I can blame many things for the lack of writing over the past several months but none really excuse the ever-widening gap between the last time I wrote about movies and today. It’s been a year of change and instability, and while I feel like I have been woefully behind with my movies this year, I finally feel like things are steadying enough to sit down and write.
Since it was a surprisingly strong summer and we’re already well into awards season, I thought this first post back could do a quick review of only the movies I’ve seen so far that will likely be contenders or that I just really enjoyed and then wrap up with a preview of what I am most looking forward to in the coming weeks and months.
But before I can say anything, a disclaimer: since I last wrote, I have moved to New York and begun working at the talent department at a major entertainment agency. It will be inevitable for me moving forward to discuss movies and performances without occasionally discussing my company’s clients. So from now on if there is ever a project I am talking about that involves a client on whose team I’m on, I will just add a little note up front so as to keep everything transparent.
So without further ado and excuses and disclaimers, I give you: my year in film thus far:
Putting this first not just because it was one of the first movies I saw this year but also because it’s still easily one of the BEST from the year. I really really really hope its early release doesn’t hurt its chances because it so deserves every ounce of recognition during the awards season. Jordan Peele needs to be nominated for directing and/or screenplay or the whole thing is a sham. Horror movies usually aren’t my thing, but this one just knocked it out of the park — subverting the genre and giving us one of the most fun experiences at the movies of the year. Just, go watch it. Seriously.
The Big Sick
*Disclaimer: we represent Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon but that in no way has influenced how much I loved this movie. Easily one of my favorites from the summer, it’s been a while since I watched a rom-com that was so genuinely funny AND emotionally grounded. Similar to Get Out, it both subverted and reinvigorated the genre, and did it all within the framework of a true story!! Throw in killer turns from Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents and a unique view into Pakistani culture, I don’t understand how anyone could come away from this movie with anything but a smile. The more I think about it, the more I believe it’s one of the best rom-coms that has graced our screens in ages — and everyone should check it out.
*Disclaimer: when this came out, we were working both with Steven Yeun and Giancarlo Esposito but again that in no way influenced my feelings on the movie. I went into this one knowing only the most basic framework of what it was about, and I was so taken away with everything about it. The A-list roster of actors, already so brilliant, are elevated at director Bong Joon-ho’s hand — especially Ahn Seo-hyun who carries the entire weight of the movie’s emotional core on her young shoulders and does so exquisitely. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea and some may argue its heavy-handedness (though I disagree). But allow yourself to be swept away with these characters, and the rest falls seamlessly into place.
I am here for Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins and a female-led superhero movie having one of the best box offices of the year. My friend and I walked out of that movie HYPED and feeling like BADASS women and I was so pumped I literally went straight to the gym and worked out for two hours and then couldn’t move for five days but it was GREAT. What more is there to say other than I hope Hollywood takes note on this movie’s massive financial and cultural success and continues to take chances on female directors and female-driven stories, even within the typically male-dominated superhero world.
Y’all I love Jon Hamm so much. I feel like this was the first performance since Don Draper that really allowed him to shine in a dramatic role. Sadly, despite that killer opening scene and a great cast all around, the movie seems to have slowly slipped away from any of the big conversations. So, though it was a super fun movie to watch (and honestly pretty great considering the usual summer slump), I don’t see it being a major part of the awards conversation. Maybe production design or cinematography but I’m not holding my breath. But oof… that opening scene alone makes it worth it.
Wow wow wow watching this movie in theaters was an unbelievable experience and one that will absolutely stand out in top film moments of the year. Despite being a summer release, with all the makings of your typical war movie blockbuster, this one shattered my expectations by crafting a deeply emotional story (or stories) about one singular event in history. And it somehow manages to do this with stripped-down characters and a light script, focusing on the little human moments rather than expansive backstories. I will be shocked if Christopher Nolan doesn’t finally snag his first directing Oscar nom for this one. And don’t be surprised if Mark Rylance makes his way into the Supporting Actor category as well (I’ve learned not to underestimate him after Bridge of Spies)!
Battle of the Sexes
I have to be honest — I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great, and honestly Emma Stone and Steve Carrell were just SO good playing off of each other, it made it all really fun to watch. My critique is mostly with the script, which I felt really missed an opportunity to elevate the movie above some of the more cliché and over-the-top aspects of the story. A more subtle approach would have been more impactful. But it is all redeemed during the final showdown — I don’t think I’ve ever been so tense watching a tennis match (real or film). Overall not a bad way to spend a movie night.
I kind of wish I could have gone into this movie knowing nothing about it — it would have been a trip. Alas, though I avoided all the spoilers and think pieces, I did know what the gist of it was all about. But that didn’t stop me from being completely STUNNED. This is not a film I would recommend to everyone. Darren Aronofsky is a very distinct (some might say, acquired) taste. But if you can stomach the strange and weird and shocking, then it’s worth watching. I tend to be ambivalent towards JLaw but if there ever was a role for which she really showcases her range and deserves the recognition, it’s this one. It’s hard to say more without giving it all away so I’ll leave it at this — if you do go see it, keep your mind open… and your stomach empty.
Man, this year has really changed my whole thing on horror movies — I was actually so excited for this one and despite having my eyes covered for like half of it (I just really hate gore!!!) I can still appreciate a good thriller when I see one. It was one of those love-to-be-scared kind of movies that still manages to go beyond the typical tropes and jump-scares and hit the right emotional beats (Stephen King, amirite?!) The ensemble cast of kids is brilliant and I’m really looking forward to part two to see how they tie it all together.
ALRIGHT and to think it’s an off year for me. Lots of good ones coming up so expect another long juicy post soon — already I’ve been able to check out early screenings of Murder on the Orient Express, Lady Bird, and Call Me By Your Name and have another one lined up for I, Tonya on Monday. Also finally checked off Blade Runner: 2049 last weekend, which I’ll include in the next roundup. Here’s a little preview of my upcoming watch list:
The Florida Project
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Thank You For Your Service
Last Flag Flying
Let’s see how many more I can squeeze in these next few weeks! The year is coming to an end and there’s no time to waste — so until next time, happy watching!