Reel Reviews: Winners, losers, and a bonus review

By on February 27, 2019

“Green Book,” this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.


I went 10 for 24 in Oscar predictions during the Academy Awards last Sunday night. That’s not good. But, oh well. It goes to show you never know what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is going to do.

Heck, from the way this ceremony was going, I’m not sure the Academy knew what they were going to do. For a while it looked like “Black Panther” was going to win everything including Best Picture. So, without prattling on like so many critics have already done before me, here are a few phony awards I am giving out based on how things went down at the Oscars.

  • The Big Snub Prize: For me, it was “Mary Queen of Scots.” I thought this movie was the hands-down winner for both Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling. Whatever.
  • The ‘Say What?’ Award: I went all in with “First Man” for both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. I guess I spaced that one.
  • A Writer Knows No Writing Award: Again, I blanked on both. I went with “A Star Is Born” for Adapted Screenplay and “Roma” for Original Screenplay. What do I know about writing?
  • The No Brainer Award: Easily “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.” This movie is simply groundbreaking when it comes to animated film.
  • Bonafide Shocker Award: “Green Book” winning Best Picture floored me. The way the night was going I wouldn’t have been surprised to see “Black Panther” walk away with the top honor, but I assumed “The Favourite,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Roma,” “A Star is Born,” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” had a better chance of winning than “Green Book.” This movie was on my radar when it was released, opened poorly, but continued to climb in the box office, yet I never took the opportunity to go and see it. Duh. Well, ‘til next year …

‘Happy Death Day 2U’

The folks at Blumhouse are back; this production company is the master of knowing when it has a good thing going. “Happy Death Day 2U,” the follow up to the 2017 schlocker, is barely hanging in the box office top 10, but who cares? The movie already better than doubled its budget after two weeks in theaters. And for those of you who haven’t got in on this franchise, you don’t know what you’re missing … let me tell you about it.

It’s simple. Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, “La La Land”) wakes up every morning, again and again, on the day she dies. Throughout the process she enlists the help of college friends Carter (Israel Broussard), Ryan (Phi Vu), Samar (Suraj Sharma), and Andrea (Sarah Yarkin) to figure out who is killing her and why she is in a time-loop of terror.

This is horror comedy at its best. “Happy Death Day 2U” is covertly smart, dumping random references to pop culture while paying homage to movies like “Weird Science” and “Back to the Future.” The beauty of this (and many other Blumhouse productions) is that it isn’t afraid to be what it is. It’s funny. It’s tacky. This time around, Blumhouse enlisted the help of Universal to give the movie a better production value, which is nice. Being able to fully accept that you are going to see a low budget, fun movie with spots of bad acting and overwritten dialogue allows the viewer to, as they say at Disney, let it go!

At their root, movies are a form of escapism. Sometimes we just need to let ourselves escape and enjoy a movie for exactly what it is. You want to laugh? Go see this movie. You want to have some fun? Go see this movie. It’s easy. Get caught up now because a third “Death Day” is surely on its way.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at

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