Drivin’ Mistah Greenbook (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

The Oscars are tonight! In my opinion this is the best movie of the year. I have NO IDEA if the Academy will agree – this Top Ten List is reflective of MY OPINION ONLY. That being said, I do think there’s something to be said for a film that helps us overcome the racial divide in this country. That’s why I loved…

1. Drivin’ Mistah Greenbook (dir. Ron Howard)

Drivin’ Mistah Greenbook is the story of a racist chauffeur, Lester Yellen (Viggo Mortensen), who drives an old blues musician Dexter Greenbook (Morgan Freeman) around the Jim Crow South. At first the two are hostile foes, due to Lester Yellen’s unyielding white supremacist beliefs. But over time, the mismatched pair gradually grow to respect and even love one another.

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During the first part of the movie, Lester Yellen spouts off his racist claptrap during the long drives between gigs. While Lester’s screaming about whites being the master race and all that hoobajoo, Mistah Greenbook just rolls his eyes and reads the newspaper.

At meal times, Lester eats fried chicken and watermelon in a mocking way while he speaks in an over-the-top impersonation of a shuck-and-jive Uncle Tom type caricature. When Lester says in a mocking jive accent, “Look at me, I’m a drivin’ Mistah Greenbook, yessuh, it’s like he tha massa and I’m the slave, hee-hee-hee! thass a backasswards,” I immediately thought, that must be where they got the title for the movie.    

Though Ol’ Mistah Greenbook acts as if all of this racism doesn’t bother him, you can tell it kind of does. Eventually Greenbook boils over and goes on a rant of his own in which he definitively destroys with Facts and Logic everything Lester has said and done. By the end of this monologue, it is clear that Greenbook is far more intelligent and clever than Lester had thought.

Just then, an angry mob of southerners tries to lynch Greenbook for being out in public after the town curfew. Even though he doesn’t really want to, Lester saves Greenbook’s life because it’s part of his job as chauffeur and Lester really believes in duty and honor.

Saving Greenbook’s life brings the chauffeur closer to understanding that racism is ultimately bad and wrong. Lester and Mistah Greenbook try to go back to their old hostile ways of yelling at each other, but soon they are just laughing every time they try. This laughter cements their unlikely friendship.

Drivin’ Mistah Greenbook really illustrates the world we could live in if we would just overcome racial animosities through laughter, friendship, and saving each other’s lives when the going gets tough. Morgan Freeman delivers a tour-de-force performance that really deserves an Oscar, and Viggo Mortensen is even better so it’s too bad one of them will have to lose tonight.

Melonmeter® Score:

100% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

The Predator (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

The big day is finally here! That’s right, it’s the Oscars! It’s a night when the movies that captured our imaginations are celebrated by the people who made them. Though I don’t know what will win, I really hope the Academy does the right thing and honors number two on FMR’s Top Ten List…

2. The Predator (dir. Alex Gibney)

The Predator is a meticulously researched indictment of Harvey Weinstein, the vile movie producer who terrorized young women in Hollywood for decades before his career and reputation were destroyed after his victims began to come forward a year and a half ago.

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In this age of searing documentaries about crime and abuse finding mass popular audiences, it would be truly astounding if a major filmmaker with studio backing hadn’t tackled the Harvey Weinstein saga by now. Luckily Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Taxi to the Dark Side) has crafted The Predator, a documentary that brings the truth about Harvey Weinstein to light.

The man was a monster, but what is almost more frightening is how his monstrous behavior was both encouraged by and helped to influence the shape of the modern film industry. Even the Oscars themselves function largely in the shadow of the aggressive, bullying, take-no-prisoners marketing campaigns Harvey Weinstein pioneered in the 1990s.

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I found myself shuddering with too much familiarity as I listened to his victims speak out about the psychological damage of physical and emotional abuse. Violence and intimidation can have really long-lasting and insidious effects on the victim’s mind. I know this from personal experience.

I usually don’t reveal much about my personal life on FMR, but in order for you to understand why I rate this fake movie so highly, you need to know a little about me. I was in an intimate relationship during which my partner abused me emotionally and physically on a regular basis. I am still just beginning to recover from what I experienced.

Watching The Predator brought back some really bad memories. I once cowrote and coproduced a short film with my abuser that was spoofing a film directed by a famous abuser (his behavior became public knowledge shortly after Weinstein’s) in tribute to another even more famous Oscar-winning abuser. The short film starred my abuser and a famous television producer who admitted to past abusive behavior toward an employee around the same time we made the movie. I bring this up because The Predator should be understood as an illustration of how Hollywood at every level can be a labyrinth of cruelty and predation, and that #metoo has only barely begun to change this dynamic both in the film industry and in the world at large. 

The Predator may be a fake movie, but it’s essential for of all of us to confront the painful truth from which it is drawn.

Melonmeter® Score:

99% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

Hulu Presents A Foreign-Language B&W Historical Drama (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

The Oscars are coming up tomorrow! I hope Oscars voters take time to celebrate some of the unconventional, foreign-language movies that aren’t available in theaters like this, the third best fake movie of 2018…

3. HULU PRESENTS A FOREIGN-LANGUAGE B&W HISTORICAL DRAMA (dir. Pietro Kopinskin)

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Hulu Presents A Foreign-Language B&W Historical Drama is a gorgeously photographed film that will make you think about love, family and how history often provides a fascinating backdrop to those kind of things.

Shot with distinctive, prestigious monochromatic film,  Hulu Presents A Foreign-Language B&W Historical Drama will awe you with its aspect ratio, provoke you with its use of multiple foreign languages, and ultimately make you cry due to how we our torn apart and brought back together by social forces and historical events beyond our control.

Best of all, I got to watch Hulu Presents A Foreign-Language B&W Historical Drama at home alone in the comfort of the same chair I game in. I don’t even know or care if it was released to theaters, as it’s so easy and convenient to pay just $8.99/month for Hulu to provide you with some of the best movies (and TV!) in the world. And it’s not just mainstream movies from the U.S., as Hulu Presents A Foreign-Language B&W Historical Drama clearly demonstrates. 

Melonmeter® Score:

98% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

The Favorite (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

The Academy Awards are coming up tomorrow  night, and it’s important to recognize movies that have been working really really hard for it for a really long time. Nothing is a foregone conclusion, but it would be a huge surprise if there was any awards show or Top Ten list that wouldn’t honor the fourth best movie of 2018…

4. THE FAVORITE (dir. Alexander Payne)

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The Favorite stars Glenn Close as former Secretary of State Helen Thomson, a character who is clearly a fictionalized version of Hillary Clinton. After loyally standing by her philandering husband former President Doug Thomson (Jonathan Pryce) and carefully building an esteemed political career in her own right, Helen is finally closing in on her long held dream of becoming President of the United States (having lost her previous bid eight years ago).

By all accounts Helen is the favorite to win, having lined up every endorsement, built an unprecedented political machine, and cleared the field of any serious rivals. The Favorite chronicles all the complications that get in Helen’s way, leaving her ever more chastened and exasperated.

First up is the aging socialist Senator Jerry Goldberg (Elliott Gould), who launches a long shot bid against her in the primaries. He inexplicably becomes more popular than her, especially among the young, and nearly defeats her much larger more established campaign.

Next, Helen faces off against the wild, unpredictable racist game show host Geoffrey Popper (Anthony Hopkins) in the general election. Helen had been looking forward to running against Geoffrey (with her campaign hoping he would be the nominee against her), thinking him manifestly unfit to lead, thus further cementing her status as The Favorite.

But despite being clownish, possibly demented, and likely involved in multiple extramarital affairs and sexual assaults, polls remain close. In the end, Popper wins due to a technicality despite receiving fewer votes.

The final part of The Favorite shows the absolute emotional and psychological breakdown of a character who was certain of her destiny, and did every single thing you’re supposed to do to assure that destiny, only to find it snatched a way by what can only be seen as the most cruel and absurd fate. It’s in this part of the movie that Glenn Close truly shines, and gives a performance that should make her the favorite to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards this year.

Melonmeter® Score:

97% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / Bohemian Spider-man / Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

As we move closer to Oscar Night, it’s important to recognize the best Spider-man movies of the year. Many people do not take Spider-man movies seriously, but this prejudice against Spider-man movies is outdated and discriminatory. Spider-man is just as worthy of being represented in awards shows and top ten lists as any other man.

Though the quantity of Spider-man movies dropped in 2018 (2017 yielded seven Spider-man feature films, last year only five) the quality of Spider-man movies has if anything only increased. Three of the Spider-man movies from 2018 are so good that they truly deserve to be celebrated among the Top Ten movies of the year. They take up the seventh, sixth, and fifth spots on FMR’s annual top ten list:

7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (dir. Various)

The seventh best movie of 2018 is Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse, a movie that does for Spider-man what The Avengers did for so many other superheroes, which is the most epic crossover of all time.

spiderverse_FMRSpider-Verse follows a new digitally animated Spider-man as he travels through dimensions to discover and team up with all the other Spider-mans from throughout time and space including Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), Amazing Spider-man (Andrew Garfield), Avengers Spider-man (Tom Holland), Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Baby Spider-man (Seth MacFarlane), Emo Spider-man (also Tobey Maguire), Old Man Parker (digitally aged Tobey Maguire), Spider-woman (live action, Elle Fanning, animated version voiced by Hailee Stanfield), Cartoon Spider-man (Christopher Daniels Moore) and many many more.

Though the dozens of Spider-mans in Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse can become overwhelming at times, the movie is such an energetic interdimensional adventure that you can’t get help but be carried away with enthusiasm as if carried by Spider-man as he slings webs across New York City.

The final level of the movie was my favorite, when every Spider-man we’ve met so far falls into a dimension in which the entire universe is simply a single cold room filled with very realistic scary spiders. I had never seen Spider-man take on realistic scary spiders before, so this was amazing for me.

Melonmeter® Score:

94% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

6. Bohemian Spider-man (dir. Bryan Singer)

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Bohemian Spider-man is not only one the best Spider-man movies of the year, it’s also one of the best movies of the year period. The film explores what would have happened if Queen frontman Freddie Mercury had been bit by a radioactive spider at the height of his fame.

Naturally Freddie Mercury decides to split his time between touring and recording with Queen, and fighting crime and tangling with supervillains Green Goblin and Doc Ock (who are secretly members of the bands Boston and Bad Company in their spare time).

Eventually, Freddie tires of leading a double life and comes out as Spider-man onstage in a dramatic performance for the Live Aid concert. The Live Aid concert is meant to raise money to find a treatment for the terminal illness caused by being bitten by a radioactive spider, but unfortunately Freddie Mercury dies of this mysterious disease before a treatment is developed.

As a work of both counterfactual history and historical allegory, Bohemian Spider-man is profound. It’s also thrilling and dramatic as any action-adventure/biopic has ever been.

Credit must go to the maestro auteur Bryan Singer, who is a proven genius at burying gay liberation stories inside of comic book action movies to make them palatable for a mainstream audiences. I might have chosen a different director given Bryan Singer’s well known history of sexual abusing teenagers, but what do I know I’m just a fake movie critic, not a real movie producer.

Melonmeter® Score:

95% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

5. Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man (dir. Peter Greenaway)

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Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man makes my Top 5 movies of the year!! Long live Spider-man on film in all his glory.

Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man is English arthouse director Peter Greenaway’s austere tribute to the theatre of absurd, especially the work of Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett.

Filmed on bare stages that recall Lars von Trier’s Dogville, Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man Spider-man posits a world in which we are all either Spider-man or Not Spider-man.

In a world divided between incarnations of Spider-man and everyone else, who is fit to rule? Much of the film is difficult to understand, as “Spider-man” is the pretty much only English word that is uttered out loud during the movie, with various incomprehensible grunts and howls making up much of the movie’s dialogue. But it became clear to me eventually that the movie was an elaborate satire of Friedrich Nietzche’s theory of the Übermensch.

After watching this movie, I was about to conclude the the universe is composed of an indefinite, perhaps an infinite, number of Spider-men, with elaborate costumes and the fabulous ability to sling webs and swing from building to building. Then I heard about the announcement of a new Spider-man movie to be released this spring and I became distracted.

Melonmeter® Score:

96% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

VICE (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

FMR continues to celebrate the Best Fake Movies of 2018 Challenge. Each day we unveil another movie that made significant impact last year. Note that we aren’t trying to predict the winners of the Oscars, just having some fun. That being said, the eighth best fake movie of 2018 is…

8. VICE (dir. Adam McKay)

Jonah Hill stars as hipster media mogul turned white nationalist leader Gavin McInnes in the satirical biopic VICE. Undoubtedly one of the most politically-charged movies of the year, VICE explores one man’s evolution from ironically expressing hateful misogyny and bigotry in order to advance his career as a “take no prisoners” journalist-provocateur to sincerely expressing  hateful misogyny and bigotry in order to advance his career as the “no holds barred” messianic guru of a cult-like political sect.

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VICE’s anarchic style and sharp sense of humor despite its extremely dark subject matter are a testament to the talents of director Adam McKay. McKay’s early work as a filmmaker began by spoofing the incompetence and greed of toxic white male blowhards in such hits as Anchorman and Talladega Nights. His growth as an artist has led him to depict how the endless narcissism of his subjects are a real danger to the world around them, first in The Big Short and now in VICE.

But the line connecting the buffoonish Ron Burgundy to the possibly sociopathic Gavin McInnes is clear. In a strange way, McKay’s changing approach to his subjects mirrors McInnes’ own path from winking bad boy to literal Neo-Nazi.

Of course the lion’s share of the credit for VICE making FMR’s best-of-2018 list falls squarely on the shoulders of Jonah Hill. Hill’s performance is a revelation, and he should finally win an Oscar after being twice denied for his tour de force performances in Moneyball and the The Wolf of Wall Street. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the Superbad star as he channels the megalomaniac narcissist that singlehandedly defined beards in the early 21st century.

If you need any more evidence to convince you Jonah Hill deserves to get an Academy Award (at long last), just behold the physical transformation he underwent to truly become Gavin McInnes.

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Hill shed his iconic chubbiness and built up many pounds of muscle at terrible personal cost in order to more accurately portray McInnes. He also appears to have grown several inches taller, though it’s possible this effect was achieved via trick photography.

TL;DR – Jonah Hill gives a once-in-a-lifetime performance as alt right hipster Gavin McInnes in the alternately hilarious and horrifying VICE.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“Jonah Hill is back baby, and he’s bigger and stronger than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“I wanted to vomit after seeing this movie and so will you.” – Legs Lavish, Popula

“Jonah Hill is absolutely revolting as the odious Gavin McInnes and for that he deserves many many awards.” – Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly

“Adam McKay finds a real life Ron Burgundy in Gavin McInnes.” – Pie Corbett, USA Today

Melonmeter® Score:

93% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

If These Memes Could Talk (Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018)

With the Awards season in full swing, FMR is announcing the best fake movies of 2018. Between now and the Oscar ceremony on February 24th, we’ll be unveiling the Top Ten Fake Movies of 2018 one by one. We’re preempting the Oscars so you know we’re not influenced by what the Academy ultimately decides. Any overlap between the eventual winners and the movies listed here is PURELY COINCIDENTAL. However, the FMR Top Ten list should not be interpreted as a prediction of which movies will win Oscars either. The movies in this Top Ten List just reflect the opinions of FMR and NOTHING ELSE. And so without further adieu, the ninth best fake movie of 2018 is…

9. IF THESE MEMES COULD TALK (dir. Richard Linklater)

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If These Memes Could Talk is the latest slice-of-life dramedy from indie director Richard Linklater depicting how we live now. It follows seven struggling twentysomethings as they look down at their phones, check out the latest memes, smile slightly, and then repost those memes after adding in their own commentary. In some scenes of the movie, the characters edit the memes with new text or additional images in order to create an original spin on whatever happens to be going viral.

In the past, Linklater’s signature style as an auteur frequently eschewed traditional narrative in order to focus on precisely observed characters, relationships, and conversations. He takes his cinematic innovations even further in If These Memes Could Talk: there is little to no dialogue in the movie, as the characters mostly just look at their phones instead of talking to one another.

As in his earlier films like Slacker and Dazed and Confused, Linklater cast mostly unknown actors to achieve a more authentic portrait of generation than if he had hired more familiar movie stars. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some of actors featured in If These Memes Could Talk eventually become stars in their own right based on how charismatically they stare at and tap the glowing screens they hold in their hands throughout the entire movie.

Taking a cue from his recent hit Boyhood, Linklater also shows the passage of time effectively as the characters migrate from using Facebook to share memes in the beginning of the movie, switching to Snapchat for a brief period in the middle of the movie, before finally settling on Instagram by the end of the movie. (The nerdier characters also use Reddit and Twitter during certain key scenes.) The change in social media platforms accompanies a subtle change in the characters’ worldview as they become increasingly cynical about the future of the planet, the survival of humanity, and the possibility of anything in life being truly meaningful.

TL;DRIf These Memes Could Talk finds Richard Linklater once again pushing the art of cinema to invigorating new frontiers by showing a talented ensemble cast staring at their phones for about two hours.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“The rare period piece  that depicts our current period, If These Memes Could Talk feels beautifully and painfully present: beautifully because some of these memes are gorgeous, painfully because it’s just two hours of watching people scrolling on their phones.” – Duke Bickham, The Verge

“If These Memes Could Talk is at once a tribute to being online and a cry for help for all those addicted to their phones.” – Ashley Feinberg, Huffington Post

“In cutting against the grain of what we expect in big screen entertainment, Richard Linklater forces us to confront the smallness of our feelings that derive from relating via small screens.” – Anselm Lautaro, The New Inquiry

“These memes are back, baby, and I bet you ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

Melonmeter® Score:

92% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY