Category Archives: The Scope

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

(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

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

Top 10 Oscar Snubs Of The Decade

For every great moment that happens at the Academy Awards, there are 15 terrible moments that follow them. That’s why when Argo won Best Picture in 2013, Ben Affleck was still snubbed a Best Director nomination. That’s why when Moonlight won Best Picture in 2017, it was robbed of its Oscar-winning moment when La La Land was accidentally announced the winner. And while Spotlight, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road were all racking up Oscars left and right in 2016, black talent was still missing from all four of the best acting categories regardless. There were several awful moments the Academy Awards have brought us over the past several years. Here are 10 of the worst that happened this decade.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

9.11.2019

A year ago, I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York for the first time in my life. The experience, of course, was emotional for everybody inside that museum. Names and faces filled out the walls like memorials too small to fully encapsulate and appreciate the lives that were drastically cut short. Remnants of the attack were scattered around the museum as if it were ground zero. Harrowing video and audio clips looped over and over again, capturing the horror of the day in vivid, haunting detail. It was a powerful experience, and it stays with you long after you’ve left the museum.

Yet I had a different reaction from others at the museum. I could see veterans crying, visibly shaken by how this horrible event continues to haunt the country they love to this very day. I watched families mourn for the loved ones they missed on the walls, children confused by the sadness surrounding them.

Yet despite all of the grieving around me, I didn’t cry inside the museum. Not once. I was actually a little disturbed at myself, to be quite honest. Somebody even questioned me about my reaction, asking me why I wasn’t overcome with emotion like everyone else was around me?

I WAS overcome with emotion; just not in the outward, visible way others were. I have a tendency to internalize my feelings and thoughts, and while everyone was saddened and consumed by everything that we had lost, I was instead focused on what this catastrophic event has meant to us all these years and what it will mean to us going forward.

And every time I looked at the names, the faces, the clothes, the debris, and the videos, a heartbreaking thought crossed my mind that devastates me every time I think about it:

The terrorists won.

Before you react, let me clarify what I mean by that. Before and after the attack, Al-Qaeda clearly stated that their intentions were to weaken the United States for their actions against Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They aimed for targets that were symbolic and significant to our nation. The Pentagon for its strength. The Capitol Building for its democracy. The Twin Towers for its prosperity.

Sure, part of their goal was to hurt America deeply and profoundly; wound it so much to the point where it collapsed to the ground in loss and despair. But it wasn’t just that. After all, we are a formidable force to be reckoned with. Destroying the United States, therefore, was an unrealistic goal, despite how much they may have wanted to.

No, their goal was much more specific — much more intentional. What, you may ask? And the answer is simple: they wanted to cripple us, and they utilized the most potent tools at their disposal to do it. Those tools weren’t knives. They weren’t box cutters. They weren’t even the airplanes themselves.

No, their goal was to cripple us using fear. Using anger. Using hatred. These are potent weapons, because their effects last much longer after their use.

For a time, their attack failed and their cause was lost. America was united in its grief and came together stronger than ever, rebuilding our world and striving towards a better one tomorrow. But somewhere along the way, we lost that unity and that sense of respect and decency. We let fear takeover. Our anger festered and grew. And the seeds of hatred spread so deep that it tore away at our roots, weakening us much more than it ever had before.

The terrorists won.

And they’ve been winning ever since.

I’ve been replaying that moment in the museum over and over again in my head, strategizing how we may overcome our shortcomings and make sure our enemies lose, this time for good. A year later, I still don’t have the answers. I fear I will be old and gray before those solutions present themselves.

I know this much: we cannot win using the enemy’s weapons. Every time we give in to our primal instincts, we lessen ourselves as a country and weaken the foundations that made us so great in the first place.

Instead of fear, we should turn to understanding.

Instead of anger, we should turn to patience.

Instead of hatred, we should turn to love.

And instead of isolation, we should turn to unity in the founding principles that made this country great and rely on them like a bedrock. We need those foundations now more than ever.

The terrorists won.

But they don’t have to.

And one day, I pray they won’t.

– David Dunn

Final Thoughts On Chadwick Boseman

It’s been three days now and I’m still not over the death of Chadwick Boseman. Like Heath Ledger in 2008 or Robin Williams in 2014, Chadwick’s death came from left field out of nowhere, surprising everyone with a colon cancer diagnosis he received even before his debut as Black Panther in the 2016 superhero epic Captain America: Civil War. Even today, the world feels lesser without him in it. I myself still struggle knowing that we’ll never see T’Challa again on the big screen, despite his triumphant return in last year’s Avengers: Endgame.

Out of all of the things 2020 has taken from us, I didn’t think Chadwick would be one of them. Yet, here we are. As we try to process this tragedy and work towards moving forward together, let’s reflect on the lessons that we’ve learned from Chadwick and what his example has grown to mean with comic book and movie fans everywhere.

Top 10 Oscar Wins Of The Decade

There aren’t many good moments to pick from Academy Awards history. Whether it’s Seth McFarlane hosting the ceremony or Faye Dunaway flubbing up the Best Picture winner, the Oscars are filled with one maddening, cringe-worthy moment after another. That’s part of why the good moments are so endearing and memorable, despite also being so far and few in between. With the 93rd Academy Awards postponed to April 2021 (potentially even further with how the rest of 2020 is going), now is a great time to reflect on the 2010s and go over the 10 best Oscar wins of the decade. Spoiler alert: I’m not wearing pants while I’m making the list.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

May The Fourth Be With You.

SOURCE: Lucasfilm

This video was a hard one to do. Not just because of all the filming, editing, and effort that usually goes into long-form content like this, but more of the emotional story behind it that kept pushing this video out weeks after weeks after weeks.

I was originally supposed to publish this video ranking all of the Star Wars movies at the tail end of 2019, around the same time when Rise of Skywalker came out. But for those that know me, I was dealing with a lot at the time that prevented this video’s release. For one thing, I lost my Grandmother, or “Ducky Schwartz,” to respiratory complications. I still miss her dearly, though I am glad she doesn’t have to go through this pandemic at the very least. I lost my best friend. And to top it all off, I got into a car accident that wrecked me financially.

The holiday season passed (quite possibly the worst one I’ve ever experienced). January rolled around and I just got back on my feet. I was ready to film this video albeit a month later, but at least I was making progress. Then at the end of my recording session, all of the video footage got corrupted and wasn’t usable. So I had to reset and film the whole thing all over again.

A string of health problems prevented filming until March, and then I finally had all of my video clips and was ready to import the footage. Only problem was, for some inexplicable reason, my computer wouldn’t download all of the video clips. I have no idea why. But I had to pull out my other computer and download the rest of the footage from there. Halfway through downloading, my computer crashed and wouldn’t turn back on. I was so emotionally exhausted and frustrated that I couldn’t contain myself. I had a meltdown and completely broke down in my living room. I just felt so powerless. After dealing with one traumatic incident after another, all I wanted to do was shoot and edit a damn video, just to get my mind off of things. But I couldn’t even do that.

I was eventually able to restart my computer and download the rest of the footage several days later, but by then I couldn’t care less. I was so emotionally drained from the experience that I just shut out my computer and put the project on the back burner, focusing instead on my work and mental and emotional health. These videos haven’t done a damn thing for me, I thought. Why would I waste any more of my time and effort on them?

Fast forward to April, where we’re in the heat of dealing with this pandemic. Finally locked into my room with my own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and videos, I finally found the strength to return to my project and finish what I started. Video editing is not easy, and for those that are unfamiliar, it typically takes an average of one hour to edit one minute of footage. So I decided to take my time and just bite off one piece at a time. Two weeks later, I finally realized my vision for my ranking of the Star Wars series.

And yet, technical mishaps would strike yet again and try to stop me one last time. I finalized my remaining graphics and was ready to export my video. Only one problem: my computer wouldn’t boot up. I tried everything that Apple support suggested, but despite exhausting all options, the computer remained inaccessible, making a weekend’s worth of editing completely pointless.

So I pivoted, fired up my other computer, edited the video from a backup, implemented the graphics, and finally published my video against all odds. Suck it, Apple. Your shoddy hardware couldn’t stop me from sharing my love of Star Wars. 

Why am I sharing all of this? Because out of all the videos I’ve produced, this is the one I’m most proud of by far. Every conceivable obstacle was thrown into my path for this video, from personal to physical to technical. And despite all of those roadblocks, I was able to persevere and do what I love most: talk about movies.

I don’t know how much more I’ll resume video work after this. The experience has been so emotionally taxing on me that I question how much longer I want to do this, if I even want to keep doing this at all. I still want to publish roundups for the decade as well as the Oscars, though now I’m questioning whether I want to do those in alternative formats to avoid further stress and frustration.

But I’ll leave those questions for tomorrow. For now, I’m proud of what I’ve produced, and I’m proud I got to share my love of Star Wars and the movies with you once again.

Thank you all for continuing to support me and watch my videos. I genuinely appreciate it, and it has kept me going in these very difficult past few months.

Anyhow, enjoy my ranking of the Star Wars movies. Happy Star Wars Day, and of course, May The Fourth Be With You.

– David Dunn

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coronavirus Contagions

It’s time we face the facts here: the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Since it first surfaced in Wuhan, China in December last year, it has gone on to infect over 308,000 people across the globe, killing over 13,000 of them. And since it has come to America earlier this year, the United States went from having less than 10 cases in January to now over 26,000 cases this month. For those of you not keeping up with the math, that’s faster than even Italy’s growth rate.

What does that mean for us? I’m not exactly sure. Since earlier this month, the coronavirus seemed like an afterthought, a distant threat that was impacting other countries but mostly remained separate from ours. Now it’s reshaped almost everything in our everyday life, from working from home to delayed movie releases to even shopping for groceries. Just a few weeks ago, my biggest frustration with the coronavirus was how it delayed upcoming movie releases such as James Bond’s No Time To Die and A Quiet Place Part II until the fall. Now my biggest fear is contracting the virus myself, or even worse, spreading it to somebody else.

There are some positives to glean from this. For one thing, the majority of people who contract the coronavirus only suffer from mild symptoms, with 81% of victims eventually recovering from the disease, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It still remains to be one of the low-risk diseases globally, with the SARS and MERS epidemics killing between 10-30% of its infected, both significantly higher than the coronavirus’ 4% fatality rate. And numerically, it is still one of the less deadly diseases, with thousands of people dying daily from both AIDS and the seasonal flu, whereas on the coronavirus’ worse day it hasn’t even topped a thousand yet.

So in terms of globally and nationally, the coronavirus is still relatively low-risk. But I don’t want to shortchange this threat. The most concerning thing about it, of course, is that it’s asymptomatic, which means you could have it and not even know it. This doesn’t mean much to you, of course, but it could jump from you and infect somebody close to you that is more vulnerable to the disease than you are, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

We’re also not prepared if this outbreak grows to exceed Italy’s numbers, as hospital beds, respirators, and ventilators are overwhelmingly short on supply. This is before you even get into the fact that we’re working with incomplete numbers since testing for the disease is even more scarce than hospitality availability. And don’t even get me started on the ramifications of President Trump’s decision to fire the pandemic response team in 2018.

This is all before you even get into the economic impact of the coronavirus. Since the virus has broken out, many local governments and municipalities have forced local businesses, shops, stores, gyms, and hotels to close down, while limiting many restaurants to takeout and delivery only. This will leave a massive hole in both our local and national economies and most likely will lead to a recession and maybe even a depression. Many people are pushing for government bailouts, but that can only last for so long. It’s funny how those who were decrying the threats of socialism are now happily willing to accept it, so long as they get a paycheck from it.

Look, I don’t want to start a panic, but we also need to be practical at what we’re facing here. The fallout from the coronavirus will be significant. Whether it is in the form of further infections, massive unemployment, or social and economic collapse, the hammer will drop somewhere in some form as a result of this virus. In its best-case scenario, the coronavirus will inconvenience America – indeed, the whole world – for the next several months. At its worst, it will reshape our entire society as we know it.

Where does that leave us? For now, everyone needs to stock up, keep their heads down, and distance themselves from the rest of the outside world. That will be difficult for some extroverts that need human connection, while it will just be everyday life to some introverts like me. Regardless, limiting the spread of the virus is the best way to fight it at this moment. Even if the pandemic spreads into the coming months, it will at least be contained enough so hospitals will be able to treat patients without overwhelming the healthcare system.

As for myself, I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I publish on this website to bring you the most up-to-date information on new movies and theater releases, but since there won’t be many in the foreseeable future, that puts me into a bit of a pickle. Even if movies are still coming out like Wonder Woman 1984 is this summer, I doubt I would go to the movie theater to see them. That just wouldn’t be the smart or safe decision at this point.

No, instead I think I might focus more on recent releases I’ve missed reviewing, like Onward, The Invisible Man, and Sonic The Hedgehog. I’d also like to focus more on video work as well since I have yet to do my best and worst movies of the decade lists. Heck, I still want to review that disaster of a Cats movie that released that December. Did you know that there’s a cut of that movie out there where the cats’ buttholes were not digitally removed? I didn’t know it was possible to make that movie any more horrifying.

I’ll figure out what I’m going to do for this website in the coming weeks. But for now, stay home, keep yourselves healthy, and don’t unnecessarily put yourself at risk of the disease.

Stay safe out there, fellow movie lovers. I’ll let you know when my review of the butthole cut of Cats is coming out.

Love,

David

‘Parasite’ Creeps Into Top Honors At 92nd Academy Awards

I gotta say, I’ve covered the Academy Awards for a long time now. Year after year, I watch as they award their Oscars to winners both old and new. I see them give their statuettes sometimes to those that are most deserving, other times to nominees that couldn’t be less deserving. And with each passing ceremony, there isn’t one where the Academy doesn’t spring at least one surprise on its unsuspecting viewers.

Take this year’s awards, for example. Not only is this the first year where a comic-book film was nominated the most (Joker with 11 nominations), but this is also the second year where the Academy led its ceremony without a host. Last year it was to the ceremony’s benefit, as the awards carried out at a brisk pace while simultaneously being quick-witted and funny. This year, however, the awards seem airy and directionless, like they were scrambling to get through all the categories and find some loose way of connecting them together.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the presenters were very funny, like Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus when they confused the cinematographers and film editor’s jobs, and James Corden and Rebel Wilson, who came out in these awful-looking Cats costumes and stressed the importance of good visual effects. Other times presenters seemed random and pointless, like when Kelly Marie Tran and Anthony Ramos came out to present… another presenter. 1917 actor George Mackay illustrated the monotony of the presentation brilliantly, saying he was a “presenter to present another presenter who was going to present… another presenter.”

But the Hollywood elites who read from the envelopes this year were the least of the night’s surprises. In fact, the biggest surprises of all came from a film that I wasn’t even expecting to win the night’s top prizes:

SOURCE: CJ Entertainment

Best Picture: The Academy’s top honor didn’t go to 1917, a beautifully-filmed war epic that captured the essence of its tragedy in one seemingly endless shot. It didn’t go to the witty and wild love letter to 60’s cinema Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. And it also didn’t go to a movie about the mental descent of one man that would grow to become Batman’s greatest nemesis in Joker. No, the Academy instead chose to give the night’s highest recognition to a film you probably haven’t even heard of: South Korea’s harrowing yet hilarious commentary on classism and economics, Parasite. 

This is significant for a few reasons. One: Parasite is so out of the box and so unusual for the Academy that you wonder if their tastes are changing for the new generation. It’s strange that the Academy has gone a whole decade without recognizing at least one war film like 1917, or that it wouldn’t take up the chance to be self-absorbed in their own culture with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood like they were with The Artist or Birdman. But Parasite is just such an unusual choice for the Academy. Take away the fact that it’s a Korean film for one second: the fact they would even consider an exercise in minimalism and implication like this is so out of left field for Academy voters. If it wasn’t, then why wasn’t Get Out awarded Best Picture in 2018? Or The Revenant in 2016?

Two: Parasite is the first foreign-language film to have won Best Picture… ever. That is a stunning title for it to own, especially when you consider the fact that the Academy has overlooked nominees such as Roma, Amour, Babel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Life Is Beautiful, The Postman, and several other films dating all the way back to 1938. This also does not consider outstanding foreign-language films that weren’t even nominated for Best Picture, including A Separation, Pan’s Labirynth, The Sea Inside, Joyeaux Noel, Amelie, Ikiru, and several others.

Is Parasite undeserving of the Oscar? Absolutely not. It was cunning, captivating, poignant, thoughtful, and like all great movies, had something powerful to say about our culture. Should it have been the first foreign-language film to have earned the Best Picture honor? Probably not. It makes you wonder where the Academy has been in all years previous to Parasite, as well as what they’re going to do moving forward now that the gates are open for all foreign-language films at the Oscars?

Speaking of Parasite

Best Director: The bigger surprise isn’t even the fact that Parasite won Best Picture, which it might have been able to nab anyway since it also won Best International Feature and Best Original Screenplay (more on that later). The biggest surprise is that director Bong Joon-Ho won Best Director, beating out DGA winner Sam Mendes for 1917

Again, Bong Joon-Ho is not undeserving of this honor in the least. The way he mirrored the two worlds of the rich and the poor was stunning and captivating and showed the true genius of a brilliant director at work. But what’s so surprising is that his win supersedes Sam Mendes’ win at the DGA Awards, which have been used to predict Best Director Oscar winners for decades now. Are the DGAs slowly moving towards irrelevance in regards to the Academy? Only a few more ceremonies will confirm that for sure.

Either way, congratulations to Bong Joon-Ho and his well-deserved win. I’ll admit 1917 was my favorite to win both Best Picture and Best Director, but I can’t fault Parasite by any means. Joon-Ho made a brilliant film, and nobody can take that honor away from him.

Best Actor: The Academy was right to award Joaquin Phoenix his first Oscar in his 30-year career for playing a meek clown gone mad in Todd Phillips’ Joker. He completely earned the Oscar for giving one of the most haunting and darkly comedic performances of the decade. Congratulations to Joaquin for his well-deserved win, although his acceptance speech where he complained about the evils of milking cows was a little strange.

Best Actress: Judy Garland may have never won an Oscar, but Renee Zellweger did for portraying the actress in her dramatic biopic Judy. It still blows my mind that this home-grown Texan could portray the late actress’s final years in show business and pull it off with the conviction and appeal that made Garland a household name in the first place. Congrats to Renee for winning her second Oscar. Here’s to never forgetting an unforgettable performance.

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt rightfully won his first acting Oscar for playing a quietly disturbing stunt double in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Having recently revisited Pitt’s psychotic portrayal of a man’s splintered persona in David Fincher’s 1999 hit Fight Club, I was surprised to find out that he’s only been nominated for three acting Oscars prior to his first win, including 12 Monkeys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Moneyball. Pitt’s nominations don’t do justice to his commitment in the roles that he plays. Either way, congratulations to Pitt for his well-earned win. He taught me a lesson about never paying an uninvited visit to Cliff Booth at night.

Best Supporting Actress: As expected, Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress for playing a sensitive yet savage divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. Having re-watched Dern and her co-star Scarlett Johannson in both Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, I’m still baffled as to how Dern could have the edge over Johannson, especially when you see her passioned and sensitive performances in both of the movies she’s nominated for. If you want to talk about talent that wasn’t even nominated, Jennifer Lopez gave a commanding performance as a stripper with attitude and swagger in Hustlers. Either of those women could have walked away with the Oscar and it would have made perfect sense. But Dern has a couple of scenes in her office and in the courtroom and suddenly she’s an Oscar frontrunner? Why? What did she do that was so special compared to her fellow nominees, or even her fellow co-stars?

Either way, congrats to Dern for winning Best Supporting Actress. I could think of five other movies she deserved to win the Oscar for more so than this one, but I guess the path doesn’t matter as much as the destination does.

SOURCE: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Best Animated Feature: Like clockwork, Toy Story 4 won Best Animated Feature, despite the fact that How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Klaus were both better films. If the Academy keeps this up, they should save the viewers some time and simply rename this category to the Disney-Pixar award. At least then they’d be honest.

Best Documentary Feature: Okay, I got this one wrong, but to be fair this category was already a toss-up in the first place. I figured the Academy would go with a film as unique and creative as the one that followed one of Bekirlija’s last beekeepers in Honeyland. I should have known the Academy would have gone political and given the Oscar to the Obama’s first documentary produced under their new production company, American Factory. Earning an Academy Award is officially the newest thing that the former President can claim that the current President cannot.

Best International Feature: Of course since Parasite won Best Picture, Best International Feature was obviously going to be a shoo-in. I do find it odd that it technically has won two best film Oscars on one night, but either way, it isn’t undeserving. If you haven’t gotten the memo by now, you need to watch Parasite at your earliest convenience if you haven’t done so already.

Best Original Screenplay: Again, Parasite upsets in the original writing category after securing its win at the WGA’s. When I predicted Quentin Tarantino would win for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, I did so only knowing that the Academy almost never awards writing Oscars to foreign-language films. In fact, the last time a foreign-language film even won the original writing Oscar was Spain’s Talk To Her in 2002, and after that eight other films were overlooked in this category before Parasite finally won last night. Again though, it deserves the win as Bong Joon-Ho’s writing is just as clever and captivating as his directing is for the film. I just hope Bong Joon-Ho doesn’t go too crazy with celebrating. I would like him to not die of alcohol poisoning and keep making more movies as wonderful as Parasite.

Best Adapted Screenplay: In another stunning upset, Taika Waititi wins the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Jojo Rabbit and shuts Greta Gerwig out for Little Women. If Academy voters are smart, they’ll hide out in their bunkers and wait for rage Twitter to blow over. Little Women fans are going to be upset about this one for a while.

SOURCE: 20th Century Fox

Best Film Editing: Yet another category I got wrong. I thought Yang Jin-Mo was going to win for seamlessly assembling various perspectives into one cohesive and tragic narrative in Parasite, but I neglected how exciting and dizzying Ford v Ferrari was while simultaneously being coherent enough to follow all of the fast-paced racing action. Michael McCusker (Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma) is not undeserving by any means, and I’m happy he can finally call himself an Oscar-winner. At the very least, Ford v Ferrari’s best editing win makes more sense than Bohemian Rhapsody’s win did last year.

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins rightfully earned his second Oscar for his masterful one-shot technique in Sam Mendes’ emotionally stirring war epic 1917. If any other nominee won, rioting from the cinematographer’s branch would have been the only appropriate reaction.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Bombshell won best makeup, as expected. Thank you, next.

Best Costume Design: I thought Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s timely wardrobe would appeal to the Academy as it does to its colorful and charismatic characters. I figured since Jacquelin Durran already won once for Anna Karenina that the period piece play wouldn’t work as well on the Academy this time around. I should have just went with the period piece, because Little Women won as predictably as Anna Karenina did in 2012. Jenny Eagan was also not nominated for Knives Out, which means that in a way, I lost twice in this category.

Best Production Design: In a happy upside, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood won the Oscar for Best Production Design. Nancy Haigh deserves her win for accurately recreating 60’s signage and movie sets. That is, before Quentin Tarantino covered it all with blood and splattered brains.

SOURCE: WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Best Musical Score: As predicted, Hildur Guonadottir won for providing the haunting, eerie string themes for Joker’s descent into madness. I’m just frustrated Thomas Newman has to go through his 15th nomination for 1917 and still not win a blasted Oscar. But in either case, congratulations to Guonadottir for making a beautiful yet unsettling theme for the Joker’s mental and moral decay. Meanwhile, let’s hope the 16th time is a charm for Newman during a future ceremony.

Best Original Song: Elton John won his second Oscar for his uplifting and empowering theme “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” for Rocketman. Thankfully so, because I don’t know how fans might have reacted if Bohemian Rhapsody won four Oscars and Rocketman didn’t win at least one. Either way, congrats to him for his well-deserved win. He made everyone feel the love tonight.

Best Sound Editing: Ford v Ferrari beat out the rest of the nominees for Best Sound Editing. I personally made the case for 1917, but Ford v Ferrari admittedly did have some exemplary sound editing in it. I’m not as frustrated by the loss like I was last year when Bohemian Rhapsody unbelievably won this award over A Quiet Place. I doubt any nominee winning this year could top my shock any more than that win did last year.

Best Sound Mixing: If that “Wayfaring Stranger” scene in 1917 didn’t convince you that it deserved to win for sound mixing, then nothing ever will. Thankfully, Academy voters saw that scene and was as moved as I was and rightfully awarded the film with the Oscar anyway.

Best Visual Effects: What did I tell you? What did I bloody tell you? The Academy can’t support outstanding visual effects to save its dang life if it means awarding it to a superhero movie. They did just that this year by giving the best visual effects Oscar to 1917 instead of the vastly more grand-scale Avengers: Endgame. Granted, I do not feel 1917 is a better film than Endgame is, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges. After all, 1917 is a grounded war eulogy while Endgame is the epic conclusion to a superhero saga that was several years in the making. Still, recognize the better work when you see it. 1917 may be the more moving film, but you’re bonkers if you think that film compares visually to the sensation and spectacle of Avengers: Endgame. At this rate, Disney should just buy out the Academy and give themselves the visual effects Oscar every time they’re nominated just to get a fair chance in this category.

Disclaimer: I’m kidding, of course. I don’t want Disney to get even more power-hungry than it already is. But still, I hope you understand how hot-blooded I am about this snub, especially since this is hot off of the heels of Avengers: Infinity War losing to First Man in 2019.

And finally, the shorts. I don’t know what is going on with me, but I’ve been on a roll with these categories as of late. Last year, I unbelievably got all of them right as opposed to most ceremonies where I get most of them wrong. This year I’m continuing the good streak as The Neighbor’s Window, Hair Love, and Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl) all won Best Live Action, Best Animated and Best Documentary Short respectively. That helped boost me in predicting 16 out of 24 of the categories correctly this year. Not my best Oscar performance, but definitely not my worst.

Thank you all for tuning in yet again this year, fellow Oscar lovers. Now go and see Parasite. You obviously need to.

– David Dunn

Tagged , , , , , ,