It’s the moooost wonderfuuuul tiiiiime of yeaaaar…
That’s right. Awards season. When my diet shifts to popcorn and Coke and my social life consists of sitting in a dark theater by myself and crying. What a time to be alive.
As always, I’m starting my monthly recaps now following the official unofficial triple threat kickoff of Telluride, TIFF, and Venice. But that’s not to say there aren’t potential contenders from earlier in the year (I know we are living in a dumpster fire and this year has felt like centuries but let me remind you that Captain Marvel and Us both came out this year).
So once things start shaping up later in the season, I’ll circle back and flag any must-sees from earlier in the year.
For now though, sit back and buckle up cause I’ve got five films for ya and if you haven’t seen them yet, you have a LOT to catch up on.
Lists are now organized in the order I watched them in because well it’s just easier that way and I’m busy so deal. OKAY now without further ado, I give you my September Movie Roundup. Spoilers ahead.
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
“Is everyone okay?!”
“Well… the fucking hippies aren’t.”
I should start this with a disclaimer: I’m not the biggest Tarantino fan (I’ve only ever really liked Inglorious Bastards). That said, I didn’t not enjoy this one. Buuuuut I also wouldn’t say I loved it. At least not at the level the rest of the industry seemed to. But Hollywood sure loves movies about itself and this one in particular showcases the two biggest movie stars of our time at their movie starriest best. I have to give Tarantino credit for managing to cast
my precious baby Leo and Brad Pitt together — at its core, OUATIH is a hilarious buddy comedy and the two of them together are absolutely electrifying (though I think Ad Astra is Brad Pitt’s best work this year; more on that below). It wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie without it being unnecessarily long and bloated but regardless, I would check this one out. It’s fun, it’s Brad and Leo, and it will certainly be an awards contender. And the ending is wild.
“Life is not just about what you do. It’s more about how you do it.”
I am pleased to report this movie emotionally devastated me. A heartfelt, funny, intimate portrait about a Chinese family who, upon learning their beloved grandmother has only a few weeks to live, decide not to tell her and instead bring everyone together for a family gathering before she dies. Awkwafina shines in a more serious, understated role, showcasing her formidable talents alongside her trademark humor. The script is stellar and the ensemble cast even more so and if there was any justice in the world, it would get a SAG or Globe ensemble nod. But after the Burning snub last year, I’m not holding my breath. Which is a damn shame. A movie about family, about the identity struggles around being bicultural, about what we sacrifice to protect those we love — this movie had me crying immigrant tears all the way home. Watch it. And bring tissues.
“And now we know. We’re all we’ve got.”
This is, without a doubt, my favorite movie of the year so far. Brad Pitt is at his absolute best — a hell of a performance from a titanic movie star. The kind of movie that makes me fall in love with cinema all over again. A nihilistic, solemn portrait of loneliness, it knows what it wants to say and where it wants to go, and it is in no rush to get there. It’s stayed with me for weeks, more so than any other movie this month. I can’t see mainstream audiences loving it and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone — it’s more character-driven than plot-heavy, unbothered by the kind of big flashy conventional tropes studios tend to impose on these kinds of film. It’s a true cinematic work of art, and the more I think about it, the more I love it. And yes we all know I’m a sucker for space movies. But this one truly blew me away. Officially tied with Arrival as my favorite sci-fi film, and if you know me, you know I can’t give higher praise than that. Also there’s a scene-stealing Natasha Lyonne cameo. Enough said.
“The day has dawned and the weather proves conclusively that God is a monarchist.”
I really can’t review this critically because I love this show so much, and this movie felt like coming home after so many years away. It’s not easy to make a movie sequel from a television show that’s been off the air for years, but they nailed it. Despite all that time away, the film perfectly captured the charming and heartwarming atmosphere of the show and took me back to a time when Downton Abbey was my cozy Sunday night ritual, never failing to put me in a feel-good mindset for the week. It’s a drama with a lot of heart and humor, a romanticized world you just want to get lost in, characters you really root for — what more could you ask for?! Of course, with so many characters, it’s definitely tricky to follow if you’ve never watched the show and you miss all the emotional beats and callbacks. So this is me recommending both the show and the movie. Don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it for what it is. A cozy blanket and a cup of tea. With Maggie Smith.
“We were fucking hurricanes, weren’t we?”
“We’re a family now. A family with money!”
I did not expect to love this as much as I did. J-Lo (my queen) is on fire, and I am 100% on board with an Oscar campaign. Honestly, if she doesn’t secure the nom (a tragedy), it’s hard to see the film being a part of the awards conversation otherwise. BUT that doesn’t stop it from being the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year. Because sometimes you just need movies that give you a good fucking time. And this was it. Not to mention how absolutely refreshing it is to see a movie about strippers told through the female gaze. None of it felt overly sexualized, and the female friendship at the core, with the characters given real emotional connections, was the film’s beating heart. So sure, it was never going to be the greatest movie of the year. But it honestly has been the most fun. Also the article that it’s based on is a trip. If you’re interested, you can read it here.
And that wraps up September! Two last notes. I made the decision to skip The Goldfinch this month only because with such godawful reviews and such limited time and money, I thought it best to just catch it when it comes out on streaming somewhere.
And secondly, while not technically film, I also finally watched Ava DuVernay’s limited series When They See Us on Netflix — it’s been out for a while so I know I’m a bit late to the game, but if you haven’t done so already, this is an absolute must-watch. Thinking back on it still gives me chills, and Jharrel Jerome’s Emmy win was the undeniable highlight this year.
So there you have it folks! If you’ve missed any of the above, better catch up soon cause it’s all uphill from here. On my watchlist for October are:
- Joker — curious to see what all the fuss is about
- Pain and Glory — Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas, yes please
- Judy — Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland, YES please
- Jojo Rabbit — will watch anything Taika Waititi touches
- Dolemite is My Name — apparently Eddie Murphy is making a comeback
Until next time, happy watching! Xo