Ruminations Episode XVII: House of Power, Rings of the Dragon

Ruminations is back for our seventeenth episode, this time to talk about the two prequels to juggernaut fantasy series that premiered in September, HBO’s Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon and Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For the second time this year, this is the second version of an episode that we, Chris and Steve, recorded. Before you ask, no, no one was too drunk this time! Back in August, we recorded a grab bag episode about our respective summer trips, interesting stuff we recently watched, a wedding and a 30th birthday, and ended with our varying degrees of apprehension towards HoD and RoP, but since each show finished its first season before we could edit the episode… we decided to re-record and focus on the shows in full. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we each enjoyed one of the shows over the other.

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Ruminations Episode XVI: Apocalypse Now Redrunks

In an episode two months in the making, Chris and Steve delve into the heart of darkness to explore five of the most famous Vietnam War movies made in the aftermath of the war in the 1970s and 80s. Which version of Apocalypse Now is best? Why is The Deer Hunter so dull? Which of us grew up thinking Full Metal Jacket was a comedy? Why does Vietnam have such a visceral place in our pop culture and collective memory? Stay to the end for a game of “Would You Rather?” and a glimpse into the first time we recorded this episode–yes, we liked this topic so much, we talked about it twice! (But only Chris remembers that.) Episode 16 is messy, a bit overlong, and has a dubious history reminiscent of its subject matter, but what else do you expect from this duo?

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Ruminations Episode XV: Squidnight Mass

Happy Halloween from Ruminations! For the first half of our 15th episode, we chat about the latest movies we’ve seen in theaters, from the ground-shaking sounds of Dune to the earth-shattering disappointment of The Many Saints of Newark. Then, for the main portion of the episode (28:00 on), we break down our experiences watching two of Netflix’s recent shows, the stressful South Korean juggernaut Squid Game and Mike Flanagan’s latest horror slow-burn, Midnight Mass. Why was Matt Damon’s hair so silly in The Last Duel? Will Dune get a sequel (the answer’s yes, but we didn’t know that at the time of recording)? Was Squid Game better in Korean or in English? Was Midnight Mass a good Catholic show, as one Vox reporter lamented? Listen to find out!

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Ruminations Episode XIV: On Her Majesty’s Secret Agent

For Episode XIV, Chris and Steve discuss the ins and outs of the 59-year-old James Bond franchise, which just saw its 25th movie, and the fifth and last of Daniel Craig’s run as 007, No Time to Die,  premiere in theaters this month. Well, it’s less of a discussion and more of Steve talking about a series of movies and books near and dear to his heart while Chris feigns interest. (To Chris’s credit, he has a better grasp on Bond than Steve does many of his esoteric religious interests.) What’s the best Bond song? Who’s the worst Bond? Why did George Lazenby only do one movie and later intimidate a teenaged Steve at a nerdy movie convention? Who will the next Bond be? Most importantly–to Chris at least–what aspects of the franchise directly influenced Austin Powers? Ruminations will return!

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Ruminations Episode XIII: The Podcast of the Rings

For Episode XIII, Chris and Steve discuss … not Star Wars for the 4th episode in a row! Instead, due to recent AMC 4K re-releases, they talk about their favorite piece of popular culture ever, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson’s seminal film adaptations, the first of which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year. For the episode’s first half, Steve, having watched 15 hours of behind-the-scenes footage and read a 560-page book on Jackson’s journey through Middle-Earth, focuses on the making of the trilogy and The Hobbit, its much, much worse prequel series. For the second half, Chris channels his inner Elrond and fields Steve’s questions on Tolkien’s themes, alleged plot-holes, and the Bible of Tolkien’s legendarium, The Silmarillion. Altogether, it amounts to 2 hours of Middle-Earth content! A day may come when Ruminations releases a short podcast … but it is not THIS day.

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Ruminations Episode XII: Christmas All the Way

Chris and Steve discuss a range of topics relating to Christmas movies with Lou, Ruminations’ second-ever guest host. Questions like: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Is Ron Howard’s Grinch movie worth its two-hour runtime? Why can’t Steve keep the Rankin/Bass movies straight? Will Mel Gibson’s Fatman become a perennial Christmas watch? How many times has Lou seen Jingle All the Way? How does it feel to spit up whiskey and/or to record half of a podcast with the hiccups? All of this and more in the messiest, most laugh-filled episode of Ruminations so far! Give us a listen, and merry Christmas to all of our listeners!

Episode XII Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode XI: Underrated Horror

Just in time for the strangest Halloween in memory, we’re back to talk about three underrated horror movies we seem to revisit every year around this time: Wes Craven’s Haiti-set The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), the ’80s pastiche The House of the Devil (2009), and the Nicolas Cage mystery Pay the Ghost (2015). Along the way, we reminisce about Burger King’s Universal horror action figures from our childhood, 10th grade speeches, and our vastly different experiences watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time. Chris is in his element discussing voodoo and Samhain, and Steve enjoys telling Chris off for not knowing directors by name. Lastly, we list our top moments in scary movies! Give us a listen. (We know you all have nothing better to do.)

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Ruminations Episode X: Onward and Up-ward!

Ruminations is finally back and, boy, did we miss a lot over the last 6 months! We start off Episode X with a discussion of our experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown and what we’ve been watching to pass the time as society crumbles around us, but the main event is much more fun. In a companion piece to our first-ever episode, we rank the best and worst of Pixar Animation Studios, once the baby of Apple’s Steve Jobs and now an integral part of Disney’s galactic empire. In a departure from our first episode, however, we stick to our own rankings, which means there are some fireworks!

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Ruminations Episode IX: The 2010s

Happy New Year from Ruminations! To celebrate the start of 2020 and the end of the 2010s, we talk* about 10 of our favorite movies from a decade that wasn’t all that great when it came to cinema. (At least in our opinions, but our opinions are Correct.) Stick around for some honorable mentions!

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Ruminations Episode VIII Show Notes

Miscellaneous Exorcism

  • Since posting our episode on Halloween, I have finished The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone looking for an accessible and informative overview of angels, demons, demonic infestation/oppression/possession, and the various ways in which exorcists go about exorcising demons in the 21st century. More on book’s main focus, Fr. Gary Thomas, below in our section on the movie version of The Rite.
  • Here is an abbreviated form of the Rite of Exorcism from the Roman Ritual. It was admittedly harder to find online than one might think, but Chris found it. If you would like to purchase the full ritual, you can buy it here with the full Latin and English texts, side by side.
  • Here is Fr. Vincent Lampert, Exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, being interviewed on EWTN’s World Over program with Raymond Arroyo. As mentioned in the episode, Chris saw Fr. Lampert speak at Montclair State University twice (in 2010 as a student and then with me in 2016, post-college); here is video of his lecture at Seton Hall University in 2017. Lastly, Fr. Lampert also appeared in The Making of a Modern Exorcist as an exorcist-in-training with Fr. Thomas.
  • The career of Rome’s foremost exorcist, the late Fr. Gabriel Amorth, is discussed on EWTN’s World Over program with Raymond Arroyo and The Exorcist director William Friedkin. Fr. Amorth was the author of numerous books on exorcisms–his most famous book available in English is An Exorcist Tells His Story–and was the subject of Friedkin’s 2017 documentary, The Devil and Fr. Amorth
  • Chris also mentioned the book Interview with an Exorcist: An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance, which is exactly what it sounds like. This exorcist is Fr. José Antonio Fortea of Spain.
  • Christ mentioned how priests partake in a “black fast” before beginning the exorcist ritual. We couldn’t find an exact source for this but Matt Baglio did make a point about fasting beforehand in The Making of a Modern Exorcist.
  • Chris and I talked about this video from VICE where a reporter attended a voodoo ceremony in a basement in a Haitian neighborhood in Brooklyn. It is freaky and bizarre and also completely fascinating.

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Ruminations Episode VIII: What an Excellent Day for an Exorcism

For our Halloween-themed episode, the Ruminations team talks about the Catholic Rite of Exorcism and the movies that have made it famous. Learn the differences between demonic infestation, oppression, and possession, what it’s like to talk to a 90-year-old exorcist IRL, and why even modern Hollywood can sometimes treat Catholicism respectfully!

(In order to get Episode VIII out in time for, you know, Halloween, our show notes will be posted at a later date. Stay tuned!)

Episode VIII Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode VII Show Notes

The Curse of the Black Pearl

  • This video explains some of the behind the scenes history of the making of The Curse of the Black Pearl, especially the comical short sightedness of Disney’s former CEO, Michael Eisner.
  • Johnny Depp received an Oscar nomination for his role of Jack Sparrow, ultimately losing to Sean Penn for Mystic River. In 2018, Depp received the exact opposite honor when he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for his (final?) performance of Jack in Dead Men Tell No Tales.
  • Wikipedia has a good breakdown of how Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt split the work for the score of the first Pirates film. Long story short: Zimmer couldn’t focus on the score because he was busy composing for The Last Samurai, so he passed the work onto Badelt. However, he still managed to compose most of the main cues with Badelt. Because the schedule was so rushed, seven other composers had to contribute orchestrations and cues, including Game of Thrones’ Ramin Djawadi and Arrow/The Flash‘s Blake NeelyThe most famous track, “He’s a Pirate,” sounds like it was lifted verbatim from Zimmer’s Gladiator track, “The Battle.”

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Ruminations Episode VII: A Pirate’s Life for Us

After what seems like an eternity, Rum-inations is back with our seventh episode! As promised at the end of Episode VI, this one is all about pirates and rum. To prepare for such an undertaking…we bought a whole bunch of rum and rewatched all 5 Pirates of the Caribbean movies with our friend Ruben, who now joins us as our first guest! 

In addition to our episode, check out our show notes full of movie and musical clips, historical tidbits, and mucho rum recommendations!

Episode VII Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode VI Show Notes

Scavi Tour

  • The exclusive Scavi tour must be booked months in advance because it fills up very quickly–only 250 people go through the necropolis under St. Peter’s each day. Some additional tips on how to snare tickets can be found here.
  • The Fisherman’s Tomb: The True Story of the Vatican’s Secret Search (2018) by John O’Neill is a breezy read on the secret excavations that occurred under the Vatican in the 1940s, a project that was entirely financed by a Texas oil baron!
  • A brief overview of the Scavi was featured as the June 2019 cover story of the Knights of Columbus’ Columbia magazine.
  • It appears chief archaeologist (and identifier of Peter’s bones) Margherita Guarducci’s entire 1960 book The Tomb of St. Peter can be found online.
  • St. Peter’s remains were first displayed publicly by Pope Francis in November of 2013.
  • Check out Illume for more information about the tomb and necropolis. These diagrams are helpful in picturing the layout of the necropolis and the placement of Peter’s grave.
  • Jesus without a beard? Here is Christ as Sol Invictus from Mausoleum M, also known as the Tomb of the Julii.

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel

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Ruminations Episode VI: Urbs Aeterna

Ruminations is back with its most historical episode yet! In Episode VI, Chris and Steve recount their April trip to Rome, the Eternal City, highlighting the history and splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, the glory witnessing the Capitoline Wolf and Augustus of Prima Porta statues in person, an unexpected visit to an actual medieval castle, and more. This episode is a bit on the long side, folks–if you make it through the first 45 minutes, you’ll at least be rewarded by two superb anecdotes that practically had the hosts in tears!

Stick around until the end and check out our show notes full of historical tidbits, book recommendations, and lots of pictures!

Episode VI Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode V Show Notes

Game of Thrones (01:30-26:30): As we mentioned in the episode, the entire world has Game of Thrones Season 8 takes. Below are a few interesting columns, blogs, and podcasts we’ve come across since the finale aired:

  • Entertainment Weekly‘s recap podcast with Darren Franich and James Hibberd. Hibberd visited various sets and interviewed actors during filming so he knew many of the plot points that were to occur, yet he still wasn’t keen on its final product (as conveyed in his own finale recap).
  • Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone‘s equally unimpressed blog specifically focusing on Tyrion’s kingmaking
  • This amazing GLoP podcast in which guests Ross Douthat (New York Times) and Sonny Bunch (Washington Free Beacon Washington Post) join co-hosts John Podhoretz and Jonah Goldberg, and the normally level-headed Ross has a few, er, choice words to say about showrunners Benioff and Weiss.
  • Lastly, this AV Club essay by Myles McNutt takes a contrarian, positive take on the finale, noting its thematic consistencies. Worth a read, as much as we might not agree with his view of the final product.

Aladdin (26:30-39:30):

  • Flashback to Episode I and our ranking of the 57 Disney Animated Classics. Look at Number 1 on all 3 lists!
  • Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the “Speechless” writing team, on their new woke song for Jasmine
  • Cartoon Jafar sings “Prince Ali,” which was left entirely out of the new movie. Speaking of missing Jafar scenes from the 1992 original, wasn’t live action Jafar’s transformation into a giant cobra so cool to see on the big screen? Oh.

Knights of the Old Republic (39:30-42:30):

  • The news. Ugh. Here is the original trailer for the award-winning 2003 RPG. It plays automatically whenever you start up the original Xbox game, and I get chills every time. (The torture scene towards the end, which plays a major role in the plot, is very similar to this scene in The Force Awakens, and the only time my interest was piqued while watching Episode VII.)
  • There’s a new book about the making of the game!
  • This meme:

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (42:30-49:00):

  • Not really much to say about this one. Some news about its box office numbers, as it was more successful than the previous two movies in its opening weekend.

Avengers: Endgame (49:00-51:00):

  • This Half in the Bag review from the always-great Red Letter Media is comprehensive and sensible.
  • We were both annoyed by Fat Thor though we never mentioned it in the podcast. Apparently, Chris Hemsworth fought to keep him in the movie?

Featured Image credit:
Composite image/FLIPP

Ruminations Episode V: Disappointment

Everything is Terrible in Episode V of Ruminations! When writing about our last episode, I quoted T.S. Eliot since cruel, cruel April brought us the ending of two of our favorite franchises. Little did I know how cruel it would actually be! Another Eliot quote is appropriate now (this one the conclusion to The Hollow Men):

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Whimper to its conclusion Game of Thrones did–and its lackluster finale takes up the full first half of our episode–but it wasn’t alone in its dullness. The live action Aladdin remake and the much-hyped John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum, released in back-to-back weekends, were also quite lame, to put it mildly. To top off this whirlwind of recent mediocrity, a bit of (potentially) soul-crushing Star Wars news also leaked this week. When will the suffering end?

Avenger: Endgame was pop culture’s only saving grace and we gladly left it out of our lamentations (until, ya know, the end of our episode, when we decided to actually talk about it. Oops?)

Listen and complain along with us! And, as always, SPOILERS!

Episode V Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode III Show Notes

Quo Vadis (1951)
– The opening scene of Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) entering Rome is one of the main inspirations for the opening of the Coen brothers’ 1950s Hollywood-set caper, Hail, Caesar!.
– Peter Ustinov’s Nero is one of cinema’s great villains, and one whose “genius” (to use his word) is immensely under-appreciated. As referenced in the podcast, Nero is all about the theatrics, composing while being pampered, “composing while he sings” at a party, and dramatically unveiling his plans for a new palatial complex, one that would replace much of Rome, leading to…
– The Great Fire of Rome (which also involves some imperial singing.)
– Christ speaks to St. Peter (Finlay Currie) on the road outside of Rome, saying through a child that he will be “crucified a second time” in Rome. Realizing what this means, Peter returns to the city to inspire the Christians about to be killed in the arena, ultimately leading to his own condemnation and crucifixion.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) 
– The Crusades, which occurred over two centuries, can be difficult to follow. Here is a brief summary of all 9 Crusades, plus the “People’s” and “Children’s” Crusades.
– This article breaks down all the differences between the maligned theatrical cut and the 45-minutes-longer director’s cut.
– Harry Gregson-Williams’ incredible score is by far the best part of this movie. Here is all 3 hours of it.
– Godfrey (Liam Neeson) sardonically tells Balian (Orlando Bloom) and the Hospitaller (David Thewlis) that he once fought 2 days with an arrow through his testicle.
– Leprous King Baldwin’s face is finally revealed when Sibylla (Eva Green) mournfully looks on her dead brother’s corpse and removes his mask. The music playing over this scene is “Vide Cor Meum,” an aria composed by Patrick Cassidy for Ridley Scott’s earlier film Hannibal.
This speech by the Hospitaller destroys the aura of the film as it’s chock full of modern convictions about the dangers of zealous religious beliefs.
– After the Muslim army has taken Jerusalem, Saladin shows his respect for the Christians when he sees that a crucifix has been thrown to the floor. He respectfully picks it up and puts it back on a table, an act that had modern Middle Eastern filmgoers rising to their feet.
Game of Thrones‘ Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) appears at the film’s end as Richard the Lionheart. Here, Balian repeats the line “You…continue until they speak something else” regarding the way to the Holy Land.

The Young Pope (2016-2017)
– We debated the nature of Lenny Belardo’s flawed-but-holy character, which can be perfectly summed up by this line from Guardians of the Galaxy. For the sake of time (because the entire show can basically be posted here), below are a few clips to get a taste of Pius XIII and the humor of this glorious, insane series:
All Along the Watchtower
Ketchikan, Alaska!
The Pope’s snack
The Pope as Banksy
The kangaroo
Pius XIII enters–nay, is carried into–the Sistine Chapel
The Pope vs. the Prime Minister
The Africa speech and Halo
The Popes offer some advice

Honorable Mentions
Ben-Hur: We liked, but didn’t love, Ben-Hur, the 1959 Best Picture winner that also won 10 other Oscars including a Best Actor award for Charlton Heston. The rowing scenes are cool (Steve rowed in high school) and its famed chariot race lives up to its reputation–with one major caveat: we’d seen it all before in 1999’s Star War Episode I: The Phantom Menace. (George Lucas blatantly ripped it off for his podrace sequence, but as 7-year-olds, did we really know any better?) And, oh, look, it’s Peter from Quo Vadis, here playing Balthazar, one of the three wise men.
The Passion of the Christ: Mel Gibson’s magnum opus is bloodier than any movie version of Christ’s crucifixion that’s come before it and will probably come after it. Whatever you want to say about Gibson’s personal life, The Passion of the Christ is a profound piece of cinema; Jim Caviezal’s performance is a godsend (pun intended) and the movie was a roaring success despite its ultra-violence. For at least a decade, it was the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, making over $600 million at the box office. Lastly, more movies should have characters speaking Aramaic and Latin.
The Passion of Joan of Arc: Steve watched the 24fps version of Carl Th. Dreyer’s 1928 masterpiece, which has French subtitles and is accompanied by Richard Einhorn’s 1994 oratorio, “Visions of Light.” Chris, on the other hand, watched the slower 20fps Danish version, which is accompanied by a more low-key piano score by Mie Yanashita that better fits Dreyer’s vision of the movie. This review compares the two versions. (Incredible fact: the long-lost Danish version was discovered in the closet of an abandoned mental hospital in Oslo, Norway in 1981.)
Rome Open City: There aren’t too many clips on YouTube, but here is one of the 1945 film’s most famous scenes, in which a woman is gunned down by Nazi soldiers.
Spotlight: 2015’s Best Picture winner is still (unfortunately) relevant. Trailer here.
Doubt: John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 adaptation of his own play has fantastic performances from 3 Oscar winners and also Amy Adams, all of whom were nominated for Academy Awards. This includes Viola Davis, who only appeared in a single scene (and it’s flippin’ great). Steve reviewed Doubt way, way back when he first started this blog, which can be found here. (Please be kind, it was his first ever review.)

Podcast Mentions
– In his ranting(s) about Pope Francis, Chris mentioned the Taylor Marshall Show, a superb podcast by Dr. Taylor Marshall, a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism and has 8 children. Dr. Marshall has several informative YouTube videos on the current crisis in the Catholic Church, all definitely worth watching.
– Steve mentioned the exponentially lower-brow SSEU Podcast, which initially started out as a podcast based on another podcast but has now morphed into a bunch of Twitter friends interviewing one another about movies, joking about stool samples, and reading poetry about gas station food. (Full disclosure: Steve appeared on Episode 8, The Cactus and the Giant, which also had some pretty good show notes.) Their last episode was a direct inspiration for this one.

Image credit:
Poster for Quo Vadis, 1951 / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

2019 Oscar Predictions

In lieu of show notes for Ruminations Episode II, here are my predictions for tomorrow night’s “Blah-scars” ceremony:

Best Picture
Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Original Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Foreign Language Film
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Original Score
Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Documentary Short
Black Sheep
End Game
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons

Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns

Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star Is Born

Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Film Editing
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Animated Short Film
Animal Behavior
Late Afternoon
One Small Step

Live Action Short

Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots

Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Featured Image credit: 1956 Green Book cover, New York Public Library. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ruminations Episode I Show Notes

For ease of discussion, we each compiled an individual ranking from best to worst and then took the average of each film to create a single master list:

Rank Master Chris Steven
1 Aladdin (1992) Aladdin Aladdin
2 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Hunchback of Notre Dame
3 Beauty and the Beast (1991) The Lion King Beauty and the Beast
4 The Lion King (1994) Beauty and the Beast Pinocchio
5 Cinderella (1950) The Little Mermaid Alice in Wonderland
6 The Little Mermaid (1989) Sleeping Beauty The Lion King
7 Sleeping Beauty (1959) The Black Cauldron Cinderella
8 Pinocchio (1940) Cinderella Emperor’s New Groove
9 Hercules (1997) Hercules Hercules
10 Mulan (1998) Mulan Sleeping Beauty
11 Alice in Wonderland (1951) Tarzan The Little Mermaid
12 Tarzan (1999) The Princess and the Frog Mulan
13 The Black Cauldron (1985) Pocahontas Pocahontas
14 Pocahontas (1995) Pinocchio Tarzan
15 Emperor’s New Groove (2000) Robin Hood Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
16 The Princess and the Frog (2009) Lilo and Stitch The Princess and the Frog
17 Robin Hood (1973) Dinosaur The Great Mouse Detective
18 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Emperor’s New Groove The Black Cauldron
19 Lilo and Stitch (2002) Alice in Wonderland Robin Hood
20 The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Lilo and Stitch
21 Zootopia (2016) The Fox and the Hound Wreck It Ralph
22 Peter Pan (1953) Peter Pan Zootopia
23 The Fox and the Hound (1981) The Jungle Book Ralph Breaks the Internet
24 Wreck It Ralph (2012) Zootopia Bolt
25 Dinosaur (2000) 101 Dalmatians Tangled
26 Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Oliver and Company Peter Pan
27 Bolt (2008) The Great Mouse Detective The Fox and the Hound
28 101 Dalmatians (1961) Wreck It Ralph Fantasia
29 Tangled (2010) Ralph Breaks the Internet Dumbo
30 Dumbo (1941) Bolt Atlantis: The Lost Empire
31 Fantasia (1940) Dumbo Frozen
32 The Jungle Book (1967) Brother Bear 101 Dalmatians
33 Brother Bear (2003) The Rescuers Dinosaur
34 Frozen (2013) Fantasia Brother Bear
35 Oliver and Company (1988) Tangled Meet the Robinsons
36 The Rescuers (1977) Frozen The Rescuers
37 Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) Lady and the Tramp Fantasia 2000
38 Lady and the Tramp (1955) Fantasia 2000 Lady and the Tramp
39 Fantasia 2000 (1999) The Aristocats The Jungle Book
40 Meet the Robinsons (2007) Bambi The Aristocats
41 The Aristocats (1970) Meet the Robinsons Moana
42 Bambi (1942) Moana Oliver and Company
43 Moana (2016) Atlantis: The Lost Empire Bambi
44 Home on the Range (2004) The Sword in the Stone Big Hero Six
45 The Rescuers Down Under (1990) Home on the Range Home on the Range
46 Big Hero Six (2014) The Rescuers Down Under The Rescuers Down Under
47 Treasure Planet (2002) Treasure Planet Treasure Planet
48 The Sword in the Stone (1963) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
49 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
50 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) Big Hero Six Winnie the Pooh
51 Winnie the Pooh (2011) Winnie the Pooh The Sword in the Stone
52 The Three Caballeros (1944) The Three Caballeros The Three Caballeros
53 Saludos Amigos (1942) Saludos Amigos Saludos Amigos
54 Make Mine Music (1946) Melody Time Make Mine Music
55 Melody Time (1948) Make Mine Music Fun and Fancy Free
56 Fun and Fancy Free (1947) Fun and Fancy Free Melody Time
57 Chicken Little (2005) Chicken Little Chicken Little
    • SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS: We mentioned the seven little Oscars Walt Disney received for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Here he is presented the awards by Shirley Temple.
    • THE SWORD IN THE STONE: Madam Mim toys with young Arthur and scares him by pulling her face and turning it into a pig, which Disney pays homage to in Princess and the Frog when the alligator Louis puts willow tree leaves over his face.
    • WINNIE THE POOH: The best scene in either “Pooh” movie (pun intended) is when Winnie trips out on bad honey in the Heffalumps and Woozles sequence. This scene also hearkens back to when Dumbo accidentally gets drunk and hallucinates “Pink Elephants on parade.” The Baksun song, from the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh, is arguably the only memorable piece of it–in fact, it was the only scene we could remember!
    • THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: Check out this video of the Disneyland dark ride “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” where you, your family, and Mr. Toad get to be damned to Hell with a smile! Quite possibly the best scene from any of the World War II era films is the famous Headless Horseman chase which ends in a flaming pumpkin being thrown at a terrified Ichabod Crane.
    • WWII ERA FILMS: Here’s some backstory on the Good Neighbor Policy mentioned when discussing Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros from NPR. For more information, you can always check good ol’ reliable Wikipedia. Here is the beloved Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros at the Mexican Pavilion in EPCOT, enjoyed best over a margarita from La Cava del Tequila. In Make Mine Music, a whale sings opera. (It’s exactly how it sounds.) The Fun and Fancy Free intro includes Jiminy Cricket, bringing the movie some sense of continuity…but that’s about it.
    • CHICKEN LITTLE: Chicken Little SUCKS, end of story! (If you want tangible evidence, brace yourself and check out the alien chase scene from the 2005 abomination).
    • MULAN: Here is some backstory on the legend of Mulan. Some highlights: Mulan embarrasses her family and herself with the matchmaker and she goes to the shrine of her ancestors and sings “Reflections.” She then meets Mushu, who tries to overcompensate for his small stature. In this last clip, the hulking mass Shan Yu and the Hun army fight Captain Shang and Mulan.
    • HERCULES: Phil the satyr–who is a mirror image of his voice actor Danny DeVito–sings “One Last Hope” while training Hercules. The fast-talking Hades erupts in anger at henchmen Pain and Panic wearing Hercules’ merchandise. Later, in one of the most quotable scenes in the movie, Pain and Panic, in the guise of two children, trick Hercules and get him to fight the Hydra by pretending to be trapped under a boulder.
    • PINOCCHIO: We mentioned Pinocchio‘s diverse and terrifying villains. Here the overweight Italian caricature Stromboli threatens to use Pinocchio as firewood and babbles in 40s’ era Disney dialect “Italian.” In one of Disney’s scariest moments, the evil Coachman’s face contorts into a demonic visage while declaring his diabolic plans for the boys he’s kidnapping. The oily Lampwick transforms into a donkey in traumatizing fashion before Pinocchio’s eyes on Pleasure Island. The film’s final villain, the giant whale Monstro, sneezes out and chases Geppetto and Pinocchio.
    • SLEEPING BEAUTY: Maleficent, the self-declared “mistress of all evil,” transforms herself into a dragon, fights Prince Philip, and becomes Disney’s villain poster child all in one fell swoop. Prince Philip places the film in the 14th century when talking to his father. We also mentioned that Disney used music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty as the basis for its film’s music, and here is a blog post by Floyd Norman, one of the film’s animators, on that subject.
    • CINDERELLA: A particularly cute scene in Cinderella is when the mice introduce Gus Gus to Cinderella. Disney’s most evil housecat Lucifer maniacally sits on Lady Tremaine’s lap as she snaps at Cinderella. He later chases and tries to eat Jaq and Gus who are acquiring pieces to make Cinderella’s dress. We erroneously called the Duke a viceroy or captain; here, he discovers Cinderella and finally finds the owner of the lost glass slipper.
    • THE LITTLE MERMAID: Ursula sings “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and makes a deal where Ariel signs over her voice to the sea witch. She then, in true Disney fashion, transforms herself into a giant octopus and is then impaled by Prince Eric. We mentioned the controversy surrounding Ariel’s plot line–a quick Google search brings almost 2 million results–so have at it, if you are so inclined. We’ll end with a short tweet from conservative columnist John Podhoretz about The Little Mermaid‘s impact.
    • THE LION KING: First, that opening. We (well, Steve) mentioned how Black Panther is essentially a live-action Lion King (which is funny as Disney is currently making an all-CGI “live-action” version to be released later this year). Scar prepares his Nazi-like hyenas for his usurpation of the kingdom which culminates in him revealing his true intentions as he whispers “long live the king” when killing Mufasa. In the film’s lightest moment, Simba grows up to song (becoming Matthew Broderick) in the famous “Hakuna Matata.” Later, the heavenly ghost of Mufasa appears to Simba in the sky reminding him who he truly is–the music is chill-inducing.
    • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: The Beast erupts in anger at Belle and gives her some warm advice that she should “Go ahead and STARVE,” a favorite scene of Chris’s from his childhood. The dinnerware come together to console a crying Belle by singing “Be Our Guest.” (Remember, it all takes place on the table!) After a few drinks, the towns people sing a raucous song about their local hero Gaston. We also mentioned the innovative use of computers in the artwork for the Best Picture-nominated film, so here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.
    • THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME: Hunchback begins with its goosebump-inducing opening number, “The Bells of Notre Dame” (which also serves as the ending to our episode.) Quasimodo watches the city streets of Paris by moonlight as he sings the heartfelt number “Heaven’s Light.” This quickly leads to the diabolical musical number of “Hellfire,” sung by Judge Frollo in front of a raging fireplace as he lusts after Esmeralda. (This would also be a good time to mention that Chris was incorrect–and face palmed hard–about Maleficent being the only Disney villain to ever say hell, as Frollo sings an entire song about it!) Lastly, Hugo the gargoyle, voiced by Jason Alexander (much to Steve’s chagrin), sings “A Guy Like You” to make Quasimodo feel better.
    • ALADDIN: Aladdin shows Jasmine “A Whole New World” in one of Disney’s most romantic scenes. The film’s superb villain Jafar reaches his serpentine zenith as he transforms into a giant cobra, Chris’s favorite scene in any Disney movie. During the fight scene, Genie turns into a cheerleader, not-so-secretly rooting for Aladdin. All of Robin Williams’ impressions and their inspirations in Aladdin can be found in this video. Also included here are two articles about the dispute between Robin Williams and Disney that Steve sort of mentioned but failed to expand upon–we had no idea a Picasso painting was involved until compiling these notes. Lastly, Chris compares his loyalty to Aladdin to that of Davy Jones’ loyalty to Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End.
    • THE BLACK CAULDRON: We have linked a decent Slate article on the making and box office failure of The Black Cauldron. (The only caveat is that Chris strongly disagrees with the author about the Horned King being a poor villain, because you know, he’s great!) Here is the Horned King’s first appearance, where he reveals he wants to resurrect his dead soldiers as “cauldron born” and ultimately desires to be worshipped as a god among men (See? So cool!) He later terrorizes his minions as he makes his dramatic entrance into the banquet hall of his castle. The only other Disney villain that could arguably be labeled as equal to the Horned King’s sheer evilness is the demon Chernabog from Fantasia, who summons the forces of darkness in the epic scene “A Night on Bald Mountain.”
    • ALICE IN WONDERLAND: Alice stumbles upon a Caterpillar smoking a hookah, who impatiently asks her who she is. She is later greeted by the delightfully mad Cheshire Cat who gives her dodgy advice.
    • THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE: There is a documentary titled The Sweatbox that covers the history of the scrapped, much darker version of The Emperor’s New Groove called Kingdom of the Sun, but Disney seems to not want it available to the public. A version on YouTube that we had saved for these notes has already been removed for copyright reasons.
    • THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: The “Disney Renaissance” Era-esque The Princess and the Frog opens and closes with the great musical number “Down in New Orleans.” Dr. Facilier also takes up the mantle of great villain songs when he tricks Prince Naveen into making a deal with him and his “Friends on the Other Side.”
    • ZOOTOPIA: Judy Hopps plays “Try Everything” by pop star Gazelle (aka Shakira) as she travels to Zootopia for the first time, similar to how we both have played this incredibly catchy song many times since first hearing it. After she becomes a cop, she is put in charge of parking meters and has a particularly rough day giving out tickets on the city streets of Zootopia–a truly laugh-out-loud moment.
    • Two final notes from Steve: first, he would like to link to the show notes of an episode of the great culture podcast The Weekly Substandard from March 2017, as his email on the WWII era Disney films was featured (and also read in the episode.) Last but not least, here is the first ever blog post “Flipp” wrote on this site, way back in the summer of 2014–a post that never got a follow-up for a variety of reasons. Guess what it was about?

Image credit:
Fireworks show over Cinderella Castle at closing hour / Disney World, Orlando 2010 / © Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.