The first Captain Marvel set photos are here and…they seem good! Brie Larsen, who stars as Carol Danvers, can be seen in real life flight suits and a version of her comics costume that seems to include armour, flat boots, and zero spandex. Damn you Marvel for finally making films that aren’t terrible.

Speaking of which, Black Panther is on track to make a $120-$150 million debut when it drops on February 12. Tickets have moved so quickly in pre-sales that box office predictions have steadily climbed, with industry watchers now expecting it to make back its $200 million budget in its first week of release.

A Troubled Historial Epic Has Finally Made Its Debut

Padmaavat, the Bollywood film that faced state bans and violent protests as recently as last week, is…potentially, a success. Since its release Thursday, the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film has had consistently good box office returns, despite Friday being a holiday, making 74.95 core on a budget of 190 core. But it still has a long way to go to make back its budget, one of the biggest in Bollywood history.

The controversies that have dogged Padmaavat may help with that, since they don’t seem to be keeping audiences away. After clearing the Central Board of Film Certification in December, with a few minor alterations, and the addition of several disclaimers, the film then face state bans and a Supreme Court challenge. Rajput caste protestors claimed that the film would “disrespect” Padmavati. After the Indian Supreme Court overturned state bans on the film, allowing its much-delayed theatrical release to go forward, protestors in Gujarat set fire to buses and vandalized a local theatre. Dozens were arrested.

Reviewer reception though, has been mixed. Some critics have called it a finely crafted historical epic, while others have called it out for a thin plot and bizarre–and poorly done–3D release. Padmaavat tells the story of a 14th Century Hindu queen Rani Padmavati, played by Deepika Padukone, and Sultan Alauddin Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh.

Prison Labour, Though?

While Dunkirk was nominated for eight Oscars last week, Christopher Nolan’s historical epic has now come under fire due to the production’s use of prison labor. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true, Dunkirk set decorator Gary Fettis bragged about the production’s use of prison labour to keep down costs. In Josh Levine new companion book (also called Dunkirk), Fettis said that prison labourers were used to build several of the ship set, calling the workers “first-time offenders, kids, they weren’t hard-core criminals.”

Human rights advocates and carceral state protestors have decried the film’s use of low paid prison labour. Human Rights Defense Center Director Paul Wright has called for the film to be disqualified for Oscar contention, saying that “no one would reward the costume designers who used child slave labor in making the costumes for a movie.” Can unethical labour practices be grounds for being booted from the Oscars? Possibly. But even Wright thinks it unlikely. “Since we live in America, I suspect that no one will miss a beat on this.”

Mudbound! It’s Great and the Oscars Have Taken Notice

Dee Rees’s Mudbound also did good at the Oscars, not so much in quantity though as in quality. Dee Rees is the first black woman nominated for best adapted screenplay and the film’s director of photography, Rachel Morrison, is the first woman to ever be nominated for best cinematography. I’ve been talking up Mudbound since I saw it at TIFF, because it’s not only a fantastic movie (streaming on Netflix–why the heck haven’t you seen it?), it’s a fantastic movie helmed by a young director of colour committed to employment equity, with people of colour and white women in most of the production’s top jobs.

Cool Projects from Cool People

  • Twenty years later Iruvar stars Mohanlal and Prakash Raj will reunite onscreen for a new Malayalam-language film by VA Shrikumar Menon. Odiyan is described as a fantasy thriller, based on the legendary shapeshifters of the same name. The film also stars  Manju Warrier who says it’s one of her best roles yet.
  • The Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya historical thriller, A White Lie, has secured a distribution deal with TriStar Pictures. The film is based on Karin Tanabe’s novel The Gilded Years and is being produced by the two stars, along with Hello Sunshine’s Lauren Levy Neustadter, Monica Beletsky of Fargo and The Leftovers is set to write the script. Zendaya stars as Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned black woman who passed as white so she could attend Vassar College.
  • Jennifer Hudson will play Aretha Franklin in a new, as yet unnamed, MGM biopic of the legendary singer–and according to Deadline, Franklin chose Hudson for the role herself.