March 2021 in Summary: Oscar Rush

Those who have been reading my writings for awhile know that I have made it a tradition to review every Oscar-nominated film before ranking them from worst to best. That is something I intend to uphold this year, although admittedly, it’s going to be much trickier due to the fact that it involves sifting through various streaming services seeing as how theaters aren’t exactly appealing right now. Nonetheless, I’ll try to make it work, and I already have at least one review ready to go.

Films watched in March 2021:

In theaters:

  • <None>

At home:

  • Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)
  • …And Justice for All (Norman Jewison, 1979)
  • Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin, 2020)
  • Mank (David Fincher, 2020)
  • Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

Films reviewed in March 2021:

Source Code

The sophomore slump is a fascinating phenomenon, yet the exact reason it occurs tends to be on a case-by-case basis. Maybe the artist had a long time to come up their best ideas – and then they become a success and are given a much shorter time to make a follow-up. Maybe the artist only had one good idea in them. Either way, the general rule is that the sophomore slump can only occur if the artist’s debut was strong – otherwise a weak follow-up to a weak debut is just indicative of their low/middling talent level. It may be reversed somewhere down the line – in fact, I find the longest-lasting artists tend to take a few tries before they get it right (examples: Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Radiohead, and David Bowie), but otherwise, a weak follow-up to a weak debut lacks the sheer disappointment factor of being let down by a promising talent. Now, admittedly, I haven’t actually seen Moon, but if it was indeed a great film, then Source Code is an interesting example in that it managed to be a sophomore slump that disguised itself as a strong follow-up.

After this film, Duncan Jones would go on to make Warcraft and Mute, neither of which were acclaimed (although Warcraft did manage to be something of a crowd pleaser, at least). If nothing else, he fared better than Ben Ripley, who would go on to pen the screenplay to the Flatliners remake, which is considered one of the worst films of 2017. And keep in mind that 2017 didn’t exactly have a deficit of bad films between Wish Upon, The Emoji Movie, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Transformers: The Last Knight, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, so that Flatliners was able to stand out as the worst of them should tell you something. I hope Mr. Jones has another good film in him because even having only seen Source Code, he does show a lot of promise, and his willingness to dabble in multiple genres (not unlike his father, now that I think about it) puts him light years ahead of the average indie director who debuted after him such as Alex Garland or Ari Aster, who seem to be content with finding a niche and staying there.

Regardless, Source Code is a prime example of how much goodwill you can lose when you fail to think through your implications. Yes, the film does operate on a high concept and yes, it was good up until the ending, but when one makes such a dire mistake, none of that really matters. Ultimately, I find that Source Code foreshadowed the defining flaw of filmmaking in the 2010s wherein directors and screenwriters demanded their audience take everything at face value and not think about the underlying implications because doing so would invariably destroy their narrative’s integrity (e.g.: Looper, Ex Machina, Upgrade, Hustlers, Knives Out, et al.). Source Code is admittedly less obnoxious than a majority of those films by virtue of having a touch of optimism to it (actually, the only film of those five I definitely would recommend over Source Code is Looper), but it’s a lot like District 9 in that it was ahead of its time and not in a good way.

Featured articles:

You’re the Only One, One World, One Love! The Persona 3 Retrospective, Part 6(d); Characters-Fuuka and Aigis – Aether starts off the month by continuing his Persona 3 retrospective – this time, discussing the characters who join around a significant turning point.

Day Eight: Lady Snowblood (MotM 2021) – As part of a month-long review marathon, Kapodaco of The Visualist’s Veranda reviewed Lady Snowblood, which was one of the inspirations for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka – I’ve always found it interesting whenever people end up telling stories of fantastic universes from the perspective of the everyday person. Lashaan Balasingam of Bookidote looks at one such story: Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty.

Fictional Characters I Want As Bodyguards – Emily of Monsterlady’s Diary speculates on which fictional characters would make for good bodyguards. Naturally, video games have spawned quite a few worthy candidates, although some choices were certainly not ones I would’ve thought of.

Quantity Or Quality In An RPG – Jason McFadden goes into the classic Quantity vs. Quality debate in regards to role-playing games. I’m definitely more for quality over quantity, but he makes the case that quantity is itself a quality – especially when it comes to good sidequests.

Spiritfarer Review – The 2010s was a great decade for indie games. Al of Al’s Manga Blog takes a look at one great-looking one named Spiritfarer.

I love Minoria, and I want you all to know that – And one of the best things about the indie scene is its ability to give otherwise abandoned genres a new lease on life. While the Metroidvania was largely out to lunch throughout the 2010s in the AAA industry, indies managed to pump out a lot of good ones, including Minoria, which skyraftwanderer talks about in this article.

Pet Semetary by Stephen King – An Audiobook Review – I can’t help but conclude that Pet Semetary is another one of those “good as a book, not so much as a film” deals considering Aaron of swordsandspectres’s great review of the audiobook. Stephen King seems to write a lot of those kinds of stories.

Authors I Won’t Read Again? – Remember: the goodwill of your audience is not a limitless resource. Gemma of Book Beach Bunny takes a look at a few authors, who, for whatever reason, managed to completely lose her.

Links to my articles:

Film reviews:

Other posts:

9 thoughts on “March 2021 in Summary: Oscar Rush

  1. I’m so glad people loved my article about fictional bodyguards! We often think about fictional characters we wish we could have as a sibling, best friend, or boyfriend/girlfriend, but bodyguard rarely comes up. Yeah some of the ones I chose were definitely unexpected. What can I say, my taste is unique.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, you went in an interesting direction with that concept; I’m kind of surprised few people thought of it before. Exodia was a good choice given that you win as soon as he’s summoned; it’s always funny to see games end that way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not many people thought about listing villains with great evil laughs either which is something else that I wrote! Exodia is a classic, the idea for that article came when I had a dream once where he was protecting me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate the shout-out to my Gotham Central review. Reminds me that I need to queue up the rest of the series on my TBR.

    I also got around to watching Roman Holiday since your review. It was indeed a fantastic movie! I summarized it as a “romantic adventure where a selfish American reporter and a rebellious European princess set off to discover the splendour of Rome and the possibility of happiness free of societal obligations and values while falling in love.” They sure don’t make movies like those anymore.

    Hope you have a wonderful month of April! I plan on checking out the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar too. I haven’t binged through most of them as you did yet though hahah I’ll still check out your review for Minari just to see if it’s more positive or negative! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome!

      And yeah, the current wave of filmmakers really don’t have much on their predecessors. On some level, I don’t like saying that because it comes across as rather stodgy and conservative, but there’s no getting around that the talent level amongst filmmakers dropped significantly in the past ten years. It’s not to say good art isn’t being made; it’s just that today’s good art isn’t necessarily imprinted onto celluloid.

      So far, it seems to be a pretty solid lineup; if nothing else, it sure managed to blow 2018’s (which is to say the movies from 2018 not the 2018 ceremony celebrating 2017’s releases) lineup out of of the water, which should give you an indication as to just how weak that year was.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, I can imagine it’s a little harder to keep up with films when theaters aren’t an option. You’d think streaming would help with that, make everything more accessible, but given that every other film requires you to pick up a new service, it gets ridiculously expensive if you’re trying to keep up with releases the way you used to be able to..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed, it is. And the distributors don’t even have the courtesy to keep certain films on those services. Now, anyone wanting to see Judas and the Black Messiah has to do so in theaters. Stay classy, distributors. It’s what you do best.

      It just makes the case that the Hollywood bigwigs really need to update their business model.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll admit I don’t give a damn about the Oscars, but I’m looking forward to your looks at the films that were nominated. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see how people react to the picks and the snubs and all that stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! To give you an idea, I will say that while this lineup doesn’t have the same amount of bravado as 2019’s, I can, at the very least say it’s better than 2018’s. It seems like they picked some good films, though it’s a little hard to tell this time given that I haven’t seen many 2020 films outside of these nominees.

      Liked by 1 person

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