Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

the-last-jedi-posterSTAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2018)

Directed by Rian Johnson

Written by Rian Johnson & George Lucas

Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega & Kelly Marie Tran

Synopsis (IMDb): “Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.”

It took a while to get my head around this one. And I’m still not sure I should do this review without seeing The Last Jedi once more. But as I don’t, at the moment, have a chance to see it, I’ll try my best to give my opinion. As always, this will be mostly spoiler free review. I have to add some pics to make my point.

As it is usually easiest to me to see films through Oscar categories, I’ll take a look at The Last Jedi piece by piece.

First of all, The Last Jedi looks good. I, especially, adored the production design. And I loved the colour scheme. Those bold colours of red, black and white. They just do it for me everytime. And within this story they worked wonders. Though some might think they’re too into your face. But I like!

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I also liked sounds and visual effects of course and I believe the film should be nominated for Oscars on those categories. As well as the production design, it just stands out. Music is also guaranteed John Williams but nothing  we haven’t heard before because we already got to know those fantastic new themes for Rey and Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. None of the new stuff caught my ear the way I would remember it now, eight days later after seeing the film.

When it comes to acting, I have no complaints, I think everyone has come to their own. Daisy Ridley is Rey, Adam Driver is superb in picturing tormented soul of Kylo Ren and I appreciated a lot that the plot went his way much more than in TFA. Carrie Fisher, of course, has always been the perfect princess soldier although in the last two installments she’s definitely the queen. And Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker has never been this good. Or maybe he has and I just didn’t appreciate his younger, whiny self. Though, he’s still whining. But acting is great and I liked a lot Luke’s story. Worked for me.

I also enjoyed the diversity and having more female characters, especially Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, but to be honest, there were way too many characters on the board. And I didn’t care what happened to them despite them having some nice scenes. But I would love to see more of Oscar Isaac’s Poe. Isaac is hugely talented actor and I somehow feel that he’s being wasted here. Plus I like his rebelliousness almost as much as I loved Han Solo back in the day. What’s not to like in the bad boy who saves the day? Thankfully we have Kylo Ren to keep that bad boy attitude up. Pity that in the same timewe also have so, so many wasted characters. Almost including John Boyega’s Finn. But he had nice chemistry with Rose despite the fact that story almost messed it all up.

Btw, I love the fact that Chewbacca actor of today is Finnish.

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There’s been A LOT of complaints of The Last Jedi not being right kind of Star Wars film. And I disagree and agree at the same time. I was thoroughly entertained and watch the most of the film from the edge of my seat. And marveling some amazing shots, made probably by computer but who cares when your eyes rest on them. I especially liked the ending, it felt and looked great. Cinematography worked nicely together with set and visual effects. As well as action were beautiful, including that out of reality (duh!) fight with light sabers and other cool weapons. Not to mention cool people.

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But the plot. I don’t know. Too much of everything, I guess? Something was off but I can’t really point out what. Too many characters, like I said, but maybe too many story-lines too? And I didn’t really get Rey’s journey. Maybe I’ll get answers in the next episode. I sure hope so at least. And I hope they get rid of those, what they were called, porgs? Yeah, they’re cute but nothing else. Too much of everything. That was the main problem for me. But The Last Jedi is not a bad movie. Not even near. But it’s not The Empire Strikes Back. And it’s not even The Force Awakens but I am interested to see what happens next.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

 

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Christmas Films #2

Yeah, it’s already December 12th and I’ve watched two Christmas movies. I don’t really want to watch more of them, especially because Netflix has amazingly bad options here in Finland right now. Like really bad. They used to have better selection. Now it’s just sad. But here goes nothing…

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A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (2017)

Directed by Alex Zamm
Written by Karen Schaler & Nathan Atkins
Starring Rose McIver, Ben Lamb & Honor Kneafsey

Synopsis (IMDb): “When a reporter goes undercover as a tutor to get the inside scoop on a playboy prince, she gets tangled in some royal intrigue and ends up finding love – but will she be able to keep up her lie?”

A Christmas Prince is made to Netflix. So it is also so-called TV movie. And it feels like one from tip to toe but it is still well done. It is cheesy, intentionally, but at the same time it manages to level with it. It is kind of hard to explain but this movie is made tongue in cheek and it has found its balance. Weird, huh? But somehow it manages to do it.

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Usually I’m a huge hater of made for TV films. I loathe them. My mum makes me watch them if I’m home for Christmas that happens quite rarely these days. For some reason she thinks that Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy or Game of Thrones are not suitable for Christmas. So she forces everyone to watch these horrid TV movies. Talking about torture… Anyhow, A Christmas Prince is surprisingly tolerable TV movie even when it has all the clichés or maybe because of that. It has cheesy music, beautiful studio-made scenery, royals, kissing in the snow and other “fun” snow activities, horses, betrayal, the script from “how to write a story 101 by Aristotle” and even snow in New York. Oh, and a rebellious journalist lady. EVERYTHING you can imagine. But it’s ok.

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Despite the fact that A Christmas Prince is total bullsh*t, it actually is watchable. Didn’t even feel bad, on the contrary, it made it laugh with it and at it. The script could be worse and the actors, they could be a lot worse. I actually though they make quite nice job with the story like that. Honor Kneafsey is not as annoying as kids in these kinds of films usually are, Ben Lamb as the Prince is genuinely charming while under utterly ugly make-up and I think Rose McIver can balance it between being cute and funny. I just realised that she’s in the main role in iZombie and has done some nice telly including Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex. She’s good.

In conclusion, if you want to watch corny Christmas movie, this one is not the bad choice. I liked it.

Stars: *** (out of 5)

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A WISH FOR CHRISTMAS (2016)

Directed by Christie Will Wolf
Written by Helen Frost & Don McLeod
Starring Lacey Chabert & Paul Greene

Synopsis: “Sara Thomas is the type of woman who prefers to sit on the sidelines at work, but when her big idea for a Christmas initiative is stolen, she makes a wish to Santa that she’ll finally have the courage to stand up for herself. Santa grants her wish, but only gives her 48 hours. As the clock ticks, Sara will discover how to channel the Christmas magic and speak her mind all on her own.”

A Wish for Christmas is made for Hallmark. And it’s the kind of that makes you want to kill yourself. But I actually finished watching it regardless of this all the time mounting nausea. I kind of felt somehow weirdly good after finishing it but I’m not sure if it was because I managed to do something like it or because it had something. No, it must be the first. Because no one should watch this one. Just don’t.

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The script is dreadful. Well, at the beginning I thought for about 15 minutes that it might actually work but no, it didn’t. And the more time goes by, the more horrible it gets. Actors are not good. No. Hmm, I didn’t hate all of them though, so sometimes watching were tolerable. Oh, and what is the worst; that dolly shot when that really, really important, magical thing happens to our main character. Everytime there’s a dolly shot with that same music. Just to make it sure that you understand what is happening right now.

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I gave this one more half a star because I do feel bad for Lacey Chabert, I used to like her in Party of Five. And Mean Girls too. But really; DO NOT watch this. Except if you’ve been naughty and you need to punish yourself.

Stars *½

 

Christmas Challenge Vol.2

Hah. Two years ago I made a deal with myself to watch 25 Christmas films during December. I think I ended up watching maybe four?! I can’t remember. But as Abbi is bold enough to tackle her Christmasathon, I can do my list. Possibly. Perhaps. At least I will try and obviously tease you with my reviews. And I actually started already by watching Netflix’s much talked A Christmas Prince. I’ll get to the review later this week.

Wish me luck! And if you have any great or not so great recommendations, they’re very welcome!

Christmas in Finland

P.S. My only Christmas reviews from two years ago were Bad Santa and The Ref...

Person of the Day – Kate Winslet

katewinslet_rosedewitbukaterI absolutely adore Kate Winslet. I obviously got to know her via Titanic like the rest of the world and since then I fell in love with her and her work more and more every day. There’s something so beautiful in her. And of course, she looks stunning but at the same time she looks and acts normal. She has always fought against this that everyone in Hollywood should be paper thin. She could be your neighbour yet she’s amazingly talented actress who makes even badly written characters shine. She got the IT factor. I love her. And she’s 42 today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to great Kate Winslet.

To celebrate her I’d like to do my TOP-5 of her performances list. I could do 10 too but as I already do those, let’s make this one shorter. No, actually, I changed my mind. I’m just going to do a list of my favourite films of her because she’s probably better in some of those films but I like others better.

5. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

AND

Finding Neverland (2004)

kate_senseandsensibilityHah, I cheated already! 😀 Never mind. Here I just couldn’t decide. On the case of the first one I like the film a lot like I tend to like all Jane Austen films. Sense and Sensibility is not my favourite and I don’t really like Kate’s character here but then again, who could not like a film with such great talents like Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Tom Wilkinson, even Hugh Laurie and all those other great British actors. I’ve always loved the fact that Kate is from Reading where I used to live. It makes me closer to her. At least I like to think that way. Anyway, Sense and Sensibility was nominated for seven Oscars, Kate being one of those, for supporting part. It was her first nomination, also out of seven in total come today.

Finding Neverland I like more than Sense and Sensibility but her character there isn’t as important and flashy as it is in S&S. And I find Finding Neverland so sad that I don’t watch it often. I think I’ve only seen it twice compared to S&S that I’ve seen multiple times, so many that I lost the count.

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She’s SO beautiful. I’d love to look like her. Whenever asked whom I’d like to look, I say her name. 

4. Revolutionary Road (2008)

This is my favourite performance of hers. She’s unbelievably good. Like no-words-good. The film includes so horrible mental suffering that I haven’t been able to watch it again but I still remember her look in the end. No words, just eyes. Masterful. I haven’t seen The Reader (some tough subjects…), so I don’t know if she’s even better there but I definitely think she should have won an Oscar for this role. And she wasn’t even nominated!

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3. The Holiday (2006)

Yeah, I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. And this one has Kate and Jude. And snow in England where there actually don’t snow that much. And that cottage. And Jack Black is tolerable. And I even like Cameron Diaz in this. And the storyline in LA with that old dude. Works for me. And it’s Christmas! All good. I do watch this every year, I think. And I can relate, I’m so like Iris, her character, in real life. Impossible expectations.

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2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Oh Clementine. And poor Joel. Why don’t they make more films like this? So original and ever so true. Love is pain but who can live without it? If you haven’t see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind watch it now! Like right now!

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1. Titanic (1997)

You knew it. What else it could be if you have ever read my blog? The film is worth of its gigantic name in every detail and Kate is being the crown jewel of it all. With Leo of course. I love, love, love the relationship of those two if anything is true that is detailed . Although, like most of us, I do wish they would end up together. But at least they shine on silver screen whenever they are together. (I decided 20 (wow, it actually is 20!!!) years ago that if I ever get married I will have that dress of Rose’s that she has at the end; I never did).

So, there you go! Such a great lady. I’m already looking forward to her next film. Here’s a taste:

The Oscars Nominations Predictions 2017

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.Here we are again. The best time of the year, the Oscars time! And here are my final nominations. In few hours we’ll be hearing what the Academy picked.

BEST PICTURE

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Hidden Figures
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

  • Silence
  • Deadpool

I couldn’t pick my 10th option because I’m hopeless optimistic and actually think they would go for R-rated comic book movie. Right yeah? I kind of wanted to leave Hidden Figures out as well but this is where the final list now. At the moment it’s either La La Land’s or Moonlight’s to lose.

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DIRECTOR

  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Longergan
  • Hell or High Water – David McKenzie
  • Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

  • Hacksaw Ridge- Mel Gibson
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Silence – Martin Scorsese
  • Lion – Garth Davis

By far the hardest category to predict this year. The three of them are absolute locks (Chazelle, Lonergan and Jenkins) but the two others… I believe that Villeneuve is due with a nomination (I haven’t seen Arrival yet but I’m only hearing good things plus he’s done great job with previous films that were nominated, Prisoners and Sicario) but the last slot was hard to decide. I played a wild card.

ACTORryan_gosling_hot

  • La La Land – Ryan Gosling
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Manchester by the Sea – Casey Affleck
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Garfield
  • Captain Fantastic – Viggo Mortensen

ACTRESS

  • La La Land – Emma Stone
  • Jackie – Natalie Portman
  • Arrival – Amy Adams
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Meryl Streep
  • Elle – Isabelle Huppert

Loving – Ruth Negga

Because of the story of Loving, I wanted to give a slot for Ruth Negga but Huppert has been really strong and one can never leave Streep out, especially when she gave amazing speech at the Golden Globes in the middle of voting of the Oscars nominations.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Lion – Dev Patel 10
  • Moonlight – Mahershala Ali
  • Hell of High Water – Jeff Brigdes
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Hugh Grant
  • Nocturnal Animals – Aaron Taylor-Johnson

  • Manchester by the Sea – Lucas Hedges

I just might be hopeful here again but if Nocturnal Animals will soar at least a bit, Taylor-Johnson will be in. And the Academy has avoid to nominate younger actors in this category like Tremblay last year. But Hedges has been strong so far, so this is a game.

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SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Hidden Figures – Octavia Spences
  • Fences – Viola Davis
  • Manchester by the Sea – Michelle Williams
  • Naomi Harris – Moonlight
  • Lion – Nicole Kidman

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Manchester by the Sea
  • The Lobster
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Captain Fantastic

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Moonlight
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Arrival

  • Hidden Figures

OK, I have a thing for Nocturnal Animals even I haven’t seen it, so again, I’m putting it ahead of probably stronger contender.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • La La Land
  • Silence
  • Arrival
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

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EDITING

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Arrival
  • Moonlight
  • Hacksaw Ridge

 

COSTUME DESIGNjackie_costumes

  • Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Allied

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • La La Land
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Handmaiden
  • Jackie
  • Arrival

 

MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Star Trek Beyond

I asked my make-up artist friend’s opinion here and she chose Deadpool instead of Star Trek Beyond. I’ll blame her if I’m incorrect.

SOUND MIXING

  • La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Rogue One
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon

SOUND EDITING

  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Roque One
  • Arrival
  • The Jungle Book

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Rogue One
  • The Jungle Book 5
  • Arrival
  • Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

SCORE

  • Moonlight (Nicholas Britell)
  • Jackie (Mica Levi)
  • La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
  • The BFG (John Williams)
  • Rogue One (Michael Giacchino)

 


 

  • Lion (Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka)

I’m still a bit annoyed that Jóhann Jóhannsson is not eligible for Arrival as he is these days one of my definite favourite composers. Love his work! I wanted to leave John Williams out but you know, you just can’t. And it’s traditional that the composers branch always vote for their own and already now there are THREE new comers. I hardly see that happening but I don’t know who else to pick. Justin Hurwitz all the way, I looooooove La La Land’s soundtrack!

 

SONG

  • Moana – How Far I’ll Go
  • La La Land – Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
  • La La Land – City of Stars
  • Sing Street – Drive Like You Stole It
  • Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling

  • Sing – Faith
  • Hidden Figures – Runnin’

Always hard category to predict. I gave a chance to Sing Street’s 80’s sounds, it’s a gamble, I know. I hope that the song above wins, I can’t get enough of it.

ANIMATED

  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Red Turtle
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini

  • Finding Dory

Yes, I left out a Pixar film. I’m aware.

 

DOCUMENTARYoj_madeinamerica

  • Cameraperson
  • I am Not Your Negro
  • 13th
  • OJ: Made in America
  • The Eagle Huntress

  • Weiner

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland)

  • It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)

I have a feeling I should not count out Xavier Dolan but I don’t know what else to do.

 

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Inner Workings
  • Piper
  • Blind Vayasha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pearl

 

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Graffiti
  • Nocturne in Black
  • Sing (Mindenki)
  • Timecode
  • The Way of Tea

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • White Helmets
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Extremis
  • The Mute’s House
  • Watani: My Homeland

 

Agree, disagree? We’ll now soon enough how I did this year.

The Best of the Best – Films of 2016

Gosh, I’ve been away again for ages. There’s a reason for that but I’ll get back to that later. Now it’s time for the traditional best of the best in the end of the year. Mine is so sad, though. As I live here in the middle of nowhere (that’s Finnish Lapland to you who don’t know), I haven’t been to cinemas for over two months and haven’t seen the latest, like Rogue One for example. Or Arrival. Or Nocturnal Animals. As said, my list is sad but here it is anyway. And yes, I know that some of these came out in the States in 2015 but not in Europe or at least in those countries that I go to.

10)

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The Lobster

9)

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Steve Jobs

8) 

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The Revenant

7)

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Son of Saul

6)

hero_the-invitation-2016

The Invitation

5)

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Doctor Strange

4)

spider-man-captain-america-civil-war

Captain America: Civil War

3)

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The Big Short

2)

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Deadpool

1)

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Spotlight

Not a very good year as the number one is the only one with total 5/5 (or 10/10 at IMDb) and I’ve given 9/10 only five films this year. Sad. Let’s hope the next year will be better. And in February I’ll have a chance to see all those films I’ve missed during the last couple of months.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

The Oscars 2017 – The Best Pic #3

It’s been over a month since I did parts two and one. And here’s finally the last part of somewhat-early look on the best picture candidates.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Hidden Figures tells a story of “a team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.” (IMDb). It’s starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson from Empire (series) and Janelle Monáe who has a part in this year’s Moonlight that has gotten great reviews. The trailer looks nice mix of emotion and vibe, not too serious but not too light either. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. There’s music made by Pharrell Williams, so at least the best song category should be a lock.

Hacksaw Ridge has Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% and tells a true story of “WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.” (IMDb) Andrew Garfield seems to be having a strong year with this and upcoming Scorsese’s Silence.Hacksaw is said to be a comeback of Mel Gibson who directed the film. The film even has a average of 8.7/10 at IMDb which means it’s liked by audience and critics, so it’ll be hard for the Academy to pass it by.

I’m not sure if this should be on the list or not. It might be too much of sci-fi and to be honest, I’m not sure if Chris Pratt is that kind of an actor who’ll stars in Oscar-worthy films but I didn’t think of that of Bradley Cooper, who is now a three-time nominee, so… But anyway, Passengers also stars bona fide Oscar-girl, Jennifer Lawrence, and is directed by Morten Tyldum, who’s last film, The Imitation Game, got eight nominations, so let’s not count this out yet. IMDb describes the film: “A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.”

Live by Night is a film I just don’t want to count out as it’s directed by Ben Affleck and as a director he hasn’t made a bad film. He hasn’t even made an OK film, he has only made really good ones. So no way I’m not including this one too. The film opens widely in January but has it’s limited run in December to be an eligible. IMDb synopsis says: “A story set in the Prohibition Era and centered around a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organized crime.” The cast is promising, besides Affleck there’s Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning. If the film delivers, one or two of them will be surely nominated.

And the last but not the least, there’s Hell or High Water that is out on DVD this week (the States). It’s raved by the critics and has RT score of 98% and impressive cast of Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster. And apparently all of them deliver. For some reason this reminds me of No Country for Old Men. I guess that’s a good thing. Synopsis says: “A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.”

Here we are. Those are my picks for the Best Picture of 2017. I have already dropped one of them, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk as it sank when it opened and is rotten in Rotten Tomatoes, so let’s just forget it. And La La Land got another lovely trailer: