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Tartaria: The Supposed Mega-Empire of Inner Eurasia
For those not in the know, the Tartaria conspiracy theory is one of the most bizarre pieces of pseudo history out there. Its core notion is that the region known as ‘Tartaria’ or ‘Grand Tartary’ in Early Modern European maps was not simply a vague geographical designate, but in fact a vast, centralised empire. Said empire emerged… at some point, and it disappeared… at some point, but for… some reason, its existence has been covered up to suit… some narrative or another. As you can tell, there’s a lot of diverse ideas here, and the fact that there hasn’t been the equivalent of a Christological schism every time a controversial thread goes up is really quite impressive. While this post will primarily address one particular piece of writing that is at the core of Tartaria conspiracy theorising, I’ll include a few tidbits to show you just how much madness its adherents have come up with. But first, some background.
State of Play, and why I’m doing this
The Tartaria theory has a small but active following on subreddits such as Tartaria, tartarianarchitecture, and CulturalLayer, which as of writing have around 5,300, 2,400 and 23,000 subscribers, respectively, but it’s clear from the 8 questions on the topic asked at AskHistorians since January 2019 and this debunk request from June that it’s a theory that has somewhat broad appeal and can reach beyond its core niche. This is unsurprising given how little education most people in the West receive about basically anything east of Greece: simply put, the reality of Eurasian history is just not something most of us are taught. And if we don’t know the reality of Eurasian history to begin with, or if we do then it's all in bits and pieces where we might not even know a basic set of dates and names, then what seems to be a pretty developed narrative about a lost empire actually turns out rather plausible. Unfortunately, many debunks of the Tartaria narrative come from people pushing competing conspiracy theories, like this guy claiming that there’s a global Jewish Phoenecian conspiracy and that Tartaria is simply rehashing the notion that Khazars were Jews in order to distract from the real Phoenecian threat at the heart of global society or some nonsense like that. (I don’t really care, I died of laughter after page 3.) Now, there are those coming from serious perspectives, but they focus largely on the problems with Tartaria as a concept rather than addressing the more specific claims being made. This is of course valuable in its own right (shoutout to Kochevnik81 for their responses to the AskHistorians threads), but we can go deeper by really striking at the roots of this ‘theory’ – what is the ‘evidence’ they’re presenting? But to do that, we need to find out what the origins of the ‘theory' are, and thus what its linchpins are. Incidentally, it is because of some recent events regarding those origins that I’ve been finally prompted to write this post.
Where does it come from?
My attempts to find the exact origins of the Tartaria conspiracy have been not entirely fruitful, as the connections I’ve found have been relatively circumstantial at best. But as far as I can tell, it at least partially originates with that Russian pseudohistorian we all know and love, Anatoly Fomenko. Fomenko is perhaps best known in the English-speaking world for his 7-volume ‘epic’ from 2002, History: Fiction or Science?, but in fact he’s been pushing a complete ‘New Chronology’ since the publication of Novaia khronologia in Russian in 1995. While the New Chronology is best known for its attempt to explain away most of the Middle Ages as a hoax created by the Papacy on the basis of bad astronomy, it also asserts a number of things about Russian history from the Kievan Rus’ to the Romanovs. Key to the Tartaria theory is its claim that there was a vast Slavo-Turkic ‘Russian Horde’ based out of ‘Tartaria’ which dominated Eurasia until the last ‘Horde’ ruler, Boris Godunov, was overthrown by the European Mikhail Romanov. This, of course, is a clear attempt at countering the notion of a ‘Tatar Yoke’ over Russia, as you can’t have a ‘Tatar Yoke’ if the Tatars were Russians all along. Much as I’d like to explain that in more detail here, I don’t have to: in 2004, Konstantin Sheiko at the University of Wollongong wrote an entire PhD thesis looking at the claims of Fomenko’s New Chronology and contextualising them within currents of Russian nationalism, which can be accessed online. But I personally suspect that if there are Fomenko connections as far as Tartaria specifically is concerned, they are limited. For one, at one stage users on the Tartaria subreddit seemed unfamiliar with Fomenko, and there are those arguing that Fomenko had ‘rewritten’ Tartarian history to be pro-Russian. This is why I said that the evidence was circumstantial. The only other link to Fomenko is indirect: the CulturalLayer sidebar lists the ‘New Chronology Resource Collection’ and the audiobook of History: Fiction or Science? under ‘Essential Resources’, and Tartaria in its ‘Related Subs’. As far as I can tell, the ultimate origin of its developed form on the Anglophone web traces back to this post on the StolenHistory forums, posted on 17 April 2018. This makes some chronological sense: only one post on CulturalLayer that mentions Tartaria predates this. Moreover, KorbenDallas, the OP of the thread, was also the forum’s chief admin, and given that StolenHistory is still (as of writing) the top resource on CulturalLayer’s sidebar, that suggests significant influence. However, using the search function on camas.reddit.io, it was mentioned at least 9 times before then, with the first mention, on 10 January 2018, mentioning that the ‘theory’ had been doing the rounds on the Russian web for at least 5 years. Nevertheless, as the detail in these early comments is sparse and generally refers only to speculation about maps, it is probably fair to say that the first in-depth English-language formulation of the Tartaria ‘theory’ was thus the April 2018 forum post. Funnily enough, it is not cited often on Tartaria, but that subreddit was created on 27 December, long after discussion had been taking place on places like CulturalLayer, and combined with the ‘mudflood’ ‘theory’ and the notion of giant humans, which are not significant features of the StolenHistory thread. This more convoluted and multifaceted version of the Tartaria theory doesn’t really have a single-document articulation, hence me not covering it here. It is this StolenHistory thread which I will be looking at here today. Not just because it seems to be at the heart of it all, but also because it got shut down around 36 hours ago as of writing this post, based on the timestamps of panicked ‘what happened to StolenHistory’ posts on CulturalLayer and Tartaria. So what better occasion to go back to the Wayback Machine’s version, seeing as it’s now quite literally impossible to brigade the source? Now as I’ve said, this is not the most batshit insane it gets for the Tartaria crowd, in fact it’s incredibly tame. But by the end of it, I bet you’ll be thinking ‘if this is mild, how much more worse is the modern stuff!?’ And the best part is, I can debunk most of it without recourse to any other sources at all, because so much of it involves them posting sources out of context or expecting them to be read tendentiously. But that’s enough background. Let us begin.
Part 1: The Existence
Exhibit 1: The Encylcopædia Britannica, 1771
”Tartary, a vast country in the northern parts of Asia, bounded by Siberia on the north and west: this is called Great Tartary. The Tartars who lie south of Muscovy and Siberia, are those of Astracan, Circassia, and Dagistan, situated north-west of the Caspian-sea; the Calmuc Tartars, who lie between Siberia and the Caspian-sea; the Usbec Tartars and Moguls, who lie north of Persia and India; and lastly, those of Tibet, who lie north-west of China.” - Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. III, Edinburgh, 1771, p. 887.
Starting a post about the ‘hidden’ history of Central Asia with an encyclopædia entry from Scotland is really getting off to a good start, isn’t it? Anyone with a sense of basic geography can tell you that Tibet lies due west of China, not northwest. But more importantly, this shows you how single-minded the Tartaria advocates are and how tendentiously they read things. ‘Country’ need not actually refer to a state entity, it can just be a geographical space, especially in more archaic contexts such as this. Moreover, the ethnographic division of the ‘Tartars’ into Astrakhanis, Circassians, Dagestanis, Kalmuks, Uzbeks, and, for whatever reason, Tibetans, pretty clearly goes against the notion of a unified Tartary.
Now compare to the description given by Wikipedia, ”Tartary (Latin: Tartaria) or Great Tartary (Latin: Tartaria Magna) was a name used from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century to designate the great tract of northern and central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, settled mostly by Turko-Mongol peoples after the Mongol invasion and the subsequent Turkic migrations.”
Obviously, Wikipedia is not a good source for… anything, really, but the fact that they’re giving a 349-year-old encyclopaedia primacy over the summary sentence of a wiki article is demonstrative of how much dishonesty is behind this. And it only gets worse from here.
Exhibit 2: Hermann Moll’s A System of Geography, 1701
THE Country of Tartary, call'd Great Tartary, to distinguish it from the Lesser, in Europe, has for its Boundaries, on the West, the Caspian Sea, and Moscovitick Tartary; on the North, the Scythian, or Tartarian Sea; on the East, the Sea of the Kalmachites, and the Straight of Jesso; and on the South, China, India, or the Dominions of the great Mogul and Persia : So that it is apparently the largest Region of the whole Continent of Asia, extending it self [sic] farthest, both towards the North and East: In the modern Maps, it is plac'd within the 70th and 170th Degree of Longitude, excluding Muscovitick Tartary; as also between the 40 and 72 Degree of Northern Latitude.
Immediately underneath the scan of this text is the statement, clearly highlighted, that
Tartary was not a tract. It was a country.
Hmm, very emphatic there. Except wait no, the same semantic problem recurs. ‘Country’ need not mean ‘state’. Moreover, in the very same paragraph, Moll (or rather his translator) refers to Tartary as a ‘Region’, which very much disambiguates the idea. Aside from that, it is telling that Moll refers to three distinct ‘Tartaries’: ’Great Tartary’ in Asia, ‘Lesser Tartary’ in Europe, and ‘Muscovite Tartary’ – that is, the eastern territories of the Russian Tsardom. If, as they are saying, ‘Great Tartary’ was a coherent entity, whatever happened to ‘Lesser Tartary’?
Exhibit 3: A 1957 report by the CIA on ‘National Cultural Development Under Communism’
Is a conspiracy theorist… actually believing a CIA document? Yep. I’ll add some context later that further complicates the issue.
Or let us take the matter of history, which, along with religion, language and literature, constitute the core of a people’s cultural heritage. Here again the Communists have interfered in a shameless manner. For example, on 9 August 1944, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, sitting in Moscow, issued a directive ordering the party’s Tartar Provincial Committee “to proceed to a scientific revolution of the history of Tartaria, to liquidate serious shortcomings and mistakes of a nationalistic character committed by individual writers and historians in dealing with Tartar history.” In other words, Tartar history was to be rewritten—let its be frank, was to be falsified—in order to eliminate references to Great Russian aggressions and to hide the facts of the real course of Tartar-Russian relations. [similar judgement on Soviet rewriting of histories of Muslim areas to suit a pro-Russian agenda]
What’s fascinating about the inclusion of this document is that it is apparently often invoked as a piece of anti-Fomenko evidence, by tying New Chronology in with older Russian-nationalist Soviet revisionism. So not only is it ironic that they’re citing a CIA document, of all things, but a CIA document often used to undermine the spiritual founder of the whole Tartaria ‘theory’ in the first place! But to return to the point, the fundamental issue is that it’s tendentious. This document from 1957 obviously is not going to be that informed on the dynamics of Central Asian ethnicity and history in the way that a modern scholar would be. In a broader sense, what this document is supposed to prove is that Soviet coverups are why we don’t know about Tartaria. But if most of the evidence came from Western Europe to begin with, why would a Soviet coverup matter? Why wasn’t Tartarian history deployed as a counter-narrative during the Cold War?
Exhibit 4: ‘An 1855 Source’
This is from a footnote in Sir George Cornwalle Lewis’ An Inquiry into the Credibility of the Early Roman History, citing a travelogue by Evariste Huc that had been published in French in 1850 and was soon translated into English. From the digitised version of of Huc’s book on Project Gutenberg (emphasis copied over from the thread):
Such remains of ancient cities are of no unfrequent occurrence in the deserts of Mongolia; but everything connected with their origin and history is buried in darkness. Oh, with what sadness does such a spectacle fill the soul! The ruins of Greece, the superb remains of Egypt,—all these, it is true, tell of death; all belong to the past; yet when you gaze upon them, you know what they are; you can retrace, in memory, the revolutions which have occasioned the ruins and the decay of the country around them. Descend into the tomb, wherein was buried alive the city of Herculaneum,—you find there, it is true, a gigantic skeleton, but you have within you historical associations wherewith to galvanize it. But of these old abandoned cities of Tartary, not a tradition remains; they are tombs without an epitaph, amid solitude and silence, uninterrupted except when the wandering Tartars halt, for a while, within the ruined enclosures, because there the pastures are richer and more abundant.
There’s a paraphrase from Lewis as well, but you can just read it on the thread. The key thing here is that yes, there were abandoned settlements in the steppe. Why must this be indicative of a lost sedentary civilisation, and not instead the remnants of political capitals of steppe federations which were abandoned following those federations’ collapse? Places like Karakorum, Kubak Zar, Almaliq and Sarai were principally built around political functions, being centres for concentration of religious and ritual authority (especially monasteries) and stores of non-movable (or difficult to move) wealth. But individual examples of abandoned settlements are not evidence of broad patterns of settlement that came to be abandoned en masse. Indeed, the very fact that the cited shepherd calls the abandoned location ‘The Old Town’ in the singular implies just how uncommon such sites were – for any given region, there might really only be one of note.
Exhibit 5: Ethnic characteristics in artistic depictions of Chinggis and Timur
I… don’t quite know what to make of these.
Today, we have certain appearance related stereotypes. I think we are very much off there. It looks like Tartary was multi-religious, and multi-cultural. One of the reasons I think so is the tremendous disparity between what leaders like Genghis Khan, Batu Khan, Timur aka Tamerlane looked like to the contemporary artists vs. the appearance attributed to them today.
Ummm, what? These are apparently what they look like today. These are ‘contemporary’ depictions of Chinggis:
In what bizzaro world are these contemporary? We’ll get to Batur Khan in a moment because that’s its own kettle of worms. But can this user not recognise that artists tend to depict things in ways that are familiar? Of course white European depictions of Chinggis and Timur will tend to make them look like white Europeans, while East Asian depictions of Chinggis will tend to make him look Asian, and Middle Eastern depictions of Chinggis and Timur will make them look Middle Eastern. This doesn’t prove that ‘Tartaria’ was multicultural, in fact it you’d have an easier time using this ‘evidence’ to argue that Chinggis and Timur were shapeshifters who could change ethnicities at will!
Exhibit 6: Turkish sculptures
Why this person thinks modern Turkish sculptures are of any use to anyone baffles me. The seven sculptures shown are of Batu Khan (founder of the ‘Golden Horde’/Jochid khanates), Timur, Bumin (founder of the First Turkic Khaganate), Ertugrul (father of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman empire), Babur (founder of the Mughal Empire), Attila the Hun, and Kutlug Bilge Khagan (founder of the Uyghur Khaganate). They are accompanied (except in the case of Ertugrul) by the dates of the empires/confederations that they founded – hence, for instance, Babur’s dates being 1526 to 1858, the lifespan of the Mughal Empire, or Timur’s being 1368 (which seems arbitrary) to 1507 (the fall of Herat to the Shaybanids). To quote the thread:
A few of them I do not know, but the ones I do look nothing like what I was taught at school. Also dates are super bizarre on those plaques.
Again, Turkish sculptors make Turkic people look like Turks. Big surprise. And the dates are comprehensible if you just take a moment to think.
Do Turks know something we don't?
Exhibit 7: A map from 1652 that the user can’t even read
The other reason why I think Tartary had to be multi-religious, and multi-cultural is its vastness during various moments in time. For example in 1652 Tartary appears to have control over the North America.
The official history is hiding a major world power which existed as late as the 19th century. Tartary was a country with its own flag, its own government and its own place on the map. Its territory was huge, but somehow quietly incorporated into Russia, and some other countries. This country you can find on the maps predating the second half of the 19th century.
You know, a common theme with historical conspiracy theories is how badly they’re laid out, in the literal sense of the layout of their documents and video content. Don’t make a header called ‘The Coverup’ and then only have one thing before jumping back to the evidence for the existence again.
Exhibit 9: A Table
Yet, some time in the 18th century Tartary Muskovite was the biggest country in the world: 3,050,000 square miles.
You can look at the images on the thread itself but here’s a few highlights:
1654: Bellum Tartaricum, or the Conquest of China By the Invasion of the Tartars, who in the last seven years, have wholly subdued that empire
1670: Historia de la Conquista de la China por el Tartaro
Histories of the Qing conquest of China, because as far as Europeans were concerned the Manchus were Tartars. Proof of Tartaria because…?
1662: The Voyages and Travels of the Ambassadors of the Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy, and the King of Persia… Containing a compleat History of Muscovy, Tartary, Persia, and Other Adjacent Countries…
An ambassador who never set foot in ‘Tartary’ itself, cool cool, very good evidence there. There’s also three screenshots from books that aren’t even specifically named, so impossible to follow up. Clearly this is all we need.
Exhibit 11: Maps
The maps are the key think the Tartaria pushers use. All these maps showing ‘Grand Tartary’ or ‘Tartaria’ or what have you. There’s 20 of these here and you can look for yourselves, but the key thing is: why do these people assume that this referred to a single state entity? Because any of these maps that include the world more generally will also present large parts of Africa in generic terms, irrespective of actual political organisation in these regions. And many of the later maps clearly show the tripartite division of the region into ‘Chinese Tartary’, ‘Russian Tartary’, and ‘Independent Tartary’, which you think would be clear evidence that most of this region was controlled by, well, the Chinese (really, the Manchus) and the Russians. And many of these maps aren’t even maps of political organisation, but geographical space. See how many lump all of mainland Southeast Asia into ‘India’. Moreover, the poor quality of the mapping should give things away. This one for instance is very clear on the Black Sea coast, but the Caspian is a blob, and moreover, a blob that’s elongated along the wrong axis! They’re using Western European maps as an indicator of Central Asian realities in the most inept way possible, and it would be sad if it weren’t so hilarious. The fact that the depictions of the size of Tartaria are incredibly inconsistent also seems not to matter.
Exhibit 12: The Tartarian Language
There’s an 1849 American newspaper article referring to the ‘Tartarian’ language, which is very useful thank you, and definitely not more reflective of American ignorance than actual linguistic reality. The next one is more interesting, because it’s from a translation of some writing by a French Jesuit, referring to the writing of Manchu, and who asserted (with very little clear evidence) that it could be read in any direction. In April last year, Tartaria users [claimed to have stumbled on a dictionary of Tartarian and French](np.reddit.com/Tartaria/comments/bi3aph/tartarian_language_dictionary/) called the Dictionnaire Tartare-Mantchou-François. What they failed to realise is that the French generally called the Manchus ‘Tartare-Mantchou’, and this was in fact a Manchu-French dictionary. In other words, a [Tartare-Mantchou]-[François] dictionary, not a [Tartare]-[Mantchou]-[François] dictionary. It is quite plausible, in fact probable, that the ‘Tartarian’ referred to in the newspaper article was Manchu.
Exhibit 13: Genealogies of Tartarian Kings
Descended From Genghiscan
Reads the comment above this French chart. How the actual hell did OP not recognise that ‘Genghiscan’ is, erm, Genghis Khan? Is it that hard to understand that maybe, just maybe, ‘Tartars’ was what they called Mongols back in the day, and ‘Tartaria’ the Mongol empire and its remnants?
Exhibit 14: Ethnographic drawings
These prove that there were people called Tartars, not that there was a state of Tartaria. NEXT
Exhibit 17: Flags of Moscow on one particular chart
It is also worth mentioning that in the British Flag Table of 1783, there are three different flags listed as a flag of the Tsar of Moscow. There is also an Imperial Flag of Russia as well as multiple naval flags. And all of them are proceeded by a flag of the Viceroy of Russia.
By that logic, the Royal Navy ran Britain because the Royal Navy ensigns precede the Union Jack. It’s simply a conscious decision to show the flags of individuals before the flags of states. The ‘Viceroy’ (unsure what the original Russian title would be) and ‘Czar’ of Muscovy would presumably be, well, the Emperor of Russia anyway, so as with the British section where the Royal Standard and the flags of naval officers came first, the same seems true of Russia. Also, as a side note, the placement of the USA at the end, after the Persians, the Mughals and ‘Tartarians’, is a fun touch.
Significance of the Viceroy is in the definition of the term. A viceroy is a regal official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. Our official history will probably say that it was the Tsar of Russia who would appoint a viceroy of Moscow. I have reasons to doubt that. Why is the flag of the Viceroy of Moscow positioned prior to any other Russian flag? Could it be that the Viceroy of Moscow was superior to its Czar, and was "supervising" how this Tartarian possession was being run?
Part 3: 1812
This, this is where it gets really bonkers. A key part of this post is arguing that Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was a cover story for a joint invasion against Tartaria gone horrendously wrong. All the stops are being pulled out here.
There is a growing opinion in Russia that French invasion of Russia played out according to a different scenario. The one where Tsar Alexander I, and Napoleon were on the same side. Together they fought against Tartary. Essentially France and Saint Petersburg against Moscow (Tartary). And there is a strong circumstantial evidence to support such a theory.
Oh yes, we’re going there.
Questions to Answer: 1. Saint Petersburg was the capitol of Russia. Yet Napoleon chose to attack Moscow. Why?
2. It appears that in 1912 there was a totally different recollection of the events of 1812. How else could you explain commemorative 1912 medals honoring Napoleon?
Because it’s a bit of an in-your-face to Napoleon for losing so badly?
And specifically the one with Alexander I, and Napoleon on the same medal. The below medal says something similar to, "Strength is in the unity: will of God, firmness of royalty, love for homeland and people"
Yeah, it’s showing Alexander I beating Napoleon, and a triumphant double-headed Russian eagle above captured French standards. Also, notice how Alexander is in full regalia, while Napoleon’s is covered up by his greatcoat?
3. Similarity between Russian and French uniforms. There are more different uniforms involved, but the idea remains, they were ridiculously similar.
Ah yes, because fashions in different countries always develop separately, and never get influenced by each other.
There was one additional combat asset officially available to Russians in the war of 1812. And that was the Militia. It does appear that this so-called Militia, was in reality the army of Tartary fighting against Napoleon and Alexander I.
4. Russian nobility in Saint Petersburg spoke French well into the second half of the 19th century. The general explanation was, that it was the trend of time and fashion. Google contains multiple opinions on the matter. * Following the same logic, USA, Britain and Russia should've picked up German after the victory in WW2.
Clearly never heard of the term lingua franca then.
5. This one I just ran into: 19th-century fans were totally into a Napoleon/Alexander romance
I am pleased with [Emperor] Alexander; he ought to be with me. If he were a woman, I think I should make him my mistress.
But Napoleon’s ‘honeymoon period’ with Russia following the Treaty of Tilsit should not be seen as indicative of a permanent Napoleonic affection for Russia. Notably, Napoleon’s war with Russia didn’t just end in 1812. How are the Tartaria conspiracists going to explain the War of the Sixth Coalition, when Russian, Prussian and Austrian troops drove the French out of Germany? Did the bromance suddenly stop because of 1812? Or, is it more reasonable to see 1812 as the end result of the bromance falling apart?
So there you have it, Tartaria in all its glorious nonsensicalness. Words cannot capture how massively bonkers this entire thing is. And best of all, I hardly needed my own sources because so much of it is just a demonstration of terrible reading comprehension. Still, if you want to actually learn about some of the history of Inner Eurasia, see below:
The Cambridge History of Inner Asia – 2 volumes so far, covering up to 1886. Not really a single contiguous narrative, as each chapter has its own individual author, but a good general coverage.
Scott C. Levi, The Bukharan Crisis: A Connected History of 18th Century Central Asia (2020) – A book about actual Central Asian history, focussing on the global and local factors that led to the weakening and collapse of the Chinggisid state in Bukhara and the rise of the Uzbek-led Emirate. Also a very good historiographical examination of lay understandings of the period.
Mark C. Elliott, ‘The Limits of Tartary: Manchuria in Imperial and National Geographies’, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 3 (2000) – A discussion of conceptions of Manchuria by Manchu, Chinese, Japanese and European cartographers and geographers, with the section on European geographers being important for getting at the ‘Tartary’ aspect.
David Christian, ‘Inner Eurasia as a Unit of World History’, Journal of World History, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1994) – A somewhat older view, presenting Inner Eurasia as a distinct unit in world history, but largely in terms of effects on the rest of Eurasia.
Nicola di Cosmo, ‘State Formation and Periodization in Inner Asian History’, Journal of World History, Vol.10, No.1 (1999) – A partial response to Christian, offering an alternate periodisation based more on the internal dynamics of nomadic state formations and stressing viewing Inner Asian history in terms of those internal dynamics, rather than relegating it to a subordinate place in the histories of ‘Outer Eurasian’, sedentary states.
Konstantin Sheiko, ‘Lomonosov’s Bastards: Anatolii Fomenko, Pseudo-History and Russia’s Search for a Post-Communist Identity’ [PhD Thesis] (2004) – Specifically deconstructs Fomenko’s version of Tartaria.
"Look at my black-red-white, blue-purple, hammer and sickle, monochrome, or trollface flag." - Soviet Socialist Republic of Trollfaceia
You have just been introduced to micronationalism, and are not sure what to make of it. It appears to be made up of a bunch of kids arguing over fictional drama, but always from a month ago. You decide you want to make a nation just to troll their community. Of course you go with the best political ideology there is, and make a soviet socialist republic.
2 - The Fun Phase
"I am a dictator, who will let me rule them? My nation has the word Reich in it, or I have a nazbol on my flag." - Rickystan
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You and your friends have had enough arguing. You realize nobody wants to join a group of people who are going to treat them like garbage and abuse their power. You come up with a brilliant plan to bring people in by giving them noble titles so you can treat them like trash, and still be crowned dictator. You want to execute this plan posthaste, but you need a family crest and a coat of arms first. The new people joining should each have a coat of arms too.
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7 - The Building Phase
"We have accepted that we have no money, but we know people smart enough to build. We just need to get settled there." - Federation of Seminole
Okay, so you have no money. But that is fine, people do big things without money all the time. Just look at google, they did it and you can do it too. We will kickstart, we will gofund. I bet we could find a dozen investors that will want to build their large warehouses full of questionably legal things in our desolate wasteland. Tax free too! As long as we subsidize the hurricane damage, they will be all over a place where they can manufacture their guns with limited oversight. Think of all that revenue. All we need to do is draft some laws, and hop into google docs and type for 8 hours with three people who actually care. But of course we should argue about the contents of that document on discord until one of our national leaders quits.
8 - The "Not A Micronation" Phase
"We are an actual nation. Please do not associate us with blue-purple flag man." - Seminole, the Democratic Republic of
You have had one too many 8 hour arguments with the lead guys around. You start to realize 12 year olds aren't mature enough to make legislation about regulating murder, and "other" human rights violations. You take a head count, and it looks like... hey. You have about ten people over the age of 21, and that isn't bad. There are fortune 500 companies that started with alot less, maybe you can actually pull this off. What is the email for the International Organization for Standardization again? I am busy requesting for observer state status in the United Nations.
New deaths by county: 99 F Christian, 83 M Marshall, 84 F Jefferson, 50 M Jefferson, 81 F Jefferson
[Mods: Today’s update was 90% about the Breonna Taylor Case. The Governor, Sec. J. Michael Brown, and State Representative Booker spoke today their thoughts. The questions were also about the case. COVID updates are listed below the Questions, and the Gov requested that COVID questions wait until tomorrow. Thanks.] Comment with daily numbers
Full Notes Good afternoon Kentucky. We're going to start today by several of us making comments on the announcement today from the grand jury and from the Attorney General on the Breonna Taylor investigation. And then after those comments and any questions I'm going to provide a brief COVID report. As Governor, you can do a lot of things and some people think you can do just about anything. But as Governor I cannot control decisions made by an attorney general's office, I cannot control decisions made by a grand jury, and I don't lead local law enforcement offices. But what I can control is how I lead, what I say, what I am committed to doing. I start with the humility and acknowledgement, that I will never feel the weight of 400 years of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. I will never personally feel that weight but I can listen. And I can try to hear. And I can be clear: That systematic racism exists in this world, in this country, and in our Commonwealth. It exists in unequal access to health care, in disproportionate incarceration rates, and it impacts everything: from wealth, earnings, education, even how long we live on this earth. My faith teaches me that injustices and inequalities must be addressed. The world that God calls on us to build is one without racism. One without oppression. One without violence. Since the start of my administration we have worked to combat some of these inequalities. We've restored voting rights, we've protected and expanded health care, and we have built an inclusive team. But as I listen, and as I try to hear, I know that there is so much more work to be done. There are hundreds of years of pain to be addressed. And my job is to continue to listen, to try to hear, and to do everything I can to build the type of world that I think everybody's kids deserve; one where we live up to our true values, one where we live up to our faith, one where we try to make a dream talked about many decades ago, closer to reality.
Today, the Attorney General announced a mixture of the findings of his investigation and the decisions of the grand jury. We appreciate his communication with us leading up to the announcement, it allowed us to take steps that we needed to take regarding Louisville, and communication leading all the way up to the announcement. And in the announcement he described the investigation. But he talked about information, facts, evidence that neither I nor the general public, have seen. I believe that the public deserves this information. So I previously made what I would call a suggestion to the Attorney General, and now I'm making the request, that he post online all the information, evidence, and facts that he can release without impacting the three felony indictments. The three felony counts in the indictment issued today. Everyone can, and should, be informed. And those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more. I trust Kentuckians, they deserve to see the facts, for themselves, and I believe that the ability to process those facts helps everybody. And I believe that no matter what somebody's perspective is on today's announcement, that they believe having the full amount of information out there, and these have been posted by other prosecutors across the nation in different situations, is hopefully something that can help us talk to each other. Help us heal, help us move forward, and help us always to make improvements. I'm going to turn it over to someone who I get to work with every day, someone whose advice I've relied upon, that has been a district judge, has been the deputy attorney general, has been someone that has experienced more than I could ever claim to: and that is Jay Michael Brown once he’s done we're gonna hear from Representative Booker.
(Sec Brown takes over:) Thank you Governor. I'm not expecting to stand here today, it's a different role for me, this situation. But over these last few weeks many times as we sat in his office and we've discussed what's going on, not just in Louisville, but in the world. The governor looked to me, I think because of not only have I spent 4 decades in the law, I've lived through a lot of things, having been blessed to be 71 years old now.
I've seen assassinations of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X. I've seen disturbances in the street. I was born before Brown versus Board of Education. I was alive when the Civil Rights Act passed. I served my country in a time when we were supposedly changing hearts and minds and thought that was the right thing to do at the time, don't regret it. But I've come to recognize that sometimes the effort to just change hearts and minds is not enough. That we really need to change behavior. The criminal justice system right now needs certain changes, not just in behavior, but in process. I think the first involves some technological issues. There are rules of evidence that were developed sometimes hundreds of years ago that hasn't caught up to technology that was developed in the last 10 minutes so much. I also believe that the public has developed an expectation, rightfully so, that government, and those in the criminal justice system, will present to them information that they can understand, in a way that they can understand it, regardless of what it is. There are certain things which are facts, whether it's a photograph, whether it's a tape recording, whether it's a report, that won't change over the course of a tribunal and won't necessarily prejudice either the defendant, with the presumption of innocence, or the prosecution, whose job it is to seek justice. A prosecutor's job is to seek justice.
I'm not going to try to explain much about what happened with the Breonna Taylor situation in the grand jury; although I would encourage everyone to learn more about how our system really works with the grand jury and what these indictments are and what these charges are or are not. And I would have hoped that more of that explanation would have come out from a variety of sources before we got to today's result. I think what happened was a situation where expectations were built up that were not necessarily based on a full knowledge of what the legal standards were, and therefore when those expectations were not met, their severe disappointment. But in that disappointment, I live in Louisville, and obviously in Kentucky which I've served for a number of years and in this country which I've served faithfully for a number of years. I would hope that we don't take a regressive step forward in changing behaviors. The way we really change behaviors- and Breonna Taylor's legacy is that it can change behavior, because more of the world, when you saw demonstrations in countries that really don't have anything to do with Louisville, KY. You know that it's widespread. And I want to make one other comment before I step down because it struck me. You know, on June 25th, I was here in this capital out and around it when Until Freedom had a demonstration here. And they have many speakers including Mr Crump who I've met known from previous, you know, engagements, so to speak, spoke to him out on the veranda they're one of the speakers that day was Common. And it was very eloquent, but there was something ringing in my head from Common and it came from the fact that sometimes I used to hear him almost every morning driving back and forth to Frankfort.
People talk about “being woke”. Well, there is a song called “Wake Up Everybody'', and John Legend and Common teamed up, and they made a wonderful version of it, and here's what we would call a rap part of it in the middle of it, which I think those words apply right now. I'm not gonna read the whole thing.
But here's what Common says, and you know in a rhythm that only I wish I could recreate. He says:
Though I'm the type to bear arms and wear my heart on my sleeve
Even when I fell, in God I believe
Breathe the days in
Weave through the maze and the season so amazing
Feed them and raise them
Seasons are aging: earthquakes, wars, and rumors
I want us to get by but we're more then consumers
We're more than shooters, more than looters
Created in his image, so God live through us
And even in this generation living through computers
Only love, love, love can reboot us
Let's follow the principles echoed by Common and Martin Luther King and a lot of other people. Let's strike the consciences of people and not the fears in people, and we can continue the change that led to the point where my next speaker could walk these halls in the General Assembly. Or I could hold a position that I do now in state government.
(Charles Booker comes to the podium.) I am State Representative Charles Booker. I represent the 43rd district, but to be more precise, I represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a lot of people who feel a lot of pain right now. I listened to the words of a giant, making it clear that I'm just me being here is a testament to what progress can look like. I feel that weight right now. And our community has been through so much this year, but it speaks to generations of pain and inequity and in this moment right now the first thing that I want to do is recognize Miss Palmer and Breonna's family. I have the dog tag from my cousin T.J. I carry it with me every day. They are dealing with trauma and pain that will never really go away. They have grieved before an entire nation, the world even, has seen their heartbreak. And I know that today was just another painful chapter, and a path of healing, of reconciling what can never fully be reconciled. Because Breonna Taylor should be alive today. And I also want to acknowledge a community of people who have risen up in protest, calling for justice, even in the face of being ignored, hit with tear gas, pepper bullets, demonized, called names. They've shown up every day. People like my family, Mr. Cortez, we call him “C Tez”. Keturah, Shameka, Stachelle . So many folks that helped us ring out the cry for Breonna Taylor's name, not simply to account for what the officers did, that's critical, we'll talk about that; we're talking about that. But also to call out the fact that we have to do the deep-rooted work. That justice isn't just about what happens to these officers, it never was just about what happens to these officers, it was always about the fact that we have generations of poverty and inequity all across our Commonwealth, that so many people feel the fear of knowing that justice may not account for their humanity. I talk about it often in this building. And the truth of the matter is today, their strength is why I have so much hope. In spite of what some may want to do in seeking to cast wedges and divide us and make this a conversation about “some” versus “others”. We realized as a collective as a Commonwealth, because the people that are marching come from all corners, all walks of life, we realize that this moment is about family. And I'm proud of that truth. Let's be clear: Justice failed us today. It failed us in a way that it has been failing us for generations. We are here doing this work, I was elected to do this work, because we need to make justice ring true, because it has failed. A woman, a black woman, was killed in her home by the agency that paid to protect and serve her. That's wrong. There is no justifying that. And if it calls on us, and it does call on us, to change laws, to lift up Breonna's law but to do so much more in accountability and reimagining public safety in a true sense, which is not simply, more and more law enforcement, being called on to be everything, public safety. We have to do that work if we really want to honor Breonna. And when I leave here I will go home to the West End of Louisville. I will see a lot of people that I love dearly hurting, even in the streets. And I want to speak to them. The last thing I'll say: this moment, to me, to us, is about protecting the movement. All of us, all across the Commonwealth of Kentucky- as family, we have to do the work to make sure that we can all be free and have the liberty of being safe in our homes. To make sure that we all have the opportunity to pursue our dreams. Breonna wanted to take care of people. (tears up) She should be here to pursue her dreams. We all need to commit to making community mean something, to making democracy means something, to making justice mean something. And I'm asking you all from every corner of this Commonwealth: lift your voices, keep demanding change, keep leading for change, run for office yourself. I'm a living witness of that. But don't be quiet, don't slow down, and most importantly, lean in with love. Love is what's gonna get us through this: love for our Commonwealth, love for one another, love for our future. Our faith in one another, our faith that justice can finally ring true. Let's cling to that now together, and keep one another, safe, and we'll get through this. That's what Kentucky does. That's what we're made of. We'll get through this together. And we will chart our course where leadership does not hide behind the law, where leadership can show the courage to speak the truth, and be accountable for the lives of all of us, even if it's the life, and especially if it's the life of a black woman. Where our leaders won't preach to us and condemn us and try to tell us how to express our pain, but will acknowledge our pain, and hear our cries and be accountable to them. We're going to realize that. Breonna, thank you for being the light. We'll keep fighting to honor your name.
(Governor Beshear comes back to the podium.) Thank you, Representative.
Alright, we’ll open it up for questions on this, and then afterwards, I'll give a quick update on a pandemic that we are still fighting that disproportionately is taking other lives. So we'll start over here with you, Karen.
Protestors gathered around the history center while the Attorney General was inside listening, and as everything was announced one said, “The divide is greater now than it has ever been. And it seems like every time we take a few steps forward we get shoved back.” Could you respond? -- The question is about some individuals who apparently had gathered outside the History Center who expressed feelings that divide is greater than ever, and that were moving backwards. (The reporter repeats part of the quote and Beshear repeats it back) “Every time they take a few steps forward, they get shoved back out”. Well first, I want to make sure that I listen to and hear that pain and that frustration. Many people think your job as governor is to get up here and talk and I know I've had to talk a lot. But sometimes it's to make sure that you are hearing, especially experiences that may be different from yours, but also your sincere belief that this is a Commonwealth where everybody counts. And where there are systematic issues like racism, we have to know that they are impacting the lives of Kentuckians and unfairly preventing so many from reaching their potential. And we've seen even before some of this or I've seen the amount of pain that is out there. But, I hope they realize our commitment, or at least my commitment, in these halls and what's considered the most important office in the Commonwealth, that I want to do better and that personally means I gotta be better. I'm gonna continue to listen because I know that the best ideas and the way we move forward aren't just going to come from me. Maybe none of those ideas come from me. But they're ideas that we are going to be able to put in place, hopefully change the Commonwealth, and change the world if we sincerely believe that we have a true duty to one another and to our God to build the world that I think he or she requires of us.
requires the Attorney General to release the investigatory file if requested? -- The question is does the Open Records Act require the Attorney General to release the file if requested. Obviously I was Attorney General, up until about 9 months ago, 10 months ago, it moves fast. And we had to make a lot of those decisions. There are differences between a prosecutors file and an investigatory file, and then there are requirements that that something is final. But what I can say is, regardless of what the Open Records law requires, given that today's announcement only related to a specific officer and shots that were fired that reached a different apartment, it would seem that the investigation and or any further movement on other actions that occurred that night are done, and that there can't be any prejudicing any jury that's out there because according to today's announcement there won't be any. And so I think that it's time to release those ballistics reports. And listen, I appreciate that the attorney general talked in detail about them, those are the types of facts that can help us process, and he talked through it today and he didn't shy away from the fact that there was inconsistency in them. Again, I trust people if they are able to get that information. And so what I'd like to see is all of that put online, those pieces of evidence, those reports, so that people can truly read them and process them. And that conversations we need to have moving into the future, if they're about this specific incident, can be based on it, or if there are things we can learn and, I think we all agree and everyone, law enforcement and others agree that that we should learn every single time that there is a tragic occurrence about what we can do better, Mark?
Booker said it wasn’t just about the officers, it was about the generations of inequalities. What can the state of Kentucky do to change that and do you have any proposals that you're thinking about? The governor's budget proposal to try to address that? -- So the question comes off of Representative Booker's eloquence and speaking his truth, and thank you for doing that today. That's what these walls that this Capitol should be about. And that's what we all need to hear and listen and I hope everybody out there is hearing and listening, and Representative Booker talked about how justice deals with hundreds of years of inequities. I believe that we have to start directly addressing them and be intentional about it every day, and one that I've been intensely focused on is health care because, in the midst of COVID we have seen our black and African American Kentuckians dying at twice the rate of the population. And it's no secret why: it is inadequate access to health care. This is something that Dr. King talked about so many years ago about being one of the greatest forms of inequality and shame on us for not solving and resolving that before now. We've launched a campaign directly aimed at the black and African American community, aimed at signing every single individual up for some form of health care that's going on right now. And we're gonna we're gonna move further after that to get everybody in the Commonwealth signed up for health care. But I'd like to think that step is finally showing priority for a community that for far too long, we haven't shown priority for. It's about building wealth, not just creating jobs in an area, but building wealth in a community where we haven't provided those opportunities. Providing educational opportunities and knowing different things that we have to do to get there. You know there are studies that show, it's a fact that an African American teacher can have an incredible impact on minority students and you see that in the outcome. We got to step up, work with our HBCUs to make sure that we have those programs in place and we're continuing to improve it. We need more programs to recruit more black and African American Kentuckians into our law enforcement, to ensure that law enforcement and everything else look like the rest of our Commonwealth. We got to make sure that we don't have laws, whether it's insurance, or others that make it harder for some individuals to move ahead in different ways than others; banking laws too. And four years we have had programs rightfully so, that invest in Eastern Kentucky and invest in Western Kentucky, I made those announcements. We need those same types of programs, and I proposed one in our budget this last year, that invests in areas like West Louisville. It's time for us to step up and do our part so that, for me, and what it keeps coming back, in the next pandemic we're not just repeating the same things. Because we've seen and we're hearing about the pain of this individual situation today. But the pain in a pandemic, where systematic racism in our healthcare system has resulted in countless more people dying than they should, that is one that I feel every day reading off that counties and the ages.
(Speaking to one of the reporters.) One more before you. -- Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah. (Reporter’s question) Do you believe justice was done today? -- Well, I believe, the question is, “do I believe that justice was done today?” Being a former prosecutor and attorney general, I think that we need to see the facts, the evidence, and I hope moving forward, there's more explanation of process, and of what certain things require. I know that Mrs. Palmer, who I've met, who stood right here, actually we were in the Supreme Court, has got to be in a lot of pain today, and I can't imagine losing one of my children. But I think having more of the facts out there to where people can see, and people can truly process it is where we need to be. The Attorney General spoke today about the truth, and I agree with our commitments to the truth. I just asked him to provide more of the tools for everyone to be able to evaluate and to determine what that truth is. I never expected when I was Attorney General for people just to rely upon my judgment. I wanted to make sure that people saw the reasons for what we are doing, and there's still the opportunity to do that there. I don't think that there was a response today to a question about what might be forthcoming there. (Tom? And then Kathy)
Rep Booker, and Sec. Brown can weigh in on this too: Representative Booker obviously talks with people in his community, Secretary Brown’s got past experience in the legal world, you were former AG. Is there anything that you have been able to detect thus far that perhaps the investigation was flawed in any way? -- So the question is have I determined that the investigation was flawed in any way, I'd need to see the evidence, I’d need to see the statements, I’d need to see what was and wasn't done, to have any comment on that. I think that everybody looking back wishes that things had been done differently. Not in the investigation sense but certainly, and what happened that night. And there have been a number of things suggested since that I think shed a little bit of light on that, about what it ought to take to get a no-knock warrant, even though when it was executed apparently, there's a question about whether it was executed as a no-knock warrant. Who should be able to execute a no-knock warrant? What type of training does that takes? Because that's a very different situation, in most parts of our state law enforcement never conduct one. And most of the time, at least what has been explained to me, it's conducted by a highly trained group and unit. What type of surveillance needs to be done ahead of time before one, to again, reduce the risks? These are all things moving forward that we need to look at both from a process standpoint, and as a legal standpoint. You know if I had a wish, and I talked about it during the investigation period: It was just for more explanation. I think people need to understand process, they need to understand elements. And that's not talking down to people, it's just giving people information that I think that they need to take what they hear and put it into some type of context. When we have such a vacuum in something that we are so passionate, or so frustrated, or when we have a vacuum of information it makes it so much harder, on us personally, and emotionally, and those that are involved, (to offscreen: do you want to add to that or? Okay.) Catherine?
What’s your message to demonstrators who are taking to the streets tonight who are upset with hearing this decision? -- The question is, what's my message to demonstrators? Well first, I will listen and I want to hear and I truly want a better world for your kids and for mine. And while this is an unfair, inequitable world to your kids then my kids aren't living in the right world either. I believe that I have a duty to my faith and to my Commonwealth, to make sure that we do so much better and I want to be a partner moving forward. I will never, ever tell someone not to give voice to their truth, or to speak out for what they believe in. But I would ask that we not engage in any type of violence, and that we not put ourselves in a position, and the people not put themselves in a position, where someone can hijack what they are trying to do, can try to incite violence around them. We've already seen some militia groups walking through downtown Louisville. So be safe. And the eyes of the world are on Louisville. People will hear. There are more cameras broadcasting to more places. And so, I'd be mindful that they're here, but also that that you're heard and let's try to do this in a way that makes positive change and is not used to prevent change. Joe?
AG Cameron today was asked today to talk about several aspects of the process of the grand jury as to whether prosecutors recommended indictments or not? The racial makeup of the grand jury is? Do you think that those are part of the grand jury report that should be revealed publicly? -- The question is about different questions the Attorney General was asked today about the grand jury proceeding. And you do have to be careful in a grand jury proceeding about what you can and can't disclose, though there have been situations, one was after the fact, but in Ferguson, where transcripts and evidence were released almost in the whole. I certainly think that a legitimate question in racial and demographic makeup of the grand jury. I think that that's something that I hope they reconsider responding to. I mean in a city of Louisville that is already so diverse, I don't think it will give out anybody's identity or compromise who they are. And provided that it is sufficiently diverse, it may give people just another piece of information that they can process.
Sec Brown said, and do you believe, that the expectations were too high for people going into this about the repercussions that would happen to the officers that were involved? -- The question is, did I believe the expectations were too high for people leading into this, and Secretary Brown is speaking his truth, based on his experience. I don't know exactly where people's expectations were, but I believe it's really hard to put in context a decision today without knowing what it took to get to that decision, or what it would take to get to another decision. I know that, especially when you're hurt, that without explanation in a vacuum of information, it can be incredibly tough. And that it's not viewed in isolation, there are other incidents that have gone on around the United States. Now there was an indictment today with three felony charges but I think trusting people with the information and putting it out there, so that it at least they can evaluate, I just think that that's the right thing to do. And again I think the Attorney General Cameron believes in truth, and I believe in truth, I’d just like for people to see the information so they can determine the truth.
Do you feel like drug crimes in Kentucky are enforced appropriately and do you think there's any room for reform in that aspect? -- The question is, do I think drug crimes are enforced correctly in Kentucky and what are some potential changes there. First, obviously we have an addiction crisis in the state. I believe that the way the best way to address that is to help people get better and to give, especially kids, but people as they grow older, the tools to not fall into addiction in the first place, but then the job skills and the help that people need to get out of it and to stay out of it. I will say the only way I believe we win the war on drugs, if it's still even that is, is to help people, not to incarcerate people. It's about impacting the demand and not the supply. You know, there are so many really dangerous drugs out there, I understand why we have enforcement, when we have things like fentanyl that can kill you the first time you try it or even harm people when they touch it, we have to recognize that. Now I also think that it's never a wrong thing to step back and to look at actions we take in any of our processes. I was just talking with Secretary Brown, who was working with the city of Louisville when they ended their high speed pursuits, by law enforcement, based on what can happen in the danger that it can create. And so I certainly think that it's something that we can all look at in a form of improvement about when you would undertake certain activity based on the likely harm coming out of it, but also the harm to other people that can occur. We’ll do more. Karen?
There was some fear and anger today- it happened over the last few days: of police presence, and then downtown in Frankfort people noticed snipers, and of course the National Guard presence, so there's concern that there's an expectation now of violence. could you reiterate why those measures are being taken? -- The question is why certain measures are being taken from a law enforcement standpoint, I do want to make sure I mention one thing, there was a question included people in downtown Frankfort including, and the term was used, “snipers”. Those are not snipers and I want to make sure that (reporter responds, inaudible) I understand. So in any circumstance where state police or others are trying to ensure security, they do want a high vantage point, so that they are able to see what's going on all around, that's standard and that's not intending to put anybody in a quote unquote “sniper position”.
Our goal, and today I authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard, our goal is to make sure that we can keep everybody safe. We've got a militia walking around, I think they broke with the three percenters- downtown Louisville. We've got others that would take what is otherwise a peaceful rally/demonstration/protest and would like nothing more than to see people harmed. We've got some critical infrastructure, I'll give you an example: hospitals, right now that we have to make sure, stay open and aren't disrupted in a time of COVID or anything else. I know that it can be hard to see that presence and I know that there are some that disagree with it but I can tell you from my standpoint, why it's being done is to make sure that anyone and everyone can express their first amendment rights, but that they can do so safely that no one can can incite violence, and that and that that critical infrastructure can can continue to operate in times where it where it has to.
A little bit more on the National Guard issue, this is something a lot of people are really scared of when they hear that “The national Guard has been deployed to Louisville“- (Gov: Yeah.) What assurances, can you provide that, you know, basically what happened in late May, you know, with David McAtee at 26th and Broadway doesn't happen again? -- The question is on the National Guard and it's hard to believe as governor in different ways I think I've had to deploy the National Guard five separate times. Now some of those are to assist county clerks in voting, and others; but this is certainly during COVID. Remember, at one point we had them at hospitals, when we thought that there could be a rush, and wanting to make sure there's order there. You know, I can assure citizens of Louisville that the National Guard deployment is limited, it is based on very specific operations, and that it is under the command of the National Guard and no one else. That each of the guardsmen or -women know what their job is and it's not the forward-facing role that LMPD is playing and has much more experience with. My commitment is to make sure that something like what happened to Mr McAtee, regardless of the reasons that it happens, doesn't happen again. Because, regardless of the circumstances of that situation, which are a part of litigation right now, we want to make sure everybody, absolutely everybody, is safe throughout this. This deployment is much more similar to Derby, much more limited in scope to what happened previously, and again there is a different command structure in place this time. And you can bet I'm getting updates as frequently as I can.
Clarkson's Columns: Save Up for the Apocalypse & Let Pop Stars Run the Countryside
While you lot splurge on disco balls, I'm keeping my money, money, money for the apocalypse By Jeremy Clarkson (Sunday Times, August 30) My great-grandfather was a very wealthy and very typical Yorkshireman. We know this because one day he paused for a few moments outside Harrods before turning to his friend and saying: "I could buy everything in that window. But I'm not going to." I have certainly inherited that gene, because I get an enormous amount of pleasure by not buying anything, ever. I even get a genuine shiver of excitement by lingering on magazine pictures of speedboats that are for sale and then turning the page. I'm proud that my iPhone has valves and that my car has a tiller. I love that my sofa cover is ripped and that I'm still wearing pants and shirts that were given to me as Christmas presents in the last century. It seems, however, that I am alone in this, because a study out last week has shown that during lockdown, when I didn't use my credit card at all for three months, everyone else went completely berserk. One person questioned by researchers admitted he had signed up for an expensive online course in how to speak Mandarin, which he hadn't got round to taking. Another said they had bought three disco balls and a ceramic pineapple. A third had bought a 7ft inflatable elephant. So, people have been sitting around at home, furloughed from a job that probably doesn't exist any more, and to pass the time, they've been wasting money that isn't even technically theirs on stuff they neither want nor need. This may be a sign that everyone is going mad. Of course, some of this madness may have been caused by lockdown-inspired resolutions. I'm willing to bet a lot of DIY kit was sold, and easels and cookbooks and gym equipment. And I'm also willing to bet that all of it is now in the garage, gathering dust. I also understand the problem of online shopping, because I've been on Amazon and I know how tempting it is to surf around the place, finding stuff you never see in the shops and then clicking on the "Add to basket" button before hopping off to look at some other suggestions. It's so addictive that before a recent camping trip to Madagascar, my online shopping trolley contained three pairs of action trousers, a sturdy torch, two Bob Seger T-shirts, a waterproof bag, a sun hat, a Leatherman multitool, two books about pirates, a solarpowered phone charger, an inflatable pillow, a pair of James May-cancelling headphones and a microfibre towel. But here's where you and I differ. Because instead of feeding in my credit card number and telling the delivery drivers to leave all the parcels in the shed, I went to the checkout, unordered everything and then sat back in a state of utter bliss, knowing that I wasn't going to end up with a skip-load of what is basically landfill. Some would call this typical Yorkshire meanness. But it isn't. According to one report, about 65% of Yorkshire people often buy gifts for other people, and that's 10% more than the national average. If you want meanness, you have to go to Scotland, where only 38% buy presents. No. What Yorkshire people have is thrift, and I'm sorry but in the coming weeks and months you're going to have to learn to live that way as well. First things first. Develop a sixth sense for when someone is taking the piss. I'm building a house at the moment and saw in a bill last week that I'm about to spend £1,200 on fixtures and fittings for an outside workman's khazi. I have absolutely no idea how much lavatories and sinks cost, but I know that if they were more than a grand, most of the country would be doing its number twos in the street. Exactly the same alarm bells go off in my head when I'm in a sunglasses shop. I know that when you select a pair by Ray-Ban, you're supposed to think you're buying a crown jewel, which is why the sales assistant takes out a soft cloth and wipes the lenses as if she's trying to burp a glass baby. But listen to that inner voice in your head saying that a bit of metal with two lenses cannot possibly cost £150. Then go to the market and find a pair for £8.99 before realising that actually you don't need a pair of sunglasses at all because you're not a pilot and this is Britain. This is the critical part. Understanding that there's a massive difference between what you need — which is two shirts, two pairs of trousers and a toothbrush — and what you want. Which is a speedboat. So when you're sitting there, thinking about buying one, consider all the breakdowns you'll have and all the rainy days when you can't use it and all the extra bills for servicing it and fuelling it and keeping it in a marina. Pretty soon you'll know that you'd rather have genital warts. Want a new car? No, you don't. There's nothing wrong with the one you have now. Need a holiday? Why? You'll only get bitten by something, possibly a dog. And healthcare? Ha. Don't make me laugh. Look at those offices that Bupa has with all those rubber plants. Who's paying for all that? You are, you mug. You can even convince yourself that not buying something is the morally right thing to do. I saw a painting recently that I liked and now I'm feeling extremely munificent because I left the gallery without it. Which means it's now giving great pleasure to someone else. I know that at the moment we are being urged, for the sake of the economy, to get out there and spend as much as possible, but if you lose your job in November, which you almost certainly will, you're going to feel a bit foolish if you've got nothing to your name except a cupboard under the stairs full of disco balls, ceramic pineapples and that massive socket set you bought when you thought you'd build your own greenhouse. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm sending out an SOS to bloomin' pop stars:The super-rich are the only people who can be trusted to preserve the countryside, so we must scatter tax breaks across the land By Jeremy Clarkson (Sunday Times, August 30) There is a sound argument for handing all Britain's countryside and farmland to rock stars and bankers. And then giving them massive tax breaks to help them to run it properly. I'm being serious, because who else would you trust with such a big job? Not the government, obviously. The government can't be trusted to do anything properly. I mean, all it had to do when it saw the pandemic coming was buy some aprons and some gloves, but somehow it managed to make a mess of it. It was the same story in Iraq. Our troops desperately needed body armour and bullets and transport made from something stronger than Kleenex, and what they were sent instead was 6,000 pairs of chef's trousers. So there is no way in hell you'd let the government grow food or manage a hillside in Yorkshire. There was talk by the Labour Party, when Corbyn was in charge, that land should be confiscated from the rich and given to the poor. But that wouldn't work either, because what poor people do when they have a bit of land is use it to store their rusting old cookers and vans. I'm not sure farmers are the answer either, because farmers need the land to be profitable. So when they look at an agreeable view full of dry-stone walls and bustling hedgerows and ancient woodland, they don't think, "Wow, this is pretty." They think, "Hmmm. I must fire up the bulldozer." I get that. If you invest a million pounds in shares, you expect some returns, and it's the same story if you invest a million pounds in land. So you're going to squeeze as much as possible from every square inch. Plus, of course, people want cheap food. But there is a problem with all that. Since the 1930s, Britain has lost 97 per cent of its wild-flower meadows. This is because wild flowers look good on a postcard but terrible on a profit and loss account. There's simply no money in cornflowers and dog daisies, so any farmer is going to replace them with wheat and barley and oilseed rape. My farm, however, has always been owned by rich people who wanted land for shooting or hunting or avoiding tax. They no doubt saw the act of "farming" as a bit grubby. A bit trade. This means the wild-flower meadows still exist. They were never ploughed up. I hate flowers. They bore me. But they do not bore everyone. They certainly didn't bore a man who came to my farm earlier this month. He was literally jumping up and down saying that what I have is pretty much seen nowhere else in the whole of the United Kingdom. Apparently wild flowers don't do terribly well in Mrs Miggins's cottage garden. They need space to thrive, and that's what I have. Six big fields. A total area of perhaps 200 acres, which is chock-full of small scabious, kidney vetch, green-winged orchids, yellow rattle and various other things that sound as if they've escaped from a Victorian book of diseases. My new friend said it was a staggering natural resource. Which is why I was a bit surprised when he climbed into his Land Rover, attached a small vacuum cleaner to the back and drove up and down the fields, sucking seeds into a hopper. He then laid out what he'd collected on a giant tarpaulin and invited me to take a closer look. Which is a bit like asking someone with a severe nut allergy to apply for a job with KP. My hay fever went berserk, but in between sneezes, and through streaming eyes, I could see that the haul was moving. It was alive with insects. I must admit I was excited, because wild-flower seeds at my local garden centre cost about £60 for 100 grams. And I had about half a tonne of the damn things. I therefore rushed home and immediately ordered a Bentley. However, it turns out that my seeds will not be sold. They will be given away, which is not a phrase the Yorkshire part of my brain likes, or even understands. Apparently, it's all part of a conservation scheme funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which was set up — surprise, surprise — by a wealthy investor in the early Sixties. The idea is that any of my neighbouring farmers who are suffering from eco-guilt can get hold of seeds that are genetically suited to this specific part of the world. And, I'm told, the system works for me too because, thanks to my generosity, the government may be more inclined, down the line, to look favourably on my requests for public money. And there's the problem. I don't want jam tomorrow. I want a Bentley today. I want to monetise my marjoram and fleece the bejesus out of my fairy flax. And I want to sell orchid seeds in my shop, like cocaine, only with a higher price tag. This is because I'm not rich enough to be a landowner. Sting is. He has 800 acres in Wiltshire on which he farms pigs and hens, but not in the way that normal farmers do farming. It's all tantric and aesthetic, because he's not really interested in using the land to make money. He doesn't need to, because every time someone uses "Roxanne" in an advert for panty liners, he can buy another organic jet. If you think that the land should be given back to nature, and managed sensitively, with insects as the No 1 priority — and I'm beginning to think this way — then it is imperative that Sting is encouraged to buy as many neighbouring farms as possible. I may buy Outlandos d'Amour again this afternoon to help him out, and you should too. Sting's not alone, either. For a long time, Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull owned a salmon farm on the Strathaird peninsula, on the Isle of Skye. Steve Winwood, of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, has a chunk of land in Gloucestershire, and Alex James of Blur grows quite the nicest vegetables you've ever tasted on his farm just down the road from me in Chipping Norton. All of them should be given more farmland to play with as soon as possible. Thirty years ago, if you drove through the countryside on a summer's day, you wouldn't get five miles before your windscreen was spattered with a million dead insects. Not any more. You won't hit one, because there are hardly any left. And that's bad, because without insects there will be no life on earth of any kind. We need them, and we need hedgerows and ancient woodlands and areas that are boggy and sad. Almost everyone seems to be in agreement on this: we need to put Mother Nature back in the driving seat. And I'm sorry but the only way this is going to be possible is if we hand over control of our land to the super-rich. The government should therefore consider this suggestion seriously: that we turn Britain's green and pleasant bits into the new Monaco, a tax haven for people who have both the time and the money to do the right thing. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And here's the Sun column: "I back Harry Maguire because I was also attacked in Greece and cops nicked ME"
With the offseason winding down, Spring Training starting up, and baseball just around the corner, I think it’s time we talk about a very important issue that’s been on my mind the last couple of days. It’s something that involved a hearty amount of research, a giant serving of statistical analysis, and a pinch of the good ol’ fashioned eye test. It’s my greatest pleasure to bring baseball my findings, titled:
Which MLB Team Namesakes I Could Beat Up.
The rules are simple and laid out as follows:
The winner of the fight will be determined by whoever beats up the other more. This can be determined by submission, KO, or just an executive decision in who’s been beat up more, in the case that a fight winner can’t be determined.
Fighters will not be restricted on their tactics during the fight.
Each fight is 1-on-1.
The hypothetical arena for these hypothetical fights is a classic fighting spot: The back alley behind a bar. It’s nighttime, but the fighting area is well lit by neon signs from the bar and streetlights from just down the alley. The ground is somewhat damp, with a few puddles. There is also a 30 foot circle of drunk bystanders cheering us on.
Combatants are willing to fight and will not immediately flee (though there’s no guarantee I won’t).
In situations where I wasn’t sure how a team got its name or what exactly it referred to, I used Team Name Origins to make an informed judgement.
The stats on me: I’m a 24-year old male, 5’10” (5’11” on a good day), clocking in at around 165 pounds, with a 72” reach (that I measured myself when I was home alone). Finally, I’m just trying to have some fun with this and by no means want to fight any of you. It’s not my fault I could beat up the thing your team is named after. Don’t like it? Change your team name. Without further ado, let us begin.
Arizona Diamondbacks: We’re going to assume the fight would be against a Western diamondback rattlesnake as the team is based in Arizona. Wikipedia tells me that they’re far less venomous than other rattlesnakes, but due to their large venom glands can deliver between 250-350 mg of venom, with a maximum of 700–800 mg, per bite. That sounds like a lot. But, I’m confident that, even if it bit me, I could still kick it or something at least once or twice while its fangs were pumping venom into me before completely succumbing to shock. And with a diamondback having a small body, I think that I could beat it up enough to qualify. That thing’s gonna be bruised at least. VERDICT:I could beat up a diamondback, though I would most definitely be killed by its venom after the fight (still counts as a beat up, though).
Atlanta Braves: The namesake “Braves” comes from James Gaffney’s association with Tammany Hall, a NYC political machine, that used a Native American chief as their symbol. I don’t like the thought of beating up a Native American chief, as most of the chiefs I’ve found online look to be very old, so instead I’m going to beat up a New York politician from 1912 who probably deserves it. VERDICT:I could beat up a brave.
Baltimore Orioles: I could most definitely beat up an oriole. Its 12.6” (at most) wingspan is at a massive disadvantage to my 72” reach. It may have speed, but I’ve got the brute force that could overpower the bird seeing as it’s only 1.19 oz on average. VERDICT:I could beat up an oriole.
Boston Red Sox: A pair of red socks are no match for me, seeing as I’m a sentient being and they are a pair of socks dyed red. Now, of course, one might question how I can determine “beating up” a pair of socks but, trust me, it’s possible. VERDICT:I could beat up a pair of red socks.
Chicago White Sox: One would think the same logic of red socks applies to white socks, but this is where things get tricky. White socks are notoriously sturdy and would require a great deal more effort on my part to successfully beat up. But, by utilizing the teaching of Sun Tzu and keeping my plans dark and impenetrable as night, then falling like a thunderbolt, I could gain the upper hand. VERDICT:I could beat up a pair of white socks.
Chicago Cubs: It’s hard to lock down exactly what kind of bear the Cubs are as wild bears have been nonexistent in Illinois for some time. Throughout the team’s history, they’ve had a black bear, a brown bear, and even a guy in a polar bear costume represent the team. So, based off their current mascot and logos, it felt safe to assume I’d be fighting a brown bear cub. Also, since a cub is generally referred to as a “yearling” after 1 year of age, the cub would be less than 1 year old. Seeing as a cub less than 1 year of age is less than 80 pounds, I think I could handle myself. VERDICT:I could beat up a cub, but it would make me really sad to beat up a baby animal, so emotionally I think I’d be beating myself up after.
Cincinnati Reds: If there’s one thing living in the grand ol’ USofA has taught me, it’s that this town ain’t big enough for me and some no good Commie scum. That being said, I’m fairly certain I’d get the shit kicked outta me by a Communist from Russia, which I’m assuming this is. Alternatively, if we go back in history to look at where the name “Reds” comes from, then I’m fighting a pair of disembodied red legs which sounds incredibly scary and also like they can kick really well. I think I lose either way. VERDICT:I could not beat up a red (Communist or legs).
Cleveland Indians: Yeah I'd lose this fight. Just gonna leave it there. VERDICT:I could not beat up an indian.
Colorado Rockies: Considering the team is named after some mountains I don’t think I could beat them up. But, I don’t know how a mountain range would get to or fit inside the fighting area I’ve established, so I’m going to say I’d win this fight on a technicality. But also I lose because it’s a mountain and I can’t beat up a mountain. VERDICT:I could not beat up a Rocky (Mountain), but I can claim I won the fight on account of them not even showing up. Cowards.
Detroit Tigers: It’s a tiger. I lose. VERDICT:I could not beat up a tiger.
Houston Astros: The average age of an astronaut is 34. Considering one must be in peak physical and mental condition to shoot themself into space I don’t think I stand much of a chance against an astro. On top of that, I’d be severely outmatched when the astro’s friends start banging on the dumpster in the alley, letting them know what kind of attack is coming next. VERDICT:I could not beat up an astro.
Kansas City Royals: The most famous royal, Queen Elizabeth II, is 93 years old (and will be 94 in a few months). While I’m sure she’s a scrappy fighter, in a 1-on-1 fight I like my chances against that old bag. Sorry England, hope you enjoy the Cubs/Cardinals series this year. VERDICT:I could beat up the most famous royal, Queen Elizabeth II.
Los Angeles Angels: Fighting an angel would be no small feat. With their giant wings, occasional swords, killer vocals, shiny halos, and proficiency at fighting devils, an angel is a stacked opponent. Of course, I could look to Jacob’s example of how he wrestled one, but let’s be real, I’m no Jacob. Also, I don’t want to piss off the big man upstairs by beating up one of his employees, so I think I’m gonna take the fall on this one. VERDICT:I could not beat up an angel.
Los Angeles Dodgers: A dodger, by definition, would be very difficult to fight as landing hits would be quite the challenge. That being said, one could also assume that their only move is dodging, not attacking. I think that, with enough time and effort, I could eventually land a few good hits on a dodger since they’re not hitting me back. VERDICT:I could, eventually, beat up a dodger.
Miami Marlins: Considering the rules for where the fight happens, it feels a bit unfair for a marlin. But, also considering that an Atlantic blue marlin can weigh over 1800 pounds, I still don’t think I could beat one up, even if it was flopping around on the ground. VERDICT:I could not beat up a marlin.
Milwaukee Brewers: When I think of a brewer I think of 1 of 2 people. Either a surly, gruff person, with immense upper body strength for stirring the beer (or whatever they do, I’m not sure on the specifics) or a hipster micro-brewer that just wants to talk about why IPAs are better than Pilsners. As much as I’d like to fight the latter, with the Brewers being named after beer makers like Pabst, Miller, and Schlitz in the Milwaukee area, it only feels fair to fight the former. VERDICT:I could not beat up a brewer. Maybe if they were drunk, though.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are named after the Twin Cities, which I can’t really fight. So if I go with human twins it makes more sense. But where this gets difficult is determining the age/physical makeup of the twins I’m fighting. So, to avoid having to create a long list of hypothetical fights, I’d be fighting my own twin (that was created especially for this fight). In that case, I’m sure my twin would let me beat them up so I can look good for a bunch of people on Reddit. VERDICT:I could beat up a twin (of myself, given the circumstances).
New York Yankees: A yankee is a term for someone who lives in the US, so if I’m fighting a random person who lives in the US I need to determine the odds of who I might be fighting. A 2018 Population Distribution by Age graph says 24% of the population is children aged 0-18 (which I feel like I could beat up) and 29% of the population is adults aged 55+ (which I also feel like I could beat up). Together, that gives me a 53% chance of fighting a child or older American. In that case, I think I could beat them up. In the case they’re one of the other 47% aged 19-54, I still think I could get a few licks in. VERDICT:I could (probably) beat up a yankee, if the coin flip goes my way.
New York Mets: Since the Mets name comes from the word metropolitan, which means a city, I don’t think I have much of a chance. Although, a quick Google search also lists the noun “metropolitan” as meaning “a bishop having authority over the bishops of a province, in particular (in Orthodox Churches) one ranking above archbishop and below patriarch.” which I definitely think I could beat up. Not that it matters, though, since the team isn’t named after a bishop, but I just wanted it out there. VERDICT:I could not beat up a met.
Oakland Athletics: I do not consider myself athletic. An athletic person would definitely beat me up. VERDICT:I could not beat up an athletic.
Philadelphia Phillies: To be honest, I’m not even really sure what a philly (phillie?) is. Is it the city of Philadelphia? A person from Philadelphia? That green mascot who’s always causing mayhem? A sandwich? A name that means “Horse Lover” (according to Google)? Either way, it feels impossible to fight something when I don’t even know what that something is. Philadelphia, fix your damn team name. VERDICT:I could not beat up a philly, but not for lack of trying.
Pittsburgh Pirates: If I’m fighting a modern day pirate, I don’t like my odds. Now, if it’s a Pirate of the Caribbean variety, I may have a chance if I use modern day technology to dazzle the pirate while I get ‘em with a 1-2 combo. Even then, the minute hook hands and peg legs start flying I’m most likely getting beat up. VERDICT:I could not beat up a pirate.
San Diego Padres: I think I could beat up my dad, but I won’t know for sure until he gets back from going out to buy milk. He should be back any day. VERDICT:I could beat up a padre, if mine ever came home.
San Francisco Giants: A giant would squish me. Simple as that. VERDICT:I could not beat up a giant.
Seattle Mariners: I am positive I’d be no match for a sailor. Another easy beatdown for my opponent. VERDICT:I could not beat up a mariner.
St. Louis Cardinals: While cardinals tend to be slightly bigger than orioles, weighing in at around 1.58 oz on average, I still think a cardinal is no match for me. Its beak could surely cause me some damage, but at the end of the day, all I need is one good hit and that bird has been successfully beat up. VERDICT:I could beat up a cardinal.
Tampa Bay Rays: I think I had a pretty good chance of winning this fight when the name referred to a devil ray (or a manta ray, like the patch on the jerseys), seeing as it’d be another fish out of water situation (you Florida teams and your ill-equipped land combatants). But, now that the name refers to rays of sun, I don’t stand a chance. I get burned if I’m outside in the sun for 20 minutes without sunscreen, so I don’t see how I could hope to win when the sun’s rays are going out of their way to cause me harm. Also, if the sun had to come close enough to Earth to get inside the fighting area it would destroy all life on Earth, and I don’t want that on my conscience. So I’ll concede this fight. VERDICT:I could not beat up a ray (of sun), but I could beat up a ray (of devil (on land)).
Texas Rangers: I don’t think there’s a single thing named ranger I could beat up. Texas Ranger? Nope. Army Ranger? Nuh-uh. Walker, Texas Ranger? Not a chance. Ford Ranger? Maybe a dent when it runs me over. Power Ranger? It’s Mighty Morphin' Kickin’ My Ass Time! VERDICT:I could not beat up a ranger, of any variety.
Toronto Blue Jays: Another damn bird? Yes. I could beat up a blue jay. Sure, blue jays can weigh up to 3.5 oz, with a 17” wingspan, but I still don’t think I have anything to worry about. VERDICT:I could beat up a blue jay.
Washington Nationals: A national is a citizen of a country, so this is a major toss up. I guess since I claimed I could beat up a random yankee, based on the odds I should do the same here. But also, I’ve been working on this a while and this is the last one so I don’t want to hunt down all the statistics for the world’s age distribution. So I’ll just say that I could, because odds are no one even read this far anyway. VERDICT:I could beat up a national.
In closing, I think I could beat up about half of Major League Baseball’s team namesakes. I’m using the odds to my advantage for some of them, of course, but sometimes you’ve just gotta bet on yourself. I’ve rounded up some of the final stats below:
Namesakes I Could Beat Up: 14 Namesakes I Could Not Beat Up: 16 Most Beat Up-able Division: American League East, with 4. Least Beat Up-able Division: American League West, with 0. Easiest Fight: White or red socks. Hardest Fight: Physically, either a Rocky Mountain or met. Emotionally, a baby bear cub. Edit: Fixed formatting.
Oscars 2021: An inside look (like, really inside) to 50 possible contenders in the next awards race
Another Oscar ceremony happened, and we got our fair share of joy and disappointment. After Parasite surprised the world and took Best Picture, it seems like the game has changed for the awards race, now that non-English speaking films can actually fight and be recognized as well as classics as… Green Book. The Oscar race is still full of pain and glory, and even though the year has barely started, we have a bunch of movies that are fighting for air. And here’s 50 of them. Yes, I had some free time in my hands and this is a cool hobby, so I took the liberty to introduce most of the movies that will have Film Twitter entertained for the following 12 months. I say most, because there are always contenders who come out of nowhere later in the year, so this is the starter set. Here we go. -Annette: Since Parasite’s road to the Oscars started at Cannes, it seems fair to talk about a movie that is circling a premiere in the world stage that is set in France. After delivering weird, indie classics like Mauvais Sang and Holy Motors (yes, the kind of movies that make you seem like a snob when you recommend them to people), Leos Carax is making his first movie spoken in the English language… and it has a musical screenplay written by the cult rock duo of Sparks. Recently robbed Adam Driver and previous Oscar winner Marion Cotillard sing in this tale of a stand-up comedian and a famous soprano singer who rise and fall in Los Angeles while their daughter is born with a special gift. It seems like a wild bet, but we already know that Carax is a master with musical moments, so this is one of the most intriguing question marks of the year. -Ammonite: It’s time to talk narratives. On the one hand, we have Kate Winslet, a known name who hasn’t been very successful in the Oscar race since her Oscar win for The Reader over a decade ago (with the exception being her supporting performance in Steve Jobs, where she had a weird accent). On the other, we have Saoirse Ronan, a star on the rise who keeps collecting Oscar nominations, with 4 nods at the age of 25, including her fresh Best Actress loss for Little Women. What happens if we put them together in a drama set in the coasts of England during the 19th century where both of them fall for each other? That’s gonna be a winning formula if writedirector Francis Lee (who tackled queer romance in his acclaimed debut God’s Own Country) nails the Mary Anning story, and Neon (the distribution company founded three years ago that took Parasite to victory) is betting on it. -Benedetta: We know the Paul Verhoeven story. After isolating himself from Hollywood for over a decade, he took Isabelle Huppert to an Oscar nominated performance with the controversial, sexy, dark and funny thriller Elle. Now, he’s back with another story that perks up the ears, because now he’s covering the life of Benedetta Carlini, a 17th-century lesbian nun who had religious and erotic visions. If you know Paul, you already can tell that this fits into his brand of horniness, and a possible Cannes premiere could tell us if this has something to carry itself to Oscar night. -Blonde: With a short but impactful directorial credits list that takes us from Chopper, to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik is back with a film about Marilyn Monroe, a woman who has transcended the ideas of fame and stardom, in ways that are glamorous and nightmarish at the same time. After failing to launch with Naomi Watts or Jessica Chastain,the rising Ana de Armas takes the lead in the retelling of Monroe’s troubled life based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, which is said to be covered in the screenplay as somewhat of a horror movie. We don’t know what that means yet, but Netflix is gonna push hard for this one, especially considering how the Academy loves throwing awards to stars playing previous stars, and that also can possibly include co-stars Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody. -Breaking News in Yuba County: While he hasn’t gone back to the heights of his success achieved by the box office and award success of The Help (a movie that did not age well), Tate Taylor is still enjoying himself economically due to recent thrillers like The Girl on the Train and Ma. For his next movie, he’s made a dramedy that once again reunites him with Oscar winner Allison Janney, where she plays a woman who has to keep appearances and a hidden body when she catches her husband cheating on her, and then he dies of a heart attack. With a cast that also includes Mila Kunis, Regina Hall, Awkwafina, Samira Wiley, Wanda Sykes, Jimmi Simpson and Ellen Barkin, this could be a buzzy title later this year. -C’mon C’mon: You may love or hate whatever Joaquin Phoenix did in Joker, but you can’t deny the benefit of playing the Crown Prince of Crime in an Oscar-winning performance. The blank check that you share with indie directors afterwards. Now that Joaquin’s cultural cachet is on the rise, Mike Mills gets to benefit with this drama that stars Phoenix and Gaby Hoffmann, with him playing an artist left to take care of his precocious young nephew as they forge an unexpected bond over a cross country trip. We only have to wonder if A24 will do better with this movie’s Oscar chances compared to 20th Century Women. -Cherry: After killing half the universe and bringing them back with the highest grossing movie of all time, where do you go? For Joe and Anthony Russo, the answer is “away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe”. The Russo brothers are trying to distance themselves and prove that they have a voice without Kevin Feige behind them, with a crime drama that’s also different than their days when they directed You, Me and Dupree or episodes of Arrested Development and Community. To help them in the journey, they took Tom Holland (who also needs to distance himself from Spider-Man, lest he ends up stuck to the character in the audience’s eyes) to star in a crime drama based on former Army medic Nico Walker’s memoir about his days after Iraq, where the PTSD and an opioid addiction led him to start robbing banks. -Da 5 Bloods: After bouncing back from a slump with the critical and commercial success of BlackKklansman, Spike Lee is cashing a Netflix check to tell the tale of four African American veterans who return to Vietnam to search for their fallen leader and some treasure. With a cast that includes Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Paul Walter Hauser and Chadwick Boseman, this sounds like an interesting combo, although we still should remember the last time that Spike tried his hand at a war movie, with the dull Miracle at St. Anna. -Dune: If you are on Reddit, you probably know about the new film by movies’ new Messiah, Denis Villeneuve. While the epic sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert is getting a new chance in the multiplexes after that David Lynch movie that was forgotten by many, some are hoping that this will be the beginning of a new franchise (as seen by the release date of December 18, taking the spot of the usual Star Wars opening), and a return to the whole “remember when stuff like Return of the King or Fury Road were nominated for Best Picture?” question. Timothee Chalamet will be riding a lot of hope, and sandworm. -Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: As you start to see, there are several musicals that are gonna be fighting for attention over the next year, and Annette was the first one. Now, we also have this adaptation of the hit West End production, that centers around a gay British teenager who dreams of becoming a drag queen and get his family and schoolmates to accept his sexuality. With a cast that mixes young unknowns, familiar Brits (Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire and my boy Ralph Ineson) and the previously nominated legend that is Richard E. Grant (who is playing a former drag queen named Loco Chanelle), the creative team of the stage musical will jump to the big screen with the help of Fox Searchlight (sorry, just Searchlight), who has clear Oscar hopes with a release date right in the middle of awards heat, on October 23. -Hillbilly Elegy: Even though the Parasite victory gave many people hope for a new Academy that stops recognizing stuff like previous winner Green Book… let’s be honest, the Academy will still look for movies like Green Book. This year, many people are turning their eyes towards Ron Howard’ adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir about his low income life in a poor rural community in Ohio, filled with drugs, violence and verbal abuse. If this sounds like white trash porn, it doesn’t help to know that Glenn Close, who has become the biggest living Oscar bridesmaid with seven nominations, will play a character called Mamaw. And if that sounds trashy, then you have to know that Amy Adams, who follows Glenn with six nominations, is playing her drug-addicted, careless daughter. I don’t want to call this “Oscar bait”, but it sure is tempting. -I’m Thinking of Ending Things: After his stopmotion existential dramedy Anomalisa got him a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Oscars but at the same time bombed at the box office, Charlie Kaufman is getting the Netflix check. This time, he’s adapting the dark novel by Iain Reid, about a woman (Jessie Buckley, who is on the rise and took over the role after Brie Larson had to pass) who is taken by her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis), in a trip that takes a turn for the worse. If Kaufman can deliver with this one, it will be a big contender. -In the Heights: Yes, more musicals! This time, it’s time to talk about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-winning musical, that was overshadowed because of his other small play about some treasury secretary. Now, his Broadway ensemble tale about life in a neighborhood in Washington Heights is jumping to the movie screen with Jon Chu at the helm, following the success of Crazy Rich Asians. This Latino tale mixes up-and-comers like Anthony Ramos (who comes straight from Hamilton and playing Lady Gaga’s friend in A Star is Born), names like Corey Hawkins and Jimmy Smits (who is pro bits), and Olga Merediz, who starred in the Broadway show as Abuela Claudia and who could be the early frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress, if Chu allows her to shine like she did onstage. -Jesus Was My Homeboy: When looking at up-and-coming Black actors right now in Hollywood, two of the top names are Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, who already appeared in the same movie in Get Out, which earned Kaluuya a Best Actor nomination. This time, they share the screen in Shaka King’s retelling of the story of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), an activist and Black Panther leader… as well as the story of William O’Neal (Stanfield), the FBI agent sent by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the party and arrest him. With the backing of Warner Bros, this will attempt to make an impact with a clash of actors that will have to fight with an August release date, not the ideal time to release an awards movie. -King Richard: Starting with Suicide Squad, Will Smith has been trying to prove that he’s back and better than ever. Some attempts to get back to the top of the A-list (Aladdin, Bad Boys For Life) have worked, while others (Gemini Man, Spies in Disguise)... have not. But Will is still going, and now he’s going for his next prestige play as he plays Richard Williams, the coach and father of the tennis legends Venus and Serena, who pushed them to their full potential. While it’s weird that the father of the Williams sisters is getting a movie before them, it does sound like a meaty role for Smith, who has experience with Oscar notices with sports biopics because of what he did with Michael Mann in Ali. Let’s hope director Reinaldo Marcus Green can take him there too. -Last Night in Soho: Every year, one or two directors who have a cool reputation end up in the Dolby Theatre, and 2020 could be the year of Edgar Wright. After delivering his first big box office hit with Baby Driver, the Brit is going back to London to tell a story in the realm of psychological horror, which has been supposedly inspired by classics like Don’t Look Now and Repulsion. With a premise that supposedly involves time travel and a cast that includes Anya-Taylor Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith and Diana Rigg, Wright (who also co-wrote this with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was just nominated for Best Original Screenplay for her work in 1917) is making a big swing. -Let Them All Talk: Every year there’s more new streaming services, and that also means that there’s new players in the Oscar game. To secure subscribers to the new service, HBO Max has secured the rights to the next Steven Soderbergh movie, a comedy that stars Meryl Streep as a celebrated author that takes her friends (Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges, again) in a journey to find fun and come to terms with the past. The last time that Soderbergh and Streep worked together, the end result was the very disappointing The Laundromat. Let’s hope that this time everything works out. -Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Now that Netflix got the deal to adapt August Wilson’s acclaimed plays with Denzel Washington’s production company, the next jump from the stage to the screen is a meaty one. Viola Davis is playing blues singer Ma Rainey in this tale of a heated recording session with her bandmates, her agent and her producer in 1927, with a cast that also includes Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo. The Tony nominated play talked about race, art and the intersection of the two, and it’s gonna be explosive to see that unfold on screen, even if director George C. Wolfe’s previous filmography isn’t very encouraging. -Macbeth: In a shocking development, the Coen brothers are no more. Well, just this time. For the first time in his career, Joel Coen is making a movie without Ethan, and it’s a Shakespeare adaptation. Denzel Washington is playing the man who wants to be king of Scotland, and Frances McDormand is playing his Lady Macbeth. While this just started filming and it will be a race to finish it in time for competition in the awards race, the potential is there, and this project has everybody’s attention. -Mank: After scoring 24 Oscar nominations and only winning 2 awards last Sunday, Netflix has to wonder what else must they do to get in the club that awards them. They tried with Cuarón, they tried with Scorsese, they tried with Baumbach, they tried with two Popes, and they still feel a barrier. Now, the big gamble for awards by the streamer in 2020 comes to us in the hands of David Fincher, who is basically their friend after the rest of Hollywood denied him (Disney dropped his 20,000 Leagues adaptation, HBO denied the US remake of Utopia, and Paramount drove World War Z 2 away from him). In his first movie since 2014’s Gone Girl, David will go black and white to tackle a script by his late father about the making of the classic of classics, Citizen Kane, with previous Oscar winner Gary Oldman playing the lead role of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. Will the Academy fall for the ultimate “power of da moviesshhh” story? -Minari: Sundance can be hit or miss with the breakout films that try to make it to the Oscars. However, you can’t deny the waves made by A24 when they premiered Lee Isaac Chung’s new drama there, ending up winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the US Dramatic Competition. If Parasite endeared Academy voters to Korean families, Steven Yeun hopes that the same thing happens with this story, where he plays a father in the ‘80s who suddenly decides to move his family to Arkansas to start a farm. Even though the reviews have been great, we must also remember that last year, A24 had in their hands The Farewell, another Sundance hit about an Asian family that ended up with no Oscar nominations. Let’s hope that this time, the Plan B influence (remember, that’s Brad Pitt’s production company, of Moonlight and 12 Years a Slave fame) makes a difference. -Next Goal Wins: It’s a good time to be Taika Waititi. Why? Taika Waititi can do what he wants. He can direct a Thor movie, he can win an Oscar for writing a comedy set in WW2 about a Third Reich boy who has an Imaginary Hitler friend, or he can pop up in The Mandalorian as a droid. Taika keeps winning, and he wants more. Between his press tour for Jojo Rabbit and his return to the MCU, he quickly shot an adaptation of a great documentary about the disgraced national team of American Samoa, one of the worst football teams known to man, as they try to make the cut for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Everybody loves a good sports comedy, and Searchlight bets that we’ll enjoy this story led by Michael Fassbender as the new (and Dutch-American) coach in town who tries to shape the team for victory. -News of the World: Seven years after their solid collaboration in Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks reunite for more awards love in what seems to be Universal’s main attraction for the Oscars. This time, Hanks stars in a Western drama based on Paulette Jiles’ novel where he plays a traveling newsreader in the aftermath of the American Civil War who is tasked with reuniting an orphaned girl with her living relatives. With a Christmas release date, Universal is betting big in getting the same nomination boost that 1917 is enjoying right now, and the formula is promising. -Nightmare Alley: Following his Best Picture and Best Director wins for The Shape of Water, everybody in Hollywood wondered what would Guillermo del Toro do next. Well, as Del Toro often does, a little bit of everything and nothing. Some projects moved (as his produced Pinocchio movie on Netflix, or his Death Stranding likeness cameo), others stalled and die (like his proposed Fantastic Voyage remake). But now he’s rolling on his next project, a new adaptation of the William Lindsay Gresham novel that already was a Tyrone Power film in 1947. This noir tale tells the story of a con man (Bradley Cooper) who teams up with a psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) to trick people and win money, and how things get out of control. With a cast that also includes Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara and more, this could play well if it hits the right tone. -Nomadland: There’s breakout years, and then there’s the amazing potential of Chloe Zhao’s 2020. On the one hand, after making Hollywood notice her skill with the gripping story of The Rider, she got the keys to the MCU kingdom to direct the next potential franchise of Kevin Feige, The Eternals. And just in case, she also has in her sleeve this indie drama that she wrote and directed beforehand, with two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand playing a woman who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. If Chloe nails these two films, it could be the one-two punch of the decade. -One Night in Miami: Regina King is living her best life. Following her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in If Beale Street Could Talk and the success that came with her lead role in the Watchmen show on HBO, the actress is jumping to a new challenge: directing movies. For her big screen debut, she’s adapting Kemp Powers’ play that dramatizes a real meeting on February 25, 1964, between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown. -Over the Moon: After earning praise and Oscar nominations with I Lost My Body and Klaus, Netflix will keep its bet on animated movies with a film directed by the legendary Glen Keane. Who? A classic Disney animator responsible for the design of characters like Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan and more](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jRkx2PNVr8), and who recently won an Oscar for Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball, which he co-directed with the late Kobe Bryant. Now, he brings us a musical adventure centered around a Chinese girl who builds a rocket ship and blasts off to the Moon in hopes of meeting a legendary Moon Goddess. -Passing: It’s always interesting when an actor jumps behind the camera, and Rebecca Hall’s case is no exception. For her directorial debut, Hall chose to adapt Nella Larsen’s acclaimed novel set in Harlem in the 1920s, about two mixed race childhood friends (Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson) who reunite in adulthood and become obsessed with one another's lives. With a premise that explores tough questions about race and sexuality, it looks like a tricky challenge for a first timer, but it would be more impressive if Hall manages to rise over the challenge. -Prisoner 760: An interesting part of following the awards circuit is looking at when it's appropriate to talk about touchy subjects in recent history. I’m saying that because this next movie tells the real life tale of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), a man who, despite not being charged or having a set trial, is held in custody at Guantanamo Bay, and turns towards a pair of lawyers (Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley) to aid him. Based on the famous journal that the man wrote while he was being detained, the movie (that also counts with Benedict Cumberbatch) is directed by Kevin Macdonald who, a long time ago, helped Forest Whitaker win Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland. Could he get back in the race after almost 15 years of movies like State of Play? -Raya and the Last Dragon: This year, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ bet for the Oscars is a fantasy tale set in a mysterious realm called Kumandra, where a warrior named Raya searches for the last dragon in the world. And that dragon has the voice of Awkwafina. Even though they missed out last Oscars when Frozen II got the cold shoulder by the Academy in Best Animated Feature, this premise looks interesting enough to merit a chance. One more thing: between last year’s Abominable, Over the Moon and this movie, there’s a clear connection of animated movies trying to appeal to Chinese sensibilities (and that sweet box office). -Rebecca: It’s wild to think that the only time that Alfred Hitchcock made a film that won the Oscar for Best Picture was with 1940’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s psychological thriller novel, more muted and conventional than his more known classics. Now, Ben Wheatley and Netflix are giving the Gothic story a new spin, with Lily James playing the newly married young woman who finds herself battling the shadow of her husband's (Armie Hammer) dead first wife, the mysterious Rebecca. The story is a classic, and we have to see how much weird Wheatley stuff is in the mix. -Red, White and Water: Between 2011 and 2014, Jennifer Lawrence was everywhere and people loved it. She was America’s sweetheart, the Oscar winner, Katniss Everdeen. But then, everything kinda fell. Those X-Men movies got worse and she looked tired of being in them, her anecdotes got less charming and more pandering to some, she took respectable risks that didn’t pay off with Red Sparrow and Mother!, and some people didn’t like that she said that it wasn’t nice to share private photos of her online. Now, she looks to get back to the Oscar race with a small project funded by A24 and directed by Lila Neugebauer in her film debut, about a soldier who comes back to the US after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan. Also, Brian Tyree Henry is in this, and it would be amazing if he got nominated for something. -Respect: You know what’s a surefire way to get Academy voters’ attention? Play a real singer! Rami Malek took a win last year for playing Freddie Mercury, Renee Zellweger just won the gold after portraying Judy Garland, and now Jennifer Hudson wants more Oscar love. Almost 15 years after taking Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls, Hudson will try to get more by playing soul legend Aretha Franklin, in a biopic directed by first timer Liesl Tommy that practically screams “give me the gold”. How am I so sure? Well, see the teaser that they released in December (for a movie that opens in October), and tell me. It will work out better for Hudson than Cats, that’s for sure. -Soul: Unless they really disappoint (I’m looking at you, The Good Dinosaur, Cars 2 and Cars 3), you can’t have the Oscars without inviting Pixar to the party. This year, they have two projects in the hopes of success. While in a few weeks we’ll see what happens with the fantasy family road trip of Onward, the studio’s biggest bet of the year clearly is the next existential animation written and directed by Pete Docter, who brought Oscar gold to his home with Up and Inside Out. The movie, which centers on a teacher (voice of Jamie Foxx) who dreams of becoming a jazz musician and, just as he’s about to get his big break, ends up getting into an accident that separates his soul from his body, had a promising first trailer, and it also promises a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as new songs by Jon Batiste. The only downside so far for the marketing was the fact that the trailer reveal led people to notice a suspicious trend involving black characters when they lead an animated movie. -Tenet: When Leonardo DiCaprio finally touched his Academy Award, an alarm went off in the mind of a portion of Internet users, who have made their next crusade to give themselves to the cause of getting Christopher Nolan some Oscar love. And his next blank check, an action thriller involving espionage and time travel, could pull off the same intersection of popcorn and prestige that made Inception both a box office hit and a critically acclaimed Oscar nominee. It helps to have a cast of impressive names like John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson, as well as a crew that includes Ludwig Goransson and Hoyte van Hoytema. In other words, if this becomes a hit, this could go for a huge number of nominations. -The Devil All the Time: As you may have noticed by now, Netflix is leading the charge in possible Oscar projects. Another buzzy movie that comes from them is the new psychological thriller by Antonio Campos, a filmmaker known for delivering small and intimate but yet intense and terrifying dramas like Simon Killer and Christine. Using the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, Campos will follow non-linearly a cast of characters in Ohio between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Vietnam War, with the help of an interesting cast that includes Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke and Riley Keough. -The Eyes of Tammy Faye: After being known as a sketch comedy goofball because of The State, Wet Hot American Summer and Stella, Michael Showalter reinvented himself as a director of small and human dramedies like Hello, My Name is Doris and The Big Sick. For his next project, he’s gonna mix a little bit of both worlds, because he has before him the story of the televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain, who has been really trying to recapture her early ‘10 awards run to no avail) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield, who was previously nominated for Hacksaw Ridge, instead of Silence, because why). With a real life tale that involves Christian theme parks, fraud and conspiracies, this is the kind of loud small movie that Searchlight loves to parade around, especially as an actors showcase (Jojo Rabbit being the most recent example). The first image looks terrifying, by the way. -The Father: It’s weird to be in the middle of February and say that there’s already a frontrunner for the Best Actor race at the next Oscars. After its premiere in Sundance a couple of weeks ago, every prognosticator pointed in the direction of Anthony Hopkins (recently nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Two Popes), who delivers a harrowing portrayal of an old man grappling with his age as he develops dementia, causing pain to his beleaguered daughter (recent winner Olivia Colman, who also got praised). With reviews calling it a British answer to Amour (in other words: it’s a hard watch), Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his acclaimed play not only benefits from having Hopkins and Colman together as a selling point, because it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, a distributor with experience in getting Academy voters to watch adult movies with heavy themes. If you don’t believe me, watch how they got Julianne Moore a win for Still Alice, as well as recent nominations for Isabelle Huppert for Elle, Glenn Close for The Wife, and Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory. They know the game, and they are going to hit hard for Hopkins and Colman. -The French Dispatch:If you saw the trailer, we don’t need to dwell too much on the reasons. On the one hand, we have the style of Wes Anderson, a filmmaker who has become a name in both the critics circle and the casual viewer, with his last two movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs) earning several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture for the one with Gustave H. Then, we have a long cast that goes from the director’s regulars like Bill Murray to new stars like Timothee Chalamet, and also includes people like Benicio del Toro. The only thing that could endanger the Oscar chances for this is that the story, an anthology set around a period comedy with an European riff on The New Yorker, will alienate the average Academy member. -The Humans: There’s the prestige of a play, and then there’s the prestige of a Tony-winning play. Playwright Stephen Karam now gets to jump to the director’s chair to take his acclaimed 2016 one-act story to the big screen, and A24 is cutting the check. Telling the story of a family that gets together on Thanksgiving to commiserate about life, this adaptation will be led by original performer Jayne Houdyshell (who also won a Tony for her stage performance), who’ll be surrounded by Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun and June Squibb. If it avoids getting too claustrophobic or stagey for the cinema, it will be a good contender. -The Last Duel: Always speedy, Ridley Scott is working on his next possible trip to the Oscars. This time, it’s the telling of a true story in 14th-century France, where a knight (Matt Damon) accuses his former friend (Adam Driver) of raping his wife (Jodie Comer), with the verdict being determined by the titular duel. It’s a juicy story, but there was some concern when it seemed that the script was only being written by Damon and Ben Affleck (who’ll also appear in the film). A rape story written by them after the Weinstein revelations… not the best look. But then, it was revealed that they were writing the screenplay with indie figure Nicole Holofcener, who last year was nominated for an Oscar for her script for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Let’s hope that the story is told in a gripping but not exploitative way, and that it doesn’t reduce the role of Comer (who deserves more than some of the movie roles that she’s getting after Killing Eve) to a Hollywood stereotype. -The Power of the Dog: We have to talk about the queen of the indie world, we have to talk about Jane Campion. More than a decade after her last movie, Bright Star, the Oscar and Palme d’Or winner for The Piano returns with a non-TV project (see Top of the Lake, people) thanks to Netflix, with a period drama centered around a family dispute between a pair of wealthy brothers in Montana, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), after the latter one marries a local widow (Kirsten Dunst). According to the synopsis, “a shocked and angry Phil wages a sadistic, relentless war to destroy her entirely using her effeminate son Peter as a pawn”. Can’t wait to see what that means. -The Prom: Remember the Ryan Murphy blank check deal with Netflix that I mentioned earlier? Well, another of the projects in the first batch of announcements for the deal is a musical that he’ll direct, adapting the Tony-nominated show about a group of Broadway losers (now played by the one and only Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and, uh, James Corden, for some reason) who try to find a viral story to get back in the spotlight, and end up going to a town in Indiana to help a lesbian high school student who has been banned from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. The show has been considered a fun and heartwarming tale of acceptance, so the movie could be an easy pick for an average Academy voter who doesn’t look too hard (and you know that the Golden Globes will nominate the shirt out of this). It’s funny how this comes out the same year than Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and then it’s not funny realizing that Film Twitter will pit the two movies against each other. -The Trial of the Chicago 7: After getting a taste of the director’s taste with Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin wants more. For his second movie, he’s tackling one of his specialties: a courtroom drama. And this one is a period movie centered around the trial on countercultural activists in the late ‘60s, which immediately attracts a campaign of how “important” this movie is today’s culture. To add the final blow, we have a cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, William Hurt, Michael Keaton and Mark Rylance. If Sorkin can contain himself from going over the top (and with that cast, it would be so easy to surrender to bouts of screaming and winding speeches), this could be one of the top contenders. -Those Who Wish Me Dead: Having made a good splash in the directorial waters with Wind River, Taylor Sheridan (also known for writing the Sicario movies, the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water or that Yellowstone show that your uncle raves about on Facebook) returns with yet another modern Western. For this thriller based on the Michael Koryta novel, Angelina Jolie stars as a survival expert in the Montana wilderness who is tasked with protecting a teenager who witnessed a murder, while assassins are pursuing him and a wildfire grows closer. -Untitled David O. Russell Project: Following the mop epic Joy, that came and went in theaters but still netted a Best Actress nomination for Jennifer Lawrence, the angriest director in Hollywood took a bit of a break (it didn’t help that he tried to do a really expensive show with Amazon starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore that fell apart when the Weinstein exposes sank everything). Now, he’s quickly putting together his return to the days of Oscar love that came with stuff like The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, with a new movie that is set to star Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan. Even though we don’t know many details (some people are saying the movie is called Amsterdam) except for the fact the movie hasn’t started shooting yet, David is a quick guy, so he’ll get it ready for the fall festival circuit. If there’s one thing that David O. Russell knows (apart from avoid getting cancelled for abusing people like Lily Tomlin, Amy Adams and his niece), it’s to make loud actor showcases. -Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project: When Bird Box became one of the biggest hits on Netflix history, the streamer decided to keep itself in the Sandra Bullock business. Sandy’s next project for Ted Sarandos is a drama where she plays a woman who is released from prison after serving time for a violent crime, and re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past. To get redemption, she searches her younger sister she was forced to leave behind. With the direction of Fingscheidt, who comes from an acclaimed directorial debut with Systemsprenger (Germany’s submission to the last Academy Awards), and a cast that also includes Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Bernthal, this will also hopefully try its luck later this year. -Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project: We don’t know if this movie will be ready for the end of the year (although last time, he managed to sneak Phantom Thread under the buzzer and earn several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture), but PTA is apparently gonna start to shoot it soon, with the backing of Focus Features. After several movies with prestige locations and intricate production design, Film Twitter’s Holy Spirit will go back to the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, to tell the story of a high school student who is also a successful child actor. -Stillwater: Tom McCarthy’s recent career is certainly puzzling. After delivering the weird lows of The Cobbler, he bounced back with the Best Picture winner that was Spotlight. And following that, he… helped produce the 13 Reasons Why series. And following that… he made Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, a Disney+ original movie. Now, he’s back to the award race with a drama starring Matt Damon, who plays a father who rushes from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison after being suspected for a murder she claims she didn’t commit. -West Side Story: To close things, we have to see one of the possible big contenders of the season, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the iconic musical that translates Romeo and Juliet to the context of a street gang war in 1950s New York. While the decision to adapt again something that has been a classic both in Broadway and in movie theaters almost 60 years ago is a challenge, the idea of Spielberg doing a musical closer to the stage version with Tony Kushner as the writer is too tempting for the average Academy voter, who is already saving a spot in major categories in case Steven nails it in December. However, there’s two question marks. First, how well will Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler stand out in the roles of Tony and Maria? And second, will In the Heights steal some of the thunder of this movie by being, you know, more modern?
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