Friday, January 22, 2021

If I Could Choose The Nominations (OSCARS 2020)

I don't know if anybody has ever thought this, but I wonder how many film fans have ever wondered what they'd do if they got the chance to choose the Oscars.

I'm not talking predictions. It can be fairly easy to try and get inside the head of a pompous Hollywood snob and try and act like you can see the future. But honestly, if you ever asked yourself, what would you pick for the Oscars if it were up to you? What would you do if The Academy came to your door tomorrow and said "We need YOU to determine Oscar Nominations, all by yourself, have at it?" What would you do with such power?

This isn't meant to be a list of predictions, and if I end up getting some right, well that's cool and all, but it's merely a bonus. This is who I would hope and love gets all the love from the Oscars this year.

Lead Actor

Delroy Lindo- “Da 5 Bloods”

Kingsley Ben-Air- “One Night In Miami”

Pete Davidson- "The King of Staten Island"

Riz Ahmed- “Sound of Metal”

Chadwick Boseman- “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

 

Lead Actress

Carey Mulligan- “Promising Young Woman”

Vanessa Kirby- “Pieces of A Woman”

Viola Davis- “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Radha Blank- “The 40-Year-Old Version”

Jessie Buckley- “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

 

Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen- “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Leslie Odom Jr.- “One Night In Miami”

Bill Murray- “On The Rocks”

Charles Dance- “Mank”

Orion Lee- “First Cow”

 

Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova- “Borat Subsequent MovieFilm”

Amanda Seyfried- “Mank”

Glenn Close- “Hillbilly Elergy”

Olivia Cooke- “Sound of Metal”

Talia Ryder- “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

 

Adapted Screenplay

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

First Cow

One Night In Miami

Shirley

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 

Original Screenplay

Da 5 Bloods

The King of Staten Island

On The Rocks

Promising Young Woman

Mank

 

Animated Feature

Soul

Wolfwalkers

Trolls World Tour

The Croods 2

Onward

 

Visual Effects

Wonder Woman 1984

Greenland

The Midnight Sky

Tenet

The Invisible Man

 

Make-Up and Hairstyling

Wonder Woman 1984

Birds of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Mank

First Cow

Borat Subsequent MovieFilm

 

Costume Design

Emma.

Mank

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Possessor

Mulan

 

Sound Editing

Sound of Metal

(I don’t know who else to nominate)

 

Sound Mixing

Sound of Metal

(I don’t know who else to nominate)

 

Cinematography

Tenet

First Cow

She Dies Tomorrow

Da 5 Bloods

The King of Staten Island

 

Documentary Feature

The Beastie Boys Story

Boys State

My Darling Vivian

The Painter and the Thief

Dick Johnson is Dead

 

Original Song

“Speak Now” One Night In Miami

“Wuhan Flu” Borat Subsequent MovieFilm

“Just Sing” Trolls: World Tour

“Green” Sound of Metal

“Only The Young” Miss Americana

 

Original Score

Soul

She Dies Tomorrow

Palm Springs

The Forty Year Old Version

Possessor

 

Production Design

First Cow

Greyhound

The Christmas Chronicles 2

Possessor

Mank

 

Best Picture

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The King of Staten Island

Da 5 Bloods

She Dies Tomorrow

On The Rocks

Promising Young Woman

One Night In Miami

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Sound of Metal

 

Best Director

Amy Seimetz- “She Dies Tomorrow”

Sofia Coppola- “On The Rocks”

Spike Lee- “Da 5 Bloods”

Regina King- “One Night In Miami”

Judd Apatow- “The King of Staten Island”



 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

A Look At "One Night In Miami" & "Promising Young Woman"

My film years usually take on the same shape. I don't do this professionally. This is just a hobby I do when I have free time. Due to the way release dates, film festivals and such work, it can sometimes take longer than usual for people to see something. A movie can be a Sundance sensation in January but may not get a national release date until December. Sometimes that's just how the calendar works. Since I am not a professional critic, I don't get to see anything early. But honestly, the release dates aren't important. I just want to watch what looks interesting to me and hope I like it. 

It's a great weekend for movies if you play your cards right. One film in particular is free on Amazon Prime, if that's a streaming service you have. Another is available to rent on VOD right now. Each film is worth your time and attention. Both of these movies were hotly talked about as the year came to a close, and I was so happy to finally lay eyes on them. I am talking about "One Night In Miami..." and "Promising Young Woman."

I figured I'd like "One Night In Miami." It's based off a popular stage play, it involves some actors I really dig, and let me say, these young men display profound performances here. "One Night In Miami" also happens to be the directorial debut of Regina King. King is an actress who has starred in things as varied as "Friday," "Daddy Day Care," "Watchmen," "Boys N The Hood," and "Enemy of the State." So she does a little of everything, and she's someone I've admired for years now. I thought for sure it would be good, and I am happy to report that it didn't disappoint. "Promising Young Woman" was more of a mystery to me, and I have to say that its a film that definitely will fool its audience if you've only seen the trailers. It's not at all the movie you think it is, and I feel any time I say that, you are in for a good time.

"One Night In Miami" tells the story of real life friends Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke meeting in Miami to celebrate the surprise title win by Ali over Sonny Liston. These iconic men were friends in real life, and the stage play in which the film is based on was a true story. Over the course of the evening, they will laugh together, make fun of each other, challenge each other, get mad at each other and simply get each other to see life in a different way. What ensues is a movie that is just plain electrifying to listen to. 

What I was most impressed by with "One Night In Miami" is how Regina King was able to avoid making the movie feel like a stage play. I know it sounds easier said than done, but how many of you have seen movies based on stage plays? Simply by design and circumstance, most movies based on plays kind of feel like they still plays, just recorded and starring big name actors. With "One Night in Miami," the set up of scenes, the careful consideration of the direction both contribute to the film feeling cinematic. Even though most of the film still takes place in a hotel room, the way the movie moves feels natural and not awkward as if on some kind of stage. If this is the eye Regina is working with, then I will be very excited to see what movies she has in her future.

"One Night In Miami" is a drama you may call "talky," but what keeps you watching is the absolutely revelatory performances by the main actors. Leslie Odom Jr. plays Sam Cooke, Aldris Hodge plays Jim Brown, Eli Goree plays Muhammad Ali and Kingsley Ben-Adir plays Malcolm X and honestly I don't know who you nominate for the Oscars this year. They all give such astounding performances that its hard to even rank them...Well...hmmm....maybe...I take that back. I think the most talked about performance of the bunch will definitely be Ben Adir's work as Malcolm X. because it feels less like a performance and more like somebody invented a time machine and brought the man here to make the movie. His speech, the way he carries himself, his demeanor, you're gonna mistake him for the real guy over and over again. Between the performances, the costumes, the choices of direction, "One Night In Miami" is going to be a movie you positively get lost in.


I may not feel completely comfortable with who should get nominated for "One Night In Miami," but I absolutely feel comfortable giving a shoutout to Cary Mulligan for her work in "Promising Young Woman," because holy crap this is her as I've never seen her before. While there are movies with her in them that I've enjoyed, I can't say I've ever been a Mulligan fan. I never disliked her, she never ruined a movie by her mere presence. I guess I was just waiting for her to really burst off the screen for me. Well, she absolutely did that with her incredible work in "Promising Young Woman."

You may watch the first teaser trailer on YouTube for "Promising Young Woman" and think "Oh, its another rape-revenge fantasy in the vein of 'I Spit On Your Grave' or something." The first trailer certainly makes the film look like a woman is going out in the night, pretending to get drunk at the club, seeing if a guy will try to take her home and take advantage of her while she's intoxicated. Then she'll reveal she's not really drunk and kill them. That's what the trailer looks like, but that's not "Promising Young Woman." 

Mulligan plays Cassie Thomas, a 30-year-old woman still living with her parents working a dead-end job at a random, nameless coffee shop. Every night she goes out, pretends to be intoxicated, waits for a guy to try and take her home to see if they can get lucky with a drunk girl. She then reveals she isn't drunk. This isn't a slasher film though, she's not offing these guys, she is attempting to talk sense into them, to make sure they don't try and pull anything like this again. Cassie keeps a miniature notebook, which has many marks in them representing the many men she's done this to. She feels obligated to do this because back when Cassie was in med school, she found out her childhood friend Nina (who was also in the same med school as Cassie) was raped while she was drunk. Nina then dropped out of school and eventually committed suicide, while her attacker graduated top of the class. 

Yes, "Promising Young Woman" is a movie that definitely takes advantage of the recent #MeToo movement. There is definitely a percentage of the audience that will scoff at this film and accuse it of being "woke bullshit." But that's precisely the point the movie is trying to make. Without getting into the rest of the plot, there are definitely some creative decisions made that I think will only fuel that groups opinion, and that's a shame. Because overall, the movie does a great job conveying why this is such a hot topic. The problem of rape and consent is very real, and has this film highlights, many people work as enablers that allow this behavior to keep going and that stacks the deck for the attackers against the victims. It's a real problem that if we don't change our cultural thinking entirely, this will sadly never change. 

The whole movie isn't just Cassie trying to talk sense into men the whole time. There are very specific people Cassie is targeting here and like I said, this isn't some kind of slasher movie. Cassie is the type of threat where she is several steps ahead of everyone and the ways she gets some form of revenge is honestly very clever. Sure, the club scenes are darkly funny, and I think its clever that actors like Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Max Greenfield play some of her victims. Rapists from clubs don't look like Hollywood supervillains, they look like regular people. They look like "nice guys." That's the joke. Yes, "Promising Young Woman" is, much like "The Hunt" a very serious dark comedy. It's got some very strict and stern points to make, but how the film is able to shake a laugh out of you is also shockingly wicked.

I'll be interested to see how audiences really react to this because I think the ending is very polarizing. I don't want to get into spoilers right now. And I'm thinking of maybe writing a more in-depth piece on the movie in a couple weeks. I'm not sure I was the target audience for this movie but I can't help but admit that I'm completely smitten with this film. It affected me more than I ever thought possible. But it doesn't have the conventional happy ending and like I alluded to above, the only flaw I recognized is just how cynical the worldview the movie features. I don't know if everyone will dig this film's ending, but the way justice is served in these cases, perhaps this was the only ending possible.

So you've got two great movies to choose from this weekend. Two great movies. But great for very different reasons. Choose wisely. Or watch both. Fair thee well.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Most Anticipated 2021 Films?


Every year I discuss how after I post my Best of lists, I always say that after I look at the year that just ended, it's fun to look at what is ahead. I then get into a list of films for the new year. I will give release dates, show pictures and trailers (if a trailer is available) and I let you guys know what I am most looking forward to. Last year, I talked about a ton of films that I am over-the-moon excited for.

Then basically none of those movies came out. 

Nobody could have seen just how serious and how dangerous the COVID-19 would become. But it was so serious that it closed movie theaters and it forced studios to quickly retool their entire release year. 2020 was a different for many people for long list of reasons. But for those seeking entertainment, we didn't get many of the big Hollywood blockbusters in 2020, which made 2020 a year of the indie. It felt like a nice departure if you ask me. But I've discussed this pretty extensively at this point. I am not going to discuss my woes of the business and I am not trying to get political with COVID talk (we've had more than enough of that already). But I am going to be kind of cautions when approaching this list. While I think its great that a COVID vaccine is slowly making its way out to the masses, it's still making its way slowly to the masses. 2021 is still going to be a weird year, as some are still predicting that it could still take until the Spring in order for everyone to get the vaccine. 

And even once a large enough portion of the population are vaccinated, I doubt that people are just going to rush back to the theaters once they can.

As much as I want to tell you how excited I am to finally see "No Time To Die," "Bob's Burgers" and "A Quiet Place II" in April. Or "Black Widow" in May. Or "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" in June. Or Top Gun: Maverick in July. I am still a bit skeptical whether or not those get released then. I mean "Morbius" got scooched AGAIN to October 2021. Will the release date game happen again in 2021? It's hard to say.

Some studios are doing their best to accommodate the weird year. Trying to roll with the punches and I can respect that. It was big news when Warner Bros announced they will be releasing pretty much their entire 2021 slate on HBOMax (same day as theaters) and it looks like they will treat it as they are doing for "Wonder Woman 1984" and the movies will be available on the streaming service for one month. The movies being released this year on HBOMax include "Mortal Kombat," "The Suicide Squad," "Matrix 4," "Space Jam: A New Legacy," "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It," "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Tom and Jerry," "Judas and the Black Messiah," "Dune" and the Soprano's prequel "The Many Saint's of Newark."

What am I excited for based on the list above? Well it kills me that "Dune" was ready to go in December, then the virus hit and they took it off the release schedule, just to release in OCTOBER! Seriously, we couldn't get "Dune" in January or February? I'm curious for "Mortal Kombat." Hiroyuki Sanada is my favorite Japanese actor, and he's playing Scorpion. A character who not only is one of the most popular Mortal Kombat characters, but one of the faces of the franchise. I'll watch just for him. I think other than the MCU, the Godzilla/King Kong cinematic universe has been the second most successful cineamtic universe so far, so I do want to see "Godzilla vs. Kong." Because of writer/director James Gunn, I am 100% absolutely on board for "The Suicide Squad."

Netflix also will apparently be releasing a new movie every week. Now, because Netflix was the first revolutionize the streaming service, they don't own any big brands or anything (other than Millarworld comics, and I can't believe they've done jack shit with it), but Netflix is finally getting better getting cool stuff made. Science fiction action film "Outside The Wire" will be released tomorrow, it stars Anthony Mackie. The dramatic comedy "The White Tiger," coming January 22nd. "Penguin Bloom" with Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln will be released on the 27th. 

Other streaming services will continue to be an avenue for new releases and exciting content for 2021. "Nomadland" was one of the most lauded films of 2020 and it will hit Hulu on February 19th and I am really excited for that. The biopic film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" features a loaded cast and will be released on Hulu on February 26th.  "Coming 2 America" will release on Amazon Prime on March 5th. Then there is AppleTV+, a service that I have to say positively blindsided me this year. Tom Holland's "Cherry" looks kind of interesting, and that will be released on AppleTV+ also on February 26th. "Raya and the Last Dragon" was announced by Disney at their recent stockholder meeting and the movie will be released March 5th and will also appear simultaneously on Disney+. "Flora & Ulysses" will release on Disney+ on February 19th. So you'll have some at-home family stuff to enjoy early this year.

As of right now, the other major Disney releases this year, "Encanto," "Jungle Cruise," "Luca" and "Cruella" (Yep, a movie about THAT Cruella, it's starring Emma Stone) have no plans for any sort of Disney+ release, although who knows what could change.

These are all the movies of the year I know for sure are coming out. It's tough to predict the year out as far as other releases go. I hope to see "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" on June 25th, simply because I love the idea of Woody Harrelson playing Carnage. I hope "Shang Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings" and "The Eternals" are big hits for Marvel, because I've been missing me some MCU. I hope "The Green Knight" is another indie sensation for A24, which is becoming my favorite studio in the business now. I hope we get to sit in a movie theater again this year, and I hope we all can enjoy "The Hitman Wife's Bodyguard," "Hotel Transylvania 4," "Candyman," "Halloween Kills," "Mission: Impossible 7," "Sing 2," Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" and that completely crazy third "Spider-Man" movie coming in December. I hope we get these movies this year. I hope we can at least, start to see a hint normalcy again this year.

But whether we can go back to the theater again, or whether we enjoy movies from home again this year or heck maybe a little bit of both. I am just hoping for another good year of movies in 2021. 

What are you most excited for?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_films_of_2021

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

I Joined Letterboxd!


I recently joined the Facebook for Film Fans. Yep, I decided to give Letterboxd a try and now I am officially addicted.

I decided to join for a couple different reasons. I have always wondered how many movies I actually watch in a year. Including new releases I review on this site, favorites I re-watch and stuff from the past that I am watching for the first time. Letterboxd has a cool diary feature where you can log the movie you see in a day. You can date the movies you watch, so you can see all you've seen in a given year. It may seem easy but sometimes I forget. So it's a cool feature to log and see what all you see in a given year.

I like the list feature on Letterboxd much better than I did on IMDB. I still like IMDB, it's a good source of information and I will still use IMDB's list feature to keep track of TV shows I am watching, but they changed how list making works and it hasn't appealed to me in years. The way to make lists on Letterboxd is much easier to use and it makes sure you don't add the same movies twice. I've been using the list making features on Letterboxd because I want to really see how many movies I've seen in my life and I've been breaking some lists down by decade to help count. I've always wondered how many I've seen and now I am on my way to find out. I've also reposted my Top 1000 movies from the summer and it's been slightly...only slightly...modified since its publication in the summer.

Man, I got a little ahead of myself. What is Letterboxd? In case you are unaware, Letterboxd is just as I described, its Facebook for Film Fans. You can track what you've seen, make lists, connect to other fans through the movies you watch, post reviews, look up information. It's a cool resource and just fun to use. If you like movies you should check it out.

While You, Me and Movies is my baby and I ain't quitting around here, I will post mini reviews on Letterboxd, hoping to also use Letterboxd as a source to see if I can spread the word on my writings a bit. If not, oh well. Just seeing what comes of it.

If you are on Letterboxd, here is a link to my profile, follow me! This will be my 2021 hobby!

 https://letterboxd.com/bloggershawn/

Monday, January 11, 2021

Best TV of 2020

 I've been a little late bringing you this list.

As the movie studios were hustling trying to figure out how they were going to release their movies, and trying to decide which movies would get moved to next year, TV productions (some of them, at least) were stalled, and some shows got pushed to later in the year due to COVID. Since many people were in, you had a steady stream of content to watch and there was still plenty of new (returning and "new"
 new shows) to watch while everyone was hunkered down in their homes waiting COVID-19 out. There was actually a tremendous surge of new shows. I could have easily made an entire 20 list of new shows. But some of my favorite shows delivered as well, and some even ended their entire runs with all barrels blazing (something that is hard to come by in the TV world). The 2010's definitely changed TV in a big way, TV has never been treated as seriously as it has been ever before (You can argue that this actually started in the late 2000's) and we'll have to hope that the streak continues for the unforeseeable future. As I said though, LOTS of great potential in 2020, so I think this era of great TV isn't slowing down for anything.

As always, I will give you my ten favorite new shows from 2020. Everything that just got started or a new miniseries. Then I will give you my ten favorite returning shows of 2020. Veteran TV that had strong seasons, shows I still can't get enough of.

THE TEN BEST NEW SHOWS

1. The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)

All the hype you've heard about this one is real. "The Queen's Gambit" is fast-paced, engaging entertainment. For someone who never got into chess and never understood the fascination of it, this is a miniseries that kept me on the edge of my seat. Anya Taylor-Joy is quickly becoming one of my very favorite actresses, and she delivers here. Her Beth Harmon was one of the most unique TV heroes of the year and her journey through this miniseries was a delight.


2. Lovecraft Country (HBO)

The African American journey through the history of our nation is a horror movie. Easily the coolest and strangest show to hit the small screen this year was this wicked little gem. Based upon a novel by Matt Ruff, the series follows Jonathon Majors' Atticus as he travels across 1950's segregated America in search of his missing father. On his journey, he comes across a mysterious town and finds out his lineage is full of secrets, the dark kind. I don't know what Ruff saw in H.P. Lovecraft's writings that he could use to tell metaphors about how we've treated African Americans in this country, but the show is delightfully haunting and crazy weird in the best possible way. I can't wait for more.

3. Ted Lasso (AppleTV+)

The world needed Ted Lasso in 2020.

"Ted Lasso" tells the story of the title character played by Jason Sudeikis. A college football coach who takes a job as head coach an English Premiere League team. He moves to England to coach, the townfolk don't really believe in him, he has no experience coaching soccer, and the league itself needed to fill the spot out of desperation, and view Lasso as disposable. Lasso represents the best possible type of American, someone we all should strive to be. Nothing ever stresses him out, he sees the good in every person, in every situation. He tries to make everyone around him as comfortable as possible, and not in a creepy way but in a sincere way. He's basically Steve Rogers without the super soldier serum and who is much more passive. He's able to get to the heart of everyone around him simply by being his thoughtful, aw-shucks self. It's a reminder of what America can be when its at its best, and this is a show every American owes themselves to watch.

4. How To With John Wilson (HBO)

One show that I desperately fell in love with in the 2010's was "Nathan For You." I know based upon the type of humor that show featured, it wasn't for everyone. I'm not sure awkward humor is something that appeals to the masses, but it certainly worked for me. Nathan Fielder returned as producer on the #4 show on this list. "How To With John Wilson" was exactly how it sounds. A documentarian focuses on a different subject each episode, and teaches you how to do things. From proper scaffolding to cooking risotto, each topic is pretty random but ties into Wilson's hometown of New York City in goofy ways. It has that awkward humor you remember from "Nathan For You," but its not nearly as cringey as the humor from that show. I hope we get a second season of this.

5. The Last Dance (ESPN/Netflix)

I must be a pretty hardcore Millennial for including this but I remember just how remarkable it was to watch the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. When Phil Jackson was coaching and Jordan had Pippen and Rodman in his corner. It didn't seem like basketball, it seemed like performance art. Watching Jordan, Rodman, Pippen, Jackson, and even Steve Kerr, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and others reflect on the 1990's Bulls getting their dynasty was a delight and it was one of those cool time machine moments that felt better than it really had any business being. (It has also been source of some pretty funny memes) Also, a nice send-off to Kobe Bryant was very nice as well.

6. Dave (FX)

If awkward humor isn't your cup of tea, perhaps you may like some oddball, dramedy style instead? "Dave" tells a fictional story (which could be self-autobiographical) about a fictional version of the rapper Lil Dicky. Lil Dicky is convinced he's to be one of the greatest rappers of all time, and this first season represents the first steps in that odyssey. FX may be adopting a certain type and style of television show at this point, but its hard to argue against the catalog they're building. I can't wait to see much more of "Dave."

7. I'm Not Okay With This (Neflix)

Shame on Netflix. Seriously, shame on Netflix. I am sincerely sorry if this show didn't reach its audience. Or that maybe they didn't see the value in continuing this particular story. But I am sincerely going to miss "I'm Not Okay With This" after one season. This is was a crazy mixture of a John Hughes teen comedy mixed with a comic book superhero story, but with a 21st Century touch. It was smart, it was funny, it was heartfelt. And I am going to be forever butthurt we didn't get more of this story. Maybe if everybody starts tuning in now we can shame Netflix into a revival!

8. We Are Who We Are (HBO)

A common theme in this latter half of the list could be described as child actors who all starred in "IT" together come of age. Sophie Lillis and Wyett Olef both starred in "I'm Not Okay With This" and Jack Dylan Grazer absolutely electrifies in "We Are Who We Are." Grazer as Fraser. A boy whose mother is in the military and they move to a military base town in Italy in 2016. If you ever forgot what its like being a teenager, this show immerses you in the wild roller-coaster that is being a teenager. It's about friendship, first love, and most of all, figuring out who you are. Told in such a delicate, elegant fashion that feels like great storytelling. Oh, and all the "IT" kids are going to be famous for many years to come. Yep.

9. The Midnight Gospel (Netflix)

Pendleton Ward first hit my radar with "Adventure Time" and I've liked all the "Distant Lands" specials on HBOMax so far. Ward shifts gears quite a bit with "The Midnight Gospel" which he created with comedian Duncan Trussell. It's a unique adult animated show where actual recorded interviews from Trussell's podcasts are set to some very wild animated adventures. The show is set in the dimension called the Chromatic Ribbon and Trussell plays Clancy Gilroy who owns an "unlicensed multiverse" and travels to different world within said multiverse to interview people for his spacecast. It's silly and strange and wild and it's just what I needed for a crazy year. I hope this isn't our only visit to the Chromatic Ribbon.

10. Normal People (Hulu)

Sometimes, love is complicated. Sometimes, it may even be forbidden. No matter what though, all of our decisions create consequences and those consequences can either be good or bad. This Irish romance debuted on BBC One in April and eventually made onto Hulu. It follows the lives of Marianne and Connell. Connell is a popular boy in school and Marianne is an outsider, and they secretly meet with each other for romantic time. They eventually begin to really fall for each other, but due to high school politics, nobody can know they are together. Connell's friends make fun of Marianne, mostly in front of Connell, which eventually strains their relationship, not just after high school but further on in their lives. The smallest actions can affect your entire future, and that came brutally clear in this riveting drama.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
(Again, it was a year full of great NEW TV, and if 2020 was any indicator, we are in for a great decade of TV. Also check out the following)

HBO's "The Flight Attendant," Netflix's "Sweet Home," HBO's "I May Destroy You," FX's "A Teacher," AppleTV+'s "Central Park," HBO's "Raised By Wolves," Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere," Netflix's "#blackAF," FOX's "LEGO Masters"
 
The Ten Best Returning Shows

Here is a list of the best shows that had a previous season.

1. Bojack Horseman (Netflix)
The saddest entertainment moment of 2020 was saying goodbye to BoJack for the last time.

2. The Mandalorian (Disney+)
That finale though. All the feels.

3. Better Things (FX)
I continue to enjoy the upside down life of Sam Fox

4. The Good Place (NBC)
Okay, it was really sad saying goodbye to the Good Place for the last time.

5. Harley Quinn (DCUniverse)
If there is any show that needs about ten spin-offs, its Harley Quinn. I want to spend as much time as possible in this warped DC Universe.

6. Modern Family (ABC)
Okay, Okay. saying goodbye to BoJack and the Good Place was hard. But man, so was saying goodbye to the Pritchett's and the Dunphy's for the last time. Sheesh.

7. After Life (Netflix)
Losing a loved one is devastating and Ricky Gervase is an English treasure.

8. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
Any year when Rick Sanchez gives a random alien a gift box featuring an anus-hole that farts out a middle finger, is a good year indeed.

9. Superstore (NBC)
The COVID-19 jokes were good in this show.

10. Fargo (FX)
I don't know if I liked season four as much as the previous seasons, but it's still a ton of fun. It also features the best work Chris Rock has done so far.

That's it for me. My Top Films and TV lists are published. I can put a stick in 2020 now. It's done. Time to engage completely in the entertainment of 2021! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Review: "Pieces of A Woman" is devastating entertainment

 Pieces of A Woman Review


"Pieces of A Woman" features one of the most devastating first twenty minutes of any movie I can remember. It may be one of the very best first twenty minutes I've seen in modern movies. Remember the fun introduction of characters from 2006's "The Departed?" You meet all the players, the stakes are set and then as music by Dropkick Murphy's begins to sucker punch your brain, we see the title font reading "The Departed." It's an exhilarating first twenty minutes. Now, "Pieces of A Woman" has a first twenty minutes may rival those of "The Departed." Or maybe they aren't comparable, given the subject matter of each film. All I know is that after those first twenty minutes of "Pieces of A Woman," I was absolutely hooked.

We meet Martha, played by Vanessa Kirby. She's pregnant, looking as if she's going to be a new mother very, very soon. (Any woman who has ever given birth for a child and any dad's will probably know what I mean) She and her partner Sean (Shia LaBeouf), Martha's mother buys them a minivan, Sean gives Martha a framed picture of their baby's sonogram photos. They seem to care for each other very much. As we are seeing just the lives of these people as early evening turns into night, it's clear that Martha is going to have a home birth. They reach out to their midwife, who is out of town, so she sends someone she trusts, a midwife named Eva (Molly Parker). She gives birth, but things are not what they seem. Sean and Martha lose the baby and Martha gives birth.

The rest of the movie is the raw fallout of such an event. The decisions to several events come up that Martha must face. Martha wants to give the baby's body to science, her mother (played by Ellen Burstyn) wants to properly bury the child. There is a trial to see Eva intentionally had the baby killed, and whether Martha will go through with it for compensation. Martha and Sean are not married and their relationship is tested mightly afterward. And just the sadness that comes with losing a child that young. All of these things come to ahead by the end of the movie and the result is a devastating character piece and what we do when we are faced with impossible situations and what we really want from ourselves afterward.

The cast all around is just amazing. I think Vanessa Kirby could be nominated for an Oscar for her work here. While I liked her very much in the recent "Mission: Impossible" movies, she really upgrades as a performer and she delivers a profound performance. Shia LaBeouf, as I've said before, is beginning to build a great recent filmography and he has grown much as an actor. You can say this or that about his wild personal life, but its clear that when he's on set he has a laser focus. He is creating an amazing chorus line of memorable characters and I hope that streak continues. Ellen Burstyn is, as always, delectable. There's even some unexpectedly great supporting work here. Benny Safdie, co-director of "Uncut Gems" and "Good Time," does good work here. Comedian Iliza Shlesinger is great, yes Iliza Shlesinger does some really, really good work here. The women in this movie are so deglamorized, playing raw humans instead of typical Hollywood characters that I was taken aback by the power of their performance.

In just the last few years, movies have been doing a really good job of tapping into the power of grief in movies. "She Dies Tomorrow" was a movie from last year that ended up on my Top 20 of 2020 list, a movie that is very much about the way grief works like an infection that we can't shake. Grief is powerful and even personally this year I've learned just how powerful grief truly is. It's a horrible motherfucker and what I've been blown away by is how elegantly grief is portrayed here and how you can tell a depressing story and still get something worthwhile out of it. "Pieces of A Woman" destroyed me, but through the darkness was came something joyous.

FINAL GRADE: A

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

My 2020 TV Mash-up

As I said in my original post, I made a supercut of 2020 in film. I also afterward made a supercut of 2020 TV. I am still at work writing up my year end list for television and there was plenty to talk about as far as films are concerned for 2020. But before we get into that, here is a supercut I did of 2020 TV.