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On the Globes Nominees' Lack of Personality, LAFCA's Absurd Winners, and That 'White Lotus' Rumor

Plus, a review of Sam Esmail's new Netflix movie 'Leave the World Behind.'

It’s Tuesday morning, and I’m sorry about that. I’d hoped to get this newsletter out to you last night, but I had to run out to the L.A. premiere of The Boys in the Boat, where George Clooney and I threw back some Casamigos and shared a few laughs. Just kidding — I don’t really drink (certainly not tequila!) and George and I make it a point not to be seen in public together.

On Friday, I wrote about all the A-list film packages making the rounds, and another prestige package was announced on Monday, as Amy Adams is set to executive produce and star in the limited series The Holdout, a legal thriller from Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) based on his book of the same name. She’ll play a woman who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of someone with whom she served on a controversial jury 10 years earlier. It sounds good and there are multiple suitors bidding for this one, so stay tuned…

As for this past weekend at the box office, The Boy and the Heron performed better than the Chiefs, who lost a heartbreaker on an offsides call that was totally justified, with all due respect to Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs Nation.

In today’s belated installment, you’ll read about the Golden Globes nominees and the LAFCA winners, Sam Esmail’s new Netflix movie Leave the World Behind, and the Oscar race for Best Editing. Read on for more, and thanks for sharing this newsletter with anyone who you think might enjoy it!

On Ze Globes, LAFCA’s Absurd Winners, and Variety’s Latest Oscar Predictions

Who even needs a host at this point? It’s not like the show is in a month or anything…

Taste. It’s not just everything, it’s the only thing. Taste cannot be taught, nor can it be acquired. Like talent, you’ve either got it or you don’t.

I realize that I’ve cultivated a reputation in this industry as a scooper and that many of you are reading this, or listening to my podcast, to glean nuggets of information.

But what makes me truly valuable, beyond my scoops, is my taste, because a) it’s good and b) it’s decidedly different than most people in this business, largely because I dare to think differently and make up my own damn mind.

I say this because yesterday’s Golden Globe nominations looked like an awards consultant put them together, or, as Greg Ellwood joked, the org just nominated “the top 5 in every category on Gold Derby.” There was no personality to the nominations — no quirky choice that has defined the Globes for ages.

My biggest issue? What’s the deal with six nominees? That’s lame, but it fits the trades’ strategy, which is to make everyone feel like they have a chance. More nominees means more FYC ads, more sponsored screenings, and more everything.

The trades seemed to bend over backward to help “sell” the Globes this morning, though THR did cast shade on actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Joaquin Phoenix, and Timothée Chalamet, writing that their nominations are reminiscent of when Globes voters just voted for big names. While I admire THR’s fighting spirit, I happen to disagree, as I thought Lawrence delivered an impressive performance in No Hard Feelings, and as much as I loathed Beau Is Afraid, I can see how someone might have been blown away by Phoenix’s performance. Likewise, Chalamet in Wonka, which I still haven’t seen (ahem). 

Many noted how Wonka and The Color Purple were snubbed throughout Comedy/Musical categories, and while that could signal that musicals have fallen out of favor with this group, I personally didn’t find The Color Purple to be “undeniable” — Hollywood’s new favorite buzzword after “genocide” — and I do think that both of those movies being December releases that were only made available to voters late in the game had something to do with their absence from the nominations.

On the TV side, Succession and The Bear will win everything, and in the categories where they compete against each other, Succession will win. The end. Beef vs. Fargo will be an interesting matchup in the Limited Series category, as Season 5 of the FX series has been fantastic thus far.

Here are this year’s Golden Globe nominees for film…

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Anatomy of a Fall
Killers of the Flower Moon
Past Lives
The Zone of Interest

Analysis: It’s wild that there are two international features here, and neither one is Society of the Snow, which is far superior to both Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest. The other four were expected. Don’t be surprised if this group zigs instead of zags when it comes to this category. I could see something “crazy” happening and Oppenheimer not winning, somehow.

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

American Fiction
The Holdovers
May December
Poor Things

Analysis: American Fiction, The Holdovers, and Air are the best movies in this lineup, but I’ll bet on Barbie here, as the Globes will want Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie, and Ryan Gosling on that stage — if they aren’t already presenters. May December would’ve been better as a straight drama, but it’s not, so I’m fine with the Globes considering it a “comedy” in a certain context, given their loose definition of the word.

Best Director, Motion Picture

Bradley Cooper, Maestro
Greta Gerwig, Barbie
Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things
Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer
Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon
Celine Song, Past Lives

Analysis: Honestly, I’m not sure what this group will do with here, but I’m leaning toward Martin Scorsese pulling off an upset over Christopher Nolan. But it’s hard to argue with these nominees — and where’s the fun in that?

Best Actor, Drama

Bradley Cooper, Maestro
Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon
Colman Domingo, Rustin
Barry Keoghan, Saltburn
Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer
Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers

Analysis: With Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Wright in another category, this will go to Bradley Cooper, who will beat out Cillian Murphy for the honor. Again, this is probably the “correct” group of nominees, though one could argue that Zac Efron (The Iron Claw) should be here.

Best Actress, Drama

Annette Bening, Nyad
Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon
Sandra Huller, Anatomy of a Fall
Greta Lee, Past Lives
Carey Mulligan, Maestro
Cailee Spaeny, Priscilla

Analysis: This will go to Lily Gladstone. And again, this is the “correct” group of nominees. Some will argue against the omission of Origin star Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, but Cailee Spaeny won the Best Actress prize at Venice, and I imagine that Origin hasn’t clawed its way to the top of the screener pile yet.

Best Actor, Comedy

Nicolas Cage, Dream Scenario
Timothee Chalamet, Wonka
Matt Damon, Air
Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers
Joaquin Phoenix, Beau Is Afraid
Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction

Analysis: This is Paul Giamatti’s award, in a walk. Jeffrey Wright will apply a little bit of pressure, but I think the Globes will get out in front of The Holdovers star’s coronation train.

Best Actress, Comedy/Musical

Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple
Jennifer Lawrence, No Hard Feelings
Natalie Portman, May December
Alma Pöysti, Fallen Leaves
Margot Robbie, Barbie
Emma Stone, Poor Things

Analysis: First of all, there are only so many comedies and musicals released in a given year, which is how a somewhat random nominee like Alma Pöysti sneaks in here. To the Globes’ credit, she does represent the one nomination that really feels like it was made by a group of international journalists, almost like they told whichever publicist put this list together, “Can you just give us one slot for what we really think?” Anyway, this will be an interesting battle between Emma Stone and Margot Robbie, and I’ll take Robbie here, as Barbie simply doesn’t work to the extent that it did without her.

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, Poor Things
Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon
Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer
Ryan Gosling, Barbie
Charles Melton, May December
Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things

Analysis: Once again, the “right” group of nominees, though, honestly, BlackBerry star Glenn Howerton was unfairly snubbed here. While I think Robert Downey Jr. is a lock for the Oscar, I think Ryan Gosling could pull off the upset win here for Barbie.

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Jodie Foster, Nyad
Julianne Moore, May December
Rosamund Pike, Saltburn
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Analysis: Another group of the “right” nominees. I guess that’s what happens when there are six of them. You don’t have to make a lot of tough choices. This will go to Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who is about to steamroll the entire season. Just watch.

Elsewhere, Barbie received half of the six nominations in the Best Original Song category, which should be between “I’m Just Ken” and Jack Black’s “Peaches” from The Super Mario Bros. Movie, though I suspect Billie Eilish’s song “What Was I Made For?” may be the frontrunner for now.

Three Best Picture nominees — Anatomy of a Fall, Past Lives, and The Zone of Interest — were nominated for Best Picture, Non-English Language, a category that also features Fallen Leaves, Io Capitano, and Society of the Snow, the latter of which is a must-watch when it hits Netflix at the end of the month.

Best Original Score features the usual suspects (Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon) alongside Mica Levi (The Zone of Interest) and Joe Hisaishi, the legendary composer behind Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, which I’d also consider the frontrunner for Best Picture, Animated.

And Now For the New Categories…

Here’s where the Globes almost made it interesting this year… had they, you know, actually dared to be interesting.

Most notably, there is now an award for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement, which is hilarious because people are just calling it the Box Office Award — former Screen Junkies host Joe Starr even called it “achievements in marketing budgets.” Of course, for the Globes, it was very important to mention the “Cinematic Achievement” of the nominees.

That’s why there’s a notable one missing — Sound of Freedom, the above-average thriller that was slapped with a “Conservative!” tag this year due to the controversial politics of its star and its subject, and made nearly $250 million worldwide despite those factors.

Had the Globes had the balls to nominate Sound of Freedom, which absolutely deserved to be nominated — especially over the new Mission: Impossible movie, which experienced a significant drop from Fallout — they would’ve earned a modicum of respect, but I get it… Sound of Freedom doesn’t project the so-called “values” that the Globes want to project.

Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, is the award for Best Performance in Stand-Up Comedy or Television, as if those voting for the Globes are now, suddenly, remotely qualified to vote for such an award. 

Ricky Gervais: Armageddon
Trevor Noah: Where Was I
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage
Amy Schumer: Emergency Contact
Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love
Wanda Sykes: I’m an Entertainer

This feels like the Globes just picked the six most famous comedians to release a special this year. Did they even watch these specials? Was this part of a drop-down menu that offered, like, a dozen choices?

Has anyone actually seen a Globes ballot, for that matter? 

There were so many better specials released this year, it’s crazy — specials from lesser-known comedians whose material was far more clever and creative. To anyone familiar with Chris Rock’s career, Selective Outrage, in particular, was such a disappointment. The Globes need to appoint some actual comedy connoisseurs to form some kind of recommendation committee because this list is embarrassing. No John Mulaney or Shane Gillis? Sure, OK.

And Now for The Trades and the LAFCA…

The best part of Variety’s Globes coverage? The trade slapped a correction on its nominations list admitting that they initially listed false nominees for Best Supporting Actor/Actress in a Limited Series or Television Film categories, which no longer exist after the Globes removed them from the 2024 ceremony. So, who were the false nominees they listed? Folks in their predictions?

As I was often told while working for Variety, “Speed kills.” But that’s a minor mistake in the scheme of things.

Meanwhile, we’re big fans of Clayton Davis ‘round these parts, but he’s drinking the Kool-Aid on The Zone of Interest, a film that has my respect but is nonetheless deeply unlikable. I may not have liked The Color Purple, and it may have been snubbed by certain voting bodies thus far, but the audience I saw that movie went nuts for it, and I can’t imagine a world in which The Zone of Interest gets nominated over that movie given the New Academy demographics. It simply does not compute. I’m not even buying Jonathan Glazer as a Best Director nominee, however well-made that Holocaust film may be. And while I appreciate the argument that it has gained in importance due to the Israel-Hamas War, given how it reminds audiences of the danger of turning a blind eye to true horror, I saw the film at TIFF, a month before that war began. It simply didn’t resonate like that for me.

Clayton also thinks that Bradley Cooper is going to win Best Actor, and while he might be right, I remain unconvinced. The pundit’s boldest call is that Mark Ruffalo is going to win Best Supporting Actor for Poor Things, when I think he’ll be lucky to be nominated (but nominated nonetheless).  Furthermore, Clayton has Nyad’s Jodie Foster getting snubbed in Best Supporting Actress, which would be an insane move by the Academy, no matter how good Emily Blunt is in one scene of Oppenheimer.

Clayton also thinks that Barbie and Poor Things will win screenplay Oscars over films like The Holdovers and American Fiction, which is a truly perverse suggestion. I don’t even think Spider-Man will beat The Boy and the Heron, though I suppose I’m a bit less confident in that one. And while I haven’t seen American Symphony yet, just watching that trailer makes me cry, so it seems like the clear frontrunner for Best Documentary this year even though Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (my fave) deserves to be in the mix. So I imagine that Clayton is spot-on there… but he doesn’t have Society of the Snow getting a nomination for International Feature! Did we see different movies?

Finally, the LAFCA named The Zone of Interest and Jonathan Glazer as its Best Picture and Best Director, with Oppenheimer and Poor Things helmer Yorgos Lanthimos voted runners-up.

The group gave out two awards each for Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance, with all four, naturally, going to women — Sandra Huller and Emma Stone in Lead, and Rachel McAdams and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in Supporting. The men were relegated to runner-up status, including Andrew Scott and Jeffrey Wright in Lead, and Ryan Gosling in Supporting. Gosling’s fellow runner-up was Lily Gladstone, whose performance in Killers of the Flower Moon the LAFCA defiantly declared to be in support of the film’s white male lead — her Oscar strategy be damned!

Thankfully, these critics groups will contort themselves into all kinds of positions to honor as many people as possible, which explains why each category had two winners.

Elsewhere, Andrew Haigh won Best Screenplay for All of Us Strangers, with Samy Burch the runner-up for May December. Meanwhile, The Boy and the Heron, Anatomy of a Fall, and Menus Plaisirs - Les Troisgros (groan) won the Best Animated, International, and Documentary awards. Agnieszka Holland was named the recipient of the Career Achievement Award, and Celine Song won the New Generation Award.

Finally, the LAFCA’s four below-the-line awards — why only four? — went to Anatomy of a Fall (Editing), Barbie (Production Design), Poor Things (Cinematography), and The Zone of Interest (Original Music/Score).

One reason I’m proud to have never joined one of these critics groups, besides succumbing to groupthink, is that I can’t imagine having to spend an entire day arguing with emotionless film critics who prefer cold, austere, formal works of arthouse cinema like The Zone of Interest to films that charm their way into your hearts, like The Holdovers, American Fiction, or even The Color Purple, which was blanked outside of its two show-stopping performances.

I mean, there’s no question that American Fiction and The Holdovers are two of the best-written films of the year, way more so than Killers of the Flower Moon, and Oppenheimer, both of which get a little messy as they wind down. And yet, sadly, those movies weren’t as well represented as I would’ve liked over the past few days. Instead, the films that have emerged with a stronger awards profile during that time are The Zone of Interest and Past Lives, though Barbie is also up there, having secured more Globes nods (nine) than any other movie. 

This season is shaping up to be a slugfest, so stay tuned…

and since that’s more than enough awards talk for one issue, there won’t be any Oscars Power Rankings today. Instead, we have a review. Is Leave the World Behind worth watching on Netflix? Find out below…

Review Corner: Leave the World Behind Continues Trend of TV’s Top Creators Disappointing in Film

“I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour… and the Teslas start to roar.”

I devoted my Saturday night to bringing in some Tocaya and watching Sam Esmail’s thriller Leave the World Behind with Ms. InSneider, who, by the way, was the talk of the star-studded holiday party we attended on Friday night thanks to her Nadine Merabi jumpsuit. We were both really looking forward to this film, as it has a great cast, and I’d heard good things about it from friends. Plus, I figured that the book had to have been a bestseller for a reason.

Folks, you can safely leave behind this movie, as this was one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me. Frankly, I knew it was a problem when Denzel Washington dropped out, and then they aged down Mahershala Ali’s character and changed his wife to his teenage daughter. I knew it’d be a problem when I saw the title sequence, which didn’t seem to fit the material. And once I finished watching the film, I knew instantly why it skipped the major fall festivals in favor of a more muted debut at AFI Fest.

The setup is such: Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke take an impromptu vacation to the countryside with their two kids, one of whom is obsessed with watching the TV show Friends on her iPad. They rent a fancy house, and on their first night there, someone knocks on their front door. It’s Ali and his daughter (Myha’la), who claim to own the house and have returned to seek refuge there after fleeing the city in the middle of a blackout. As it turns out, that blackout is part of a cyberattack, the purposes of which are unclear, though it could be meant to destabilize our society.

The cast isn’t the problem here, as they all play their roles quite admirably. Julia Roberts plays an infuriating Karen. Ethan Hawke is her annoying, “useless” husband. Myha’la does a good job as a prickly teen, and Kevin Bacon is excellent in a supporting role as a gun-toting survivalist. If anyone fails to add much to their role on paper, it’s two-time Oscar winner Ali, but someone has to play the straight man here.

No, the problem is the script, as usual. It begins promisingly enough, but it runs out of tricks fast — a crippling noise, creepy deer, loose teeth — and we’ve seen all of them before. Sure, the hijacked Tesla scene is kind of cool, but why is it only white Teslas that seem to respond to this cyberattack?

With a running time north of two hours, the film is poorly paced, and the abrupt ending is completely unsatisfying, not to mention utterly ridiculous. Film critics appear to be giving it a pass because it offers a tacit endorsement of physical media. Is that really the takeaway here? That in the event of an emergency, these streamers won’t even be available, and the only comfort you’ll be able to rely on is physical media?

Esmail has name-dropped Hitchcock in interviews but this is much more like two underwritten M. Night Shyamalan movies had a baby together and the baby had an A-list cast. It’s The Happening meets Knock at the Cabin, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

This is the latest example of a top TV creator dipping their toes into the film world and coming up way short, proving that these are two very different mediums. Five seasons of Fargo offer all the proof I need that Noah Hawley is a genius, but Lucy in the Sky was terrible, just like Matt Weiner’s Are You Here was terrible, and David Chase’s Not Fade Away was, if not terrible, then not very good, and certainly not memorable.

I know that Leave the World Behind isn’t Esmail’s first film — he directed the Emmy Rossum-Justin Long indie Comet the year before Mr. Robot debuted — but it makes a lot of the same mistakes that first-time filmmakers make, and its flaws are simply too glaring to ignore. This is a black mark in an otherwise impressive fall slate from Netflix.

Grade: C-

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

Will Bowser be checking into a new castle?

  • Black and White? - Are Jack Black and Mike White teaming back up on Season 3 of The White Lotus? That’s the hot rumor after Revealmoi ran an email suggesting as much. The duo previously worked together on films like School of Rock and Nacho Libre. Let me remind you that Season 3 will feature a yogi, and Jack Black would make a hell of a yogi. Just saying…

  • And Speaking of Black… - The 2023 Black List was unveiled on Monday, and this year’s edition was topped by Travis Braun’s script Bad Boy, which centers on a rescue dog that comes to suspect that its loving new owner is a serial killer. That reminds me, if you haven’t seen the indie thriller Good Boy, about a guy whose pet is just a human in a dog costume, be sure to check it out on VOD. It’s super creepy. Head over to THR for the full Black List, which also includes a movie about the WNBA from a trio of brothers — Aaron, Alex, and Michael Goldberg. Congrats to all of the writers (and their reps) who made the list!

  • Wanna Play Another Game? - Lionsgate has announced that it will release Saw 11 on Sept. 27, 2024 — less than a year after Saw X overperformed in theaters to the tune of $107 million worldwide on a reported production budget of just $13 million. Kevin Greutert returned to direct the most recent installment, and he has hinted that the next movie could pick up where Saw X (which I loved) left off.

  • That’s McGlue To You - Andrew Haigh is expected to follow All of Us Strangers with an adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s novella McGlue, which the author is adapting herself. It’s a murder mystery about a drunken sailor who wakes up chained down in the hold of the boat he works on, where he’s accused of murdering his friend, Johnson, though he has no memory of this. This seems like another step in a more commercial direction for Haigh. and I can’t wait to see who he casts as the title character.

  • Let’s Make a Deal - After fighting tooth and nail to claw back its IP, Disney has reversed course and is now prepared to license its content to third parties, including Netflix, which has struck a deal to stream 14 popular Disney shows on a non-exclusive basis for 18 months. The list includes Lost, This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Prison Break, White Collar, Archer, Home Improvement, The Resident, My Wife and Kids, Reba, The Bernie Mac Show, the recent Wonder Years reboot, and ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. This is a win for both Disney and Netflix, which just had to wait patiently for the studios to crawl back to their streaming nemesis.

  • Only Reunions Left Alive - After wrapping Guy Maddin’s Rumors, Cate Blanchett has decided to team up with Jim Jarmusch on his new film Father Mother Sister Brother, which is slated to begin filming early next year in Paris. It’ll be Jarmusch’s first film in over five years — since 2019’s The Dead Don’t Die. Color me intrigued…

  • Golden Pairing - Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Helen Hunt will star in Peter Greenaway’s Lucca Mortis, which is now filming in the Tuscan city of Lucca. Hoffman will play a New York writer who after 9/11 decides to take a sabbatical to visit Lucca and explore his Italian heritage. No word on how Hunt factors into this story, but Hoffman is one of the all-time great actors, and though he got caught up in the #MeToo movement a few years ago based on some boorish behavior in the distant past, he’s slowly but surely mounting a comeback — including a role alongside Shia LaBeouf in Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis.

  • Loki Teams Up With Thor - Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Artists Equity has inked a strategic partnership with Chris Hemsworth’s production company Wild State, which the MCU actor runs with Ben Grayson. The deal involves scripted features developed by Wild State, which has a separate deal for unscripted projects with National Geographic. Wild State recently produced the Extraction sequel, while Artists Equity produced Affleck’s Air and has Doug Liman’s The Instigators on the horizon, with Damon starring opposite Casey Affleck.

  • Hello, Melting Candle - Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ Candle Media is expected to miss its numbers by about 50 percent this year, according to Bloomberg, while Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is off by 90 percent. It’s insane to me that anyone thought her production company was worth that. Do people like Mayer and Staggs ever talk to journalists who might be able to offer insight into such companies, or do they just base their numbers on what agents say and Wall Street analysts forecast? I could’ve told you that was a bad bet a long time ago — same with all of these vanity shingles.

Trailer Time: Ariana DeBose’s I.S.S. Trailer Harkens Back to the Simple Cold War Thrillers of Yore

Have you heard of I.S.S.? Set in the near future, the story takes place aboard the International Space Station as a worldwide conflict breaks out on Earth. As tensions flare, the astronauts receive orders from the ground to take control of the station by any means necessary.

Gabriella Cowperthwaite directs from a Black List script by Nick Shafir, and Oscar winner Ariana DeBose stars alongside Chris Messina, Pilou Asbaek, and John Gallagher Jr. as well as Costa Ronin and Masha Mashkova.

This looks like a pretty interesting thriller, and I look forward to checking it out when Bleecker Street releases it in theaters on Jan. 19, 2024. I.S.S. originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.

Have a great week, folks!

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