Slamdance 2023 Capsule Reviews

Starring Jerry as Himself 

Starring Jerry as Himself is a docudrama about a guy named Jerry Liu. The film starts with home movies of Jerry’s family, his three sons Joshua, Jesse, and Jonathan, and his ex-wife Kathy. He Lives in Orlando, Florida, and is retired until his identity is stolen by Chinese men posing as policemen. They tell him they are working on a money laundering case, and he could be extradited to China if he doesn’t help them. He helps the authorities in China figure out what’s going on in the “secret” case until it turns out the whole thing was a scam, and Jerry lost all his money and savings. Jerry plays himself in this film, as the title implies, but it’s more than that. It’s a tale of why we should all be careful of online or phone scammers. They can come across as very realistic and prey on someone’s good-hearted nature like Jerry. Senior citizens are very susceptible to this kind of thing. That’s why family members and friends need to keep a close eye on them and what they are doing regarding social media and their financial situation. 

The Underbug 

The Underbug is an Indian film focusing on two men in a house looking for something that may or may not be creeping around in the dark. Various scenes of bugs set the mood, but a war going on outside between Hindus and Muslims takes the focus. Suspenseful music, a creepy doll, jingling, and darkness inside the house the two men are in keep the scare factor high. The constant rain outside doesn’t help either. The two men eat dinner together, but something still lurks in the darkness. Eventually, a little girl shows up. The style and feel of The Underbug keep you, as a viewer, on your toes. It’s so creepy and scary that you can’t turn away. You are afraid you might miss something. There is an undertone of political tension that drives the film forward. The little girl, I believe, is a symbol of the future of their country. Even though it has a horror movie feel, it is also about the various people and how they differ from one another based on religion and political beliefs, an idea we, as Americans, can also relate to.


Onlookers takes place in Laos and is a documentary focusing on tourism in Laos but sometimes shows the Laos people doing their job, such as washing a dog or other types of jobs. Most of the time, the Laos people sit around doing nothing or praying to their gods. However, the film focuses on people from other countries experiencing Laos and its beauty. They go canoeing, hiking, rafting, zip-lining, and mostly sightseeing. The film is a love letter to Laos, a country I had not heard of before reviewing this documentary. The movie doesn’t have any spoken words except in the distance because the director (Kimi Takesue) wants people to see the country, its people, and all the beauty within it, just like the tourists who visit it do. There are occasional motors of various forms of transportation and animal sounds in the distance, though. It is a change of pace for a film to have no spoken words, but it has sound, which works for this movie. Sometimes there are shots of children going to school, breaking up the mundanity of the film.

Where the Roads Lead

In a small community in Serbia, something is going on involving two men who want to kill another man who is part of a group building a highway on the outskirts of their small town. He may want to build a hotel for the townspeople to profit off travelers from the new road. The townspeople are so close-knit that everybody knows what’s happening, but no one knows the full story. There are shopkeepers and their little boy, a police chief, Djura, who is trying to drink his coffee and get a shave, and a girl, Jana, who runs everywhere trying to get help, but no one believes her that the new guy is in danger or that the guys who want to hurt the new guy haven’t been taken care of yet. The film displays the time to show the passing of time, and that’s a good tool. There is a humorous side to this story because of how it unfolds. There are no phones or ways of communication besides word of mouth. In a way, the film is a mystery because we, the viewer, don’t even know what’s happening. We’re kind of like the stranger in town! It’s a fun film in that regard. All the characters are interesting, and the story is fun to try to follow, no matter how complicated.

Stars in the Ordinary Universe 

The film takes place in chapters and has three distinct stories within the film’s overall length. The Superior Gene, a YouTube show with a real science teacher, is seen by a high school-age girl Park Seoyoon, who wants to try to discover the meaning of life and why she is the way she is. The film also features a second story of a boy who wishes to be president but only grows up to be an average person with no education or real possibilities and has to resort to being a Beggar King instead. The third story is about a man who can help but tell the truth, but nobody wants to hear it, so they leave him alone to contemplate his own life alone. The three stories interconnect, and all have very good philosophical ideas they are trying to convey. This was a fun movie to watch, and it gave me my own ideas about life, work, love, and other things. 

Dan Skip Allen

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt Review- A Minimalistic Low-Key Take On Motherhood and Nurturing Youth (Sundance 2023)

Minimalist films are something you don’t see that often but when they do come out they are usually celebrated. The Tree of Life from director Terrance Malick comes to mind. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is another such film. It depicts the lives of Black men, women, and children in rural Mississippi. There isn’t much dialogue but when there is it’s very little and muddled. The visuals and the camera work are the real champions here.

Raven Jackson lets the viewers in on her eye site with what she decides to focus on with her camera. She has many shots that stay on characters for what seemed like forever also on people washing their hands in streams or even just shots of water or random shots of trees. A few different narratives include a father and daughter fishing and cleaning said fish that they catch and two sisters from a young age into adulthood. There is a passing of time within the film which sees the kids go up into adults.

Various scenes in the movie show mothers nurturing their babies or taking baths while pregnant. The narrative is that of how important the mother-child relationship is. The director shows these moments with beautiful tenderness and intimacy. Other moments of characters showing love for one another once again show a very intimate portrayal of love. The characters are there but they aren’t the focus as much as the aspect of who they are portraying. As in mothers, sisters, and daughters.

The cast, even though they aren’t as important as the camerawork, are some relatively famous actors and actresses. Sheila Atim, (The Woman King) Moses Ingram (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Chris Chalk (Red Sea Diving Resort) are beautifully filmed in their various scenes throughout the movie. There are also two little girls played by Kaylee Nicole Johnson and Jayah Henry who are newcomers but they are both very good in their roles. They have a nice narrative. 

Jackson puts her glaze on creation and youth and how even in this world it’s all about love for youth and infants but also love for adults. She shows love in its many permutations in the movie and I couldn’t stop looking at all these scenes. It’s not a fantastical love, it’s a grounded subtle quiet type of love and you can’t help but be moved by the many scenes that show these types of tenderness. It’s truly beautiful to behold. 

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt isn’t going to be for everybody. It’s not a bombastic type of film. It’s a very subtle love letter to mothers and nurturing of youth in this Mississippi community. The camera work and the cinematography are the real champions of this movie. She creates a world that is so beautiful and so tender and touching it’s pretty amazing. For those that do give this film a chance, you see a very understated minimalist film. It’s worth your time though. Everything doesn’t have to be bombastic, funny, and have explosions to be effective. 

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Shortcomings Review- A Film that Captures the Mundanity of Some Asians Lives (Sundance 2023)

There have been a handful of fantastic Asian set films in America in recent year’s Crazy Rich Asians, Minari, and Everything Everywhere All at Once come to mind in recent memory. Shortcomings is another such Asian set film that is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Adrian Tormine. He also wrote the screenplay. It explores the world of Asians living in California and New York.

Ben (Justin H Min, After Yang) lives in California with his girlfriend Miko (Ally Maki) and runs a movie theater there. He has a few hobbies, among them watching criterion movies. In his free time, he likes to hang out with his friend Alice,(Sherry Cola) a queer woman who has issues with her dating habits. When Miko decides she needs a break from Ben, she moves to New York City for an internship. Which leaves Ben to his own devices. So he starts to mingle with other women.

Randall Park might be a name that is familiar to some people. He is famous for Fresh Off the Boat the Asian-centric sitcom and his recurring character of Agent Jimmy Woo from Antman and the Wasp and Wanda/Vision in the MCU. Park parleys his popularity as a comedic actor into a directing gig as he has been attached to this project for a while now. He was fascinated with the everyday lives of Asian people depicted in the graphic novel. so he finally made the film after fifteen years. And he did a good job with it.

He definitely captures the mundanity of life from the perspective of these characters. Part of the charm of Shortcomings is the fact that these people hang out at cafes, watch movies on their couches, go for walks, and do everyday normal things people do. I liked that aspect of the film. Not enough movies capture the normal lives the characters have in films. The Asian cast were a nice blend of comedic actors and dramatic actors who all played their various roles in that mundanity of life.

The main star Justin H Min as Ben was an interesting guy. The way he played the main character was a bit of a cad. He had his moments and you as an audience member felt for him a couple of times but he wasn’t necessarily the nicest guy to be around. He was a bit egotistical to some extent. His self-snobbish nature gets him in trouble with his friends and especially his romantic relationships. I liked his performance even though I didn’t always like his character. That’s a sign of a good actor though. When he convinces you to dislike his character he’s doing a good job.

The rest of the cast is pretty good in the film from the employees at the movie theater among them Jacob Batalan from the MCU Spider-Man films and Tavi Gevinson a goth girl, Debby Ryan plays a girl the main character dates for a while but Sherry Cola as the main character’s best friend and Ally Maki as his girlfriend are the two standouts in smaller roles. They bring gravity to this man’s life. They are the emotional support the movie stands on and thrives on. 

Shortcomings isn’t going to wow you with its clever dialogue or craziness of other Asian set films because it’s a more grounded film about the everyday lives of these people. The graphic novel obviously shows that and the creator adopts that world perfect for the film. Park takes that screenplay and brings it to life with exuberance and excitement. The main character is quite an interesting character with his faults, we all have faults we are not proud of. This movie just captures this not-so-nice guy very adeptly. People will have a decisive opinion about the film but I liked the normalcy of it.

3 ½ 2tars 

Dan Skip Allen

The Starling Girl Review-An Eye-Opening Look at Fundamentalist Christians (Sundance 2023)

In some places in this country there exist fanatical Christian groups that have their entire lives revolve around religion or doing everything for the sake of God. These groups of people are totally cut off from reality because of their beliefs. It makes them come across as not a real part of the rest of society. I tend to agree with this assessment. God and religion can cloud people’s judgments and especially young people like teenagers.

Jem (Eliza Scanlin) is a seventeen-year-old girl in Kentucky. She is part of a fundamentalist Christian church and is starting to come into her own as a young woman. She’s also a part of the congregation’s dance team and is starting to develop feelings for the youth pastor Owen (Lewis Pullman, Top Gun: Maverick) He has the same feelings for her but he’s already married to another woman. This goes against their religion and her mother who’s a very strict Christian and his father who’s the church after. Is this sin or true love that is the question?

As the years have gone by more and more of these types of stories have come out of the woodwork. Whether they’re true or not doesn’t really matter. The fact that these types of groups exist should be disturbing. This type of mantra sold by this religious church is cancerous to our youth and society as a whole. I think people need to see this film to see how crazy these groups and their belief system truly is. The writer/director Laurel Parmet captured this perfectly.

This is the first time I’ve seen Eliza Scanlin in any film or television series. She had me glued to the screen the entire time I was watching the movie. Her infectious energy and youthful exuberance were a pleasant surprise. She is a revelation in this film. Her performance was terrific and I can’t wait to see more of her in the near future. She’s got the it factor for a new young actress.

The rest of the cast including Lewis Pullman, as this older man who doesn’t say no to his relationship with this teenager, Wrenn Schmidt as an overprotective mother, Jimmi Simpson as the father who doesn’t see what’s truly going on because he’s dealing with his own issues. The pastor is played by Kyle Secor and he’s good as this man who believes his teachings are right and that sexual inhibitions or certain intimacies are wrong in God’s eyes. Even though his own son is at the forefront of what’s going on. 

This story is one that was a little hard for me to watch because I dealt with fantastical Christians in my past. I was having a rough time and I fell back into my catholic religion for solace. It didn’t work out too well for me because these people were very pushy and tried to take over my life. So I understood what this young girl was going through. She wanted to go get own way. If that meant falling in love with an older man, so be it. It’s her decision and her mother and the pastor should have let her be her own woman. 

The Starling Girl is a film that has two distinct messages. A story of sexual freedom for a young teenager and a fundamentalist Christian group who tries to take over everybody’s lives. The writer/director Laurel Parmet captured both sides of this story. I was very impressed by the way she told the story and kept the ending a surprise. The cast is solid and the look of the movie is very good as well. 

3 1/2 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Close Review- A Beautiful Friendship Until It’s Not

Love comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s men and women, women and women, men and men, or boys and boys, or girls and girls. In the case of Close, a French Dutch production, two 13-year-old boys, Leo and Remi, who are very good friends get the label of boyfriends even though they aren’t. This relationship has a tragic end no one saw coming, even me.

Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Weale) are two young boys who are as close as friends could be. They hang out together all the time. They go running in a nearby field and lay in the high yellow grass together. This seems a little too unusual for children of this age. Even their parents seem to like the fact that these two good-looking young boys like each other’s company this much. Once school starts things change between these two boys. Leo starts to play hockey and gets new friends and leaves Remi behind. This leads to a tragic conclusion in this relationship.

Lukas Dhont the director creates a beautiful atmosphere where the friendship between these two boys is championed like nothing else. He creates one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen all year until it takes a tragic turn. Children are traditionally very innocent and they are shown that on-screen most of the time. This film does just that as well. Until it starts getting dark and that is when it gets very real. The last act of the film is very hard to stomach.

Dhont shows the various aspects of this story from multiple points of view. From the parents who don’t understand what has happened between these two boys. Then there are the kids at the school who ask why the two boys are so close. Are they an item or aren’t they? One of them takes offense to this and starts distancing himself from the other boy. That’s when this story takes a dark turn. No one wants to see this happen to anybody. It kind of reminded me of my relationship with my brother. To some extent because we were very close.

Kids have a hard time trying to find themselves in a tough world. It’s not easy. I felt lost ad a child except when I was hanging out with my brother. We had a lot of similar interests like reading and watching television shows and movies. I found sports and coaching and started distancing myself from my twin brother. He had his friends and everything was fine. And he eventually found his life partner. And I went my own way as well. Things could have taken a dark turn for me though but thank God they didn’t. I found a new niche in life and the rest is history.

The acting in the film was very good and the two boys, especially Eden Dambrine shine in a story that could be misconceived by the writer. He doesn’t hold back his joy, his anger, or his emotions at all on numerous occasions where the various story beats need that from him. This couldn’t be an easy role to play for either boy in the film but Danbrine does a lot of the heavy lifting for the movie and the story with his revelatory performance. He will be one to watch in the future.

Close depicts something at first glance that would seem like a happy-go-lucky film about two young boys who are closer than friends should be. Even the parents notice how close they are. The director Dhont doesn’t hold back though. He gets very emotional performances from both boys, but especially Danbrine. Who carries the film with his ark? In an era of all kinds of love, this movie depicts a tragic side to a once beautiful friendship of two innocent boys. It’s not an easy watch but it’s worthwhile to see how various types of relationships can be perceived differently by people and others looking in on them. It’s a very beautiful film until it’s not.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

That 90s Show Review-A Fun Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

Fox was on a roll in the 90s with a bunch of hit shows like Simpsons, Married With Children, and In Living Color. One of their biggest hits ironically was That 70s Show. About a bunch of kids in Wisconsin who hung out at the house of the parents of one of the kids, and smoked weed in the basement. Now those same kids are grown up and their kids are doing the same thing in That 90s Show.

Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon) are now married and they have a daughter Leia (Callie Heverda) When the family visits Eric’s parents Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) Leia convinces her parents and grandparents that she should stay at their house for the summer. Reluctantly they agree and she starts to make friends with the neighbor girl Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide) and does similar things as her parents did two decades before.

That 90’s Show is very similar in tone and style to That 70’s Show. It’s a half-hour comedy set in a studio with an audience that can laugh at all the jokes and funny moments. Only this time around there are just a bunch of references to the 90s instead of the 70s. Like Alanis Morissette and various television shows, movies, and other pop culture items. It’s a nice follow-up to That 70s Show. It’s cool to see where some of these characters are twenty years later.

Other characters from That 70s Show pop up in the new show in one-off appearances just to show these shows are connected even though the audience already knows that. Of course, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Wilmer Valderrama all reprise their roles from That 70s Show and they capture the magic from the old show once again. The newer characters are hipper to the time the show is set.

A shorter season run and a distinct idea of where the show is going from episode one to ten was a great idea. The writers and producers didn’t have to drag out a long season and it made sense to set the series in the summer. Like the original show, the main character is learning about life, love, and family and the sci-fi reference to her name just shows the tongue-in-cheek nature of the show. Fans of the original definitely will love this reboot show.

Netflix already had a good relationship with Kutcher from his sitcom on their platform The Ranch. It makes sense that this popular IP gets a second chance with him involved even though it’s only a cameo appearance with his now wife in real life Mila Kunis. Their child in the show plays a major character in the group of kids that are featured in the show. Him along with a puggy gay Asian kid, a big white kid who plays football, and another Asian girl who is his girlfriend. It’s a diverse cast. 

That 90s Show has a similar vibe as That 70s Show. The latter show had that thing that drew me and millions of others to watch it. A fun sense of comradery which I always wished I could have with a group of friends. The conversation and antics they get into are of course par for the course in shows of this nature. All the kids cast in the new show are pretty good but it was the cameos from the past characters and the grandparents played by Smith and Rupp that I enjoyed the most. It was a nice trip down nostalgia lane once again two decades later.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Sick Review-An Apt Title For A Pandemic Horror Film

It’s been a little over a year and I guess that’s enough time for the stench of Covid-19 to wear off before producers, writers, and directors in Hollywood have decided to exploit the pandemic for entertainment value. Sick is an exclusive horror film from Peacock that uses the Covid-19 pandemic badly. It’s also a twist on slasher films like the Scream franchise.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, set in April 2020. Parker (Gideon Adlon) is a college-age girl who goes to her father’s lake house with her best friend Miri (Bethlehem Million) to quarantine from the Covid-19 pandemic. While there an old flame DJ (Dylan Sprayberry) shows up to hang out with them. Once the girls go to sleep DJ notices that someone else is in the house. They end up in a fight for survival from this visiter who’s out to kill them. 

Sick takes the slasher horror genre to a new level with a twist on the Covid-Pandemic and the costs that not putting a mask on or keeping six feet of distance. Some people took this very seriously. And in the case of the film it had major consequences. Using social media and Instagram to post photos all the time can also bite you in the backside because people can use this information to track your whereabouts. 

This movie shows things that are wrong or are a detriment to our society even though they could be used as a means to express yourself or even make money as an example of an influencer. Or from add revenue. The film also uses CNN and one of its hosts Anderson Cooper as a way to get its message across. This was a dark time in the world and our country and I took it seriously but others did not. This film serves as a message for that dark time that wasn’t that long ago.

With the serious stuff out of the way what’s left is a pretty decent horror film with some very bloody kill scenes and gory visuals. The director John Hyams and the writers Kevin Williamson, famous for his work in the Scream franchise, and Katelyn Crabb take a real-world event like the Covid-19 pandemic and infuse a lot of horror tropes the fans of this genre can get behind. This is a genuinely good horror movie.

With all horror films, you have to have a suspension of disbelief. Especially regarding time and how it’s used, how people travel within a particular period of time and distance. The movie blurs those lines. And another aspect is survivability. How much stabbing or blood loss is acceptable in one of these films before you start shaking your head in disbelief? One particular character falls from a long distance and only has a broken leg and then crawls and puts a splint on their leg using a table leg. That’s a little far-fetched, but like I said suspension of disbelief.

Sick is an apt title for this movie. The writers and director put enough of the pandemic to use that title properly while also infusing the horror elements into the film. This movie shows the penalty of not doing things the proper way during the pandemic even if they were a bit unorthodox and out of your normal routine. The cast of newcomers and a couple of veterans like Marc Manchaca and Jane Adams round out a decent cast but Gideon Adlon was a pleasant surprise in a rather surprisingly enjoyable horror film set during the pandemic.

Sick is on Peacock Right Now

3 1/2 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Brendan Fraser Won’t Attend Golden Globes due to the abuse he suffered at the hands of then-President of the HFPA, Philip Berk

Brendan Fraser came on the scene in the ’90s with a lot of teen comedies like Encino Man and children’s films like George of the Jungle. Occasionally, he would do a drama like School Ties or The Scout, but it wasn’t until he did The Mummy in the late ’90s did people start to take him seriously as an actor. His role as Rick Connell was his breakout in Hollywood. It was an action comedy series that the fans liked and made a lot of money. Films like Gods andMonsters and Crash would later show what acting chops Fraser truly had.

Lately, Fraser is having a comeback of sorts. He has been getting a lot of praise for his role in Doom Patrol as Robotman. In the DC Comics series, he wears a lot of makeup to disguise himself, so he looks just like the character in the comics. He took this to the next level when he accepted the role of Charlie in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. Fraser plays a six-hundred-pound man who lives in his apartment and doesn’t leave. He even teaches English at a local community college virtually with his camera off on his laptop, so he doesn’t embarrass himself regarding his student’s thoughts on his obese appearance.

Fraser delivers the performance of his life as this man estranged from his daughter and suffering from a respiratory illness. He wants to get redemption for leaving her when she was a child. He is very emotional and desperate at times and reverts to his eating habit which caused him to gain so much weight. Even though Fraser is in the fat suit, his emotions come through the makeup in spades. His relationship with his caregiver, played by Hong Chau, and his daughter, played by Sadie Sink, are the two most effective things that bring out his Academy Award-worthy performance. Darren Aronofsky seems to be able to get these types of performances from his actors.

With all the awards talk and critics wins for Fraser, the inevitable conversation comes up about the abuse he withstood at the hands of Philip Berk, the President, at the time, of the HFPA, which gives their awards away at the Golden Globes. They’ve come under a lot of pressure lately without this scandal involving Fraser and Berk. Fraser has come out and said he would not attend the ceremony on Tuesday night even though he is nominated for Best Actor in protest to what he suffered at the hands of Berk. He was groped at a party in 2018 by Berk. He said, “My mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. I’m a lot of things but not that”. 

This was the reason why Fraser disappeared from Hollywood for so long. “I was blaming myself, and I was miserable – because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around, and he copped a feel.’… it made me feel reclusive.” In response, Berk said it was “a total fabrication” but issued an apology anyway. The HFPA did an internal investigation and concluded that he “inappropriately touched” Fraser but said Berk’s action “was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance.” 

The HFPA came under tremendous scrutiny a few years later for not having any Black voting members and was canceled, resulting in various winners returning their awards. The show was taken off the air by NBC for an entire year while they retooled their membership process and added one hundred new members from around the world, not in Los Angeles or the United States. Berk would also come under fire for saying that Black Lives Matter “was a racist hate movement” and was subsequently removed as the President of the HFPA shortly thereafter.

As someone who has come under harassment by employers and co-workers in the past, I can relate to what Fraser is going through. Maybe not on his level but in general. People are allowed to do whatever they want and say whatever they want and don’t care how it makes someone feel. In our world, people are starting to have to be held accountable for their actions. I have felt very bad many nights after coming home crying or having to listen to loud rock-n-roll music to get the treatment by my co-workers and employers out of my head. It has affected me greatly. 

I feel very strongly that Fraser’s stance regarding this treatment and how the organization handled it was the thing to do. Even though he will probably win, it shows how much this incident affected him that he is boycotting the awards ceremony. I’m sure he will have more opportunities to accept awards this season from the Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice Awards, and Academy Awards. His performance has earned him those potential honors shortly.

The world has finally started to say no to mistreatment, abuse — sexual or verbal — and misconduct by people in powerful positions. Just because you are a boss or a head of a famous or popular organization or have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can treat people in any way you want. That goes for any race, creed, or gender. I applaud Fraser, and I think this is a great narrative for him this awards season. He deserves as many awards as he can gather, and this redemption story he’s enduring right now is very much deserved.

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman EIC/Founder/Critic disappointment media Spokesperson CACF

This article is written by Sian Cane which I take quotes from. The article is linked below.

Critics Association of Central Florida Winners for the Best of 2022

I’m a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida (CACF) a film critics guild. What follows are the winners in a bunch of categories for the best of 2022. The big winner of the year was Everything Everywhere All at Once winning Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Screenplay. With Top Gun: Maverick as the Runner Up for Best Picture and the Winner of the other Awards. See the rest of the Winners Below.

Winner: Best Picture- Everything Everywhere All at Once and the Runner: Up- Top Gun- Maverick

Winner Best Director: The Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once with the Runner Up- Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Winner Best Actor- Brendan Fraser The Whale with the Runner-Up Austin Butler Elvis

Winner Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once with the Runner-up: Cate Blanchett, Tar

Winner: Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan Everything Everywhere All at Once with the Runner-Up: Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inishirin

Winner: Best Supporting Actress: Angela Bassett, Black Panther Wakanda Forever with the Runner-Up: Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Cast: Glass Onion A Knives Out Mystery with the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Documentary: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and the Runner-Up: Good Night Oppy

Winner: Best International Feature: RRR with the Runner-Up Decision to Leave

Winner: Best Animated Feature: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio with the Runner-Up Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Winner: Best Screenplay: Everything Everywhere All at Once with the Runner-Up: Glass OnionA Knives Out Mystery

Winner: Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Top Gun: Maverick and the Runner-Up: Russell Carpenter, Avatar: The Way of Water

Winner: Best Score: Michael Giacchino, The Batman with the Runner-Up Justin Hurwitz, Babylon

Winner: Best Song: Lady Gaga, “Hold My Hand”, Top Gun: Maverick with the Runner-Up: “Naatu Naatu”, RRR

Winner: Best Make-up and Hairstyling: The Whale and the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Production Design: Babylon and the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Visual Effects: Avatar The Way of Water and the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Costume Design: Elvis and the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Winner: Best Stunt Coordination: Top Gun: Maverick and the Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

In addition to the traditional lineup of awards, the CACF has several special honors. “Best Central Florida Film,”
and “Best Achievement in Diversity,” the new categories are “The Golden Paw,” “Best Achievement in Choreography,” and “Best First Feature,” These winners are listed below.

Best Central Florida Film: Calendar Girls

Best Achievement in Diversity: Nope

Best Achievement in Choreography: RRR

Golden Paw for Best Animal Performance: the donkey from Eo & and the horses from Nope

Best First Feature: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

It has been a great year for film in 2022. The Critics Association of Central Florida is proud to recognize these amazing achievements in film. We look forward to doing this all over again in 2023.

M3GAN Review-Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

James Wan and Jason Blum have been at the forefront of the horror genre for a couple of decades now. Between them, they’ve directed and produced some of the best horror films and franchises the world has seen in the past few decades. It makes sense that they would team up to nurture new talent in the director’s chair and with the script. Chucky is their inspiration this time out. With M3GAN 2023 gets off to a good start for the horror genre.

After a tragic car accident, nine-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw, Our Friend) is left to live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams, Get Out). She is a very busy woman who is a roboticist for a toy company. When the young girl isn’t feeling very good her aunt introduces her to her latest project a life-like doll called M3GAN (Model 3 Generation Android) It is designed to be the child it is linked to best friend and companion and even helps the parent or guardian as it takes the role of a friend, teacher, playmate and or protector of the child. This choice by the aunt leads to very bad consequences for everyone involved.

Killer doll movies aren’t anything new in the horror genre but M3Gan has some fun aspects to it. The actresses that play and voice M3GAN do an exceptional job bringing this lifelike doll to life. The personality she has brought some laughs due to some liners and songs being sung at the most inopportune time. Her voice cadence was really on point. There were many moments when this doll sounded like a real girl which brought an authentic feel to the character. This was a key aspect if the film was going to work correctly.

As most horror films have this one had some pretty good kills and once the second half of the movie got rolling the killing started. M3GAN started using her maternal instincts to protect the little girl and gain its own conscience while it was doing so. The script by Akela Cooper brought the life out of this little doll and it was almost like the little girl and her aunt were expendable in the story. That’s how effective this story was. It did take a while to get started though. And a quick scene showing the aunt getting the idea to build the robot was very rushed but a small quibble.

The takeaways from this film are that parenting isn’t easy no matter who you are. Most of the time you can’t win for losing as a parent. In this day and age, there are so many things that can get kids’ attention as well as their parents and if kids turn out good citizens in society is a godsend. I had a rough life growing up and I continue to struggle. I had my issues with alcohol abuse and so forth but relatively speaking me and my brothers and sisters turned out alright. I can’t say that about a lot of kids, I’ve been around in coaching or schools I worked at. Good teachers, coaches, and parents are hard to come by today. This movie shows how important a personal touch regarding these people are in kids’ lives. And how important it is to be present in kids’ lives.

Another aspect is that it wouldn’t be the first time movies have tackled the threat of technology, and it won’t be the last, but technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure we all have a new-fangled phone, computer, television, or even floor cleaner or coffee maker. Even cars are getting the moniker of “smart” attached to them these days. Everybody wants convenience in their lives. That being said, this film is a stark warning that technology isn’t the end-all-be-all, and it isn’t the replacement for parents or guardians. 

M3GAN is a good January horror film that takes its PG-13 rating to the limit. It’s right on the verge of crossing the line but doesn’t go overboard with the blood and guts or the cursing. It has good performances from its two leads, the little girl and her aunt played by McGrew and Williams respectively, but the two people that play the android girl are the standouts in the movie. They bring humor and entertainment value to the film. The script has some good messages about parenting and technology that the world should take heed of. This is a fine counter-programming to some of the other holiday fairs in cinemas right now.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen