Author Archives: David Dunn

2021 Oscar Predictions

I don’t know about you guys, but this year’s Academy Awards feels a lot stranger than usual. Doesn’t it for everybody? Even though the nightmare that is 2020 is behind us, I feel like a lot of what happened carried over into 2021 and changed how we approach pop culture and public events as a whole. 

Case in point is the 93rd Academy Awards. In any other year, the winners would have already been announced and we would have been well on our way to talking about the newest cinematic release, like Godzilla vs. Kong or Black Widow. This year the nominees came out several weeks after the awards ceremony would normally take place, and this year’s ceremony isn’t even until two weeks away. It feels weird to still be talking about awards season this late in the spring, let alone in April. 

Either way, the Academy Awards are right around the corner, and I’m excited for a number of reasons. For one thing, it’s the first taste of normalcy many of us have had since, well, March of last year, so it’s nice to get back into the swing of things when many of us didn’t even know what the state of the Academy Awards would be this year. Several of my favorite films are nominated, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Sound of Metal, and of course, The Trial of the Chicago 7. And the best part: no Oscar host again this year. After all of the coronavirus and political crap we dealt with in 2020, the one thing I did not need was yet another forgettable Oscar host. Thank God the Academy listened to viewers on that one. 

But there are several other things I’m less pleased with in this year’s ceremony. For one thing, Mank, one of David Fincher’s most boring and forgettable films ever put on life support, got a whopping 10 nominations at this year’s ceremony. I don’t know how it even got five nominations, let alone 10. Other amazing movies like The Invisible Man, The Devil All The Time, and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods all got zero nominations at this year’s ceremony. And for the select few that are nominated, it looks like my favorites are mostly going home empty this year, which is always disappointing. 

Regardless, it’s nice to be back trying to outguess the Oscars this year. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for the 93rd Academy Awards. 

SOURCE: Searchlight Pictures

Best Picture: Ah, Best Picture. We meet again. You’ve gotten the better of me these past few ceremonies. The first half of the decade, I predicted all of your winners correctly, from The King’s Speech to Birdman. Then came 2015, and you just screwed with me in every way imaginable. 

First Spotlight won Best Picture while winning only one other Oscar from the night, the first time a Best Picture winner has done so since The Greatest Show On Earth in 1952. Then Moonlight beat La La Land for Best Picture during its embarrassing announcement mixup (but hey, I’m not complaining much). Then The Shape of Water became the first science-fiction film to win Best Picture, followed by Green Book stupidly winning over Roma, BlacKkKlansman, and Black Panther. Finally, Parasite became the first Foreign-language film to win Best Picture… ever. Again, I’m not complaining, but it definitely should not be the first… or last. 

This year seems, SEEMS, more straightforward than in previous years, and I’m knocking on wood when I say that. Nomadland has been racking up so many Best Picture wins this awards season that you’d think it was Meryl Streep. I have no idea why it has the momentum that it does. After all, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Sound of Metal are all far more invigorating and powerful than that movie was — and amazingly enough, none of those movies are nominated for Best Director. But we’ll get to that later. 

Still, I think Nomadland is going to nab the top prize. The only other real competition it has is The Trial of the Chicago 7 because of its SAG Award win for Best Ensemble Cast. Even then, it isn’t looking to get a lot of love in many other categories, which is a shame because it is such an outstanding film. All the same, Nomadland does have its wholehearted moments and it deserves to be commended for that, if not saturated in praise already. 

Best Director: First of all, shame on the Academy for snubbing Aaron Sorkin in the Best Director category for The Trial of the Chicago 7. In a year where America was slammed by multiple epidemics, both social, political, and racial, The Trial of the Chicago 7 presented those same issues under a new light with heart and humor. It’s rare that a film feels as simultaneously as important as it does entertaining, yet Sorkin finds the right balance both as director and writer. Sorkin has every reason to be included on this list, while Another Round’s Thomas Vinterberg has zero reasons. I don’t care how good that movie is: Another Round has zero chances of winning, while The Trial of the Chicago 7 is more than deserving of a seventh nomination. Heck, you could even trade David Fincher’s nomination for Sorkin as well. God knows Mank doesn’t deserve to be recognized here. 

Regarding the rest of the nominees, Chloe Zhao has been racking up Best Director awards left and right this awards season, including the Director’s Guild, so it makes sense that she’d win Best Director at the Oscars as well. Again, I don’t know why she’s the favorite over the likes of Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari or Emerald Fennel’s Promising Young Woman. Both of those films clearly have the director’s fingerprints on them, while Zhao’s direction on Nomadland is more nuanced than anything else. But hey, it’ll at least be nice that an Asian woman has finally won a best directing Oscar. Plus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will finally have an Oscar-winning director under its belt when Chloe releases Eternals later this year. 

At the very least, let’s be grateful David Fincher won’t be winning his first Oscar from Mank. Hang in there Dave: your time will come soon, and with a better movie. 

Best Actor: This one is pretty much a done deal: Chadwick Boseman will win Best Actor for his final performance as a cocky and overconfident trumpet player in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Besides the obvious tragedy regarding Chadwick’s sudden passing last year, the Academy has a slight preference towards awarding posthumous performances in the acting categories, with the last posthumous award going to Heath Ledger in 2008 for The Dark Knight. If Chadwick does win, he will have more than earned it, as his performance as Levee Green was smart, crass, witty, passionate, and filled with life, just like all of his performances were. I won’t be emotionally ready for this award when it comes around. 

Best Actress: Okay I gotta be honest here: I have absolutely no idea who is winning Best Actress this year. I seriously don’t. That’s because awards season has been completely bonkers with handing out its actress statuettes this year, and there’s no clear-cut winner thanks to everybody working on a different page. 

It’s easier to pick who won’t win than it is to pick who will win Best Actress this year, which is why you can cross Vanessa Kirby off of the list right now considering she hasn’t won diddly-squat all season for Pieces of a Woman. And despite her BAFTA win, you can also cross Frances McDormand off of the list since she already won Best Actress two years ago for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

That leaves Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman, and Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holliday. Andra won the Golden Globe for her performance in that film, but unfortunately so did Glenn Close for The Wife and she still lost the Oscar to Olivia Coleman for The Favorite. That leaves Viola and Carey to duke it out for the Best Actress Oscar. 

And here’s the thing about that: neither of these actresses are solidly in the lead. Davis recently won the SAG Award, which would normally makes her the best bet, but every year the Oscar deviates from at least one SAG Award winner at its ceremony (see Idris Elba in 2016, Denzel Washington in 2017, Emily Blunt in 2019). Carey Mulligan, meanwhile, has won the Critics’ Choice Award, but that’s even more inconsistent when it comes to trying to pick the Oscar winner. What to do? 

Screw it. I’m going against the grain here and picking Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom already has one win secured with Chadwick Boseman anyway. It doesn’t need to get greedy with the Oscars now. 

Best Supporting Actor: Again, why is Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield nominated for supporting actor with Judas and the Black Messiah? Obviously they deserve to be nominated somewhere because they were both just so outstanding in that movie, but these two leads literally got top billing for that project. Their faces were on the dang poster, for crying out loud. First the Academy snubbed Dev Patel of a Best Actor nomination for Lion five years ago, now they’ve gone and done the same thing again to the leads for Judas and the Black Messiah. What exactly is the Academy’s criteria for actor and supporting actor anyway? Do any of their rules make sense to anybody anymore? 

That being said, Daniel Kaluuya probably stands the best chance for winning Best Supporting Actor here. Not that Sacha Baron Cohen, Paul Raci, and Leslie Odom Jr. weren’t equally as amazing in The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sound of Metal, and One Night In Miami…, but Kaluuya was just so prominent and powerful a presence as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton that it would frankly be disrespectful to him if anyone else won. Good luck explaining to me why he’s nominated for supporting actor over Best Actor though. Maybe the Academy wanted to equally recognize Chadwick Boseman and Daniel Kaluuya in the same ceremony? If that’s true, then that’s the best reasoning why he’s nominated in this category. 

Best Supporting Actress: First thing’s first, why on God’s Green Earth is Maria Bakalova nominated for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm? Was the year really so desperate that this movie needed to be nominated for acting? No doubt she was brilliant in it, but I’ve always been under the presumption that mockumentary films never got nominated at the Academy Awards. If we’re suddenly allowing them for consideration now, then where was This Is Spinal Tap’s nomination in 1984? 

Outside of that strange nomination, this is an unusually competitive category this year, with nominees including Hillbilly Elegy’s Glenn Close and The Father’s Olivia Colman. My pick for Best Supporting Actress, however, is Youn Yuh-jung, who plays Jacob’s grandmother Soon-ja in Lee Isaac Chung’s tender and sweet childhood drama Minari. Besides her being just as adorable and precious as any caring grandma could be, Yuh-jung carries international star power none of the other nominees possess, credited with over a hundred roles in her 50-year career. If all of that wasn’t enough on its own, she’s also been called the Meryl Streep of South Korea — and we all know how much the Academy loves Meryl Streep. 

SOURCE: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Best Animated Feature: Can we just start calling the Best Animated Feature Oscar the Best Pixar Feature already? Pixar has won so many of these Oscars that it’s just getting ridiculous at this point. This year their chances of winning are doubled with not only the larger-than-life Soul getting nominated, but also the endearing and touching brotherhood fantasy Onward. 

While Onward is my personal favorite out of the nominees, Soul has a more dedicated following and explores more profound themes of life and purpose in its seemingly simple story. Even though both of Pixar’s nominees are equally worthy of the award, I think Soul will end up winning Best Animated Feature.

Best Documentary Feature: Again, no idea who will win Best Documentary. At first glance I thought Collective would stand the best chance at winning since it’s also nominated for Best International Feature. But then I remembered that was the same case for Honeyland last year, and look at how that turned out. My next thought went to Time for touching on issues such as incarceration, the prison system, and poverty, but that film has a very mixed reaction amongst audiences, and I don’t think the Academy would go with it given its divisive reception. 

The next best bet then is My Octopus Teacher, and admittedly it is a unique premise about a filmmaker befriending an octopus in the ocean for a year. In recent years, interesting documentary subjects have won over the Academy more than interpersonal ones have (see Icarus, Free Solo). For that reason, I’m going with My Octopus Teacher. 

Best International Feature: All of the nominated films for Best International Feature seem to be on equal footing here with one key exception: Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round. Besides Best International Feature, Vinterberg is also nominated for Best Director and is the only other Best International Feature nominee to secure two nominations at this year’s ceremony. That pretty much assures Another Round’s win in this category, as it is historically unusual for a filmmaker to be nominated for Best Picture or Director and not end up winning Best International Feature. At least Minari isn’t foolishly nominated in this category like it was at the Golden Globes. I guess the Academy learned from the Hollywood Foreign Press’ mistake. 

Best Original Screenplay: This category could go to to one of two nominees on Oscar night: Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 or Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. Between the two nominees, I adore The Trial of the Chicago 7 more not just for its subject matter, but for its brilliant handling of it. It emotion and gravitas, smart and electrifying dialogue, witty sense of humor, and stark parallels to modern society give power and purpose to this politically-charged drama, and all of that is thanks to Sorkin.

Emerald Fennell, however, has also crafted an ingenious and well-thought-out narrative behind the black comedy thriller Promising Young Woman. Handling a subject matter as serious as rape and sexual assault is always a difficult and delicate matter, but Fennell handles it well with grit, intelligence and striking commentary. It’s a close call between the two nominees, but if we’re going off of who has the better chances, it’s probably Promising Young Woman since Aaron Sorkin already won a writing Oscar in 2011 for The Social Network. If Fennell does win, it will be well-earned, although I kind of hope Sorkin would win his second Oscar for The Trial of the Chicago 7. But hey, maybe it’s better this way. At least the Academy gets to avoid the wrath of the feminists for another year. 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Again, can someone please explain to me how the hell Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is nominated for best screenplay? No, better yet, why is it nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay? While the rest of the nominees were based off of books or plays, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is based on the character of Borat, which is just as dumb as when Toy Story 3 was nominated for being based on its characters, or when Whiplash was nominated for being based on its own short film. Don’t even get me started on the Writer’s Guild of America, who unbelievably had the gall to name the Borat sequel the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay. I don’t care whether or not it can be considered a contender at the Oscars: the movie doesn’t deserve a nomination, let alone a freakin’ win. For that reason I’m knocking it off from my list of contenders. It doesn’t even warrant a nomination, and I’m not about to give it what it doesn’t deserve. 

Now then, looking at the four other nominees, there’s only one real other contender I see from the pack: Nomadland. While it’s questionable how Chloe Zhao chose to adapt Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction novel into a fictional narrative, the story she does weave is just as earnest as its source material, and she does a great job integrating the real-life nomads featured in the book and casting them as themselves in the movie. There are quite a few moments in the film where these nomads are talking, and you’re wondering if they’re actually acting or if they’re reliving their life experiences that brought them here. That level of authenticity is rare in the movies, and for that reason I think Nomadland is most primed to win Best Adapted Screenplay. 

SOURCE: Amazon Studios

Best Film Editing: Of all of the categories the Academy Awards recognizes on Oscar night, Best Film Editing has the least respect. Not because film editors aren’t artists of their own craft, but because for the past few years, the Academy Awards has chosen the literal worst winner they could among its pack of nominees. Dunkirk was a choppy and incomprehensible mess of a movie that couldn’t assemble a concise narrative if it wanted to, while it’s a straight-up crime that Ford v. Ferrari won the editing Oscar when Rush wasn’t even nominated. Don’t even get me started on Bohemian Rhapsody winning the bloody Oscar over the likes of The Favourite, Vice, and BlacKkKlansman. Spike Lee is upset that he lost Best Picture to Green Book, while I’m more upset that BlacKkKlansman lost to John Ottman literally ripping up the celluloid for Bohemian Rhapsody

The good news is this year’s pack of nominees doesn’t have anyone that’s as outwardly bad as the aforementioned winners are, just nobody that really sticks out like Whiplash, Argo, or The Social Network did. My personal favorite is Alan Baumgarten for The Trial of the Chicago 7, not just because of his smart assembly of events playing out throughout the picture, but also because of his great intercutting between characters’ dialogues alongside each other. Plus he’s been nominated before for 2013’s American Hustle. If I had to pick the most worthy winner out of these nominees, it’d be The Trial of the Chicago 7 hands down. 

However editing isn’t just fast-paced intercutting between action and dialogue — it’s also knowing when not to cut and letting events play out naturally to understand what our characters are going through. Sound of Metal does a brilliant job with the latter, as whenever Ruben Stone begins to lose his hearing, the loss of sound plus his facial expressions makes for painting a beautiful yet tragic picture of what he is experiencing. 

It’s a tough one, but I’m personally going to go with Sound of Metal. The quick editing techniques really haven’t sold itself in recent years with nominees The Big Short and Vice going home empty, plus I kind of like the idea of an indie favorite like Sound of Metal beating out the big production company-prowess of The Trial of the Chicago 7. Either way, let’s be grateful Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t taking home the award this year. I would probably lose my mind if it got a lifetime achievement award in editing or something like that. 

Best Cinematography: It’s amazing to see how quickly the Oscars can elevate someone to the level of their well-established peers. Take Best Cinematography nominees Sean Bobbitt, Dariusz Wolski, and Phedon Papamichael. In any other year, they would be considered the biggest contenders in this category, with their credits including not only the recently released Judas and the Black Messiah, News of the World, and The Trial of the Chicago 7, but also The Martian, Prometheus, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice In Wonderland, 3:10 To Yuma, Ford v Ferrari, and 12 Years A Slave. At the Oscars, artists’ careers speak for themselves, and these nominees definitely carry very impressive ones. 

As loaded as these cinematographer’s filmographies are, they are amazingly enough the underdogs this year next to Nomadland’s Joshua James Richards, who has worked alongside collaborator Chloe Zhao since her director debut Songs My Brother Taught Me in 2015. And his work on Nomadland is stunning, eloquently capturing both the beauty and isolation of life on the road as a nomad. I don’t advocate for Nomadland for several awards this Oscar season, but I happily will for cinematography because it’s just that lush and gorgeous. Again, another filmmaker might be able to pull an upset, but considering all of the love and adoration behind Nomadland it isn’t likely. 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Here’s a rarity for the Academy Awards: the makeup category once again has five nominees under consideration. Normally Best Makeup only has three nominees, but this is the second time the Academy has filled all five makeup slots, right after Bombshell won this Oscar last year. That’s great for the Academy and even better for the nominees. Still, it doesn’t make my predictions any easier. 

As far as this year’s nominees go, I quite like the makeup work turning Federico lelapi into a wooden puppet in Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio, as well as Hillbilly Elegy for turning Amy Adams and Glenn Close into some convincing-looking southern hicks. But if I have to look at the most striking makeup work, it has to be Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Its transformation of Viola Davis into the Mother of Blues herself Ma Rainey is just too impressive to miss, whether you’re looking at her blush makeup or her several exotic hairstyles. Sometimes it’s the transformation of one key character that sets the winner over the edge (see Vice, Darkest Hour and The Wolfman’s Best Makeup wins). If we’ve gotta bet on one leading lady, it’s got to be Ma Rainey. 

Best Costume Design: Another tough category, and man am I sick of saying that. The matchup for Best Costume Design comes down to the snazzy and stylish jazz suits and dresses of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and the elegant and enchanting wardrobe of Emma. Looking at the nominees themselves doesn’t make the matchup any easier, because not only has Ann Roth and Alexandra Byrne both been nominated five times: they’ve also both won Oscars already, Ann for The English Patient in 1996 and Alexandra for Elizabeth: The Golden Age in 2007. So who the heck is going to win the award this year? 

It could be my bias speaking again, but I think Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has just the slightest edge over Emma. One, the costumes are just as striking and spectacular as the film’s titular character is. Second, from a numbers perspective, Ma Rainey’s is just more loved by the Academy than Emma. is. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is nominated five times at the Academy Awards, while Emma. only has two nominations. Ma Rainey’s is literally the only film tied in nominations with Best Picture nominee Promising Young Woman, and it isn’t even nominated for Best Picture. Films nominated in more categories is usually bound to get more accolades, which is why Ma Rainey’s is the safest choice for costume design.  

Best Production Design: With an unbelievable 10 nominations under its belt, Mank was bound to win in one category or another, and production design is Mank’s moment to shine. Not only do the sets evoke the feel and sensation of 1930s Hollywood, but it also does a brilliant job recreating the era through the black-and-white lens of Citizen Kane. Still, as far as positives go that’s one of the few the film can fairly claim, and I have no idea why the film is also nominated for Best Picture or Director since it’s more dull than an E.L. James novel. Either way, its production is outstanding, and if Mank does win the Oscar, it will be the only one it has rightfully earned. 

SOURCE: Netflix

Best Musical Score: Shoutout to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for being nominated not once, but twice in this category. Not only did they score the snazzy and sensational ‘40s jazz soundtrack of Mank, but they also provided a lo-fi vibe to the heavenly and uplifting sounds of Soul. Either one could win on Oscar night, but my money is on Soul. Not only does its mesmerizing score go perfectly with the movie’s heavenly premise, but it’s also simply so beautiful and euphoric to listen to on its own. Mank might be able to pull an upset, but considering all of the love and adoration behind Soul, it isn’t likely. Whichever film wins the Oscar, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have already won. 

Best Original Song: It’s interesting to see how many songs in this year’s Oscars are dedicated to social causes compared to previous ceremonies. H.E.R. offers a beautiful and soulful R&B single with Judas and the Black Messiah’s “Fight For You,” while Celeste gives an emotional plea for help in The Trial of the Chicago 7’s “Hear My Voice.” But the most powerful track comes from Leslie Odom Jr.’s “Speak Now” for One Night In Miami…, where he offers simple spoken word on listening and unifying against injustice before crescendoing into a monumentally moving chorus. 

The Oscar could go to any one of these amazing nominees on awards night, but my pick is Leslie Odom Jr. Not only is “Speak Now” my favorite song nominated, but his star power also elevates him slightly above his fellow nominees. Be honest now: do you really think the Academy Awards will pass up on the chance to recognize a Hamilton star? Then again though he does play Aaron Burr, so if the Academy does decide to snub him, they’re somewhat justified for doing so. 

Best Sound: First of all, props to the Academy Awards for finally wising up and condensing the sound editing and mixing Oscars into one category. I know many sound editors may understandably be frustrated by the decision, but come on. Several elements go into all of the technical categories. You don’t see separate categories for Best Cinematography, Best Framing, Best Panning, Best Lighting, and Best Focusing. The Academy Awards are meant to recognize outstanding efforts overall, not pander to every single department of a production. 

That said, let’s plunge into the newly-named Best Sound category. It’s easy to predict who will win this year, and frankly, it isn’t even close: Sound of Metal. Given that the premise of the film revolves entirely on the sounds Ruben Stone does and doesn’t hear, it makes sense that so much effort goes into this film’s sound production. Still, I can’t overstate how masterful the editing and mixing of this film is. Not only are the sounds crisp and clear when they need to be, but they’re also equally distorted, messy, and compressurized, giving us a clear understanding of what Ruben is experiencing when he’s going deaf. It’s brilliant work from Sound of Metal’s sound engineering team, and frankly, no other nominee in this category is anywhere near as deserving. 

Best Visual Effects: Tenet. While not the most refined Christopher Nolan film, it does offer some dizzying visual effects, with objects and people moving forward and backwards through time like a clock’s two hands moving in opposite directions. In another year, maybe Tenet would be considered the dark horse compared to the rest of the nominees. But 2020 was a dismal year, and its competition is monsters, CGI animals, and a bad live-action Disney remake. Wor a in raey driht a rof debbuns eb t’now soidutS levraM tsael tA. 

And at last, we arrive at the dreaded short categories, the films I’ve never seen but am nonetheless asked to predict anyway. For documentary and animated short, I’m picking “A Concerto Is A Conversation” and “If Anything Happens I Love You” only because those are stimulating titles and nothing else. And “The Letter Room” has the only actor I recognize out of all of the short nominees thanks to Oscar Isaac, so that’s the one I’m going with for Best Live Action Short. Easiest shorts predictions ever. 

Well that’s it for now folks. I’ll see you on Oscar night. Remember to wear your mask.

– David Dunn

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Top 10 Worst Movies Of The Decade

Does anyone else feel like 2021 isn’t so much a new year as much as it is an epilogue to 2020? In just three months, we saw our former President incite an attack on the United States Capitol, got kicked off of Twitter, impeached again by the House of Representatives, only to later be acquitted by his loyalists in the Senate, then banished into private life, only resurfacing once or twice to send out one of his idiotic would-be tweets via press release. That’s not even accounting for all of the crazy things going on down here in Texas such as all businesses opening up 100%, the mask mandate being lifted, and oh yeah, a bloody SNOWSTORM crippled the state’s power grid, leaving millions without power for several days and killing over a hundred Texans from hypothermia. But hey, at least Ted Cruz was nice and warm in his private jet to Cancun. Thank you AOC, for doing Ted’s job for him.

Regardless of all of the crazy 2021 has offered so far, it does have its positive points. For one thing, Joe Biden’s presidency was certified for the 60th time, so yes QAnidiots, Joe Biden is in fact your duly elected President. And thanks to the unlikely election of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (which Georgia Republicans are desperately trying to overturn), everybody received $1,400 stimulus checks, so thank you Georgians for having some common sense for a change. And thanks to the fast-acting response from the current administration, millions of Americans are getting vaccinated from COVID-19 daily, so it’s possible we’re going to reach the 200 million threshold very soon. With all of these wins after a year as dismal and pathetic as 2020, I might be lucky enough to go back to a movie theater soon, though I’m knocking on wood when I say that.

Either way, 2020 is behind us, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by looking at the absolute worst the last decade had to offer. So without further adieu, here are my 10 most hated films from the last decade.

– David Dunn

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‘Black Widow’ And ‘Cruella’ To Be Released On Disney +

Well. It was bound to happen sooner or later. 

Nearly a year after its originally scheduled release, Walt Disney has delayed Black Widow yet again thanks to, what else, the coronavirus. Originally slated for May 2020, Black Widow had to get delayed three times to May 2021 before Walt Disney delayed it once again to July. 

However, this final delay comes with one major caveat: Black Widow will be released both in theaters and on Disney + the same day. 

And Black Widow isn’t the only one getting this treatment: the 101 Dalmatians prequel Cruella starring Emma Stone is also going to get a dual release both in theaters and on Disney +. Why it’s getting an earlier release date than Black Widow I have no idea, especially since Black Widow is coming out a full year after it was originally scheduled and Cruella is more or less releasing when it was supposed to. You mean to tell me you had a whole year to work on this bloody film and you’re still not done with the visual effects? Really???

Public reception has been mixed to Disney announcing that after a year full of delays, Black Widow is finally streaming with premier access on Disney +. Some fans are happy to see Disney finally adjust to the times we’re living in and pivot to streaming, while others are annoyed that the ticket price basically gouges their wallet of $30. 

I myself am indifferent to it. While personally I’m not the biggest fan of streaming, I do understand the unique challenges studios like Disney are facing and the adjustments they need to make in order to survive in this tumultuous market. I mean it’s been over a year for crying out loud. At this point it’s barely even worth releasing a Black Widow movie. But Natasha has a dedicated fan base and enough loyalty to warrant her own solo movie, even if it is seven years overdue. I’m just happy we’re finally going to be able to see the Black Widow movie, even if the $30 price tag is outrageous. I’m probably just going to take my chances and go watch it in theaters, so if I end up getting the coronavirus, you’ll have Natasha to thank for that. 

What do you guys think? Are you excited that Black Widow is finally going to be released, or do you think Disney should have delayed it even longer? Comment below and let me know. 

– David Dunn

SOURCES: Marvel, Variety

Mank-ing The Oscars Work

Holy crow, it’s finally here: the 93rd Academy Award nominations are out. For the longest time, I questioned whether we were even going to have an Academy Awards ceremony this year due to, you know, a global pandemic going on. And even though the ceremony was delayed by two months, the nominations still came out a few weeks shy of when the actual ceremony is normally held. Hey, if we get through this pandemic and host the Oscars during its regular schedule year after year, I will never complain about the Academy Awards ever again. Except for its snubs: those will never be overlooked even if we’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. 

The first Best Picture nominee leading the pack with 10 nominations is David Fincher’s drama Mank, which tells the true story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his writing of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane. No surprise there as not only has Mank been the leading contender for the Golden Globes, the Satellite Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards, but it’s also related to Citizen-freaking-Kane. If David Fincher directed a drama about the toilet scrubber working on set of The Godfather, the Academy would give it 12 nominations just for the association alone. But I am happy for David Fincher as this is the first year where one of his movies has received the most nominations at the Academy Awards. Will it lead to a gold statuette? Possibly, but it really could go either way on Oscar night. There have been ceremonies where the most-nominated picture swept at the Oscars (The Shape of Water and Birdman in 2018 and 2015) to winning literally nothing (American Hustle in 2014). 

What follows is a very interesting predicament, and something I personally have not seen at the Academy Awards since… well, ever. The next six Best Picture nominees all have six nominations each. Yes, dear reader: six Best Picture nominees with six nominations each. That’s been unheard of at the Academy Awards for quite some time. Usually there’s one or two other favorites that has seven or eight nominations apiece, then the other three or four nominees share the rest of the nominations. This year, most of the Best Picture nominees are on unusually equal footing, which makes this year’s Oscars more difficult to predict compared to previous ceremonies. 

One of the early leaders in contention at the moment is Nomadland, an Indie drama darling directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Frances McDormand as a widow traveling the land after her husband died. I recently reviewed the movie on my buddy Andy Branca’s show “The Critics Corner,” and we both felt a bit underwhelmed by the movie’s slow, groggy, and overbearing pace. However, I do feel like the movie’s subject of grief and isolation resonates well with many people, especially in a year as terrible as 2020. Plus, the camerawork by Joshua Richards is gorgeous and for sure a contender in the Oscar’s cinematography category. Everything else, from director to actress to film editing to adapted screenplay, is up in the air. But personally, I’m shocked the movie wasn’t nominated for a best sound editing Oscar for those vivid sound effects of McDormand pooping in her van. Those sounds were very convincing. 

Another contender is the Aaron Sorkin-directed historical drama Trial of the Chicago 7, which tells the true story of seven anti-Vietnam War protestors charged with incitement to riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention. The movie is a brilliant, funny, affectionate, and eerily relevant movie for the times we live in and a great look back at one of our most contentious moments in American history. But I’ll be honest: I was expecting it to get nominated in several more categories than what it was nominated for here. Besides Best Picture, Trial of the Chicago 7 was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Song with Celeste Waite’s “Hear My Voice,” and Best Supporting Actor for Sacha Baron Cohen. Personally I think it could have also gone for Best Production and Costume Design, and Sorkin was definitely snubbed in the Best Director category, especially with Another Round’s Thomas Vinterberg nominated despite not also being nominated for Best Picture. 

Funny enough, Trial of the Chicago 7 isn’t the only Best Picture nominee to feature Black Panther leader Fred Hampton: he’s also the subject of Shaka King’s shocking biographical epic Judas and the Black Messiah. What’s surprising about this movie isn’t the fact that it it has six nominations, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Song for H.E.R.’s “Fight For You.” What’s surprising is two of its nominations come in the same category, with leads Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield both being nominated in the supporting actor category. Why does the Academy keep doing this? Five years ago, Dev Patel was given a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Lion despite playing the freaking lead. Now Judas and the Black Messiah is given the same treatment for not one, but two of its leads. Is that just the Academy’s prerogative during a pandemic: to screw with the audience? Either way, Kaluuya and Stanfield’s chances for winning probably stand better here than in the Best Actor category, where they would have had to gone up against the likes of Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, and the late Chadwick Boseman. Still, it’s frustrating to see the Academy shortchange actor’s performances and label them as “supporting” roles when they’re literally the heart and soul of a movie. 

Other indie darlings recognized with six nominations apiece include the amnesiac The Father, the tender and sweet Minari, and the progressive banger Sound of Metal. I’m happy to see Riz Ahmed get a much-deserved Best Actor nomination for Sound of Metal, as well as his supporting co-star Paul Raci, and am even happier to see it even elevated for Best Picture consideration. I also love seeing the Korean cast and crew of Minari recognized in these same categories and not in the Best International Film category, something the Golden Globes famously screwed up in its past ceremony. It’s also nice to see The Father nominated in so many categories despite being such an under-the-radar sleeper hit. 

The other surprise comes in Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, not because it’s nominated, but because of how many times it is nominated. Besides Best Picture, Promising Young Woman is also nominated for Best Actress with Carey Mulligan, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay and Director for Emerald Fennell. That last nomination is especially exciting, because the Academy Awards has been historically biased towards female nominees in the director category. Greta Gerwin wasn’t even nominated for Best Director last year for Little Women, and the last time a woman won Best Director was 2010 with Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker. Alongside Chloe Zhao, this is the first year where two women are being considered in the Best Director category. Even if neither of them win, congratulations are owed to them both, and we can only hope the preverbal glass ceiling will continue to break from here. 

Unsurprisingly, the Oscars still managed to squeeze out a few snubs despite how few films they had to consider thanks to the pandemic. Da 5 Bloods, for instance, was overlooked in all of the acting categories, and even the technical categories too like cinematography and editing. The Outpost was equally overlooked at this year’s ceremony, and Caleb Landry Jones was straight up robbed for supporting actor. So too was Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson in The Devil All The Time, though with how gritty and queasy that film is, I’m not too surprised that Academy voters decided to distance themselves from it. The most maddening snub, to me, is Leigh Whannell’s remake of the horror icon The Invisible Man. Visuals effects, cinematography, production design, Elisabeth Moss’ horrified performance: you couldn’t find room for The Invisible Man in any of its categories? Really? 

Regardless, I’m excited that the Oscars aren’t just happening this year, but they’re happening with a (mostly) stacked pool of nominees. It says something about the film industry that it endures a financially devastating event as massive as the coronavirus pandemic, yet it’s able to  continue to produce amazing storytelling and performances despite all of the adversities it faced in 2020. Here’s to the Academy Awards finally arriving in 2021, and here’s to me continuing to bag on them. 

– David Dunn

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‘Deadpool 3’ Joins MCU

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. 

After Fox sold all of its movie properties — including the X-Men and Fantastic Four — to Disney back in 2018, many fans were questioning how the studio was going to handle the profane and raunchy Deadpool franchise moving forward. After all, with two equally foul-mouthed, wildly inappropriate movies that grossed over $780 million at the box office, many comic book fans wondered if Deadpool even had a future in the family-friendly PG-13 world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Well good news for dead-heads everywhere. Not only will Deadpool 3 be rated R just like its predecessors — it is even going to become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s right: Deadpool 3 won’t just be making witty jokes and references about the Hulk, Thanos, and Captain America. He’ll actually be inhabiting the same universe all of those characters exist in. 

My first thought that comes to mind: how on Earth is that possible since it’s already pretty well-established that Deadpool exists in the X-Men universe? My guess is somehow the time-traveling device Wade uses at the end of Deadpool 2 somehow transports him to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s how he gets into all of his shenanigans there. Or maybe he’ll break the fourth wall and tell screenwriters Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux to simply write him into the universe. Or maybe I’m just grossly overthinking it and Deadpool will just appear nonchalantly in the MCU like nothing happened. Hey, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brought back Palpatine with zero explanation. Randomly throwing Deadpool into the MCU isn’t even remotely out of character for him.

That does beg the question of whether Marvel will use this character in future MCU movies? Obviously Phase 4 doesn’t include an Avengers movie, which is very understandable given how we’re still reeling from the epic conclusion of Avengers: Endgame. But in the future where crossovers are more likely, how will Wade be brought into the picture? Will he be team up with the Avengers? Crossover into a solo superhero’s movie? Make a cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder? Who knows. But generally speaking, I don’t see how Wade fits into the mold of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He seems like he’d be more of the guy making fun of it to the side rather than saving the world alongside the Avengers. Even the X-Men had their hands full with the dude (plus a much shorter-lived X-Force).

What do you guys think? Are you excited to see Deadpool potentially team up with the Avengers, or do you think the merc has a little too much mouth for the MCU? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Collider, IGN

Top 10 Best Movies Of The Decade

Anyone else ready for this year to be over? I know I certainly am. After facing a global pandemic, an economic recession, police brutality, and all of the migraines that come with elections and Facebook arguments, 2020 is a year I am very ready to say good riddance to. And even though I predicted in my Top 10 Movies of 2019 list that 2020 was going to be a “long, pulsating, cancer-sized headache,” I never expected it to grow into the tumorous size as large as it has. This year was so God-awful, depressing, and mind-numbingly frustrating that I’m legitimately happy that Joe Biden won the Presidency. How miserable does your year have to be where you’re actually excited that the oldest carpet-bagger in existence is taking over the White House from the orange idiot that has more Twitter flags that an InfoWars fan page?

But I don’t want to mull around politics too much, especially since so many people are already doing more than enough of that for me on Parler. Instead I want to end 2020 reflecting on better times, namely the 2010s and all of the amazing movies that came with it. Since I couldn’t do my Top 10 movies of the year as I usually do, I wanted to instead do a roundup of my favorite movies from the decade and break down why they are so special to me. So strap yourselves in and join me on this fun detour to the past, where wearing masks wasn’t a thing, the end times weren’t upon us, and theaters were filled with cinemagoers that were just as excited for the movies as you were. From top to bottom, here are 10 of my favorite films of the decade.

– David Dunn

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(Some Of) The Best Films Of 2020

A friend of mine shared a mantra with me recently that 2020 shouldn’t be the year where we dwell on what we’ve lost, but rather appreciate what we may have taken for granted. I feel that way about my year-end lists. Year after year, I offer a handful of sarcastic remarks about Top 10 lists and how trivial they are in summarizing the year in review. I will never ever ever say another bad thing about Top 10 lists ever again, because in addition to my social life, peace of mind, and general sanity, my Top 10 movies was yet another thing I had to say goodbye to in 2020 because I legitimately did not have enough movies to fill my Top 10.

I know, shocker. Hundreds of canceled premieres and rescheduled movie releases, you’d think something would pop up from all of the Netflix and chilling I’ve been doing this year. Sure, I could populate my list with the few blockbuster movies I caught earlier in the year, including The Call Of The Wild, Sonic The Hedgehog, and Bad Boys For Life (which actually wasn’t that bad for a threequel that nobody asked for). Unfortunately, I am a stickler when it comes to my lists, and I don’t rank a movie unless it truly deserves it, even if it’s during a pandemic.

SOURCE: Universal Pictures

Although many films were shelved this year due to theaters closing and movie releases being postponed, 2020 wasn’t completely barren. The remake of the horror classic The Invisible Man, for instance, ingeniously updated its material for the 21st-century with a feminist message that felt neither preachy nor on-the-nose, and Leigh Whannell offered some genuine scares through his brilliant use of framing and sleight-of-hand. Elizabeth Moss, likewise, offered a very impassioned performance that felt like she was experiencing a nightmare scenario from “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” Hell, even off-camera she still might have been.

Another film that was released in theaters before they were shut down was Pixar’s first fantasy adventure Onward, which tells the story of a pair of elven brothers venturing out to revive their father to share one last day with him. If Soul didn’t come out in December, I would have said Onward was the best animated film of 2020 and still think it’s a serious contender for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards next year (whenever that’s supposed to take place). It was nice to see Tom Holland and Chris Pratt share the screen again, especially after their triumphant return in last year’s Avengers Endgame.

But that wouldn’t be the last time I would see dear ol’ Tom as he would later return to my living room in the grim and eerie crime thriller The Devil All The Time. This phenomenal film directed by Antonio Campos featured Tom Holland in an all-star cast including Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska and several others as its characters pursue their versions of peace and enlightenment through extremely harrowing and violent methods. The film is based on a 2011 novel by Donald Ray Pollock, but the film is so haunting and deeply disturbing that it feels like it was penned by Stephen King.

Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated science-fiction thriller Tenet released in theaters that same month to positive response but with sadly dismal box office numbers (again, thanks a lot coronavirus). And sure, while Tenet’s upside-down premise is literally and figuratively backwards and more confusing than a Darren Aronofsky picture, the visual effects were dazzling and had my jaw dropping more than a few times throughout the picture. I enjoyed getting to experience the fun of summer moviegoing again with Tenet, even though it was well into September and it wasn’t so much summer as it was a suffocating, masked-up fall.

Two war movies especially impressed me this year for very different reasons. The Outpost was a gritty and teeth-grinding retelling of the Battle of Kamdesh in 2009, and this pulse-pounding war epic was so high-octane and heart-racing that no other action thriller this year could match it (partially because the movie was so brilliant, partially because there were no action thrillers released this year). Special praise goes to filmmaker Rod Lurie, who hasn’t directed a high-profile production like this since 2011’s Straw Dogs remake, and Caleb Landry Jones for his heartfelt and soul-bearing performance as real-life specialist Ty Carter. If he doesn’t get nominated for Best Supporting Actor, next year’s already-delayed Oscars deserve to be boycotted.

SOURCE: Netflix

The other war drama released this year was Spike Lee’s thought-provoking and moving war epic Da 5 Bloods, which shows its five black soldiers fighting two wars both in Vietnam and back in America. Spike Lee once again delivers a stylish and visually dazzling picture filled with emotion and gravitas, while Delroy Lindo provides a career-best performance as a veteran struggling with grief, regret, and PTSD. This movie is especially notable because it features Chadwick Boseman in one of his last film appearances before his tragic passing in August. He’ll be known to many as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and King T’Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther. But for me, Stormin’ Norman will be one of his last great performances that I will admire deeply right alongside the others.

And amazingly enough, this year was also a great year for documentaries as well. Not only did The Social Dilemma give a brilliant breakdown on the many detriments of social media and Good Trouble gave an affectionate tribute to the late John Lewis’ civil rights history, but “Tiger King” gave us all a hilariously bizarre inside look at the life of tiger conservation and the very strange people and conspiracies surrounding that industry. I gotta say, when I heard the name “Joe Exotic” in 2016 before he announced his run for Oklahoma governor, I thought I would never hear his name again. 2020 showed me otherwise.

But of all of the movies streaming this year, my favorite undoubtedly goes to the historical courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, which shows Academy Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin take a stab at the director’s chair in a brilliant and mesmerizing fashion. Sorkin directs an amazing all-star cast that includes Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, John Carroll Lynch, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as an assortment of real-life figures that emerged during the Vietnam War protests in 1968. The movie isn’t just brilliant because of its smart writing, witty dialogue, modern parallels to current events, and great exercise of character development: the movie is also just plain entertaining. The fact that the movie can juggle so many tones of humorous, serious, and historical all at once and pull them all off so magnificently shows Sorkin’s potential as a director in his own right. If I were doing a formal Top 10 list as usual this year, The Trial of the Chicago 7 would be my number one hands down.

Other movies, of course, are trickling in through the streaming services this holiday season, whether it’s Soul with Disney+ or Wonder Woman 1984 with HBO Max. But really, the movies are changing in drastic ways right now to adjust to the time we’re living in, just like the rest of the world is. Hopefully next year will deliver some resemblance of normalcy and return to movie theaters, miles away from my couch and refrigerator.

– David Dunn

‘Spider-Man 3’ Will Be A Live-Action ‘Spider-Verse’

It’s finally official: Spider-Man 3 will adapt the iconic Spider-Verse storyline for the big screen.

Details about the highly-anticipated sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home has been shrouded in secrecy. Up until now, we’ve only known a handful of details. For one thing, Tom Holland is obviously reprising his role as the amazing wall-crawler, who has been recently exposed after J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) revealed his identity to the world in the last movie. Jon Watts will return to direct after the wildly successful previous two installments. And the film will feature an appearance from Marvel’s own sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

However, that isn’t all that is going on with the movie. After several surprising casting announcements, it looks like the movie will be adapting the iconic “Spider-Verse” storyline that won Spider-Man an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2018.

Fans have been suspecting that Spider-Man 3 was adapting the “Spider-Verse” storyline ever since Jamie Foxx was rumored to join the project in October. Originally portraying the electrifying villain Electro in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, fans’ heads went dizzy with theories since that film was separate from Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe,

But earlier today, Collider reported several other veteran Spider-Man actors that would be joining the project. For one thing, Alfred Molina is returning to play the multi-armed supervillain Doctor Octopus, a role he hasn’t revisited since his stunning debut in 2002’s Spider-Man 2. Kristen Dunst is reportedly reprising her role as Mary Jane Watson from that same franchise. And here’s the real kicker: Andrew Garfield is returning to portray Peter Parker from The Amazing Spider-Man.

These are exciting developments for several reasons. For one thing, we’ll finally see the conclusion to Andrew Garfield’s storyline that unfortunately ended on a cliffhanger. For another thing, we’re seeing Alfred Molina and Kristen Dunst in iconic roles we haven’t seen them in for several years now. But more importantly, Tom Holland’s epic trilogy conclusion will feature him partnering up with the spectacular Spider-Men that came before him!!! If you aren’t at least intrigued at the possibilities of these team-ups, you need to check your pulse.

What’s even more exciting is that with these casting announcements, we’re finally closer than ever to seeing the Sinster Six realized for the big screen. For those of you that don’t know, Sony has been trying to get a Sinister Six movie off of the ground for several years, ever since they rebooted the Spider-Man film franchise in 2012. But with Molina and Foxx returning, not only do they have villains from previous Spider-Man movies entering the picture, but also villains that are currently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Shocker, Chameleon, Vulture, Scorpion, and Mysterio. That doesn’t even get into other villains that still may be able to bring into the fold, such as Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard, Tom Hardy’s Venom, Jared Leto’s Morbius even Woody Harrelson’s Carnage is a possibility.

Of course, a lot of this swirling casting news leaves more questions than answers on the exact premise of the film and what to expect from it. But by and large, Spider-Man 3 is quickly shaping up to look like a live-action Spider-Verse movie. A few details remaining uncertain, such as Tobey Maguire potentially joining as the Raimi films’ Spider-Man, as well Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales possibly making their own appearances. But for now, this is more than exciting enough news to digest on its own. It really raises eyebrows on the possibilities of the third Spider-Man movie and which directions it can go from here.

What do you web-heads think? Are you excited for a live-action Spider-Verse movie, or do you wish they just kept Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the friendly neighborhood? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Collider, The Hollywood Reporter

Oscar Isaac Cast As Solid Snake

In a year where not a whole lot of movie news has been circulating the rounds, one big piece of casting news has closed out the year with a bang: the Metal Gear Solid live-action movie has found its Solid Snake.

For the past several years, Columbia Pictures has been trying to get a live-action Metal Gear Solid movie off of the ground and adapt Hideo Kojima’s award-winning espionage video game franchise to the big screen. Although the studio has secured a screenwriter in The Girl In The Spider’s Web scribe Jay Basu and a director in Kong: Skull Island’s Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the larger question of who would play the movie’s titular hero remained largely unanswered.

Now thanks to Deadline, we know that Golden Globe-nominated actor Oscar Isaac will be putting on the iconic bandana and sneak around FOXHOUND bases as Solid Snake. You’ve seen Oscar Isaac in more than a few films in recent years. Not only has he played Poe Dameron in the most recent Star Wars movies and the titular villain in X-Men: Apocalypse, but he’s also played in indie releases such as Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year, and Ex Machina. More recently he’s starred in the 2018 horror film Annihilation, the upcoming sci-fi epic Dune, and is even in talks to portray the Moon Knight in Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ series. No matter what he acts in, Oscar Isaac always brings 110% to every role that he portrays. The fact he’s taking on Solid Snake brings so much excitement to the project.

The only question is can he pull off Solid Snake in the right way? He does have the chiseled, rough-around-the-edges look that the character has, but his voice isn’t as deep as David Hayter’s iconic performance in the video games. Then again though, Ryan Reynolds’ voice is also vastly different from Nolan North’s, and he pulled off Deadpool perfectly for his 2016 live-action film. We’ll have to wait and see what Isaac brings to the role, but for now, knowing that they’re investing so much talent into this portrayal shows how much effort the studio is putting in to get this live-action adaptation right for the big screen.

What do you think? Are you excited to see Oscar Isaac become Solid Snake, or do you think this casting news could have kept you waiting? Comment below and let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Deadline, Variety

Biden My Time

For the first time in my young life, I will be voting for a Democrat for President of the United States. This is unusual for me because in my eight years of voting, I’ve typically aligned with the conservative side of the ballot. In my first election in 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney for President. If I were old enough in 2008, I would have voted for John McCain. In 2013 and 2014, I voted for Ted Cruz and John Cornyn for the Senate. Even in 2016 where I cast a protest vote against both of the candidates, I voted for a Republican-majority congress because I believed Hilary Clinton was going to win and that she needed to be held accountable. I won’t be making that mistake again this year as I vote for Joe Biden and all Democrats up and down the ballot.

Several things fuel my change of position, most of which are of consequence from the past few years. But when asked why I’m endorsing Joe Biden, it would be all too easy to simply put up the Will Smith meme and point to all of the ugliness and incompetence of Donald Trump, not to mention reductive and overly-generalized. Besides, I want elections to be about supporting the better candidate, not voting for the lesser evil.

But there are several reasons why Joe Biden appeals to me. For one thing, I don’t think anybody left or right of the political aisle can question his character. Throughout his 40-year career in politics, Joe Biden has a well-documented history of working with Republicans and drafting bipartisan legislation that would later become law. Some progressives see this as a flaw and hypocrisy of the former vice president, with some even half-joking that Biden should have ran in the Republican primary this year.

While there are definitely some establishment issues with Joe, the ability to work with people you disagree with is a quality we’ve been sorely missing from political leadership in the past four years. That’s one of the reasons why President Barack Obama selected Joe as his vice president, and that worked to his benefit when Joe collaborated with House Republicans on spending bills, tax relief, infrastructure, and the crushing debt ceiling in 2011. In 2009, Obama remarked that the best thing about Joe is that “he really forces people to think and defend their positions; to look at things from every angle.” I agree with the former president and will even add that is something all Americans should aspire to do anyway.

But character isn’t the only thing that’s important in this election: policy is. So, what legislation has Biden successfully passed during his 40-year career? One of his crowning achievements is passing the Violence Against Women Act alongside Utah senator Orrin Hatch in 1994, which helped law enforcement respond to rising domestic violence cases in the United States. Since the law was passed in 1994, domestic violence has dropped by 64% until 2010, according to the Department of Justice. Many legal experts cite the VAWA as one of the most effective tools at bringing visibility to the issue, and Joe Biden no doubt had a big hand in seeing that legislation signed into law.

There’s much more Biden was responsible for, such as being one of the first senators to create a global warming task force in 1987, sponsoring the PROTECT Our Children Act in 2008 to help prosecute child predators, and denying former Alabama attorney Jeff Sessions (Yes, that Jeff Sessions) of judgeship. Of course, there are many less flattering moments throughout his career, such as his complicated anti-busing views in 1977, writing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, and voting for the Iraq War in 2002 (not to mention his more humiliating gaffes like claiming to meet the Parkland kids while he was VP or that he was arrested while trying to visit Nelson Mandela). But for the most part, Joe has been honest about his mistakes as much as he has about his successes. Whether that is sincere or political theater I don’t know, but at least he attempts to be apologetic and humble (unlike the incumbent).

That leaves the larger question of what he would do as President? The biggest priority, of course, is filling the Supreme Court vacancy, which Joe Biden would no doubt fill with an equality-centric nominee the late RBG would be proud of (that is, if Republicans don’t shotgun Amy Comey Barrett through confirmation first). He would raise taxes for those making over $400,000 a year, create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. That doesn’t even get into a handful of other priorities he would focus on, such as eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding farmworker protections, implementing a voluntary assault weapon buyback program, creating a national police brutality database, and much, much more.

But of all of the things that appeal to me for a Joe Biden presidency, perhaps one of the most important to me is that he would restore the reputation of the White House. Throughout his 40-year career, Biden has maintained decency and empathy to all he interacted with, regardless of whether or not he agreed with them.

When Donald Trump and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19, Biden did not relish in his diagnosis and prayed for a swift and speedy recovery for the President.

After his daughter was shot and killed during the Parkland shooting in 2018, Fred Guttenberg said his off-camera conversations with Joe helped him re-centralize his life through his grief. Joe was able to relate easily since he also went through losing his wife and daughter from a car accident in 1972.

When George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Biden personally spoke with Floyd’s family and “shared in their woe” as attorney Ben Crump put it. He later delivered kind remarks at Floyd’s funeral.

When he encountered a child with a stuttering issue at one of his rallies, Biden offered words of encouragement and gave him his phone number to personally give advice on how he got through his own stuttering when he was younger.

And in 2015 shortly after his son Beau died of brain cancer, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called him the nicest person he’s ever met in politics, saying he’s as good a man as God has ever created. “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you’ve got a problem,” Graham said to HuffPost.

Compare that to the egregiousness, selfishness, and egotism of Donald Trump, who is so harsh, self-absorbed, and abrasive that he makes sandpaper feel more comfortable. I can’t go over all of his failings as President in this piece alone. If I attempted to, it would take over the rest of the content on my website twice over.

What I will say is that when the President wasn’t busy attacking liberals, journalists, women, immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims, the disabled, veterans, the LGBT community, and Never-Trump Republicans on Twitter, Trump has failed spectacularly at nearly every Presidential test he’s been given. Sure, Biden may lack ambition or perspective on a handful of issues, but Trump has consistently proven himself to be emphatically worse, sometimes to an almost comedic standard.

While Biden witnessed over two million deportations during Obama’s tenure, Trump has slashed refugee acceptance to an all-time low, separated thousands of immigrant families, denied children basic necessities like soap and toothpaste, put the residency status of over 800,000 Dreamers at risk, and saw the deaths of seven immigrant children while in border patrol custody.

While over 12,470 people died during the Obama administration’s response to the Swine Flu, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks, over 200,000 people have died from the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19, with hundreds more dying daily.

And while Trump at one point oversaw some of the lowest unemployment numbers and largest job growth our nation has ever seen, this year alone has since wiped out any economic gains we’ve made in the last three years.

Do we even need to go over the exhaustive list of Trump’s scandals? He’s so corrupt that he has Richard Nixon’s jaw dropping from his grave (hey, at least he had the good sense to resign once impeachment proceedings were filed against him).

Say what you will about Joe Biden — and there is plenty to say — at least he can fulfill the basic duties of respecting veterans and comforting Gold Star families. Trump can’t even address Russia on the bounties on U.S. soldier’s heads.

Simply put, there’s no point over the past four years where Trump has risen, nay, even attempted to reach, a tenth of the magnanimous expectations of the White House. Not once.

Look guys, it’s been an exhaustive four years — more exhausting than any other President I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I’ve lived through three prior to Trump. And we are once again edging toward this unfortunate “lesser-evil” scenario that Trump and Hillary were caught up in 2016.

But not only do I believe Joe Biden is the lesser evil by a clear mile in this election — I believe he’s also the greater good. His entire career demonstrates the decency, civility, and respect that the White House deserves. He doesn’t demonize his opponents the same way Trump or Hillary does, and unlike both predecessors, he’s interested in working with colleagues of all different faiths, beliefs, and political affiliations.

That’s what we need in a President right now during the divisive time that we’re in. Not a President for just Democrats or Republicans — a President for America.

– David Dunn