Colin Wessman

Oscars Fortnight Day 5: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)

The 40th Academy Awards (1968)
Nominations: 10
Wins: 2

So 1968 is the Oscar year where everything changes. It’s the year where the Academy stops only nominating musicals and British period pieces (save for Doctor Dolittle) and starts nominating movies about what was happening in the culture, man. It’s an Oscar year so pivotal that Mark Harris wrote the book Pictures At A Revolution about the five Best Picture nominees in 1968 and how they reflected where Hollywood was at the time. While I had already seen The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and In The Heat of The Night, I had never gotten around to Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, probably because I’d assumed that its depiction of ’60s-era race relations wouldn’t hold up that well. However, I was actually quite surprised how deftly this movie handles its complicated subject matter. Continue reading

Oscars Fortnight Day 3: My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady (1964)

The 37th Academy Awards (1965)
Nominations: 12
Wins: 8

I’m not sure when the idea of “Oscar-y movies” started to take hold, but my guess would be the 1960s. Or at the very least, the ’60s are the first decade where you can start to see a clear pattern of the types of movies that would be lauded with Oscars. It’s a decade that was (almost infamously) eager to hand out Oscars to two specific genres — the musical and the British period piece. While some of the Best Picture winners from this decade could easily still be regarded as classics (like Lawrence of Arabia or West Side Story), the Academy’s willingness to so fervently reward these genres in retrospect feels like a bit of an overreach. Especially when far more exciting things were going on in international film, whose influence would seep its way into the more brash Hollywood films that were getting Oscars by the decade’s end. Continue reading

The People’s Albums #12: Metallica

Since it’s March 31 and we still haven’t had a single post all month, here’s an obligatory People’s Album entry to keep this from being the first completely postless month. Though don’t worry, word on the street is that we’ll be a little more active on here in the month ahead.

Album: Metallica (The Black Album)
Artist: Metallica
Release Date: August 12, 1991
Copies Sold In U.S.: 16 million Continue reading

Nomadder Where You Go

Nomadland

I can’t even remember the last time I reviewed a new movie on this blog, but let’s see if I still remember how to do it. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been a lot of good movies to come out post-pandemic, since we were able to put together our Top Ten Movies of 2020 lists without it feeling like we were scraping the bottom of the barrel. But it’s still been a while since I’ve seen a movie that has affected me enough that it was able to transcend the fact that I was still stuck at home watching it, even though it’s a film featuring the expanse of the American West that you’d prefer to see on a big screen. But whatever format you’re seeing it on, aside from the prettiness of its natural imagery, Nomadland is also filled with a ton to chew on in terms of its themes, topicality, and of course empathy. Continue reading

Compare/Contrast: Heaux Tales/Ignorance

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales / The Weather Station – Ignorance

It’s hard to say what new music will look like in 2021. You would think that there may be a dearth of album releases due to the pandemic making it harder for musicians to collaborate in the studio over the past year. Though unlike film and TV, music doesn’t rely as much on large groups of people for creative fulfillment, and as we even saw in 2020, some artists are perfectly capable of writing and recording worthwhile material while in isolation. So for that reason, I think 2021 won’t be the greatest year for music or anything, but I don’t think it’ll be a complete wasteland the way movies were in 2020 and TV will almost surely be this year.

I can’t verify whether both Jazmine Sullivan’s and The Weather Station’s new albums were recorded during lockdown (though I know Heaux Tales was), but their introspective nature certainly checks off what we want out of music these days. They’re two albums that are among the most critically lauded albums of the year so far (though I suppose Heaux Tales is technically an EP), while also being probably my two favorite albums of the still-young year. They’re not that similar of sounding albums, as they’re coming from two artists that inhabit two very different spaces of the music world (Sullivan coming from the mainstream R&B world, while The Weather Station comes from the artier side of indie-pop). However, they feel worth comparing to me because they both see two artists in similar stages of their careers finding their sounds in truly revelatory ways. Continue reading

The People’s Albums #13: Saturday Night Fever

It looks like I took off 2020 completely from doing any installments of The People’s Albums, but I’m still so close to finishing out this seven-year journey that I just gotta keep pushing. Also, after catching up with The Bee Gees: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? and the film Saturday Night Fever this past week, I finally feel ready to assess this cornerstone of the disco movement.

Album: Saturday Night Fever (The Original Movie Soundtrack)
Artist: The Bee Gees / Various Artists
Release Date:
November 15, 1977
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 16 million Continue reading

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2021

2020 was a weird year for movies, to put it mildly. 2021 will most likely be just as weird, as we look forward to films that will mostly be available on streaming while still holding out hope that a few choice releases will make their way to theaters by the end of the year. While the circumstances have changed, Sean and John once again compile their lists of their most anticipated movies, while I take a look at the movies that probably won’t be any better than they were before having their release dates pushed back. This podcast is always a fun one, and as per usual we’re joined by our old friend Matt Carstens. Continue reading