Christian Toto is a film critic and podcaster and runs the website HollywoodInToto.com.
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Ratings for politically-charged awards shows are tanking. The Oscars telecast suffers serious ratings slippage each winter. The New York Times recently reported that analyzing ratings during awards shows finds audiences fleeing when the stars summon their soapboxes. Naturally, the minds behind the gala want to reverse that trend. Thus the synchronized sentiments for a less partisan night dedicated to film. It’s likely Grade-A spin.
The Hollywood dream factory is the stuff of nightmares these days. That’s no reflection on the horror genre, on the rebound thanks to slick indies like It Follows, It Comes at Night and the highly anticipated Hereditary. Nor does it connect to the dwindling number of souls who line up to buy movie tickets these days. That’s a different kind of scary for industry bean counters.
Clint Eastwood did it again with his newest film, The 15:17 to Paris. The 87-year-old icon drove liberal critics batty with his 2014 smash American Sniper. Heroism? Sacrifice? All-American values? It’s like garlic to some film critics. They’d rather swoon at films depicting the U.S. Military in an unsavory fashion.
Remember Jimmy Kimmel? Most of us don’t. Not anymore. He’s unrecognizable in his current form, a hard-left comic with little empathy for those who lean to the right. That’s roughly half the country.
Nikki Haley didn’t complain about the liberal lectures during the recent Golden Globe Awards. Nor did the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. whine about the SAG Awards or last year’s Academy Awards gala. Each event dripped with progressive politics. Haley remained silent. She doesn’t engage with liberal stars like her boss, President Donald Trump, frequently does.
The biggest snub from this year’s Academy Award nominations? A story in The Hollywood Reporter offers a stinging critique of Academy Award voters. The biggest snub from this year’s Academy Award nominations?
Conservatives constantly complain about Hollywood … often for very good reasons. The industry’s voice is almost uniformly liberal. Major stars (like Amy Schumer and Michael Shannon) talk down to Red State denizens in the ugliest ways possible. Films often mock or denigrate the U.S. Military (think Redacted for a glaring Exhibit A).
Would Hollywood dial back on its raging Trump hate? Could honorees avoid sanctimonious speeches for once? Would the industry’s bubble mentality finally break? Nope, nope and nope.
The last 12 months haven’t been kind to movies with a left-of-center agenda. Hollywood had a lousy 2017 in toto, of course. Summer box office receipts hit their lowest mark in more than a decade. Credit The Last Jedi and It for making up some of the lost coin in the year’s waning months.
Meet Husam Sam Asi, a BBC TV host and founder of ukscreen.com. Asi recently interviewed The Post stars and wasn’t satisfied with throwing the screen legends softballs. He hunkered down and challenged them with more substantial queries. For example, he reminded Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg that President Barack Obama flexed his might against journalists via the Espionage Act.
Matt Damon is having a lousy year, and that has nothing to do with his awkward comments regarding the “MeToo” movement. Damon’s performance in Suburbicon appeared to be a career low, bringing nothing to the role of a Father Knows Best type gone south. That was a revelation compared to his work in Downsizing.
The timing for Comedy Central’s newest faux news special couldn’t be better. The past few days saw ABC News serve up a megaton retraction, followed closely by Reuters and CNN. It’s almost like they knew the channel had a special dubbed Fake News in the offing and wanted to lend a hand.
Oscar winner Tom Hanks tried to heal the nation in wake of Donald Trump’s stunning presidential victory. Most celebrities predicted the end of the world, or similar calamities, after Nov. 8, 2016. Not Hanks. The Forrest Gump star struck a more reassuring tone during a public appearance days after the election. Here’s what he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
The fast-talking comic's banter made him a viral video star. His 2015 "Unapologetically Southern" rebel yell cemented his status as a YouTube powerhouse. That doesn't mean his rants are a one-way street.
Director Scott Derrickson has a funny way of ringing in a national holiday. Derrickson’s resume includes a number of respected films including The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and Sinister (2012). That changed when he co-wrote and directed the 2016 smash Doctor Strange. The MCU entry shook up the superhero formula just enough to score big with critics and fans alike.
Does anyone in Hollywood put their foot in their mouth better than Lena Dunham? The creator of HBO’s Girls has made apologizing her side hustle. She even wrote an essay on her mea culpa addiction, hoping the meta-confession might burnish her culture warrior credentials.
Jeff Ross has a hard time keeping his immigration policies straight. Compare these two comments made within a week of each other on Comedy Central. Here’s Ross talking to Trevor Noah about immigration on The Daily Show. Noah said the U.S. cannot have open borders despite liberals favoring amnesty-style policies. Ross didn’t appear to disagree.
Watching 11/8/16 is like scanning Facebook over the past 12 months. It isn’t pretty. The documentary, available now via iTunes, select theaters and Netflix, is a revealing look at our divided nation all the same. Only it shares more than the filmmakers likely intended.
George Clooney's new film throbs with hatred for 1950s suburbia, no doubt. And maybe the 2017 version, to hear Clooney’s recent press musings. The racism on full display is underlined, highlighted and cast in bold type. Just try missing it. We dare you. Beyond that? Maybe it’s Clooney’s confession that he’s better off in front of the camera, not behind it.
Four very different films hit theaters over the past few weeks. Consider: A sequel to one of the most talked about documentaries in recent memory, an artsy horror film featuring an Oscar-winning stunner, a B-movie disaster directed by a man who knowns that genre by heart, and a belated sequel to one of the most iconic science fiction films of all time.