Monday, March 29, 2021

New Evangelizers Post: We Are An Easter People



I have a new article up at  

The most common image in most Catholic churches is the crucifix. It is displayed prominently, usually above the altar as a focal point of the congregation. Catholics have a long tradition emphasizing the Passion in our relationship with Jesus. For us, God shows His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. There was no price which He was not willing to pay in order for the chance that we could be with Him forever.

But this focus on the Passion carries with it an inherent danger. While it is absolutely good and proper to keep Christ’s sacrifice in the forefront of our minds and hearts, we must never overlook the fact that the story does not end on Good Friday. We are not a people who live in perpetual sorrow over the loss of His life. We are something else.

We are an Easter people.

A few years ago I went to a wake for a co-worker’s mother. As we approached to give our condolences, I was surprised to see him so jovial. He spoke with a big smile about how his mother was now reunited with his father and the brother he had lost many years ago. His voice was strong and hopeful. I remember walking away amazed at his faith. Here was a man who lived in the hope of the Resurrection.

He understood that we are an Easter people.

The most important Holy Day of all the Holy Days is not Christmas, Ash Wednesday, or Even Good Friday. It is Easter.

Easter is so significant that it is re-enacted not just once a year, but once a week. Every Sunday is a mini-Easter. This is why the Christian Sabbath was moved from the Hebrew celebration on Saturday to the Lord’s Day on Sunday. At the head of every week, we remember that Jesus rose from the dead.

Pope Benedict XVI once pointed to some historical evidence that ancient Christian altars faced the rising sun in symbolic remembrance of the Rising Son.

It is true that life is hard and Christ took on all the horror that the world has to offer. While we live in this Vale of Tears, it is easy to be convinced of the reality of the Passion, but the reality of the Resurrection can sometimes seem far away. Suffering is a universal experience to which anyone can relate. Fr. Benedict Groeschel once said that he has never been resurrected, but he had been to Calvary several times.

But without the Resurrection, the cross is pointless.

We don’t end the story on Good Friday. That was the mistake of the disciples who fell into fear and depression. Even though the Master told them that He would return after three days, they doubted. Sometimes we may look down on them for doubting His words after all of the signs He gave them. But don’t we do the same thing?

Jesus provided the proof of His words by rising from the dead. He promises this to us as well. Do we doubt?

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the history of the world may be a long defeat. But it will end in ultimate victory for God and those on His side. Do we truly believe this? Are we confident in this?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things out there that are not of God. We have the pandemic still causing great distress to the physical, emotional, and psychological health of the world. We have great atrocities still being committed by tyrannical governments. We have a cancel culture that is waiting to raise the digital mob into a frenzy to destroy anyone who stands against whatever modern society holds sacred. We have a Church that is constantly attacked and persecuted from without and who also is dealing from festering corruption within. Economic woes seem to be on the rise. Religious rights are under attack. More and more people in this country are rejecting the Christian faith. The family itself is being undermined and basic truths of human nature are being exchanged for convenient politically correct lies.

All of this is happening right now. These are real problems to which we cannot turn a blind eye. We have a responsibility to speak truth to power and witness against all manner of evil and corruption in the world. But as the darkness grows, do we truly believe that God is still in control?

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Best: Oscar Game 2021

OBJECT: Get the most points!

HOW TO PLAY:  Fill out a score sheet for each category with  your prediction.  

In the past, I had to levels to the game where you would have your choice distinct from your prediction.  However, since this year there have been so few movies that have been seen by the general public, we are only going to be covering predictions.



-Best Picture

-Best Director

-Best Actor

-Best Actress

-Best Supporting Actor

-Best Supporting Actress

-Best Original Screenplay

-Best Adapted Screenplay

-Best Original Score

-Best Original Song

-Best Animate Feature

On the night of the Oscars, give yourself 1 point for each correct guess in MY PREDICTIONS.  If you get a prediction wrong, subtract 1 point.  


-Best Editing

-Best Cinematography

-Best Visual Effects

-Best Sound Editing

-Best Sound Mixing

-Best Makeup

-Best Costumes

-Best Production Design

For these, give yourself 1 point for each correct guess in MY PREDICTIONS.  There is no penalty for incorrect guesses for MY PREDICTIONS 


-Best Documentary Feature

-Best Documentary Short

-Best Animated Short

-Best Live Action Short

-Best International Feature Film

For these, give yourself 1/5th of a point (.2) for each correct guess in MY PREDICTIONS.    There is no penalty for incorrect guesses for MY PREDICTIONS.


Fill out the below score sheet and send it to me.  I will be the designated score-keeper.  You may change any choice up until the broadcast begins.

The winner will receive bragging rights and recognition on this blog.

Click the link below to fill out the form

Click the link below to fill out the form

Here are my choices so far:

NameCatholic Skywalker
Do you want me to use your real name on my blog?
BEST ACTOR - MY PREDICTIONChadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
“Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?” Bosnia and Herzegovina
“If Anything Happens I Love You”

Friday, March 26, 2021

I Don't Deserve To Be Loved


A few years ago, I started to notice a trend in media.  In the movie A Wrinkle in Time, the main character has a big speech at the end which completes her arc.  After being emotionally validated the entire film, she shouts that she deserves to be loved.  In the movie The Greatest Showman, in the song "This is Me," the main singer sings "I know that I deserve your love.  There's nothing I'm not worthy of."

These are other examples have been floating around for awhile and they have made me uncomfortable every time I have encountered them.  There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with this world view.  For as long as I can remember, I have always known this:

I do not deserve to be loved.

There are many things in this world that I do deserve.  I deserve justice under the law.  I deserve to be treated with respect as a human being.  I deserve my rights that come to me from nature.  I deserve all that I have earned by my labor.

But love?  How in the world can I say that I deserve love?

The term "deserve" implies a debt that is owed.  If I am a worker for hire, then I deserve the pay that is given to me.  If I give money to the worker at the window at McDonald's, then I deserve my McNuggets and fries.  I am owed these things because of what I have done. Sometimes I am owed things simply because of who I am.  As a citizen, I am owed the protections of law enforcement and the criminal justice system, regardless if I pay for those services through my taxes.  

But you cannot look at love in this way.  Love is too big and too wonderful to be reduced to some kind of economic transaction.  If this is what we turn love into then it ceases to be real love.

Above all, love is a gift.  It must something that is freely chosen and freely given.  Love is at the heart of human existence.  It is the greatest dimension of our reality.

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, and love each other.  But I cannot recall Him ever telling us that we are to love other people because they deserve our love.  In fact, love seems to be most real when it is given to those who are least deserving.  St. Paul says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).  Jesus did not love us because we deserved to be loved.  In fact, His love for us is even more profound because He loves those who do not love Him back.  He did not wait for us to become deserving of salvation before we He saved us.

I think one of the reasons that Jesus commanded us to love each other is because He understood that love is undeserved.  We are not supposed to wait until people are worthy in our eyes of our love.  We must love them.  GK Chesterton once said "There is the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast, that a thing must be loved before it is lovable."  The Beast is not entitled to the love he is seeking.  But it is in the free gift of love that he is transformed.  It only works because he has not earned her love as something that is owed.  The transformation occurs because the love that he receives is undeserved.

Author Brad Meltzer once wrote that when it comes to our best friends, we don't see them as equals, we see them as our betters.  There is a part of us that cannot believe that they have chosen to be our friends and we feel undeserving.  This is the exact right attitude when it comes to real friendship and love.  

Do not misunderstand: saying that I do not deserve love is not say that I am not good or not capable of being loved.  Sadly, people in abusive relationships still cling to their abusers because they become dependent on their affections.  Their abusers brainwash them into thinking that no one will ever love them because they are worthless.  Being worthless and not deserving love are not the same thing.

I am not worthless.  As a human being I have value because I am made in God's image.  But even beyond that, Jesus looked at me and said that I was worth dying for.  In His eyes, I am worth His life.  My value is unfathomable: my life is worth the life of Christ.  And that is the worth of every human life.  

But returning to the point, if I thought that somehow Christ owed me salvation, I would miss the point of love entirely.  Things that are deserved are not things that are free gifts.  

My amazing wife of nearly 20 years made a vow to love, honor, and serve me all the days of her life (she added the "serve" into her vows herself).  She made a permanent commitment to me for life to love me.  But I would be a fool to ever think that she owed me her love.  

Thinking someone owes you love will kill love.

If I begin to think that her love as something that I am owed, I will be filled with a horrible sense of entitlement.  Because of our commitment we can make claims on each other.  But I am well aware she never needed to make that commitment.  I'm not worthy to be her husband.  With this knowledge, I am filled with awe and gratitude for every second that she gives me.  My parents got divorced when I was a child, so I know that even marriage in this world is not always treated as permanent.  Every morning I am so grateful that she is still with me.  The moment I think that her love is something that she owes me, all of that would evaporate.  

How can I be filled with gratitude for something that I am owed?  Am I in awe when the McDonald's worker hands me my Happy Meal?  Perhaps I can be grateful in a general sense in the same way we are grateful for any good thing in our lives.  But this is something quite distinct from the absolute free gift of love that someone gives you.

It is the same way with our friends.  When I think of my pals, I am filled with gratitude and awe.  How in the world did I become so blessed to have these people in my life?  Circumstances may have caused our lives to intersect but our continued friendship is a free choice.  I am not owed their friendship and yet they freely give it.  Like marriage, there are obligations in friendship that aren't always pleasant.  As the wise man once said, "It ain't easy havin' pals."  But we are not forced to these duties of friendship from without, but compelled to these from within.  Inside, I just want to demonstrate my gratitude for these undeserved friendships.

And this is also the way it should be in our families.  Providence chose who would be our parents, our brothers, our sisters, and our children.  Growing up, we are thrown together in close quarters where we see all the good and the bad.  And once through all that, I am in awe that we can forgive each other and keep those bonds of love.  If anyone of my family members were to keep a record of my wrongs, it would be vivid indictment of my life and why I do not deserve their love.  But love does not keep a record of wrongs.  Love forgives.  And forgiveness, like love, is not something deserved, but an act of mercy.

I am repulsed by the idea that I deserve someone else's love.  There is a horrible sense of entitlement that underlies that way of thinking.  This would turn my heart into a black hole that would ravenously suck in all the affection and attention from others that I thought I was owed.  It would shift the center of my universe to my own ego.  I would lose the awe and gratitude that comes when I am the recipient of the free gift of gratuitous love.  Going back to Beauty and the Beast, Gaston believes he is owed Belle's love.  The Beast knows he doesn't deserve her love.  And that makes all the difference.

One my observations is that it seems that those who claim that they deserve love are the ones who focus on all the love that they don't have.  Their eyes are on those who do not love them rather than on the ones that do.  I do not deserve love and yet, I am so loved.  I am surrounded by the love of my friends, my family, and above all, the gracious love of God.  When it comes to love, I have an embarrassment of riches.  

And the richness of this love is all the sweeter because it is not something that I deserve.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Film Review: Zack Snyder's Justice League


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Mature
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

This is a difficult movie to review because I don't think that there has ever been a movie like this.

For some context, Zack Snyder directed the hit movie Man of Steel and then went on to make the sequel the (unappreciated) masterpiece Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  However, even though the second movie made over $850 million, it was considered a box office disappointment.  The studio believed that part of the reason for the result was the darker tone that Snyder brought to his films.  However, by the time BvS was released, he was already deep into his Justice League, which the studio wanted to be their Avengers.  However, after shooting ended, Snyder experienced a family tragedy that caused him to walk away from the project.  Warner Bros. took this as an opportunity to course correct Snyder's vision.  They brought in Avengers director Joss Whedon who did extensive reshoots, causing the final product to be very uneven.  The result was a financial disappointment worse than BvS.  

Over the years, fans have been clamoring for the "Snyder Cut" of the movie, claiming that the studio had it but refused to release it.  After a long grass roots internet campaign, Warner decided to let Snyder finish his cut and release on HBO Max, hoping it would draw people to their service.  What results is a 4-hour film that has been chunked up into chapters so that you can watch it like a mini-series.

And I highly recommend watching it like a mini-series.  Looking it as one long movie is difficult because it's enormous length will make you focus on all that could still be trimmed.  Seeing it as a mini-series of self-contained chapters makes the story feel like it is going at a tighter pace.  Even with the 4-hour run time, the story is densely packed.  I remember we got to the first hour and I could have sworn 2 hours had gone by.  I don't mean that the story dragged.  On the contrary, I felt like a lot had happened in only the first hour.  But I think I only looked at it this way because I viewed it as a mini-series.

The same basic plot is present in the Snyder Cut as was in the theatrical: after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in BvS, Earth is now vulnerable to attack from the conquering Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds).  He has to find three ancient devices called "Mother Boxes" to use to destroy the world.  Atoning for his attack on Superman, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) seeks to find heroes to protect  the world including Wonder Woman (Gal Godot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cybort (Ray Fisher), and the Flash (Ezra Miller).  Together they must protect the mother boxes and save the world from Steppenwolf and his evil master Darkseid (Ray Porter).

For those who read my original review of the theatrical version of Justice League, I was not a hater of Joss Whedon's cut.  I mentioned that it had an uneven tone that it never quite reaches the heights of BvS.  But I think that a lot of the dumping on Whedon is very unfair.  He was charged to make massive tonal changes to a movie that was already wrapped in terms of filming.  The fact that Snyder and Whedon have drastically different styles is not Whedon's fault.  Overall, The Snyder Cut is an improvement, but that isn't to say that Whedon's contributions were all bad.  

Even though Snyder tends to be a highly stylized director, Justice League is the one movie of his that feels the most toned-down.  That isn't to say that his very unique visual style isn't present, but that it is not as immersive as in his other movies.  For fans of Snyder this is a disappointment, For non-fans, this may be a relief.  There still plenty of slow-motion shots set to rock ballads to satisfy most hardcore Snyder fans.  It is also strange in that it goes for a 4:3 aspect ratio.  At first I thought it had something to do with saving money on special effects, but apparently it is because it mirrors IMAX screens.  When seen on a widescreen TV, it is distracting at first, but then you forget about it.

There are many improvements to this cut, particularly in how the characters are presented.  The character who benefits the most is the Flash.  Snyder still uses him the way Whedon did, where is the novice of the group and throws out most of the quips like Spider-Man.  But there is a difference between your character being jokey and turning your character into a joke.  Unlike the theatrical version, this movie made me look at Miller seriously as a heroic figure.  In his introductory scene, he plays his Barry Allen as a geeky clown.  But when danger is present, Miller was able to kick into hero mode and it made me take notice.  I questioned the casting of Miller from the beginning and through the Whedon cut.  But in the Snyder cut, I could see what Snyder saw.  Miller is able to still be funny while playing his Flash with seriousness and sincerity.  There is a point where he says by the grave of Superman, "He was my hero."  It isn't too melodramatic, but you can see how he says it like an innocent kid talking about a fallen idol.  And while there are weird gags in there involving hot dogs, gone are the strange asides about brunch.

Another drastic improvement is with Steppenwolf as the villain.  As I wrote in my original review: "The biggest drawback of the film is its villain.  Steppenwolf is a character made of sub-par CGI and bland motives.  He is definitely no Loki."  In this cut, Steppenwolf has a much more inhuman design, but ironically he is much more understandable.  There is a principle called "the Uncanny Valley," where the closer something not human looks to human, the more we are attracted to it, but at a certain point as it gets closer to human but not quite, we have a deep sense of repulsion.  The theatrical Steppenwolf fell into the low end of the Uncanny Valley.  Snyder's Steppenwolf is alien enough to stay on the upper side of the Valley and be much more interesting to watch.  The way he looks at Darkseid, with such fear and awe and majesty, you immediately get his motivations and understand them.  His look is also more intense and frightening than in the theatrical cut.  I love how his metallic armor bristles dangerously in response to his mood.

Cyborg is also given a much more complete arc.  Particularly, his incredibly complicated relationship with his father is fleshed out to tremendous emotional effect.  Joe Morton does a fantastic job as Silas Stone, playing the role of a father that crossed the line in saving his son and living with his son's resentment for it.  He seems resigned to Victor's hatred of him with a quiet dignity that I really liked about Morton's performance.  He actually gives us one of the most emotional scenes in the movie and he does it with stoic grace.

Affleck's performance is much more consistent in this movie.  As I wrote of the theatrical cut, "His performance in Batman v. Superman is nuanced and powerful, always smoldering with barely-contained rage.  And there are many scenes where this can be seen in Justice League.  But then there are scenes where he comes off as relaxed and aloof like Tony Stark.  I would stake my paycheck that those latter scenes were filmed by Whedon.  Neither performance is bad, mind you.  But it feels a bit inconsistent."  Justice League shows a toned-down Batman, but that is part of his arc from the previous movie.  Superman taught him to step a little more into the light and let go of some of that rage.

On this thread, there is an thematic element that is added to this one that is absent from the Whedon cut: faith.

One of the reason for the difference in Bruce's change in personality between movies is how he is now more a person of faith.  He approached Superman with cynical suspicion in their first encounter.  Having learned that lesson, he now realizes that sometimes you have to have faith in people.  It reminds me of how the priest told Clark in Man of Steel that sometimes you have to begin with a leap of faith and then trust comes after.  This reminds me of the change we saw in Jack Shepherd in the show Lost, where cold logic is thawed to make room for faith.  It is not that the two things are incompatible, but that faith goes beyond what reason can see.  By putting his faith in others, Bruce helps them become more than they are alone.  While this is not about religious faith, it nevertheless shows faith's importance.  I also noted how in the opening Wonder Woman sequence the religious elements of the terrorists were toned down in Snyder's cut.  While I don't know Snyder's personal relationship to God, his use of Christian imagery in Man of Steel and BvS tells me that he at least understands the power of those symbols and respects them.

The four-hour run time allows the story to breath and lets it unfold more naturally.  There is a clear through-line from the death of Superman through to the end.  The explanation of how the Mother Boxes work is woven better into the narrative.  Smaller elements really help the movie along too.  In the theatrical version, the Amazons seal themselves in the building with Steppenwolf.  But this doesn't seem like a big deal as Steppenwolf simply breaks through the wall and pursues the Mother Box.  In the Snyder Cut, sealing the building also causes it to fall into the sea, thus making the action an heroic sacrifice on the part of those who stayed behind to give Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) a chance to escape.  Also Lois Lane's grief is explored a bit more in depth and how she is having trouble moving on after Clark's death.  She also has a more complete character arc in this film rather than her being simply an emotional control on Superman.

Something else I thought was very interesting was the lack of conflict within the League itself.  In Whedon's cut, the team almost come to blows over whether or not they should resurrect Superman and then later they almost tear themselves down after Steppenwolf gets the final Mother Box.  Snyder's cut has most of the League on the same page.  Some are reluctant, but they all tend to grudgingly agree.  This is a place where I would say that Whedon was correct to add a bit more conflict so that we could see how distinct the characters are.  But this seems to go against Snyder's idea stated above about having faith in people and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

That isn't to say that Snyder Cut couldn't have been trimmed.  Because it feels like Warner Bros. gave him carte blanche, Snyder left a lot more in than should be there.  There is a musical number when Aquaman heads to the sea that could have easily been cut.  Also there is an introduction of another hero that feels a bit out of place (more on this later).  Scenes that add to the feel of the movie are left in because they can be not because they needed to be.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it feels too forward-looking.  Don't get me wrong, most super hero films lay the groundwork for future adventures.  But all indications are that this is the last hurrah for Snyder's storyline.  Robert Pattinson has just finished filming his new Batman movie.  JJ Abrams at this time is apparently rebooting Superman.  The Snyder Cut leans heavily into the idea that this movie is not a complete story.  This is especially true in three areas:

First, Darkseid is a cool addition to the story but he is set up to be a future threat more than a current one.  They setup Steppenwolf as a formidable force that necessitates bringing back Superman, but they also set up how much Steppenwolf is dwarfed in power by Darkseid.  However, we never see this fully realized.  It is setup for a future movie.

Second, the epilogue between Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Deathstroke (Joe Maganiello) points to the now-cancelled Batfleck solo movie.  The idea of Deathstroke going head-to-head with Batman onscreen is almost too awesome to imagine.  But when I watched that scene, I kept thinking about how the movie was cancelled and it left me with disappointment.

Third, there is a "Knightmare" sequence in this movie similar to BvS.  In some post-apocalyptic future, Batman is leading a cadre of heroes (and villains) against an evil Superman, just like in the previous movie.  And while I really enjoyed the scene, it felt made Justice League feel like a stepping stone to a larger story we may never see.  The build up to this also includes a long-time member of the Justice League who makes his debut in this movie.  I would be more excited about it if this character were more integral to the main story of this movie and not a tease to something in the future.

There are also some other dangling issues regarding Lois Lane and Superman that never get fully resolved.  Because of this, the movie ends on an ellipses in a way that the theatrical version does not.  

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed Zack Snyder's Justice League.  I have been a fan of his style and it was nice to see him get to execute his vision.  It is not as good as BvS, but I wasn't expecting it to be.  It is too indulgent as a feature film, which is why it helps to see it as a mini-series.  In that context, I highly recommend the Snyder Cut.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

SUNDAY BEST: Oscar Nominations 2021

 So the nominees were announced this past week for the 93rd Academy Awards.

These awards remain the most prestigious in film.  And while many of you, dear readers, are of the opinion that all awards shows are terrible and should simply be shunned, it is my perpetual hope that Hollywood will reform itself and once again nominate movies that matter.

That is not this year.

Granted, this was a terrible year for movies.  Because of COVID, so many films were delayed and held from release.  The Academy even bent their own rules and nominated films that premiered on streaming.  And still the list is poor.

Normally, I would make a comparison between the top 10 box office earners and the films nominated for Best Picture in order to illustrate the divide between the Academy and the common man.  However, we have so little reliable data on what people actually watched this year.  Streaming services are notorious for keeping their viewing numbers under wraps.  So while anecdotally I can tell you a lot of people watched Hamilton on Disney+, I don't have any hard information for you.

 My own top ten of the year include:

1. Hamilton
2. 1917
3. The Way Back
4. Wonder Woman 1984
5. Greyhound
6. Soul
7. Tenet
8. Bill and Ted Face the Music
9. Godmothered
10. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Even I have to admit that in a normal year, most of these films probably would not have made the top ten, but pickings are slim.

However, if you paid me to come up with a list of nominees that would guarantee the lowest-rated Oscars ever, I don't think I could do better than what the Academy gave us.  So if you have no interest in the Academy Awards this year, I don't blame you.

So below are my thoughts on some (not all) of this year's nominees.  

And next week, I will open it up if you would like to participate in this year's Oscar Game!

Best Picture:
"The Father"
"Judas and the Black Messiah"
"Promising Young Woman"
"Sound of Metal"
"The Trial of the Chicago 7″

The only movie that I have seen on this list is Mank, and it was terrible.  The only other film that looks like it could be good is Minari, but I'm not sure if I'd pay money to see it.  Everything else on this list are things I wouldn't spend money on to see.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
    Riz Ahmed, "Sound of Metal"
    Chadwick Boseman, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
    Anthony Hopkins, "The Father"
    Gary Oldman, "Mank"
    Steven Yeun, "Minari"

    -Boseman was my choice for best actor of the year and he should win.  His performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is outstanding.  Oldman is always good.  I'm very happy for Steven Yeun, as he is a talented actor and I'm glad he is getting this recognition.

    Performance by an actor in a supporting role
    Sacha Baron Cohen, "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
    Daniel Kaluuya, "Judas and the Black Messiah"
    Leslie Odom Jr., "One Night in Miami"
    Paul Raci, "Sound of Metal"
    Lakeith Stanfield, "Judas and the Black Messiah"
    -Haven't seen any of these films.
    Performance by an actress in a leading role
    Viola Davis, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
    Andra Day, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday"
    Vanessa Kirby, "Pieces of a Woman"
    Frances McDormand, "Nomadland"
    Carey Mulligan, "Promising Young Woman"

    -I've only seen Viola Davis who was fantastic as always.  But the Academy might lean towards Carey Mulligan as her performance gained a lot of buzz.

    Performance by an actress in a supporting role
    Maria Bakalova, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
    Glenn Close, "Hillbilly Elegy"
    Olivia Colman, "The Father"
    Amanda Seyfried, "Mank"
    Youn Yuh-jung, "Minari"

    Close should have been nominated for Best Actress, because her performance is extrodinary, but she deserves to win in this category.

    Best animated feature film of the year
    "Over the Moon"
    "A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon"

    -Soul is not one of PIXAR's best, but it is better than Onward, the only other movie I've seen in this category.

    Achievement in directing
    Thomas Vinterberg, "Another Round"
    David Fincher, "Mank"
    Lee Isaac Chung, "Minari"
    Chloe Zhao, "Nomadland"
    Emerald Fennell, "Promising Young Woman"

    Fincher makes Mank look great, even though the movie is awful, but I haven't seen the others to comment.
    Adapted Screenplay:
    "Borat Subsequent MovieFilm"
    "The Father"
    "One Night in Miami"
    "The White Tiger"

    -Haven't seen any of them

    Original Screenplay:

    "Judas and the Black Messiah"
    "Promising Young Woman"
    "Sound of Metal"
    "The Trial of the Chicago 7"

    -Haven't seen any of them
    Original Score:
    "Da 5 Bloods"
    "News of the World"

    Soul has a decent score.  That's the most I can say about any of these.

    -Ben Affleck, Gavin O'Connor, and Brad Ingelsby were completely overlooked for The Way Back, one of the best movies to come out this year.
    -Hamilton should have been nominated, but I think there was a prejudice against it because they considered it simply a stage play.
    -Tom Hanks and Greyhound was incredibly compelling and entertaining and I think it would have reached a wider audience if it was not on Apple TV
    -Tenet had a lot of problems, but as a technical piece of work, Nolan should have been recognized.
    -Glynn Turman and Amy Adams should have gotten nominations


    Film Flash: Zack Snyder's Justice League


    15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

    Watch like a mini-seres.  Improved from original, but incomplete without sequels that may never happen.