about the ceremony as a whole. First of all, Seth Meyers was a terrific host, and his opening monologue was absolutely entertaining and he had some hysterical remarks on Harvey Weinstein and many other topics. I’ve loved watching his show so I was glad when he was announced as host, and he definitely didn’t disappoint. He had me laughing throughout the whole time, and I would love to see him host next year. Another big moment for the awards was Oprah Winfrey winning the Cecil B. DeMille award, given every year to a celebrity whose lifetime achievements in their careers have been exceptional. With all the incredible show hosting, acting, and humanitarian work Oprah was achieved, as well as the joy she has given everyone (this was evident when multiple winners yelled her name as soon as they got on screen), I would say she has earned this award quite well. Now, I’d like to talk about a few great moments on the show. First of all, James Franco’s acceptance speech for an award he completely deserved. He won for playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, and he invited the real Wiseau on screen to accept it with him, which pleased many fans of the film like me. In an inspirational moment at the end of his speech, he thanked his brother Dave Franco (who starred alongside him in the film) and said he loves him more than anything and thanks his mother for giving Dave to him. As an older brother, this moment touched me deeply, and it was a beautiful moment between these two awesome brothers who have both come so far in showbusiness. Now, let’s talk about the winners. I have to say that these winners were quite deserving. There were some big surprises and only a few disappointed me. Alexandre Desplat won Best Score for his work in The Shape of Water, which I loved but I think Hans Zimmer should have won for Dunkirk. His music in that film was something else, on a new level of composing, like nearly all his scores. I saw him perform live a few months back and every one of his scores is something marvelous. I also think Christopher Nolan should have won Best Director, because Dunkirk was the film of his career with the praise it got, and it was his directing at his best. Nolan is my all-time favorite director and though Guillermo del Toro did a wonderful job with The Shape of Water, I would have loved to see Nolan win. One more disappointment was the song “This is Me” winning over “Remember Me” from Coco. I haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet but I’ve heard the song that won and it isn’t that great, while “Remember Me” was something emotional that inspired and touched all viewers. That’s it for my negative shockers, now the rest of the winners I was very pleased with. James Franco for The Disaster Artist, Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird, Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, and Allison Janney for I, Tonya were all well deserved in their amazing work. Although Lady Bird wasn’t my favorite of the nominees for Comedy (my favorite was Get Out), I think it was a well-deserved win because it was an exceptional directorial debut for Greta Gerwig and a great representation of youth in our country and had a terrific female lead. Now, the biggest shocker of them all definitely pleased me. Sally Hawkins was the frontrunner to win Best Actress and Willem Dafoe was predicted to win Supporting Actor but those wins ended up going to Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I think McDormand and Rockwell deserved their wins 100% as they were the best in their category. Martin McDonagh won the screenplay award for that film, which he completely deserved for his absolutely brilliant writing for the film. His career his been so impressive and his films are very overlooked, until now. The biggest surprise for us was that this movie ended up winning the biggest award of them all, Best Drama. I was expecting The Shape of Water to win because it had 7 nominations, or Dunkirk because of its grand prestige, but I am completely in favor of Three Billboards winning this award. Its themes about anger and grief, and its relevance because of the exposure of many rapists lately, makes it a worthy winner, and though I would have also loved Dunkirk to win, Three Billboards deserved it all the way and I recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. This awards ceremony was overall awesome and I hope you all enjoyed it too! If you have any opinions about the winners that agree or disagree with mine, let me know!

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