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On the Radar… (November Edition)

Marvel Studios

So. What are we doing this month, my beautiful readers? Are we resigning ourselves to letting the fascists back into Congress? Do we let the U.S. Senate make room for a daytime talk show snake oil grifter and the author of a hateful, classist book that was adapted into… wow, I can’t even call it Ron Howard’s worst movie? I have an idea: let’s not do that. Let’s make a commitment, right now, to double-check our registrations, make a plan to vote, vote early if we can, don’t be deterred by the voter intimidation squads, and make sure our friends in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Nevada get out there and save the country next week.

Anyway, in movie news, there are some really promising movies coming out within the next few weeks, including what will almost certainly be one of the biggest hits of the year and another that may possibly be the current frontrunner for Best Picture.

So let’s take a look at them…


Directed by Ryan Coogler

Starring Angela Bassett, with Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira

What is it about? The nation of Wakanda is pitted against intervening world powers as they mourn the loss of their king T’Challa.

How am I feelin’ about this one? I can count on one hand the number of feature films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe I would put forward as movies that still hold up as movies, separated from the endlessly serialized, consequence-free, corporate content-detritus that Kevin Feige has made the norm in Hollywood. The first Iron Man. The first Avengers. Iron Man 3 if I’m feeling generous. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

And Black Panther, a fun and thankfully mostly self-contained sci-fi semi-James Bondian thriller with a visually splendid Afro-futurist aesthetic. And while pretty much all Marvel theatrical releases clean up at the box office, I don’t even think the head honchos at Disney were prepared for what a cultural phenomenon it would become, eventually making history as the highest-grossing movie directed by a black filmmaker, the second-highest grossing movie of the year worldwide, the highest-grossing movie of the year in the United States, and the first superhero movie nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its win for Best Costume Design is one of my personal favorites in that category ever.

Clearly, this was going to get a sequel. But, as it goes for things that seem too good to be true, just over two years ago, we received the gutting news that its star, Chadwick Boseman, died of colon cancer on August 28th, 2020 (side note: please, for the love of god, draft a will if you haven’t, yet). The man who embodied T’Challa so indelibly left the world too soon, and left a giant hole that Feige publicly went on the record in stating Marvel Studios would not try to fill.

So where does that leave Wakanda, this nation now without its king? Well, it appears that in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, they are at war with the seagoing Talokan nation. Yes, after finally prevailing in what may be the single most protracted rights snafu that Disney’s been involved with in the years since acquiring Marvel, Namor the Sub-Mariner is finally making his debut in this universe of heroes and demigods and aliens and wizards. Played by The Forever Purge’s Tenoch Huerta, it seems like the late King T’Challa’s decision to engage Wakanda with the rest of the world has put Namor’s own nation at risk somehow, and spurs the prince of the sea to retaliate. Because he’s more of an anti-hero in the comics, he’s probably going to have an arc similar to Bucky Barnes; the more mysterious character arc (and the marketing team clearly knows this) is who will take on the mantle of the Black Panther? What little we see in the expanded trailer shows a more feminine figure, but that narrows it down to Shuri, Nakia, or Okoye as the likeliest candidates. I’m personally hoping Nakia is the one, but it’s possible that Disney didn’t find Letitia Wright’s anti-vaccine obstinacy as much of a liability as I certainly would have. In addition, it looks like Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, will also be making her debut in this movie. As one of the first characters introduced into Marvel Comics explicitly as a test run for a future blockbuster movie protagonist, how she is received by general audiences as opposed to the narrow and shrinking demographic of regular comic book readers will be very interesting to observe.

Another question: will this be the massive awards juggernaut that its predecessor was? Joey is skeptical, though he thoroughly enjoyed the movie, calling it a thrilling and touching tribute to Boseman’s legacy while pushing its mythology in a bold new direction. As for me, I’m just hoping to see the first Marvel movie in a very long time that feels more like a cinematic experience and less like a half-baked pilot for a TV show.

THE SON – In Theaters November 11

Directed by Florian Zeller

Starring Hugh Jackman, with Vanessa Kirby and Laura Dern

What is it about? Peter has his busy life with new partner Emma and their baby thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas.

How am I feelin’ about this one? Florian Zeller’s follow-up to my favorite film of 2020 is finally upon us. And… folks, right now, it’s looking rough for The Son. Reviews have been very unkind so far, ripping apart the film’s writing in particular as corny and coming off like stilted “theatre dialog” that doesn’t resemble anything human beings in the real world would actually say to each other.

We here at Awards Radar have not judged the film for ourselves, yet. But it is certainly a bummer to be looking forward to something that has landed with a thud in every festival it has played at so far. You’ve probably already noticed Joey slowly but surely inching down the competitiveness of the cast and crew of The Son in his Oscar predictions. Which is probably a smart call. I’m hoping for the best, and with any luck, I’ll be publishing a vociferous defense of the movie later this week. But reader, I’m nervous.

THE FABELMANS – In Limited Theaters November 11, Expanding Wide November 23

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Gabriel LaBelle, with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano

What is it about? Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, a young man discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.

How am I feelin’ about this one? And here we have our frontrunner for Best Picture at the moment, and possibly Best Director, which… I mean, isn’t it kind of weird that Steven Spielberg hasn’t already won a third Best Director award by now? He has, at this point in his six-decade-long career, achieved iconic status at least as if not even more renowned than William Wyler and Frank Capra, the only two men to have ever won this prize three times (John Ford holds the record at four), and with The Fabelmans, Spielberg will almost certainly tie his friend Martin Scorsese as the second-most nominated Best Director of all time at nine nominations very soon (with Wyler still far ahead at twelve).

And yes, I am assuming this will be a serious contender for pretty much every eligible Oscar on March 12th, 2023. It won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, as reliable an Oscar bellwether as any major competitive film festival today (not a single winner of that award in the last decade has failed to go on to become a Best Picture nominee). Reviews have been across-the-board ecstatic; Joey loved this movie so much, he signaled in his review that this is one of the best films not only of the year, but possibly one of Spielberg’s finest achievements as a director and the best film he saw at the Toronto International Film Festival. Which is… quite a claim to make about a man responsible for several enduring American classics. But it makes sense, in a way. This is his entry in the now-very populated subgenre of “Ode To Classic Cinema From Veteran Filmmakers Nostalgic For Their Childhoods,” and if anyone can make a movie stand out amongst this well-trod territory, it’s the most successful populist filmmaker alive. He’s also been hinting at the possibility that this will be his final feature directorial effort, which would make any awards narrative this movie builds up take on a more profound and bittersweet note…

Another serious competitor to emerge is Michelle Williams, who could very well win Best Supporting Actress next March will be competing for Best Lead Actress against the likes of Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett. This has been decried by all of the loudest awards pundits as a strategically bone-headed move… but that’s what they said about Olivia Colman when she competed as a lead instead of a “supporting” role for The Favourite. Also, it’s entirely possible that – and just hear me out on this crazy idea – Williams honestly believes she plays a leading role in this film and doesn’t want to compete for an award she doesn’t think she deserves? Remember when Bruce Dern refused to go along with a proposed campaign for him in Best Supporting Actor nine years ago, stating, “if I go Supporting [for Nebraska], I’m a whore?” He was, rightly, celebrated for his integrity. Here is a woman making, as far as I can tell, the exact same decision regarding her own awards campaign and she’s being excoriated by Oscar pundits and prognosticators as “greedy” and “foolhardy.”

It’s hard not to see a double-standard, here, is all I’m saying.

SHE SAID – In Theaters November 18

Directed by Maria Schrader

Starring Carey Mulligan, with Zoe Kazan and Patricia Clarkson

What is it about? New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor break one of the most important stories in a generation — a story that helped launch the #MeToo movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood.

How am I feelin’ about this one? I cannot lie to you, dear reader; no matter how well this film turns out – and according to Joey, it has turned out very well – I know with absolute certainty that I am going to hate its awards season trajectory if it becomes a hit. My blood is going to boil as I see ceremony after ceremony after ceremony, more than happy to let Harvey Weinstein rule over them with an iron fist for decades and shower plaudits on the likes of Roman Polanski and Kevin Spacey, turn around and try to make up for their cowardice by publicly recognizing the movie about the reporters who exposed one of the many, many, many, many predators the entire entertainment industry failed to hold accountable, and in most cases, outright ran cover for. I hope, if Rebecca Lenkiewicz wins Best Adapted Screenplay or if Maria Schrader wins Best Director, they don’t hold back as they tell every hypocritical enabler in that audience patting themselves on the back to stick it.

But… it would be unfair for me to hold that against She Said itself, which chronicles the persistent work of old-fashioned investigative journalism that led to one of the most seismic New York Times articles of the 21st century so far (I provided that link in “gift” form so you can read it for free if you haven’t, yet). We’ve already seen one journalistic procedural thriller about the exposure of longtime systemic enabling of sexual abuse from a powerful institution (because surprise surprise: predators thrive in entrenched hierarchies of power that leverage shame and make a lot of money for a lot of people) win the Academy Award for Best Picture, so Hollywood certainly isn’t hesitant to publicly celebrate these kinds of stories. Then again, way more people in Hollywood were entwined in Weinstein’s empire than with the Catholic Church. No matter what the overall reaction is from Hollywood hypocrites who want to pretend there is no longer a problem in their industry, we absolutely should not let that influence our reaction to the film’s merits or the importance of bringing this vital story to a wider audience.

Also, continuing on the subject of category placement in the competitive acting categories, it was announced recently that Zoe Kazan will be campaigned for Best Lead Actress and Carey Mulligan will be pushed for Best Supporting Actress in the movie’s awards promotion. Now, I’m not going to judge the integrity of that specific decision until I see the movie for myself. It does seem awfully suspect, though, just based on the story being told and how the trailer presents both of them as equally prominent protagonists. The more I think about it, the more I’ve come around to The Film Experience’s Nathaniel Rogers on how to deal with this debate: automatically require movies to submit for a special review by some kind of objective adjudicating committee if they plan on campaigning either of their top two billed performers in the supporting categories. If a studio doesn’t submit their movie for a review, their top two billed performers (Mulligan may insist she was “supporting” Kazan’s Jodi Kantor on the campaign trail, but I guaran-damned-tee you her agent insisted otherwise when negotiating her salary for this role) are ineligible for either supporting award. Would that completely eliminate category fraud? No, but it would go a long way toward preventing the most egregious cases we’ve been seeing more of over the last several years.

Just a suggestion.

BONES AND ALL – In Theaters November 23

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Starring Taylor Russell, with Timothée Chalamet and Mark Rylance

What is it about? A young woman learns how to survive on the margins of society.

How am I feelin’ about this one? Luca Guadagnino seems to operate in two modes: relaxed, sensual romantic dramas and ambitious, audience-testing extreme horror-thrillers. He’s continuing his adventures in the latter with Bones and All, a kind of “doomed lovers on the run” road movie with a dash of cannibalism for good measure. Seems like a very strange project from the man who brought us Call Me By Your Name and I Am Love, until you remember that he was also the man who decided he had put his own spin on a remake of the Italian horror movie.

He’s teaming back up with Timothée Chalamet, who became a major movie star off of the strength of his Oscar-nominated turn in Call Me By Your Name, and working for the first time with Taylor Russell, who is finally getting a plumb role after her Oscar-nominated performance in Waves. The trailer comes off like a bloodier, more explicitly violent take on Badlands, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure is a bizarre combination, and I wonder how much appeal a film with such a chill, sensual tone with shocking gore and brutality will have outside of weirdoes like me. 

Joey personally didn’t find the film shocking so much as strange and kind of ponderous at times. I doubt it will be much of an awards player, but at a minimum, it will likely spark some interesting conversations as more people get a chance to see it.

DISENCHANTED – On Disney+ November 24

Directed by Adam Shankman

Starring Amy Adams, with Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden

What is it about? Ten years after her happily ever after, Giselle questions her happiness, inadvertently turning the lives of those in the real world and Andalasia upside down in the process.

How am I feelin’ about this one? Hollywood mystifies me sometimes. I can understand why it would take nearly two decades to greenlight a sequel to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. But Enchanted was a film that grossed quadruple its production budget at the box office, set a record for Thanksgiving weekend theatrical releases, was beloved by both critics and general audiences, narrowly beat I Am Legend in DVD sales, and turned Amy Adams into a major movie star practically overnight. You would think a sequel to this thing would have been fast-tracked within months of release.

But no. Disney decided to wait fifteen years to release a follow-up to one of their last pre-Marvel/Star Wars live-action hits. And they’re dumping Disenchanted on Disney+. I don’t even know what to say about this movie, honestly. Its own studio seems to have forgotten it’s coming out, with very little in the way of a marketing campaign and almost no press engagement to hype this thing up. Should we really be excited to see Amy Adams going back to this well when she’s clearly more invested in finally winning that elusive Academy Award? Do any of us really care about seeing Giselle, Robert, and Morgan continue on after their Happily Ever After in the suburbs as middle-aged parents? Why did they strike long after the iron cooled on this one?

Ah, well… I’m sure Maya Rudolph will be a hoot as the new villain, at least.

WHITE NOISE – In Theaters November 28

Directed by Noah Baumbach

Starring Adam Driver, with Greta Gerwig and Raffey Cassidy

What is it about? A contemporary American family attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.

How am I feelin’ about this one? So how’s this for an unexpected pairing: Don DeLillo, one of the great American novelists of his generation, famous for sprawling, ambitious, unorthodox narratives exploring virtually every cultural and political obsession of 20th century Americana with a heavily postmodernist perspective, and Noah Baumbach, the writer and director who has made a reputation for small-scale, prickly, tragicomic character studies of pretty insufferable people? Yes, these are strange bedfellows indeed, and later this month, White Noise, the 1985 novel that vaulted DeLillo into literary superstardom, will be adapted into a film by the man behind Marriage Story and The Squid and the Whale. I certainly did not see this coming.

Then again, most people probably would have never imagined the director of Punch-Drunk Love and Boogie Nights tackling Upton Sinclair or the director of Anchorman and Talladega Nights reinventing his filmmaking career through Michael Lewis… until they did it. Still, adapting White Noise would be a daunting challenge for any filmmaker; an unconventionally-structured first-person narrative centered on a deeply-neurotic and verbose character, the story zips around from a nearly plotless character study into a vaguely apocalyptic serio-comedic thriller, peppered with mordant takes on modern ennui and fear of mortality. Much like his other most famous work, Underworld, the challenge in adapting this book for the screen isn’t necessarily the content of the book, but in capturing the spirit of such a bookish book as White Noise that made it such an acclaimed hit in the first place. 

So how successfully did Baumbach tackle a larger-scaled, more ambitious canvas? It… depends on who you ask. Joey, for example, mostly liked the sprawling, strange, sometimes messy result. Others were less impressed, and either have complained that the adaptation fails to recognize what was so special about DeLillo’s novel in the first place or even went so far as to accuse him of misunderstanding and ruining the point of it entirely.

I imagine Baumbach and maybe even DeLillo expected the divided response; I would even go so far as to say any adaptation of a book like White Noise would be impossible to produce without pissing off a substantial portion of audiences and critics no matter how you’d go about it. Baumbach might be rewarded for his adventurousness with a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, but it’ll be an uphill climb for recognition elsewhere. Honestly, the real reward might be that he was even able to get this thing made at all.

Let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments, readers. And please vote early if you can. Like, seriously, democracy is literally at stake.

One last note: many of our readers engage with me via Twitter, but by the time you read this article, I will have deleted my account and abandoned the platform entirely as I refuse to have my data and online interactions owned by Elon Musk. If you would like to follow my writings and movie opinions outside of Awards Radar, you are all more than welcome to connect with me on Letterboxd and TikTok.


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[…] already cowl greater than adequately. I’ve already expressed my exasperation with the notion of a sequel to Enchanted, a “final-but-let’s-be-honest-not-really” sequel to Halloween, a sequel to Jurassic Park […]


[…] already covered more than adequately. I have already expressed my exasperation with the notion of a sequel to delighteda “final-but-let’s-be-honest-not-really” sequel to Hallowe’ena sequel to […]



Written by Robert Hamer

Formerly an associate writer for recently-retired Award Circuit, Robert Hamer is a military veteran who now spends his time obsessing over movies and pop politics.

He is returning to film and awards season commentary to return to a sense of normalcy in these plague-ridden times of rising fascism and late-stage capitalist dystopia. Join him, won't you, in these unorthodox attempts at cinematic therapy?

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