12.07.2018

My Golden Globe nom favorites and what to watch this weekend

Well, we are already into December and neck-deep in awards season. The Golden Globes nominations were announced yesterday and the internet has been buzzing with debates about what the HFP (Hollywood Foreign Press) got right and what they got wrong. 

I was personally happy to see a few of my favorites make the cut. Most notably, Roma, my favorite film of the year, continues on the path to charming the pants off everyone as Alfonso Cuaron took a Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography nomination. The film also was nominated for Best Foreign Film.


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I was happy to see Crazy Rich Asians made a big impression on voters with a Best Actress nomination for Constance Wu and a Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy nomination. The adorable Elsie Fisher made a delightful appearance in the Best Actress category for her performance in Eighth Grade - sharing a nomination with some of the greats like Glenn Close and Nicole Kidman. 

I can't really say I understand it since the film's storyline is literally contingent on its characters' silence, but A Quiet Place landed in the Best Original Score category. I'm not complaining since John Krasinski's directorial debut is one of my favorite films of the year, but I'm surprised nonetheless. Isle of Dogs, the newest and one of my favorites from Wes Anderson, showed up in the Best Animated Film category.

BlacKkKlansman received some love with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Adam Driver and to my surprise and delight, a Best Actor nomination for John David Washington (those Washingtons. It's in the blood). Spike Lee also received a nomination for Best Director. 


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Finally, though I'm sad it has to compete against my favorite film for Best Foreign Film, I was glad Shoplifters made an appearance on the list. Speaking of Shoplifters, this beautifully crafted story is currently in theaters and it's my first recommendation on what to watch this weekend. You should also check a few other titles that didn't do too shabby with some nominations of their own.


In Theaters


Shoplifters


Shoplifters made a big impression at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year where it won the top prize and has since received love from critics associations and now a Golden Globe nomination. It's no surprise this film is leaving such an impression on people. It's a beautifully told story and exceptionally shot film about an impoverished family in Tokyo. 

The film explores what it means to be a family and dances around some morally gray areas that will leave you thinking about it long after watching. You can ready my full review here. If it's not in a theater near you yet, keep your eyes peeled. This one is worth the price of admission.


The Favourite


The Favourite nearly leads the pack with 5 Golden Globe nominations this season. It received nominations for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay (co-written by a woman screenwriter!). All three leading ladies, Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, received well-deserved Best Lead and Best Supporting Actress nominations respectively. 

The film is a trip and not for everyone, but it's an achievement nonetheless. You can read my full review here and check it out on the big screen. The production design alone is deserving of a trip to your local theater.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?


You've never seen Melissa McCarthy like this before. Based on the true story of disgraced author turned forger, Lee Israel, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is one of the best works from a female writer/director duo this year (Nicole Holofcener and Marielle Heller) and its two leads, McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, received Golden Globe nominations for their performances. It's a great pick for your weekend watching.

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Streaming


Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


After sweeping at the Emmy's earlier this year, the comedy from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino continues on the path to being one of the best shows in recent memory. The show followed up its second season debut on Wednesday with Golden Globe nominations yesterday for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy and acting nominations for its stars Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein.  

The show follows a vibrant, budding stand-up comedian who faces all of the challenges you would expect from trying to break into an industry that isn't exactly friendly to women, especially in the 1950s. You can watch the show's first and second seasons on Amazon Prime and trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Black Panther


If you haven't seen Black Panther yet, you should really be ashamed of yourself. But even if you have, now's a great time for a rewatch since the film received a Best Picture nomination!

After all of the drama with the now nixed "Best Popular Film" category announcement from the Academy, which Black Panther was at the center of since it lands firmly in the "blockbuster" category (a category that the Academy was trying to acknowledge), I'm glad its Golden Globe nominations (two total including Best Original Score) can serve as a reminder that good storytelling (usually) transcends awards season politics.

Black Panther is currently streaming on Netflix.

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10.26.2018

What to watch this weekend: Grief in space and true stories of terror

I would be lying if I said that I've been impressed at the theater these past couple of weeks. The usual hustle that comes with trying to keep up with all of the awards season movies has left me a little bit disappointed so far this year. BUT. There are a lot of great films on the horizon as some of my most anticipated films roll out in the coming weeks. I've been more impressed sitting on my couch at home watching Netflix than I have in a movie theater seat. Private Life, a family drama about infertility is currently streaming on Netflix and it's well worth your time.

Whether you plan to catch a movie at your local theater this week, or you're looking for something to stream, here are a few recommendations to carry you into the weekend.

First Man


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While I can't say I was blown away by this film like I was hoping, I did find Damien Chazelle's take on Neil Armstrong's story compelling. Following the success of La La Land, Chazelle continues to impress with his elevated approach to storytelling.

Honing in on the personal life of Armstrong rather than the moon landing event itself, this film is beautifully crafted from a technical standpoint and gives a unique glimpse into the life of a man who has left such an important mark on our country's history. It's worth your time at the theater this weekend.

A Star Is Born


I had mixed feelings about this film. It's stunning, but thematically problematic. It's hard to deny the swoon-worthy quality of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga and Cooper gives his audience a lot to look at, listen to, and process in his version of this well-worn story. 

Despite its conclusion, the film is a great cinematic experience and I would recommend making time to see it. You're going to be hearing a lot about it as awards season picks up.

22 July


Netflix continues to push out great content in this banner year for the platform. Currently available to stream and in select theaters is the true story of the worst terrorist attack in Norway's history. Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) does a phenomenal job capturing the terror that those impacted by the attack must have experienced.

Excellent performances all around from Anders Danielsen Lie who is quite literally the face of terror in this film to Jonas Strand Gravli who embodies what it's like to be a survivor in light of such a horrific event.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


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Foodies will rejoice when they come across this show on Netflix. The premise is based on Samin Norsat's belief that a good meal is comprised of four basic components: salt, fat, acid, and heat and her book by the same name.

Her joy of cooking is contagious and she pays as much respect to the cultures represented as the food itself. The show is educational, but also gives you a chance to take a deep breath and be swept away. Be prepared to drool a little (or a lot) when you see the delicious Ligurian focaccia and homemade pasta and pesto. And that's just the first episode.

Whether you are going to cozy up on your couch this weekend or venture out, happy watching!

10.20.2018

Private Life is a painful and beautiful story about infertility


Despite the proliferation of programming, quality doesn't necessarily come at the cost of quantity when it comes to Netflix. This year is a benchmark year for the streaming service with the acquisition of Roma and the fact that it snatched up Annihilation, which isn't available on the U.S. version of the platform, but was released in theaters earlier this year.


Though it was screened in a handful of theaters and debuted at Sundance in early 2018, Private Life is one such example of an award-worthy film that's easily accessible for Netflix subscribers. In fact, the movie was nominated for Best Screenplay and Kathryn Hahn received a well-deserved nomination for her performance by the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

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Tamara Jenkins, who wrote and directed Private Life following her highly praised 2007 film, Savages, draws from deeply personal experiences to tell her stories. She accomplishes what alludes many filmmakers by giving us a great gift: empathy. Having our eyes opened to someone else's experience is one the most important functions of a film.  

Jenkins helps her audience experience empathy in a variety of nuanced ways. She juxtaposes the intimacy that is supposed to go along with trying to have a baby with the pain that many couples experience during the ups and downs of fertility treatments. She paints an honest portrayal of a couple going through the emotional upheaval of trying to get pregnant. She communicates the struggle of infertility in a way only a woman who has walked the same path can.


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Watching this film came at a poignant time for me as Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (the brilliant Paul Giamatti) navigate life in the East Village and squeeze into their Manhattan apartment with their two dogs. A recent New York transplant myself, I couldn't help but smile about what my new big city life might hold for me. The couple captures the career-focused New Yorker perfectly. They have been consumed with their art and hit mid-life with the panicked realization that it might be "too late" to have a family just when they want to more than anything else.

The process of trying to have a baby while struggling with infertility is an experience that so many couples face, and Jenkins has the creative dexterity to capture both the pain and even humor that can go hand in hand. Jenkins tells their story in an honest and beautiful way and she presents an unflinching look at questions that need to be wrestled through, especially when it's not always black and white.

The complexity of their situation is best portrayed when their niece, Sadie (Kayli Carter), comes to visit. Sadie is an undergraduate student trying to find her way and discover her purpose. When Richard and Rachel are looking at "last resort" options to get pregnant their doctor recommends embryo donation. What better person to go on this wild ride with them than someone they know and trust like family (though, thankfully is not technically related to them).


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Sadie is sweet and well-intentioned, though naive. She's the stereotypical undergrad student who knows a little bit about a lot and is not afraid to share her opinions with the world. She is a breath of fresh air in Rachel and Richard's life and she just might be the key to helping them fulfill their longing to have a baby. Sadie's parents (played by Molly Shannon and John Carroll Lynch) and are not such big fans of the idea and their concerns are well-founded, but the film doesn't shy away from discussions around the "best" or most conventional ways to start a family and it gives us an opportunity to wrestle with that as well.

If you're looking for a feel-good movie, this isn't it. If you're looking for an affecting story that is brutally honest and carries a twinge of hope throughout, Private Life is a good pick as you're browsing Netflix. It's one of my favorite family dramas of the year. Hopefully we don't have to wait so long for another gem from Tamara Jenkins.