Miamerly Hills Cops

Ride Along 2

by George Wolf

A year ago, Ride Along used the 48 Hours formula to give Kevin Hart a mainstream buddy cop vehicle. It worked, at least at the box office, so part two rewrites another Eddie Murphy classic to equally disappointing results.

Since emerging as a bumbling hero in part one, security guard Ben Barber (Hart) has become an actual Atlanta police officer. But, he’s still just a rookie beat cop, several rungs below his future brother-in-law, veteran detective James Payton (Ice Cube).

When they bust a local thug with mysterious ties to the Miami crime scene, James gets the green light to head south alone and follow some leads. Ben? No way! He’s too green and unfocused, and still has no idea what serious detective work is about! Shut up, it’s not gonna happen!

So it happens, and the pair hits South Beach, spurring Ben’s hope for a catchy nickname such as “the Brothers In Law!” In short order, the BIL team up with a Miami detective (Olivia Munn) and a computer hacker on the run (Ken Jeong) to try and prove a prominent businessman (Benjamin Bratt) is actually a violent crime lord.

As with the first go round, Ride Along 2 makes you wonder why it’s taking so long for a film to take full advantage of Kevin Hart’s comedic talent. The About Last Night reboot came close, but Hart’s was a supporting role overshadowed by the boring leads. Here, it’s the laziness of not rocking a popular boat.

Director Tim Story and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi all return from the original Ride Along, crafting an obvious rewrite of Beverly Hills Cop with an over-reliance on Hart making faces, Cube looking tough and Munn sporting cleavage. All three are better than this.

There are a few genuine laughs here, but they are buried under silly contrivance and the dead horse beating of James and Ben’s no-you-can’t-yes-I-can banter. We get it.

What we don’t get, again, is a project that takes full advantage of the talent involved.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

 

2016 Oscar Nominations: Not Bad!

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

What a day. What a (mostly) lovely day!

Yes, Mad Max: Fury Road came up big in this year’s Oscar nominations. In fact, it’s a big Tom Hardy year, as the actor’s two films – Mad Max and The Revenant – cleaned up.

The year’s two most crowded fields are not necessarily the most glamorous, but determining the top picks from the possible contenders in best supporting actor and best cinematographer had to be tough. So we’ll will try not to complain too terribly loudly.

For cinematography, spot on! Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight. There are no bones to pick here.

For best supporting actor, though, let’s run through a handful of the blistering and brilliant performances that did not make this cut: Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Josh Brolin (Sicario), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), and most grievously, Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina). In their stead are four worthy adversaries and one unfortunate “good job, old man” nod.

Yes, Stallone (Creed)– in what is rightly considered his best performance in eons – takes the place of far stronger performances based on public good will. And while everyone high fives over the good fortune of the 69-year-old, we mourn for the far, far, far superior performances that will go unacknowledged.

He’s joined by Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), and Christian Bale (The Big Short).

Otherwise, though, not a lot to bitch about.

Best actor looked about as we thought: DiCaprio (The Revenant), Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Cranston (Trumbo), Damon (The Martian). Best actress was almost as clear with Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Cate Blanchett (Carol), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), and the surprise but utterly deserved nomination for Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

Best supporting actress was likewise littered with excellence: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs).

Best director nominations were entirely welcome, with Adam McKay getting noticed for his unexpected and wonderful work on The Big Short, George Miller capping off an exceptional day for Mad Max: Fury Road, Alejandro G. Inarritu getting a chance at back-to-back wins for The Revenant, along with two highly worthy newcomers to the category, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight and Lenny Abrahamson for his marvel, Room.

Original screenplay nominees are strong: Bridge of Spies, Inside Out, Spotlight, Ex Machina, and as a nice surprise, Straight Outta Compton. We wouldn’t have minded a nod for The Hateful Eight, but those five are a fine group. Adapted screenplay hopefuls are The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, Room, and The Martian taking the final slot we’d have given to Steve Jobs.

Our biggest gripe comes at the top, with the exquisite Carol being denied a best picture nod while the obvious pandering of The Martian is rewarded. Criminal. Otherwise, Best Picture is a healthy group: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, and Spotlight.

Chris Rock will host the awards show Sunday night, February 28th on ABC.

RIP David Bowie

We lost the incomparable David Bowie last night, a figure whose impression on this planet is hard to overstate.

We’re all familiar with David Bowie’s contributions to the field of music as a god among men, but how well do you know him as an actor? Unable to play an ordinary man, it’s no surprise Bowie glided enigmatically from one film to the next, routinely representing eternal youth and alienation.

Though not every film choice has been a jewel, here is a handful of recommendations, along with a good Bowie tune to get you in the mood for each movie.

 

THE HUNGER (1983)
Director Tony Scott’s first major film is a stylish if dated vampire fable.

A beautiful true vampire is in need of a new human lover, because her current mate’s age is finally catching up to him. Atmospheric and sensual, the film is best known for Catherine Deneuve/Susan Sarandon love scenes, but Bowie is hauntingly memorable as Deneuve’s doomed lover John Blaylock.

Quote: Are you making a pass at me, Mrs. Blaylock?
Song: Scary Monsters

 

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988)
Scorsese’s once-controversial crucifixion movie sees Christ as a masochistic everyman, exemplifying moral struggle rather than biblical “accuracy.” Bowie’s small but pivotal role as Pontius Pilate (actually a combination of Pilate and Herod), is understated and effective. The film is more literary than literal, and benefits from a dreamy quality created through Michael Ballhaus’s cinematography and Peter Gabriel’s score.

Quote: It simply doesn’t matter how you want to change things; we don’t want them changed.
Song: The Man Who Sold the World

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE (1983)
This powerful culture clash tale is the underrated story of WWII British prisoners of war in a Japanese camp, perhaps more meaningful now than when it was released in 1983. Haunting cinematography and score, as well as subtle performances and Nagisa Oshima’s fearless direction, combine to create an intensely emotional film. Bowie’s Maj. Celliers, the most layered and provocative character, is the most polished performance of his acting career.

Quote: There are times when victory is very hard to take.
Song: Heroes

 

BASQUIAT (1996)
This meandering biopic of NY artist Jean Michel Basquiat is buoyed by one of the most reliably brilliants casts ever assembled: Jeffrey Wright, Benicio del Toro, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Parker Posey, and Willem Dafoe. David Bowie more than holds his own amidst this remarkable group, surprisingly insightful as Basquiat’s only true friend, Andy Warhol. An absolutely killer soundtrack gives scenes a little added punch.

Quote: You kids. You drink red wine with fish. You can do anything.
Song: Andy Warhol

 

MR. RICE’S SECRET (2000)
This rarely seen gem of a children’s film is a low budget Canadian fantasy told without condescension to a pre-pubescent audience. Bowie plays Mr. Rice, wise and mysterious friend to a terminally ill boy. Though the film has its clunky, almost TV movie moments, on the whole it’s a refreshing and interesting coming of age film, made even more poignant with tempered morbidity.

Quote: Every man needs a good blue suit.
Song: My Death

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eijUj1TfLt0

 

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976)
A very sympathetic, delicate Bowie finds himself on an alien planet (Earth) in this post-modern tale of the trappings of modern life. This eccentric film, co-starring Candy Clark, Rip Torn, and Buck Henry, could be a time capsule of 1976. The film, though sometimes hard to follow, benefits from director Nicolas Roeg’s mastery behind the camera, but it is Bowie’s performance that makes Man memorable.

Quote: Mr. Newton, are you crazy?
Song: Loving the Alien

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfccDapMA14

 

THE PRESTIGE (2006)
Maybe an unusual casting choice by director Christopher Nolan for the role Nicola Tesla, but in a film built around illusion, Bowie delivers an impressive mix of the legendary and the enigmatic

Quote: You’re familiar with the phrase, ‘Man’s reach exceeds his grasp’?
Song: Life on Mars?

 

ZOOLANDER (2001)
A cameo, yes, but it made perfect sense! Who else to judge the walkoff?

Quote: I believe I might be of service
Song: Fashion

Mr. Bowie, you are and will continue to be deeply missed.

Fright Club: Best Silent Horror Movies

Horror movies have been around for as long as movies have been around, and we jumped into the way back machine to look at some of the earliest and most influential horror films the genre has to offer. So many fundamental genre elements – tropes the genre adheres to today – were created in these early, eerily beautiful silent gems that they deserve some attention. While there are actually loads of options – nearly everything Lon Chaney ever did, for instance – these are the five films we deem the best.

Listen to the whole podcast HERE.

5) The Unknown (1927)

When Tod Browning makes a movie about side show freaks, color us excited. In this unseemly tale, the great silent monster Lon Chaney is The Amazing Alonzo, an armless knife thrower/sharp shooter/guitar player/smoker in a circus. He has eyes for his show partner Nanon (Joan Crawford, pre-wire hanger), but the circus strongman is hot for her.

So, it all sounds a tad like Browning’s infamous Freaks. But Nanon spurns the strongman because she can’t stand to be groped by men’s hands – which makes it seem like Alonzo is a shoe-in, except that he is not what he appears to be.

Camera trickery, an actual circus performer, and Chaney’s convincing performance work together to create a believable side show character in Alonzo. Browning couples this unsettling performance with an air of seediness and some bizarre plot twists to leave a lasting impression.

4) The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

You know the story – a shadowy figure haunts the Paris opera house, demading that the object of his affection, Christine, be given the lead in Faust. In what amounts to a cautionary tale about women prioritizing career over family, the story revolves around a masked and disfigured madman and the singer who is easily duped, then saved by righteous men.

The reason this particular version of the film works so well is, of course, Lon Chaney’s now-legendary look. The actor devised his own make up and underwent painful tricks of physical contortion, succeeding in shocking audiences with a ghastly but very realistic visage. His flair as an actor is also on display, and though other versions sometimes mine for a bit of empathy or heartbreak as this hideous creature connives for a love triumphant, Chaney delivers menace and horror.

3) The Man Who Laughs (1928)

The German Expressionist director Paul Leni (Waxworks, The Cat and the Canary) worked with J. Grubb Alexander’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel to cast a macabre spell with this film – one of our very favorites.

A nobleman offends the king, who kills the nobleman (iron maiden!) and has his son, Gwynplaine, disfigured by a surgeon so he can spend his life laughing at his fool of a father. The boy is tossed out, wandering in the snow. He finds a blind baby girl, and the two are saved by a traveling carny.

As is Hugo’s way, goodness is found in the tormented and hideous while the gorgeous society show themselves to be the true beasts. The film looks gloomily gorgeous, and in the hands of silent film star Conrad Veidt, Gwynplaine becomes Hugo’s most sympathetic and heartbreaking monster.

2) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Few films of the silent era or any other are as visually striking as this. Another German Expressionist, director Robert Wiene uses light and shadow, exaggerated angles and shadowy spirals to envelope us in a nightmare.

In a story told in flashback we learn of Francis, who is visiting his bewitched beloved in an asylum. He tells the tale madness – a traveling hypnotist and his somnambulist, performing at a town fair; murder, magic, and lunacy.

The film’s twist ending and framed storytelling have become commonplace in horror, but the look of this film has never been truly recreated. Taken in the context of the time, Caligari becomes a metaphor and premonition of German’s mindless obedience to lunatic, homicidal authority figure. Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz wrote it just after WWI to reflect their experiences in the war, but it mirrored a growing phenomenon in their country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0A0sfxM6AE

1) Nosferatu (1922)

Best vampire ever.

Not the seductive, European aristocrat, cloaked and mysterious – oh no. With Count Orlock, filmmaker F. W. Murnau explores something more repellant, casting an actor who resembles an albino naked mole rat. Given that Murnau equates the film’s vampire-related deaths with the plague, this vermin-like image fits well. But more than that, thanks to a peculiarly perfect performance by Max Schreck, Murnau mines the carnality of the vampire myth for revulsion and fear, rather than eroticism.

Murnau’s mastery behind the camera – particularly his ability to capture the vampire’s shadow – made the film a breathtaking horror show at the time. But don’t discount this as dusty history. Max Schreck is a freak, and in his bony, clawlike hands, Count Orlock remains the greatest vampire ever undone by a sinless maiden.

Into the Woods

The Forest

by Hope Madden

I like a good twin movie as much as the next guy – probably more – but let’s be clear. The Forest is not a good twin movie. It’s not a good movie at all.

Through her freaky twin telepathy, Sara (Natalie Dormer: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones) knows something’s wrong with her sister Jess, living in Japan. She knows she’s alive and in danger, although the authorities calling to verify Jess’s missing person status believe she is dead because she’s gone alone into the suicide forest on Mount Fuji.

Well, off to Japan Sara goes, to enter the forest alone, stray from the path, see ghosts, listen to the advice of creepy school girls who appear in the middle of the forest at night (because there’s nothing at all suspicious about that), and just generally make bad choices.

Every individual has specific buttons horror movies can push. Some people are afraid of clowns, some of enclosed spaces. Some of us have a pathological terror of the woods. Some of the same of us have a twin sister. So, the idea of getting lost in the dark in a forest full of angry ghosts and ghouls as you hunt desperately for your twin sister – well, for some of us, these are buttons that should make it really easy for a movie to be scary.

Here’s what I’m saying – I am the audience for this movie, and it was as scary as an episode of Three’s Company.

Dormer’s performance is far more lifeless than those stiffs hanging from the trees, and director Jason Zada’s overreliance on jump scares and inability to develop atmosphere guarantee a tedious walk in the woods.

Verdict-1-5-Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi1wU872I-I

2015 COFCA Award Winners!

Spotlight shines at 14th annual Central Ohio Film Critics Association awards

(Columbus, January 7, 2016) Tom McCarthy’s investigative drama Spotlight has been named Best Film in the Central Ohio Film Critics Association’s 14th annual awards, which recognize excellence in the film industry for 2015. The film also claimed three other awards. McCarthy was honored as Best Director. The cast, including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams, was named Best Ensemble. Josh Singer and McCarthy won for Best Original Screenplay.

Columbus-area critics lauded Alicia Vikander with three awards: Best Supporting Actress (Ex Machina); Actor of the Year for her exemplary body of work in Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son, and Testament of Youth; and Breakthrough Film Artist. Other individual screen performers commended for their achievements include Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), who previously was named COFCA’s Best Actor in 2006 for The Departed; Best Actress Brie Larson (Room); and Best Supporting Actor Benicio Del Toro (Sicario).

The Revenant’s Emmanuel Lubezki won Best Cinematography. COFCA members also tabbed him for Best Cinematography in 2011 for The Tree of Life and 2013 for Gravity. Other winners include: Mad Max: Fury Road’s Margaret Sixel for Best Film Editing; The Big Short’s Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for Best Adapted Screenplay; The Hateful Eight’s Ennio Morricone for Best Score; Best Documentary The Look of Silence; Best Foreign Language Film Phoenix; Best Animated Film Inside Out; and The Tribe (Plemya) as Best Overlooked Film.

Founded in 2002, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association is comprised of film critics based in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas. Its membership consists of 21 print, radio, television, and internet critics. COFCA’s official website at www.cofca.org contains links to member reviews and past award winners.

Winners were announced at a private party on January 7.

Complete list of awards:

Best Film
1. Spotlight
2. Inside Out
3. Room
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Ex Machina
6. Sicario
7. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
8. The Revenant
9. The Big Short
10. The Martian

Best Director
-Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
-Runner-up: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Actor
-Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
-Runner-up: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Best Actress
-Brie Larson, Room
-Runners-up: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn and Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Supporting Actor
-Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
-Runner-up: Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina

Best Supporting Actress
-Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
-Runner-up: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Best Ensemble
-Spotlight
-Runner-up: The Hateful Eight

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
-Alicia Vikander, Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from
U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son, and Testament of Youth
-Runner-up: Domhnall Gleeson, Brooklyn, Ex Machina, The Revenant, and Star
Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens

Breakthrough Film Artist
-Alicia Vikander, Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from
U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son, and Testament of Youth (for acting)
-Runner-up: Sean Baker, Tangerine (for producing, directing, screenwriting, film editing, cinematography, camera operation, and casting)

Best Cinematography
-Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
-Runner-up: John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Film Editing
-Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Runner-up: Joe Walker, Sicario

Best Adapted Screenplay
-Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short
-Runner-up: Emma Donoghue, Room

Best Original Screenplay
-Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
-Runner-up: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, Inside Out

Best Score
-Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
-Runner-up: Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Documentary
-The Look of Silence
-Runner-up: Amy

Best Foreign Language Film
-Phoenix
-Runner-up: Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes)

Best Animated Film
-Inside Out
-Runner-up: Anomalisa

Best Overlooked Film
-The Tribe (Plemya)
-Runner-up: The Gift

COFCA offers its congratulations to the winners.

Previous Best Film winners:

2002: Punch-Drunk Love
2003: Lost in Translation
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2005: A History of Violence
2006: Children of Men
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: WALL·E
2009: Up in the Air
2010: Inception
2011: Drive
2012: Moonrise Kingdom
2013: Gravity
2014: Selma

For more information about the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, please visit www.cofca.org or e-mail info@cofca.org.

The complete list of members and their affiliations:

Richard Ades (Freelance); Dwayne Bailey (Bailey’s Buzz); Logan Burd (Cinema or Cine-meh?); Kevin Carr (www.7mpictures.com, FilmSchoolRejects.com); Bill Clark (www.fromthebalcony.com); Olie Coen (Archer Avenue, DVD Talk); John DeSando (90.5 WCBE); Frank Gabrenya (The Columbus Dispatch); James Hansen (Out 1 Film Journal); Brad Keefe (Columbus Alive); Kristin Dreyer Kramer (NightsAndWeekends.com, 90.5 WCBE); Joyce Long (Freelance); Rico Long (Freelance); Hope Madden (Columbus Underground and MaddWolf.com); Paul Markoff (WOCC-TV3; Otterbein TV); David Medsker (Bullz-Eye.com); Lori Pearson (Kids-in-Mind.com, critics.com); Mark Pfeiffer (Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema; WOCC-TV3; Otterbein TV); Melissa Starker (Columbus Alive, The Columbus Dispatch); George Wolf (Columbus Radio Group and MaddWolf.com); Jason Zingale (Bullz-Eye.com); Nathan Zoebl (PictureShowPundits.com).

The following information is not for publication:

If you would like comments about COFCA and these awards, please contact:

Mark Pfeiffer (mark.pfeiffer@gmail.com)
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema and Co-host/co-producer, Now Playing, WOCC-TV3 and Otterbein TV​​​​

COFCA

The Look of Love

Carol

by George Wolf

Oh, Carol, what a mesmerizing, captivating, utterly beautiful web you weave.

Director Todd Haynes has crafted an insightful, exquisite love story full of bittersweet grace, propelled by two glorious performances.

Rooney Mara is Therese, a department store clerk in 1950s New York whose senses are awakened after Carol (Cate Blanchett) visits her counter at Christmastime. Though Carol is older, and married, the two fall for each other, stealing precious moments with the discretion their world demands.

Haynes, adapting Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt with screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, expands the themes he touched upon in 2002’s Far From Heaven, and infuses them with a profound and deeply felt humanity.

Though the period details are meticulous, Haynes bathes his film in an almost ethereal melancholy, transporting you to a world enveloped in the ache of those pretending to be something they are not.

Edward Lachman’s cinematography is an artful masterwork, and Haynes’s framing has a subtle but important impact. He often keeps Carol and Therese separated by rooms, windows, or other people, and each knowing glance carries enormous weight as two wonderful actors convey the costs of love in a way that settles in your bones.

As Therese begins to trust her feelings, Mara finds the touching nuance needed to bring authenticity to her character’s journey. She is the immaculate bookend to Blanchett, who serves up another reminder of the rarefied talent she possesses.

Carol seduces us just as confidently as she does Therese, with Blanchett gradually letting us glimpse the lessons learned from a life of hiding. Carol declares, “You seek resolution because you’re young,” with the voice of jaded experience, but when her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) delivers an unexpected blow in the fight over their daughter, we feel her devastation like a punch to the gut.

Great films are able to make complex issues resonate through fully realized characters and intimate, thoughtful storytelling. Anchored in love and restrained longing, Carol is absolutely great, as moving as any film I’ve seen this past year.

Verdict-5-0-Stars

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4z7Px68ywk

 

 

Long, Hard Winter

The Revenant

by Hope Madden

There’s a natural poetry to Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s filmmaking. The Oscar winning director behind last year’s Birdman seeks transcendence for his characters, finding the grace in human frailty regardless of the story unfolding. And The Revenant is quite a story.

Based loosely on the true tale of 19th Century American frontiersman Hugh Glass, the film treks behind Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio – who can take a beating) as he crawls across hundreds of the most formidable miles to avenge a mighty wrong.

With no more than 15 lines in English, DiCaprio manages to capture the essence of this grieving survivor brought to his most primal self. This is easily the most physical performance of his career. DiCaprio is alone for the majority of his time onscreen, and his commitment to this character guarantees that those scenes are riveting.

Tom Hardy is once again an utterly compelling presence as Glass’s nemesis John Fitzgerald. Other actors might have read this character as flatly backwoods evil, but Hardy never forgets Fitzgerald’s humanity, giving the villain depth, humor, even sympathy.

The balance of the cast manages to keep up with these two heavyweights. Particularly effective is Domhnall Gleeson, who’s having another solid year. He plays the commander of Glass and Fitzpatrick’s ill-fated expedition. He’s the memory of civilization in a film that quickly erases all traces of progress and comfort.

Of equal importance to these performances is the imagination Inarritu brings to bear. It guides Emmanuel Lubezki (another Oscar winner for Birdman), whose magical camera, like a careening ghost, weaves through carnage and nature before circling into the heavens.

The sound design is equally spellbinding, the score itself sometimes a blend of the music of snow crunch, whispered voices, and the haunting ring of the wind.

This is a lonesome, brutal journey often punctuated by a remarkable tumult of violence. The grizzly attack that sets off Glass’s downfall is likely the most visceral, jaw-dropping image we’ll see this year.

Outside these flashes of punishing action, The Revenant offers a slow build and asks for your patience. At 156 minutes, the film is long, but is there any other way to do justice to Glass’s ordeal?

After winning the Oscar last year, Innaritu takes that human journey toward redemption to the out of doors with a brutally gorgeous, punishingly brilliant film.

Verdict-4-5-Stars

Fright Club: Best David Cronenberg Horror Films

It’s the New Year, so high time we got back to our celebration of our favorite filmmakers. Today we troll through the career of the great David Cronenberg, king of corporeal horror. He’s gone on to create some of the most thought-provoking and wonderful non-genre films of the last twenty years, including the masterpiece Eastern Promises, plus the darkly brilliant Maps to the Stars, A History of Violence, and so many more. His vision is uniquely his own, mixing a Big Brother skepticism with a fascination with technology, media, and human anatomy. He brings an often overlooked but wicked humor to most everything.

Cronenberg has directed 8 true horror films, and we found it nearly impossible to leave three films off this list. No individual countdown was rewritten more than this one. As you bitch to yourself about the omissions – and you almost certainly will do that – please know that we deeply love the three films we left off our list of the Top 5 David Cronenberg Horror Films.

For the full podcast, plus George’s gripes about the final 5, go HERE.

5. Shivers (They Came from Within) (1975)

In an upscale Montreal high rise, an epidemic is breaking out. A scientist has created an aphrodisiac in the form of a big, nasty slug. That slug, though, spreads wantonness throughout the high rise and threatens to overrun the city with its lusty ways.

Not Cronenberg’s best film, but this is his first feature length horror and it announces not only his arrival on the genre scene, but it predicts so many of the films to come. The film obsesses over human sexuality, social mores, the physical form, physical violation and infestation, medical science, conspiracy, and free will. He’d revisit all of these preoccupations throughout his career, most obviously in his very next feature film, 1978’s Rabid, which is weirdly similar in every way.

Shivers takes a zombie concept and uses it to pervert expectations. (See what we did there?) They’re not here to eat your brains, after all. It’s the first film where Cronenberg marries ideas of the repugnant with the pleasurable, medical monstrosity with human body. It would be several years before his skill with performances (or maybe casting) matched his other directorial talents, but Shivers is still a worthwhile, utterly bizarre pleasure.

4. The Dead Zone (1983)

One of the rare films Cronenberg directs but doesn’t write, The Dead Zone puts the words of Stephen King in the filmmaker’s hands. The Canadian is matched in weirdness by his lead, Christopher Walken, who plays a schoolteacher stricken with the gift to see the past and future through touch. When Walken realizes that his visions have a “dead zone” – meaning that he can change the future – the plot really begins to quicken.

Martin Sheen chews scenery as a presidential candidate who actually seems far more run of the mill by today’s standards. In fact, Greg Stillson may be too low key for today’s primaries. But back in ’83, such was not the case, and Walken’s blandly named Johnny Smith has to put his money where his gift of touch is if he wants to change an ugly future.

Cronenberg seems unusually hampered by the script, but somehow the way he manages still to focus on what’s weird rather than what’s obvious in the story elevates the film beyond its plot. No character is entirely sympathetic – a hallmark of the filmmaker’s work – and everyone has a bit of the bizarre about him or her, which the movie seeks to expose.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmC5oPc7L3M

3. Scanners (1981)

This was the one that made Cronenberg an international name in the genre.

As always, Michael Ironside seeps with psychotic menace, this time as Darryl Revok, a “scanner” looking to take control of his mind-blowing ESP-born gifts.

In truth, the film is about mind control – a very sloppy version of it – and that societal fear of being dominated by a stronger being. At its heart, this is another government conspiracy film wherein an agency foolishly believes they can harness an uncontrollable element for military purposes. Scanners is hardly the best of these (Alien is, FYI). But it’s gory fun nonetheless. What makes the effort undeniably Cronenberg (besides the exploding heads) is that connection between human tissue and technology.

The acting is silly, the technology is comically dated, and the computer nerd toward the end of the film inexplicably boasts a band aid on his face. But Ironside is on fire and the movie ratchets up tension by keeping you wondering when the next head will explode.

2. Videodrome (1983)

As bizarre as anything he ever made – even CosmopolisVideodrome shows an evolution in Cronenberg’s preoccupations with body horror, media, and technology as well as his progress as a filmmaker.

James Woods plays sleazy TV programmer Max Renn, who pirates a program he believes is being taped in Malaysia – a snuff show, where people are slowly tortured to death in front of viewers’ eyes. But it turns out to be more than he’d bargained for. Corporate greed, zealot conspiracy, medical manipulation all come together in this hallucinatory insanity that could only make sense with Cronenberg at the wheel.

Deborah Harry co-stars, and Woods shoulders his abundant screen time quite well. What? James Woods plays a sleaze ball? Get out! Still, he does a great job with it. But the real star is Cronenberg, who explores his own personal obsessions, dragging us willingly down the rabbit hole with him. Long live the new flesh!

1. Dead Ringers (1988)

The film is about separation anxiety, with the effortlessly melancholy Jeremy Irons playing a set of gynecologist twins on a downward spiral. Because of patient vulnerability, doctors who lose it are always scary, and Dead Ringers exploits that discomfort brilliantly, partly because the doctors are gynecologists, and folks tend to feel pretty vulnerable in their hands to start with.

Irons is brilliant, bringing such flair and, eventually, childlike charm to the performance you feel almost grateful. The film’s pace is slow and its horror subtle, but the uncomfortable moments are peculiarly, artfully Cronenberg. He brings together sexuality and mutation in a film that is perhaps more tender than anything he’d ever done, but at the same time more wickedly funny and physically uncomfortable than the balance of his work.

Cronenberg had recently shared his most famous mad scientist with the world in his exceptional remake of The Fly. With Dead Ringers, he returns to the world of a damaged scientific genius run amuck and soars once again.

2015 COFCA Nominations

Nominees for the 14th annual Central Ohio Film Critics Association awards

(Columbus, January 3, 2016) The Central Ohio Film Critics Association is pleased to announce the nominees for its 14th annual awards. Winners will be announced on the evening of January 7th, 2016.

Founded in 2002, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association is comprised of film critics based in Columbus, Ohio and its surrounding areas. Its membership consists of 22 print, radio, television, and internet critics. COFCA’s official website at www.cofca.org contains links to member reviews and past award winners.

The 2015 Central Ohio Film Critics Association awards nominees are:

Best Film
-The Big Short
-Ex Machina
-Inside Out
-Mad Max: Fury Road
-The Martian
-The Revenant
-Room
-Sicario
-Spotlight
-Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Best Director
-Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
-Todd Haynes, Carol
-Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
-George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Ridley Scott, The Martian
-Denis Villeneuve, Sicario

Best Actor
-Matt Damon, The Martian
-Johnny Depp, Black Mass
-Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
-Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
-Jacob Tremblay, Room

Best Actress
-Cate Blanchett, Carol
-Brie Larson, Room
-Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
-Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Supporting Actor
-Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
-Tom Hardy, The Revenant
-Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
-Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
-Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress
-Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
-Rooney Mara, Carol
-Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
-Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
-Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Ensemble
-The Big Short
-Ex Machina
-The Hateful Eight
-Spotlight
-Steve Jobs

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
-Cate Blanchett (Carol, Cinderella, and Truth)
-Michael Fassbender (Macbeth, Slow West, and Steve Jobs)
-Domhnall Gleeson (Brooklyn, Ex Machina, The Revenant, and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force
Awakens)
-Tom Hardy (Child 44, Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant)
-Alicia Vikander (Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son,
and Testament of Youth)

Breakthrough Film Artist
-Sean Baker, Tangerine – (for producing, directing, screenwriting, film editing, cinematography, camera operation, and casting)
-Joel Edgerton, The Gift – (for producing, directing, and screenwriting)
-David Robert Mitchell, It Follows – (for producing, directing, and screenwriting)
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – (for acting)
-Jacob Tremblay, Room – (for acting)
-Alicia Vikander, Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son,
and Testament of Youth – (for acting)

Best Cinematography
-Roger Deakins, Sicario
-Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
-Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight
-John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Dariusz Wolski, The Martian

Best Film Editing
-Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
-Tom McArdle, Spotlight
-Stephen Mirrione, The Revenant
-Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Joe Walker, Sicario

Best Adapted Screenplay
-Emma Donoghue, Room
-Drew Goddard, The Martian
-Nick Hornby, Brooklyn
-Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short
-Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

Best Original Screenplay
-Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, Inside Out
-Alex Garland, Ex Machina
-Taylor Sheridan, Sicario
-Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
-Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Best Score
-Carter Burwell, Carol
-Michael Giacchino, Inside Out
-Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
-Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Best Documentary
-Amy
-Best of Enemies
-Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
-The Look of Silence
-The Wolfpack

Best Foreign Language Film
-The Assassin (Nie yin niang)
-Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, ich sech)
-Phoenix
-The Tribe (Plemya)
-Timbuktu
-Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes)

Best Animated Film
-Anomalisa
-The Good Dinosaur
-Inside Out
-The Peanuts Movie
-Shaun the Sheep Movie

Best Overlooked Film
-The End of the Tour
-The Gift
-Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
-Mistress America
-Slow West
-The Tribe (Plemya)

COFCA offers its congratulations to the nominees.

Previous Best Film winners:

2002: Punch-Drunk Love
2003: Lost in Translation
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2005: A History of Violence
2006: Children of Men
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: WALL·E
2009: Up in the Air
2010: Inception
2011: Drive
2012: Moonrise Kingdom
2013: Gravity
2014: Selma

For more information about the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, please visit www.cofca.org or e-mail info@cofca.org.

The complete list of members and their affiliations:

Richard Ades (Freelance); Dwayne Bailey (Bailey’s Buzz); Logan Burd (Cinema or Cine-meh?); Kevin Carr (www.7mpictures.com, FilmSchoolRejects.com); Bill Clark (www.fromthebalcony.com); Olie Coen (Archer Avenue, DVD Talk); John DeSando (90.5 WCBE); Frank Gabrenya (The Columbus Dispatch); James Hansen (Out 1 Film Journal); Brad Keefe (Columbus Alive); Kristin Dreyer Kramer (NightsAndWeekends.com, 90.5 WCBE); Joyce Long (Freelance); Rico Long (Freelance); Hope Madden (Columbus Underground and MaddWolf.com); Paul Markoff (WOCC-TV3; Otterbein TV); David Medsker (Bullz-Eye.com); Lori Pearson (Kids-in-Mind.com, critics.com); Mark Pfeiffer (Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema; WOCC-TV3; Otterbein TV); Melissa Starker (Columbus Alive, The Columbus Dispatch); George Wolf (Columbus Radio Group and MaddWolf.com); Jason Zingale (Bullz-Eye.com); Nathan Zoebl (PictureShowPundits.com).

The following information is not for publication:

If you would like comments about COFCA and these awards, please contact:

Mark Pfeiffer (mark.pfeiffer@gmail.com)
Co-host/co-producer, Now Playing, WOCC-TV3 and Otterbein TV
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema