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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 14, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 50
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Seattle Film Critics Society announces nominations for the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards

The Favourite leads the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society nominations
Yorgos Lanthimos' period drama lands 11 nominations, while Roma follows with 8

The Seattle Film Critics Society has announced nominations for the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards, honoring the best in film for 2018. Leading the field with 11 nominations is Yorgos Lanthimos' spellbinding comedy, The Favourite, earning nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Olivia Colman), and two Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominations for stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

Alfonso Cuarón's moving domestic drama Roma received 8 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Films by Barry Jenkins and Ryan Coogler (If Beale Street Could Talk and Black Panther, respectively) each landed 7 total nominations. Jenkins won both Best Picture and Best Director in 2016 from the Seattle Film Critics Society for his film Moonlight , and is once again nominated in both categories. Coogler's Marvel Studios powerhouse landed nominations in Best Picture along with two nominations for Michael B. Jordan as Best Supporting Actor and Villain of the Year.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's action-packed Mission: Impossible - Fallout scored 5 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. Damien Chazelle's intense Neil Armstrong biopic First Man also earned 5 nods, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Claire Foy), Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects.

Joining Lanthimos, Cuarón, and Jenkins in the Best Director category are first-time director Bradley Cooper and legendary filmmaker Paul Schrader. Cooper's rousing musical drama A Star is Born earned 4 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Cooper's own performance, and a Best Actress nomination for pop superstar Lady Gaga. Schrader's film First Reformed was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Ethan Hawke), and Best Screenplay.

Completing the lineup for Best Picture are Paul King's universally adored Paddington 2, Carlos López Estrada's provocative Blindspotting, and Luca Guadagnino's remake of the horror classic Suspiria.

In the Best Actor category, Cooper will compete against Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), and Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here).

Mahershala Ali, portraying musician Don Shirley in Green Book, joins Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Russell Hornsby (The Hate U Give), Steven Yeun (Burning), andMichael B. Jordan (Black Panther) in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category.

Yalitza Aparicio's breakout performance as Cleo in Roma earned her a Best Actress nod. She competes against Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Regina Hall (Support the Girls), and Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born).

In the Best Actress in a Supporting Role race, Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) competes against Claire Foy (First Man), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

Other films earning multiple nominations include Avengers: Infinity War, Burning, Hereditary, Mary Poppins Returns, Suspiria, and You Were Never Really Here.

With nominations set, voting for this year's winners will conclude on December 14. Winners of the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards will be announced on Monday, December 17, at 9am PST via the Seattle Film Critics Society's Twitter handle: @seattlecritics.

The complete list of nominations for the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards is below:

The 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Award Nominees:

BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR
Black Panther (Walt Disney Pictures)
Blindspotting (Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate)
The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
First Reformed (A24)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
Mission: Impossible - Fallout (Paramount)
Paddington 2 (Warner Bros.)
Roma (Netflix)
A Star is Born (Warner Bros.)
Suspiria (Amazon Studios)

BEST DIRECTOR
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Paul Schrader – First Reformed

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Toni Collette – Hereditary
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Regina Hall – Support the Girls
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Russell Hornsby – The Hate U Give
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
Steven Yeun – Burning

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Elizabeth Debicki – Widows
Claire Foy – First Man
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Black Panther
The Favourite
If Beale Street Could Talk
Vice
Widows

BEST SCREENPLAY
Blindspotting – Rafael Casal & Daveed Diggs
The Favourite – Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara
First Reformed – Paul Schrader
If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins
Roma – Alfonso Cuarón

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Incredibles 2 – Brad Bird, director
Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson, director
Mirai – Mamoru Hosoda, director
Ralph Breaks the Internet – Rich Moore & Phil Johnston, directors
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, directors

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Burning – Lee Chang-dong, director
Cold War – Paweł Pawlikowski, director
Revenge – Coralie Fargeat, director
Roma – Alfonso Cuarón, director
Shoplifters – Hirokazu Kore-eda, director

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Free Solo – Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, directors
Minding the Gap – Bing Liu, director
Shirkers – Sandi Tan, director
Three Identical Strangers – Tim Wardle, director
Won't You Be My Neighbor? – Morgan Neville, director

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Favourite – Robbie Ryan
If Beale Street Could Talk – James Laxton
Mission: Impossible - Fallout – Rob Hardy
The Rider – Joshua James Richards
Roma – Alfonso Cuarón

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Black Panther – Ruth E. Carter
Colette – Andrea Flesch
The Favourite – Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns – Sandy Powell
Suspiria – Giulia Piersanti

BEST FILM EDITING
BlacKkKlansman – Barry Alexander Brown
The Favourite – Yorgos Mavropsaridis
First Man – Tom Cross
Mission: Impossible - Fallout – Eddie Hamilton
Roma – Alfonso Cuarón & Alex Gough

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
First Man – Justin Hurwitz
If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
Mandy – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Mission: Impossible - Fallout – Lorne Balfe
You Were Never Really Here – Jonny Greenwood

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Black Panther – Hannah Beachler (Production Designer); Jay Hart (Set Decorator)
The Favourite – Fiona Crombie (Production Designer); Alice Felton (Set Decorator)
First Man – Nathan Crowley (Production Designer); Kathy Lucas (Set Decorator)
Mary Poppins Returns – John Myhre (Production Designer); Gordon Sim (Set Decorator)
Roma – Eugenio Caballero (Production Designer); Bárbara Enríquez (Set Decorator)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
            Annihilation – Andrew Whitehurst, Sara Bennett, Richard Clarke, Simon Hughes
Avengers: Infinity War – Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Dan Sudick
Black Panther – Geoffrey Baumann, Jesse James Chisholm, Craig Hammack, Dan Sudick
First Man – Paul Lambert, J.D. Schwalm, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles
Mission: Impossible - Fallout – Jody Johnson

BEST YOUTH PERFORMANCE (18 years of age or younger upon start of filming)
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Kairi Jyo – Shoplifters
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Leave No Trace
Milly Shapiro – Hereditary
Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place

VILLAIN OF THE YEAR
Erik Killmonger – Black Panther – portrayed by Michael B. Jordan
Jatemme Manning – Widows – portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya
Phoenix Buchanan – Paddington 2 – portrayed by Hugh Grant
STEM – Upgrade – portrayed by Simon Maiden
Thanos – Avengers: Infinity War – portrayed by Josh Brolin

 

           



Mary Queen of Scots a historical showcase for Ronan and Robbie
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Now playing


After being sent away to France as an infant and marrying the French Dauphin at 15 only for him to die a short time later, Catholic Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) returns to Scotland in 1561 and is immediately crowned Queen. She takes the throne from her Protestant half-brother James, the Earl of Moray (James McArdle), whom she appoints to her leadership council while in the same breath making an enemy of religious leader John Knox (David Tennant) who preaches women, especially Catholic women, in powerful positions goes against the will of God. Nevertheless, Mary is determined to unite Scotland, and she'll utilize both coercion and force to secure her position.

Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) sits on the British throne. She is under immense pressure to marry and produce an heir. Mary is equally a problem for Elizabeth as the teenager's claim to the English crown is arguably stronger than her own. The Scottish monarch must not be allowed to produce an heir. But Mary defies the will of the British, marries fellow Catholic Henry Darnley (Jack Lowden) and has a son, John I. This sets the stage for a series of political infights both women must deal with, and while their mutual respect for one another grows so does the belief that only one of them will likely hold onto her crown when all the backstabbing and bloodletting comes to an end.

Working from the biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by Dr. John Guy, director Josie Rourke's Mary Queen of Scots is a ferociously feminist piece of historical drama that isn't afraid of getting its hands dirty as it examines the lives of these two monarchs. The movie lives in the muck and mire of its time, unafraid of the inherent violence Mary and Elizabeth were constantly under the threat of succumbing to whether it be physical, mental or a lethal combination of both. Rourke keeps the focus on these women at all times, clearly and cleanly showing just what it took for them to maintain their ruling authority in the midst of a male-dominated society that didn't look fondly on being lorded over by a confident and intelligent member of the opposite sex.

All of which makes Beau Willimon's (The Ides of March) perfunctory and observational screenplay all the more frustrating. The ticking clock procedural aspect that he utilizes fairly well with his Netflix series 'House of Cards' isn't nearly as strong here. There was a distancing effect that kept me from being able to connect with either woman as strongly as I wanted to. Other than a precious handful of scenes where the terror and the uncertainty of this 16th century royal free-for-all ring brutally true and hit home in ways that are vividly visceral in their intensified intimacy, a lot of what happens is oddly unaffecting. While intellectually stimulating, from an emotional standpoint I just wasn't that invested in what was happening, and considering just how well made, beautifully shot and expertly acted all of this is that I felt so mezzo-mezzo about the film as a whole is honestly something I'm still having trouble fully comprehending.

Why? Because when I say the core elements of Rourke's opus are strong I mean it. This is a picture that oozes realism. James Merifield's (Austenland) production design is suitably withered, worn and frigidly austere. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne, who it should be noted is returning to this story for a third time after receiving Academy Award nominations for both Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (for which she won the Oscar), has clothed the actors with meticulous care almost as if every thread were woven in the 1560s and then magically transported through time so they could be utilized here. The art direction and set direction are equally outstanding, while cinematographer John Mathieson's (Gladiator, Logan) stunning camerawork utilizes every facet of the production and every pristine windswept Scottish location to absolute perfection.

Then there are the performances from the two stars. Robbie makes the most of her limited screen time, dominating her moments with a vital potency that's invigorating. Her one and only scene with Ronan is nothing short of masterful, the level of emotive dexterity she displays in this moment breathtaking. As for her co-star she is almost equally sensational. Ronan's determination and conviction is never in doubt, the three-time Oscar nominee digging inside of Mary in a manner that is primal in its intuitive resilience. What I like most about her performance is how childlike it can become. Mary came to power at a young age and Ronan does not forget to acknowledge this, sometimes in ways that are shockingly raw in their bellicosity, her willingness not to shy away from so many complicated truths giving the performance an additional layer of resonance that's outstanding.

All of which makes me almost angry at myself for not being head over heels in love with the film. But as terrific as all of this might be, and it is all pretty great, make no mistake about that, the actual drama swirling at the center of things still never comes as clearly into focus as I kept wanting it to. Things become rushed and forced, almost as if there was some need to accelerate to a conclusion even though there was so much more to Mary's story needing to be explored. It's like Rourke and Willimon made the collective decision to just skip to the end without clarifying how and why things are suddenly working out the way in which they are, the various men undercutting the Scottish monarch's authority doing so for reasons that aren't nearly as concise or as clear as I felt they needed to be.

But I do love that Rourke has transformed these historical happenings into a tale that so assertively parallels many of the societal and political debates and discussions that are taking place right this very moment. She allows Mary and Elizabeth the freedom to be their own women, each knowing full well that men will never take them as seriously as they should especially if one decision goes wrong or if they have the gall to showcase even a second of weakness. While I have more than my fair share of reservations, on the basis of Ronan and Robbie alone I still think Rourke's debut is worth a look, and even if it isn't quite the royal entertainment I was hoping for as matinee fodder is concerned interested viewers could certainly do a heck of a lot worse.


Promising Mortal Engines runs out of narrative gas
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MORTAL ENGINES
Now playing


Sometime in the not-so-distant future, humanity is on the brink of extinction. A cataclysmic event led to a worldwide conflict that devastated the planet. People retreat to movable cities of varying scales, most of them small, barely more than a few homes, shops and refineries of one sort or another. But the larger ones, the more massive of these mechanical beasts, they may house countless thousands while also containing the remnants of civilizations that otherwise would have been lost to the sands of time. They feed on the smaller vehicles, utilizing them for fuel while also forcing their former inhabitants to join their society whether they wish to or not.

The most lethal of these movable metropolises is London. Currently, it is marauding across the remains of Europe, esteemed archeologist and revered city planner Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) mysteriously looking for ancient technological artifacts under the guise of trying to construct a machine capable of powering the city without having to fuel its furnaces with scrap metal and other combustible odds and ends. In reality, he wants to rebuild a weapon capable of opening up resource-filled strongholds protected by massive shield walls no movable city has ever been able to penetrate. Valentine wants to utilize the same sort of device the ancients unleashed that tilted the world to the edge of apocalypse, trusting that the citizens of London will either be too stupid, too greedy or too timid to realize what he's about to do is nothing short of evil.

Based upon the bestselling series of science fiction-adventures by author Philip Reeve, if nothing else Mortal Engines boasts one of the most eye-popping, adrenaline-filled opening sequences of any movie I've seen in 2018. The directorial debut for veteran King Kong and The Hobbit trilogy special effects artist Christian Rivers, this introductory sequence setting up the primary characters, the world they live in and the gigantic moveable cities on which so much of humanity now lives is something else. It's a freewheeling, expertly realized visual extravaganza. I was glued to my seat, eager to discover where Reeve and Academy Award-winning screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson (the Lord of the Rings trilogy) were going to take things next, the energetically cohesive way in which they set the stage for all the action to come nothing short of thrilling.

Which is exactly why I ended up finding this particular feature to be so frustratingly disappointing. There's so much to love, so much that held me spellbound, the fact I'm sitting here annoyed that the whole thing never works nearly as well as it by all accounts early on looks as if it is going to has me lingering in a state perilously close to anger. While the story owes a great deal to everything ranging from Flash Gordon, to Japanese anime, to The Hunger Games to - surprise, surprise - Star Wars isn't much of a shock, that Walsh, Boyens and Jackson seem to be having such a devil of a time juggling all of the various narrative strands considering their success with The Lord of the Rings undeniably is. Key characters are introduced, do something interesting and then subsequently disappear for large chunks of the story only to be reintroduced at random moments. Worse, the climax feels hurried, haphazardly put together and oddly unfocused. Nothing holds together in an emotionally satisfying way, and by the time a few surviving heroes quite literally flew off into the sunset I was honestly flummoxed as to why I was supposed to have cared about anything that just happened throughout the course of this 128-minute endeavor.

But gosh darn do I want to care. The way Rivers introduces all his primary characters during that opening sequence, most notably Valentine, his whip-smart daughter Katherine (Leila George) and erstwhile historian and wannabe pilot Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), while also juggling a humongous action sequence that has to explain the nature of these movable cities while at the same time showcase what they can and cannot do, all of that is handled with exhilarating confidence. Best of all is the way in which the filmmaker showcases the story's primary heroine, the red scarf clad firebrand Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Rivers immediately cements her as this film's most iconic personality, giving just enough information about Hester in these initial moments to enflame my curiosity and get me genuinely excited to discover why she and Valentine are instant enemies right from the first second they entered into one another's company.

So why do some of these characters, most notably Katherine, just up and vanish for long stretches only to reappear at random moments to either help fill in some of the expository holes or do something important when no one else is apparently available to do so? Why is a key subplot involving Hester and a robotic, formerly human bounty hunter named Shrike (a phenomenal Stephen Lang) the most emotional one in the entire film even though there's another plot strand involving the young woman and her growing infatuation with Tom to contend with as well? Why does the climactic battle between the city of London and a ragtag group of aerial pirates led by the enigmatic Anna Fang (Jihae) feel rushed, confusingly edited and sloppily assembled when everything else up to that point has been so visually resplendent and narratively coherent?

These are just some of the issues I had as Mortal Engines roared towards its conclusion. It felt like large chunks were taken out of the film almost as if someone ordered Rivers, Jackson and the rest of the creative team to whittle things down as close to a two-hour running time as possible. As interesting as this world is and as spectacularly realized as much of it might be, at a certain point all of the missteps can't help but take an almost catastrophic toll. While my eight-year-old self was thrilling to a lot of what was happening, as magnetic and as empowering a pair of heroines Hester and Anna end up proving to be (both Hilmar and Jihae deliver dynamically compelling performances), I still couldn't get past just how increasingly absurd and disconnected everything became. By the time the key face-off the entire story had been building towards finally came to pass even that turned out to be something of a disheartening letdown, and a moment that should have had me wanting to rise to my feet and cheer instead had me slumping nearer to the floor letting out an inaudible groan.

Look, I'm still impressed by much of what Rivers is able to accomplish. This is an intriguing world, and the surviving characters are all ones I'd not be against following on another adventure if it were ever to happen. Also, just from a technical standpoint the visual effects, sound design, costumes and production design are some of the best I've seen this year, and had this film screened for press earlier in the month I'd have voted for all of them for awards consideration in the various critic organizations I'm privileged to be a part of. Is that enough for me to give Mortal Engines a recommendation? No, no it is not. But that doesn't mean there's still not plenty to love, and if my eight-year-old self has its way that might be enough for me to give this sci-fi spectacle a second chance sooner rather than later.






Macha Theatre Works' Veils one of the best plays of 2018
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Seattle Men's Chorus' 'Jingle All the Way' concert a truly sensational evening
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Rainbow City Band presents 'Planet Earth' concert
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The heart of My √Āntonia beats in the heartland
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Pacific Northwest Shop debuts in Wallingford
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Edward S. Curtis in Hollywood: History presentation at the Seattle Public Library Dec. 18
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Seattle Humane - Pets of the Week
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Pacific MusicWorks' 'Christmas in Rome' a brilliant program of Baroque music
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Seattle Film Critics Society announces nominations for the 2018 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards
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Mary Queen of Scots a historical showcase for Ronan and Robbie
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Promising Mortal Engines runs out of narrative gas
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