All posts by Alex Brannan

COVID-19 Has Studios Sending Movies to Streaming Early. We Rank Them.

Theaters are closed. Hollywood production has ground to a standstill. Many (across many industries) are unfortunately out of work. And it is a good idea to just stay inside. With this turbulent current state of affairs, Hollywood studios are trying to recoup losses on their theatrical released films by placing them on digital VOD early.

In one respect, this is a generous offering, as it represents an essentially unprecedented choice by studios to ignore traditional windowing practices in order to give consumers access to new products. On the other hand, these releases come with lofty price tags. Given that streaming services offer plenty of feature film fare at much lower prices, it is hard to recommend anyone pay full price for the current slate of “early access” films. Some of these services are even free with ad support—Tubi, Vudu, and Crackle are perhaps the most readily available—and, with some digging, one can find a few gems.

However, for those looking for something new to watch, we have ranked the current (as of March 27) early access offerings.

 

The Unknown

The Call of the Wild ($15 purchase)

I have not seen The Call of the Wild, but I wouldn’t Continue reading COVID-19 Has Studios Sending Movies to Streaming Early. We Rank Them.

Bull (2020) Movie Review

Annie Silverstein’s feature debut, Bull, follows the intersecting stories of an ex-rodeo star turned bull wrangler named Abe Turner (Rob Morgan) and a teenager named Kris (Amber Havard) whose home life necessitates her independence. The two cross paths when Kris breaks into Abe’s house, stealing his alcohol and hosting a party there in order to impress her peers. Instead of turning her into the police, Abe sets Kris to work on his house. But Kris would have preferred to go to juvenile detention.

It is in this moment, sitting in the back of a police car, when Kris’ character first Continue reading Bull (2020) Movie Review

The Invisible Man (2020) Movie Review

Universal’s 2017 re-interpretation of The Mummy, directed by Alex Kurtzman and starring Tom Cruise, went for a frivolous, action-oriented romp. It appeared to be searching for something akin to yet distinct from the Stephen Sommers-directed The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns—distinguished enough in its choreography to suit Cruise’s devil-may-care persona yet narratively grounded enough to kick off a multi-IP franchise worthy of crossovers and event films.

This latter conceit was dead on arrival. While The Mummy did Continue reading The Invisible Man (2020) Movie Review

Downhill (2020) Movie Review

“Force majeure” refers to unforeseen acts that can prevent the fulfillment of a legal contract. In the case of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film of that name, it refers to the unpredictable behavior of a man—a husband, a father—in the face of unexpected danger that could threaten to completely overturn his marriage and his own perception of himself. In Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s 2020 film Downhill, the title is a pun on downhill skiing and a marriage on the decline.

Downhill is “inspired,” as the credits tell us, by Force Majeure, and it takes what is a Continue reading Downhill (2020) Movie Review

The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

While on assignment in Louisiana, journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) interviews a man named Isaac (Rob Morgan). Michael is struck by a photo in Isaac’s home of a woman (Chante Adams) and decides to follow up on the woman’s story when he returns to New York. She is a recently deceased photographer, and she left behind letters to Isaac and her daughter Mae (Issa Rae). It is through this photograph that Mae and Michael collide, and they do so with an immediate sense of romantic connection.

Stella Meghie’s The Photograph oscillates between Michael and Mae’s present day relationship and the story of Continue reading The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

2020 Academy Awards — Final Predictions Ballot

With the Oscars just hours away, it is time for me to re-evaluate my Oscar predictions and create my final ballot. Having written articles on every category during the past month, I will not elaborate on my choices here. Although some of my picks have changed since writing my initial articles, mainly due to how other awards ceremonies have played out, most of my changes are consistent with the lines of thinking I engage with in those previous articles.

Let’s get into it.

 

Best Picture

Continue reading 2020 Academy Awards — Final Predictions Ballot

2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Documentary Short Subject

Since writing my piece on the Best Animated Short Film category, I have caught up with my blindspot in that field, Dcera. Unfortunately, I find myself in a similar situation. Even more unfortunately, my blindspot in the Best Documentary Short Subject category is a pretty heavy contender: St. Louis Superman. But I have read up on the film enough that I think I can properly gauge its current place in the race.

And it is a close race at that.

The Nominees:

Continue reading 2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Documentary Short Subject