The Oscar Project
We have a sizable list of wide openings this weekend with a good deal of variety so there should be something for everyone.
We have Christopher Robin for the kids, The Darkest Minds for those looking for another apocalypse where kids must save the day, political documentary Death of a Nation which analogizes Trump and Lincoln, and Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon bring us the comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me.
To say that I'm more excited for this "kids" film than any in a long time would be a bit of an understatement. Ever since hearing about Ewan McGregor taking on the role of a grown up Christopher Robin, I have been anxiously awaiting this film and thankfully I don't have to wait any longer.
For anyone who grew up on the original stories of Winnie the Pooh and his friends by A. A. Milne, or enjoyed the Disney shorts of the 1960s and 1970s, this looks to hit right in the sweet spot of nostalgia for the "good old days" and lessons for the modern world about the importance of family. I may have teared up a bit watching the trailer recently simply because these characters have been a part of my popular culture for as long as I can remember.
Now, am I expecting this film to make any hay at the Oscars next year? Probably not. Best Visual Effects may be the only landing place for it since The Jungle Book was similarly nominated a few years ago. One long shot for the Academy would be a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, though I doubt something intended for kids and families would receive the award should it be nominated.
That said, it look like a fun film and I will definitely be taking my kids (hopefully this weekend).
The Darkest Minds
When you throw the "producers of Stranger Things" up during the trailer, you're definitely trying to piggy back on previous success, and this film is somewhat intriguing to me. It also feels like a piggy back on previous adaptations of post-apocalyptic teen novels like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner with a dash of Marvel superheroes thrown in for good measure.
The most telling line from the trailer is "for your safety and theirs, please turn over your children." Not something that any parents wants to hear, yet by the looks of things, many have done just that in this film and it's up to the kids to figure out a way to fix things on their own, using their psycho-kinetic powers to protect themselves.
The Darkest Minds looks like it could be a visual effects bonanza with flying trees and giant explosions, but I don't see any other nomination potential here. As with Christopher Robin, I suppose Best Adapted Screenplay is a slight possibility, but I think even less so.
Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time?
With a title that very obviously refers to the D. W. Griffith's classic silent film The Birth of a Nation, it's hard to figure out where to put this in the context of commentary films.
To say that things are divided in this country right now is an understatement. There is news every day about something that one side or the other has done that their opponents disagree with, fear, or outright hate. We are inundated with accusations of "fake news" and people from both parties refuting claims of events that did or did not take place. So where are we to turn to the remedy to these problems facing our nation today?
I think D'Souza is right, it's up to us to change and try to see the possibility in those around us, rather than the differences. It's been 102 years since The Birth of a Nation, and yet we're still having some of the same issues in this country.
Of course this film may be up for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, but with so many other great documentaries out there already this year, I think it may get lost in the shuffle. But it sure would be interesting to have D'Souza giving a speech at the Oscars ceremony next spring.
The Spy Who Dumped Me
I love Mila Kunis, and I'm beginning to take a liking to Kate McKinnon as well. This film takes a very interesting premise and appears to treat it in a very serious way.
Oh, who am I kidding? This is entirely played up for laughs and the peril that the leading ladies appear to be in throughout is likely just that, appearance.
Ultimately this looks like it's trying to come off as a spy movie, buddy copy movie, and maybe even a bit of a romantic comedy, but I fear that trying to do all of these well is destined for poor results.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?