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Saturday, December 3, 2016

21st Century Essentials: Under the Skin (2014)

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Country: United Kingdom/United States/Switzerland

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is the sort of film that unsettles on such a deep and durable level that you might never be able to fully shake it. Cold but graceful, inaccessible but hypnotic, it’s the kind of film in which none of the characters are named and nothing is overtly explained, but it’s so full of striking, brutal images that it leaves one so entranced that the “whys” that the narrative might inspire become unimportant. You simply drift along its jagged, treacherous current until you get to its destination. Many shocking things occur during the course of its 108 minutes, but perhaps the most shocking thing about it is that a film that seems so preoccupied with the experience of being a woman in a world so hostile to femininity could be written and directed by men.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New York Film Critics Circle Award Winners

The New York Film Critics Circle announced their winners earlier today. Chalk one up for La La Land:

Best Film: La La Land

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle and Things To Come

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography: James Laxton, Moonlight

Best Animated Film: Zootopia

Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America

Best Foreign Film: Toni Erdmann

Best First Film: (Tie) The Edge of Seventeen and Krisha

Critics Choice Nominees

Here are the nominees for the 22nd Critics Choice Awards, chosen by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Winners will be announced December 11th:

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

National Board of Review Award Winners

So it begins:

Best Film: Manchester By the Sea

Top Films: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail Caesar!, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Moonlight, Patriot's Day, Silence, Sully

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Best Actress: Amy Adams, Arrival

Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Top 5 Foreign Language Films: Elle, The Handmaiden, Juieta, Land of Mine, Neruda

Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America

Top 5 Documentary Features: De Palma, The Eagle Huntress, Gleason, Life Animated, Miss Sharon Jones!

Best Ensemble: Hidden Figures

Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester By the Sea

Breakthrough Performance (Female): Royalty Hightower, The Fits

Best Directorial Debut: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha

Top 10 Independent Films: 20th Century Women, Captain Fantastic, Creative Control, Eye in the Sky, The Fits, Green Room, Hello My Name is Doris, Krisha, Morris From America, Sing Street

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Allied (2016)

* * *

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard

Allied is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. Meticulously assembled and working very hard to evoke a more classical style of movie storytelling, Allied is a different kind of film than those that populate the multiplex these days, though I wouldn't quite agree with critics who call it "old fashioned" or a "throwback" to the films of the 1940s. It draws its inspiration from films of the past - borrowing visually from David Lean (but also from the not-so-old The English Patient), a little bit from Casablanca, and structuring its second half like a noir - but its sensibility is too modern for it to properly be called old fashioned. The sex is too explicit, the violence is too explicit, and its depiction of WWII servicemen and women as surrendering to a "we could die at any moment so anything goes" hedonism is definitely outside of the realm of any old school film. It exists somewhere in between the movies of yesteryear and the movies of today and though it's not flawless in every step it takes, it succeeds in being entertaining.