November 2017 Movie Roundup

So remember when I thought I was so behind on my movies this year that I went and watched TEN movies in four weeks to make up for it yeah me either except wait yeah that just happened this month.

Listen it has been a very weird year and nothing makes sense — starting with the fact that it is officially December and I still don’t really have any clear semblance of a frontrunner in any of the major categories. Options, yes. Many. So many contenders. But I cannot yet definitely make any sure bets. Whereas last year, Moonlight and La La Land had already established themselves as sure things, this year’s list has been ever-changing with each new release and nomination announcement.

These next few weeks should bring some clarity with the first of the major awards and nominations, including the Globes and SAG (more on that in my next post). But make no mistake, we still have a long way to go. So without further ado, I give you my November roundup.*

*Listed in a very specific order but starting with my top three in no particular order.

Lady Bird
Was this a personal attack on my Catholic school upbringing? Yes. Did I love every single second of it? Hell yes. Saorsie Ronan has LONG been one of my favorites and I maintain her performance in Brooklyn was one of the best of 2015 (also was just one of my favorite films from the year). The projects she chooses have a way of reaching so deeply and yet I know had it been anyone else in these roles it wouldn’t be the same. Director and writer Greta Gerwig creates a world so personal, so relatable, so specific yet so universal. It’s easy to dismiss “coming of age stories” as cliché and predictable. But there’s something so genuine and real underscoring the film, breathing life into it and elevating it to a level far beyond anything else this year. In fact, this year’s “coming of age” theme is a testament to the endless varied stories you can tell within this genre. Which brings me to my next one.

Call Me By Your Name
Who would have seen this one coming? A steady, slow-burning romance with every scene, every word bristling with the anticipation of first love. Secret love. The extraordinary subtleness of a covert glance or a soft brush of hands. Guided by the gentle vision of Luca Guadagnino, co-stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer give their best performances in what will certainly be long and incredible careers — a feat no less stunning for actors aged only 21 and 31, respectively (is Timothée going to be the new Leo idk maybe would I be surprised nope). This is one of those films that pierce so deeply and so movingly with the stripped-down purity of the storytelling… It’s just beautiful man I don’t even know what else to say.

The Florida Project
Brooklynn Prince is the nuggiest nugget to ever nug and we must protect her at all costs. I thought Jacob Tremblay would be the end all be all of cuteness but now I just want them to star in all the movies together even though the world would explode from precocious adorableness. This one has also been in my top from the year — unsurprisingly so given that I am always a hundred times more attached to a film when it shows images of home and the Florida setting just brought all kinds of nostalgia. I could taste the summers of my childhood, feel the suffocating humidity of the central Florida heat, those blindingly bright endless summer days when the world had no rules and all you had to worry about was finding shelter from the daily thunderstorm. There’s such an innocence watching the story from the perspective of these kids and it’s so starkly contrasted with the not-so-innocent premise of the situations simmering just above them, the more heartbreaking adult lives that threaten their summer fantasies, over which they have no control. It was beautiful, hypnotizing, and hard to watch — and I loved every minute.

Coco
I have said it before and I will keep saying it until I die — representation fucking matters. The fact that it took 25 years for me to see a Pixar movie with Latinos on center stage is a problem but I’m still riding the happy high I got after watching this one so my anger has been held (temporarily) at bay. My Latin/Hispanic culture is something I am fiercely proud and protective of, and one of the things I love most about it is that despite each country having their own traditions and dialects and customs, there is always an underlying current of family, loyalty, openness, and community that I have found across all cultures. Watching Coco I saw myself and my family in the story of Miguel (even though Mexican culture varies greatly from Venezuelan culture). I could go on for hours describing what that means to me, but for now, I just hope these type of movies get made and recognized and celebrated for MANY more years to come.

I, Tonya 
I didn’t know anything about the story of Tonya Harding going into the movie but that somehow made it all the more thrilling to follow along. Margot Robbie and Allison Janey are SERIOUS contenders for Best Lead/Supporting Actress noms and I will not be at all surprised if they end up taking home the gold on the big night. Their performances were totally captivating — enough to inspire me to go down into a Wikipedia rabbit hole on the whole event. Which made me appreciate the film even more, the way it told the story in multiple (often conflicting) perspectives. I thought it was a really brilliant approach — and honestly the two leading ladies are enough to give it a shot.

Blade Runner 2049 
I really wanted to watch the original before sitting down for this one but unfortunately the days just kept getting away from me. That said, I don’t think it’s totally necessary to see the first beforehand — I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this world for the first time in what was a stunningly visual and sensory film experience. I watched it by myself in a nearly empty theater and the sound and the colors and the cinematography kept me captivated from start to finish. Was it a tad too long? Yeah. But it was also thrilling to watch. Honestly the marketing strategy for this one was just so off so I’m not surprised at the box office results — and plus the original also wasn’t a huge hit and it was only through the years that it became the cult classic it is now. At the very least, look for some below-the-line recognition for this one. Which is a bummer cause Denis Villeneuve has been one of my favorite directors as of late and throw in a brooding Ryan Gosling and an always incredible Harrison Ford, well what more could you want?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I’m still so conflicted about this one. I felt, while watching, a bit icky about the whole “redemption arc” of Officer Dixon (played by Sam Rockwell) — it just seemed so wrong to me that so much time was devoted into his supposedly “good side” but without ever really showing it and just skating over the truly appalling and awful “bad side”. That said, I absolutely adored Frances McDormand in this role — in contrast, I found her character a bit more well-rounded with the theme of moral ambiguity explored in more depth and with more context. And I know this is technically supposed to be a dark comedy so it is also important to view the film as a whole with those lens. But I found it hard to shake that one story line as it felt so at odds with the rest of the film, which overall I thought was brilliant. So here I am, weeks later, still conflicted. I loved it and definitely think the recognition has been deserved. But wish I could sort out my thoughts more fully on what exactly it was that made me uncomfortable.

Darkest Hour 
Gary Oldman is unrecognizable in this film. It’s not even that he becomes Winston Churchill, it’s that you swear it’s been him all along. I don’t think I would have guessed it was him had I not known beforehand. This film begins at the precipice of World War II within days of Churchill becoming Prime Minister as he navigates the turbulent mood of a scared nation facing the impending Nazi threat. It was interesting to see this movie come out in the same year as Dunkirk — both deal with the same time period with such vastly different approaches. It was slow-paced which may put off some viewers. But Oldman gives one of his best performances and it’s worth watching for him alone. How he only has one Oscar nomination (for 2011 Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy) is BEYOND me but he’s one of the few sure bets for a nomination in a crowded lead actor race.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
This movie is a reminder that Adam Sandler can ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY ACT and it infuriated me to no end cause HOW MANY amazing performances have we been missing from this dude over the past few years?! I really enjoyed this movie — all the performances felt so natural and the characters felt so familiar, it was more like watching video of someone’s memory of real life. The opening scene where Adam Sandler’s character is driving around with his daughter (played by Grace van Patten) is second only to the scene of the two of them at the piano. It was a snapshot of life kind of film — those don’t always work but this one definitely did. And also. Guys. Adam Sandler. Like. What.

Murder on the Orient Express 
*Disclaimer: we represent Leslie Odom, Jr. who stars as Colonel Arbuthnot alongside an extraordinary talented ensemble. If you go into this movie knowing nothing about Agatha Christie or the book or the original movie, you’re in for a wild mystery from start to finish. However, if you, like me, are major fans of AC (despite being terrified after a late night binge read of And Then There Were None when I was ten that made me put the book in the fridge and sleep with the lights on for a month) and Hercule Poirot, then you just sit back and enjoy the ride of the familiar twists and turns of one his best and most famous cases. The ensemble cast as mentioned above is brilliant and the movie has beautiful visuals — which has its drawbacks in my opinion as it runs the risk of being too shiny and polished for what is in actuality a gritty deadly thriller. It doesn’t have the same feel of terror that I associate with Agatha Christie and that was admittedly disappointing. But the beauty of her stories are that it seems no matter which way they are told, they are always an entertaining journey to be on.

And that about wraps up November! It’s been a long one so I’ll just leave you with my upcoming watch list for December (HOW are we already almost halfway done with this month). Already I’ve been able to catch an early screening of Molly’s Game and I’ve had my tix for Star Wars: The Last Jedi for WEEKS already obvs so plenty more to come over the next couple weeks:

  • Mudbound
  • Wonder
  • The Shape of Water
  • Downsizing
  • The Post
  • The Greatest Showman
  • All the Money in the World

Will be back in the new year with more updates as well as thoughts on SAG/Globes nominations as the final stretch of the race begins. Let’s GOOOOOO!

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