Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our Academy Award Winner Predictions for the 2016 Films

Comments by Ken Burke

 Here’s the 6th annual Oscar-predictions-posting from Two Guys in the Dark (with some repeated verbiage from past postings because certain situations don’t change much from year to year, but at least I’m admitting my self-plagiarization), although I’ll (Ken Burke, the “public face” of Two Guys reviews for the present—or Buzz Lightyear’s “infinity and beyond” as the case may be with my good friend but so-far-silent-partner, Pat Craig) admit that some of my “insightful predictions” are just wild speculations based on industry gossip (or even less than that).  All sorts of people (including me in this posting) have opinions as to who should win these upcoming Oscars—as opposed to predicting who will win (I do both in the lists below)—so your opinions are just as valid as mine, although if you’re trying to win money in an Oscar pool you might want to consult industry-insider-sources such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and/or Entertainment Weekly (issue of Feb. 24/Mar. 3, 2017 or here [although you'll have to buy the issue one way or the other to see all of their predictions]); however, you might find the Metacritic tally of which films have actually won awards or been nominated to be a more-tangible-indicator but only for the major categories, again not the many technical or more-obscure areas (further, Meteoritic scores contain results from various critics groups’ awards which often display little overlap with what the Oscar voters are inclined to choose).

 In consideration of all of the above, here are my predictions and preferences in the 24 competitive categories (with winners and other comments to be added soon after the ceremony).  Color coding key: red = my prediction, green = my preference of the nominees (plus a few other greenies in the additional remarks that are my real preferences but didn’t make the final list of Oscar contenders through some oversight by the Academy, whose members just don’t always see the wisdom of my opinions), red + green = prediction and preference (gold + bold at a later date = WINNER!).  In deference to my waning sanity and a desire to not clutter up this posting more than necessary I’ll skip my usual identification of directors, year of release, and date of a Two Guys review after most titles listed below (except for Best Picture nominees, plus a few others), but you can see our Summary of Reviews to find that info—at for most of the categories but not so much in Animated, Documentary, and Foreign Language features (at the rate of a couple of screenings a week I don’t claim to see everything that’s released, even when available), although I do have some additional comments on the Live Action Shorts (not the Documentary or Animated shorts, though), just no actual reviews of those yet—however, please note that you do have to scroll through the various star clusters (each one alphabetized) in the Summary to find what you’re looking for so it does take a little time.  (But the results are certainly well worth it; where else would you find such brilliance?)

2/26/17—Well, my Oscar predictions have fallen once again into the realm of about 63% correct (15 of 24) largely because La La Land didn’t win nearly the number of awards I  (and many others) thought it would—only 6 of its 14 nominations—including the crazy mix-up at the end of the ceremony where it was mistakenly announced as Best Picture, then the winner was verified as Moonlight so once again both me and many of the industry-insiders were wrong in our predictions (but that’s not so surprising as it often happens year-to-year).  Based on what I alerted you to in my recent posting about Oscar predictions Variety came in best with about 71% (17 of 24 correct), as Entertainment Weekly got 67% (16 of 24), while my most-renowned-local-critic (the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle) got 49% (11 of 24).  My most glaring misses were for Moonlight as Best Picture (which must have easily confused a lot of viewers, given the crazy announcement of La La Land as the winner followed by the clumsy correction to Moonlight), Casey Affleck as Best Actor, Hacksaw Ridge for Best Film Editing, and Sing for Best Live Action Short, but you can count on the Oscars to throw some curve balls (which is why I don’t bet on their results).

Best Picture

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, review posted on November 17, 2016)

Fences (Denzel Washington, reviews posted on January 4 and January 12, 2017)

Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, review posted on January 4, 2017

Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, review posted on August 26, 2016)

Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, review posted on January 4, 2017)

La La Land (Damien Chazelle, review posted on December 21, 2016)

Lion (Garth Davis, review posted on January 4, 2017)

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, review posted on December 8, 2016)

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, review posted on November 10, 2016)  WINNER!
 Based on the review links I provided above there should be no doubt Fences is my favorite of the year, given that it’s received the only 5-star-rating for a new release (as opposed to re-releases of older classics) that I’ve given since this blog began in 2011; for me, it’s an outstanding filmic experience, even though it follows its origins on stage by being heavy in dialogue-interchanges rather than more standard cinematic opening-up of a theatrical work yet still providing a searing interpersonal drama that clearly demonstrates why it’s won Tony awards in its original and revival Broadway incarnations.  For that matter, Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford), which didn’t rate a Best Picture nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is my 2016 runner-up as it's only the 4th film I’ve gone to the 4½-star-level for in those same 6 years, and then there’s Hell or High Water which is #3 on my 2016 Top 10 list, but maybe those last 2 films are just playing on the fact I’ve spent considerably more time in west Texas (by choice or not) than I have in Los Angeles.

 Still, La La Land’s #4 on that list so if the Academy chooses to ignore my higher preferences  (which they’ve already done for one of them) then I’ll be satisfied enough if they honor my #4 (which I think is likely) or even my #5, Moonlight, which looked to be the early favorite and still has received slightly more nominations and awards (see that Metacritic link noted above) from various groups than has La La …, but just like with Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004) a few years ago, I think that the intense L.A. oversoul being channeled in Chazelle’s film will triumph (if my top 3 didn’t exist, La La … would become my #1 choice, despite not being a big fan of musicals, simply because of how this whole energetic-enterprise so successfully manifests itself), although I’m also quite impressed with the powerful human interactions explored so impactfully in Moonlight.  However, had all of this been up to me I’d dump Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, and Lion from this Best Picture group in favor of Nocturnal Animals, Jackie (Pablo Larraín), The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos), Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick), and The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi)—in order of how they fall on my 2016 list, all of which you’re welcome to look up in detail in our Summary of Reviews if you like.
La La Land, Damien Chazelle  WINNER!

Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson

Moonlight, Barry Jenkins

Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan

Arrival, Denis Villeneuve

This also shapes up to be a close race between the successful extravagance nurtured by Chazelle and the raw, fiercely-intimate command of Jenkins, with my prediction that extravagance will win the day (and the statuette); as with the Best Picture contenders, I don’t really think that any of the other nominees even stand a chance for this prize.  (Chazelle’s my #1 pick as well, in recognition for the amazing amount of foresight and coordination—essential characteristics of what the director’s job really is, not just keeping moody talent in a productive frame of mind—needed to bring all of the energetic-elements of La La Land into smooth totality, even to the point of abandoning the musical format in much of the middle-third of the film.)  However, had I been in charge of naming the competitors here I’d have dumped all except Chazelle and Jenkins, choosing instead my #’s 2, 3, and 5, who are Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), and Oliver Stone (Snowden) so it’s clear the Academy and I are off in very different directions.  However, you’ll find that Metacritic tally of nominations and awards also shows Chazelle a bit ahead of Jenkins, so I think I’ll be agreeing with the voters when the winner’s announced—yet another factor in Chazelle’s favor is he got the parallel award from the Directors Guild of America, which is usually a strong indicator of the Oscar winner.

Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea WINNER!

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

 This category is where I gladly get back to Fences (it takes a lot of directorial expertise to make this film as impactful as it is despite heavy reliance on its theatrical identity, but I can’t put Washington in my top 5 director choices, no matter how high my respect is for what the film as a whole accomplishes just because I think there are more impactful directorial options), where I think that Denzel is simply outstanding in his performance, with an increasing possibility that the Oscar voters will also make this choice based on various buzz I’ve encountered about this group of contenders.  However, Casey Affleck was long considered the front-runner (the Metacritic tally has him with about 3 times as many points as Denzel), with the further (irrelevant but not ignored) factor that Washington’s already won 2 acting Oscars (lead for Training Day [Antoine Fuqua, 2001], supporting for Glory [Edward Zwick, 1989]—plus [for me] the lead award he deserved for Malcolm X [Spike Lee, 1992]), whereas Affleck’s not won yet (with 2 nominations: this one and Supporting Actor for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [Andrew Dominik, 2007]) so that could steer the decisions on how this choice is made.

 I think Affleck does a marvelous job in his film, so no complaints if he prevails, but for my preferences Washington is just superb in his role (for which he won a Tony in the 2010 Fences Broadway revival [just as James Earl Jones did for the 1987 original]), picking up the Best Actor trophy from the Screen Actors Guild over Affleck, so with actors being the dominant group in the Academy (many of them overlapping in SAG membership) this promises to be another tight race, where I’ll narrowly take Denzel over Casey (but could easily be wrong).  To round out the category I’d substitute my #4 and #5 choices, Joseph Gordon Levitt (Snowden) along with Logan Lerman (Indignation) for Gosling and Mortensen, but my long letter to the Academy must be lost in the mail.

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land WINNER!  

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

 If we’re going to follow the pattern of the SAG winners as indications of who will be the upcoming Oscar winners for acting, then it's clear that Emma Stone’s set to display both trophies, having taken the 1st one already.  She’s a strong contender anyway in most recent predictions; however, in the Metacritic tally she’s notably behind both Portman and Huppert.  The Oscar voters will probably want to reward her for being such an integral part of La La Land’s success (something they just can’t do for Gosling, no matter how much his presence—and excellent piano work—added to that film), Portman’s already won for Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010), and Huppert well deserves this nomination (her first from the Academy, despite years of powerful roles and accolades from other groups) but given that she’s in a foreign-language-film she’s lucky to get that (although a couple of actresses in this situation before her have triumphed, but I think Stone and Portman have the inside track).  Negga’s quite solid in Loving but didn’t have to cover nearly the range of her competitors while Streep just keeps piling up nominations at a record level (20 for Oscars, 3 wins so far, plus hundreds more from other groups) that likely won’t be matched any sooner than will Ricky Henderson’s tally of stolen bases (1,406) in major-league-baseball, although for Streep to be able to sing as horribly as Florence Foster Jenkins when she has a lovely natural voice is an accomplishment worthy of consideration; yet, I’d have cleared out all of these well-accomplished-gals except for Portman and Huppert (my top 2) in favor of my next 3: Annette Bening (20th Century Women [Mike Mills]), Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train [Tate Taylor]), and Tarajj P. Henson (Hidden Figures).  I think Stone’s got this one, but I still found Portman’s presentation of Jacqueline Kennedy to be sublimely-effective, not an overdrawn-caricature as some have claimed, well-worthy of an Oscar I doubt she'll receive.

 Actor in a Supporting Role 

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight  WINNER!  

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

 While I’d pick Ben Foster (Hell or High Water) as my #1 in this acting category, Ali comes in at a strong #2 for me, well deserving of the Oscar which I think he’s almost guaranteed to win (no surprise that he’s already taken the Supporting Actor honor with the SAG folks) if Foster can’t even be a contender (or even if he were, for all these Academy voters), because Ali’s clearly ahead of the others in this group in my opinion.  And, while changing other nominees wouldn’t change my choice for Ali (unless I could get Foster in there), I‘d ideally have bumped Bridges and Hedges for Foster and my #4, Tracy Letts (Indignation), but that might be because I’ve had plenty of experience with the kind of guys they portray: misguided west Texans and pompous college deans.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences  WINNER!   

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

 While all of the nominees in this acting category are justifiably,  outstandingly worthy of any and all well-deserved-Oscar-recognition that might come their way (although I’d easily have no problem in dropping Kidman and Williams in favor of my #2, Lily Gladstone [Certain Women {Kelly Reichardt}], and a tie for my #5—even if such a result never happens with Oscar nominations [although it has occurred a few times with winners]Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women) there seems to be no doubt in anyone’s mind (including mine and the SAG voters) that Davis far and away deserves this honor.  Therefore, enough said; on to yet-another-acceptance speech for Viola!

Writing—Original Screenplay

20th Century Women, Mike Mills

Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan

La La Land, Damien Chazelle   

The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan WINNER!

 Here I’d have tossed out Manchester … in favor of Jackie (my #5), but otherwise this is where I come the closest to agreement with the Oscar finalists.  In order my other top original scripts are La La Land, Hell or High Water, The Lobster, and 20th Century Women; the Oscar top 5 are the same ones in the Metacritic tally, with Manchester firmly in the lead so I’ll just note my preference for La La … while agreeing Manchester …’s the likely pick here, if for no other reason than overall it’s gotten a lot of accolades (it’s #3 in the Metacritic poll of entries on critics' Top 10 lists for 2016—behind Moonlight and La La Land—along with a few hundred wins and nominations overall) including 6 Oscar nods, but except possibly for Best Actor (as noted above) I don’t see it winning any of the other little gold men so I think there could be a bit of a sympathy vote in this category to make sure that this film gets something of significance, given that it’s been so well-respected; however, if enough Academy voters decide to pick Affleck over Washington as Best Actor then that sense of sympathy may evaporate with a swing in Best Original Screenplay to La La Land just to keep piling on the jubilation for what I anticipate to be a major haul for Chazelle’s “folly.”   The Writers Guild of America winner is Moonlight, which normally might be an indication except their award was announced a few days ago on February 19, probably too late to make much of an impact with Oscar voting (ended on Feb. 21), along with the confusion (as well as vote-drain) that the WGA is one group among several that considered Moonlight appropriate for the Original Screenplay category, while others–including Oscars' decision-makers—have it in the Adapted race.

Writing—Adapted Screenplay

Arrival, Eric Heisserer

Fences, August Wilson

Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

Lion, Luke Davies

Moonlight, Barry Jenkins WINNER!

 Adapted Screenplay will always remain a mystery to me in terms of what the voters are choosing—including the members of the Academy’s Writers Branch, in that they’re the ones picking the initial 5 contenders, although everyone votes on the ultimate choice—because I don’t know if they’re simply supporting the best script that happens to come from another source or, more difficultly, weighting out the quality of the adaptation process in transforming a narrative from one medium to another.  This is an area I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching in principle and teaching about at Mills College (Oakland, CA), so based on what I see in terms of past winners, along with any commentary I’ve heard on the subject, I’d say that the vast majority of the Oscar-choosers are going with the impact of what’s on screen, not how it came to be that way from its original incarnation.  The WGA winner for this category is Arrival; however, the real complication this year is disagreement as to whether Moonlight belongs in the Original or Adapted Screenplay category so there may be some backlash here that it’s unfairly taking votes away from other contenders that might be more legitimately seen as being adapted or there may be relief by other voters that they don’t have to pick among Moonlight, La La …, and Manchester … for Original Screenplay, but with Moonlight up against Arrival for this Oscar, I don’t think the latter stands a chance even though my #1 choice, Fences, is my favorite; otherwise, I’d have eliminated Arrival and Hidden Figures in order to substitute my #2, Nocturnal Animals, and my #4, Indignation.
 A final note here is that should Fences surprisingly win the prize, I don’t know who'll end up with the trophy because August Wilson adapted his own play to a film script years before he died in 2005 but it went unproduced, by his decision, until an appropriate African-American film director could be given access to the work, which finally happened with Wilson’s heirs and Washington even as he decided to invest himself in a Broadway revival of the play in order to properly inform himself—as lead actor, director of other actors—how the stage format should best be translated into a film.

 As far as me making predictions for some of the remaining awards, I’m often flying almost-blind as I’ve seen only 1 of the Oscar-nominated Foreign Language choices, as well as a grand total of absolutely  none of the Documentary Features, Documentary Shorts, or Animated Shorts (except Piper in this last category but only because this cute little oceanside-story was packaged for its theatrical-exhibition along with Disney/Pixar's mega
-financially-successful-yet-still-overlooked-for-Oscar-consideration-hit in Finding Dory [Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane]—although Disney made up for this with Animated Feature nominations for Moana [Ron Clements, John Musker] and Zootopia [Byron Howard, Rich Moore]), nor do I have much sense of how most of the technical awards will go, given that the nominees come from specific guilds within the Academy but they’re then voted on by the entire membership so it’s a bit of a crapshoot how all those actors (again, representing a large bloc of voters) will respond to areas in which most of them probably aren’t experts.  However, I do sense that La La Land will take home a good number of the total awards this year; at least it has a strong possibility in that regard given its 14 nominations (tying with All About Eve [Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950]—14 of 16 available [not counting docs, shorts, etc.], won 6—and Titanic [James Cameron, 1997]—14 of 17 available, won 11), although it would surprise me if La La … actually tied or topped the previous shared-record of 11 wins (Ben-Hur [William Wyler, 1959], Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [Peter Jackson, 2003])* as I think there’ll be an inclination to somewhat spread the wealth around.

*For you Oscar-trivia-buffs, I encourage a visit to this site for much more of this sort of information.

Foreign Language Film                                                          Documentary Feature

A Man Called Ove, Sweden                                                     13th
Land of Mine, Denmark                                                            Fire at Sea
Tanna, Australia
                                                                      I Am Not Your Negro
The Salesman, Iran WINNER!                                                   Life, Animated
Toni Erdmann, Germany                                                          O.J.: Made in America  WINNER!   

 I will note that while The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi—who won in this category for his 2011 A Separation) is the only one of these nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category I’ve seen so far I certainly wouldn’t mind if it takes the prize (review in our February 16, 2017 posting) given its superb quality.  But—as noted in that cited review—even if he becomes a repeat-winner, Farhadi’s boycotting the ceremony in response to the intentions behind the Trump administration’s short-lived-travel-ban on anyone from 7 Muslim-dominant countries, U.S. protests against which have even encouraged some Iranians to call for rejections of the usual flag-burning and anti-American demonstrations that often characterize what Westerners know of that country’s citizenry.

Cinematography                                                                   Film Editing

Arrival                                                                                   Arrival
La La Land  WINNER!                                                            Hacksaw Ridge  WINNER!
Lion                                                                                     Hell or High Water 
Moonlight                                                                             La La Land  
Silence                                                                                  Moonlight 

Animated Feature Film                                                          Animated Short Film

Kubo and the Two Strings                                                       Blind Vaysha 
Moana                                                                                   Borrowed Time 
My Life as a Zucchini                                                             Pear Cider and Cigarettes
The Red Turtle                                                                        Pearl 
Zootopia WINNER!                                                                    Piper  WINNER!

Documentary Short Film                                                        Live Action Short Film

4.1 Miles                                                                               Ennemis Interieurs  
Extremis                                                                                La Femme et le TGV 
Joe’s Violin                                                                           Silent Nights
Watani: My Homeland                                                            Sing  WINNER!
The White Helmets WINNER!                                                 Timecode 

 I have seen the Live Action group (you can find info on all the Shorts here [if need be, click the 3 bars in the upper-right-corner of the link to get more areas of interest or they may already be at the top of the screen] and at Rotten Tomatoes) so I’m following my hunch that just as Oscar voters might be swayed by extra-cinematic-concerns toward The Salesman for Best Foreign Language Film they may feel the same way about the intense interrogation of an Algerian-born-man applying to gain French citizenship in Ennemis Interieurs  (Enemies Within); however, if they’ve already gotten their anti-Trump-anger out in the other category they may well honor La Femme et le TGV because of Jane Birkin’s marvelous lead performance, capping off (so far) her long, well-respected career.

Production Design                                                               Visual Effects

Arrival                                                                                  Deepwater Horizon
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them                              Doctor Strange
Hail, Caesar!                                                                        The Jungle Book  WINNER!
La La Land WINNER!                                                            Kubo and the Two Strings 
Passengers                                                                          Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Sound Mixing                                                                      Sound Editing

Arrival                                                                                  Arrival  WINNER!
Hacksaw Ridge  WINNER!                                                       Deep Water Horizon
La La Land                                                                           Hacksaw Ridge  
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story                                              La La Land 
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi                            Sully 

 I doubt that I’ll ever truly understand the difference between these Sound categories (although I know that true audiophiles surely do); likewise, I have to wonder how many Academy voters really have a clue about what’s going on with these 2 awards along with what determines their choices.    

Costume Design                                                               Makeup and Hairstyling

Allied                                                                                 A Man Called Ove 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  WINNER!           Star Trek Beyond  
Florence Foster Jenkins                                                     Suicide Squad  WINNER!
La La

Original Score                                                      Original Song

Jackie                                                                 “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” La La Land 
La La Land  WINNER!                                         “Can’t Stop the Feeling” Trolls 
Lion                                                                   “City of Stars” La La Land  WINNER!   
Moonlight                                                           “The Empty Chair” Jim: The James Foley Story
Passengers                                                        “How Far I’ll Go” Moana 
 One other Oscar-relevant inclusion in this posting is some commentary I’ll pass on to you from my northern California area’s (and further, via syndication) best-known-critic, Mick LaSalle, of the San Francisco Chronicle, who gave a talk on February 19, 2017 at the Castro Valley (CA) Library (that’s Mick on the left in the accompanying photo; I’m the faux-biker talking to him).  He explained in detail how “big and stupid” films tended to be the Best Picture nominees and winners in pre-2009 Oscar voting because the bigger the production the more people worked on it, the more votes it likely got (and “stupider” often won out just because this aspect appealed to more-common-denominator-mentalities—you can get a taste of his talk here [but then you’ll have to pay a small fee to get the whole article, which doesn’t seem to be available at the usual site, unless you’ve got a copy of this 2/19/17 paper's entertainment section], or if you just want to cut to the chase you'll also find that his Oscar predictions and preferences readily  available) but the current complicated system of rank-order-voting for up to 10 Best Picture nominees has created a great mismatch between the best and most popular movies because since 2010 only 3 of the box-office-top-10 have gotten Best Picture nominations, largely because the pop stuff is now mostly centered on 3 mass-appeal-themes: (1) alien invasions (playing to fears about immigrants), (2) artificial-intelligence taking over (playing to fears about automation), (3) civic chaos in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic milieu (playing to fears about terrorism).  In answer to questions I asked, he noted that today only the foreign-language category requires Oscar voters to attend screenings to prove they’ve seen the nominees (so that all other votes don't have that assurance); he shares my confusion about what these people are deciding among regarding Best Adapted Screenplay (quality of script that just happens to be adapted—he agrees that Fences would be the runaway-winner in that case—vs. success in the process of adaptation); and there well could be an impact on the technical-categories-winners from relatively-under-informed-actors making choices on Sound Mixing (for example) based on word-of-mouth, assumptions that a Best Picture will necessarily have the “best” supporting-elements, etc.  

 He also doesn’t see much reason to change the nomenclature of “actress” to “female actor” or just “actor” but does see the need to offer separate acting categories because Hollywood’s so bereft of strong starring roles for women that they’d rarely get nominated if up against the dozens of prime roles for men.  One last Oscar-related-item (not from LaSalle’s talk) you might find interesting is this speculation on the 5 closest races. That’s all for now, but I’ll update with Oscar winners soon then be back with more reviews of current films, so I hope you enjoy at least some of what the Academy chooses or if not please feel free to make comments far below as to favorites of yours from 2016.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*We’re sorry to say that a Google software glitch causes every Two Guys in the Dark posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to the Summary page, but there are too many of them to go back and fix them all.  From 8/26/16 on this link is accurate, with hopefully not too much confusion caused by this latest stupid snafu from the Alphabet overlords’ programming problems.

AND … at least until the Oscars for 2016’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, February 26, 2017 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2016 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards 
and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2016 along with the Oscar nominees for 2016 films.

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken*

*Please note that YouTube keeps taking down various versions of this majestic Eagles performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so I have to keep putting in newer links (of the same damn material) to retrieve it; this “Hotel California” link was active when I did this posting but the song won’t be available in all of our previous ones done before 2/16/2017.  Sorry, but there are too many postings to go back and re-link every one.  The corporate overlords triumph again.

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 26,170; below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:


  1. Nice summary and analysis of the Oscar races. If only the Academy could provide more suspense. Too many competing award shows preceding their show. I must say, I was less than impressed with LaLa Land, even though it was generally entertaining and visually pleasing. Gosling's "singing" killed it for me and as did some of the sophomoric production numbers (like the initial freeway overpass song and dance). My Best Picture nod goes to Lion although I can generally agree with your other choices. In any case, it is interesting that my two favorite critics, Ken Burke and Mick LaSalle reside in the same area and obviously occasionally interact. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks for the comment. As you know I'd vote for Fences for Best Picture but I do think the Academy will end up with La La Land. We'll soon know how all these categories come out; I usually end up with about 2/3 right, although some years I'm better. Thanks for putting me in the same category as LaSalle; that's a big honor. Ken

  3. I guess the Warren Beatty's of the world will need to wear their glasses next time. Mel Gibson looked like he was plastered, especially on the Red Carpet. He must not have expected Hollywood to treat him that well after his racist anti-everything rants in the past. He does take on interesting projects. Overall the Oscar show was entertaining and well executed, at least up to the surprise ending. Coen Brothers scripting?

  4. Hi rj, What a crazy finale for this year's Oscars ceremony, with the accounting firm partner the most guilty (in my opinion) for not paying more attention to his most important job of the year, although I do hold Beatty and Dunaway somewhat responsible as well for not questioning the confusion of having opened the wrong envelope. The whole thing was just so stupid and avoidable, ruining the moment for the production teams of both of the involved films.

    Otherwise, I agree. I enjoyed what I saw until that crazy mess at the end. Maybe the Coen Brothers did script the whole thing, but you'd think they'd have gotten somebody shot in the process. (Maybe Mel Gibson?) Ken