Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Michigan Movie Guy's 2017 Oscar Nomination Reactions

The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, & while there weren't any real surprises in the Best Picture or the screenplay categories, there were certainly a lot of surprises in the other categories. Here's some of my reactions to the nominations.

1. The Best Picture nominees are really good. The films that are nominated are just about what I predicted would be nominated. However, I disagree with the current Best Picture nomination system. There should either be 5 nominees for Best Picture, or 10 nominees for Best Picture, nothing in between. I personally believe there should be 10 nominees.

2. Mel Gibson's Best Director nomination for Hacksaw Ridge was somewhat surprising, especially considering his previous incidents. While he wouldn't have been my choice for the last nomination, it is a well-deserved nomination.

3. The Best Actor category looks exactly how I predicted it would be. I still haven't watched Captain Fantastic yet, so I will have to see how good Viggo Mortensen's performance is.

4. The Best Actress category was the most surprising. I definitely thought Amy Adams would've been nominated for her amazing performance in Arrival, & I also thought Annette Bening would've been nominated for her career-best performance in 20th Century Women. I was shocked to see that they weren't nominated, & that in their places, Ruth Negga was nominated for her performance in Loving, & Meryl Streep was nominated for the 20th time for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins. Amy Adams & Annette Bening should've been nominated over Ruth Negga & Meryl Streep. Also, Isabelle Huppert's nomination for Elle was also somewhat surprising.

5. The Best Supporting Actor category was almost exactly how I predicted, for I did not predict Michael Shannon's nomination for Nocturnal Animals.

6. The Best Supporting Actress category was not surprising; however, Viola Davis should have received a Best Actress nomination for Fences instead of a Best Supporting Actress nomination; in her place, I would have nominated Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women.

7. The Best Original Screenplay category was exactly how I thought it would look. I loved that The Lobster got nominated in this category. And I especially loved that 20th Century Women got nominated in this category.

8. The Best Adapted Screenplay category worked out how I thought it would; however, I thought that Nocturnal Animals had a shot at being nominated here.

9. Silence only got nominated for Best Cinematography? This deserved a few more nominations than that.

10. Arrival should've been nominated for Best Visual Effects. The visual effects in that film were so astounding.

So, those are my 10 biggest reactions to the Oscar nominations. Soon, I will be posting my Oscar predictions, my Top 50 films of 2016, & my film awards for 2016. And also, don't forget to watch the Oscars on Sunday, February 26 at 8:30pm on ABC!

Saturday, January 28, 2017


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?" That's an amazing quote from Andrew Garfield in Silence, one of Martin Scorsese's best films. The film is based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. Set in the 17th century, Garfield portrays Father Sebastiaõ Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest in Macau. After priest Alessandro Valignano (played by Ciarán Hinds) receives word that Father Cristóvaõ Ferreira (played by Liam Neeson) has renounced Christianity after being tortured, Valignano sends Rodrigues & Father Francisco Garupe (played by Adam Driver) to Japan to find Ferreira. Arriving in Japan, Rodrigues & Garupe find Japanese Christians living underground, hiding from Inquisitor Inoue (played by Issey Ogata), a samurai looking for suspected Christians, whom he tortures & kills in hideous ways unless they renounce Christianity. Rodrigues & Garupe end up being a big help for the Christians in Japan, but they may pay a heavy price for it.

The cast is excellent. Martin Scorsese's direction, as always, is spectacular. The screenplay by Scorsese & Jay Cocks is amazing. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is absolutely stunning. The film editing by Thelma Schoonmaker is brilliant. The costume design & production design by Dante Ferretti are amazing. And the film score by Kathryn Kluge & Kim Allen Kluge is beautiful. This is one of the best films of the year.

Friday, January 27, 2017


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I killed you by coming here." That's an amazing quote by Isabelle Huppert in Elle, the best foreign-language film of the year. The film is based on the 2012 novel Oh... by Philippe Djian. Huppert plays Michèle Leblanc, a founder of a video game company in Paris. Her son, Vincent (played by Jonas Bloquet) is giving in to his controlling & unfaithful girlfriend, Josie (played by Alice Isaaz). She is also divorced from her husband, Richard (played by Charles Berling). She is currently in an affair with Robert (played by Christian Berkel), the husband of her best friend, Anna (played by Anne Consigny). And she is infatuated with her new neighbor, Patrick (played by Laurent Lafitte).

One morning, Michèle is raped & attacked in her home by a masked assailant. After the rape, she continues on with her life. She decides not to report the rape to law enforcement because of a childhood incident in which she was implicated has come back to light & caused a media frenzy. At her video game company, where her male colleagues either hate her or are infatuated with her, Michèle becomes suspicious of them. She will stop at nothing to find out who raped her. But when she finds out who it is, her life changes even more.

Isabelle Huppert's performance is the best of her career, & her Oscar nomination was extremely well-deserved. Paul Verhoeven's direction is excellent, with this being his best film yet. David Birke's screenplay is brilliant. And the dark & brooding film score by Anne Dudley is excellent. At times a psychological thriller, at times a searing drama, & at times a (shockingly) dark comedy, this is one of the most deranged films I've ever seen.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

20th Century Women

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Look, wondering if you're happy, it's a great shortcut to being depressed." That's a hilarious quote from Annette Bening in 20th Century Women, the best film of the year. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, California, Bening plays Dorothea Fields, a free-spirited single mother struggling to raise her 15-year-old son, Jamie (played by Lucas Jade Zumann). Her husband hasn't seen Jamie in 5 years. Dorothea is also currently renting out a room in her house to Abbie Porter (played by Greta Gerwig), a 24-year-old photographer & cervical cancer survivor. Hoping to connect more with Jamie & his view of the world, Dorothea recruits Abbie & Julie Hamlin (played by Elle Fanning), a 17-year-old friend of Jamie's, to help Jamie find himself & become a good man. They agree to help him, as Jamie really connects with the two of them. Also helping out is William (played by Billy Crudup), a pottery artist who is repairing Dorothea's house. Together, they try to help Jamie become a good man in a time where Jimmy Carter told us of a "Crisis of Confidence", where there were crises of energy & oil, & where women demanded equal rights.

The cast is spectacular: Annette Bening gives her greatest performance in her illustrious career; Elle Fanning gives an absolutely outstanding performance; Greta Gerwig's performance is Oscar-worthy; Billy Crudup gives his best performance yet; & Lucas Jade Zumann gives one of the best breakout performances ever; it's an absolute shame none of them were nominated for Oscars. Mike Mills's direction & screenplay are both amazing, solidifying Mills's place as one of the great American directors of the 21st century, after his previous masterpieces: 2005's Thumbsucker; & 2011's Beginners. The cinematography by Sean Porter is beautiful, filled with amazing shots overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The editing by Leslie Jones is excellent. The costume design by Jennifer Johnson is amazing. The production design by Chris Jones is beautiful. The film score by Roger Neill is absolutely astounding. And the soundtrack is one of the 3 best film soundtracks ever, filled with amazing punk music from the late 1970's. This is the best film I've ever seen. It's hilarious, it's heartwarming, & overall, it's an absolutely beautiful ode to the women who helped us become who we are today.

The Founder

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Contracts are like hearts. They're made to be broken." That's a LEGENDARY quote from Michael Keaton in The Founder, one of the best films of the year. Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a struggling milkshake salesman in 1954. His wife, Ethel (played by Laura Dern) supports him, & they live comfortably, but Ray craves more. One day, Ray is sent by the milkshake company to San Bernardino, California, to finalize a deal with a hamburger restaurant to sell 8 milkshake machines. The restaurant is McDonald's, founded by brothers Richard "Dick" (played by Nick Offerman) & Maurice "Mac" (played by John Carroll Lynch) McDonald. When he arrives there, Ray is stunned by the fast service, high-quality food, disposable packaging, & family-oriented atmosphere. Ray then meets with Dick & Mac, & is taken on a tour of the restaurant. After that, the three go out to dinner, & discuss how McDonald's was created. Dick & Mac came to Los Angeles to work in the film industry after growing up in poverty. After the Depression, the brothers decided to open up a hot dog stand, & from there, they decided to expand & create a diner that sells food at a low cost, is made quickly, & doesn't sacrifice quality.

Ray comes back & tells the brothers to franchise the restaurant, but is told by the brothers that this was tried before but they were unable to maintain quality throughout the restaurants. Eventually, they do franchise, with Ray agreeing to a contract that all business decisions go through them. But there is something sinister up Ray's sleeve that eventually turns McDonald's into the mega-fast food chain it is today.

Michael Keaton's performance is one of the 3 best of his career, along with his performance in 2014's Birdman & 2015's Spotlight, & he was robbed of an Oscar nomination. John Lee Hancock's direction is excellent, & it's his best film yet. Robert D. Siegel's screenplay is brilliant. The cinematography by John Schwartzman is amazing. The film editing by Robert Frazen is excellent. The production design by Michael Corenblith is amazing. And the film score by Carter Burwell is amazing, as always. This is an excellent biopic.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Live By Night

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I went away a soldier. I came home an outlaw." That's a great quote from Ben Affleck in Live by Night, an underrated gangster film with a few flaws. The film is based on the 2012 book Live by Night by Dennis Lehane. Set over the course of the Prohibition era, Affleck portrays Joe Coughlin, the son of Boston Police Capt. Thomas Coughlin (played by Brendan Gleeson). Joe falls in love with Emma Gould (played by Sienna Miller), the mistress of Albert White (played by Robert Glenister), the boss of the Irish mob in Boston. The Italian Mafia boss, Maso Pescatore (played by Remo Girone), discovers the affair & tells Joe to kill Albert. However, Joe was lured into a trap set up by Albert, & is arrested for the murder of three policemen.

After he gets out of jail, he is sent by Pescatore to Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, to help with Pescatore's rum empire. While there, he reconnects with his old partner Dion Bartolo (played by Chris Messina). Joe also meets Chief of Police Irving Figgis (played by Chris Cooper), & his daughter, Loretta (played by Elle Fanning), as well as Graciela Corrales (played by Zoe Saldana), to whom Joe falls in love with. But Joe's acts of violence are about to come back to him, & not how he expected.

The cast is great, especially Chris Cooper, one of the greatest American actors in recent memory. Ben Affleck's direction & screenplay is great. The cinematography by Robert Richardson is spectacular. The editing by William Goldenberg is great. The costume design by Jacqueline West is excellent. And the production design by Jess Gonchor is amazing. While there were some problems with the narrative, it is definitely underrated, & proves that Ben Affleck is paving his way to become one of the great American directors.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Patriots Day

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"The only weapon you have to fight back with is love." That's an amazing quote from Mark Wahlberg in Patriots Day, one of the best films of the year. The film is based on the 2015 book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman & Dave Wedge, which documented the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a member of the Boston Police Department. On April 15, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon, Saunders is scheduled to monitor the race. His wife, Carol (played by Michelle Monaghan), is down at the race as well. Also at the race are husband & wife Patrick Downes (played by Christopher O'Shea) & Jessica Kensky (played by Rachel Brosnahan), along with Steve Woolfenden (played by Dustin Tucker). At 2:50pm, about 4 hours into the marathon, brothers Tamerlan (played by Themo Melikidze) & Dzhokhar (played by Alex Wolff) Tsarnaev detonated two bombs, about 12 seconds & 210 yards apart apart, killing 3 people, & injuring 264 others.

After the bombing, Saunders, along with Boston Police Commisioner Ed Davis (played by John Goodman), Boston Police Chief Billy Evans (played by James Colby), Watertown, Massachusetts Police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (played by J.K. Simmons), FBI Field Agent Richard DesLauriers (played by Kevin Bacon), Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (played by Michael Beach), & Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (played by Vincent Curatola) investigate the bombings & search for the bombers.

4 days later, on April 19, 2013, Tamerlan & Dzhokhar kill MIT Police Officer Sean Collier (played by Jake Picking), & carjack student Dun Meng (played by Jimmy O. Yang), stating that they intend to bomb New York City next. This eventually leads to a shootout where Tamerlan was killed, leading to a manhunt for Dzhokhar, which caused the city of Boston to be shut down. Later that night, Dzhokhar was arrested. A postscript reveals that Dzhokhar was sentenced to death.

The cast was excellent. Peter Berg's direction is excellent, with this being one of his best films yet. The screenplay by Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson is amazing. The editing by Colby Parker Jr. & Gabriel Fleming is brilliant. And the film score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross is astounding. This is one of the year's best films, a testament to real-life American heroes.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hidden Figures

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it's not because we wear skirts, it's because we wear glasses." That's a great quote from Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures, one of the year's best films. The film is based on the 2016 book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Schetterly, based on the true story about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan & Mary Jackson, 3 African-American women who helped NASA catch up in the Space Race & helped John Glenn become the first astronaut to orbit Earth. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a mathematician working at the all-female African-American West Computing Group at NASA in 1961. Working with her are Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) & Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe). NASA is working extremely hard to catch up with the Soviet Union in the Space Race, so Katherine is promoted to work with the Space Task Group, led by Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner). Tensions rise between Katherine & the employees, especially engineer Paul Stafford (played by Jim Parsons). Also, Dorothy faces discrimination from Vivian Mitchell (played by Kirsten Dunst), who offers little help to get Dorothy promoted to supervisor.

Around this time, the Friendship 7 rocket, led by John Glenn (played by Glen Powell) is about to launch. This will be the first time that a man will orbit the Earth. It is now up to NASA, & especially Katherine, Dorothy, & Mary, to calculate the math, send him into space, & safely get him back to Earth at the end of his orbit.

The cast is spectacular. Theodore Melfi's direction is amazing. Melfi & Allison Schroeder's screenplay is brilliant. The cinematography by Mandy Walker is astounding. The film editing by Peter Teschner is excellent. The costume design by Renee Ehrlich Kaufus is beautiful. The production design by Wynn Thomas is beautiful. And the film score & original songs by Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer are excellent. This is truly one of the year's best films.