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Cinema Chat: Predictions for the College Football Playoffs and the top films of 2022

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS – Dec. 31 and Jan. 9

The Georgia Bulldogs are heavy favorites to repeat as college football national champions. The Georgia Bulldogs (-160) lead odds boards to win the 2023 College Football National Championship. The Michigan Wolverines (+300), Ohio State Buckeyes (+360), and TCU Horned Frogs (+1600) round out the College Football Playoff field of four. CFP semifinals play out on New Year’s Eve. The No. 2 Wolverines (13-0) will play the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs (12-1) in the Fiesta Bowl in the other CFP semifinal on Dec. 31.

The winners will meet for the national title at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles on Jan. 9.

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State - Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET, Atlanta

Opening line: Georgia by 6.5

Georgia built the most complete résumé in college football this season. It was dominant in its biggest games: a 49-3 win over then-No. 11 Oregon in the season opener, a 27-13 win over then-No. 1 Tennessee in the first week in November and a 50-30 win over then-No. 14 LSU in the SEC championship game Saturday.

Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud had a Heisman-type season going until the Michigan game, with 3,330 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions on the year. Stroud threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns against the Wolverines but also had two interceptions. The Buckeyes were dealing with injuries to running back TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, while freshman Dallan Hayden had just two carries. With converted linebacker Chip Trayanum getting most of the carries, Stroud becomes that much more important if Ohio State isn't fully healthy at running back. He has been the leader of the offense this season, and while the loss to rival Michigan was a big setback, he can make up for it in the playoffs.

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU – Fiesta Bowl, Sat, Dec. 31 at 4:00: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Opening line via Caesars Sportsbook: Michigan by 9.5

Michigan avoided a semifinal rematch with Ohio State and instead will take on No. 3 TCU.

The Horned Frogs are coming off of an emotional loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, while Michigan won the Big Ten title game by beating Purdue. The Wolverines have the advantage of experience over TCU, having made the playoff last season, but neither team has made it past the semifinals in the CFP era.

Running back Donovan Edwards had 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Michigan's win against Ohio State. With Blake Corum out, Edwards' performance will be key for the Wolverines. The run game is critical to the Michigan offense, and Edwards' ability to establish the run and open up the passing game will be a key for the Wolverines.

How Michigan wins: If the Wolverines can establish their running game and control the clock as they have all season, plus mix in some big plays through the air from quarterback J.J. McCarthy, they should have a good shot. McCarthy has continuously called this a "smashfest" team, and the Wolverines relish beating their opponents up front. Michigan showed it can strike through the air if it has to against Ohio State, but its ideal scenario is having success on the ground first.

How TCU wins: The Frogs have employed a mix of thunder and lightning to keep opponents on the ropes, particularly in the second half. TCU had 17 plays of at least 50 yards this season, second only to Tennessee in the FBS. Quarterback Max Duggan ranks third nationally in completion percentage on passes of 20 or more yards downfield at a 54.7% clip with 12 touchdowns on such plays, tops in the country. And Miller rushed for more than 1,000 yards between the tackles and is tough to bring down, ranking third in the Big 12 with 650 yards after contact. If the Frogs can remain patient and pound away with Miller, they'll be able to open up the field for their playmakers and a roster loaded with speed.

2022 CRITICS POLL: THE BEST FILMS AND PERFORMANCES

165 critics from around the world voted in IndieWire's survey, and one film topped several of the major categories by a landslide.

Critical consensus is in the air once again. Last year, IndieWire’s annual critics survey was dominated by one title, “The Power of the Dog.” Now, a landslide victory has happened again. With 165 critics and journalists voting on the best films and performances in this year’s survey, Todd Field’s “TÁR” stormed the #1 spot in several categories with the urgency of a mad conductor knocking a rival off her podium.

The movie topped the categories of Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance, and Best Screenplay. It appeared on over 45% of all ballots, with 26 first-place rankings for Best Film. It also placed at No. 2 on IndieWire’s own staff list of The Best Movies of 2022.

For the third time, this survey featured a gender-neutral Best Performance category. Along with its dominant victories as Best Film, and in Best Director and Best Screenplay, “TÁR” simply owned this category for Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the accomplished title conductor and her sharp fall from grace. In a time of snap judgments, where everyone now seems to be defined by just one thing (and even seek to define themselves by just one thing), the way in which this character is defined by a lack of absolutes has resonated far and wide.

The Best Documentary was topped by “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” and its portrait of the artist and activist Nan Goldin. Complex, irreducible individuals get the spotlight several times in this category, such as doomed volcanologists Catherine and Maurice Krafft in “Fire of Love” (No. 2), David Bowie in “Moonage Daydream” (No. 3), or the imprisoned Russian dissident “Navalny” (No. 6).

Best Film

  1. “TÁR”
  2. “Aftersun”
  3. “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  4. “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
  5. “The Fabelmans”
  6. “Decision to Leave”
  7. “Nope”
  8. “RRR”
  9. “Top Gun: Maverick”
  10. “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”

Best Director

  1. Todd Field, “TÁR”
  2. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  3. S.S. Rajamouli, “RRR”
  4. Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”
  5. Charlotte Wells, “Aftersun”
  6. Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”
  7. Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  8. Jerzy Skolimowski, “EO”
  9. Jordan Peele, “Nope”
  10. Alice Diop, “Saint Omer”

Best Performance

  1. Cate Blanchett, “TÁR”
  2. Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  3. Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  4. Danielle Deadwyler, “Till”
  5. Park Ji-Min, “Return to Seoul”
  6. Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
  7. Tilda Swinton, “The Eternal Daughter”
  8. Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”
  9. Mia Goth, “Pearl”
  10. TIE: Guslagie Malanda, “Saint Omer,”; Austin Butler, “Elvis”; Léa Seydoux, “One Fine Morning”

Best Documentary

  1. “All the Beauty & the Bloodshed”– Artist Nan Goldin protest to remove the Sackler name from Louvre
  2. “Fire of Love”
  3. “Moonage Daydream”
  4. “All That Breathes”
  5. “Descendant”
  6. “Navalny”
  7. “Three Minutes: A Lengthening”
  8. “The Janes”
  9. “Mr. Bachmann and His Class”
  10. TIE: “Sr.”/”We Need to Talk About Cosby”

Best Cinematography

  1. “Decision to Leave”
  2. “Top Gun: Maverick”
  3. TIE: “EO”/”Nope”
  4. “The Fabelmans”
  5. “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  6. “Athena”
  7. “Avatar: The Way of Water”
  8. “Bardo”
  9. “Ambulance”

Best Screenplay

  1. “TÁR”
  2. “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  3. “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
  4. “Aftersun”
  5. “Women Talking”
  6. “The Fabelmans”
  7. “Crimes of the Future”
  8. “Glass Onion”
  9. “Saint Omer”
  10. TIE: “The Eternal Daughter”/”After Yang”

Best International Film

  1. “Decision to Leave”
  2. “RRR”
  3. “EO”
  4. “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  5. “No Bears”
  6. “The Banshees of Inisherin”
  7. “Saint Omer”
  8. “Happening”
  9. “Hit the Road”
  10. “Benediction”

Best First Feature

  1. “Aftersun”
  2. “Saint Omer”
  3. “Turning Red”
  4. “Nanny”
  5. “Murina”
  6. “Hit the Road”
  7. “Emily the Criminal”
  8. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair”
  9. “The Inspection”
  10. “Three Minutes: A Lengthening”

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

Honoring Italian Cinema - Film & Food Festival (Thursdays at the State)

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Babylon" 

A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, this film traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood. This is a 2022 American epic period comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart,Tobey Maguire, Jovan Adepo, and Li Jun Li. Its plot chronicles the rise and fall of multiple characters during Hollywood's transition from silent to sound films in the late 1920s. The film received positive reviews, with praise aimed at the cinematography, score, and cast performances. It received five nominations at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and nine nominations at the 28th Critics' Choice Awards, including Best Picture.

"Decision to Leave" 

From writer/director Park Chan-wook, one of the most prominent South Korean filmmakers working today "‘Oldboy", "The Handmaiden")

From a mountain peak in South Korea, a man plummets to his death, leaving the question: Did he jump, or was he pushed? When detective Hae-joon arrives on the scene, he begins to suspect the dead man's wife, but as he digs deeper into the investigation, he finds himself trapped in a web of deception and desire.

The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where Park won Best Director, and was also selected as the South Korean entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. It was also named one of the top 5 international films of 2022 by the National Board of Review.

"The Whale"

From directorDarren Aronofsky, known for his psychological dramas "Pi", "Requiem for a Dream", and "Black Swan".

Starring Brendan Fraser as a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.

Fraser has received a Best Actor nomination at the 80th Golden Globe Awards and is inspiring the discussion of a “Frasierssance” that may be upon us.

"Empire of Light"

Written and directed by Sam Mendes ("1917", "American Beauty", "Skyfall")

A poignant tale of human connection that takes place in an English coastal cinema during the 1980s, and a love letter to the magic of cinema.

Sam Mendes recruited an all-star cast and crew, with Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, and Toby Jones in starring roles, a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Oscar winners for Disney Pixar’s "Soul") and the film was shot by Roger Deakins, two-time Academy Award winner and perhaps the most widely praised cinematography working in the industry today.

"The Fabelmans" 

A 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg's adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of movies can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg's real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2022, where it won the People's Choice Award.

Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.

"The Menu"

A 2022 American comedy horror film directed by Mark Mylod, written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, and produced by Adam McKay, Betsy Koch, and Will Ferrellthrough their production banners Hyperobject Industries and Gary Sanchez Productions respectively. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo. It had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Young couple Margot and Tyler (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travel to a remote island to eat at Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant run by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), who has prepared a lavish molecular gastronomy menu where food is treated as conceptual art, although his approach to cuisine has some shocking surprises for the wealthy guests.

"The Banshees of Inisherin" 

This is a 2022 black comedy film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film follows lifelong friends (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship; Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan also star. It reunites Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh's directorial "In Bruges" (2008). It had its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where Farrell won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor and McDonagh won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay.

Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, this film follows lifelong friends Pádraic and Colm, who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán and troubled young islander Dominic, endeavors to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádraic's repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend’s resolve and when Colm delivers a desperate ultimatum, events swiftly escalate, with shocking consequences.

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