The DVD Report #646

Snow Falling on Cedars is a film worth discovering or rediscovering, whichever the case may be.

The new 4K transfer and restoration by Shout Select was supervised by three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (JFK, The Aviator, Hugo) who earned the fourth of his nine Oscar nominations so far for the film. Also included are brand-new on-camera interviews with Richardson, director Scott Hicks, novelist David Guterson, and composer James Newton Howard. Hicks’ commentary on the 2000 DVD of the 1999 film was imported for the Blu-ray.

Hicks’ commentary helps answer a lot of questions about the film which can be confusing at times. The director explains that this was intentional, that there are three mysteries in the film: the question of the guilt or innocence of the man on trial, the mystery surrounding the long-ago romance of the local investigative reporter and the wife of the man on trial, and the clarity of the event in the opening sequence in the fog.

The film takes place in 1950 when racial tensions ran high between the predominantly white residents of a small island off the coast of the State of Washington in the Pacific Northwest and the Japanese-Americans who were rounded up after the attack on Pearl Harbor and bused to concentration camps in California.

The film’s story is told in non-linear fashion beginning with the death of a fisherman (Eric Thal), the investigation into his death by the town sheriff (Richard Jenkins), and the arrest of his neighbor (Rick Yune) with whom he had an argument earlier that day. It then moves to the courtroom where his trial takes place, presided over by judge James Cromwell with James Rebhorn as the prosecutor and Max von Sydow as the defense counsel. The rest of the film goes back and forth between events in the present and memories of previous events in the minds of the witnesses as a reporter (Ethan Hawke) looks for evidence that the sheriff and his crew may have missed.

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This Day in Oscar History: November 12 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Precursor: 11th Make-Up Artists Guild Nominations (2019)

The big surprise of these nominations is the triple nomination for Bombshell, a film that never seemed like the kind of film to earn nominations from this group. The Irishman is also surprising considering the de-aging technology used on that film, which will likely make it Oscar-ineligible. Rocketman is certainly no surprise and Joker also seems like a solid Oscar contender. The rest are a bit questionable.

Nominations Tallies

(3) Bombshell, Rocketman
(2) Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Hustlers, John Wick: Parabellum, Joker, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

The Nominations

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Poll: Now That You’ve Seen “Midway”

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Polls

Now That You’ve Seen Midway…?

Cinema Sight Asks: Now that you've seen "Midway," which Roland Emmerich film is best?

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Film Preview: Soul (2020)

Page Revisions:

(November 10, 2019) Original

Release Date:

June 19, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.”

Poster Rating: B-

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Review: It’s a simple artistic design that doesn’t ask for a lot of details, nor does it need it. Those details that are here are at least modestly compelling.

Trailer Rating: B

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Review: Getting the set up in the first trailer is a wise decision for an original property. There’s just enough here to plant the seeds of interest in young audiences and their parents as well as fans of the Pixar brand.

Oscar Prospects:

Another Pixar film opening the summer, this film has a lot of potential for Oscar consideration in spite of looking something like a cross between Coco and Inside Out except with a spiritual twist. It’s also an original Pixar, which will put it at the front of the line for an Oscar nomination.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: The Invisible Man (2020)

Page Revisions:

(November 10, 2019) Original

Release Date:

February 28, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “When Cecilia’s abusive ex commits suicide and leaves her fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia’s works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.”

Poster Rating: C-

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Review: The invisible man might be hiding in the black space, but this designer did nothing to give that idea over to the audience. It’s generally just an overly-vacant design.

Trailer Rating: B+

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Review: It takes a bit too long to get into the meat of the plot. Establishing her “late” husband’s assholish qualities does set up the rest of the trailer nicely, but could have been done more quickly. That said, this horror thriller does look rather interesting in spite of itself.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 8-10, 2019

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Midway

It’s clear from Roland Emmerich’s post-2012 resume that he’s extremely interested in making an Oscar-caliber film. Stephen Spielberg did it. James Cameron did it. Ridley Scott did it. Why not him? Films like Anonymous, Stonewall, and now Midway are 50% of his output lately and are the kinds of films that Oscar voters tend to prefer. The problem is that he’s so interested in the bombastic that he may well be incapable of making an Oscar-winning film.

Like Michael Bay, Emmerich’s ability to put butts in the seats is strong, but his ability to take nuance and subtlety and turn it into something mesmerizing and approachable is limited. Even in Spielberg’s and Cameron’s and Scott’s portfolios, their early attempts at making emotion-friendly films was well known. Emmerich has yet to touch the level of acclaim those three had with their blockbusters, which is a sign he may never compete. He won’t be the next Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, or Ang Lee either. Again, these folks all made intimate films early in their careers that people responded to in ways that Emmerich never can.

That doesn’t mean Emmerich cannot garner Oscar attention. He has an eye for detail and technical craft. Three of his films have earned Oscar nominations. Independence Day was cited for two, Sound and Visual Effects, winning the latter. The Patriot was his closest to mainstream Oscar candidacy and it picked up nominations for Cinematography, Original Score, and Sound. It won none of them. Even one of his attempts at art house cinema, Anonymous, managed a nomination for Costume Design. It also didn’t win an Oscar. That means it’s entirely possible that his grandiose war film could earn nominations for Sound Mixing (he’s done it twice already), Sound Editing, and Visual Effects (he’s even won for this). Yet, its chances in above-the-line categories were dashed by the film’s miserable reviews from critics and its dismal box office performance, though its #1 finish over the expected box office winner Doctor Sleep gives it a bit of press attention at a crucial juncture in its Oscar campaigning.

92nd Oscars: Screener Watch – Week 3

This week saw several packages including content from Laika, DreamWorks Animation, A24, and Universal.

Missing Link

Oscar Chances: Uncertain: Laika is the only animation studio that has a 100% success rate in earning Oscar nominations. It hasn’t won yet. This film will test that studio’s strengths. It had solid, but unexceptional reviews and was far more kid-friendly than any of Laika’s prior outings. Closer in tone to The Boxtrolls, but a little more mainstream in its plotting. The film still has Laika’s brilliant stop-motion effects, which could keep the film in the competition. The lackluster competition could help it as well.
Campaign-Proposed Categories

  • Animated Feature (Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner)
  • Director (Chris Butler)
  • Original Screenplay (Chris Butler)
  • Cinematography (Chris Peterson)
  • Film Editing (Stephen Perkins)
  • Production Design (Nelson Lowry, Robert Desue, Jesse Gregg, Nick Mariana)
  • Costume Design (Deborah Cook)
  • Visual Effects (Steve Emerson)
  • Sound Editing (Clayton Weber, Tim chau, Thomas O’Neil Yonkman)
  • Sound Mixing (Tim Chau, Tim Leblanc)
  • Original Score (Carter Burwell)
  • Original Song (“Do-Dilly-Do (A Friend Like You)” – Walter Martin)
  • Ensemble Cast (Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Timothy Olymphant, Amrita Charia, Ching Valdes-Aran, Emma Thompson, Zach Galifianakis)

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This Day in Oscar History: November 11 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Precursor: 45th People’s Choice Awards (2019)

While the People’s Choice Awards have never been the bastions of taste, they have always had a popular streak. That popularity was reserved for the biggest movies of the year; however, over the years, the organization seems to be attracting fewer and fewer mainstream audience voters and more and more younger voters. While Avengers: Endgame would easily be considered a generally popular film, the rest of the winners point towards a teen-centric voterbase with selections like Cole Sprouse, Zendaya, and Noah Centineo who wouldn’t be picking up awards were this voted on by the public at large. The end result is a slate that looks more like the Teen Choice Awards than anything else and should probably be merged with that group to save everyone time and energy.

Award Tallies

(3) Avengers: Endgame
(2) Spider-Man: Far from Home

The Awards

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Precursor: 4th Critics Choice Documentary Awards (2019)

Ever since the Broadcast Film Critics Association split their documentary awards off from their main awards ceremony, they’ve been able to recognize far more documentaries than previously. This gives us a broad idea of which documentaries are in contention for the Oscars and a lot of selections that aren’t. Titles like They Shall Not Grow Old and Period. End of Sentence. were Oscar-eligible last year, so this year’s selections won’t be too instructive. That said, Apollo 11 and American Factory are the ones to come out of these awards a bit better for the journey.

Award Tallies

(5) Apollo 11
(2) American Factory, They Shall Not Grow Old

The Awards

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Poll: Best of Nov. 2018, Limited

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What’s the Best of Nov. 2018, Limited?

Cinema Sight Asks: Which November 2018 limited release film is best?

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Film Preview: A Reindeer’s Journey (2019)

Page Revisions:

(November 3, 2019) Original

Release Date:

November 15, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Aïlo: an odyssey in Lapland tells the fight for the survival of a small wild reindeer, frail and vulnerable to the challenges that punctuate his first year. Its awakening to the wild world is a real tale in the heart of the grandiose landscapes of Lapland.”

Poster Rating: –


Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: Donald Sutherland is a terrific narrator, but even he can’t spice up terrible writing and this trailer, in spite of its beautiful landscapes is poorly written.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2020)

Page Revisions:

(November 3, 2019) Original

Release Date:

April 3, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Plot unknown. Follow-up to the 2018 film, ‘Peter Rabbit’.”

Poster Rating: C+

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Review: A cheap throwaway tagline in awful blocky letters with a central image that might entice fans of the original, but is a design that isn’t otherwise very appealing.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: If you were wanting a sequel to the poorly reviewed modestly popular Peter Rabbit, then everything you’ve come to expect is here, which isn’t particularly interesting to anyone else.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Weekend Preview: Nov. 15-17, 2019

Below are eleven previews for films opening next weekend.

 

Charlie’s Angels (Wide)

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Ford v. Ferrari (Wide)

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The Good Liar (Wide)

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Feast of the Seven Fishes (Limited)

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Line of Duty (Limited)

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Night Sweats (Limited)

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Radioflash (Limited)

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The Report (Limited)

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The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (Limited)

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Waves (Limited)

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White Snake (Limited)

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