Review: ‘You Were My First Boyfriend,’ starring Cecilia Aldarondo

December 4, 2023

by Carla Hay

Xander Black and Cecilia Aldarondo in “You Were My First Boyfriend” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“You Were My First Boyfriend”

Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo and Sarah Enid Hagey

Culture Representation: Taking place in Florida and in New York, the autobiographical documentary film “You Were My First Boyfriend” features a Latino and white group of people representing the working-class and middle-class and who are connected in some way to filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo.

Culture Clash: Aldarondo reminisces about her teenage years and confronts some of her personal demons by re-enacting some of her best and worst teenage experiences and memories.

Culture Audience: “You Were My First Boyfriend” will appeal primarily to viewers who are interested in movies that explore how adults can still be affected by angst that they had when they were teenagers.

An archival photo of Caroline Baker and Cecilia Aldarondo as teenagers in “You Were My First Boyfriend” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

If you had a chance to re-enact some of your most memorable teenage experiences (the good, the bad and the in between) in a documentary, would you do it? Most people wouldn’t, but the unconventional “You Were My First Boyfriend” shows what it was like for a filmmaker to revisit her past on camera. The film is a mixture of re-enactments, interviews with people who knew her when she was a teenager, and hindsight-fueled personal introspection.

Even though “You Were My First Boyfriend” is steeped in 1990s nostalgia, the themes in this documentary can be relatable to people of many generations. Filmmaker/narrator Cecilia Aldarondo gives an emotionally honest look at her self-esteem struggles. “You Were My First Boyfriend” had its world premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival.

Aldarondo and Sarah Enid Hagey directed and wrote “You Were My First Boyfriend,” but this is Aldarondo’s life story—specifically, about how Aldarondo is still dealing with insecurities that have affected her since childhood. Aldarondo (whose family is of Puerto Rican heritage) spent most her childhood in Winter Park, Florida, where she and her family were among the minority of Latino people in their predominantly white neighborhood.

The high school that Aldarondo and her two older sisters attended also had a predominantly white population. Aldarondo says of Winter Park: “People say it’s a nice place to grow up, but it always felt like a foreign place to me.” (Aldarondo is currently based in New York.)

In the beginning of “You Were My First Boyfriend,” Aldarondo says in a voiceover: “Imagine you had a nightmare where you had to relive your adolescence. My memories shine almost like a diamond. But not because I love them but because I hate them.”

Aldarondo doesn’t hold back in letting viewers know what her insecurities are that she says have plagued her since she was a child. In high school, she was socially awkward, had very few friends, and didn’t date anyone. Aldarondo says that she always felt inadequate and less attractive, compared to her two older sisters, whom Aldarondo feels got more attention and admiration from people inside and outside the family. It didn’t help that Aldarondo vividly remembers a few of her older female relatives making insulting remarks about Aldarondo’s weight.

Aldarondo’s sister Laura Gallegos is in several scenes in the documentary. And although Gallegos is a loving and supportive sister who gives Aldarondo pep talks and constant encouragement, there’s still a little bit noticeable tension between the sisters. Aldarondo comes across as somewhat jealous that Gallegos has a “perfect” life of domestic stability, while Gallegos seems a little envious that Aldarondo has a career that’s about creative freedom.

It’s also interesting to see how the two sisters sometimes have very different memories of the same childhood experiences. Not surprisingly, Gallegos doesn’t remember or says she wasn’t fully aware of all the emotional pain that Aldarondo says she was going through at the time in their childhoods when Aldarondo often felt invisible or sidelined in their own family. The documentary has some very raw emotions that show the complicated dynamics between the two sisters as they sort through their past and present.

Early on in the movie, there are scenes of Aldarondo (who graduated from high school in 1994) at her 25th high school reunion. As she drives to the reunion location, she says out loud, “I feel like I’m returning to the scene of an invisible crime, but the masochist in me tells me, ‘You must go [to this reunion].'”

At the reunion, Aldarondo engages in friendly conversations, but she still looks slightly uncomfortable. She says in a voiceover she feels like the people and the atmosphere have lot of the same elitist “country club” attitude that she experienced in high school. When an unidentified male former classmate comments on Aldarondo’s curly hair, there are some racial undertones when he asks her, “What did you channel for your hair?” She replies sarcastically, “Puerto Rico.” Perhaps realizing that his comment could be taken as an insult, he adds, “Your hair is amazing.”

Aldarondo tells documentary viewers up front that a big reason why she wanted to go to the reunion was to see a classmate named Joel, whom she says she had an intense crush on, from when they were in 6th grade to 12th grade. Aldarondo says she was too shy to ever flirt with Joel, or make it known that she wanted to date him, because she felt that he was out of her league. Before going to the reunion, Aldarondo reads some of her lovelorn journal entries about Joel, who never dated her and didn’t know that she had such a huge crush on him.

However, according to Aldarondo, Joel’s high school girlfriend knew about this crush and set up Aldarondo to have a potentially humiliating moment at a high school dance. Aldarondo says that this girlfriend told Aldarondo that Joel wanted to dance with Aldarondo, so Aldarondo approached Joel at the dance. He seemed confused when Aldarondo told him what his girlfriend said, but he politely asked Aldarondo to dance.

Joel didn’t know it at the time, but that dance (as awkward as it was for both of them) made a big impact on Aldarondo. On the one hand, it was like a dream come true for her. On the other hand, Aldarondo knew that she was only dancing with Joel because his girlfriend at the time intended it to be a prank. This experience is one of many from her teenage years that Aldarondo says still “haunt” her.

It should come as no surprise that Aldarondo meets up with Joel in the documentary to confess that she had a secret crush on him. She even goes as far as reading some of the things she wrote in her journal about him. What makes “You Were My First Boyfriend” different from most other documentaries that would have this type of reunion scene is that Aldarondo takes it a step further and recreates this fateful high school dance, by hiring real teenage actors (Xander Black has the role of Joel) and Aldarondo portraying the teenage version of herself.

If all of this sounds like some kind of therapy, Aldarondo freely admits that it is. (Hired actor Black even points out that these re-enactments must be like therapy for Aldarondo.) Aldarondo’s live-in partner Gabriel “Gabe” Kristal is shown in the documentary as being very supportive of what she’s doing in the documentary.

Kristal also gamely participates when Aldarondo asks him to recreate a scene from the high school drama series “My So-Called Life,” one of her favorite shows from her teenage years. In these “My So-Called Life” recreations, Aldarondo is protagonist Angela Chase (originally played by Claire Danes), and Kristal portrays Angela’s hard-to-get crush Jordan Catalano (originally played by Jared Leto). These “My So-Called Life” recreated scenes are intended to be amusing.

The title of “You Were My First Boyfriend” is somewhat misleading because the documentary isn’t completely focused on Aldarondo’s teenage obsession with Joel (who was never her boyfriend) and her reunion with him. A much more meaningful part of the documentary is about Aldarondo coming to terms with how her insecurities cost her a close friendship. With hindsight comes a lot of regret.

Before and during high school, Aldarondo had a best friend named Caroline Baker. The two girls had many interests in common (such as watching movies and TV shows), but Baker was much more open and secure about being a nerd than Aldarondo was. Aldarondo says in the documentary that there was a time in her high school years when some of the school’s popular girls began to pay attention to Aldarondo and invited her to join them in some of their social activities. As a result, Aldarondo ended her friendship with Baker, because she thought that the popular girls wouldn’t think she was very cool if she continued to hang out with Baker.

The documentary also shows Aldarondo confronting an ugly truth about her teenage past. As much as she felt shunned by many of her classmates because of snobbery, Aldarondo did some shunning of her own in how she treated Baker for the same snobbish reasons. The documentary shows whether or not Baker reunites with Aldarondo. In the teenage re-enactment scenes, Trinity Soos has the role of teenage Baker. The documentary includes footage of Aldarondo’s difficult audition process to find the right actress for the role.

Aldarondo also acknowledges her failings and flaws in being a passive part of the bullying among her fellow students. She describes an incident that took place at a girls’ summer camp when she saw two girls bully another girl, and Aldarondo did nothing to stop it. The guilt of being a bully enabler weighed on Aldarondo, and what she decided to do about it is shown in the documentary. It’s one of the most emotionally powerful moments in the movie.

Not everything in “You Were My First Boyfriend” is about Aldarondo reliving painful memories. One of the more light-hearted (but bittersweet) sections of the movie is when Aldarondo and her sister Gallegos do a re-enactment of Tori Amos’ 1992 “Crucify” music video. It might sound self-indulgent and a little dorky, but in the movie, it comes across as sweet and endearing for Aldarondo to recreate this music video that is special to her. The teenage friendship scenes with Aldarondo and Soos (as Baker) are also delightful to watch.

Documentary filmmakers who make themselves the stars of their movies often do so because they’re seeking recognition for monumental achievements that they want to put in the documentary. Aldarondo did not make “You Were My First Boyfriend” with the intention of winning a Pulitzer Prize. However, by exposing herself in such a candid and truthful way, she has made a very personal documentary that might help give insecure people more confidence to show who they really are and go on a path toward healthy self-acceptance.

HBO premiered “You Were My First Boyfriend” on November 8, 2023.

Review: ‘Candy Cane Lane’ (2023), starring Eddie Murphy

November 25, 2023

by Carla Hay

Thaddeus J. Mixson, Genneya Walton, Madison Thomas, Tracee Ellis Ross and Eddie Murphy in “Candy Cane Lane” (Photo by Claudette Barius/Amazon Content Services)

“Candy Cane Lane” (2023)

Directed by Reginald Hudlin

Culture Representation: Taking place in El Segundo, California, the fantasy/comedy film “Candy Cane Lane” features a racially diverse (African American and white) cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A married father, who’s desperate to win a local Christmas decorating contest, makes a misguided deal with a corrupt elf, who forces him to gather items that are mentioned in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Culture Audience: “Candy Cane Lane” will appeal primarily to fans of star Eddie Murphy and anyone who will tolerate badly made Christmas movies.

Eddie Murphy, Jillian Bell and Madison Thomas in “Candy Cane Lane” (Photo by Claudette Barius/Amazon Content Services)

“Candy Cane Lane” is a rotten, weird, and unfunny mess. Add this junk to the list of Eddie Murphy misfires meant to be crowd pleasers but just turn off many people. There’s also a semi-accidental animal cruelty scene that’s played for laughs. Horrendous.

Directed by Reginald Hudlin and terribly written by Kelly Younger, “Candy Cane Lane” is the type of outdated and tacky movie that could’ve been released direct-to-video in the 1990s. But the fact that some big names were involved in making this movie (Murphy and Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind” producer Brian Grazer are two of the “Candy Cane Lane” producers), and because there was a large-enough budget for the movie’s over-reliance on visual effects, “Candy Cane Lane” looks misleadingly like a cute and glossy comedy.

About 15 minutes into the movie, viewers will find out there’s nothing cute about the onslaught of bad jokes, dull scenarios, annoying characters, and a tangled story that just seems to be making up things as it goes along. “Candy Cane Lane” goes off on so many different tangents, it’s like a bunch of half-baked ideas thrown into a trash heap that’s left to fester and then gets covered up with some shiny Christmas embellishments to attract viewers. There are some very talented comedic actors in “Candy Cane Lane,” but they often look somewhat embarrassed by the utter garbage that they have to say as their lines of dialogue.

“Candy Cane Lane” is the first feature film for screenwriter Younger, whose two previous screenwriting credits are for Disney+ shows: the 2021 TV special “Muppets Haunted Mansion” and the 2020 limited series “Muppets Now.” It just goes to show that hack screenwriters can get awful screenplays made into a movie if they know the right people who are willing to waste their money in making this type of humiliating dreck. “Candy Cane Lane” star Murphy is considered to be a great stand-up comedian, and he can excel in sketch comedy, but he has very questionable taste in choosing his family-oriented projects, which are usually low-quality (even with large budgets) and way beneath his talent.

“Candy Cane Lane” (which takes place in El Segundo, California, and was filmed in nearby Los Angeles) begins by telling audiences about a big annual Candy Cane Lane contest that takes place in El Segundo. It’s a Christmas decorating contest for the exteriors of people’s homes. The household that’s chosen as the one with the best decorations is the winner of the contest. A local cable TV station called Prism Cable gives coverage to the contest, which also has a Candy Cane Lane parade. Expect to see a lot of garish and ugly Christmas decorations in this movie that is supposedly “award-worthy” by Candy Cane Lane contest standards.

Chris Carver (played by Murphy) and his neighbor Bruce (played by Ken Marino) have been extremely competitive with each other because of this contest, which Bruce has won for the past four years. Bruce and Chris put up a front of being friendly with each other in public, but in reality, they see each other as fierce and bitter rivals. Winning this contest becomes an obsession for Chris, but then other things happen in the movie where the contest becomes almost like an afterthought, and “Candy Cane Lane” really goes off the rails into irredeemable stupidity. The character of Bruce is barely in the movie; his screen time is less than 10 minutes.

Chris and his wife Carol Carver (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) have three children. Their eldest child Joy Carver (played by Genneya Walton), who’s about 17 or 18 years old, is a star on her high school’s track team and is in the process of applying to universities. Middle child Nick (played by Thaddeus J. Mixson), who’s about 16 or 17 years old, is an aspiring musician who is in the school’s marching band. Youngest child Holly (played by Madison Thomas), who’s about 9 or 10 years old, doesn’t seem to have any interests. Holly is written as a walking cliché of what bad comedies do when the youngest kid in the family is a girl: She is only there to look cute, make some wisecracks, and help the adults when they need help.

Observant viewers will notice even before it’s pointed out later in the movie that all of the Carver kids have Christmas-themed names. Nick is obviously named after St. Nicholas. Even the name Carol has a Christmas association to it. These names are supposed to be an example of how Chris has a fixation on Christmas. Chris Carver’s name is somewhat similar to Kris Kringle (also known as Santa Claus), but the frequently whiny and petulant “Candy Cane Lane” protagonist Chris Carver has none of the appeal and charm of Kris Kringle.

Christmas isn’t the only thing that’s a fixation for Chris, who is somewhat fanatical about his loyalty to his college alma mater: the University of Southern California (USC). Chris (who is a sales executive) and Carol (who’s a manager at a peanut factory) met when they were students at USC. Chris expects all of his children to also go to USC.

However, Joy announces to her parents near the beginning of the movie that she doesn’t want to go to USC and would rather go to the University of Notre Dame, which is more than 2,100 miles away in South Bend, Indiana. Chris does not take this announcement very well and thinks that Joy will change her mind about going to USC. This conflict over Joy’s choice of universities is awkwardly brought up later in one of the movie’s many poorly written and sloppily staged scenes that fall flat with unamusing jokes.

Chris will soon have more to worry about than which university Joy chooses to attend. He’s laid off from his job at a company called Sydel Twain Industrial Plastics, where he was a longtime employee, but the company’s new owner is making staff cuts. Trevante Rhodes has a useless cameo as an executive named Tre, who coldly tells Chris in a conference room that Chris is no longer working at the company.

Chris gets a wrapped bathrobe package as a parting gift from the company. “I don’t want your fleece!” Chris says angrily. He quickly changes his mind and says maybe he does want the fleece after all. If you think this is hilarious, then feel free to waste time watching “Candy Cane Lane,” because this is what the movie is trying to pass off as “comedy.”

Chris eventually tells Carol that he lost his job, but he asks her not to tell their children because he doesn’t want the kids to worry, especially during the Christmas holiday season. Carol has her own job concerns: She really wants a promotion, which could happen soon if she impresses the right people.

It just so happens that the Candy Cane Lane contest has announced that this year’s grand prize is $100,000, which makes Chris even more determined to win, considering he doesn’t know when he will find his next job. With the contest approaching, Chris forces his kids to help him get new Christmas decorations. Chris and Holly find a “pop-up store,” which sells elaborate Christmas decorations. Chris and Holly go to this store multiple times in the movie and don’t seem to think it’s strange that they are always the only customers in the store and there’s only one person working there.

The first time they visit the store, Chris and Holly are in awe of all the unique decorations. They are greeted by a seemingly helpful employee named Pepper Mint (played by Jillian Bell), who convinces Chris to buy a massive artificial Christmas tree that is packaged in a container shaped like a giant sardine can. While ringing up the sale at the cash register, Pepper tells Chris that he doesn’t have to read the fine print on the long receipt before he signs the receipt. “Honestly, it’s like signing your life away,” she says with obvious sarcasm.

It turns out that Pepper is really a corrupt elf, who tricked Chris into signing his life away. Chris gets the spectacular tree that he wants: It magically unfolds into a giant 12-tier tree that can best be described as looking like stacks of Christmas cookie circular tin containers that are glued together. The tree is such a sensation, it makes the news on Prism Cable.

Prism Cable has two irritating news anchors: perpetually perky Kit (played by Danielle Pinnock) and constantly jaded Emerson (played Timothy Simons), who are an excruciatingly ridiculous on-air duo providing commentary throughout the story. Kit has decided that her irksome nephew Josh (played by D.C. Young Fly), who has an alter ego as a social media influencer named Sunny Roberts, deserves to be on TV, so she lets this dolt become an “on the scene” correspondent.

The Carver family tree’s lights are so far-reaching, the lights can be seen by an airplane in the sky. The problem is that by opening up this tree, Chris has triggered the unwitting “bargain” that he made with Pepper. Suddenly, things mentioned in the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” start appearing randomly in the Carver family’s lives. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” famously mentions a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five golden rings, six geese that lay eggs, seven swimming swans, eight milk maids, nine dancing ladies, 10 leaping lords, 11 pipers and 12 drummers.

They don’t appear in the order that they are mentioned in the song. Everything is haphazard, just like this entire movie. The seven swans are the first to appear, as they end up in the Carver family’s backyard swimming pool. Somehow in this very disjointed story, Chris finds out that in order to get out of this deal with Pepper, he must give her the golden rings. And so, there’s a “hunt” to track down these rings.

But that’s not where “Candy Cane Lane” gets really mindless. There’s a huge swath of the movie about Chris discovering that there are talking miniature figurines in Pepper’s shop. The figurines (which are all dressed as Christmas people from the 19th century) look, act and move like human beings. Pepper is keeping these figurines captive against their will.

Three of the figurines get the most dialogue out of all the other figurines. Pip (played by Nick Offerman) is a top-hat-wearing Brit who is the leader of the trio. Pip’s American sidekicks are sassy maiden Cordelia (played by Robin Thede) and goofy lamplighter Gary (played by Chris Redd), who occasionally bicker with each other. The other figurines that appear briefly in the movie to sing are a group of five carolers, played by the real-life singing group Pentatonix. The members of Pentatonix are Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Matt Sallee and Kevin Olusola.

Pip, Cordelia and Gary are desperate to be “free from the torment of eternal Christmas” under Pepper’s captivity, according to Pip. This all leads to an “escape and chase” part of the story that further jumbles the already idiotic plot. It’s as if the filmmakers knew they didn’t have enough ideas for the part of the story about the Candy Cane Lane contest and decided to come up with some bad ideas as filler.

Although there’s a disclaimer at the end of “Candy Cane Lane” that says no animals were harmed during the making of the movie, there’s some obvious contempt for winged animals in this film, because depicting and seeing these animals get hurt are used as wretched jokes in the movie. For example, in a scene where Carol is giving some powerful executives a tour of her factory, she sees one of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” chickens hiding in a packing box. In a panic, while the executives aren’t looking, Carol takes the bird out of the box and cruelly throws it at some operating assembly line equipment, where she knows the bird will be immediately decapitated. This decapitation is not explicitly shown on screen, but the movie makes it clear that the bird has died because of Carol’s reckless actions, and the “Candy Cane Lane” filmmakers want viewers to laugh about it.

The acting performances in “Candy Cane Lane” range from mediocre to stiffly awful. Murphy is just going through the motions playing the “stressed-out dad” character that he has played in several other terrible comedies where he’s the family patriarch who gets involved in some problems. Bell’s depiction of the Pepper character is a weak parody of Christmas villains. Apparently, Bell thinks bugging out her eyes makes her look menacing. Pip, Cordelia and Gary can best be described as irritating as pesky flies.

David Alan Grier shows up as Santa Claus, in a cameo role that is written in a racially problematic way, considering that people call him “Black Santa” in the movie, and he speaks like a lower-class person. (“Candy Cane Lane” screenwriter Younger is white.) When a white Santa Claus is in a movie, no one in the movie says, “Oh, look, there’s White Santa.” A black man with the name Santa Claus in a movie doesn’t have to be identified as “Black Santa” by the movie’s characters, and he doesn’t have to get reduced to speaking like an angry black man from the ghetto. It’s very passive-aggressive racism from the “Candy Cane Lane” filmmakers.

And for the love of cinema, the filmmakers of these horrible “comedies” about African American families need to stop making every African American teenage boy in the family have integrity problems and/or portrayed as not being a good student in school. “Candy Cane Lane” has an unnecessary plot development about Nick being deceitful by hiding a secret from his family: He’s close to flunking in his math class, and his parents find out about this lie.

“Candy Cane Lane” is not the type of atrocious film with moments that overcome the lousy parts of the movie. “Candy Cane Lane” just gets worse and worse, until there’s no hope the story will ever recover. And just like many obnoxiously terrible movies, “Candy Cane Lane ” has end credits with a blooper reel that shows the cast members enjoyed making this trash. It’s probably more enjoyment than most viewers will get if they have the endurance to watch “Candy Cane Lane” until the very end.

Amazon MGM Studios released “Candy Cane Lane” in select U.S. cinemas on November 24, 2023. Prime Video will premiere the movie on December 1, 2023.

Review: ‘Black Barbie: A Documentary,’ starring Kitty Black Perkins, Stacey McBride-Irby and Beulah Mae Mitchell

November 24, 2023

by Carla Hay

A scene from “Black Barbie: A Documentary” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: After Netflix acquired “Black Barbie: The Documentary,” the movie’s title was shortened to “Black Barbie.”]

“Black Barbie: A Documentary”

Directed by Lagueria Davis

Culture Representation: The documentary film “Black Barbie: A Documentary” features a predominantly African American group of people (with some white people, Latin people, and Asians) discussing the history of black Barbie dolls and/or racial issues for Barbie dolls.

Culture Clash: There is an ongoing struggle for black Barbie dolls to not be perceived as inferior or less important than white Barbie dolls.

Culture Audience: “Black Barbie: A Documentary” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a documentary about the intersection of Barbie dolls with African American history.

Stacey McBride-Irby, Kitty Black Perkins and Beulah Mae Mitchell in “Black Barbie: A Documentary” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“Black Barbie: A Documentary” is essential viewing not just for people who are interested in this often-overlooked part of Barbie doll history but also for people who aren’t fans of Barbie dolls but want to watch a fascinating pop culture documentary. The movie (which has a total running time of 100 minutes) packs in a lot of different layers that are mostly cohesive. The movie is fairly ambitious in how it puts certain things in a broader historical and sociological context, thereby avoiding being a formulaic Barbie doll documentary that would probably ignore these larger issues.

Directed by Lagueria Davis (who wrote and spoke the movie’s narration and is one of the movie’s producers), “Black Barbie: A Documentary” had its world premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival and has since made the rounds at numerous other festivals, including its New York premiere at the Urbanworld Festival. Davis has said in many interviews that it took her 12 years to make this documentary. It shows in the amount of meticulous research in “Black Barbie: A Documentary,” which makes everything easier to understand by including a timeline of events.

This not a documentary made by a “Barbie fangirl.” In fact, in her narration, Davis (who occasionally appears on screen in the movie) tells viewers from the beginning that in her childhood, she didn’t even like Barbie dolls and never had an interest in them. She says that what inspired her to make this documentary was hearing stories from her aunt Beulah Mae Mitchell, who was one of the first black employees for Mattel, the Barbie toy manufacturing company, where Mitchell worked from 1955 to 1999.

The first Barbie doll, which went on sale to the mass market in 1959, was invented by Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler and was inspired by Ruth’s real-life daughter Barbara. Barbie dolls became a hit because they were not the type of shapeless woman dolls that were usually being sold at the time but were dolls designed to emulate the curves and contours of a fully developed woman. The first black Barbie doll went on sale in 1968, at the height of the Black Power movement.

Mitchell was mostly a receptionist throughout her career at Mattel, but she was privy to a lot of insider information that she shares in the documentary. Mitchell also kept many valuable mementos and memorabilia from her time with Mattel, some of which is shown in this documentary and would be right at home in a Barbie museum. In “Black Barbie: A Documentary,” Mitchell describes Ruth Handler as a kind and generous boss who always asked for feedback from employees on how to improve the company. Nevertheless, for years, Mattel had a blind spot or resistance to the idea of Mattel making Barbie dolls that were any race other than white.

Mitchell says part of that resistance came from cultural conditioning at the time in the United States, when it was more acceptable to “erase” people of color from representation in many areas of life where people of color existed. The image manufactured for Barbie at the time and which still exists today is that Barbie leads a life of glamour and privilege, which are often out of reach for people who are treated as being on the margins of society.

In the documentary, Mitchell comments: “My mother loved dolls. I loved dolls. I loved fashion.” Mitchell remembers that she was growing up, she was so used to seeing only white dolls being sold as the “pretty dolls,” that “it didn’t occur to me” that dolls that weren’t white could be included as “pretty dolls” too. She remembers the usual black dolls that were around in her childhood were the Aunt Jemima dolls that were considered frumpy and unattractive.

The reasons why the first black Barbie wasn’t introduced until 1968 had as much to do with race as economics. There was deep skepticism that there would be enough demand for black Barbie dolls to make the dolls a profitable investment for Mattel. The underlying doubt was that although black people might buy black Barbie dolls, what about white people, the majority race that was buying Barbie dolls?

“Black Barbie: A Documentary” briefly goes off on an interesting but necessary tangent by mentioning the famous Clark doll tests of 1947, as an example of how dolls can often influence how young people think of racial differences. Psychologist spouses Mamie Clark and Kenneth Clark conducted tests with white and black children by giving them a choice between choosing a white baby doll or black baby doll. The children almost always chose the white dolls, thereby showing how white supremacist racism can be internalized from a very young age.

These test results were used successfully in arguments in favor of making racial segregation illegal in U.S. public education in the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. However, legislating racial justice in public education is one thing. Trying to do that in the business world is another thing.

As is often the case when white-owned corporate companies exclude representation of races that aren’t white, the excluded races create their own businesses. “Black Barbie: The Documentary” admirably mentions the importance of Shindana Toys, a co-op company that was the first major manufacturer of black dolls and became very successful at it. Shindana Toys, which was in business from 1968 to 1983, was a division of Operation Bootstrap Inc.

Mattel noticed the success of Shindana and saw that there was a viable economic demand to make Barbie dolls more racially inclusive. And so, the first black Barbie doll was launched in 1968. Her name was Christie, who was marketed as a friend of Barbie’s. In 1969, another black Barbie doll named Julia was introduced. Julia was inspired by Diahann Carroll’s title character in the TV comedy series “Julia,” where Carroll starred as a young widowed mother who is a nurse.

Eventually, Mattel responded to requests from consumers to make people of color dolls not just as sidekick friends to Barbie but as dolls named Barbie. Kitty Black Perkins was the designer of Mattel’s first black doll named Barbie, which was introduced in 1979 and went on sale in 1980. Black Perkins, who worked at Mattel from 1976 to 2003, is considered the most influential person at Mattel in creating a wider range of black Barbie dolls.

Black Perkins’ interviews in the documentary are among the most insightful. She mentions that a child psychologist was brough in by Mattel to assess her work when designing Mattel’s first black doll named Barbie. Black Perkins says that psychologist backed off when it was obvious that Black Perkins, as an African American, knew better than the psychologist on what should be done in creating a black Barbie doll. She also says that Mattel gave very little promotion to the first black Barbie doll that she designed.

Black Perkins mentored Stacey McBride-Irby, a Mattel designer who continued Black Perkins’ legacy in creating new black Barbie dolls, when McBride-Irby worked for Mattel from 1996 to 2011. One of the documentary’s highlights is showing Mitchell, Black Perkins and McBride-Irby—three generations of black women who have long histories with Mattel’s Barbie dolls—sitting down together for a talk. Their conversation doesn’t look forced or contrived. It’s a joy to watch. McBride-Irby mentions that her own daughter was an influence in many of McBride Irby’s design decisions for black Barbie dolls.

“Black Barbie: A Documentary” also has the expected array of talking head interviews with Barbie doll collectors, historians, entertainers, cultural experts and former Mattel employees. The movie acknowledges that Mattel has come a long way in diversifying Barbie dolls. However, the documentary also points out that there could be more progress in how Mattel’s “Barbie” animated movies still push the idea that the only Barbie who deserves the most attention has to be a white female who is thin, blonde and pretty.

For example, even though the “Barbie” animated movies have introduced a black Barbie named Brooklyn Barbie as a friend counterpart to white Malibu Barbie, the storylines often still presents Brooklyn Barbie as a sidekick, not the main star of the story. Malibu Barbie is still at the center of the marketing campaigns for these movies. If racism is mentioned in the “Barbie” animated movies, Malibu Barbie does most of the talking about it.

Mason Williams—Mattel’s senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion—is interviewed in the documentary. He looks visibly uncomfortable in the documentary when he’s confronted with criticism that Mattel’s “Barbie” animated movies still don’t show racial equality among the Barbies. Williams gives a tepid response by saying that these changes take time and won’t happen overnight.

One of the best parts of “Black Barbie: A Documentary” is in the last third of the movie, when it goes beyond just talking head interviews and shows a series of focus groups with children (about 7 to 12 years old, male and female and of diverse races) to discuss what they think when they are presented with various Barbie dolls and are asked questions about these dolls. Yeshiva Davis (a therapist whose specialty is family and marriage) is the leader of these focus groups.

The results of these focus groups are revealing about children’s attitudes about race relations and perceptions of physical attractiveness, as well as how these attitudes affect their judgments of others and themselves. The children’s answers are sometimes funny and sometimes sad but always come across as very unfiltered and honest. Davis is then shown discussing the results of these focus groups with various educators and cultural historians, who comment on the children’s answers.

Perhaps that is the greatest takeaway of “Black Barbie: A Documentary”: It’s not about which black Barbie dolls are bestsellers for Mattel. It’s about how Barbie dolls, like them or not, have a great deal of influence on how people (especially impressionable children) can view the world.

Netflix will premiere “Black Barbie: A Documentary” on June 19, 2024.

2023 National Dog Show: see photos and videos

November 23, 2023

2023 National Dog Show Best In Show Winner, a French Bulldog named Winston (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

The following is a press release from NBC:

Stache, a proud and confident Sealyham Terrier, delivered a hometown victory on Thanksgiving Day, winning Best in Show at Philadelphia’s prestigious 22nd National Dog Show Presented by Purina.

Stache’s triumphant moment was broadcast to a massive holiday audience on NBC following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Margery Good of Cochranville, Penn., a Philadelphia suburb, guided Stache to the title, impressing Best in Show judge Carrie Chase of Martinsburg, W.V.

The #2-ranked Terrier and #12-ranked All-Breed show dog in America, Stache is from a legendary line of dogs that includes his grandfather, Charmin, winner of the World Dog Show, the AKC National Championship and Crufts, the famed Birmingham, England competition where he bested 22,000 dogs in 2008.

“This dog’s condition, breed type and showmanship all come together to produce the epitome of an excellent dog,” said Chase, who selected the Terrier over a top-rated lineup that included a Shih Tzu (Toy Group), Great Dane (Working Group), Chesapeake Bay Retriever (Sporting Group), Dalmatian (Non-Sporting Group), German Shepherd (Herding Group) and Azawahk (Hound Group). “At the end of the day, it’s a dog show and you want them to display all of their great attributes.”

“It’s an exhilarating feeling to win,” said Good, a prominent and popular handler who won the nearby Montgomery County Kennel Club Terrier Show with Stache in October. “Stache deals easily with multiple things happening around him. He’s so well-balanced and he loves to show. I loved seeing him have his celebratory dinner (kibble on the silver-plated trophy tray).” Stache’s registered name is GCHP CH Goodspice Efbe Money Stache.

Reserve Best in Show (second place) went to a Dalmatian named Pumpkin and handler Michael Scott from East Brunswick, N.J. Winner of the Non-Sporting Group, Pumpkin’s registered name is GCHP Planett’s Pop Star.

The following are the other 2023 National Dog Show Group winners:

  • Sporting – a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named M of Alexandria, Ohio
  • Working – a Great Dane named Carson from Atlanta
  • Hound – an Azawahk named Yaro of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla
  • Herding – a German Shepherd Dog named Heathcliff of Jasper, Ga
  • Toy – a Shih Tzu named Comet from Monclova, Ohio

This year marks the 22nd edition of the holiday special, which has become a family viewing tradition since its inception in 2002. NBC will air an encore presentation of the two-hour special on Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Review: ‘American Symphony’ (2023), starring Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad

November 12, 2023

by Carla Hay

Jon Batiste in “American Symphony” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“American Symphony” (2023)

Directed by Matthew Heineman

Culture Representation: Taking place in 2022, this documentary film of jazz/pop musician Jon Batiste features him, his wife Suleika Jaouad, and a racially diverse group of people (African American, white and a few Asians) as he prepares to do a one-night-only “American Symphony” show at New York City’s Carnegie Hall while experiencing difficulties in his personal life.

Culture Clash: At the time that Batiste was experiencing some career highs (including winning five Grammys that year), Jaouad was battling cancer, which came back after years of being in remission.

Culture Audience: “American Symphony” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Batiste and movies about couples or family members dealing with health challenges.

Suleika Jaouad and Jon Baptiste in “American Symphony” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“American Symphony” is a documentary about love on many different levels in telling the story of musician Jon Batiste and his writer wife Suleika Jaouad during her cancer journey. There are no real surprises but the movie is a bittersweet celebration of life. “American Symphony” is also a musical treat for people who appreciate Batiste’s unique artistry. He also composed the score for this documentary. “American Symphony” had its world premiere at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival.

Directed by Matthew Heineman, “American Symphony” (which was filmed in 2022) features voiceover narration from Batiste and Jaouad, indicating that this is as much a documentary about her as it is about him. Batiste just happens to be more famous than his wife, but it’s clear from watching the film that they treat each other as respected equals. Batiste and Jaouad have been a couple since 2014. Their 2022 wedding ceremony is shown in “American Symphony.”

In 2011, Jaouad was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and chronicled her cancer journey in The New York Times column/vlog “Life, Interrupted,” which won an Emmy Award. Batiste is an Oscar-winning composer (for Disney/Pixar’s “Soul”) and was the bad leader/music director for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” from 2015 to 2022. In 2022, he was nominated for 11 Grammys and won five Grammys, including Album of the Year for “We Are.” That same year, he also did a one-night-only show “American Symphony” concert at Carnegie Hall, with the show featuring his original music that reworks classical and jazz.

The documentary shows that at the same time Batiste is experiencing these career highs, Jaouad’s cancer has returned. The day that Batiste found out that he was nominated for 11 Grammys was the same day that Jaouad had to begin chemotherapy. Later, she had to get a bone marrow transplant. “American Symphony” shows how Batiste and Jaouad experience emotional lows that are raw and intense. However, the documentary is a testament to inner strength and the power of a loving support system.

“American Symphony” is also Batiste’s personal reflection of what music has meant to him in his life and how he had to stay true to himself, when other people were telling him to change so he could “fit in” better at the places where he wanted to be. Born in 1986 and raised in the New Orleans area, Batista goes back to his alma mater of Juilliard, which he describes as very “European classical,” not a “black Southern thing.”

The bond that this loving couple has is joyful to behold. Batiste says of Jaouad: “I learn from her all the time to look into the darkness and despair and to face it—but you can’t let it consume you.” Jaouad comments that what she admires Batiste’s ability to deal with life’s extremes: “I actually don’t know how to hold such extremes.”

“American Symphony” juxtaposes dreamy-like scenes of Batiste relaxing in nature (there are multiple shots of him in ocean water) with the stark and harsh realities of hospital visits with Jaouad. Batiste’s “American Symphony” concert is a rousing and emotionally moving conclusion that expresses many of the emotions that he poured into writing this symphony. People who watch this memorable documentary will appreciate its message that life is a symphony whose music and lyrics are still being written.

Netflix will release “American Symphony” in select U.S. cinemas on November 24, 2023. Netflix will premiere the movie on November 29, 2023.

Review: ‘Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,’ starring Nikki Giovanni

November 11, 2023

by Carla Hay

Nikki Giovanni in “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project”

Directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

Culture Representation: This biographical documentary film of activist/poet Nikki Giovanni features her first-person perspective, as well as commentary from African Americans and white people who are connected to her in some way.

Culture Clash: Giovanni, an outspoken critic of white supremacist racism, discusses overcoming an abusive background, family conflicts and resistance to her activism.

Culture Audience: “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching documentaries about unusual political activists.

Nikki Giovanni in “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” is a journey into a unique life and perspective that might not be for everyone, but it stands firm in its authenticity. This documentary about poet/activist Nikki Giovanni is bold and somewhat unconventional, just like Giovanni. The movie evokes outer space travel as an apt metaphor for how ideas and influences can transcend boundaries.

Directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” had its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary. The movie is told almost entirely from the perspective of Giovanni, with narration of some of her poems by actress Taraji P. Henson. The movie has the expected mix of archival footage and interviews conducted exclusively for the documnetary. However, “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” has added elements of atmospheric scenes of outer space, since Giovanni talks a lot about space travel and Mars.

The movie opens with a quote from Giovanni, “The trip to Mars can only be understood through black Americans.” If that sentence intrigues you, then this documentary might be your type of movie. Giovanni says in the documentary’s opening remark: “I don’t remember a lot of things, but a lot of things I don’t remember, I don’t choose to remember. I remember what’s important, and I make up the rest. That’s what storytelling is all about.”

In voiceover narration, Henson can be heard saying a line from Giovanni’s writing: “I think I’ll run away with the ants and live on Mars.” In another voiceover, Giovanni says: “I’m a big fan of black women, because in our blood is space travel, because we come from a known through an unknown. And that’s all that space travel is. If anybody can find what’s out there in the darkness, it’s black women.”

During a public Q&A with journalist/writer Touré, to promote her 2017 non-fiction book “A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter,” Giovanni comments on the enslaved black female slaves who were kidnapped in Africa and forced to live an enslaved life in the United States, where they were often raped by their white enslavers: “Being forced to have sex with aliens, whatever they put in us, we held it, and then we birthed it, and then we named it, and then we loved it. Why wouldn’t we do that on Mars?”

Giovanni was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni on June 7, 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee, but spent much of her childhood living in Ohio. Sometime in her childhood, she was given the nickname Nikki. Her parents Yolande Cornelia Sr. and Jones “Gus” Giovanni (who were sweethearts at Knoxville College) worked in public schools. Nikki graduated from Fisk University in Nashville in 1967. She has been a professor of writing and literature at Virginia Tech since 1987.

Nikki first came to national prominence as part of the Black Power movement that rose in the late 1960s. The documentary includes many archival clips of her appearances on TV shows, including “Soul!,” where she was a frequent guest. “Going to Mars” has has footage of several of Nikki’s speaking appearances, including at the 2016 Afropunk festival.

She also gets candid about her parents’ volatile marriage and says that her father often beat up her mother. Nikki says in a voiceover: “It was a stormy relationship at various points, but we know that deprivation gives us stormy relationships.” Later, she is shown saying during a WHYY radio interview about how she felt about her abusive father at the time she lived with him: “It was clear I was going to have to kill him, or else I’d have to move.”

Nikki’s complicated emotions about race and gender includes admitting to her prejudices. In a “Soul!” interview she did in 1971 with writer/poet James Baldwin, when she was at the height of her Black Power fame, she confessed that her biases were affecting her personal life: “I don’t like white people, and I’m afraid of black men. What do you do? That’s a cycle. And that’s unfortunate, because I need love.”

Nikki found love with her wife Virginia Fowler, who recruited Nikki to work at Virginia Tech. The two women are both cancer survivors: Nikki battled lung cancer in the 1990s. Fowler is recovering from lung cancer and breast cancer. Fowler talks a little bit about her cancer journey, but Nikki doesn’t really discuss her own cancer experiences in the documentary.

Nikki’s selective memory is also shown when someone named Tom calls her to ask Nikki to discuss her time at an unnamed magazine, but she declines to be interviewed. Nikki says it’s because she had a seizure and “doesn’t remember much.” She also chooses not to go into details about the relationship that resulted in the birth of her only child Thomas Govanni, who was born in 1969, and she raised him as a single mother.

Nikki doesn’t talk about the turbulent relationship that she’s had with Thomas, but Fowler comments that Nikki and Thomas were estranged for a number of years and have since reconciled. Thomas and his daughter Kai Giovanni appear briefly in the documentary, which shows Kai going to Nikki’s house for the first time.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of this documentary is that the most candid comments from Nikki are not things she said in exclusive interviews for the documentary but things she talked about in archival clips. Much credit should be given to the documentary’s research and editing teams for including a lot of this rarely seen footage. The documentary’s editing artfully weaves outer-space footage with the rest of the footage so that viewers feel like they are taken on a cosmic journey through Nikki’s life.

Most of the documentary’s original footage of Nikki consists of her at her home (such as a scene of her doing some gardening), hanging out with friends such as performer Novella Nelson, or making public speaking appearances. The most vulnerable that Nikki gets in the documentary is toward the end, when she copes with the grief over the death of her beloved aunt Agnes, who passed away at age 94. The documentary shows Nikki getting the news of the death and later speaking at Agnes’ funeral. Nikki comments during a moment that she is now the oldest living person in her family.

Nikki’s outlook on life can be summed up in two of her speaking appearances that are featured in the documentary. In a Q&A at the Apollo Theater with educator/actress Johnetta Cole, Nikki says: “I honestly think the most important word for me is ‘duty.’ … Our people have a great history, and it’s our duty to tell that story.” At another speaking appearance at a library in front of children, Nikki (who has written several children’s books) says: “I’m very fortunate that I just don’t care what people think about me.”

HBO released “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” in select U.S. cinemas on November 3, 2023. HBO and Max will premiere the movie on January 8, 2024.

2024 Grammy Awards: SZA is the top nominee

November 10, 2023

SZA at the 64th Annua Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on April 3, 2022. (Photo by Francis Specker/CBS)

The following is a press release from The Recording Academy:

Topping the list of nominees for the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards® are SZA (9), Phoebe Bridgers (7), Serban Ghenea (7), Victoria Monét (7), Jack Antonoff (6), Jon Batiste (6), boygenius (6), Brandy Clark (6), Miley Cyrus (6), Billie Eilish (6), Olivia Rodrigo (6), and Taylor Swift (6). As the only peer-voted music award, the GRAMMY Awards® are selected by the Recording Academy®’s voting membership body of music makers, who represent all genres and creative disciplines, including recording artists, songwriters, composers, producers, mixers, and engineers. The nominees were announced via a livestream event on live.grammy.com

“We are thrilled to kick off GRAMMY® season with this year’s diverse and genre-bending slate of nominees, representing the best of their craft and an incredible year of music,” said Harvey Mason jr, CEO of the Recording Academy. “From breakthrough acts to legacy artists, we are amazed by all the musicians recognized for their outstanding contributions to music today. We can’t wait to spotlight these remarkable creators and celebrate another amazing year in music on Feb. 4.”

This year’s eligibility period includes recordings released between Oct. 1, 2022 – Sept. 15, 2023. The final round of GRAMMY voting, which will determine GRAMMY recipients, will take place Dec. 14, 2023 – Jan. 4, 2024. The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards will return to Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT. Prior to the Telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony® will be held at Peacock Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy’s YouTube channel. The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be produced by Fulwell 73 Productions for the Recording Academy. Ben Winston, Raj Kapoor and Jesse Collins are executive producers.

The following is a sampling of nominations from the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards’ 94 Categories. For a complete nominations list, visit GRAMMY.com.

General Field

1. Record Of The Year

Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s), if other than the artist.

Worship
Jon Batiste
Jon Batiste, Jon Bellion, Pete Nappi & Tenroc, producers; Serban Ghenea & Pete Nappi, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer

Not Strong Enough
boygenius
boygenius & Catherine Marks, producers; Owen Lantz, Catherine Marks, Mike Mogis, Bobby Mota, Kaushlesh “Garry” Purohit & Sarah Tudzin, engineers/mixers; Pat Sullivan, mastering engineer

Flowers
Miley Cyrus
Kid Harpoon & Tyler Johnson, producers; Michael Pollack, Brian Rajaratnam & Mark “Spike” Stent, engineers/mixers; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer

What Was I Made For? [From The Motion Picture “Barbie”]
Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish & FINNEAS, producers; Billie Eilish, Rob Kinelski & FINNEAS, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer

On My Mama
Victoria Monét
Deputy, Dernst Emile II & Jeff Gitelman, producers; Patrizio Pigliapoco & Todd Robinson, engineers/mixers; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer

Vampire
Olivia Rodrigo
Dan Nigro, producer; Serban Ghenea, Michael Harris, Chris Kasych, Daniel Nigro & Dan Viafore, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

Anti-Hero
Taylor Swift
Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift, producers; Jack Antonoff, Serban Ghenea, Laura Sisk & Lorenzo Wolff, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

Kill Bill
SZA
Rob Bisel & Carter Lang, producers; Rob Bisel, engineer/mixer; Dale Becker, mastering engineer

2. Album Of The Year

Award to Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with 20% or more playing time of the album.

World Music Radio
Jon Batiste
Jon Batiste, Jon Bellion, Nick Cooper, Pete Nappi & Tenroc, producers; Jon Batiste, Pete Nappi, Kaleb Rollins, Laura Sisk & Marc Whitmore, engineers/mixers; Jon Batiste, Jon Bellion, Jason Cornet & Pete Nappi, songwriters; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer

the record
boygenius
boygenius & Catherine Marks, producers; Owen Lantz, Will Maclellan, Catherine Marks, Mike Mogis, Bobby Mota, Kaushlesh “Garry” Purohit & Sarah Tudzin, engineers/mixers; Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers & Lucy Dacus, songwriters; Pat Sullivan, mastering engineer

Endless Summer Vacation
Miley Cyrus
Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson & Mike Will Made-It, producers; Pièce Eatah, Craig Frank, Paul David Hager, Stacy Jones, Brian Rajaratnam & Mark “Spike” Stent, engineers/mixers; Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein, Thomas Hull, Tyler Johnson, Michael Len Williams II & Michael Pollack, songwriters; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer

Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
Lana Del Rey
Jack Antonoff, Zach Dawes, Lana Del Rey & Drew Erickson, producers; Jack Antonoff, Michael Harris, Dean Reid & Laura Sisk, engineers/mixers; Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Mike Hermosa, songwriters; Ruairi O’Flaherty, mastering engineer

The Age Of Pleasure
Janelle Monáe
Sensei Bueno, Nate “Rocket” Wonder & Nana Kwabena, producers; Mick Guzauski, Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Jayda Love, Janelle Monáe & Yáng Tan, engineers/mixers; Jarrett Goodly, Nathaniel Irvin III, Janelle Monáe Robinson & Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, songwriters; Dave Kutch, mastering engineer

GUTS
Olivia Rodrigo
Daniel Nigro, producer; Serban Ghenea, Sterling Laws, Mitch McCarthy, Daniel Nigro, Dave Schiffman, Mark “Spike” Stent, Sam Stewart & Dan Viafore, engineers/mixers; Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

Midnights
Taylor Swift
Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift, producers; Jack Antonoff, Zem Audu, Serban Ghenea, David Hart, Mikey Freedom Hart, Sean Hutchinson, Ken Lewis, Michael Riddleberger, Laura Sisk & Evan Smith, engineers/mixers; Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift, songwriters; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

SOS
SZA
Rob Bisel, ThankGod4Cody & Carter Lang, producers; Rob Bisel, engineer/mixer; Rob Bisel, Cody Fayne, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe, songwriters; Dale Becker, mastering engineer

3. Song Of The Year

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

A&W
Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Sam Dew, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)

Anti-Hero
Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

Butterfly
Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson, songwriters (Jon Batiste)

Dance The Night (From Barbie The Album)
Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa)

Flowers
Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein & Michael Pollack, songwriters (Miley Cyrus)

Kill Bill
Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe, songwriters (SZA)

Vampire
Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Olivia Rodrigo)

What Was I Made For? [From The Motion Picture “Barbie”]
Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

4. Best New Artist

This category recognizes an artist whose eligibility-year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.

Gracie Abrams
Fred again..
Ice Spice
Jelly Roll
Coco Jones
Noah Kahan
Victoria Monét
The War And Treaty

5. Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical

A Producer’s Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.)

Jack Antonoff

      • Being Funny In A Foreign Language (The 1975) (A)

      • Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (Lana Del Rey) (A)

      • Midnights (Taylor Swift) (A)

Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II

      • JAGUAR II (Victoria Monét) (A)

Hit-Boy

      • Bus Stop (Don Toliver Featuring Brent Faiyaz) (T)

      • Just Face It (Dreamville With Blxst) (T)

      • Kings Disease III (Nas) (A)

      • Magic 3 (Nas) (A)

      • Magic 2 (Nas) (A)

      • Slipping Into Darkness (Hit-Boy & The Alchemist) (S)

      • Surf Or Drown Vol. 1 (Hit-Boy) (A)

      • Surf Or Drown Vol. 2 (Hit-Boy) (A)

      • Victims & Villains (Musiq Soulchild & Hit-Boy) (A)

• Metro Boomin

      • Am I Dreaming (Metro Boomin Featuring Roisee & A$AP Rocky) (S)

      • Calling (Metro Boomin Featuring NAV, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie & Swae Lee) (S)

      • Creepin’ (Metro Boomin Featuring 21 Savage & The Weeknd) (S)

      • More M’s (Drake & 21 Savage) (S)

      • Oh U Went (Young Thug Featuring Drake) (S)

      • Superhero (Heroes & Villains) (Metro Boomin, Future & Chris Brown) (S)

      • Til Further Notice (Travis Scott Featuring James Blake & 21 Savage) (S)

      • Trance (Metro Boomin Featuring Travis Scott & Young Thug) (S)

      • War Bout It (Lil Durk Featuring 21 Savage) (S)

• Daniel Nigro

      • Casual (Chappell Roan) (S)

      • Divide (Dermot Kennedy) (S)

      • Guts (Olivia Rodrigo) (A)

      • Hot To Go! (Chappell Roan) (S)

      • Kaleidoscope (Chappell Roan) (S)

      • Red Wine Supernova (Chappell Roan) (S)

      • Welcome To My Island (Caroline Polachek) (S)

6. Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical

A Songwriter’s Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.)

Edgar Barrera

      • Cuestion De Tiempo (Don Omar) (T)

      • Falsa Alarma (En Vivo) (Grupo Firme) (T)

      • Gucci Los Paños (Karol G) (T)

      • La Despedida (Christian Nodal) (T)

      • Mi Ex Tenía Razón (Karol G) (T)

      • Que Vuelvas (Various Artists) (T)

      • Un Cumbión Dolido (Christian Nodal) (T)

      • un x100to (Grupo Frontera & Bad Bunny) (T)

      • Yo Pr1mero (Rels B) (S)

Jessie Jo Dillon

      • Buried (Brandy Clark) (T)

      • Girl In The Mirror (Megan Moroney) (T)

      • Halfway To Hell (Jelly Roll) (T)

      • I Just Killed A Man (Catie Offerman) (S)

      • Memory Lane (Old Dominion) (S)

      • Neon Cowgirl (Dan + Shay) (T)

      • screen (HARDY) (T)

      • The Town In Your Heart (Lori McKenna) (T)

      • Up Above The Clouds (Cecilia’s Song) (Brandy Clark) (T)

Shane McAnally

      • Come Back To Me (Brandy Clark) (S)

      • Good With Me (Walker Hayes) (S)

      • He’s Never Gunna Change (Lauren Daigle) (S)

      • I Should Have Married You (Old Dominion) (S)

      • Independently Owned (Alex Newell & Original Broadway Cast of Shucked) (S)

      • Never Grow Up (Niall Horan) (S)

      • Start Nowhere (Sam Hunt) (S)

      • Walmart (Sam Hunt) (S)

      • We Don’t Fight Anymore (Carly Pearce & Chris Stapleton) (S)

Theron Thomas

      • All My Life (Lil Durk Featuring J. Cole) (S)

      • Been Thinking (Tyla) (S)

      • Cheatback (Chlöe & Future) (T)

      • How We Roll (Ciara & Chris Brown) (S)

      • Make Up Your Mind (Cordae) (S)

      • Pretty Girls Walk (Big Boss Vette) (S)

      • Seven (Jung Kook & Latto) (S)

      • Told Ya (Chlöe & Missy Elliot) (T)

      • You And I (Sekou) (T)

Justin Tranter

      • Gemini Moon (Reneé Rapp) (T)

      • Honey! (Are U Coming?) (Måneskin) (S)

      • I Want More (Marisa Davila & Cast Of Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies) (S)

      • Jersey (Baby Tate) (S)

      • A Little Bit Happy (TALK) (S)

      • Pretty Girls (Reneé Rapp) (S)

      • River (Miley Cyrus) (S)

Field 1: Pop & Dance/Electronic Music

7. Best Pop Solo Performance

For new vocal or instrumental pop recordings. Singles or Tracks only.

Flowers
Miley Cyrus

Paint The Town Red
Doja Cat

What Was I Made For? [From The Motion Picture “Barbie”]
Billie Eilish

Vampire
Olivia Rodrigo

Anti-Hero
Taylor Swift

8. Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

For new vocal or instrumental duo/group or collaborative pop recordings. Singles or Tracks only.

Thousand Miles
Miley Cyrus Featuring Brandi Carlile

Candy Necklace
Lana Del Rey Featuring Jon Batiste

Never Felt So Alone
Labrinth Featuring Billie Eilish

Karma
Taylor Swift Featuring Ice Spice

Ghost In The Machine
SZA Featuring Phoebe Bridgers

9. Best Pop Vocal Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new pop vocal recordings.

Chemistry
Kelly Clarkson

Endless Summer Vacation
Miley Cyrus

GUTS
Olivia Rodrigo

– (Subtract)
Ed Sheeran

Midnights
Taylor Swift

10. Best Dance/Electronic Recording

For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances. Vocal or Instrumental. Singles or tracks only.

Blackbox Life Recorder 21F
Aphex Twin
Richard D James, producer; Richard D James, mixer

Loading
James Blake
James Blake & Dom Maker, producers; James Blake, mixer

Higher Than Ever Before
Disclosure
Cirkut, Guy Lawrence & Howard Lawrence, producers; Guy Lawrence, mixer

Strong
Romy & Fred again..
Fred again.., Stuart Price & Romy, producers; Fred again.. & Stuart Price, mixers

Rumble
Skrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan
Fred again.. & Skrillex, producers; Skrillex, mixer

11. Best Pop Dance Recording

For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances. Vocal or Instrumental. Singles or tracks only.

Baby Don’t Hurt Me
David Guetta, Anne-Marie & Coi Leray
Johnny Goldstein, Toby Green, David Guetta & Mike Hawkins, producers; Serban    Ghenea, mixer

Miracle
Calvin Harris Featuring Ellie Goulding
Burns & Calvin Harris, producers; Calvin Harris, mixer

Padam Padam
Kylie Minogue
Lostboy, producer; Guy Massey, mixer

One In A Million
Bebe Rexha & David Guetta
Burns & David Guetta, producers; Serban Ghenea, mixer

Rush
Troye Sivan
Styalz Fuego, Novodor & Zhone, producers; Alex Ghenea, mixer

12. Best Dance/Electronic Music Album

For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.

Playing Robots Into Heaven
James Blake

For That Beautiful Feeling
The Chemical Brothers

Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)
Fred again..

Kx5
Kx5

Quest For Fire
Skrillex

Field 2: Rock, Metal & Alternative Music

13. Best Rock Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo, duo/group or collaborative rock recordings.

Sculptures Of Anything Goes
Arctic Monkeys

More Than A Love Song
Black Pumas

Not Strong Enough
Boygenius

Rescued
Foo Fighters

Lux Æterna
Metallica

14. Best Metal Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo, duo/group or collaborative metal recordings.

Bad Man
Disturbed

Phantom Of The Opera
Ghost

72 Seasons
Metallica

Hive Mind
Slipknot

Jaded
Spiritbox

15. Best Rock Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal songs. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Angry
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Andrew Watt, songwriters (The Rolling Stones)

Ballad Of A Homeschooled Girl
Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Olivia Rodrigo)

Emotion Sickness
Dean Fertita, Joshua Homme, Michael Shuman, Jon Theodore & Troy Van Leeuwen, songwriters (Queens Of The Stone Age)

Not Strong Enough
Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers & Lucy Dacus, songwriters (boygenius)

Rescued
Dave Grohl, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett & Pat Smear, songwriters (Foo Fighters)

16. Best Rock Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new rock, hard rock or metal recordings.

But Here We Are
Foo Fighters

Starcatcher
Greta Van Fleet

72 Seasons
Metallica

This Is Why
Paramore

In Times New Roman…
Queens Of The Stone Age

17. Best Alternative Music Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo, duo/group or collaborative Alternative music recordings.

Belinda Says
Alvvays

Body Paint
Arctic Monkeys

Cool About It
boygenius

A&W
Lana Del Rey

This Is Why
Paramore

18. Best Alternative Music Album

Vocal or Instrumental.

The Car
Arctic Monkeys

The Record
boygenius

Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
Lana Del Rey

Cracker Island
Gorillaz

I Inside The Old Year Dying
PJ Harvey

Field 3: R&B, Rap & Spoken Word Poetry

19. Best R&B Performance

For new vocal or instrumental R&B recordings.

Summer Too Hot
Chris Brown

Back To Love
Robert Glasper Featuring SiR & Alex Isley

ICU
Coco Jones

How Does It Make You Feel
Victoria Monét

Kill Bill
SZA

20. Best Traditional R&B Performance

For new vocal or instrumental traditional R&B recordings.

Simple
Babyface Featuring Coco Jones

Lucky
Kenyon Dixon

Hollywood
Victoria Monét Featuring Earth, Wind & Fire & Hazel Monét

Good Morning
PJ Morton Featuring Susan Carol

Love Language
SZA

21. Best R&B Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Angel
Halle Bailey, Theron Feemster & Coleridge Tillman, songwriters (Halle)

Back To Love
Darryl Andrew Farris, Robert Glasper & Alexandra Isley, songwriters (Robert Glasper Featuring SiR & Alex Isley)

ICU
Darhyl Camper Jr., Courtney Jones, Raymond Komba & Roy Keisha Rockette, songwriters (Coco Jones)

On My Mama
Dernst Emile II, Jeff Gitelman, Victoria Monét, Kyla Moscovich, Jamil Pierre & Charles Williams, songwriters (Victoria Monét)

Snooze
Kenny B. Edmonds, Blair Ferguson, Khris Riddick-Tynes, Solána Rowe & Leon Thomas, songwriters (SZA)

22. Best Progressive R&B Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded progressive vocal tracks derivative of R&B.

Since I Have A Lover
6LACK

The Love Album: Off The Grid
Diddy

Nova
Terrace Martin And James Fauntleroy

The Age Of Pleasure
Janelle Monáe

SOS
SZA

23. Best R&B Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new R&B recordings.

Girls Night Out
Babyface

What I Didn’t Tell You (Deluxe)
Coco Jones

Special Occasion
Emily King

JAGUAR II
Victoria Monét

CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP
Summer Walker

24. Best Rap Performance

For a Rap performance. Singles or Tracks only.

The Hillbillies
Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar

Love Letter
Black Thought

Rich Flex
Drake & 21 Savage

SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS
Killer Mike Featuring André 3000, Future And Eryn Allen Kane

Players
Coi Leray

25. Best Melodic Rap Performance

For a solo or collaborative performance containing both elements of R&B melodies and Rap.

Sittin’ On Top Of The World
Burna Boy Featuring 21 Savage

Attention
Doja Cat

Spin Bout U
Drake & 21 Savage

All My Life
Lil Durk Featuring J. Cole

Low
SZA

26. Best Rap Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Attention
Rogét Chahayed, Amala Zandile Dlamini & Ari Starace, songwriters (Doja Cat)

Barbie World [From Barbie The Album]
Isis Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. & Onika Maraj, songwriters (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua)

Just Wanna Rock
Mohamad Camara, Symere Woods & Javier Mercado, songwriters (Lil Uzi Vert)

Rich Flex
Brytavious Chambers, Isaac “Zac” De Boni, Aubrey Graham, J. Gwin, Anderson Hernandez, Michael “Finatik” Mule & Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, songwriters (Drake & 21 Savage)

SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS
Andre Benjamin, Paul Beauregard, James Blake, Michael Render, Tim Moore & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Killer Mike Featuring André 3000, Future And Eryn Allen Kane)

27. Best Rap Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new rap recordings.

Her Loss
Drake & 21 Savage

MICHAEL
Killer Mike

HEROES & VILLIANS
Metro Boomin

King’s Disease III
Nas

UTOPIA
Travis Scott

28. Best Spoken Word Poetry Album

For albums containing greater than 50% playing time of new spoken word poetry recordings.

A-You’re Not Wrong B-They’re Not Either: The Fukc-It Pill Revisited
Queen Sheba

For Your Consideration’24 -The Album
Prentice Powell and Shawn William

Grocery Shopping With My Mother
Kevin Powell

The Light Inside
J. Ivy

When The Poems Do What They Do
Aja Monet

Field 4: Jazz, Traditional Pop, Contemporary Instrumental & Musical Theater

29. Best Jazz Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo, duo/group or collaborative jazz recordings.

Movement 18′ (Heroes)
Jon Batiste

Basquiat
Lakecia Benjamin

Vulnerable (Live)
Adam Blackstone Featuring The Baylor Project & Russell Ferranté

But Not For Me
Fred Hersch & Esperanza Spalding

Tight
Samara Joy

30. Best Jazz Vocal Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal jazz recordings.

For Ella 2
Patti Austin Featuring Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Alive At The Village Vanguard
Fred Hersch & Esperanza Spalding

Lean In
Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke

Mélusine
Cécile McLorin Salvant

How Love Begins
Nicole Zuraitis

31. Best Jazz Instrumental Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new instrumental jazz recordings.

The Source
Kenny Barron

Phoenix
Lakecia Benjamin

Legacy: The Instrumental Jawn
Adam Blackstone

The Winds Of Change
Billy Childs

Dream Box
Pat Metheny

32. Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new ensemble jazz recordings.

The Chick Corea Symphony Tribute – Ritmo
ADDA Simfònica, Josep Vicent, Emilio Solla

Dynamic Maximum Tension
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

Basie Swings The Blues
The Count Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty Barnhart

Olympians
Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest

The Charles Mingus Centennial Sessions
Mingus Big Band

33. Best Latin Jazz Album

For vocal or instrumental albums containing greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded material. The intent of this category is to recognize recordings that represent the blending of jazz with Latin, Iberian-American, Brazilian, and Argentinian tango music.

Quietude
Eliane Elias

My Heart Speaks
Ivan Lins With The Tblisi Symphony Orchestra

Vox Humana
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band

Cometa
Luciana Souza & Trio Corrente

El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2
Miguel Zenón & Luis Perdomo

34. Best Alternative Jazz Album

For vocal or instrumental albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new Alternative jazz recordings.

Love In Exile
Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily

Quality Over Opinion
Louis Cole

SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree
Kurt Elling, Charlie Hunter, SuperBlue

Live At The Piano
Cory Henry

The Omnichord Real Book
Meshell Ndegeocello

35. Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new traditional pop recordings.

To Steve With Love: Liz Callaway Celebrates Sondheim
Liz Callaway

Pieces Of Treasure
Rickie Lee Jones

Bewitched
Laufey

Holidays Around The World
Pentatonix

Only The Strong Survive
Bruce Springsteen

Sondheim Unplugged (The NYC Sessions), Vol. 3
(Various Artists)

36. Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new contemporary instrumental recordings.

As We Speak
Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer, Featuring Rakesh Chaurasia

On Becoming
House Of Waters

Jazz Hands
Bob James

The Layers
Julian Lage

All One
Ben Wendel

37. Best Musical Theater Album

For albums containing greater than 51% playing time of new recordings. Award to the principal vocalist(s), and the album producer(s) of 50% or more playing time of the album. The lyricist(s) and composer(s) of 50 % or more of a score of a new recording are eligible for an Award if any previous recording of said score has not been nominated in this category.

Kimberly Akimbo
John Clancy, David Stone & Jeanine Tesori, producers; Jeanine Tesori, composer; David Lindsay-Abaire, lyricist (Original Broadway Cast)

Parade
Micaela Diamond, Alex Joseph Grayson, Jake Pedersen & Ben Platt, principal vocalists; Jason Robert Brown & Jeffrey Lesser, producers; Jason Robert Brown, composer & lyricist (2023 Broadway Cast)

Shucked
Brandy Clark, Jason Howland, Shane McAnally & Billy Jay Stein, producers; Brandy Clark & Shane McAnally, composers/lyricists (Original Broadway Cast)

Some Like It Hot
Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee, Adrianna Hicks & NaTasha Yvette Williams, principal vocalists; Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Bryan Carter, Scott M. Riesett, Charlie Rosen & Marc Shaiman, producers; Scott Wittman, lyricist; Marc Shaiman, composer & lyricist (Original Broadway Cast)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Annaleigh Ashford & Josh Groban, principal vocalists; Thomas Kail & Alex Lacamoire, producers (Stephen Sondheim, composer & lyricist) (2023 Broadway Cast)

Field 5: Country & American Roots Music

38. Best Country Solo Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo country recordings.

In Your Love
Tyler Childers

Buried
Brandy Clark

Fast Car
Luke Combs

The Last Thing On My Mind
Dolly Parton

White Horse
Chris Stapleton

39. Best Country Duo/Group Performance

For new vocal or instrumental duo/group or collaborative country recordings.

High Note
Dierks Bentley Featuring Billy Strings

Nobody’s Nobody
Brothers Osborne

I Remember Everything
Zach Bryan Featuring Kacey Musgraves

Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold)
Vince Gill & Paul Franklin

Save Me
Jelly Roll With Lainey Wilson

We Don’t Fight Anymore
Carly Pearce Featuring Chris Stapleton

40. Best Country Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Buried
Brandy Clark & Jessie Jo Dillon, songwriters (Brandy Clark)

I Remember Everything
Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves, songwriters (Zach Bryan Featuring Kacey Musgraves)

In Your Love
Tyler Childers & Geno Seale, songwriters (Tyler Childers)

Last Night
John Byron, Ashley Gorley, Jacob Kasher Hindlin & Ryan Vojtesak, songwriters (Morgan Wallen)

White Horse
Chris Stapleton & Dan Wilson, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)

41. Best Country Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new country recordings.

Rolling Up The Welcome Mat
Kelsea Ballerini

Brothers Osborne
Brothers Osborne

Zach Bryan
Zach Bryan

Rustin’ In The Rain
Tyler Childers

Bell Bottom Country
Lainey Wilson

42. Best American Roots Performance

For new vocal or instrumental American Roots recordings.  This is for performances in the style of any of the subgenres encompassed in the American Roots Music field including bluegrass, blues, folk or regional roots. Award to the artist(s).

Butterfly
Jon Batiste

Heaven Help Us All
The Blind Boys Of Alabama

Inventing The Wheel
Madison Cunningham

You Louisiana Man
Rhiannon Giddens

Eve Was Black
Allison Russell

43. Best Americana Performance

For new vocal or instrumental Americana performance. Award to the artist(s).

Friendship
The Blind Boys Of Alabama

Help Me Make It Through The Night
Tyler Childers

Dear Insecurity
Brandy Clark Featuring Brandi Carlile

King Of Oklahoma
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit

The Returner
Allison Russell

44. Best American Roots Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Americana, bluegrass, traditional blues, contemporary blues, folk or regional roots songs. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Blank Page
Michael Trotter Jr. & Tanya Trotter, songwriters (The War And Treaty)

California Sober
Aaron Allen, William Apostol & Jon Weisberger, songwriters (Billy Strings Featuring Willie Nelson)

Cast Iron Skillet
Jason Isbell, songwriter (Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit)

Dear Insecurity
Brandy Clark & Michael Pollack, songwriters (Brandy Clark Featuring Brandi Carlile)

The Returner
Drew Lindsay, JT Nero & Allison Russell, songwriters (Allison Russell)

45. Best Americana Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental Americana recordings.

Brandy Clark
Brandy Clark

The Chicago Sessions
Rodney Crowell

You’re The One
Rhiannon Giddens

Weathervanes
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit

The Returner
Allison Russell

46. Best Bluegrass Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental bluegrass recordings.

Radio John: Songs of John Hartford
Sam Bush

Lovin’ Of The Game
Michael Cleveland

Mighty Poplar
Mighty Poplar

Bluegrass
Willie Nelson

Me/And/Dad
Billy Strings

City Of Gold
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

47. Best Traditional Blues Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental traditional blues recordings.

Ridin’
Eric Bibb

The Soul Side Of Sipp
Mr. Sipp

Life Don’t Miss Nobody
Tracy Nelson

Teardrops For Magic Slim Live At Rosa’s Lounge
John Primer

All My Love For You
Bobby Rush

48. Best Contemporary Blues Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental contemporary blues recordings.

Death Wish Blues
Samantha Fish And Jesse Dayton

Healing Time
Ruthie Foster

Live In London
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Blood Harmony
Larkin Poe

LaVette!
Bettye LaVette

49. Best Folk Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental folk recordings.

Traveling Wildfire
Dom Flemons

I Only See The Moon
The Milk Carton Kids

Joni Mitchell At Newport [Live]
Joni Mitchell

Celebrants
Nickel Creek

Jubilee
Old Crow Medicine Show

Seven Psalms
Paul Simon

Folkocracy
Rufus Wainwright

50. Best Regional Roots Music Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental regional roots music recordings.

New Beginnings
Buckwheat Zydeco Jr. & The Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band

Live At The 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers

Live: Orpheum Theater Nola
Lost Bayou Ramblers & Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

Made In New Orleans
New Breed Brass Band

Too Much To Hold
New Orleans Nightcrawlers

Live At The Maple Leaf
The Rumble Featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr.

Field 6: Gospel & Contemporary Christian Music

51. Best Gospel Performance/Song

This award is given to the artist(s) and songwriter(s) (for new compositions) for the best traditional Christian, roots gospel or contemporary gospel single or track.

God Is Good
Stanley Brown Featuring Hezekiah Walker, Kierra Sheard & Karen Clark Sheard; Stanley Brown, Karen V Clark Sheard, Kaylah Jiavanni Harvey, Rodney Jerkins, Elyse Victoria Johnson, J Drew Sheard II, Kierra Valencia Sheard & Hezekiah Walker, songwriters

Feel Alright (Blessed)
Erica Campbell; Erica Campbell, Warryn Campbell, William Weatherspoon, Juan Winans & Marvin L. Winans, songwriters

Lord Do It For Me (Live)
Zacardi Cortez; Marcus Calyen, Zacardi Cortez & Kerry Douglas, songwriters

God Is
Melvin Crispell III

All Things
Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, songwriter

52. Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

This award is given to the artist(s) and songwriter(s) (for new compositions) for the best contemporary Christian music single or track, (including pop, rap/hip-hop, Latin, or rock.)

Believe
Blessing Offor; Hank Bentley & Blessing Offor, songwriters

Firm Foundation (He Won’t) [Live]
Cody Carnes

Thank God I Do
Lauren Daigle; Lauren Daigle & Jason Ingram, songwriters

Love Me Like I Am
for KING & COUNTRY Featuring Jordin Sparks

Your Power
Lecrae & Tasha Cobbs Leonard

God Problems
Maverick City Music, Chandler Moore & Naomi Raine; Daniel Bashta, Chris Davenport, Ryan Ellis & Naomi Raine, songwriters

53. Best Gospel Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, traditional or contemporary/R&B gospel music recordings.

I Love You
Erica Campbell

Hymns (Live)
Tasha Cobbs Leonard

The Maverick Way
Maverick City Music

My Truth
Jonathan McReynolds

All Things New: Live In Orlando
Tye Tribbett

54. Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, contemporary Christian music, including pop, rap/hip hop, Latin, or rock recordings.

My Tribe
Blessing Offor

Emanuel
Da’ T.R.U.T.H.

Lauren Daigle
Lauren Daigle

Church Clothes 4
Lecrae

I Believe
Phil Wickham

55. Best Roots Gospel Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, traditional/roots gospel music, including country, Southern gospel, bluegrass, and Americana recordings.

Tribute To The King
The Blackwood Brothers Quartet

Echoes Of The South
Blind Boys Of Alabama

Songs That Pulled Me Through The Tough Times
Becky Isaacs Bowman

Meet Me At The Cross
Brian Free & Assurance

Shine: The Darker The Night The Brighter The Light
Gaither Vocal Band

Field 7: Latin, Global, Reggae & New Age, Ambient, or Chant

56. Best Latin Pop Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new Latin pop recordings.

La Cuarta Hoja
Pablo Alborán

Beautiful Humans, Vol. 1
AleMor

A Ciegas
Paula Arenas

La Neta
Pedro Capó

Don Juan
Maluma

X Mí (Vol. 1)
Gaby Moreno

57. Best Música Urbana Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new Música Urbana recordings.

SATURNO
Rauw Alejandro

MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO
Karol G

DATA
Tainy

58. Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new Latin rock or alternative recordings.

MARTÍNEZ
Cabra

Leche De Tigre
Diamante Eléctrico

Vida Cotidiana
Juanes

De Todas Las Flores
Natalia Lafourcade

EADDA9223
Fito Paez

59. Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano)

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new regional Mexican (banda, norteño, corridos, gruperos, mariachi, ranchera and Tejano) recordings.

Bordado A Mano
Ana Bárbara

La Sánchez
Lila Downs

Motherflower
Flor De Toloache

Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes
Lupita Infante

GÉNESIS
Peso Pluma

60. Best Tropical Latin Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new tropical Latin recordings.

Siembra: 45º Aniversario (En Vivo en el Coliseo de Puerto Rico, 14 de Mayo 2022)
Rubén Blades Con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta

Voy A Ti
Luis Figueroa

Niche Sinfónico
Grupo Niche Y Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia

VIDA
Omara Portuondo

MIMY & TONY
Tony Succar, Mimy Succar

Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así
Carlos Vives

61. Best Global Music Performance

For new vocal or instrumental Global music recordings.

Shadow Forces
Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily

Alone
Burna Boy

FEEL
Davido

Milagro Y Disastre
Silvana Estrada

Abundance In Millets
Falu & Gaurav Shah (Featuring PM Narendra Modi)

Pashto
Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer & Zakir Hussain Featuring Rakesh Chaurasia

Todo Colores
Ibrahim Maalouf Featuring Cimafunk & Tank And The Bangas

62. Best African Music Performance

Amapiano
ASAKE & Olamide

City Boys
Burna Boy

UNAVAILABLE
Davido Featuring Musa Keys

Rush
Ayra Starr

Water
Tyla

63. Best Global Music Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental Global Music recordings.

Epifanías
Susana Baca

History
Bokanté

I Told Them…
Burna Boy

Timeless
Davido

This Moment
Shakti

64. Best Reggae Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new reggae recordings.

Born For Greatness
Buju Banton

Simma
Beenie Man

Cali Roots Riddim 2023
Collie Buddz

No Destroyer
Burning Spear

Colors Of Royal
Julian Marley & Antaeus

65. Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new vocal or instrumental new age recordings.

Aquamarine
Kirsten Agresta-Copely

Moments Of Beauty
Omar Akram

Some Kind Of Peace (Piano Reworks)
Ólafur Arnalds

Ocean Dreaming Ocean
David Darling & Hans Christian

So She Howls
Carla Patullo Featuring Tonality And The Scorchio Quartet

Field 8: Children’s, Comedy, Audio Books, Visual Media & Music Video/Film

66. Best Children’s Music Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new musical or spoken word recordings that are created and intended specifically for children.

Ahhhhh!
Andrew & Polly

Ancestars
Pierce Freelon & Nnenna Freelon

Hip Hope For Kids!
DJ Willy Wow!

Taste The Sky
Uncle Jumbo

We Grow Together Preschool Songs
123 Andrés

67. Best Comedy Album

For albums containing greater than 75% playing time of new recordings.

I Wish You Would
Trevor Noah

I’m An Entertainer
Wanda Sykes

Selective Outrage
Chris Rock

Someone You Love
Sarah Silverman

What’s In A Name?
Dave Chappelle

68. Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling Recording

Big Tree
Meryl Streep

Boldly Go: Reflections On A Life Of Awe And Wonder
William Shatner

The Creative Act: A Way Of Being
Rick Rubin

It’s Ok To Be Angry About Capitalism
Senator Bernie Sanders

The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times
Michelle Obama

69. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media

Award to the principal artist(s) and/or ‘in studio’ producer(s) of a majority of the tracks on the album.  In the absence of both, award to the one or two individuals proactively responsible for the concept and musical direction of the album and for the selection of artists, songs and producers, as applicable. Award also goes to appropriately credited music supervisor(s).

AURORA
(Daisy Jones & The Six)

Barbie The Album
(Various Artists)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From And Inspired By
(Various Artists)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3: Awesome Mix, Vol. 3
(Various Artists)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Weird Al Yankovic

70. Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media (Includes Film And Television)

Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current legitimate motion picture, television show or series, or other visual media.

Barbie
Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, composers

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Ludwig Göransson, composer

The Fabelmans
John Williams, composer

Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny
John Williams, composer

Oppenheimer
Ludwig Göransson, composer

71.  Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media

Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, video games and other interactive media.

Call Of Duty®: Modern Warfare II
Sarah Schachner, composer

God Of War Ragnarök
Bear McCreary, composer

Hogwarts Legacy
Peter Murray, J Scott Rakozy & Chuck E. Myers “Sea”, composers

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Stephen Barton & Gordy Haab, composers

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
Jess Serro, Tripod & Austin Wintory, composers

72. Best Song Written For Visual Media

A Songwriter(s) award. For a song (melody & lyrics) written specifically for a motion picture, television, video games or other visual media, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

Barbie World [From “Barbie The Album”]
Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. & Onika Maraj, songwriters (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua)

Dance The Night [From “Barbie The Album”]
Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa)

I’m Just Ken [From “Barbie The Album”]
Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Ryan Gosling)

Lift Me Up [From “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From And Inspired By”]
Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson, Robyn Fenty & Temilade Openiyi, songwriters (Rihanna)

What Was I Made For? [From “Barbie The Album”]
Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

73. Best Music Video

Award to the artist, video director, and video producer.

I’m Only Sleeping
(The Beatles)
Em Cooper, video director; Jonathan Clyde, Sophie Hilton, Sue Loughlin & Laura Thomas, video producers

In Your Love
Tyler Childers
Bryan Schlam, video director; Kacie Barton, Silas House, Nicholas Robespierre, Ian Thornton & Whitney Wolanin, video producers

What Was I Made For
Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish, video director; Michelle An, Chelsea Dodson & David Moore, video producers

Count Me Out
Kendrick Lamar
Dave Free & Kendrick Lamar, video directors; Jason Baum & Jamie Rabineau, video producers

Rush
Troye Sivan
Gordon Von Steiner, video director; Kelly McGee, video producer

74. Best Music Film

For concert/performance films or music documentaries. Award to the artist, video director, and video producer.

Moonage Daydream
(David Bowie)
Brett Morgen, video director; Brett Morgen, video producer

How I’m Feeling Now
Lewis Capaldi
Joe Pearlman, video director; Sam Bridger, Isabel Davis & Alice Rhodes, video producers

Live From Paris, The Big Steppers Tour
Kendrick Lamar
Mike Carson, Dave Free & Mark Ritchie, video directors; Cornell Brown, Debra Davis, Jared Heinke & Jamie Rabineau, video producers

I Am Everything
(Little Richard)
Lisa Cortés, video director; Caryn Capotosto, Lisa Cortés, Robert Friedman & Liz Yale Marsh, video producers

Dear Mama
(Tupac Shakur)
Allen Hughes, video director; Joshua Garcia, Loren Gomez, James Jenkins & Stef Smith, video producers

Field 9: Package, Notes & Historical

75. Best Recording Package

The Art Of Forgetting
Caroline Rose, art director (Caroline Rose)

Cadenza 21′
Hsing-Hui Cheng, art director (Ensemble Cadenza 21′)

Electrophonic Chronic
Perry Shall, art director (The Arcs)

Gravity Falls
Iam8bit, art director (Brad Breeck)

Migration
Yu Wei, art director (Leaf Yeh)

Stumpwork
Luke Brooks & James Theseus Buck, art directors (Dry Cleaning)

76. Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

The Collected Works Of Neutral Milk Hotel
Jeff Mangum, Daniel Murphy & Mark Ohe, art directors (Neutral Milk Hotel)

For The Birds: The Birdsong Project
Jeri Heiden & John Heiden, art directors (Various Artists)

Gieo
Duy Dao, art director (Ngot)

Inside: Deluxe Box Set
Bo Burnham & Daniel Calderwood, art directors (Bo Burnham)

Words & Music, May 1965 – Deluxe Edition
Masaki Koike, art director (Lou Reed)

77. Best Album Notes

Evenings At The Village Gate: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy (Live)
Ashley Kahn, album notes writer (John Coltrane & Eric Dolphy)

I Can Almost See Houston: The Complete Howdy Glenn
Scott B. Bomar, album notes writer (Howdy Glenn)

Mogadishu’s Finest: The Al Uruba Sessions
Vik Sohonie, album notes writer (Iftin Band)

Playing For The Man At The Door: Field Recordings From The Collection Of Mack McCormick, 1958–1971
Jeff Place & John Troutman, album notes writers (Various Artists)

Written In Their Soul: The Stax Songwriter Demos
Robert Gordon & Deanie Parker, album notes writers (Various Artists)

78. Best Historical Album

Fragments – Time Out Of Mind Sessions (1996-1997): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 17
Steve Berkowitz & Jeff Rosen, compilation producers; Steve Addabbo, Greg Calbi, Steve Fallone, Chris Shaw & Mark Wilder, mastering engineers (Bob Dylan)

The Moaninest Moan Of Them All: The Jazz Saxophone of Loren McMurray, 1920-1922 Colin Hancock, Meagan Hennessey & Richard Martin, compilation producers; Richard Martin, mastering engineer; Richard Martin, restoration engineer (Various Artists)

Playing For The Man At The Door: Field Recordings From The Collection Of Mack McCormick, 1958–1971
Jeff Place & John Troutman, compilation producers; Randy LeRoy & Charlie Pilzer, mastering engineers; Mike Petillo & Charlie Pilzer, restoration engineers (Various Artists)

Words & Music, May 1965 – Deluxe Edition
Laurie Anderson, Don Fleming, Jason Stern, Matt Sulllivan & Hal Willner, compilation producers; John Baldwin, mastering engineer; John Baldwin, restoration engineer (Lou Reed)

Written In Their Soul: The Stax Songwriter Demos
Robert Gordon, Deanie Parker, Cheryl Pawelski, Michele Smith & Mason Williams, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer; Michael Graves, restoration engineer (Various Artists)

Field 10: Production, Engineering, Composition & Arrangement

79. Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical

An Engineer’s Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.)

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You
Macks Faulkron, Daniel Harle, Caroline Polachek & Geoff Swan, engineers; Mike Bozzi & Chris Gehringer, mastering engineers (Caroline Polachek)

History
Nic Hard, engineer; Dave McNair, mastering engineer (Bokanté)

JAGUAR II
John Kercy, Kyle Mann, Victoria Monét, Patrizio “Teezio” Pigliapoco, Neal H Pogue & Todd Robinson, engineers; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer (Victoria Monét)

Multitudes
Michael Harris, Robbie Lackritz, Joseph Lorge & Blake Mills, engineers (Feist)

The Record
Owen Lantz, Will Maclellan, Catherine Marks, Mike Mogis, Bobby Mota, Kaushlesh “Garry” Purohit & Sarah Tudzin, engineers; Pat Sullivan, mastering engineer (boygenius)

80. Best Engineered Album, Classical

An Engineer’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.)

The Blue Hour
Patrick Dillett, Mitchell Graham, Jesse Lewis, Kyle Pyke, Andrew Scheps & John Weston, engineers; Helge Sten, mastering engineer (Shara Nova & A Far Cry)

Contemporary American Composers
David Frost & Charlie Post, engineers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

Fandango
Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers, Gustavo Castillo & Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Sanlikol: A Gentleman Of Istanbul – Symphony For Strings, Percussion, Piano, Oud, Ney & Tenor
Christopher Moretti & John Weston, engineers; Shauna Barravecchio & Jesse Lewis, mastering engineers (Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, George Lernis & A Far Cry)

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 & Schulhoff: Five Pieces
Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

Field 10: Production, Engineering, Composition & Arrangement

81. Producer Of The Year, Classical

A Producer’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.)

David Frost
The American Project (Yuja Wang, Teddy Abrams, Louisville Orchestra) (A)
Arc II – Ravel, Brahms, Shostakovich (Orion Weiss) (A)
Blanchard: Champion (Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Latonia Moore, Ryan Speedo Green, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) (A)
Contemporary American Composers (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra) (A)
The Guitar Player (Mattias Schulstad) (A)
Mysterium (Anne Akiko Meyers, Grant Gershon & Los Angeles Master Chorale) (A)
Verdi: Rigoletto (Daniele Rustioni, Piotr Beczala, Quinn Kelsey, Rosa Feola, Varduhi Abrahamyan, Andrea Mastroni, The Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) (A)

Morten Lindberg
An Old Hall Ladymass (Catalina Vicens & Trio Mediæval) (A)
Thoresen: Lyden Av Arktis – La Terra Meravigliosa (Christian Kluxen & Arktisk Filharmoni) (A)
The Trondheim Concertos (Sigurd Imsen & Baroque Ensemble Of The Trondheim Symphony Orchestra) (A)
Yggdrasil (Tove Ramlo-Ystad & Cantus) (A)

Dmitriy Lipay
Adès: Dante (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A) Fandango (Gustavo Dudamel, Anne Akiko Meyers & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A)
Price: Symphony No. 4; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (Yannick Nézet-Séguin & Philadelphia Orchestra) (A)
Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos & Paganini Rhapsody (Yuja Wang, Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic) (A)
Walker: Lyric For Strings; Folksongs For Orchestra; Lilacs For Voice & Orchestra; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (Asher Fisch & Seattle Symphony) (A)

Elaine Martone
Ascenso (Santiago Cañón-Valencia) (A)
Berg: Three Pieces From Lyric Suite; Strauss: Suite From Der Rosenkavalier (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A)
Between Breaths (Third Coast Percussion) (A)
Difficult Grace (Seth Parker Woods) (A)
Man Up / Man Down (Constellation Men’s Ensemble) (A)
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A)
Rachmaninoff & Gershwin: Transcriptions By Earl Wild (John Wilson) (A)
Sirventés – Music From The Iranian Female Composers Association (Brian Thornton, Katherine Bormann, Alicia Koelz, Eleisha Nelson, Amahl Arulanadam & Nathan Petipas) (A)
Walker: Antifonys; Lilacs; Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 (Franz Welser-Möst & The Cleveland Orchestra) (A)

Brian Pidgeon
Fuchs: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A)
Music For Strings (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A)
Nielsen: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 4 (James Ehnes, Edward Gardner & Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra) (A)
Pierre Sancan – A Musical Tribute (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Yan Pascal Tortelier & BBC Philharmonic) (A)
Poulenc: Orchestral Works (Bramwell Tovey & BBC Concert Orchestra) (A)
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3; Voclaise; The Isle Of The Dead (John Wilson & Sinfonia Of London) (A)
Schubert: Symphonies, Vol. 3 (Edward Gardner & City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) (A)
Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 12 & 15 (John Storgårds & BBC Philharmonic) (A)
Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works (Alpesh Chauhan & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) (A)

82. Best Remixed Recording

(A Remixer’s Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses for identification.) Singles or Tracks only.)

Alien Love Call
BADBADNOTGOOD, remixers (Turnstile & BADBADNOTGOOD Featuring Blood Orange)

New Gold (Dom Dolla Remix)
Dom Dolla, remixer (Gorillaz Featuring Tame Impala & Bootie Brown)

Reviver (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Remix)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, remixer (Lane 8)

Wagging Tongue (Wet Leg Remix)
Wet Leg, remixers (Depeche Mode)

Workin’ Hard (Terry Hunter Remix)
Terry Hunter, remixer (Mariah Carey)

83. Best Immersive Audio Album

For vocal or instrumental albums in any genre.  Must be commercially released for physical sale or on an eligible streaming or download service and must provide a new immersive mix of four or more channels.  Award to the immersive mix engineer, immersive producer (if any) and immersive mastering engineer (if any).

Act 3 (Immersive Edition)
Ryan Ulyate, immersive mix engineer; Michael Romanowski, immersive mastering engineer; Ryan Ulyate, immersive producer (Ryan Ulyate)

Blue Clear Sky
Chuck Ainlay, immersive mix engineer; Michael Romanowski, immersive mastering engineer; Chuck Ainlay, immersive producer (George Strait)

The Diary Of Alicia Keys
George Massenburg & Eric Schilling, immersive mix engineers; Michael Romanowski, immersive mastering engineer; Alicia Keys & Ann Mincieli, immersive producers (Alicia Keys)

God Of War Ragnarök (Original Soundtrack)
Eric Schilling, immersive mix engineer; Michael Romanowski, immersive mastering engineer; Kellogg Boynton, Peter Scaturro & Herbert Waltl, immersive producers (Bear McCreary)

Silence Between Songs
Aaron Short, immersive mastering engineer (Madison Beer)

84. Best Instrumental Composition

A Composer’s Award for an original composition (not an adaptation) first released during the Eligibility Year. Singles or Tracks only.

Amerikkan Skin
Lakecia Benjamin, composer (Lakecia Benjamin Featuring Angela Davis)

Can You Hear The Music
Ludwig Göransson, composer (Ludwig Göransson)

Cutey And The Dragon
Gordon Goodwin & Raymond Scott, composers (Quartet San Francisco Featuring Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band)

Helena’s Theme
John Williams, composer (John Williams)

Motion
Edgar Meyer, composer (Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer & Zakir Hussain Featuring Rakesh Chaurasia)

85. Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella

An Arranger’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

Angels We Have Heard On High
Nkosilathi Emmanuel Sibanda, arranger (Just 6)

Can You Hear The Music
Ludwig Göransson, arranger (Ludwig Göransson)

Folsom Prison Blues
John Carter Cash, Tommy Emmanuel, Markus Illko, Janet Robin & Roberto Luis Rodriguez, arrangers (The String Revolution Featuring Tommy Emmanuel)

I Remember Mingus
Hilario Duran, arranger (Hilario Duran And His Latin Jazz Big Band Featuring Paquito D’Rivera)

Paint It Black
Esin Aydingoz, Chris Bacon & Alana Da Fonseca, arrangers (Wednesday Addams)

86. Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

An Arranger’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

April In Paris
Gordon Goodwin, arranger (Patti Austin Featuring Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band)

Com Que Voz (Live)
John Beasley & Maria Mendes, arrangers (Maria Mendes Featuring John Beasley & Metropole Orkest)

Fenestra
Godwin Louis, arranger (Cécile McLorin Salvant)

In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
Erin Bentlage, Jacob Collier, Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick & Amanda Taylor, arrangers (säje Featuring Jacob Collier)

Lush Life
Kendric McCallister, arranger (Samara Joy)

Field 11: Classical

87. Best Orchestral Performance

Award to the Conductor and to the Orchestra.

Adès: Dante
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Bartók: Concerto For Orchestra; Four Pieces
Karina Canellakis, conductor (Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra)

Price: Symphony No. 4; Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

Scriabin: Symphony No. 2; The Poem Of Ecstasy
JoAnn Falletta, conductor (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)

Stravinsky: The Rite Of Spring
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)

88. Best Opera Recording

Award to the Conductor, Album Producer(s) and Principal Soloists, and to the Composer and Librettist (if applicable) of a world premiere Opera recording only.

Blanchard: Champion
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Ryan Speedo Green, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

Corigliano: The Lord Of Cries
Gil Rose, conductor; Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kathryn Henry, Jarrett Ott & David Portillo; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project & Odyssey Opera Chorus)

Little: Black Lodge
Timur; Andrew McKenna Lee & David T. Little, producers (The Dime Museum; Isaura String Quartet)

89. Best Choral Performance

Award to the Conductor, and to the Choral Director and/or Chorus Master where applicable and to the Choral Organization/Ensemble.

Carols After A Plague
Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)

The House Of Belonging
Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Miró Quartet; Conspirare)

Ligeti: Lux Aeterna
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (San Francisco Symphony Chorus)

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil
Steven Fox, conductor (The Clarion Choir)

Saariaho: Reconnaissance
Nils Schweckendiek, conductor (Uusinta Ensemble; Helsinki Chamber Choir)

90. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

For new recordings of works with chamber or small ensemble (twenty-four or fewer members, not including the conductor). One Award to the ensemble and one Award to the conductor, if applicable.

American Stories
Anthony McGill & Pacifica Quartet

Beethoven For Three: Symphony No. 6, ‘Pastorale’ And Op. 1, No. 3
Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax & Leonidas Kavakos

Between Breaths
Third Coast Percussion

Rough Magic
Roomful Of Teeth

Uncovered, Vol. 3: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still & George Walker
Catalyst Quartet

Field 11: Classical

91. Best Classical Instrumental Solo

Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor when applicable.

Adams, John Luther: Darkness And Scattered Light
Robert Black

Akiho: Cylinders
Andy Akiho

The American Project
Yuja Wang; Teddy Abrams, conductor (Louisville Orchestra)

Difficult Grace
Seth Parker Woods

Of Love
Curtis Stewart

92. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

Award to: Vocalist(s), Collaborative Artist(s) (Ex: pianists, conductors, chamber groups) Producer(s), Recording Engineers/Mixers with greater than 50% playing time of new material.

Because
Reginald Mobley, soloist; Baptiste Trotignon, pianist

Broken Branches
Karim Sulayman, soloist; Sean Shibe, accompanist

40@40
Laura Strickling, soloist; Daniel Schlosberg, pianist

Rising
Lawrence Brownlee, soloist; Kevin J. Miller, pianist

Walking In The Dark
Julia Bullock, soloist; Christian Reif, conductor (Philharmonia Orchestra)

93. Best Classical Compendium

Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s) and Engineer(s) of over 50% playing time of the album, and to the Composer and Librettist (if applicable) with over 50% playing time of a world premiere recording only.

Fandango
Anne Akiko Meyers; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Dmitriy Lipay, producer

Julius Eastman, Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
Christopher Rountree, conductor; Lewis Pesacov, producer

Mazzoli: Dark With Excessive Bright
Peter Herresthal; Tim Weiss, conductor; Hans Kipfer, producer

Passion For Bach And Coltrane
Alex Brown, Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds, Edward Perez, Neal Smith & A.B. Spellman; Silas Brown & Mark Dover, producers

Sardinia
Chick Corea; Chick Corea & Bernie Kirsh, producers

Sculptures
Andy Akiho; Andy Akiho & Sean Dixon, producers

Zodiac Suite
Aaron Diehl Trio & The Knights; Eric Jacobsen, conductor; Aaron Diehl & Eric Jacobsen, producers

94. Best Contemporary Classical Composition

A Composer’s Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.) Award to the librettist, if applicable.

Adès: Dante
Thomas Adès, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Akiho: In That Space, At That Time
Andy Akiho, composer (Andy Akiho, Ankush Kumar Bahl & Omaha Symphony)

Brittelle: Psychedelics
William Brittelle, composer (Roomful Of Teeth)

Mazzoli: Dark With Excessive Bright
Missy Mazzoli, composer (Peter Herresthal, James Gaffigan & Bergen Philharmonic)

Montgomery: Rounds
Jessie Montgomery, composer (Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry & Roomful Of Teeth)

2023 New York Comic Con: What to expect at this year’s event

October 10, 2023

by Carla Hay

Norman Reedus in “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” (Photo by Emmanuel Guimier/AMC)

The 18th annual New York Comic Con takes place October 13 to October 15, 2023, in New York City. In 2022, New York Comic Con returned to being an in-person-only event, after being a hybrid event (where people could attend in person or virtually) in 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Comic Con was cancelled as an in-person event in 2020, and instead presented as a scaled-down virtual-only event.

Before the pandemic, New York Comic Con attracted about 250,000 people per year since 2017, according to ReedPOP, the company that produces the event. The first New York Comic Con took place in 2006. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees are no longer being asked to wear a face covering/mask while inside a New York Comic Con building. In 2022, attendees were no longer required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, which were requirements in 2021.

In 2023, New York Comic Con’s main hub remains the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began in July 2023, New York Comic Con in 2023 for the first time will not have panels with cast members of movies, TV shows, or video games that are owned by companies that are members of Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)—essentially, any major, corporate-owned company that makes or distributes movies, TVs and video games. If any SAG-AFTRA members make speaking appearances at New York Comic Con, they can’t talk about any “struck” work (work that is part of the strike) that they’ve been involved with in any way.

Exceptions are made for projects owned by companies that are not AMPTP members—in other words, independent projects. Cast members who are involved in these independent projects are allowed to work on and promote those projects. For example, AMC Networks (not a member of AMPTP) has showcases at New York Comic Con in 2023, including a panel on October 12 for AMC’s “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” that will feature an appearance by star Norman Reedus to promote the show. In August 2023, SAG-AFTRA granted a waiver for AMC shows “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” and “Interview With the Vampire” for cast members of these three shows to work for and promote these shows during the strike.

TV shows continue to dominate the most high-profile panels and activities. New York Comic Con in 2023 has the following TV shows with panel showcases in the event’s largest rooms: Apple TV+’s astronaut drama “For All Mankind” will have a panel on October 12. The fantasy Web series “Critical Role” gets a spotlight on October 12. Apple TV+s horror series “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” has a showcase on October 13. On October 14, several cast members from Max’s comedy series “Our Flag Means Death” will have panel discussion not about the show (which is struck work) but about themselves and their comedy experiences.

“Star Trek” Universe series will once again get a spotlight at New York Comic Con, with a panel discussion on October 14. Also on October 14, Prime Video will have a two-hour showcase of its sci-fi/fantasy/action/horror programming, with some sneak previews and exclusive footage. The Disney+ live-action fantasy series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” (based on Rick Riordan’s book series) will have a panel and sneak preview on October 15.

“Goosebumps,” the TV series version of R. L. Stine’s fantasy novel series, will show its first episode and have a Q&A with creatives from the show on October 13, the same day that the series will premiere on Disney+ and Hulu. The Season 3 premiere of USA Network/Syfy’s “Chucky” will have its world premiere at New York Comic Con on October 12. More TV show panels with special screenings on October 13 include FX’s animated series “Archer” and Crunchyroll’s anime series “My Hero Academia.”

Other animated series getting their own panels at New York Comic Con include Hulu’s “Futurama” on October 12; Crunchyroll’s “Dragon Ball” series on October 12; Crunchyroll’s “Attack on Titan” on October 13; Netflix’s anime series “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” on October 14. Adult Swim’s “Ricky and Morty,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Smiling Friends” have a panel showcase on October 12.

Fox’s animated series “Krapopolis” and “Grimsburg” (a show that debuts in 2024) will share a panel session on October 14. The English-language voice cast members of Crunchyroll’s “One Piece” animated TV series will have a panel on October 14. Disney Channel’s animated series “The Owl House” (2020-2023) has been cancelled, but some of the voice actors from the show are doing an October 15 panel (not sponsored by Disney) to talk about the show.

Henry Cavill, Dua Lip, and John Cena in “Argylle” (Photo by Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures/Apple Original Films/Marv)

Most of the feature films that have panels at New York Comic Con this year are animated films, action films and horror movies. On October 12, sneak preview information will be given about 2024’s “The Stranger” horror film series, directed by Renny Harlin. Shudder is having a panel bringing together several directors of its popular “V/H/S/”horror movie anthology series. Animated films getting their own panels or screenings include “The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes” (anime film dubbed in English) on October 12. The comedy sequel “Good Burger 2” will be showcased on October 15.

[September 12, 2023 UPDATE: A panel for the horror movie “Thanksgiving,” with director Eli Roth in attendance, was set to take place on September 13, but the panel has been cancelled for an unspecified reason.]

On October 12, prolific horror movie/TV producer Jason Blum will talk about his current and upcoming movies, including “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” “Night Swim” and “Totally Killer.” For a panel taking place on October 14, filmmaker Matthew Vaughn will discuss his movies that he’s directed, including “Kick-Ass,” the “Kingsman” series and “Argylle.”

In addition, the 2023 edition of New York Comic Con will have Q&As that each spotlight different actors and actresses. Ewan McGregor (star of several “Star Wars” movies and Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series) will do a Q&A on October 12. David Tennant, who is best known for his starring roles in BBC’s “Doctor Who” and Prime Video’s “Good Omens,” will also do a Q&A on October 12. Several stars from the Marvel Cinematic Universe will take to the stage on October 14: Chris Evans, also known as Captain America, gets a solo spotlight, while “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” co-stars Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker will do a group discussion. Because they cannot talk about “struck work,” the focus of the talks will be other topics.

Stars of Broadway shows and other musicals are represented on several panels presented by Playbill. “The Big Broadway Nerd Panel” will return and this year will feature Broadway stars such as Casey Likes, Roger Bart and Liana Hunt on an October 12 panel. There are also panels for “Back to the Future: The Musical”(October 13); “Wicked” (October 13); “Death Note: The Musical” (October 14); and “The Broadway Bard Party” (October 15).

The 2023 Harvey Awards Hall of Fame ceremony will be take place during New York Comic Con on October 12. The recipients are Marv Wolfman and George Pérez (who is being inducted posthumously) of DC Comics’ “New Teen Titans” fame; Chris Claremont (Marvel Comics’ “X-Men”); Walt Simonson (Marvel’s “Thor”); Louise Simonson (Marvel’s “Power Pack”)l and Bill Griffith (the nationally syndicated “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip).

New York Comic Con also offer specialty areas for attendees with specific identity needs. Returning after its 2022 debut is the Pride Lounge (located in Room 1C01-02), for people with LGBTQ interests, with some LGBTQ-themed discussion panels and guest appearances. Family HQ (in Room 1E05-06) is a family-friendly environment, with an emphasis on activities for pre-teen children. In addition, Gaming Zone (in Room 1E) returns to offer a variety of options for gamers. The Community Lounge (located in the River Pavilion) is for informal gatherings and if attendees just need a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the other areas of the event. Professional Programming (for industry professionals) will also take place in the River Pavilion.

And, of course, there will be plenty of panels, exhibits and previews for comic books, video games, podcasts, fantasy novels and other pop-culture attractions. It wouldn’t be a Comic Con without cosplaying and merchandise sales. The Cosplay Central area returns to the River Pavilion at the Javits Center. While at Cosplay Central, cosplayers can mingle, pose for photos, use the dressing rooms and attend panel discussions. The New York Comic Con finalist round for the Cosplay Central Costume Showcase will take place on October 15 at Main Stage 1D Hall. New York Comic Con also has an enormous amount of merchandise for sale for numerous types of entertainment.

AUTOGRAPH SESSIONS AND PHOTO OPS

Several stars from movies and TV shows will have individual autograph sessions and/or photo opportunities with fans, for a fee. All celebrities are offering autographs and photos, unless otherwise noted. Prices will vary, according to the celebrity. Participants include:

  • Charisma Carpenter (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) on October 12 and October 15.
  • John Carpenter (“Halloween,” “The Thing”) on October 13, October 14 and October 15
  • Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “It”) on October 12 and October 13.
  • Rhys Darby (“Our Flag Means Death,” “Flight of the Conchords”) on October 14 and October 15.
  • Chris Evans (“The Avengers” and “Captain America” movies) on October 13 and October 14.
  • Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, “Jumanji” movies) on October 13 and October 14.
  • Sean Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, “Gilmore Girls”) on October 13 and October 14.
  • Tom Hiddleston (“Thor” movies, “Loki”) on October 14 and October 15.
  • Chukwudi Iwuji (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”) on October 12, October 13 and October 14.
  • Pom Klementieff (“Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, “Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One”) on October 12, October 13 and October 14.
  • James Marsters (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story”) on October 12 and October 15.
  • Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars” prequel trilogy; “Obi-Wan Kenobi”) on October 12 and October 13.
  • Shameik Moore (“Spider-Verse” movies, “Samaritan”) on October 13, October 14 and October 15.
  • Kathryn Newton (“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Freaky”) on October 14.
  • Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”) on October 13 and October 15.
  • Ron Perlman (“Hellboy,” “Sons of Anarchy”) on October 14 and October 15.
  • Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, “The Walking Dead”) on October 12, October 13 and October 14.
  • Katee Sackoff (“Battlestar Galactica,” “The Mandalorian”) on October 14 and October 15.
  • Susan Sarandon (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Blue Beetle”) on October 12 and October 13.
  • David Tennant (“Doctor Who,” “Good Omens”) on October 13 and October 14.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Birds of Prey”) on October 12 and October 13.

TELEVISION AND WEB SERIES PANELS

(All panel descriptions are courtesy of New York Comic Con.)

“The Cast of Critical Role”

October 12, 2023, 11 AM – 12 PM

Empire Stage

From Twitch streaming to a tabletop media empire, Critical Role has grown significantly from their humble beginnings. Join the cast as they sit down at NYCC to chat about their history together and answer fan questions! Panelists: Matthew Mercer, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray and Taliesin Jaffe.

“Dragon Ball”

October 12, 2023, 12:45 PM – 1:45 PM

Empire Stage

Delivering the latest information on the world-famous manga and anime franchise “Dragon Ball.” We will talk about new developments in the “Dragon Ball” series, along with a mysterious new teaser. Also the appearance of special guests!

“Dr. Stone”

October 12, 2023, 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM

Main Stage

The beloved sci-fi, animated series “Futurama” triumphantly returned to Hulu with all new-episodes after a 10-year hiatus. Celebrate with a room full of “Futurama” fans as we screen the season finale episode and get a sneak peek at Season 12, followed by a panel with the creatives behind the show.

“Futurama”

October 12, 2023, 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Main Stage

We’re celebrating 10 years of the “Attack on Titan” anime! Join Crunchyroll and the “Attack on Titan” main dub cast for a special program, including Q&A and activities, as we look back at the long journey of AOT.

“The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon”

October 12, 2023, 4:15 PM – 6:15 PM

Empire Stage

NYCC attendees will be the first to see The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon season finale ahead of its airing on Sunday, October 15 at 9pm ET/8c on AMC and AMC+, followed by a Q&A with Chief Content Officer of the Walking Dead Universe Scott M. Gimple, Showrunner David Zabel and Executive Producer Greg Nicotero and moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross.

“Scavengers Reign”

October 12, 2023, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Room 405

Join Max Original Animation for an expansive conversation surrounding “Scavengers Reign.” Co-Creator/executive producer Joe Bennett and the team of writers and directors Benjy Brooke, Sean Buckelew, and James Merrill will explore and dive into the creative process that has turned their award-winning animated short into Max’s newest adult animation series. The panel features a first look into the season with a screening of the debut episode before it premieres on Max.

“Adult Swim”

October 12, 2023, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM

Main Stage

Immerse yourself in the world of Adult Swim with a must-see screening event. NYCC fans will be the first to see a collection of new Adult Swim content from the Emmy-winning global phenomenon “Rick and Morty,” the iconic, long-running series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” the second season of the hit series “Smiling Friend,” and more breaking news. This is a can’t-miss event for Adult Swim fans.

“Monarch: The Legacy of Monsters”

October 13, 2023, 11 AM – 12:30 PM

Empire Stage

Following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” tracks two siblings following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (played by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later where Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows. The dramatic saga – spanning three generations – reveals buried secrets and the ways that epic, earth-shattering events can reverberate through our lives. Panelists: Chris Black, Matt Fraction, Tory Tunnell, Andy Goddard, Ronna Kress and Sean Konrad.

“Attack on Titan: 10 Years of Anime”

October 13, 2023, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Empire Stage

We’re celebrating 10 years of the “Attack on Titan” anime! Join Crunchyroll and the “Attack on Titan” main dub cast for a special program, including Q&A and activities, as we look back at the long journey of AOT.

“Goosebumps”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIiUwbBxZo8

October 13, 2023, 3 PM – 4 PM

Main Stage

Join the team behind “Goosebumps” as they screen the premiere episode of the chilling new series, inspired by R.L. Stine’s worldwide bestselling books, debuting October 13 on Disney+ and Hulu.

“My Hero Academia”

October 13, 2023, 5 PM – 6 PM

Empire Stage

Join Crunchyroll for the world premiere of the new Original Episode from My Hero Academia Season 6, UA HEROES BATTLE! This exclusive early screening features the English dub, and will be available to NYCC attendees before Japan. Get ready for some card game action that will showcase your favorite heroes like never before!

“Evil”

October 13, 2023, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Room 405

In honor of all things “Evil,” Friday the 13th, and the upcoming fourth season of the series coming exclusively to Paramount+, fans will be treated to a special screening of a fan-favorite episode. Fans will also have a chance to participate in an “Evil”-themed trivia contest, so study up and come prepared to win demonic swag!

“Shining Vale”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiJlR9bQxnA

October 13, 2023, 6 PM – 7 PM

Room 405

Watch the first two episodes of season two of Starz’s hit horror-comedy “Shining Vale.” Attend for a chance to win tickets to the SOLD OUT premiere night party, “Escape to #ShiningVale!” on Friday, October 13. Must be present to win.

eight-part drama stars and is executive produced by Academy Award-nominee LaKeith Stanfield and created by Kelly Marcel, who also serves as executive producer.

“Chucky”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9NtkEWqkeI

October 13, 2023, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

Empire Stage

The murderous doll we all know and love is back for more mischief just in time for Halloween! Join Chucky for an exclusive screening of a new episode from the series and much more. “Chucky” airs Wednesdays at 9PM on USA & SYFY.

“The Changeling”

October 13, 2023, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Room 405

Adapted from the acclaimed best-selling book of the same name, “The Changeling” is a fairytale for grown-ups — a horror story, a parenthood fable and a perilous odyssey through a New York City you didn’t know existed. Join us for a special “Friday the 13th” Q&A with some of the brilliant minds behind the all-new dark, mythical fairytale that will intrigue viewers at every shocking turn, hosted by “The Changeling” author, Victor LaValle. The

“Rhys Darby, Con O’Neill, Vico Ortiz, Nathan Foad, Kristian Nairn & Matthew Maher In Conversation”

October 14, 2023, 10:45 AM – To Be Determined

Empire Stage

Join these six comedic geniuses as the talk about their craft and their careers.

“Krapopolis” and “Grinsburg”

October 14, 2023, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Main Stage

FOX Entertainment is bringing “Krapopolis” and “Grimsburg” to New York Comic Con! Set in mythical ancient Greece, “Krapopolis” tells the story of a dysfunctional family of humans, gods and monsters that try their hand at running the world’s first cities – without trying to kill each other, that is. Created and exec produced by Dan Harmon (“Rick and Morty”), the series features the voices of Hannah Waddingham, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry, Pam Murphy and Duncan Trussell. “Grimsburg,” the all-new animated comedy starring and executive produced by Jon Hamm, joins the iconic FOX Animation Domination block in 2024. Grimsburg centers on Marvin Flute (Hamm), who may be the greatest detective ever to catch a cannibal clown and correctly identify a mid-century modern armoire. But there’s one mystery he still can’t crack — himself. To do that he must return to “Grimsburg,” a town where everyone has a secret or three, and redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow detectives, his ferocious ex-wife and his lovably unstable son.

“Star Trek Universe”

October 14, 2023, 1:45 PM – 3 PM

Empire Stage

The fan-favorite “Star Trek” universe returns to New York Comic Con, featuring a special advance screening of an all-new episode from the current season of the hit Paramount+ original animated comedy series “Star Trek: Lower Decks” plus more exciting reveals and surprises for “Star Trek” fans in attendance. Panelists: Mike McMahan and Alex Kurtzman.

“Prime Video Presents: The Power of Prime”

October 14, 2023, 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Empire Stage

Join Prime Video at New York Comic Con’s Empire Stage for a special presentation featuring exclusive first looks and never-before-seen footage of returning fan-favorite series and highly anticipated new series.

“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off”

October 14, 2023, 5 PM – 6 PM

Main Stage

Bryan Lee O’Malley, BenDavid Grabinski & Edgar Wright are bringing back the beloved cult-classic world of Scott Pilgrim with the upcoming Netflix series, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. In this new reimagining of the beloved comics, Scott Pilgrim meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, but learns he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her. Then things get even more complicated. Join Bryan & BenDavid for a Q&A and exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming anime series from UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, and animation studio, Science SARU. Based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“One Piece Dub Villains Panel”

October 14, 2023, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Main Stage

Join Crunchyroll and Toei Animation for an early “One Piece” dub episode premiere screening followed by Q&A with the English dubbed voices for some of One Piece’s most iconic villains. Panelists: David Sobolov (English voice of Kaido), Gabe Kunda (English voice of King).

“The Owl House”

October 15, 2023, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Room 405

Come back to the Boiling Isles with Sarah-Nicole Robles (she/her; Luz Noceda), Avi Roque (they/them; Raine Whispers), Cissy Jones (she/her; Lilith Clawthorne), and Mela Lee (she/her; Kikimora) as they recount favorite stories from their time on The Owl House, and why giraffes are absolutely terrifying. This event is not being organized or sponsored by Disney.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians”

October 15, 2023, 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM

Empire Stage

The highly anticipated Disney+ Original series makes its debut at New York Comic-Con with an exclusive sneak peek. Based on the best-selling book series by award-winning author Rick Riordan, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” tells the fantastical story of a 12-year-old modern demigod, Percy Jackson, who’s just coming to terms with his newfound divine powers. When the sky god, Zeus, accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt, Percy sets off on an adventure of a lifetime with his friends, Grover and Annabeth, to find it and restore order to Olympus. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” will debut with a two-episode premiere on December 20 on Disney+.

MOVIE PANELS

(All panel descriptions are courtesy of New York Comic Con.)

Blumfest NYCC

October 12, 2023, 7 PM – 8 PM

Empire Stage

Blum is in the house. Blumhouse founder and reigning king of horror Jason Blum, the producer of “M3GAN,” the “Halloween” trilogy and “The Black Phone” reveals exclusive details about the company’s terrifying upcoming films, including “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” “Night Swim” and “Totally Killer.”

“Shudder Presents: The Latest in Horror”

October 13, 2023, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Main Stage

In celebration of the return of the popular V/H/S franchise – V/H/S/85 begins streaming on October 6 – Shudder brings together directors from each installment of the horror phenomenon to talk about their respective films, the horror genre today, the evolution of the franchise and what’s to come. The panel, moderated by Shudder’s VP of Programming Samuel Zimmerman, will feature David Bruckner (V/H/S/1), Chloe Okuno (V/H/S/94), Natasha Kermani (V/H/S/85), Jason Eisener (V/H/S/2), and Tyler McIntyre (V/H/S/99), among others.

“Karen Gillan, Chukwudi Iwuji, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn & Pom Klementieff In Conversation”

Star of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” gather for a discussion.

October 14, 2023, 11 AM – To Be Determined

Main Stage

“Matthew Vaughn: From Kick-Ass to Kingsman to Argylle”

October 14, 2023, 6:15 PM – 7:15 PM

Empire Stage

With his brand new spy thriller “Argylle in the can, master filmmaker Matthew Vaughn takes you behind the curtain of the blockbusters that could only come from his twisted mind, including “Kick-Ass,” “The Kingsman” films, “X-Men: First Class,” “Stardust” and “Layer Cake.”

“Good Burger 2”

October 15, 2023, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Main Stage

This panel will feature never-before-seen clips and artwork from “Good Burger 2,” the all-new Paramount+ original movie and sequel to the iconic ‘90s feature film based on the sketch from Nickelodeon’s hit comedy series “All That.” “Good Burger 2” will premiere later this year exclusively on Paramount+.

Review: ‘Donyale Luna: Supermodel,’ starring Dream Cazzaniga, Luigi Cazzaniga, Beverly Johnson, Omar K. Boone, Lillian Washington, David Bailey, Juan Fernandez and David Croland

September 13, 2023

by Carla Hay

Donyale Luna in “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” (Photo by Luigi Cazzaniga/HBO)

“Donyale Luna: Supermodel”

Directed by Nailah Jefferson

Culture Representation: The documentary film “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” features a group of white and black people (with one Latino) discussing the life and career of model Donyale Luna, who broke barriers for black female models in the fashion industry.

Culture Clash: After being bullied through her teenage years in her hometown of Detroit, because of her unusual physical appearance, Luna reinvented herself and quickly became an international supermodel, but she experienced career-damaging racism and had ongoing personal problems, such drug abuse, mental health issues, and a career that burned out almost as quickly as it lit up.

Culture Audience: “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in biographies of unusual and underrated celebrities; the fashion industry in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s; and people who broke racial barriers in their industries.

Donyale Luna in “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” (Photo by Luigi Cazzaniga/HBO)

When people think of the first black woman to be on the cover of Vogue, they might think that supermodel Beverly Johnson holds that distinction. Johnson was actually the first black woman to be on the cover of American Vogue, in 1974. The first black woman to be on the cover of any Vogue was Donyale Luna, who achieved this milestone by gracing the cover of British Vogue, in 1966. Luna (whose first name was pronounced “dawn-yell”) was also the first black woman to be on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, in 1965, but as an illustration, not in a photograph.

If you’ve never heard of Luna, you’re not alone. The documentary “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” shines a deserving spotlight on this often-overlooked model, who died of a heroin overdose in 1979, at the age of 33. Johnson, whose modeling career benefited from Luna’s racial breakthroughs, is interviewed in the documentary. Johnson admits that early on in Johnson’s career, she had never heard of Luna.

Directed by Nailah Jefferson, “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” (which had its world premiere at the 2023 American Black Film Festival) follows a traditional celebrity documentary format of having a mixture of archival footage and interviews that are exclusive to the documentary. However, Luna is such an unusual subject, and there’s such a great variety of people who are interviewed, the movie doesn’t ever feel too formulaic. It’s a riveting and well-rounded biography about a trailblazing model who never became a household name but whose impact and influence resonate for generations after her untimely passing. This documentary also explores generational trauma and pop culture.

“Donyale Luna” is artfully told in five chapters named after the cities that each defined a certain era in Luna’s life. Chapter One begins in Detroit, followed by Chapter Two in New York City, Chapter Three in London, Chapter Four in Paris, and Chapter Five in Rome. Detroit is where Peggy Ann Freeman (Luna’s real name) was born in August 31, 1945, as the middle of three sisters. She lived in Detroit through her teenage years. Her favorite movie was “West Side Sory.” Much of her childhood was scarred by bullying that she got from her some of peers because she was very tall (reportedly growing to 6’2″), slender and had big eyes. She was often called “ugly” by people who thought she didn’t fit their standard of beauty.

Adding to her unhappiness, her strict parents had a volatile on-again/off-again marriage that ended in a tragedy that won’t be described in this review, so as not reveal too much information that’s in the documentary. There’s a lot about Luna in the documentary that viewers will be finding out for the first time. There are some people interviewed in the documentary who break down in tears when talking about her, so viewers should not be surprised if they get emotional too when they watch this documentary.

Several of Luna’s family members are interviewed, including Luna’s younger sister, Lillian Washington, who says that her parents had a “history of domestic violence.” Her father Nathaniel Freeman (a longtime Ford Motor Company employee) physically abused their mother Peggy Freeman (a longtime YWCA employee), according Luna’s Detroit childhood friend Omar K. Boone, who’s interviewed in the documentary. Boone also says that when he knew Luna in her teen years, she was “unsophisticated” but a “quick learner.”

Washington and many others in “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” describe Luna as having an other-worldly beauty that would make people stop what they were doing and stare at her if she was in their presence. People who knew her best also describe her inner beauty of radiating kindness and love. However, Luna also had lifelong insecurities about the way she looked and about being accepted by other people. Several people in the documentary say that Luna habitually made up stories about herself and sought to escape in fantasy worlds that she fabricated.

The combination of these insecurities and the bullying she got as a child led her to invent the Donyale Luna persona for herself when she was a teenager. She started speaking in a European accent and pretended to be multiracial, even though she and her parents were African American. The documentary’s archival footage of her from the late 1960s shows that Luna wore piercing blue contact lenses that didn’t look like human eyes. It’s mentioned that Luna’s father disapproved of this invented persona because he felt that she was denying her African American heritage.

Washington says of Luna’s childhood and teenage years: “All the black guys thought she was crazy. They called her ‘skinny’ and ‘bony.’ They called her Olive Oyl. They hurt her to her core. I think that encouraged her to create her own persona.” Josephine Armstrong, Luna’s older sister, confirms about Luna: “She would pretend and tell stories.”

Luna’s life would change when she was discovered in Detroit by photographer David McCabe, who urged her to go to New York City (where he was based) to become a fashion model. McCabe, who is one of the people interviewed in the documentary, believes that Luna lied about her racial identity (at various times, she claimed that she was part-white, part-Latino, part Asian and/or part-Native American) because she probably felt that if people knew she was fully African American, she would experience more racism. It’s also mentioned in the documentary that Luna often talked about wishing that she had blonde hair and blue eyes.

Armed with her invented persona, Luna took McCabe’s advice and moved to New York City, in 1964. Within a few months of living in New York City, Luna was featured in the pages of major fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar. She also began hobnobbing with artsy and avant-garde types. For example, McCabe says that he introduced Luna to Andy Warhol. Luna is described as someone who kept in touch with family members but also publicly denied or lied about many things about her family. The documentary mentions that she showed no interest in going back to the United States to visit her biological family after she moved to Europe.

Luna soon branched out into acting in some films, mostly supporting roles in middling movies, such as 1966’s “Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?” and 1969’s “Fellini Satyricon.” Her filmography as an actress was not extensive. According to the Internet Movie Database, Luna had credited roles as an actress in only five feature films from 1965 to 1972, with 1972’s “Salome” being the only movie where she had a starring role. She appeared as herself in several other movies.

Although she was in the public eye, Luna kept many things about herself very private and was able to fool a lot of people with her lies about her background. “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” does not mention that while she was living in New York in the mid-1960s, she was married for less than a year to an unknown actor. Very little is known about this 10-month marriage except that it ended in divorce, and Luna refused to publicly talk about this ex-husband. It says a lot about the times that she lived in, long before the Internet existed, that she was able to keep up her charade of pretending to be an exotic, multiracial European and hide many facts about her personal life.

One of her closest friends during this time was David Croland, an artist who freely admits that heavy drug use was part of their friendship and lifestyles. In the documentary, Croland says that he and Luna would regularly use marijuana, hashish and LSD. Other people in the documentary also talk about Luna’s drug abuse, which they believe was part of her need to mentally escape from her problems and try to avoid her insecurities. Family members and friends say that Luna often used drugs but was never addicted. However, it’s hard to know if that’s true, or if it’s denial from loved ones who don’t want to publicly admit that Luna could have been a drug addict.

Even with her very quick success in the fashion industry, Luna still experienced many racial barriers as a black model in the mid-1960s. It was one thing to be in some fashion spreads. It was another thing to get on the cover of major magazines or get lucrative endorsement deals, which at the time were still privileges given only to white models. The documentary mentions that Luna eventually became disillusioned with the racism she experienced in the United States. The U.S. civil rights movement was going on at the same time, but she didn’t get involved in this movement or any political activism.

Luna’s career skyrocketed after she moved to London in December 1965. She would later live in Paris and then Rome. She was living in an isolated part of Italy and was in semi-retirement at the time of her death. During her years in London, she continued to hang out with the rich and famous and dated some celebrities, including Rolling Stones lead guitarist Brian Jones and actor Klaus Kinski. Luna can be seen as an assistant to a fire eater in the music variety film “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus,” which was filmed in 1968, but wasn’t released until 1996.

Two very famous photographers are mentioned in the documentary as having the most influence on Luna’s supermodel career: Richard Avedon (an American who died in 2004, at the age of 81) and David Bailey, a Brit who is interviewed in the documentary. Bailey says that he was vaguely aware of racism in the fashion industry, but he claims that he wasn’t one of the racists. Bailey comments about Luna: “I didn’t think about her being black. She was just someone who was beautiful.”

The general consensus is that Luna found greater acceptance in Europe than she did in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean that she never stopped experiencing racism. The documentary includes a heartbreaking account of racist decisions made by Diana Vreeland (American Vogue’s editor-in-chief from 1963 to 1971) that blocked Luna from getting major career opportunities. In the documentary, former supermodel Johnson begins to cry when she hears the details. “It’s an accumulation of all the pain,” Johnson says of her crying over the racism that she, Luna and many other black people have experienced.

Other emotionally touching segments in the documentary have to do with Luna’s only child: a daughter named Dream Cazzaniga, who was only 18 months old when Luna died. Cazzaniga, who was raised by her father’s parents in Italy, reads many of Luna’s journal entries in the documentary. Luna was a talented illustrator, and the documenatry includes some of her art. Cazzaniga also candidly shares her thoughts on her memories of her mother and how she felt growing up without her mother, whose death is a “taboo” subject for the Cazzaniga family.

Because “luna” means “moon” in Spanish and in Italian, Luna often told people she had a special connection to the moon. Near the beginning of the documentary, Cazzaniga can be heard in a voiceover saying, “Growing up in Italy, I remember seeing the moon. My nanny was telling me, ‘Oh, look, that’s your mom looking from the sky.’ I never doubted that whenever I was looking at the moon, I thought that was my blessing from her.”

Later in the documentary, Dream’s Italian father Luigi Cazzaniga, who was a photographer when he married Luna in 1976, is shown being interviewed and going with Dream to visit a few of the places where he and Luna made their lives in Italy. He describes Luna as someone who loved being a mother but she was feeling increasingly unhappy with living in a remote area where she had little or no contact with her friends she used to know as a model. Luigi’s family members, whom Dream describes as conservative and religious Catholics, rejected Luna and wouldn’t allow her inside their homes. Luigi had to frequently travel because of his photographer job, so Luna was often left home alone with Dream.

Former supermodel Pat Cleveland, whose career blossomed in the 1970s around the same time as Johnson’s career, tells a harrowing story in the documentary about how Luna seemed to be mentally unraveling over all the lies and the fake persona that Luna created for herself. Cleveland describes Luna as someone who was desperately lonely and literally begging for help in the last year of Luna’s life, when Luna confessed to Cleveland that she was really an American from Detroit. Cleveland says she felt powerles to help someone whom she didn’t know every well and who was already on a downward spiral. It’s not said out loud, but it’s implied that Luna was not getting any therapy or other professional help for her mental health issues when she was living in Italy.

Several people interviewed in the documentary give cultural and historical context to why Luna’s accomplishments in the fashion industry also came with racial burdens that might have been heavier in her lifetime but still exist for many people today. Constance White, an author and former editor-in-chief of Essence, comments on white Euro-centric standards of beauty that dominate in Western culture: “It’s something that Black women have a singular experience with.” White adds that these beauty standards often have this direct or indirect message for Black women: “Everything about you is wrong.”

Other interviewees in the documentary include fashion designer/activist Aurora James, Vogue editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, Duke University art history professor Dr. Richard J. Powell, talent agent Kyle Hagler, Richard Avedon’s former assistant Gideon Lewin and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. Three of Luna’s close friends interviewed in the documentary are Sanders Bryant, a pal who knew her from high school; actor Juan Fernandez; who describes his relationship with Luna as being like a sibling relationship; and artist Livia Liverani, who says that Luna was frequently misunderstood.

“Donyale Luna: Supermodel” is certainly not the first documentary to be about someone who had troubles coping with fame and who eventually faded into near-obscurity. However, this documentary makes a clear case for people to learn more about Luna’s legacy—not just as a model in the fashion industry but also as a loved one who changed the lives of the people who were closest to her. Fame and money can be fleeting. The areas where Luna made the most impact cannot be measured by magazine covers or monetary amounts.

HBO premiered “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” on September 13, 2023.

Review: ‘Run Rabbit Run’ (2023), starring Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre

July 23, 2023

by Carla Hay

Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre in “Run Rabbit Run” (Photo by Sarah Enticknap/Netflix)

“Run Rabbit Run” (2023)

Directed by Daina Reed

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Inglemore, Australia, the horror film “Run Rabbit Run” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A divorced fertility doctor is disturbed when she finds out that her tween daughter apparently has psychic abilities that involve reincarnation.

Culture Audience: “Run Rabbit Run” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching slow-paced and repetitive horror movies with an obvious storyline.

Lily LaTorre in “Run Rabbit Run” (Photo by Sarah Enticknap/Netflix)

“Run Rabbit Run” is a very stale and unimaginative horror flick that has repetitive and boring scenes of a mother hallucinating and having a bad temper. The story’s “mystery secret” (revealed at the end) is too easy to solve, so there’s hardly any suspense. The movie’s ending is sure to repulse many viewers and seems to only be in the movie for exploitative shock value, not as a meaningful end to a horror story. “Run Rabbit Run” had its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

Directed by Daina Reed and written by Hannah Kent, “Run Rabbit Run” takes place mostly in Inglemore, Australia, where the movie was filmed on location. A fertility doctor named Sarah Gregory (played by Sarah Snook) is successful in her job, but her personal life has had its share of failures. Sarah is divorced and has primary custody of her daughter Mia (played by Lily LaTorre), who’s about 9 or 10 years old. Sarah and Mia live in a house that’s in a fairly isolated prairie-like area.

Sarah’s only other living relative is her widowed mother Joan (played by Greta Scacchi), who is in a nursing facility. It soon becomes obvious that Sarah despises Joan. Sarah’s animosity for Joan runs so deep, Sarah has not let Joan meet Mia. In the beginning of the movie, Sarah has planned for Mia to have a very small birthday party, but Joan is obviously not invited. Joan has sent a birthday card to Mia, but Sarah has intercepted the card and burned it without Mia knowing about it.

Mia says to Sarah about Joan: “I miss her.” Sarah abruptly replies, “Isn’t it hard to miss someone you’ve never met?” Mia replies, “I miss people I’ve never met all the time.” It’s at ths point you know that Mia has psychic ablities. Sarah later comes home to find Mia playing with a stray rabbit. This rabbit becomes a symbol for Sarah’s past and all the things that Sarah would like to forget about Sarah’s past.

Sarah’s ex-husband Pete (played by Damon Herriman) has moved on to a new relationship. He has a live-in girlfriend Denise (played by Naomi Rukavina), who has a son named Toby (played by Hugo Soysa) from a previous relationship. Toby is about 4 or 5 years old. Pete, Denise and Toby sometimes visit Sarah and Mia, so that Mia can spend time with Pete and hang out with Toby.

Pete, Denise and Toby have arrived for Mia’s birthday party. Sarah gets in a bad mood at the party because Pete tells her privately that he and Denise are trying to have a biological child together. Sarah has told many people over the years that she has only wanted one child. When Sarah and Pete were married, he agreed to this “one child only” decision. Apparently, Sarah expected Pete to feel the same way after they got divorced, but he’s obviously changed his mind.

The other reason why Sarah gets in a bad mood is because Toby hits Mia for no good reason. Sarah loses her temper and says to Toby, “You little shit.” Denise is naturally upset that Sarah has used this abusive language on Toby instead of resolving the problem in a more productive manner. Privately, Pete tells Sarah that he agrees with her about Toby: “He is a little shit.”

“Run Rabbit Run” has these types of scenes that don’t really go anywhere and have horrendous dialogue. Mia doesn’t have any friends, so Mia becomes attached to her new pet rabbit. Her mother Sarah seems to be very jealous of anything or anyone whom Mia might pay attention to more than Mia pays attention to Sarah.

Sarah gets rid of the rabbit by putting the rabbit over a fence, but the rabbit bites Sarah very hard on her left hand before she drops the rabbit. Mia witnesses this incident from a house balcony and is so upset that she runs away from home. Sarah finds Mia hiding in the playground tunnel. Mia is wearing a simple rabbit face mask that Mia has cut out of paper. This rabbit mask is supposed to be a creepy aspect of the movie, but it’s just a dreadfully dull visual gimmick.

It doesn’t take long for Sarah to see more signs that Mia has psychic abilities. And what Mia tells Sarah starts to put Sarah over the edge of sanity. This is where the horror clichés in “Run Rabbit Run” really kick into high gear, such as the over-used horror cliché of “the female who is not believed, and people start to think she’s mentally ill.” Sarah starts to get angry at Mia and accuses her of making up stories, while Sarah might be having her own disconnect with reality.

“Run Rabbit Run” might have worked better as a short film. The movie drags on and on and on, when you just know that Mia’s psychic abilities will inevitably lead to Mia talking to or talking about someone who has died. (It’s not spoiler information, because “Run Rabbit Run” is marketed as a ghost story.) Sarah has obviously got some major issues and big secrets, which are revealed at the end of the film.

The acting in “Run Rabbit Run” is nothing special, unless it’s the highlight of your life to watch Snook portray an annoying character looking miserable in a subpar horror movie. The movie’s weakest links are the lackluster screenplay and bland direction. “Run Rabbit Run” completely misses the point of a horror movie, which is to scare people, not be so boring that viewers will want to go to sleep.

Netflix premiered “Run Rabbit Run” on June 28, 2023.

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