MTV Awards Nominees!

Well, my votes have been cast – or, my first round of votes has: MTV has a strange system whereby voters are allowed to vote more than once, thus allowing rabid internet fans to make their voices very clearly heard. This is both wonderful (who doesn’t love voting more than once?), and infuriating (voting more than once is…well, cheating?).

But let’s talk about what we’re even voting for! The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees have been announced, and the polls are open in all sixteen categories. Here’s some of the nominees, and, of course, the candidates who got my vote.

For Best Movie, the top contender is obviously Avengers: Endgame, the superhero mega-hit that has crushed the box office and dominated the public conscious for months. While I voted for Endgame, I have to admit there were several other worthy challengers: BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s dramatic adaptation of the story of a black man who infiltrated the KKK; Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse, an animated film with huge appeal to a mainly teen and young-adult fanbase (and those teens are MTV’s target audience); To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, a critically-appraised Netflix film about teen romance; and Us, Jordan Peele’s latest horror-drama about doppelgangers who terrorize an African-American family.

For Best Show, the choice was incredibly easy. Game of Thrones has my vote, no matter how bad the final season may be – and it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still building off of very good material, and, hey, there’s one more episode left! There’s still time to turn the sinking ship around…even if, by that time, it will be too late. But seriously, I’m a fantasy fan, and Riverdale simply does not appeal to me. Now, if The Umbrella Academy were on this list, the choice would have been even easier, but sadly MTV has decided to ignore this cinematic masterpiece.

Interestingly, MTV does not have separate categories for Best Actor and Best Actress, which makes the competition for Best Performance In A Movie that much harder: Amandla Stenberg for The Hate U Give; Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody; Sandra Bullock for Netflix’s Bird Box; Lupita Nyong’o for Us; and Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born. I voted for Lupita because she deserves way more recognition than she gets. Malek is worthy competition, but he did just win an Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury. It’s far more likely, though, that Lady Gaga will finally get an award, even though it’s probably too late to console her for her Oscar snub.

Naturally, for Best Performance In A Show, I’m backing Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones – yes, her character has just recently inspired backlash and division among the fans (and you never want to divide the fans), but she’s still a great actress, just burdened with bad writing.

None of the categories were as difficult as Best Hero, which pits Captain Marvel and Iron Man of the MCU against Shazam from DC, Game of Thrones‘ Arya Stark and BlacKkKlansman‘s Ron Stallworth. This one was hard: Captain Marvel has a special place in my heart because of all of the trials that she (and actress Brie Larson) has struggled through on her way to a billion-dollar box-office sensation, facing internet trolls and haters along the way; but Iron Man’s heroism in Avengers: Endgame cannot be emphasized enough – Robert Downey Jr. is the man who started the MCU and has now honorably closed its third phase as well. But then you’ve got Arya Stark, the girl being lauded as the true hero of Game of Thrones after the show has increasingly begun honing in its focus on her, the traumatized assassin and fierce warrior who said “Not today” in the face of death. Ultimately, Captain Marvel won my vote – the negativity that has surrounded her solo film was vanquished by Larson’s own bravery, as the actress refused to back down from the fight. It is worth noting, however, that Shazam‘s very own Zachary Levi will be hosting the MTV Awards ceremony – I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up winning.

MTV has its own peculiar categories: Best Kiss, for instance. I voted for Jason Momoa and Amber Heard’s kiss in Aquaman simply because, if it’s passionate enough to get the film censored in certain countries, that’s got to count for something.

Another fun one is Best Comedic Performance – with some indecision on my part, I finally chose Marsai Martin of Little, even over Zachary Levi’s performance as Shazam.

Best Villain…Thanos, obviously. Is there any doubt that Josh Brolin’s motion-capture creation should take home this award after snapping half the universe out of existence? I don’t think so.

I’m confused as to how Captain Marvel vs Minn-Erva is seriously one of the nominees for Best Fight – I mean, seriously, that is possibly the weakest fight-scene in the entire Captain Marvel movie. I would have chosen her ten-second combat with Yon-Rogg over that scene. Even with Captain America vs Thanos and Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs Inequality also up for consideration (though, really, does that latter even make sense?) I felt compelled to vote for Arya Stark vs The White Walkers in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3. That is an intensely exciting fight, even if it suffers from being darkly lit in an episode that was already notorious for being darkly lit.

I didn’t forget Ruth Bader Ginsburg though, when she came up again as one of the nominees for Best Real Life Hero. How could I not vote for the woman who has dedicated her life to the fight for equality? She’s up against Serena Williams, though, so expect the competition there to be tight.

So what do you think? You can vote here, and share your thoughts about the nominees in the comments below! (But if you don’t vote for Arya Stark, are you really even entitled to an opinion?)

“Judy” Trailer!

While it’s only a little more than a minute long and features no dialogue, the first trailer for the Judy Garland biopic Judy is a poignant and powerful statement about one of the 20th Century’s most tragic and beloved celebrities: it goes straight for the heart – and it doesn’t miss.

Firstly, there’s no denying that Renée Zellweger looks the part: and no surprise, considering the two-hour long transformation Zellweger had to go through daily on set to become Garland. The trailer features a heartbreaking rendition of Over The Rainbow by Zellweger herself, who makes it her own in a new – yet immediately familiar – fashion. The song, in fact, looks to be one of the key focuses of the movie, which will be set in the year leading up to Garland’s death at the age of 47, during which the singer and actress performed in London at a series of famous concerts. We catch brief glimpses of her life onstage in the trailer, including song-and-dance routines and filming for the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Garland’s Oz co-star Margaret Hamilton will even make an appearance, played by Fenella Woolgar.

But Judy will also look into Garland’s personal life, with Game of Thrones‘ Bella Ramsey portraying her daughter Lorna, while Finn Wittrock and Rufus Sewell will play Garland’s fifth and third husbands, respectively. There are hints of her drug addiction and her struggles with a life of stardom. Biopics such as these have a tendency to dig a little too deep into the dark sides of the people they portray, but musical biopics can leave us with an uplifting feeling even when the story being told is uniquely depressing. Just as Bohemian Rhapsody showed Freddie Mercury’s legacy of great music, so Judy must also: showing us the tragedy of her passing, but reminding us of the hope she left behind.

Judy has to compete with many other musical biopics, but the legacy of its larger-than-life protagonist will probably boost it into consideration for awards season, just like Bohemian Rhapsody before it. Hopefully we’ll get another trailer – one that perhaps doesn’t aim to rip out our heartstrings?

Trailer Rating: 10/10

“Ophelia” Trailer!

The stories of Shakespeare have been redundantly adapted to the big screen over and over again, but every now and again there comes a fresh look at the classic stories that truly turns the tables and gives modern audiences a new taste for the Bard and his work.

Ophelia, an interesting new spin on the old Hamlet story, looks like it could be one such game-changer. Here, the camera has been turned on one of the play’s supporting characters: the princess Ophelia, who is usually only remembered these days for her iconic death by drowning. This is a chance to bring an overlooked heroine into the spotlight, and Ophelia seems to be giving the princess a more active role, while also highlighting the role of Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude. Daisy Ridley of Star Wars will take on the role of Ophelia, while Gertrude will be portrayed by Naomi Watts. Tom Felton, best known as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series, will play Ophelia’s devoted brother Laertes. That sort of star power can’t be ignored.

Without stepping too far into the fantastical, Ophelia looks to be bringing the story to life in a fresh and exciting way: with wars, political intrigue, romance and tragedy cleverly viewed from a woman’s eyes – not just in front of the camera, but behind it too, as the film is directed by Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy. Too many adaptations of these medieval stories try to give them a modern spin (such as last year’s mega-flop Robin Hood, which tried to turn the hero of English folklore into a literal superhero). Ophelia, on the other hand, has a definite antiquated atmosphere, from the poetic dialogue to the beautiful vistas of Danish landscapes – well, technically, Czech Republic landscapes, but whatever. Some quite picturesque castles, at any rate.

Trailer Rating: 7/10

“Gemini Man” Trailer!

The innovative mind of Ang Lee brings us an original sci-fi action thriller, the premise of which has literally been done by hundreds, if not thousands, of previous sci-fi action thrillers – that’s right, clones. So unique. But, you see, this time it’s Will Smith getting cloned, so there you have it: completely original story.

Granted, Gemini Man has been in development since 1997, so it can hardly be blamed if many other stories have come and gone before it reaches the big screen in October. And it does star Will Smith, which is a draw: in fact, it stars Will Smith in two roles – as the aging assassin Henry Brogen, and the de-aged clone of himself that is hunting him. De-aging techniques have come so far, they’re incredible. The question of why Brogen has been cloned, and how, is presumably one of the film’s plot points, but let’s just say the vague explanation given in the trailer is insufferably bad:

“You made a person out of another person,” the clone says with disbelief. “Then you sent me to kill him.”

And, of course, it features all the typical elements of generic spy films: Random Exploding Car? Check. Government Organization With Something To Hide? Check. Glowing Metallic Title Font? Check.

Maybe there’s a decent movie behind all the incredibly overdone action-thriller tropes that this trailer has put forward, but I’m firmly convinced that Gemini Man is relying way too heavily on the fact that it’s got Will Smith starring in not one, but two lead roles. Action-thrillers have become more and more boringly unoriginal as more and more studios try to unseat the Mission: Impossible films – and I’m predicting that Gemini Man, like its premise, will be just another clone.

Trailer Rating: 5/10

New Clip From “Tolkien”

This movie does seem to be getting more appealing to me – though this clip, which was released today by Empire, is somewhat conflicting. On the one hand, it has beautiful background music, which helps the dialogue immensely; the spoken words seem to flow around melodiously in a rhythm, the effect of which would almost be hypnotic if it weren’t for the fact that the interaction between J.R.R Tolkien and Edith Bratt here seemed so peculiarly awkward! I mean, yes, their interruptions and mumbling does lend to the interest of the scene, but it doesn’t seem to work entirely. Tolkien himself (played by Nicholas Hoult) seems a little self-absorbed – when Edith (Lily Collins) tells him she has thought of a name for a character in a story, he corrects her: “It’s not a name,” he says. “It’s something else.”

He’s referring to the fact that, in his invented language, the word Edith has created is a place-name. But the line delivery sounds too sharp, too abrupt.

Similarly, at the opening of the scene, the back-and-forth between the two seems less romantic than it does snippy. Edith pushes Tolkien to tell her a story, but can only persuade him when she gives him the choice of doing it “in any language”. Once things get moving and Tolkien starts showing off his incredible imagination, the whole scene gets much better, but the dialogue between the two feels like it could have been toned down just a little. Tolkien is currently coming off somewhat impolite – not entirely rude, but very secluded and private. Edith is much more relatable: she’s clearly fascinated by Tolkien’s intellect and her eyes are wide with wonder as Tolkien explains that the name she created (which,  by the way, is just the words “cellar door”) properly belongs to an ancient place, almost impossible to reach, but held in reverence by those who find it. “Oh, is it now?,” Edith says: proving she, too, seems to have a tendency to cut in at just the wrong moment.

Tolkien, however, is by now lost in his imagination: he talks about the shrine at the heart of this magical place, and how it is marked by – and there he pauses suddenly, and the music gently trembles around him. This is the best moment in the clip. Tolkien is on the brink of saying that this place was marked by the Elves, the legendary people who inhabit much of his invented world. But he stops, staring dreamily into space, and says – “by trees.”

In a way, the idea that the trees were responsible for this place’s magic would not be alien to Tolkien – he revered trees, and would often stop to stare at them for very long times when he was out walking. Some of his most notable characters are the Ents, the tree-shaped forest dwellers who rise up against industrialism in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Magical trees populate Middle-earth, from the enchanting mellyrn of Lórien to the Forest of Nightshade in Beleriand. So for a moment I was actually caught off guard by this line, and didn’t realize that it was meant to be a substitute for Elves. When I did realize, and re-watched the whole scene, the magic is indeed much more noticeable – but the interactions between Edith and John might have needed just a little more work.

All in all, the scene is quite good: the focus on Tolkien’s linguistic and philological skills is delightful. The use of the phrase “cellar door” to drive the scene is wonderful: Tolkien once said that the word “cellar door” was one of the most beautiful in the English language. The music is just perfect (honestly, the music is so good: very Elven). And the acting from Hoult and Collins is, for the most part, really good – I just think certain lines could have been edited slightly for an even better effect. I would be lying, though, if I said that this brief clip didn’t make me more excited than any Avengers: Endgame trailer. The truth is, I am wildly hyped for Tolkien, and I’m giving it all the benefit of the doubt for now.

Trailer Rating: 7.9/10