Notes from the Kraken: February

In All, Notes by David

Welcome again to We Have Always Live the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this month’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.

Even I am getting tired of seeing this image.

As the Oscar season hits its stretch run, I can’t help but wonder if years from now I am going to lament how much I didn’t appreciate that anomaly that was the 2016 Oscars. Last year at this time there was a true sense of uncertainty, as throughout the season it could be argued that any of Spotlight, The Big Short, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road could be the big winner. This unpredictability made it a fascinating awards season to watch and to cover. This also had the benefit of ultimately forcing the Oscars to spread the love, as ultimate Best Picture winner Spotlight ended the night with only two Oscars. There was a part of me that hoped this might be a continuing trend, with award shows realizing they don’t have to all agree, and with more and more people realizing that a Best Picture winner doesn’t necessarily have to also be the best in individual categories (especially directing, editing, and writing).

This hope seemed to be worth having at the beginning of the 2017 Oscar season, as Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea were battling it out for top honors and Arrival lurked as another possible contender. Then the tide slowly turned: La La Land started winning everything, and what began as a chaotic awards season has become rather tidy. That’s a shame, because the herd mentality of awards voting is always disappointing and kind of makes it pointless to even have multiple groups giving out awards during the year if they are all just going to agree with each other because no one wants to stand apart. Even as a big fan of La La Land, I can acknowledge that the love for it has gotten out of hand, and has started to really hurt the the season overall, as the other films are starting to be really overlooked. This isn’t just unfortunate for everything Damien Chazelle didn’t direct this year; it’s also fueled quite a bit of the La La Land backlash. An exciting slate crowded out by one movie that dominates both positive and negative conversations during the awards season: that’s a script that’s played out many times over the years. After last year’s welcome chaos I had forgotten how staid this race normally becomes. So here’s to you, 2016 Oscar season! You were a race that may not be repeated for quite some time.

David Robertson 

From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this month.

We’re still cataloging our site’s Best ofs, 2016 Edition:

  • We already covered movies, anime, and video games
  • But there’s still the year’s best television!
  • (Also a few surprises.)

February is Oscars month here at the Kraken. Oscarathon 2017 kicks into high gear leading up to the big night on February 26th! This year David has a four-part megathread covering every Oscar race, with updates at every twist and turn of La La Land‘s journey to winning every single category, including Best Documentary Short. Woo!

  • Part one of the megathread covers the Big Six Categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, and Best Supporting Actor/Actress.
  • Part two of the megathread covers the Creative awards: both Screenplay categories, best Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Original Song, and Score.
  • Part three of the megathread covers the Technical awards: best Cinematography, Film Editing, both Sound awards, and Best Visual Effects.
  • Part four of the megathread covers the remaining Best Film awards: best Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, Foreign Language film, and the three short film categories (Documentary, Animated, and Live Action shorts).
  • Episode 1 of our podcast series covering this year’s Oscars is already out, covering the big awards and our thoughts on the show itself.
  • Episode 2 of the Oscarathon podcast series discusses the La La Land hype train and digs into the technical awards.
  • Episode 3 of the Oscarathon podcast series gives our final predictions on Oscars eve. Fill out your ballot as you listen along!
  • Here are our final Oscar predictions before the show.
  • Mark your calendars for February 26th for our live blog of the show! Also check out our live tweeting @insidethekraken.
  • After the craziest Oscar’s ending ever, the Kraken team has an emergency podcast to talk about what the hell just happened.
  • David offers up his final thoughts on this Oscar season. Congrats Moonlight!

The Life in the Kraken Podcast returns with another in-depth series covering a fantasy TV show week to week! Join David and Kyu every weekend as they talk Season 2 of Syfy’s The Magicians in our Life in the Kraken Podcast: Fillory Edition.

All this and more! February is the shortest month in the calendar, but not in our hearts. (Fuck you, April.) Keep checking back for more updates.

Catch of the Week:

Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week Month.

Special note: we’re exploring new ways that you can support the Kraken. If any of this week’s recommendations interest you, feel free to click on our Amazon affiliate links below. We get a small kickback on anything you buy at no extra cost to you, and that money goes toward sustaining and improving the site. Thanks!

David: Sometimes you just need a dose of sweet vigilante justice. If you agree, you are in luck, because there is new television show that will give you just that. MTV’s Sweet/Vicious is an audacious series that sees its two leads take justice into their own hands to deal with sexual assaulters on their college campus. What makes this show really stand out is how it finds ways to keep things grounded and real. even as its leads are dressing up as ninjas and beating the crap out of rapists. This show is entertaining as hell as it taps into a huge dose of righteous anger, but it also does a great job in trying to deal with the complexity of sexual assault cases on college campuses, and doesn’t shy away from things just because they are uncomfortable to watch. The first season just finished, so you can binge all ten episodes whenever you have a need for seeing vigilantes punching rapists.


Keskel: This week I recommend Black Lagoon. Like Jormungand and a very few others, it is a superbly animated and choreographic action show inspired by a late 90’s Tarantino ethos. It’s the story of a Japanese salaryman who finds himself kidnapped during a business trip to Southeast Asia and ends up joining his captors to become a pirate, mercenary, and eventually translator for the mob.


Kyu: It’s hard to believe, but Split is actually a good movie. No, more than that–it’s an exciting movie. As mysteriously as M. Night Shyamalan disintegrated, somehow now he’s back. The Sixth Sense director was once one of the finest talents in Hollywood, a master filmmaker bringing subtle storytelling to a mass audience, before–ego? overambition? too few financial and creative limitations?–sent his artistic career into a nosedive from which it seemed he would never recover. Now we have this movie, a strong entry in the recent spate of abduction movies, so focused, so well-directed, so classic Shyamalan that it seems as though he never left. Although the abduction genre is tiny, severely constrained by the narrow geographical and emotional range of its stories, filmmakers have managed to push it fairly hard in terms of tone–last year’s Room, for instance, took a dramatic approach, while 10 Cloverfield Lane was part thriller, part speculative fiction. Split is something else altogether, although there’s a lot of horror here (as there is in nearly all of Shyamalan’s films to one extent or another–no joke intended). I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the movie, and I highly recommend you see it before someone spoils it for you; but it’s not treading too far to say that the film’s main subject is the counterplay between two pivotal genre figures, carefully re-examined under M. Night’s empathetic lens.

On the one hand, James McAvoy’s phenomenal performance–or performances, perhaps I should say–as the abductor. Typically abduction films rely on a charismatic villain’s mercurial temperament to provide emotional variety in movies that often take place in one room; John Goodman, for instance, could turn on a dime from friendly to chillingly controlling in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Here Shyamalan and McAvoy take that idea to its extreme by crafting a villain with dissociative identity disorder. Many different names and personalities inhabit a single body, as McAvoy uses the whole bag of tricks and then throws in the bag, too, to differentiate and characterize each one as a distinct human being–one of whom may hold the key to Casey’s survival. Anya Taylor-Joy takes on the other key role in this genre, the Girl, and the film gives her an even subtler and more interesting twist on the traditional archetype. It’s in the conflict between the two that Split returns to the pet themes of Shyamalan’s earlier work–recognizing a kinship between ourselves and our opposites, confronting the mistakes of our past, becoming something bigger than ourselves… and a new addition, perhaps inspired by whatever the writer/director has been through since his last great movie (The Village): the idea that, once we accept it, suffering can breed an unbreakable strength.

As I said, it’s an exciting movie. It’s always wonderful to see a lost artist find their way again. Split may not quite be a masterpiece, but it suggests that Shyamalan is once again capable of creating one. I, for one, can’t wait to see his next movie. And that’s a feeling I haven’t had in years. Check this one out while it’s still in theaters. You won’t be disappointed.

That’s it for this month. The Kraken has decided he no longer likes the Earth, so we are off searching for a new planet, that we can call New Earth. Earth 2.0? We’re workshopping it.