Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 172: The Revenant (2016)

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Episode 172

Stop it, Bear! Hi. This is Episode 172 of Movie Podcast Weekly, “the Clown Car of Movie Podcasts…” In this show we welcome back our esteemed guest, William Rowan Jr. of The Sci-Fi Podcast! We bring you a Feature Review of The Revenant and an in-depth, spoiler-filled discussion of the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer.” We also make fun of the Golden Globes and other low-hanging fruit pertaining to the movie awards industry. And naturally, we bring you our Mini Reviews and other MPW shenanigans. Join us!

If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features four hosts — Jason, Andy, Karl and Geek Cast Ry — along with frequent guests. We give you our verdicts on at least one new movie release from the current year that’s currently playing in theaters, as well as several mini reviews of whatever we’ve been watching lately. And we usually provide specialized genre recommendations. New episodes release every single Wednesday.


SHOW NOTES:

I. Introduction
— Welcome back William Rowan Jr.
— Listen to all the Sci-Fi Podcast’s Star Wars coverage here.
— William Rowan Jr. b[MEEP]-slaps MPW about its Star Wars coverage
— The loss of David Bowie
— The Golden Globes
— A few Academy Award nomination predictions
— Geek Cast Ry to visit Utah (live broadcast, possible meetup and commentary)


[ 0:40:36 ] II. Mini Reviews
Karl: The Hateful Eight
William Rowan Jr: The Hateful Eight
Jason: The Saratov Approach, The Peanuts Movie, The Edge, Ben-Hur (1959)
Ryan: Vikings
Andy: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Veep Season 3


III. New in Theaters This Past Weekend:
The Revenant
The Forest
Yosemite
Diablo
The Abandoned
The Treasure
Wazir
Anesthesia
The Masked Saint
Lamb
Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art


FEATURE REVIEWS HAVE TIME STAMPS:

Episode 172b

[ 1:09:06 ] IV. Feature Review: THE REVENANT (2016)
Jason = 10 ( Masterpiece! / Must-See / Theater / Buy it! / New Second Favorite Movie of All Time! ) — And Jay’s prediction for his No. 1 pick of 2016!
Andy = 9.5 ( Loved it, but can’t in good conscience recommend to the masses ) – No. 8 on Andy’s Top 10 of 2015 list
Ryan = 9.5 ( Must-See Once Rental )
William Rowan Jr. = 9.5 ( Must-See Once Rental )


[ FULL SPOILERS ]

[ 1:50:42 ] V. Making a Murderer (2015) [ FULL SPOILERS ]


VI. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending


COMING UP ON MPW NEXT WEEK:
Episode 173 where we’ll be reviewing: “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” “Diablo” and “Anesthesia.” And Episode 173 will feature first-time special guest Tom Ryan, host of the Success in Business Podcast. Join us!


88th Academy Award Nominations: – January 14, 2016

Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo”
Matt Damon for “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender for “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne for “The Danish Girl”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett for “Carol”
Brie Larson for “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy for “The Revenant”
Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies”
Mark Ruffalo for “Spotlight”
Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara for “Carol”
Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet for “Steve Jobs”

Best Achievement in Directing
Adam McKay for “The Big Short”
George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Alejandro G. Inarritu for “The Revenant”
Lenny Abrahamson for “Room”
Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”

Best Writing – Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Best Writing – Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Anomalisa
O Menino e o Mundo
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Omoide no Mani

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Embrace of the Serpent
A War
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Best Achievement in Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Achievement in Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures: Original Score
Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures: Original Song
“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
“Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
“Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre
“Simple Song #3” – Youth

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Documentary Feature
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire

Best Documentary Short Subject
Body Team 12
War Within the Walls
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

Best Short Film – Animated
Bear Story
Mi ne Mozhem zhit bez kosmosa
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
World of Tomorrow

Best Short Film – Live Action
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay
Shok
Stutterer


LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE:

As discussed during the show:
Ricky Gervais monologue at the Golden Globes
Ricky Gervais and David Bowie

Horror Movie Podcast Bear Episode with William Rowan Jr.

The Sci-Fi Podcast:
The Origins of Star Wars

Contact MPW:
E-mail us: MoviePodcastWeekly@gmail.com.
Leave us a voicemail: (801) 382-8789.
Follow MPW on Twitter: @MovieCastWeekly
Leave a comment in the show notes for this episode.

Ry’s BIO
Ry’s flagship show: Geek Cast Live Podcast
DONATE here to facilitate the creation of more Geek content!
Blog: Geek Cast Live
Web site: Geek Harder.com
Facebook
Twitter: @GeekCastRy

Jason recommends supporting: Operation Underground Railroad

Listen to MPW:
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Right-click to download the MPW 100 Rap

Josh’s links:
Hear Josh named as one of the Top 5 Up-and-Coming Directors on The Film Vault Podcast!
Twitter: @IcarusArts
Josh covers streaming movies on: Movie Stream Cast
Hear Josh on The SciFi Podcast
Hear Josh on Horror Movie Podcast

If you’re a Horror fan, listen to Jason and Josh on HORROR MOVIE PODCAST

We’d like to thank The Dave Eaton Element and Dave himself for the use of his music for our theme song. Buy Dave’s Eaton’s music: BandCamp.com


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Thanks for listening, and join us again next Wednesday for Movie Podcast Weekly.


75 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 172: The Revenant (2016)

  1. With the news of Alan Rickman passing away, 2016 is starting to become known for the deaths of those that are 69. Rickman and David Bowie were both 69. Lemmy had only turned 70 back at the very end of December ’15.

  2. Quick correction to Karl… According to Screen Rant, it seems likely that Force Awakens will not catch Avatar for biggest film of all time, worldwide. Apparently, it’s not doing as well as expected in Asia, and will probably end up in the 2.4 billion range, compared to Avatar’s 2.7.

    Now, I like Force Awakens much better than Avatar, but I will side with J that Avatar is pretty great,

    • But how can Jay criticise The Force Awakens for being unoriginal when he loves Avatar so much. Jay’/s inconsistency drives me crazy sometimes. But I still love him.

      • Yes, we’ve seen Avatar’s story beats before in other films, but they weren’t within the same film franchise — and twice previously!

        We now have three “blow up the Death Star” plots within seven films — and we’ve got yet another Death Star-related premise coming later this year with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” … You’ve gotta be kidding me.
        J

        • I admit it’s a bit excessive but they did quite a lot to make Starkiller different from a regular Deathstar and ultimately it made for an awesome backdrop for the final lightsaber duel. The problem is that after a planet destroying space station there’s not really many other places to go that have the same threatening heft. It’s just a superficial thing to me anyway. Star Wars should be about fun and excitement, a balance of darkness and lightheartedness and good, likeable characters.

          And I definitely don’t think it’s fair to criticise Rogue One for the same crime. It’s the same Death Star from A New Hope and as far as I know the plot is just about a team of commandos stealing the plans. More of a heist/war movie type thing. It seems like a perfectly logical and fine way to tie the first ever totally standalone movie in the franchise into the timeline we all recognise to give us a least a bit of familiar context. I mean Death Star’s are pretty crucial to the Star Wars universe. Anyway, isn’t your favourite Star Wars movie ROTJ, Jay?

        • Also, it could be argued that it’s less egregious for a movie that’s part of a franchise to have echoes of and similarities to other entries in the same franchise than a film that purports to be entirely original and apparently revolutionary to feel so well trodden and predictable.

        • And further riffing on the apparent lack of originality that so many people are criticising The Force Awakens for; I think they’re letting superficial elements that are simply there to drive the plot and remind us of the original trilogy (droid on desert planet with important infomation, another Death Star etc) cloud their ability to see the truly unique and genius aspects of the film.

          Star Wars have NEVER been a sci-fi movie about the evolution of technology. It’s never beena question of “what techno monstrosity will the bad guys unleash next?) In fact the Death Star has always served little more than the role of the dark fortress that must be stormed. In truth the heart of Star Wars is the depiction of a journey by a disparate group of characters who come together and form relationships while facing adversity. That’s why the originals are so compelling, unforgettable and emotional and the prequels so utterly dull. Looking at The Force Awakens from that character driven perspective we see a whole lot of originality. We see the character of Han treated in such a way that we’re privy to a whole different facet that still manages to feel like an organic progression. We have Rey and Finn who are totally original creations; we’ve never seen a Stormtrooper humanised in this franchise before and we’ve never seen quite the combination of lonesome, abandoned self-sufficiency and wide eyed wonder as provided by Rey. They even managed to acknowledge the difficulty of following in the footsteps of Darth Vader, within the narrative itself! Kylo Ren is one of the most fascinating and ingenious post-modern villains that the fantasy/sci-fi genre has ever given us.

          Jay giving this movie 0.5 points more than AOTC is just truly baffling from someone who understands the language of cinema so well. A movie with no compelling characters, stiff and unimaginative cinematography, terribly artifical and downright ugly special effects, a convoluted and nonsensical plot and obnoxiously self-indulgent, boringly executed action that looks like it was included because a 6 yearold said it would be cool. Compared to a genuinely emotionally effective film full of beautiful imagery, excellent performances, well written dialogue, witty humour, character driven tragedy and action that’s organic to the plot and actually has the weight of likeable characters behind it.

          I’m not letting this one go Jay. Your ratings on these movies are all wacked out! (though not as much as Steve Hernandez)

          • David, you’re forgetting that Jay hates the cinema. It’s the only plausible explanation for his whacked out ratings. Either that or the chemicals in the peanut butter parfait have skewed his thought process.

    • I think maybe he meant in the US, in which case TFA has already surpassed Avatar and by the time it’s run in the theaters end, it will be very hard to top it domestically. Internationally though, TFA is still way behind Avatar. It seems like Avatar just had insane staying power at the box office because it wasn’t an instant hit. I really don’t think TFA will beat Avatar overall and if my calculations are correct, it’s spot as the number one movie in America will come to an end this weekend when The Ride Along drops. I wish The Revenant had been the movie to topple it, but alas, Ice Cube will do I suppose.

      • Right. I think Karl had said something about TFA being the biggest movie ever, and I think technically that wouldn’t be true if Avatar takes the worldwide prize.

      • *its (we really need an edit button, Jay)

        Eric, Karl makes false claims left and right all the time. But yeah, Avatar won’t be dethroned. 2.7 Billion! That’s insane. I wonder if any of the sequels will be able to come close to that.

  3. I know Andy has a theater no, but if he is in Chicago, you are welcome to use mine if you decide to do a live episode.

    • And I call shenanigans on J for dissing Fury Road for having little story/plot, but loving on The Revenant, which I would argue has less of a plot than Fury Road. Both great films, but Fury Road is still the better achievement, overall.

      • Dear Eric,
        Which film has 12 nominations? … “The Revenant.”
        Which one has two fewer than 12? … “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

        Furthermore: If “Mad Max” only has three story beats. (These aren’t exact numbers, just examples.) Then “The Revenant” has 12 story beats by comparison. (Don’t make me plot this out for y’all…)

        The story in “The Revenant” is spare, to be sure, but it has a definite arc. Characters change. “Mad Max” genuinely has no point. It has the same plot engine as a porno film: It’s merely a vehicle to facilitate some action…

        Calling it now: “The Revenant” is clearly the Best Picture and deserves to win. It’s my horse in this race.

        J

    • @Dino—

      Yes, but let’s take a closer look, Dino… Shall we?

      “Mad Max: No Story Road” does, in fact, have 10 Oscar nominations, but almost all of them are for technical achievements, which I have also praised all along with everyone else.

      But we should note that there is no “Mad Max” nomination for Best Writing… Now, I wonder why not? : )

      I’ll tell you why, Dino: It’s ’cause The Hero’s Journey ain’t Point A to Point B and then back to Point A again…

      J

      • Jay, how many nominations did “No Escape” and “Bone Tomahawk” receive combined?

        😉

      • Well, of course it didn’t receive a nomination for Best Original Screenplay – there’s very little dialogue. And that’s one of the greatest achievements of Fury Road, that it was able to develop such a rich world and drive the plot primarily through action.

        Duh!

        A picture is worth a thousand words, Jason. The story of life is told largely through what we see and what happens, rather than what is said. Just because there’s little dialogue in a film does not mean there’s no story, so long as that story is conveyed in other ways.

        As the saying goes in film: show me, don’t tell me!

        • Yes, you guys are correct. Show, don’t tell. And for the record, it makes me love you guys all the more that you’re reciting that precept and beating that drum.

          Having said that, there needs to be a distinction here. Let’s talk some film theory:

          There is a famous, animated short film by an avant-garde filmmaker named Robert Breer. It’s called “Fuji” (1974). It’s only about 5 minutes, so humor me, and watch it here, please:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HudkC6Oapww

          OK. Hold that thought…

          Let’s preface this chat with a further distinction between narrative filmmaking and non-narrative filmmaking.

          Now, I’ll admit up front that yes, technically, the difference between the two is easy to perceive. And regardless of how spare the story is, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is indeed narrative filmmaking.

          Quoting from Aesthetics of Film on Wikipedia, in non-narrative filmmaking, a viewer “would not recognize anything in the image” in which “temporal, sequential, or cause-and-effect relations could not be perceived between the shots or the elements of the image.”

          So, yes, clearly — “Mad Max” and “The Revenant” are narrative films. Obviously. And even this short film linked above, “Fuji,” is a narrative film, of sorts. (I’d say there are non-narrative elements, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive.) A guy on a train looks at Mt. Fuji as the train travels past it.

          So, yes, “Mad Max” shows us. And technically speaking, it shows us very well. A spectacular, visual action masterpiece — technically speaking. It deserves to win an Oscar for its category.

          But as a guy whose favorite, most important aspect of the cinema is “story,” I tend to critique films in terms of the quality of their stories.

          So, while “Mad Max” is definitely a narrative film that shows more than it tells, that still doesn’t compensate for its feeble story beats. There’s really not much of an engine driving this movie. ha ha. Pun intended.

          I say this all the time, but if you want story, check out a movie like “The House of Sand and Fog.” Or even Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” And incidentally, “The Revenant” is rich with story.

          Even though “Fuji” is widely considered a masterpiece and Breer is regarded as a master filmmaker, I just don’t believe “Fuji” has much of a story. It’s a narrative short film, but its story is pretty thin.

          Does that make “Fuji” or “Mad Max” bad films? No, not necessarily. But it allows for the legitimate criticism that their stories are lacking.

          J

          • “story” in cinema isn’t just plot beats though. The most magical thing about the form is that “story” is communicated visually. Every costume detail and momentary character facial expression is a part of the story’s tapestry. You could have a film which is just a camera panning slowly across a police station notice board and the superficial “story” beats would be non-existent but if you’re paying attention to the little details a complicated subtext of compelling, arcing events might be unveiled. Every visual aspect of a film is part of the story from someone’s bad haircut to the amount of rust crawling up a car door. To me “story” in cinema is almost synonymous with “world”. Incredibly visually textured and rich films like Fury Road create a world where there’s an abundance of “story” in every corner.

          • David,
            I think you’re half right when you wrote:

            “story” in cinema isn’t just plot beats though.

            David Bordwell (to me, the world’s living authority on film theory) explains in “Film Art” that story consists of events that are explicitly presented, as well as presumed and inferred events. Bordwell says that story is “the set of all the *events* in a narrative, both the ones explicitly presented and those the viewer infers.”

            And he makes the distinction that the term plot is technically used to describe everything visibly and audibly present in the film before us. Therefore, because of Bordwell’s very inclusive definition of plot, you could perhaps make an argument that costume details and camera movements are part of the plot. But technically, not the story.

            That’s splitting hairs, though. And that’s not what I’m here to do.

            We’ll probably have to agree to disagree on this one, David, but to me the elements you’ve described — costume details, actors’ facial expressions, camera movements — are all elements that are employed to help reinforce or enrich the story. I believe they are at the service of the story, but not actually the story itself. For instance, the action set-pieces in “Die Hard” are organically connected to the story, and they help facilitate the telling of that story, but action set-pieces are not the story proper (as someone like Michael Bay or Karl seems to believe). ha ha

            As for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” I have praised these other elements you’re referring to — and the Academy has also recognized them through nominations for cinematography, production design, costume design, makeup and hairstyling, visual effects, et al. — but while those are definitely complementary to the story, I don’t feel they can compensate for the bare-bones story we’re given here.

            I feel like, in essence, many of the listeners hear me criticize this film for having a very thin story, and they say, “Yeah, but its special effects and production design make up for that,” as if that somehow magically infuses the film with more story merit through its sheer technical prowess. Well, I’m sorry, friends. But it doesn’t. Not for me, anyway.

            But hey, if you all love it, then I’m happy for you. I’m just saying, I find it telling that the Academy — whose 10 nominations demonstrate the film is regarded favorably — did not see fit to nominate “Fury Road” for a Best Writing nomination… Now why not?

            Just sayin’.

            J

          • Jason Pyles –

            You are correct, Mad Max: Fury Road did not receive a nomination for Writing.

            But, refresh my memory… did The Revenant receive a nomination for Writing?

            You keep falling back on Fury Road‘s lack of a Writing nomination as some sort of proof that it has no story, yet, The Revenant – a movie you’ve called one of your favorite movies of ALL-TIME – lacks that very same Writing nomination that you seem to be touting as some proof of merit for a film’s story.

            So, allow me to borrow and paraphrase your closing question in response to David:

            “I’m just saying, I find it telling that the Academy — whose 1012 nominations demonstrate the film is regarded favorably — did not see fit to nominate “Fury Road”‘The Revenant’ for a Best Writing nomination… Now why not?”

            I think there’s an important distinction that needs to be made here, and you touched on it toward the end of your response to David. That distinction is that, for whatever reason, the story elements present in Fury Road do not work for you. However, just because they do not work for you does not mean they are not present in the film. In fact, the sheer volume of praise heaped upon the film by fans and respected film critics, alike, should serve as proof that they are there.

            And while the Academy did not recognize Fury Road for Writing (again, why would that even be a consideration for discussion given the film’s sparse dialogue), it DID recognize Mad Max for the only category that really matters: Best Picture. And you better believe the Academy would not sully their reputation by nominating a film for their most cherished award based solely on elements like “amazing action” or “excellent special effects” or “really good costume design.”

          • And would anyone of sound mind really expect a rip-roaring, gonzo action movie to be nominated for a Best Writing award? You’re holding the film to unfair standards. It’s not a dialogue heavy drama or a detailed character piece. It’s an action film. It’s supposed to deliver adrenaline fueled, gut punch action, not Shakespearean monologues.

          • “It’s not a dialogue heavy drama or a detailed character piece.”

            And yet it still manages to build an incredibly rich world with fully realized characters through visual cues and magical little moments. Fury Road has layers of text that belie its scarcity of dialogue. It really is a special film.

            And while I don’t necessarily expect it to win Best Picture, I hope it does. It certainly deserves to win – whether it was your favorite or not, I think you have to concede that it was THE movie of 2015.

  4. And thank god for William Solo. Jr coming in and telling like it is. AOTC is just an objectively atrocious, horrible, boring mess of a film. a 7/10 for that crime against cinema is just insane.

  5. I checked out Bone Tomahawk the other day and I seriously think Karl should face his fears and watch it. It’s basically a really excellent, authentic feeling western with one or two shocking moments of gruesome horror. The particular scene that really sticks with you is shocking as much for it’s (very well executed) gore effects but also the plaintive, bluntly casual way it’s depicted. There’s a sort of running-through the motions procedural element to it that is just haunting. It doesn’t come out of the blue though so just shut your eyes for that bit and you’ll be left with a very compelling gothic western soaked in rich and flavoursome dialogue.

  6. My Oscar predictions, for the categories I care about or have seen enough of:

    PICTURE: Spotlight – I hope for Fury Road, but I think this subject is more of a typical Oscar choice… and it is a really great film.

    DIRECTOR: George Miller

    ACTOR: DiCaprio should get it, but they might just get a kick out of snubbing him again and go with a second consecutive win for Redmayne.

    ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett – I haven’t seen Carol, but it has received a lot of raves from critics, and I think this is how it will be recognized, though I’d prefer to see Brie Larson get it for Room.

    SUPP. ACTOR: Mark Ruffalo – This might be the closest category, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them win, though I think Stallone’s nod is more of a tribute than meant to be serious.

    SUPP. ACTRESS: Jennifer Jason Leigh – I’ve only seen 3 of the 5 pics, so I’m flailing a bit here. I did really like Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs, so it could be her, or maybe Rooney Mara from Carol, if Blanchett doesn’t take Best Actress.

    ANIMATED: Inside Out – I’m going to see Anomalisa tomorrow, and I’ve heard great things, but I can’t see this category going to something other than a family film.

    ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Room

    ORIG. SCREENPLAY: Spotlight – I’m happy to see Ex Machina represented here, though.

    SCORE: Morricone for Hateful Eight – But Sicario had a wonderful score and Williams might just get it again.

    CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Revenant, hands down.

    FILM EDITING: Better as hell be Margaret Sixel for Fury Road. The editing was a huge reason that film was so great.

    VISUAL EFFECTS: Force Awakens deserves this, but it might be another one for Fury Road.

    MAKEUP: Fury Road by a mile.

    PRODUCTION DESIGN: Fury Road

    Biggest snubs: Ridley Scott for director, Charlize Theron for actress, and Michael B. Jordan as actor for Creed. I’d also have preferred for Alicia Vikander to be nominated for Ex Machina. I haven’t seen the other movie, though, and that does seem to be more of Oscar aesthete bait.

    Great group of Best Pictures, though. The only thing I don’t think deserves being there is Brooklyn, which was very good, but kind of forgettable, ultimately.

    • Great predictions. I was surprised, but very happy, that The Academy nominated Fury Road. That’s kind of progressive of them. I really hope it wins big. Overall, I do think they snubbed a lot of people though.

      • That’s what happens when you have such a fantastic year in cinema, as we did in 2015.

        Eric, I like most of your predictions, though, I think The Hateful Eight will take home cinematography. Of course, I still have yet to see The Revenant, so I could change my tune on that.

        • True that, but some of those nominations are typical Oscar movies that aren’t necessarily deserving of the Best Picture nomination. Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Big Short? ExMachina is easily a better contender for best picture.

          • While I tend to agree with what you’re saying, I have not seen the three films you mentioned. So, I’ll reserve judgement and give the benefit of the doubt…

          • I’m not gonna lie, I’m pulling an Andy here, but those movies look like your run-of-the-mill kind of stuff. High quality, I’m sure, but run-of-the-mill.

        • Oh my goodness… I’m heartbroken for Roger Deakins (my all-time favorite cinematographer who’s way past due and deserving — always a bridesmaid, never a bride), but trust me … “Can’t nobody” beat what Emmanuel Lubezki did in “The Revenant.” There are honestly sequences where I have no idea whatsoever how he filmed them… Mind-blowing D.P.
          J

          • I personally think Sicario was robbed in a couple of categories – it was definitely one of the top 10 films of the year without a doubt.

            It should have been nominated for best picture – it’s at least as good as The Big Short,
            Brooklyn, or Bridge of Spies (BTW, J – you forgot to include Spotlight in the Best Picture Nominations list).

            Also I think Benicio del Toro should have been nominated for Best Actor over either Cranston or Fassbender. Some might argue his role was supporting, but it only started that way at the beginning of the film – that was part of the intentional confusion of the plot (to mirror Emily Blunt’s confusion) – but as the film progressed, his role was revealed to be the main one.

    • Eh, I think The Martian may get Adapted Screenplay. In which case, I would have Room represented by Brie Larson for actress, and switch it to Rooney Mara for supporting (Hateful Eight gets the nod for score).

  7. A couple of minor notes.

    Had it been allowed, The Revenant would have been in my top ten of 2015. Not number 1, but possibly in the top three. Not that it’s saying much since it’s not even the mid point of January ’16, but The Revenant is my #1 movie of the year thus far. It’s a safe bet to predict it’ll be in my top five at the end of the year.

    With even more talk about Making a Murderer on MPW, I finally got around to watching the first episode today. Rather interesting right now, but based on the fact that there’s ten episodes, I imagine the story hasn’t truly begun yet though. Netflix is absolutely killing it with their original shows.

    • Yes, it was crazy to think that only the first episode covered that whole original crime and imprisonment and exoneration. There is plenty enough to fill up the rest with what happens after that (though I think a total of 8 episodes would have been better than 10).

      I was almost going to stop watching after the second episode, thinking okay, looks like it’s going to go a certain way, and well, that’s that. But there are so many unexpected and interesting things that happen over the next several episodes.

  8. Geek cast dude. I didn’t say it was based on a book. I stated that Alan Dean Foster was the writer of the book “Star Wars” and had a lot to do with the final version of the movie, in regards to names, ships, worlds ect ect. Again, George had the idea and screen play but the movie was not finished yet. He worked hand in hand with Alan Dean Foster before the final draft of the screen play. George then even took all the credit for writing the Book. It says written by George Lucus. However it wasn’t until recently that he gave credit where credit was due. So Again I nor anybody else that I heard or read in the forums said that the book was the source material. You’ve distorted the whole conversation. Yes George Created the Skeleton but I’d say that much of what I love about the Star wars Universe is not the generic skeleton. If you want pure Unadulterated George Lucus watch the pre-quells. He can’t write.

    • K Porter,
      Thanks for straightening William Rowan Jr. out. ha ha. (Just messin’, William.) I’m going to ask William to weigh in and respond. Ryan pointed at Steve for this discussion, but that’s right, I believe that conversation came from you. Thanks for the interesting contributions. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Rowan Jr. has to say about your comment.
      Thanks,

      William, what say you, Sir?
      J

    • K Porter,

      Before we continue this wonderful debate, will you please inform me where you are getting your information from.

      1.Especially where it is said that he (Alan Dean Foster) “had a lot to do with the final version of the movie (A New Hope), in regards to names, ships, worlds ect.” Because as far as I have read all that stuff only “became canonical for all subsequent Star Wars novels”, not A New Hope or necessarily the movies. Maybe some of it did find it’s way into some of the subsequent movies, but that’s not what I’m arguing.

      2. And where does it say that “He (Lucas) worked hand in hand with Alan Dean Foster before the final draft of the screenplay”? Because that’s not my understanding at all, and before I give you pages of references and proof (taken from “The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind The Original Film by J.W. Rinzler), I want to make sure I have read any other sources to the contrary and evaluate their value.

      Other than than that, I’m not disagreeing with anything else you are saying. The only question I’m addressing is “Who wrote Star War, the 1977 movie (from original conception to the final shooting script)? And this includes but not limited to everything in and up to the “Revised 4th Draft: The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as Taken from the “Journal of the Whills” (Saga I) Star Wars, Revised Fourth Draft, Shooting Script.”
      And this timeline dates from somewhere between 1968 to 1970, (when Lucas told his agent Jeff Berg that he had an epic space fantasy idea he wants to make), to March 15, 1976 (which is when the final shooting script was finished. At at no time between those dates and versions is there any mention of Alan Dean Foster being involved or consulted or even mentioned in anyway. Not by him or anyone else as far as I have read.

      Hope to hear back from you soon,

      William Solo Jr.

  9. Anomalisa. Wow, nothing quite like that in the cinema, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected with Charlie Kaufman. Not a whole lot that actually happens (though a lengthy sex scene with two puppets is certainly notable), but in that sense it reminds me a bit of that first hour of Victoria, where a light is shined on the mundane in order to set up things about the character and what they’re experiencing. (The film is nothing at all like Victoria, though, lest I give the wrong impression.) Some powerful and poignant moments, though, especially what happens over a breakfast. 8/10

    • Hi Eric – I really liked Anomalisa too. One of the greatest things about the film is the process you go through as you slowly realize exactly what they’re doing with the animation. I don’t want to spoil anything since it’s so subtle – but it’s just one of those things that’s such a clever use of cinema and visual-storytelling. I’d rate it a little higher than you and give it an 8.5.

  10. I’m not sure Jason is allowed to rip Karl for picking Transformers as the best movie in 2007 after he picked No Escape in 2015.

    • Dino,
      I forget… Have you even seen “No Escape” yet? (Of course you have… I know you’d never write all these dismissive comments, if you have yet to watch it.) So refresh my memory. What did you think?

      Now explain to me how it’s not a better film than “Transformers.” (I love “Transformers,” by the way. It’s just not the best of 2007.)

      J

      • Jason –

        I have not yet, in fact, seen No Escape, but I have seen the trailer. Isn’t that enough for me to write it off?

        At least, that was enough for you to write off American Ultra. 😉

        All joking aside, I do fully intend to watch No Escape in the very near future, and I assure you I will come at it with an open mind.

        My comment wasn’t a film-to-film comparison of No Escape to Transformers, though. It was a remark likening the similarity of picking a movie like Transformers over films like – Zodiac, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, or even a Karl sci-fi slam dunk like Sunshine – to you picking No Escape over films like – Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex Machina, Sicario, etc. In fact, I “might” argue that your 2015 pick is even more egregious given the relative strength of films last year over the 2007 offerings.

        “Might” argue because I have not yet seen No Escape. I’ll be sure to report back on my thoughts after I have the pleasure.

    • The good news? I think Jay is finally going to stop being teased for liking Frozen. The bad news is that this good nature ridicule has just been replaced with No Escape teasing.

      Poor Jay just can’t catch a break.

      • I always feel bad about how much we tease and chastise Jay, but in truth it’s really great that he has such singular, strange and immovable opinions. It drums up so much debate and makes everyone think in greater depth about the cinema and the criticism of the cinema. I hope Jay realises that we appreicate this and it’s part of what makes him such an interesting film critic; he’s not afraid to voice controversial opinions and he’s stubborn as an Irish Mule.

        • Have a lot of experience with Irish Mules, do you? I’m more of a simple bourbon and cola kind of guy.

          And I’m sure Jason knows how we feel about him…

          Jason –

          I don’t think you’re an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you. Your mother’s pretty interesting. And you really are an appallingly bad public speaker. And, um, you tend to let whatever’s in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences… But the thing is, um, what I’m trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are.

  11. Grizzly Adams died today…loved that show as a kid…I dread waking up in the morning and getting on the internet to find another one of my favorites gone…on the bright side the trailer for the Cloverfield sequel was a total suprise because I had no idea it exisited and its out in March…J J Abrams you sneaky bastard!!! I am a super fan of the original and this trailer was great…and John Goodman…Bonus!!!

  12. My only question Jay…If somehow Mad Max wins best picture…if it does my life will have been worth living and I can die happy…will you admit defeat and accept Valhalla into your heart…or will your pacemaker explode???

  13. ** MILD SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST COUPLE OF MoM EPISODES **

    This is primarily for Andy:

    I think you’re being a little generous to the officers of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department when you extend to them the presumption that cops generally only manipulate / plant evidence when they truly believe someone is guilty.

    The problem is: there is compelling evidence shown, from the statements the officers made to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s investigators when they thought they were just talking LE to LE – to the video-taped depositions they made 23 months later backpedaling and denying those very statements – that members of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department willfully colluded to wrongfully convict Steven Avery in 1985, while ignoring evidence of a much more likely suspect (the actual rapist) from the Manitowoc City Police, simply because Avery was both disliked by them and had a troubled history with one of their spouses. Not only that, but once again in 1995, there is evidence that MCSD officers buried exculpatory evidence that would have freed Avery 8 years earlier simply because of their attitude towards him. Meanwhile, the real rapist (that could have been charged in 1985) went on to commit two more rapes before his arrest and incarceration.

    Another point I wanted to clarify is about Wisconsin’s Third Party Responsibility Law. In order to be allowed to cast blame on anyone else for the murder in court (aside from questioning police about tampering with / planting evidence, etc), the defense lawyers have to file a brief listing names (along with opportunity, motive, etc. for each potential suspect; i.e. they have a burden of proof to show for each name) before the trial begins, and these have to be approved by the judge. Avery’s lawyer’s filed this brief and included the names of Steven’s brothers, Earl Avery and Charles Avery, his brother-in law Scott Tadych (BTW, all three of these men have a more extensive history of documented violence against women than Steven), and his nephews Bobby and Brendan Dassey. Judge Willis denied their request for every one of the possible other suspects – so they weren’t allowed to make suggestions about any of them in court.

      • Of course. And given both your job and the fact that you’re doing a publicly available podcast, I fully appreciate your position. I just felt compelled to perhaps err on the other side. :)

  14. Hi J,

    It seems you might have missed the remark buried in my comment above, so I’ll repeat it again here for good measure:

    There should be 8 films in your list of Best Picture Nominations, but there are only 7 – the movie “Spotlight” is missing.

  15. J, I rented No Escape last night, and it is great. Especially that first part until they get to the roof of their hotel, which was particularly intense and gripping and well shot. From that point on it strained credulity just a bit for me, and had a couple of deus ex machinas, but was still compelling. Owen Wilson and Lake Bell were amazing at times. Very impressive work.

    I have daughters who are 11 and 13, so sure, there was probably some influence of the horror of experiencing that while worrying for their safety.

    As I think Sal had said, I wish it wasn’t quite so repetitive after that first act, and maybe had a little more of a story, ya know, like Fury Road (wink).

    I recall someone else complaining about it being somewhat racist with its lack of realism to the Cambodian people, or something to that effect. Well sure, more true character would be good in any film, but the focus was always on this family. Everyone else (with the exception of Pierce Brosnan’s character, who had already been established) was always going to be very peripheral. But as far as depicting the family being fish-out-of-water and not being able to understand (or be understood by) the people of this country, it could probably have been any other similarly difficult place (e.g., Middle East, etc.) and likely would also have included only vaguely drawn people of that culture/society. I’m not condoning that, but there’s only so much real character that can be expected from a film that wasn’t *about* that specific place, but about a family surviving together against terrible circumstances.

    Anyway, it’s an 8/10 for me, and I likely would have skipped it if it wasn’t for your recommendation, so thanks, J.

    • Oh, speaking of a family surviving together, that reminds me of a good movie from 2014, Force Majeure. Have you guys seen that?

      I watched it on a whim on an airplane, from the description, which was something like: “A family on a skiing trip struggles to survive from an avalanche.” Well, the interesting thing is that the description is totally accurate, and yet, not remotely in the way I expected. Very intriguing film.

    • Eric – My complaints about “No Escape” were based on the fact that nothing even remotely close to that incident has ever happened to American’s in Southeast Asia (I’m not even sure you could find something similar if you include the entire Vietnam Was conflict). One could argue that the writers specifically chose that region due to it’s historical overall “friendliness” to Americans, as opposed to somewhere else like, for example, a Saudi Arabia-like country – which might have incurred much more political backlash. Also, I think the writers could have undercut much of the feeling of racism by just including one or two rounded, sympathetic characters from the culture.

      Anyway, enough said. I’ll just finish by echoing your recommendation of “Force Majeure”. I think it’s an excellent film – much better than “No Escape” – albeit not the same genre at all.

      • Mark, if that’s what you meant, then I’m more confused than before… Nothing close to the incidents depicted in *many* films has ever happened in the places where those films take place. This was clearly fiction. Right? I

        If you’re implying that it’s out of character for people of this area to ever do something like that, compared to say Iran or even Mexico (as shown in Sicario), well, it may be less likely there, sure, but people are people, and certainly uprisings could happen anywhere given the right circumstances.

        There were sympathetic characters from the area, but only briefly… the guy who lets them into that park, and the guy working with Pierce Brosnan. But sure, a more substantial character from the inside would have been nice.

        • Eric – In my original critique, I first mentioned that, of course, I knew it was fiction. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that the filmmakers/writers can’t be criticized for their depiction of another culture – specifically, in this case, the depiction of a Buddhist culture’s treatment of foreigners. If you look through reviews of the movie, you can see that I wasn’t the only person to get a slightly queasy racist vibe from the flick. Again, I think much of the criticism could have been avoided (or at least mitigated) by better-developed character(s) from that culture.

  16. Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock, but what is the podcast hosted by a Joel? Have I been under the false impression that there’s not five, but actually six podcasts in the MPW Network (MPW, HMP, MSC, GCL, TSFP, and Joel’s)?

  17. It seems worthwhile to restate the facts surrounding the 2003 Wisconsin DOJ investigation into Avery’s 1985 wrongful conviction, the 1995 phone call received by Sgt. Colborn, and Avery’s civil lawsuit and depositions, since they’re in the first 2 episodes of the documentary and many viewers forget the details with the onslaught of information about the subsequent Halbach murder, investigation and trials.

    This is what is known via depositions, statements, and other documents:

    The phone call which would have led to Avery’s exoneration in 1995 was apparently not reported to the Wisconsin DOJ investigators in 2003. No written report/statement of it was included in the documents the Attorney General received from Manitowoc County (see Rohrer deposition and civil lawyers’ remarks in doc.), and it was never mentioned in the DOJ’s report on their investigation (with their stated goal of assessing “whether any criminal or ethical violations were committed by anyone involved in handling the [Avery] case”). (see link below)

    In other words, the Wisconsin DOJ cleared the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department of criminal wrongdoing in the 1985 wrongful conviction of Steven Avery, but it never cleared them of any criminal wrongdoing in the ignoring of exculpatory evidence that would have freed Avery in 1995, because they were never notified of the phone call from Brown County to Manitowoc County.

    http://www.daysalive.com/share/DOJ_Review_2003.pdf

    Avery’s civil suit was filed before the phone call was discovered; the incident came to light during the gathering of documents – and depositions investigating that phone call had just started in late 2005 – 3 weeks before Halbach’s murder.

    Following the remaining depositions, notification of the DOJ, and any subsequent investigation, any/all of Colborn, Lenk, Petersen, Kusche, Rohrer, etc. could have been added as additional parties to the ongoing civil suit through the joinder process.

    In the video-tape depositions (taken just 1-3 weeks before Hallbach’s murder):

    Oct.11: Lt. Lenk testifies under oath that he prepared his statement after meeting with then-Sheriff Petersen, and in it he states, “Sgt. Colborn said he was later informed that the case was already solved and the right person was arrested.” His statement makes no mention of Gregory Allen, Steven Avery, Peggy Beertsen, ex-Sheriff Tom Kocourek, or whoever Colborn allegedly informed about the phone call or who told him that the case was solved.

    Oct.13: Sgt. Colborn testifies under oath that he doesn’t recall telling anyone about the phone call except Lenk and Sheriff Petersen (and, again, his statement does not mention Allen, Avery, Beertsen, or any other names).

    Oct.13: Sheriff Petersen testifies under oath that he has never seen either Lenk’s or Colborn’s statements about the phone call before.

    Oct.26: Chief Deputy Kusche testifies under oath that Colborn told him that Colborn told ex-Sheriff Tom Kocourek that an officer from Brown County told him that Allen, and not Avery, might have actually committed the Beertsen assault.

    So from the very start of the investigation into the incident, there were conflicting stories.

    Just 5 days after Kusche’s deposition contradicting Colborn and Lenk’s – and 10 days before ex-Sheriff Kocourek was scheduled to be deposed – Halbach was murdered.

    Those are the facts, and regardless of whether someone believe’s Steven Avery is guilty or not, I would think that anyone interested in the accountability of law enforcement and public officials would still want to see an investigation done of this incident (and of any other improprieties associated with the Manitowoc and Calumet County Sheriff’s Departments’ handling of the case) – unless, of course, you believe that it’s OK for police to ignore exculpatory evidence of a wrongful conviction if they have a gut feeling that you might commit a crime sometime in the future.

    And the only way that this might feasibly happen at this point is at the Federal level, so if you haven’t done it already, please go to whitehouse.gov and find the petition for “Initiate a Federal Investigation of the Sheriff’s Offices of Manitowoc County and Calumet County, Wisconsin” and sign it.

    This petition is currently woefully undersigned – which seems really strange considering that hundreds of thousands signed a Federal petition related to this case which was not physically possible (Presidential pardons for Steven Avery / Brendan Dassey) – and yet this petition – which is something which is both arguably more important and also something the Federal Government could actually get involved in – can not raise the required signatures.

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