Filmmaking

The Biopic Blonde: The Imagined Life of Norma Jean

It’s no secret that these days, biopics are on the rise. Among the most recent is the biopic Blonde, a film based on a novel from the year 2000 of the same name written by Joyce Carol Oates. Aside from being about Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, this film is set to make a big splash in the film scene. But why? Well, let’s delve into why that’s the case.

biopic blonde

About The Biopic Blonde

The film appears set to go to some dark places, as it has been rated NC-17. As a result, the biopic Blonde is going to be getting a limited theatrical release while also getting released on Netflix as it is a Netflix Original first and foremost. Despite whatever stigmas may surround the rating, there’s a good reason why this is the case. According to Time magazine, the film will feature a particularly intense sexual assault scene. 

As the reader, you might be scratching your head as to why I might’ve said this was a “good” reason. Well, look no further than the words of Ana De Armas herself, who will be portraying Marilyn Monroe. Within the aforementioned article, the actress is referenced as defending the film for attaining this rating because the scene is among the key moments in the film “that are important for the story [as it] unfolds.” To ensure audiences could grasp a fuller understanding of Marilyn Monroe as a cultural figure, Ana De Armas goes on to say, “everyone [in the cast] knew we had to go to uncomfortable places. I wasn’t the only one.” 

As a viewer, I know I would appreciate the level of thought the creators decided to put into the film. It is informative in that it is clear that this scene is not included for gratuity’s sake, which is also a plus. It serves to add to this film’s anticipation, which already has the allure of being about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Speaking of which, while the film has clearly been able to garner enough interest on its own, as always, we can take this a step further. How? By considering this movie’s hype levels can also be attributed to the genre it is a part of. 

marilyn monroe biopic

Biopics vs. Biographies

Typically, when you think of a biography, you would be inclined to believe it refers to as accurate a historical accounting as possible.  Biopics are different as they can take some artistic and dramatic liberties that biographies do not. In biographies, there are always gaps of knowledge, areas of the lives of our favorite celebrities and public figures that are unknown. 

What biopics allow themselves to do is use this perceived flaw to tell a compelling story. As they are dramatizations of a given figure’s life, they tend to capitalize on the unknown. By opting to let the creative juices run amok as opposed to shying away from areas of speculation and doubt, biopics are able to thrive in a way traditional biographies don’t. 

Of course, creatives must maintain some sense of realism and continuity, as these are real people whose lives are being adapted. A successful biopic will not only be entertaining but also succeed in showing a degree of respect where the subject is concerned. 

To boil it down to a simple recipe, a phenomenal biopic will include a helping of some historical truth, a little dash of drama, mixed in with a dose of creative license. How well the biopic Blonde manages these measurements, we’ll leave you to decide, though it is worth mentioning that Ana De Armas received a standing ovation in Venice, per Variety. Blonde releases on Netflix on September 23rd. 

 

Mental Illness in Movies, TV & Video Games: Exploring Positive Portrayals

Let’s face it. The last few years have been, at best, a challenge. As people have dealt with the combined stresses of worldwide uncertainty, social upheaval, and a devastating pandemic, everyone’s mental health has been under a steady stream of attack. For many, their favorite movies, television shows, and video games provide solace, comfort, and an escape from day-to-day stress. When done correctly, visual media can also show an accurate and positive representation of mental illness in movies, television, and video games. 

Accurate Representation of Mental Illness in Movies & Media

While movies, tv shows, and video games can be comforting, empathetic representations of mental illness in pop culture can also provide an anchor for those fighting their own minds every day. Let’s take a look at some recent – and some not-so-recent – constructive depictions of mental illness and how they help change the narrative on these afflictions that affect so many.

Movies About Mental Health
TV Shows About Mental Health
Video Games About Mental Health

Positive Portrayals Of Mental Illness, By Genre

*** WARNING: SPOILERS INBOUND ***

mental illness in movies

Drama: Girl, Interrupted (1999)

“Well, you don’t look crazy,” says a taxi driver to Susanna Kayson (Winona Ryder) in James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted. That one line epitomizes a common barrier to mental health treatment, the notion that if someone doesn’t “look” sick, they “aren’t” sick and thus don’t need help. Susanna knows something is wrong with her, but until she attempts suicide, no one believes her. That she is eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder – and successfully treated (not a Hollywood ending either, as the film is based on Kayson’s memoir) – gives hope to many who suffer in silence imposed by disbelieving family and friends.

scary movies about depression

Horror: The Babadook (2014)

The very best horror movies go beyond jump scares and gore to take something in the real world and bring it to life. In Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014), the villain is a vengeful ghost that comes to life from a book. But the real villain is depression – the depression a single mom can feel when they’re overwhelmed and overstressed. As Mr. Babadook possesses mom Amelia (Essie Davis) and threatens son Sam (Noah Wiseman), we see her go through many of the same patterns as severely depressed people. Even in the end, Mr. Babadook isn’t defeated; he’s locked away in the basement and must be periodically “fed.” “It was quiet today,” Amelia tells Sam after a feeding, hinting at the same sort of good days and bad days people can feel with depression. The lesson is clear – depression might never go away, but it can be managed, and happiness can be found.

mental illness in films

Animated (Children): Inside Out (2015)

For Inside Out, Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen made a genius move and enlisted the help of UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner to craft a moving portrait of the conflicting emotions inside 11-year-old Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) mind as her family relocated. While one could write an entire book on the film’s depiction of mental health and emotion, it stands out for highlighting the positive impacts of emotions we normally bill as negative: Disgust (Mindy Kaling) helps her avoid things she shouldn’t eat or touch, Fear (Bill Hader) gets her to stop and think before taking rash action and Anger (Lewis Black, of course) helps her stand up for herself. It shows every emotion has value, knowledge that is vital to mental health.

mental illness in kids shows

Animated (Adult): Adventure Time (2010-2018)

Most wouldn’t expect a series about the last human and his talking dog to be so frank about mental illness, but Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time tackles it head-on. The Ice King (Tom Kenny) seems to be just a crazy old man who wants to kidnap princesses, but in the season 4 episode “I Remember You,” we learn he was a good man whose magical crown has slowly eaten away his identity in a fashion, not unlike Alzheimer’s. While it shows the devastating impact something like this can have on the people you love, it also shows how empathy and compassion can help those who suffer.

mental illness in documentaries

Documentary: Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021)

Admittedly, it’s debatable if Morgan Neville’s documentary about the legendary chef and raconteur Anthony Bourdain presents a definitively positive take on mental health given Bourdain’s suicide in 2018. But in some ways, it reinforces the need for working on yourself internally, as no amount of external factors will heal you. Bourdain seemingly had it all – a hugely successful career, a world-traveling lifestyle, a taste for things both fine and simple – but it still wasn’t enough. The film is an honest depiction of how no amount of fame and fortune can make mental illness disappear – and for that reason, maybe one of the best examples of mental illness in movies on this list.

jessica jones PTSD

Superhero: Jessica Jones (2015-2019)

While many of Marvel’s films have to quickly hand wave any mental health issues their heroes face (for example, the perfunctory treatment of Tony’s alcoholism in Iron Man 2), their TV shows like WandaVision, Moon Knight, and especially Jessica Jones have taken a closer look. Jessica’s (Kristen Ritter) brutalization by Kilgrave (David Tennant) is the source of her diagnosed PTSD, something all her super-strength can’t battle. But while not all of her coping mechanisms are the healthiest, her commitment to connecting with more of Kilgrave’s victims, and finding healing together, reinforces the importance of being seen and heard by those fighting mental illness in the real world and how with mental health there truly is strength in numbers.

crazy ex girlfriend mental illness

Musical: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)

Many people loved Tony Shalhoub’s role in Monk, even though people with OCD saw it as boiling down their mental illness to a comedic personality quirk. Rachel Bloom would not fall into that trap with her portrayal of Rebecca in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. While the wild musical numbers and general hijinks would lend themselves to a similar reading, we instead see Rebecca presented not as a quirky hero or crazed villain – but as a human being, flawed and fantastic all at once. By not reducing her to such extremes, Bloom makes Rebecca a beacon to others who know their mental health is more nuanced than the binaries of “sick” or “well.”

mental illness in video games

Video Game: Celeste (2018)

In Matt Thorson and Noel Berry’s Celeste, Madeline wants to climb Celeste Mountain just to say she did it. As a player, you guide Madeline through a series of punishing platforming challenges as she makes her way up the mountain, but before long, you realize it’s not a simple platformer. Madeline is being chased up the mountain by a manifestation of her own fears and depression – dubbed “Bad-eline” – and reaching the top isn’t just about accomplishment but catharsis. When she inevitably reaches the top – and comes to terms with her darker self – that catharsis is felt by the player too. 

The Healing Power Of Storytelling

There have been more and more conversations about mental health in the public square recently, driven by people courageously standing up and telling stories about their own battles. Fictional or otherwise, these stories have the power to remind people who struggle with mental illness that they aren’t alone. When telling stories about mental illness in movies or visual media that you create, don’t forget to remember the human and approach it from an empathetic point of view.

For more mental health resources, see the links below, as well as our recommended movies, tv shows, and video games that include characters and plots about mental health. 

Movies About Mental Health

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Ordinary People (1980)
  • Strange Voices (1987)
  • The Dream Team (1989)
  • As Good As It Gets (1997)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Canvas (2006)
  • Lars & the Real Girl (2007)
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
  • Melancholia (2011)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
  • The Skeleton Twins (2014)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
  • Horse Girl (2020)

TV Shows About Mental Health

  • The United States of Tara (2015)
  • BoJack Horseman (2014)
  • Lady Dynamite (2016)
  • Big Mouth (2017)
  • 13 Reasons Why (2017)
  • Euphoria (2019)
  • After Life (2019)
  • Yellowjackets (2021)
  • WandaVision (2021)

Video Games About Mental Health

  • Aether (2008)
  • To the Moon (2011)
  • Firewatch (2016)
  • Stories Untold (2017)
  • Gris (2018)
  • Limbo (2018)
  • The Longing (2020)
  • What Comes After (2020)
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page (2020)

Movie Franchises: How to Build a Successful Film Strategy

As an aspiring moviemaker, perhaps your dream is to one day captivate millions of people across the globe with your own franchise. This is an accomplishment far easier said than done, but the truth is that movie franchises certainly have a place in the entertainment industry — and they always will. So it’s absolutely worthwhile to study what goes into creating a movie franchise, such as the ones based on Marvel comic books or J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

Creating Successful Movie Franchises: 4 Essential Tips

Successful movie franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, James Bond, The Fast and The Furious, and Batman are some of the best franchises in history. So what goes into building a successful film franchise? Here are a few tips:

Appeal to All or Most Ages


The Lord of the Rings franchise has expanded to additional content, such as the Stories from the Legendarium Featurette on Amazon Prime.

The Lord of the Rings is one of many movie franchises adapted from books and found great success. While it doesn’t have the same appeal for all age groups due to its more dense backstory, the darker world, etc., it is considered by many to be the best fantasy series ever made. The Harry Potter franchise is for all ages, and children, teenagers, and parents all get something from it. From the first book/film all the way to the last, relatable things like friendship, hope, and love are represented through a magical world with peculiar people and creatures that appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities.

When considering your own movie franchise, remember that the more people your films appeal to, the greater your chance of success.

Grow and Develop Your Characters 

The Star Wars universe is enormous, with opportunities to explore additional characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, and Cassian Andor in various Disney+ series.

In the original Star Wars trilogy, many characters grow throughout the adventure. We see Luke Skywalker go from a nobody on a farm to a rebel fighter and finally a Jedi hero. Since the audience is there when his journey starts, the audience feels like it has a part in his growth and triumph as he matures. In Harry Potter, this same element of the hero’s journey and a character’s full arc is also very prevalent and powerful. The original book/film was aimed at children and featured characters around ten years of age. But by the end, Harry and the rest were teenagers — just like all the loyal fans of the books and films who grew up alongside their favorite characters.

Characters don’t have to age throughout your franchise, but it’s important to allow your audience to feel like they can relate to your characters. Make sure your viewers can witness your characters evolve, as this will drive the audience’s emotional involvement and make them eager to see where your story takes them next.

Cover Basic Archetypes


The fifth and most recent film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

With Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney turned one of their theme park rides into a high-grossing franchise. The success of this franchise can be attributed to its characters, who are firmly rooted in basic archetypes. One example is the hero, Will, who is on a quest to save the girl he loves from a crew of evil pirates. The archetype of the hero, the villain, the wise mentor, etc., can be found in great stories all over the world, and there is a reason that audiences respond to these archetypes. Tap into this powerful storytelling tool with your own future movie franchises.

Well-drawn basic archetypes are arguably one of the biggest reasons why films within the James Bond and Batman franchises are successful. The characters become involved in a traditional tale of good vs. evil, and it’s familiar to the audience. Want your franchise to succeed? Try fitting in archetypes that resonate with most people while creating characters that are charming and compelling.

Take Your Audience To Another World


Thor: Love and Thunder brings beloved characters on a journey through the Universe.

Right now, the by-the-numbers most successful (and largest) franchise of all time is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are many reasons these movies are a hit, but one of the biggest reasons is that they transport you somewhere else. You may be on Earth while watching The Avengers, but the heroes and villains are on Asgard. People love Harry Potter for the same reason. From the moment viewers board the Hogwarts Express and arrive at the wizard school, they immediately feel enraptured by a world of magic and mystery. The characters still face relatable situations like mean teachers, but in Harry Potter, your teacher is a cold, secretive wizard. It’s another world.

When planning your franchise, we suggest spending plenty of time creating the world your story and characters will take part in. It might just help viewers fall in love with your film.

Movie Franchises: Getting Started

Creating your own film franchise can be a long and intensive process. But with enough imagination and tenacity, aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters can create immersive worlds and relatable characters. Want to learn more about mapping out a film or television show? Consider taking a long-term or short-term filmmaking program or screenwriting workshop at NYFA!

The First Horror Movie & The History of the Genre

Terrifying people through stories? It’s been a pastime of we humans since antiquity, with a large swathe of folklore centered around things that go bump in the night (particularly supernatural goings-on or anything related to—and exploiting—our innate fear of death.) With such a strong precedent in literature and oral history, it’s no surprise that the first horror movie was quick to get its feet under the table soon after the advent of cinema.

firsthorrormovie

The First Horror Movie: What Was It?

Over the course of a century, film horror has gone through many peaks and troughs, leading us into the somewhat contentious period we find ourselves in today. The origins of horror as a film genre begin with—as with many things in cinema history—the works of George Mellies. Just a few years after the first filmmakers emerged in the mid-1890s, Mellies created what is widely believed to be the first horror movie in 1898, complete with cauldrons, animated skeletons, ghosts, transforming bats, and, ultimately, an incarnation of the Devil. While not intended to be scary—more wondrous, as was Mellies’ MO—it was the first example of a film (only just rediscovered in 1977) to include the supernatural and set a precedent for what was to come. Where the genre will go over the next hundred years is anyone’s guess, but sometimes it’s good to look back on the long road we’ve traveled to get to this point.

The Literary Years

After the first horror movie, sometime between 1900 and 1920, an influx of supernatural-themed films followed. Many filmmakers—most of whom still trying to find their feet with the new genre—turn to literature classics as source material. The first adaptation of Frankenstein was released by Edison Studios in these early days, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Werewolf (now both lost to the fog of time.) Things were starting to roll at this point as we moved into…

Title card from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Golden Age of Horror

Widely considered to be the finest era of the genre, the two decades between the 1920s and 30s saw many classics being produced and can be neatly divided down the middle to create a separation between the silent classics and the talkies.

On the silent side of the line, you’ve got monumental titles such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922), the first movies to really make an attempt to unsettle their audience. The latter title is one of Rotten Tomatoes’ best horror movies of all time and cements just about every surviving vampire cliché in the book.

Once the silent era gave way to the technological process, we had a glut of incredible movies that paved the way for generations to come, particularly in the field of monster movies – think the second iteration of Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and the first color adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).

The 30s also marked the first time that the word “horror” was used to describe the genre—previously, it was really just romance melodrama with a dark element—and it also saw the first horror “stars” being born. Bella Lugosi (of Dracula fame) was arguably the first to specialize solely in the genre.

And as well as unnerving its viewers, the genre was starting to worry the general public at this point, with heavy censoring and public outcry becoming common with each release. Freaks (1932) is a good example of a movie that was so shocking at the time it got cut extensively, with the original version now nowhere to be found. Director Tod Browning—who had previously created the aforementioned and wildly successful Dracula—saw his career flounder at the hands of the controversy.

The shock value of Freaks is one of the few that has aged well up until the present day and is still a highly disturbing watch.

Freaks movie poster

The Atomic Years

Freaks were banned for thirty years in the country that really came into its own during this period: Great Britain.

The Hammer horror company, while founded in 1934, only started to turn prolific during the fifties, but when it did, it was near global dominance (thanks to a lucrative distribution deal with Warner and a few other U.S. studios). Once again, it was adaptations like FrankensteinDracula, and The Mummy that put the company squarely on the map, followed up by a slew of psychological thrillers and TV shows.

And, of course, you can’t mention British horror without paying respects to Alfred Hitchcock, singlehandedly responsible for establishing the slasher genre, which we’ll see a lot of as we travel further forward in time.

Another hallmark of the 40s-50s era of horror came as a product of the times. With war ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout running rampant, it’s of little surprise that horror began to feature antagonists that were less supernatural in nature—radioactive mutation became a common theme (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Godzilla), as did the fear of invasion with The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide, both big hits in 1953.

The latter marked the earliest rumblings of the “disaster” movie genre, but it would be a couple more decades before that would get into full swing.

horror films

The Gimmicky Years

3D glasses? Electric buzzers installed into theatre seats? Paid stooges in the audience screaming and pretending to faint? Everything and anything was tried during the 50s and 60s in an attempt to further scare cinema audiences. This penchant for interactivity spilled over into other genres during the period but quickly died down in part due to the massive amount of expense involved. For horror, in particular, this gave way to the opposite end of the spectrum: incredibly low-budget productions.

From the late 60s onwards, so insatiable was the American appetite for gore that slasher films produced for well under $1 million took hold and were churned out by volume. That’s not to say that there weren’t some masterpieces produced during this time, though; George A. Romero emerged triumphant and kickstarted zombie movies in this period, having produced Night of the Living Dead in 1968 with just over $100k. It went on to gross $30 million, and the living dead rose in its wake.

The Exorcist

All Hell Breaks Loose 

Literally. Occult was the flavor of the day between the 70s and 80s, particularly when it came to houses and kids being possessed by the Devil. The reason for this cultural obsession with religious evil during this period could fill an entire article on its own, but bringing it back into the cinema realm, we can boil the trend down to two horror milestones: The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). Supernatural horror was now very much back in vogue, and harking back to its cinematic origins, literature once again became the source material. This time, however, it wasn’t a Victorian author whose work had fallen out of copyright but a gentleman named Stephen King.

Carrie (1976) stormed the gates, and The Shining (1980) finished the siege (with 1982’s supernatural frightfest Poltergeist following soon afterward). With these hallmarks of horror now firmly established, the foundations were laid for…

Leatherface running in Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The First Horror Movie Slashers

If there’s one trope that typifies the 80s, it’s the slasher format – a relentless antagonist hunting down and killing a bunch of kids in ever-increasing inventive ways, one by one. Arguably kicked off by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, the output became prolific over the next decade. For every ten generic slashers, however, there was one flick that would end up becoming a cult classic even if critical success was mixed at the time—HalloweenFriday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the most prominent examples, which became so successful that they spawned their own long-running franchises (the first time in the history of the genre that multiple sequels became commonplace.)

Plenty of imitators and rip-offs followed, too, particularly in the Holiday-themed department. Some were a lot better than others as the genre descended to its most kitschy. Similar to the first horror movie, these films were not intended to scare but to entertain.

horror films

The Doldrums

Suffering from exhaustion in the wake of a thousand formulaic slasher movies and their sequels, the genre lost steam as it moved into the 90s. The advent of computer-generated special effects brought with it a number of lackluster CGI monster titles that did little to revive the genre, such as Anaconda (1997) and Deep Rising (1998). But it was a comedy that ended up saving the day. Peter Jackson’s early foray into filmmaking saw him taking the splatter subgenre to ridiculous extremes with Braindead (1992), and Wes Craven’s slasher parody Scream (1996) was met globally with overwhelming success.

The genre as a whole limped on without much fanfare into the 2000s save for a few box office successes. The zombie subgenre, however, sprang back into un-life during this decade, arguably spurred on by the unprecedented success of Max Brook’s novel World War Z (later becoming a film in its own right.) The video game adaptation of Resident Evil (2002) was among the first of the new wave, followed swiftly by 28 Days Later a few months later, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), I Am Legend (2007) and Zombieland (2009.)

horror films

The Present Day 

The state of the horror industry is hotly contested. With the genre seemingly relying on churning out remakes, reboots, and endless sequels, many argue that it’s languishing in the doldrums once again with little originality to offer a modern audience. The resurgence of ‘torture porn’ is also derided as a subgenre, having come back into the fore in the wake of the 2000s Saw and Hostel franchises with no signs of slowing down.

On the other hand, glimmers of hope shine through with examples of extreme originality and artistry. Cabin in the Woods (2012) has been heralded as this decade’s Scream, and the recent releases of The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (both 2014) breathed new life into the genre. Jordan Peele, writer, producer, and actor, rose as the new king of horror with original films, including Get Out (2017), Us (2019), and Nope (2022), which top Rotten Tomatoes’ best horror movie list. While scary, the films are also smart and provide sociopolitical commentary, as Peele explained in an interview with Time Magazine. NYFA Alum Tracy Oliver is a co-writer of the 2022 film The Blackening, a movie that makes fun of horror clichês but also calls out racial stereotypes. Both films, similar to the first horror film and a variety of others, don’t have the main goal of scaring the audience.

The Future of Horror Films

With perhaps more subgenres than any other branch of fictional filmmaking, it’s difficult to see how anyone can expand or advance on anything that has come before in cinematic horror. However, there’s no doubt somebody will, and that motivated and imaginative film school students become the Alfred Hitchcocks of tomorrow.

Bros: A Celebration of Talent

One of the biggest discussions in modern discourse is representation on the big screen. Who we see being included in the stories we tell and how we treat them, fictional or not, is reflective of our ability to embrace and celebrate the different people who share our lives with. Knowing that someone has your back is, without question, one of the best feelings in the world. It’s a motivator like no other, especially when it feels like the world around us isn’t as kind as we’d like.

Come September, I’d like to think the world will feel refreshingly brighter for the LGBTQ+ community. An upcoming film created by Billy Eichner, renowned for his work in the rom-com genre, is set to bring the LGBTQ+ community one step forward in the fight for representation. Without further ado, let’s get into what Bros has to offer.

A still from Bros. Courtesy of IMDB.

Bros’ Unique Casting & Why It’s Revolutionary

Typically, when you think of representation in film, you think of creators shoehorning in one, two, or a group of characters that fit the bill. Bros seeks to defy this practice in spades. For one, the cast of this film will be featuring openly LGBTQ+ actors in starring roles. To venture even further into the realm of possibility, these same actors will not just be starring in roles that are strictly LGBTQ+. These actors will also be portraying characters that are straight.Just on a conceptual level, Bros is riveting. It isn’t every day that you see a cast like this. At best, aside from an outlier or two, LGBTQ+ characters are relegated to supporting roles in major properties, not often taking front and center stage. But in this film, not only are the roles they (yup that’s right, as in plural) occupy at the heart of the film, Bros is doing things differently. 

Having openly LGBTQ+ actors in straight roles breaks the stigma that LGBTQ+ people are confined to portraying themselves. This decision is powerful in that their talent as actors becomes that much more exemplified by being able to potentially step outside their comfort zones, offering the chance to further explore themselves as actors. The project blossoms into a celebration of talent.

Redefining A Genre

That’s just one of the highlights of this film mind you. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Eichner himself goes on to say that “now, [LGBTQ+ people will] get to see [them]selves falling in love and falling out of love. And for all of that to be on the big screen in a fun, hilarious, romantic way, that’s what’s so rewarding.” The comment brings to bear another important point to touch upon. In discussing their new project with Entertainment Weekly, Eichner and fellow collaborator Joel Kim Booster talk about the comedy genre overall, the latter noting that it is still a “largely male heterosexual space”. 

While all the great love stories of times past still hold places near and dear, they simply weren’t for everyone. While some similarities will inevitably exist, there are also enough differences that make experiences from the LGBTQ+ community uniquely distinct from the experiences of straight people. A perfect example is referential humor. In the same Entertainment Weekly article referenced prior, Joel Kim Booster spoke about his work on past projects, most notably, what jokes he could and couldn’t use. To him, the making of Bros came with a never-before-seen sense of freedom, “the specificity of the references that [Eicher was] asking us to pull from, that kind of stuff was what I was always told to cut down on because no one would get it, no one would think it was funny. Suddenly that muscle was what [Eichner was] asking me to exercise, and it was great.” 

That right there underscores the importance of being able to see oneself in film, TV, and other entertainment mediums. It confers upon you and the community you represent a sense of hope and belonging, feelings that everyone should be able to enjoy. This is why Bros holds such promise as a film, because it does not limit itself to seeing comedy and romance through the lens of one particular set of experiences and perspectives. To have a project of this scale make the casting choices that it did makes a statement. One that says roles in film can be as fluid as people are in waking life. Bros releases in theaters on September 30th of this year.

8 Scary Movie Scenes & Performances That Will Leave You Unsettled

For some people, the fall season means sweater-wearing weather, pumpkin carving, hayrides, and snuggling under the covers in the morning. For other people, autumn means haunted houses, creating spooky Halloween costumes, and binge-watching horror movie classics. When it comes to horror films, some stand out not only for their ability to terrify their audience but because of the scary movie scenes and performances that leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Scary Movie Scenes & Performances: Our 8 Favorites

An on-screen performance can either make or break a movie—and horror movies are no different. Here are some scary movie scenes and actors with performances that left us shaking to the bones. 

scarymoviescenes

Toni Collette in Hereditary

In 2018, Ari Aster made his feature directorial debut with the bone-chilling, toe-curling nightmare, Hereditary. The film itself will rattle audience members to their core, but actress Toni Collette tackles the role of Annie, an artist turned wife turned mother, without missing a beat and takes her fictional character’s inner life beyond the lines of storytelling. Collette’s Annie is not just a victim in the film–she’s the soul of it, too, and possibly even its devil–she is pure terror. In one scary scene, Collette, possessed, famously crawls across the ceiling. The physical motions are incredibly creepy, which can really make a scene scary. In the first horror movie, for example, a small figure appears on screen and hops around before suddenly vanishing. While simple, the eerie motions are effective.

The film also has scenes that are scary on a psychological level. There is one scene in the movie when Annie tells her son, “I never wanted to be your mother.” At that moment, past the heartbreaking cruelty and honesty, Annie slaps her hand to her mouth just a second too late in the realization that what she said can never be taken back. The words she uttered aren’t just sadistic; it’s sadistic because there is a semblance of truth that is spoken. Collette successfully portrayed the amalgam of backbreaking roles in Hereditary while struggling to deal with traumas left behind by her recently deceased mother. The way that Collette portrays panic and grief in such a visceral way won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

More than forty years ago, executive producer Irwin Yablans asked director John Carpenter to make a low-budget movie about babysitters getting murdered. Carpenter told The New York Times in 2018, “It was a horrible idea. But I wanted to make more movies, so I said, ‘Great!’” One of the greatest slasher villains of all time, Michael Myers, was born. 

Halloween helped launch a career for actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh, the aforementioned star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Curtis’s teen protagonist Laurie Strode was meant to be an innocent, repressed teenage girl who is quick on her feet. Her inner strength comes out as she’s forced to go toe-to-toe with an unstoppable killing machine, and Curtis made the role her own by the end of the first film. Since then, Halloween has spawned several sequels, remakes, and reboots, and Curtis has gone on to reprise the role of Laurie Strode in several subsequent films in the franchise: Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, the 2018 Halloween, and its sequel, 2020’s Halloween Kills.

The films have some of the best scary movie scenes, from Michael Myer’s slow and creepy walking to various jump scares. But in one of the scariest scenes, the finale of the first Halloween film, Jamie Lee Curtis cries as Michael reveals his victims, one by one, then appears from the shadows.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson gives one of the most famous horror movie performances of all time in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, with multiple iconic scenes including Nicholson smashing through a door with an axe and screaming, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Nicholson is not only an actor, he’s written and directed as well and had the opportunity to write an entire scene for The Shining. He recalls being berated by his wife when he would be at home writing, telling The New York Times, “That’s what I was like when I got my divorce. I was under the pressure of being a family man with a daughter, and one day I accepted a job to act in a movie in the daytime I was writing a movie at night, and I’m back in my little corner, and my beloved wife Sandra walked in on what was unbeknownst to her, this maniac—and I told Stanley about it, and we wrote it into the scene.”

Pulling from his own personal experiences at home, Nicholson was able to ground his growing supernatural insanity with the foundation of everyday pressures–talk about great acting!

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

12 Years a Slave and Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o gives a chilling performance in Jordan Peele’s Us, his followup to Oscar winner Get Out. Nyong’o portrays both Adelaide Wilson, a mother with an unclear past, and Red, Adelaide’s evil doppelgänger. Early in the film, the audience is introduced to Red and her family, who are clad in red jumpsuits and eerily resemble each member of Adelaide’s family. The doppelgängers are there to exact vengeance on the Wilson family, but Peele doesn’t let the audience know why until near the end. The most chilling part of Nyong’o’s performance as Red was her voice. To make her doppelgänger stand out, she created a memorable voice. In a particularly scary scene in Us, Red tells Adelaide her story, which wouldn’t be too scary if she didn’t have the raspy, menacing voice narrating the tale.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Many little girls growing take dance lessons or even dream of being a famous ballerina. In Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman portrays Nina, a young ballet dancer with a driving ambition so disturbing it makes the audience uncomfortable. Nina is a perfectionist willing to push herself over the edge for the sake of her art. In order to bring the prima donna to life, Portman spent hours a day training with the world’s best dancers, coaches, and teachers. Portman’s performance as the dancer who falls into madness is so convincing that it’s hard to remember that it’s just fiction.

While Portman may not be able to completely relate to the dancer’s obsessive ambition, there is one thing Portman shares with Nina–Portman told Vanity Fair in 2011 that there is a connection between the actress and her character: “The quest for perfection and the need of an artist to sort of please yourself and find your own way, not to be just trying to please other people.” 

In her quest to have the perfect performance in Swan Lake, Nina begins to pick and claw at her own skin. These moments don’t have the same oompf as a jump scare but are disturbing and uncomfortable to watch.

Sissy Spacek in Carrie

A lot of people don’t recall their high school days quite as fondly as others may. Brian de Palma’s Carrie, released in 1976, plays on that teenage angst to an extreme degree in this Stephen King adaptation about a young abused girl who possesses very strange and terrifying powers. Actress Sissy Spacek portrays Carrie, and Piper Laurie portrays Carrie’s religious fanatic mother. 

At 27 years old, Spacek received an Oscar nomination for the role of Carrie. The audience can feel Carrie’s desperation and insecurity in every scene throughout the movie. Spacek was able to show the audience what everyone feels at some point in their life–feeling like an outsider and not being able to fit in. As a teenager, it can be very traumatizing not to fit in. Spacek was able to successfully deliver a frightening performance of a variety of emotions, including a great deal of frustration and fear. By the time of her–and the film’s–violent climax, the audience can see exactly how and why Carrie has been pushed to such a point. It’s one of the most iconic scary movie scenes of all time.

scary movie scenes


Anthony Hopkins in
Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 16 minutes as convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs, but his performance was so memorable and superb in that brief amount of time that Hopkins ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. In one of the most unsettling scary movie scenes to date, Lecter speaks to Senator Martin through the infamous hockey mask, complimenting her suit. It’s one of many terrifying performances in the film.

Additionally, throughout the movie, the audience is fed bits of information that helps heightens Hopkins’ on-screen performance and make Lecter more grounded as a character, even when he’s not on screen. To the audience, Lecter is a villain yet not the villain–a mentor, maybe even a friend to the protagonist FBI agent played by Jodie Foster, but an opponent to her as well. The ability to portray a complex and technical character demonstrates why Hopkins was worthy of an Oscar for this role. It’s worth noting that Foster received an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film as well.

Anthony Perkins in Psycho

A good horror or thriller doesn’t need to depend on violence, gore, or the supernatural to make it successful–or scary. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, featuring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, is a testament to that fact. In an interview with The Record in November 1990, Perkins, who portrayed the titular killer Norman Bates, said, “There’s no place to hide in Psycho.”

Perkins made his fame by playing the deranged motel owner and went on to play Bates in several sequels. As a product of being a tormented child in Hollywood, Perkins was able to take his experience and pour it into his acting career–especially in roles where he needed to portray the darker side of nature. He played the role of the tense and repressed man well because he drew from personal experiences. Despite being soft-spoken and eerily calm for most of the movie, Perkins made Norman Bates one of the most famous and frightening horror movie monsters of all time. In all of the scenes on this list, the Psycho shower scene definitely tops as one of the best scary movie scenes of all time.

Making and Starring in Scary Movies

Whether you’re new to the art of filmmaking or looking to improve your acting chops, one of the best things you can do is watch horror films. By studying memorable scene work and performances,  you can practice your own techniques and tap into your own terror.

Returning to Netflix, Strange(r) Things Are Afoot

Stranger Things started out as a Netflix Original that featured cute references to the famous tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG), Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Since then, it’s safe to say that the show has become quite iconic within the sci-fi/fantasy genre and pop culture in general. However, the show’s season 4 looks like it is making some fascinating decisions that warrant discussion, specifically where the main antagonist is concerned. Without further ado, let’s get into why you might lose your mind.

The (Other) Looming Threat Within the Upside Down  

It has been a while since Stranger Things has adapted another character from the D&D. The show started us off with the Demogorgon in season one, with hints of something more. Seasons 2 and 3 dealt much more heavily with the Mind Flayer and eventually included variants of the Demogorgon (I’m looking at you Demodogs). Since it is not truly dead, the Mind Flayer might return once more, but the trailer chooses to focus on something else instead. Based on the visuals we have from the trailer, it appears the newest up and comer will be a being by the name of Vecna. 

Vecna is an interesting choice, mainly because of his background in D&D. According to an article from Gizmodo, Vecna, who is best described as “an ancient god-like Lich”, also has some critical supplementary details to boot. To give you a better idea of what Vecna is like, the being is also described as “calculating and ruthless” and one that manipulates a person’s greatest fears to his own ends and personal satisfaction. 

Better yet, there might be more to Vecna than meets the eye once we harp in on a key detail and look into his design some.

Speculations of the Strange

Before we start, it should be mentioned that Vecna is well and truly a credit to the magic of practical effects. It’s been stated by Ross Duffer, one of the creators of Stranger Things, that the villain will be a good “90% practical” in terms of special effects throughout the season. The talent behind this villain is none other than Barry Gower, who also worked on Game of Thrones’ Night King. Pictured below is what Vecna will look like in the show.

Vecna (human form with tentacles) from Stranger Things Season 4

Vecna’s appearance is intriguing, to say the least. He bears a notable resemblance between two antagonists that viewers have seen already, these being the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer. Now it is possible that this could simply be a product of the Upside Down being his native dimension, but where’s the fun in chalking it up to that? There are a couple of potential explanations as to why he looks like this. 

For one, Vecna could indeed be the true form of the Mind Flayer. It is something of a stretch considering that Vecna and the Mind Flayer of D&D do not share any explicit connection. But it is not impossible either since Stranger Things isn’t necessarily married to D&D’s character lore. For instance, the Mind Flayer doesn’t look like a shadowy spider in D&D, this design is a creative adaptation. Speaking of the Mind Flayer, the most noteworthy thing about both of these characters’ designs is that they both have similar tentacle-like appendages. It’s possible that what we refer to as the “Mind Flayer” might in actuality be a projection of Vecna’s power. It’s certainly something a god-like Lich could pull off.

In this vein, the second and third explanations for Vecna’s appearance could be as follows: either Vecna is the one pulling the strings behind the Mind Flayer or the Mind Flayer is the one puppeteering Vecna (though not as heavily as it does the Demogorgons). This is supported by the way he seems to be “plugged in” to the Upside Down via his tentacle appendages. Whether that gives him greater control over his subordinates or how he draws his power from the Mind Flayer remains to be seen in terms of defining this relationship. 

A key detail we have yet to mention might also support the notion that Vecna is the true mastermind behind Upside Down. Going back to that article from Gizmodo, another part of Vecna’s description reads that “he sought to play with the toys left by other gods…and reshape the world, his Exandria, to his liking”. It has always been somewhat unclear why the Mind Flayer has such a vested interest in Earth, despite the fact that Eleven ripped a hole in the fabric of reality to the Upside Down, to begin with. The absence of dialogue from this character makes it all the more vague too. But Vecna, at least in his D&D lore, has a reason other than tormenting people for his enjoyment. Who’s to say his Exandria, or perhaps, in this case, his Upside Down is enough for him? Maybe he wants more worlds to reshape, and upon being presented with Earth, sees an opportunity to do this? This theory would also serve to deepen our understanding of the Mind Flayer, should it be revealed that it is a pawn or an alternate form of Vecna. 

As stimulating as these theories are, there is no way to truly know until the first part of Stranger Things is released, so we’ll just have to see now, won’t we? Volume I of the fourth season of Stranger Things will premiere exclusively on Netflix on May 27th and Volume II will release on July 1st.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Return of An Old Friend

 It’s a very exciting time for Star Wars fans. Ever since Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, there has been a clamor for Ewan McGregor to get his own show so that he could return as the famous Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Over the years, rumors came and went concerning the production of one such TV series, but none of them turned out to be true. It wasn’t until 2019 when the Obi-Wan Kenobi (TV Series) was announced that fans could legitimately hope. Now that the time for waiting is nearly over, let’s dig into why everyone around you might be going nuts.

Why Obi-Wan? 

In case you may or may not have noticed, it is safe to say that the Star Wars fandom universally adores Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan. He knocked his performance out of the park in Episodes I, II, and III, giving the role everything he had. 

For a frame of reference, in one of the best-choreographed fight sequences in Star Wars history (when he fights Darth Maul after said Sith Assassin kills his master, Qui-Gon) he didn’t use a stunt double for the beginning of that intense scene. That was 100% the actor himself performing that very physically demanding fight (save for the parts where Obi-Wan is doing backflips). Not that long ago, McGregor talked about that fight extensively with IGN, even going so far as to say they actually had to slow the footage down because of how fast they were going.

Even if you somehow discount that, his relationship with Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker is nothing short of legendary. In short, aside from Alec Guinness who played the character in the original trilogy, McGregor is truly the one and only Obi-Wan.

When Does The Series Take Place And What’s It About?

Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place around a decade, maybe half of one, after the events of Revenge of the Sith which detailed Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader and the fall of the Jedi Order. At the time the series takes place, the Jedi are becoming even fewer and far between as they are being hunted tenaciously by Vader’s Inquisitors. What are the Inquisitors you ask? Think of them as force sensitives who have essentially been trained and/or tortured by Darth Vader himself to become the ultimate Jedi-hunters in the galaxy.

From what the trailer shows us, it looks like Obi-Wan has to find a way to stay off the Inquisitor’s radar as much as possible so as to not only protect himself but also protect the young Luke Skywalker who is still growing up on Tatooine. Everything about it screams absolutely bleak, which makes sense given the Jedi’s crushing defeat at the hands of Darth Sidious, or as he is more colloquially known, the Emperor. In short, before we can start looking to A New Hope, Obi-Wan has to find any kind of hope he can get to begin with. 

Sources of Contention?

As a long-time fan of the franchise, there is only one thing that gives me pause about this series. This isn’t even going to be about the Grand Inquisitor, whose appearance in the show is beginning to grow on me just a little despite initial reservations. This is going to be about the show’s biggest cameo yet, Darth Vader. Granted, it’s great to see Hayden Christensen back in the ring again. I also like that the actor went above and beyond to prepare for his return as Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. Entertainment Weekly writes that the actor “binged the Star Wars animated shows [in order] to prepare for Obi-Wan Kenobi.” That’s dedication in the highest and the highest of kudos to Christensen’s devotion to the role.

What has me worried is what this particular appearance does to the franchise’s timeline. You see, in Star Wars: A New Hope Darth Vader says a very specific line and delivers it in an equally particular way. When sensing Obi-Wan aboard the Death Star, he says, “I felt something; a presence I’ve not felt since…” and then proceeds to search for the Jedi Master. Now at least as far as intention goes, when Vader says this, it is generally intended to refer to the last time he saw Obi-Wan, which is supposed to be when they had their fateful duel on the molten planet Mustafar. Technically, he could very well be referring to the encounter we will see in Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it feels like a bit of a stretch since that line feels like it refers to an event that transpired much earlier as opposed to maybe a few years back.

This may not seem like a very big deal, but it does when one considers the following: for one, Vader isn’t just making a quick cameo and then going back to his regularly scheduled program. Talk about the character’s appearance has been followed by promises of a rematch between him and Obi-Wan. As much of a Vader fan as I am and the awesome chemistry that we will no doubt see between these two characters…this just doesn’t work.

While it is not very hard to imagine Obi-Wan giving Darth Vader the slip, there needs to be an exceptionally well-thought-out reason why Vader doesn’t find him again until A New Hope, because I doubt he’d give up looking for his old master that easily (not to mention, Obi-Wan is hiding out on Vader’s home planet of all places). 

How they navigate this territory, at least in this fan’s humble opinion, will make or break the show as continuity is an essential aspect of a well-written story. Disney already has our hopes up by including John Williams’ epic score, “Duel of the Fates,” in the trailer. Hopefully, the highly anticipated TV series is up to snuff. Obi-Wan Kenobi will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on May 27th.

Al Pacino: 7 of the Actor’s Most Memorable and Iconic Performances

When you think of iconic actors, who is the first to come to mind? Now this question can obviously vary with respect to one’s personal opinion. For us, Al Pacino certainly fits that bill. He’s been in a number of movies since the 1970s, and more than a few of them are some of the most unforgettable movies you’ll ever see. If you’re in need of some proof as to why Pacino should be considered iconic, our list below showcases some of the most memorable performances he’s given over the course of his career. With that, let’s get to convincing.

Devil’s Advocate

In this film, Pacino co-starred with the equally legendary Keanu Reeves. Both work at a well-established law firm in New York City, but Pacino’s character is not only Reeves’ boss, he is quite literally, The Devil. Interesting as that premise might be, you might be scratching your head right about now. It’s possible you’re wondering, “oh, this is supposed to be about Pacino, why aren’t we talking about a movie where he alone is the big star?” Arguably, one of the qualities of being the best of the best is one’s ability to work with fellow actors and play off one another to deliver the performance of a lifetime. This was one of those performances as their synergy was just on another level.

Scarface

This entry can make the list based on the sole fact that it is widely regarded as a cult classic. Scarface tells the story of a Cuban immigrant named Tony Montana, who makes his way over to the United States to try to make a name for himself. Montana achieves this but in doing so, he also becomes one of the most powerful drug traffickers in Miami. This is one of the movies where you see get to see Al Pacino (famously) really go over the top. From the story’s theme that power corrupts all to the bloody violence that was a staple of the 1980s, the film is just pure iconic material, all thanks to Pacino’s work.

Serpico

Serpico is one of those movies that fits a bill, the good kind. In a one-man versus the whole system set-up, Al Pacino’s Frank Serpico is the only New York City detective that’s willing to do what’s right in the face of widespread corruption. However, with Pacino at the helm as its star, this seemingly simple premise quickly becomes one of the actor’s most unforgettable films. Unlike the entry that came before, Pacino’s role in this film is more nuanced, showing he has the chops to do more than just go over the top. It only serves to further attest to the actor’s status as an icon. 

Dog Day Afternoon

Based on a true story (Serpico too by the way), Dog Day Afternoon follows Sonny, a first-time bank robber who attempts to steal from a bank in order to pay for his partner’s sex-change operation. The situation spirals out of control when it becomes a hostage situation and a full-blown media circus. Despite how potentially “wrong” this film could have gone, as always, Pacino gave it his all, delivering a truly passionate performance that made the movie great.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross Horizontal Movie Poster

This film is credited with having many impeccable performances. The movie essentially follows the story of a group of real estate salesmen doing their thing. Among these phenomenal portrayals we see in the movie, there is only one actor who received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in this movie. Can you guess who that was? Yep, if you guessed Pacino, you guessed right. Though he didn’t get the award, it is still worth mentioning that out of all the superstar performances viewed in the movie, only one guy came close to getting the Oscar. If that doesn’t say something about Al Pacino’s work as an actor, I don’t know what does. 

 

Heat

Heat is an incredible film by and by. In a nutshell, it pits Al Pacino as LAPD detective Vincent Hanna in a cops and robbers match against Roberto Deniro’s Neil McCauley, a shrewd and conniving criminal mastermind. The tension in this movie never lets up, and it’s all thanks to the antagonistic chemistry between these two actors’ characters. By the time you reach the end of Heat, you simply can’t help but appreciate Pacino even more than you did before.

The Godfather & The Godfather Part II

We’re going to lump these two together since he’s playing the same character, but it is worth mentioning that many hold The Godfather Part II to be the better of the two in terms of the actor’s performance. In what are considered some of the most iconic movies known to cinema, Pacino brings nothing short of his A-game to the character of Michael Corleone. It’s really the first time you fall in love with the guy as an actor because in these two movies you see it all: nuance, going over the top if ever so briefly. Pacino had spectacular material to work with. His acting in these movies is indisputably the pinnacle of his achievements.

We ask you once more esteemed readers when someone asks you about iconic actors, whose name is the first that comes to mind? Hopefully, we’ve done a good job of convincing you that Pacino is that first name and we hope you enjoyed the read!

Better Call Saul Season 6, The End of an Era (and a recap if you need it)

Everyone’s favorite shady lawyer is back (or about to be at least). Unfortunately, Season 6 of AMC’s Better Call Saul will be marking the end of the iconic series and content from the Breaking Bad universe for a bit. In the meantime, as we prepare for Saul Goodman’s story to come to a close, we figure it’s been a while since you’ve seen Season 5. With that in mind, if you need the refresher, say no more because we’ve got you covered.

Since We’ve Been Gone

Season 5 of this show premiered all the way back in February of 2020. It’s been close to two years since Better Call Saul’s fifth season ended and unless you’ve been binge-watching in preparation for the season premiere it’s probably been a while since you’ve seen an episode.

So what happened? What should you as the viewer need to keep in mind as Season 6 begins? Well, first and foremost, in Season 5, we begin to see Jimmy take the plunge and fully embody his new persona, Saul Goodman. He even went as far as to indirectly, and later directly, turn his former employers at HHM (Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill) down when given a job offer. In the midst of that, tensions between Gustavo Fring and Lalo Salamanca start slowly but surely to rise more and more. Little things like halting the work on Fring’s laundry project and other petty grievances soon start to escalate into bigger events like framing Lalo for murder rather indirectly delivering him to the authorities. 

Saul Goodman finds himself representing Lalo and his crew as his and Fring’s rivalry escalates, going as far as coaching and helping Krazy-8 get out from under the thumb of two very familiar DEA Agents (Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez). Unrelated to his illegal dealings with the drug traffickers, his partner Kim has some trouble at Schweikart & Cokely via the Mesa Verde Bank and Trust account. Despite her best efforts, an unruly landowner who has continually rebuffed the bank from removing him from his lands proves difficult for Kim to deal with too. She would eventually turn to Saul for help as he would come to represent this disgruntled landowner (i.e. playing the game from both sides).

On the Gus/Lalo front, things get to be so bad that Nacho, one of the Salamanca’s top lieutenants, is caught in the crossfire between the two. He must find a way to spy on Lalo for Gus without tipping him off, which gets to be increasingly harder the more suspicious Lalo gets over the course of the season. Remember how Gustavo had Lalo thrown in prison? Saul, who had previously helped him out with Krazy-8, asks him to represent him too. Luckily for Saul he gets the trafficker on bail, unluckily for Saul, he has to journey through the desert to pick up the bail money. And a wild journey it was, thank goodness he had Mike (who now formally works for Gus) to bail him out of what became a dicey situation. 

Everything that transpired in Season 5 would come to a head when the following events took place. There came a point during the Mesa Case when Kim and Saul should have stopped before things spun out of control. Both agreed to lay down arms…only Saul didn’t. He would go on to find a bombshell to threaten Mesa Verde with, and in the process, effectively burn Kim. This debacle would almost have them at their breaking point when in an odd turn of events, they decided to get married instead. She would eventually quit Schweikart & Cokely and leave Mesa Verde and her former firm altogether.

Nacho’s already impossible situation became just a little more impossible. After the bid to keep Lalo in prison fails, Gus decides to go scorched earth on him and devise his complete and utter demise. Using the now established trust Lalo had for him, Nacho lets Gus’ execution team into Lalo’s home/compound after having been invited there, leaving without a scratch and thinking he’s home free now. The only problem is that Lalo is able to escape the massacre at his compound. Nacho is now as high on Lalo Salamanca’s kill list as Gustavo Fring is, and it’s not hard to imagine he’ll be scorching some earth of his own in Season 6.

Going Forward?

That about does it in terms of the need-to-know plot points in preparation for the upcoming 6th season. The final season of Better Call Saul is sure to have us at the edge of our seats, but it’s still sad to hear that it is ending. 

Alas, there is some hope out there fellow lovers of the Breaking Bad universe. According to an article by IndieWire, Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul revealed that he is working on a new original show that is ‘something really different’ from his previous projects.” He went on to also say that there are “still stories left to tell” in the Breaking Bad universe, not just some he’ll be telling anytime soon as he wants to try his hand at that “something different” project. So again, the hope truly is there, but fans will need to be patient. The new season of Better Call Saul premiered on AMC and on AMC+ on April 18th.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, How It Was Versus How It’s Going

Well Potterheads, the time has almost come. In a couple of weeks, the next installment in the Fantastic Beasts series, The Secrets of Dumbledore will finally come to cinemas in the United States. It’s been roughly 4 years since The Crimes of Grindelwald with not much in between to quell the sheer anticipation for this film. But for those who don’t know what to expect of the new installment, let’s see if we can’t help you on your way. 

Concern Amongst The Fandom

Isn’t there always? All the same, its perfectly natural for fans to feel concern. An article from The Guardian pulls no punches, as it calls to mind the some of the issues a fan might have had with The Crimes of Grindelwald. Suffice it to say, it appears that it is up to The Secrets of Dumbledore to steer the franchise back in the right direction. According to the same article, the new film will be returning to Hogwarts once more, perhaps for nostalgic value of some kind. Whether or not this move achieves what some hope it will achieve, remains to be seen. 

Where the plot is concerned, it looks like one of the more important points of the movie will be to discovering the true identity of a character by the name of Credence Barebone. Speculations (amongst the characters too) are in full swing, with theories from him being Dumbledore’s long lost brother to being Leta Lestrange’s long lost brother. Whatever the case may be, we may finally find out when Secrets of Dumbledore comes out. 

Then of course, we also have Newt Scamander returning to help deal with the nefarious Grindelwald and the forces he has organized up to this point. Clearly this is the latter’s next big bid in order to wrest control of the Wizarding World at large once and for all. A grand fight it is what it is sure to be.

The Verdict?

Speaking of things remaining to be seen, we do have some initial reviews of the film floating around out there. According to some early viewers, there’s plenty of good things to say. An article from Digital Spy has comments that range from “an improvement on the sequel”, to “Fantastic Beasts 3 rectifies fans biggest qualms with [Fantastic Beasts 2]”, to even hailing the director as someone who has “miraculously salvage[d] a sinking ship”. 

It’s looking pretty good for Potterheads out there right now, with something rightfully exciting to look forward to. From what the reviews are saying, it appears The Secrets of Dumbledore has found a way to both answer the questions fans have had while also catering to some of the more nostalgic aspects of the the series. All in all, the new Wizarding World film looks like it is sure to be a fun time for those that are heavily invested in the story as it has been told thus far (there’s hope yet!). Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore releases April 15th, 2022 in theaters.

Halo The Series, A Long-Awaited Adaptation and Why We Need It

If you’re a fan of the Halo video games, then you know that this has been a long time coming. Originally, the franchise was slated to be a feature-length film by Neill Blomkamp, but that ended up being scrapped and turned into Elysium. There were some other short shows that came and went, but none of them seemed to stick the landing (barring the wonderful collection of animated shorts we know as Halo Legends). It didn’t seem like Halo fans would ever catch a break…until now.

What’s the Big Deal?

For those that have never played a Halo game, there’s a reason why this day was a long time coming. Halo is not only known for its enamoring gameplay experience, it is also known for its immensely engaging storytelling. There is so much material, games and otherwise, to pull from, not unlike Star Wars. From the contentious relationship between the Insurrectionists and the UNSC to the ideology behind the Covenant’s religion known as The Great Journey, there’s a lot for the show to play with in terms of lore.

Seeing it finally get adapted into a show is exciting, to say the least. The games were great at keeping you hooked as you soldiered on through the campaign but as great as the story was, it was more so about the gameplay experience than anything else. Converting the story to a streaming medium allows the storytellers to really do a fun deep dive into the expansive universe Halo has become.

What Can We Expect From Halo The Series?

Now fans and incoming viewers are likely thinking about what this show has to offer. According to GameSpot, Halo The Series is going to be set in its own timeline, meaning that this will not be considered a canonical story where the games are concerned. While it is somewhat disappointing, there’s a good reason why the creators of the show have decided to go this route. By making this its own canon, it gives everyone working on the project free reign to explore the characters in different ways we’d never imagined before. Plus, it also means they don’t have to worry about being confined or married to the original story, and thus, don’t need to worry about inconsistencies with the story at large or breaking canon (which would be pretty bad).

It also gives Halo fans something fresh to consume, while also inviting newcomers to the franchise. If it were telling the original story scene-by-scene, there would be a lot of catching up to do in terms of familiarizing oneself with all the content that has come out prior to the series. At the end of the day, it looks like the creators want to make Halo The Series as enjoyable for everyone as possible, which is something to be appreciated. 

Though this isn’t meant to be a review of the first episode, it is worth mentioning that this fan of the Halo franchise has seen it. To other Halo fans out there, I would like to say this: there are some things the show does that are quite different, but so far, there hasn’t been anything truly egregious that completely detracts from the viewing experience. As for what happens closer to the end of the episode (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), I err on this side of saying, give this route a chance. Is it ideal? No, but we are dealing with a different visual medium when it comes to storytelling. So making the decision that they did is in some way understandable. The only way that this peculiar element can become truly problematic is if they did it on a regular basis, which would in my humble opinion, be too much.

That being said, if you’re in need of a new super-awesome sci-fi show, as it currently stands, I cannot recommend Halo The Series enough. Halo The Series can be streamed exclusively on Paramount+.

Umma, Horror Made With A Dash of Mother’s Love

Sometimes, there is a very real fear among parents that they themselves will turn into their parents. Apparently, the prospect of such a notion was so horrifying that filmmakers have found a way to give this concept life on the silver screen. It’s an entry that goes into one genre in particular, one that might make viewers go, “huh? No way…” The genre that director Iris Shim’s Umma falls under, is horror. Odd as it might sound that mom is out to get you (as the villain), let’s dive into why it works so well as a horror film. 

What Gives Umma That Extra Scary Kick?

The best horror stories aren’t always those that glorify an insane amount of gore, fun as those can be. Often, it is the stories that hit closest to home, whose frightening themes have an actual chance of happening to us as individuals. 

Umma follows two women, a mother (Amanda played by Sandra Oh) and her daughter, Chris ( played by Fivel Stewart), both of whom sport a pretty reclusive lifestyle living on a bee farm. They appear to get along pretty well in the trailer, but everything comes to a head when a surprise visitor visits their farm. In tow, this visitor has brought Amanda the ashes of her Umma, which translates to mother in Korean. From there, we begin to see everything descend into chaos as they are plagued by the ghost of Umma. 

At a glance, sure, it works perfectly as is. It’s a ghost story, so of course, it would fall under horror. But Umma goes the extra mile with its storytelling. According to an interview-style article by NPR, the crux of the story rests upon intergenerational trauma, specifically the fear of turning into one’s own mother. Now for some people, this isn’t a concept that is necessarily horrifying. But as we know all too well, no one is perfect. The same is said of parents, especially when it comes to what we pass on down to the next generation. Some of it is good, sure, but some of what is passed down can be damaging too. 

It’s this notion specifically, that the film tries to grapple with. To quote the aforementioned article, the movie puts “three generations of women into conflict [with one another]”, each with their own sets of ideas and beliefs. How much do these values align? How much do they differ? These are all things that add to the film’s intrigue, making for the promise of some very interesting character interplay. To go even further, as stated earlier, this theme is what really makes the film such a fitting entry into the horror genre. If you’re the kind of person who can’t get on board with the supernatural in horror movies, this movie is perfect because the very real fear of becoming your parent is what grounds the film in reality and, ultimately, makes it even more compelling through and through. Umma is out in theaters now. 

Turning Red, The Next Disney/Pixar Tag Team Project

In need of a wholesome pick-me-up film? In the mood for that film to be beautifully animated? Look no further than Disney and Pixar’s latest release, Turning Red. The film stars Rosalie Chang as the main character, Meilin, Sandra Oh as Ming, Ava Morse as Miriam, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya, and Wai Ching Ho as Grandma, to name a few members of the cast. Turning Red, directed by Domee Shi, follows a relatively simple premise like most Pixar films do. Meilin is unique in that whenever she gets overly excited, she turns into a giant red panda. Don’t let the simplicity of the premise fool you though, because as is often the case with Pixar films, there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

Turning Red is a must watch and here’s why

Aside from being a movie animated by Pixar, Turning Red has a lot going for it. For one, it is a film that celebrates Asian culture. Disney already had its head start with the likes of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Raya and the Last Dragon in terms of Asian representation. What sets this film apart from its predecessors is that it’s a bit more family-friendly if violence and action aren’t for you and yours. As cool as fighting in movies can be, it’s nice to just be able to appreciate the culture without the need for physical conflict. You can appreciate it by delving into the traditions that add to and structure life, sharing the stories that inspire and enliven the imagination, or even something as simple as appreciating how good the cuisine is, these are all things that Turning Red does in spades (organically too).

Next up, this is also a movie that tackles a discussion that isn’t very often had in film. To quote EW’s review, the movie does well not to shy away from “normalizing the emotional and physical messiness of puberty”. A topic that’s considered a “cinematic boundary” has now lost one of its foundational bricks, and in a good way. Being able to have an open conversation is always a good thing, and it helps when there is a platform that aids in getting that conversation going. It goes without saying that puberty is a very important topic for boys and girls alike. To have the metaphor of the red panda transformation gives children coming into that age group a pretty smooth (and dare I say cute) transition into talking about puberty. That being said, Turning Red is looking like the next best coming-of-age film of our time.

So if you’re ready to cry as is typical with every Pixar movie that has come before it, Turning Red is definitely up there on the recommendation list for either a nice family night out or a cozy movie night with the kids. Turning Red can be streamed exclusively on Disney+, having yet to make its way to theaters in the United States.

Vikings: Valhalla, Historical Fiction at Its Finest

Depending on who you ask, you’ll either get a giddy sense of excitement or a groan of disdain when you ask someone about historical fiction. There’ll be those who love it for what it is, and others who simply ask “why can’t they just pick a lane??” But for those of you who are fans of the genre, you’ve probably heard by now that Vikings: Valhalla (the series) was recently released on Netflix, and are rightfully excited. For those of you who are on the fence, perhaps this preparatory recap could convince you to give the show a shot. Maybe you’ll even find yourself a fan of the genre, or at the very least, of the show itself. 

What Was The Previous Series About?

That’s right. Before this series was announced, there was a series that existed before it, simply titled Vikings. This show featured Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok as the main character. The story mainly dealt with how the Vikings went about discovering the West. It took care to show the divisions in Viking society and also didn’t shy away from leaning a bit into supernatural aspects of Viking mythology. Vikings also covered their first encounter with England, which plays a very important role in the series after it, Valhalla. Overall, all these elements with the added spice of drama made for a very compelling 6 seasons. Vikings originally aired on Amazon Prime and the History channel.

What Will Vikings: Valhalla Cover?

This show will tell the story of one of the most well-known members of Vikings history, the legendary Leif Erikson, played by Sam Corlett. Accompanying Leif as the main character is his sister, Freydís Eríksdóttir. According to Collider, Valhalla takes place more than a century after the events of the first series. The show looks like it will place more focus on the tensions between the Vikings and the English, specifically the ramifications of each societies’ religions clashing with one another. Like its predecessor, it will do well to lean into the history behind the story, while also not being shy to include some supernatural elements (as an example, the show includes seers who more often than not, more or less validate the existence of the gods). 

Unlike the original Vikings, our main characters do not have interests that necessarily align, making for a much more interesting and complex story. How interesting and engaging? If you want a better idea of how it goes, you can continue reading Collider’s review of the show. But if you want to challenge yourself and try something new, why not decide for yourself first? Vikings: Valhalla was released on Netflix on February 25, 2022.

Death on the Nile, Why Whodunits Can Never Go Out of Style

Death on the Nile, a film starring Gal Gadot and a host of other actors, Kenneth Branagh, Armie Hammer, and Letitia Wright to name a few, is already out and about. Based on a book of the same name by Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is the sequel to Murder on the Orient Express (2017). Despite the controversy surrounding the film, which has more to do with what went on behind the scenes than the actual film itself, there’s every chance that Death on the Nile is an enjoyable movie worth watching. Why you might ask? Simply because there’s nothing that beats a well-written whodunit. 

If you want to learn a little more about this genre and its origins, look no further. We got you covered. 

How Far Back Do Whodunits Go?

The first question that might be on your mind is how far back this genre goes. It begins with the coining of a phrase. There’s a little back and forth on who exactly created the term, but Cinema Journal holds that it was conceived by Donald Gordon in 1930 upon reviewing the book Half-Mast Murder

The term ‘Whodunit’ would later be applied to movies for the first time in 1934, when the film adaptation for Arnold Ridley’s Recipe for Murder came out. After the passage of two world wars, the genre began to blossom and grow into what we know it to be today. Among the authors that rose to fame after World Wars I and II, the most famous of them was Agatha Christie. Cinema Journal notes that “she is considered a master of the genre.” If that name sounds familiar, it should, because her books are what Kenneth Branagh’s films use as adaptation material. Something which should attest to how good the film is.

Why They’ll Be With Us For A Long Time

Now onto why Whodunits won’t be leaving us anytime soon. What makes a really well-executed whodunit film special is that it can be engaging for all audiences. In an age where people like predicting things and making speculations left and right, these movies allow viewers to do that in spades. Especially in an era where properties like the MCU drive speculation through the roof with appearances alone. 

Depending on the level of complexity a given story decides to employ, as well as gore and other adult themes, they can generally reach and entertain people of multiple if not all age groups. It’s a solid genre that can get the whole family engaged through the aforementioned penchant for inspiring speculations and theories. It’s quite fun as an activity too when everyone has differing theories. Essentially, if you don’t have any party poopers or spoilers, watching whodunits have the potential to be great family pastimes.

That being said, Death on the Nile looks like a pretty solid whodunit, having a decent scoring on Rotten Tomatoes. So if you want to start a new family tradition and explore the world of whodunit, maybe consider putting Death on the Nile on your queue. 

The 11 Most Anticipated Movies of 2022

With a new year comes a whole fresh batch of movies. There’s a lot to be looking forward to this year too, so much it seems nearly impossible to stay on top of. We’ve picked some films from this year’s catalog that you should definitely consider checking out when they’re out. 

11.) Spider-Man: Across The Spiderverse (Part One)

Release Date: October 7th, 2022

Spider-Man has been all the craze since Spider-Man: No Way Home released in theaters. Even before that entry into the MCU, there was another film that worked up just as much of a commotion for the webhead. Going all the way back to 2018, that film was none other than Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. Utilizing an art style that could’ve just as easily been ripped out of a comic, the film was adored by fans and newcomers alike. Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (Part One) is the sequel to this rousing success of a movie, one that all Spider-Man fans are just dying to sink their teeth into.

10.) Doctor Strange: Into The Multiverse of Madness

Release Date: May 6th 2022

Piggybacking off of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the last post credits scene of the film served as a “backdoor trailer release” of sorts. In short, we got to see where the next phase of Doctor Strange’s journey takes him in the trailer for the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Now that trailer was something else, teasing the return of Mordo from the first Doctor Strange, revealing the role Wanda Maximoff will be playing in the film, as well as a few other little easter eggs if you know where to look (like the possible appearance of Strange Supreme from Marvel’s What If). With all the crazy things that happened in Spider-Man: Now Way Home alone, the new Doctor Strange movie looks like it’s going to be dialing that up 200%, and we can’t wait to see it. 

Wakanda Forever movie

9.) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Release Date: November 11th, 2022

This entry into the MCU is sure to be an emotional one. There was scarce a person that didn’t enjoy Chadwick Boseman’s performance as the legendary Black Panther. We also grew to love the nation of Wakanda, the country the Black Panther hails from. Wakanda is a city/nation-state that’s one of the greatest technological marvels that exists in the Marvel universe. Wakanda Forever will very likely revisit that setting and will give fans a proper goodbye to Boseman’s character, as the actor tragically passed away in 2020. 

8.) Black Adam

Release Date: July 29th, 2022

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been tooting the horn for this film for quite a long time. The quote was always “the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change”. Well, come July 29th, that hierarchy officially changes. The great thing about Black Adam is that he fits into the interesting “antihero” category, so it’s not gonna be your typical superhero movie. Long story short, it’s going to be deeply gratifying to see all that hype the Rock drummed up for us finally come to fruition. 

7.) The Batman

Release Date: March 4th, 2022

Speaking of even more hype, there’s one upcoming DC project that probably trumps them all. The Batman has undergone quite the journey. It started out with Ben Affleck at the helm as the director, writer, and Batman. The project then underwent various changes as time marched on, the most notable being that Ben Affleck was no longer involved. Once the project finally came into focus, people liked what they saw, and what they saw was a film that looked like it leaned into the detective side of Batman – though it looks like we’ll get plenty of the brawler side too. Either way you slice it, The Batman is going to be a blast when it comes out. A very thrilling blast.

6.) Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Release Date: July 25th, 2022

For the Harry Potter fans in the crowd, there’s a new film coming out just for you. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore picks up after the events of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, as Dumbledore puts together a team of capable wizards and witches to stop Grindelwald from making his power play in the wizarding world. If you’ve been following the Harry Potter prequels or just want to watch something with just the right amount of magic and mythical beasts, this film will be right up your alley.

5.) Halloween Ends

Release Date: October 14th, 2022

The thrilling conclusion to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and Hollywood’s most infamous slasher, Michael Myers’, story comes to a close this October. It feels very surreal because not unlike the character himself, the Halloween franchise seemed like it could go on forever, never truly staying dead. That all comes to a gruesome finish with the final installment in the sequel/reboot trilogy, Halloween Ends. Once again, Laurie Strode will be facing off against one of horror’s greatest icons, but as the title suggests, it might be for the last time.

4.) Lightyear

Release Date: June 17th, 2022

Once upon a time, Disney came out with what can be considered some of the most seminal movies in the history of film and animation. You guessed it, we’re talking about Toy Story. Even though the original franchise is pretty much done, it looks like Disney and Pixar have found another way to bring these classic characters back to the silver screen. Lightyear tells the story of Buzz Lightyear, but not the toy whom we are all much more familiar with. It looks like this film will tell the story of the man the toy is inspired by if that makes sense. Different though it may be, it looks interesting enough to check out. 

3.) Avatar 2

Release Date: December 16th, 2022

The first Avatar, directed and written by James Cameron, is still the highest-grossing movie of all time. Now he’s back at it again, set to deliver Avatar 2 in mid-December. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film will once again follow Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana Neytiri’s characters on Pandora along with the family they’ve built together. Following the return of old foes, they’re forced out of their home and search for a new one. The film has a pretty interesting lineup (including the dream team that made the first one work), which now includes Kate Winslet, Michelle Yeoh, and Edie Falco. 

2.) Top Gun: Maverick

Release Date: May 27th, 2022

This particular film took its sweet time cooking in the oven. After a whopping 30 plus years, Top Gun (1986) is finally getting a sequel. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Top Gun fan, especially since it looks like they’re going all out for this film. Tom Cruise is set to return as Maverick, Val Kilmer as Iceman, and they’ve even gone as far as recruiting Miles Teller in order to portray Goose’s son, writes Rotten Tomatoes. If as a viewer, you want to see Tom Cruise some off-the-wall tricks and stunts with a jet, by all means, we implore you to give Top Gun: Maverick a shot.

1.) The Northman

Release Date: April 22nd, 2022

Last but not least, we have an all-new project coming out in April called The Northman. Did you like The Lighthouse? Did you like The Witch too? Well the guy who directed both movies, Robert Eggers, is more than likely going to wow you again with this gory, unhinged film. The setting is tenth-century Iceland, and a viking Prince is out for blood after his father is murdered. Per Rotten Tomatoes, Eggers took care to do it right too, co-writing with Icelandic writer Sjón, and also features Björk, a famous singer-songwriter from Iceland. The cast is extra crunchy too, featuring the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, and Alexander Skarsgard. 

2022 is looking like a very good year for movies, and we can’t wait to see how awesome all these new films turn out (and hopefully you, most avid reader, can’t wait either)!

94th Academy Awards Forecast

Look alive folks, voting for the 94th Academy Awards has opened up. Despite how tough this year has been on the movie industry, some pretty great films came out nonetheless. That said, there are only so many awards to give out, and quite a selection of potential contenders. We’ll be going over who we think will be the prime contenders for the big five awards. 

Best Picture

Dune

Right off the bat, the first movie to come to mind is Dune. It has to have been one of the most beautifully shot movies of 2021. It boasts many breathtaking scenic shots as well as some great set pieces for the camera operators to take advantage of. To be frank, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a modern marvel where the silver screen is concerned.

According to the Los Angeles Times, other contenders for this award include The Tragedy of Macbeth, Don’t Look Up, CODA, Belfast, King Richard, West Side Story, The Power of the Dog, and Tick, Tick … Boom!

Best Director

There’s also something to be said of the director who helmed Dune, Denis Villeneuve. He took what was once considered an unfilmable property and managed to make a pretty satisfying iteration of Dune. Without his willingness to take the project and his vision for it, a good Dune movie might have taken a little longer to come about.

Denis Villeneuve                        Sam Raimi

Another director worth mentioning is Sam Raimi and his film Spider-Man: No Way Home. Marvel has had a pretty great track record so far when it comes to handling its properties. Sony? This answer tends to vary. The newest Spider-Man however took the best of what Sony had to offer, without forgetting to progress and enhance the newest Spider-Man’s story. All while delivering a pretty satisfying story to newer and old fans alike.

According to the Los Angeles Times, other contenders for this award include Paul Thomas Anderson for his film Licorice Pizza, Steven Spielberg for West Side Story, Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog, and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car

Best Lead Actor

Denzel Washington

For this category, hats truly have to go off for Denzel Washington. Last year, he had the privilege of playing the tragic figure Macbeth in The Tragedy of Macbeth. His performance was true to form as always, doing justice to the conflicted nature of the character, playing off the supporting characters in an exceptional manner that was nothing short of remarkable.

The Los Angeles Times offers Javier Bardem for his work in Being The Ricardos for best lead actor, positing that many of the voters more likely saw Being the Ricardos more than anything else, a feasible argument to be sure. Other possible contenders they offer for this award include Benedict Cumberbatch for his role in The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield for his role in Tick, Tick … Boom!, and Will Smith for his role in King Richard. 

Best Lead Actress

According to Awards Watch, there are a couple of different notable contenders for this award. 

First up we have Jessica Chastain for her role as Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. The actress showed just how committed she was to the project, as she had to put on layers upon layers of makeup and prosthetics in order to play the role. 

Jessica Chastain                     Jennifer Hudson 

Another plausible candidate for this award is Jennifer Hudson for her portrayal of Aretha Franklin in Respect. The actress did well to do justice to some of the artist’s greatest hits and portrayed the music star just as admirably. Jennifer Hudson has also won an Oscar before, back in 2008 for her role as a supporting actress in Dream Girls

Nicole Kidman is also in the running for trying her hand at portraying Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. Initial on-set photos left the internet in an uproar, but that uproar would soon die down as the actress shocked viewers of the movie with how great her performance was. Nicole Kidman has won the Best Actress award before for her performance in The Hours in 2002.

Nicole Kidman                      Lady Gaga

Last but not least we have the multi-talented Lady Gaga for portraying Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci. The actress really got to let loose with this role, showing viewers what 10 years of studying method acting looks like (she did that before she became a musician). Lady Gaga came close to winning an Academy Award when she starred in 2018’s A Star Is Born and was nominated for Best Actress. Perhaps this time around, she’ll get the award outright.

Best Screenplay

Best Screenplay is interesting. According to Variety, the Writers Guild of America released their nominations which include Being the Ricardos, The French Dispatch, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, and lastly, Don’t Look Up. Of the five listed here, Don’t Look Up probably stands the best chance though. Why? Well, despite being quite a heavy-handed comedy, there’s a lot that takes place in the movie that deeply resonates with waking life. A scary amount, in fact. While comedic, it did not shy away from its dark ending either, which only piles on to the respect this film deserves. Despite the mixed reviews it garnered, it speaks to some of the biggest issues of our time in a manner that manages to be both witty and take itself somewhat seriously at the same time.

The 94th Academy Awards will take place on March 27th at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.