Award Show Round Up: Oscars 2018

Well another awards season has come to a close, and while there were some great moments (and some important statements made) none of my personal favorites managed wins. (Except, of course, my role model Ms. McDormand – but more on that later).

Jimmy Kimmel did a good job last night of being charming, relatively inoffensive, and didn’t dwell on hatred of Matt Damon or the envelope snafu from last year.

I liked the jet ski for shortest speech gimmick (though honestly they could have played people off, that was a looooooong show.)

Mark Bridges, is living his best life up there. (Also, his costumes for Phantom Thread were so gorgeous.

Other than best picture, which I was sure was going to go to Three Billboards there weren’t many surprises with the winners. (Including unfortunately, Timothée Chalamet’s award going to a man in old age makeup yelling.)

I like Sam Rockwell a lot (though Willem DaFoe was robbed):

(Side note: Did we all know that Martin McDonagh and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were a thing? Because that’s awesome.)

I also really like Allison Janney (though Laurie and Lesley were also so amazing this year):

Kobe Bryant has an Oscar now. That’s not one I would have predicted!

Best presenters of the evening:

Though these two were pretty great too:

Jordan Peele deserved this:

I’m not sure if Guillermo deserved this or not, but I he gives good speech:

I love a good Meryl bit:

And most importantly: Frances. McDormand.

Fashion wise there was a lot of sparkle and bright bold colors, which I loved. Here were my favs:


Sally Hawkins in Armani Privé (Photo Credit: WireImage)


Jennifer Lawrence in Dior (Photo Credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)


Kumail Nanjiani in Ermenegildo Zenga Couture and Emily V. Gordon in J. Mendel (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty)


Allison Williams in Armani Privé Couture (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) 

She looks beautiful, and I love that fairy-gossamer dress, but I am still not convinced she’s not going to murder someone.


Allison Janney in Reem Acra (Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Vionnet (Photo Credit: Getty/Mike Stobe)


Jane Fonda in Balmain (Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)


Ashley Judd in Zameer Kassam and Mira Sorvino in Romona Keveža (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Greta Gerwig in my favorite Oscars dress of all time which was designed by Rodarte (Photo Credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)


Award Show Round Up: BAFTAs 2018

Sorry this post is a day late. I was out of traveling yesterday and I kind of completely forgot that I hadn’t done this. As far as BAFTAs go this one was a little strange. This may have been because it was first time since I started watching that Stephen Fry wasn’t the host, though Joanna Lumley was lovely. And it may have been because it was the British Time’s Up moment, but it didn’t feel quite as galvanized and united as the Golden Globes to me (is it possible that it’s just because the room was bigger?)

The other strange thing was that the show started with Best British Film going to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which is of course an incredibly American story. (It was also presented by Jennifer Lawrence, an American actress.) That movie went on to win basically everything, which didn’t bother me as much as it does some other people, but it’s not super exciting to me either. (Except it means lots of love for Frances McDormand, which I am never going to be mad about.)

EE Rising Star did go to a Brit, and yes, I promise I will see Get Out very soon. (Or before the Oscars at least.)


(Side note: shout out to Timmy for walking him up the stairs. And though I knew it was going to happen last night, please stop giving Mr. Chalamet’s awards to Gary Oldman. Especially on nights when you are supposed to be lifting up the voices of women who have spoken out against their abusers. Thanks!)

We’re at that point in awards season where I begin to sound like a broken record, but I would’ve given this to Laurie, but I love Ms. Janney (and her strange space age shrug):

Speaking of women I love and their strange fashion choices:

And that speech is a good one to end on!

The all black dress code led to some unusual embellishment choices fashion wise, but there were a few looks I liked:


Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty)


Gugu Mbatha-Raw in vintage Cardinali (Photo Credit: Lipstick Alley)


Lily James in Burberry (Photo Credit: Getty/Mike Marsland)


Lupita Nyong’o in Elie Saab (Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Getty Images)


Natalie Dormer in custom Alberta Ferretti (Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)


Jamie Bell and Kate Mara in Dior (Photo Credit: Getty/Dav J. Hogan)


Helena Bonham Carter (Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)


Florence Pugh in Miu Miu (Photo Credit: Getty)

And the Nominees Are 2018: Round 4

All the nominations are out! You can see my reactions to today’s Oscar noms on Twitter. (They are generally positive!) But I haven’t done an update of what I’ve seen in awhile. I still have a couple of big nominees to see, and a lot of documentary and foreign films to catch up with, but I’m excited that the BAFTAs give me an opportunity to share a few other favorites!

Lady Macbeth


I really thought I had written notes about this after I saw it. (This will be an unfortunate theme.) But other than my poem (link below) I don’t seem to have recorded my response to this anywhere. Which may have been a problem, except for certain images of this are burned into my memory.

It’s not a Shakespeare adaptation, but Florence Pugh‘s protagonist has the bard’s twisted lady’s cold power (and misguided passion) and she conveys more with a lifted corner of a lip than many actresses do with a monologue. This is a thriller not for the faint of heart. (I honestly don’t know if I would have gone if someone had told me the whole plot.) But it, like Mudbound actually now that I think about it, does a great job of exploring the ways that various forms of oppression and power intersect, magnify, and counteract each other, often with violent, heartbreaking consequences.


You can read my poem about this film, here.

God’s Own Country


I somehow forgot to write notes about this beautiful film after seeing it this fall. Which is a shame, because I remember being overcome with its beauty and humanity. It’s a quiet, lovely story about an isolated, fuck up of a farmer (Josh O’ Connor), meets and falls for the soft spoken migrant worker he hires to help with the lambing (Alec Secareanu).

The plot synopsis could make it sound like a romance novel, but in the hands of writer director Francis Lee, its a nuanced portrait of a young man coming to terms with the fact that he may not be as stuck as thinks (and therefore he has to take some responsibility for his actions.) It’s also a beautifully shot portrait of a life connected to the land of northern England, something that is disappearing in our modern age. (The farm it was filmed on had been converted to a housing development before the movie was released in the states.) But more than any of those philosophical things it’s a love story and it’s a good one and you should watch it.


You can read my poem about this film, here.

Phantom Thread


I went into this knowing that the folks at the Next Picture Show were planning to pair it with Hichcock’s Rebecca and so I spent a lot of the movie making connections between these two stories, and they aren’t hard to find. This is a moody, tense story of a relationship between a quiet young woman (the new-to-me but luminous Vicky Krieps) and a persnickety, yet glamorous older man (the always fantastically compelling Daniel Day-Lewis). There’s even a steely, Mrs. Danvers character in the form of his sister, Cecil (the creepily stoic Lesley Manville).

But, this movie also has its own, unique strange beauty. Although the relationship machinations are often excruciatingly awkward, the world they take place in, a post World War II London fashion house, is sumptuous and captured beautifully by Paul Thomas Anderson. (Of course, because he is a genius.)

My boyfriend called this an “emotional horror movie,” complete with jump scares and almost unbearable tension. He found it much harder to watch than I did, but the description is apt. But I mean that as a compliment, not a moment of screen time is wasted and while their actions get increasingly crazy as time progresses they never fall into cliché.

Also, the score, by Johnny Greenwood, is a fantastic indicator of mood and motion. It may be my favorite soundtrack of the year. (And I’ve already added two other film scores to my phone this year, which I never do.)

phantom-thread-600x338 (1)

You can read my poem about this film, here,

yI, Tonya


Well, this one is wild. Its jarring tone could definitely be off-putting, but I loved it’s freewheeling, winking style. Tonya Harding’s story is so strange that is a screenwriter invented it, we wouldn’t buy it. But Steven Rogers gets around that by acknowledging the purely subjective and “wildly contradictory” accounts of those involved in the infamous case.

The performances are all fantastic. Allison Janney and Margot Robbie of course, but my favorite may have been Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly. He best embodies the film’s quick careening from campy fun to chilling violence. He was a revelation for me.

Also, the skating scenes are great, and the soundtrack is outstanding.


You can read my poem about this film, here.

All the Money In the World


Michelle Williams is a marvel. She kept me interested in this mess of a movie, even as it went past the 2 hour a mark. To be fair, Christopher Plummer‘s last minute step-in is also a great turn, but this is really Williams’s movie and I’m here for that. (As for Mr. Wahlberg, I’ve liked him other things, but here he could be replaced by a cardboard-cut-out here and be equally compelling.)

I didn’t know much about the Gettys before this and their particular brand of conspicuous consumption and dysfunction is depressingly interesting, but I feel like Ridley Scott never decided exactly what he wanted the tone of this to be, so it felt a bit muddled.


You can read my poem about this film, here.

The Greatest Showman


I was baffled by the gulf between the ridiculing critical response to this and the incredibly enthusiastic audience reaction. Well, after seeing it last night, I think I understand, but am now slightly baffled by the film itself. This is a good old-fashioned movie musical. It’s bright and shiny and filed with large production numbers.

Hugh Jackman is as charming and magnetic as always. Michelle Williams, though underutilized as an actress here, is luminously beautiful and can sing! The assembled “human oddities” Jackman’s P.T. Barnum collects are all talented. The duet between Zendaya and Zac Efron is genuinely moving.

But…um…I have about a million questions.

  • Why didn’t they use the score of the already written, Tony- winning musical about P.T. Barnum?
  • If this was set in the 1800s why are they dancing like they are in a Michael Jackson video? Or an old-timey installment of High School Musical? 
  • What are Michelle Williams and Rebecca Ferguson doing here? Give them something to do or don’t waste their time.
  • Is it wishful, revisionist history to look at Barnum’s “freak shows” as spaces of empowerment for the marginalized? I’d like to read actual scholarship on this if anyone knows of any.
  • But like, again, they could have had this song:



You can read my poem about this film, here.

Awards Show Round Up: SAG Awards 2018

So, none of my favorites seem to be winning this season. But, it was still a pretty great night. And I have always loved the “I’m an actor” opening:

I’ve seen I, Tonya finally (a new nominees post is coming tomorrow I promise!) and Allison Janey is great! I still would give the award to Laurie Metcalf I think. But this category is really stacked this year.

Apparently, Sam Rockwell is going to win an Oscar this year. I like him a lot, so I’m not mad in principle, except I feel like shouting into some sort of abyss, “WILLEM DAFOE WAS ROBBED!!!!!”

Unsurprisingly, this was one of my favorite moments of the night:

I know there’s a lot of jokes to be made about how long Nicole Kidman’s speeches are, but she gave this speech with the flu. As you may recall, when I had the flu, I couldn’t keep my eyes open to watch a speech. She’s amazing.

Speaking of good speeches, Sterling…always the best:

Also, I’m happy for the whole This Is Us crew. I know everyone thought it would go to Handmaid’s but I love how SAG always throws a curveball in this category. Remember how many times they gave it to Downton? And Sterling’s face at the announcement was pretty priceless:

(Go to 0:40 for his reaction.)


I would give this award to Saoirse as you know. (Let’s be real I’d give every prize ever to Saoirse.) But Frances is pretty wonderful:

So with this cast win it looks like our Best Picture race is between Three Billboards and Shape of Water which I’m…sort of unenthused about…but I guess I’m team Billboards:

Fashion wise, it was a night of strangely aggressive sequins and bows, but here were my standouts:


Mandy Moore in Ralph Lauren (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Trcee Ellis Ross in Ralph & Russo (Photo Credit: Rex Shutterstock)


Sarah Silverman in Romona Keveza

Sam Rockwell and Leslie Bibb (Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Jan 2018

Saoirse Ronan in Louis Vuitton (Photo Credit: Stewart Cook.WWD/Rex/Shutterstock)


Odeya Rush in Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


Dakota Fanning in Prada (Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Zoe Kazan in Miu Miu (Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Gett Images)


Awards Show Round Up: Critics Choice Awards 2018

So, I have to start with a confession. I slept through most of this show last night. It wasn’t the show’s fault. I actually thought Olivia Munn did a great job hosting and despite the fact that pretty much none of the film awards went to who I would given them too, there were some great speeches. (No love at all for Lady Bird, I mean…come on.) But I had the stomach flu this week so…I was out of it.

But from what I did see, and what I’ve put together from YouTube this morning here were some highlights:

Once again I’m skipping ahead to my favorite feminist moment, the #SeeHer Award, which this year went to the totally deserving Gal Godot:

One of the awards I was wholeheartedly excited about, was Brooklynn Prince for The Florida Project. This was totally deserved and she managed to say more with her speech than most of the adult winners:

Another winner I’m never mad about…Ann Dowd:

Now for awards I would have given to others, but I can’t really be mad about:

(Actually not mad at all about James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name is being criminally under sung.)

I mean, you knew I was going to post a speech that included that final sentiment right?

Also, her friendship with Saoirse Ronan makes me very happy (I can’t wait for Mary Queen of Scots): 


Photo Credit: RTÉ

I think Christopher Nolan is being really snubbed for Director’s honors this year. Dunkirk was really a technical and storytelling marvel, but Guillermo del Toro is pretty adorable:

And now, dresses! It was a strange night, fashion wise, I like that the women are taking risks, but that means sometimes they just look crazy. But here were my favs:


Laura Dern in Balmain (Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Betsy Brandt (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America)


Mary J. Blige in Vivienne Westwood Couture (Photo Credit: Getty/Steve Granitz)


Alison Brie in Roberto Cavalli (Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)


Rachel Brosnahan in Zuhair Murad (Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)


Saoirse Ronan in Michael Kors (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Constance Wu in Galia Lahav (Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Award Show Round Up: Golden Globes 2018

Well, that was quite a night huh? I saw a lot of handwringing on the internet last week, about how the Time’s Up call for women to wear black would make the night seem funereal and dour. But it didn’t at all, the sisterhood and solidarity on display felt like a celebration. And while there were still of shady men winning awards, I think it’s pretty clear that the women in that room (and watching along with me on Twitter) don’t have any patience for it anymore.

I know I usually go chronologically with these recaps, but lets be real this moment matters more than anything Seth said at the top (though I did like his “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment):

This moment had me crying and texting my mom, and it was everything. And then it was followed with this and my world was made:

(Sorry about the weird lightning bolt, I coulnd’t find a clean clip of this.)

I wasn’t actually jazzed about a lot the winners. (Willem Dafoe was robbed! As was Timothée Chalamet (screw you Gary Oldman, you talented abuser)! Three Billboards was over-awarded!) But there were some truly spectacular speeches:

I wanted Laurie Metcalf to win this category, but I’m never going to be mad to listen to an Allison Janey speech:

(And I haven’t actually seen I, Tonya yet, but it’s on the calendar for this week!)

Speaking of things I haven’t seen, I still have to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but I am so here for Amy Sherman-Palladino winning awards and wearing hats:

My favorite won Best Actress in a Comedy, and she’s the cutest thing!

Amy Poehler joked a few years back at this very show, that Frances McDormand is the only awards guest she would save in a fire, and well, there are a lot of women in that room I would save, but I’m pretty happy she got to give this speech even if she was clearly censored even when not swearing. (You can’t say “shift” now apparently):


All in all a great kickoff to the season!

And the all-black look was fantastic as a cultural choice, but also some of the gowns were really cool:


75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Connie Britton in Lingua Franca sweater (Photo Credit: Getty)



Viola Davis in Brandon Maxwell (Photo Credit: Getty/Steve Granitz)


Samia Wiley (Photo Credit: Elle Sweden)


Kelly Clarkson in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock)


Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji and Jessica Chastain in Armani Privé (Photo Credit: Getty)


Laura Dern in Armani Privé (Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Sally Hawkins in Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Five Star Book: The Girls by Emma Cline


I’ve written before about my fascination with cults. (I’ve probably even shared that one of my favorite texts I’ve ever received was just a link to an article with the note “CULT!” Like my friend just instantly thought of me when they saw the word.) In fact, as I was about a third of my way through Emma Cline’s bestselling novel about a Manson-family-like cult gone sour, another friend sent me a text saying she was reading it and it made her think of me. Partly this obsession is an outlet for my more judgmental energies, but mostly it’s an interest in how people build themselves, their belief systems, and their communities. Cults from the outside seem strange, often mostly in retrospect after they fall apart or do something terrible, but to the people in the moment they seemed like the right choice. How does that happen? We like to think it all must be coercion and “brain washing” on the part of “evil” leaders, but there isn’t a lot of evidence of that being a real thing. *

What’s great about this book is that it addresses this question in a really fresh way. Cline’s protagonist, a girl named Evie, is drawn into the dangerous circle she is not because of Russel (the Charles Manson stand in) but because of the titular girls, one in particular, who she loves but also idolizes. The spiritual beliefs don’t matter to her so much as the alternative life with the group offers to her boring suburban existence. She sees in these “girls” a way to be a woman other than the one scripted for her in magazines. Of course, the idea of the Manson ranch (so thinly disguised I’m not sure why the author bothered to at all, except there are probably legal issues she was trying to avoid) as an escapist paradise is unthinkable to us now, but we know what’s coming. By showing us Evie as both a child caught up in it’s newness and a middle aged woman dealing with the choices her younger self made, Cline creates the sense of creeping dread found in other explorations of murderous cults (the best one about the Mansons I’ve ever come across is Karina Longwirth’s “You Must Remember This” series on the murders) while also making the appeal of the group emotionally clear in a way I had never seen before.

This book is dark and angry as you might expect, but I was surprised by that anger’s feminist bent. Cline compellingly illustrates the way these women were primed by the patriarchy that raised them to be good little soldiers for a creep like Russell. A culture that teaches girls to think first about how they are seen and to always be amenable to the whims of men (and always fearful of them) leaves young women vulnerable to the bullshit of charismatic men who claim they know what’s best. It’s so easy to look at a cult and think “how could that happen?” This book gives one frighteningly plausible explanation.


*Manson is actually one of the only examples I would call really brain washing and it was mostly aided by the fact that he routinely drugged his followers with truly astounding amounts of hallucinogenic drugs while starving them.

And The Nominees Are 2018: Round 2

So Golden Globes and SAG nominations came out this week! And I’m actually really mad at the HFPA for their inexplicable snub of Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, and the SAG nominations are as strange as always. No Post at all? Steve Carrell for Best Supporting Actor but no love for either of the supporting men from Call Me By Your Name? I did appreciate The Big Sick ensemble nod though. Anyway, here’s what I saw this week, and my Baby Driver thoughts since the Globes did rightfully acknowledge that Ansel Elgort is perfectly cast there.

Baby Driver


This movie is slick, cold and dabbled with ultra violence and toxic masculinity and centers around cars. In other words, it is literally everything I hate. But, I loved this. I saw a review that said it was a musical masquerading as a car chase and that sums it up perfectly.

Yes, too many people get carelessly shot, but Baby (Ansel Elgort – perfectly cast) has enough remorse and humanity that I don’t think the movie can be read as an endorsement of that violence. Instead it’s a stylized love story, a highly choreographed dance (both of feet and tires), well cast, directed, and orchestrated. And it will make you feel like you are in your very own movie if you put your earbuds in and crank up the volume on the way home.

Ansel Elgort

You can read my poem about this film here.

Although the allegations against Kevin Spacey hadn’t come to light this summer when I saw this, I have made a filmanthropy contribution to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Relief Fund for Sexual Assault Victims

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri


I have a long history with Martin McDonagh, the Irish playwright turned filmmaker, who wrote and directed this. And that history is mostly filled with dread. I was assigned his plays in college and there are sections of The Pillowman and The Beauty Queen of Leenane that still haunt my dreams. So, I’m wary of watching his movies, my violence tolerance has grown a bit over the years, but I still don’t seek it out, but then Frances McDormand got nominated, so…I went.

And it was violent, but certainly not likely to give me nightmares. But it will certainly stick in my head. Not just because McDormand continues to be the most badass actor, who manages to convey strength and vulnerability in the same moment. But also, because the story revises really interesting questions about what grief and anger and trauma and revenge and redemption mean, and maybe more interestingly, what they require from us.

Every person in this movie is perfectly cast, but I particularly loved Woody Harrelson as the sheriff called out by Frances’s character’s billboards. But I guess at this point I just love anything Woody does (similarly Lucas Hedges and Peter Dinklage are fantastic here.)

I think it loses its bite a bit by the end, but the ensemble is amazing and the plot tight and thrilling and heartbreaking.



Battle of the Sexes


Firstly,  this isn’t really a comedy. But if I was going to get upset about genre classification each year then I wouldn’t have enough energy to be mad at nominating bodies for snubbing female directors and creators of color.

Anyway, what it is a well made dramatization of an episode in American cultural history that deserves to be better understood. I feel like we throw around the tag line “Battle of the Sexes” without talking much about what it actually was. This movie does a great job of telling the complex story behind the famous match. Bobby Riggs (the always great Steve Carrell – though I think his best performance this year was in Last Flag Flying), was certainly a “chauvinist pig” but his aims were more monetary than political. The filmmakers capture his situation with empathy, but without shying away from the depressing reality that for him, and men like him, women’s fight for equality can be a game or an opportunity for self-promotion, while for Billie Jean King (the really subtle and great Emma Stone) it was make or break, not just for her own career, but for women’s tennis and working women in general.

It was a stacked desk and King navigated expertly, which the movie makes clear, while not omitting how complicated her personal life, as a closed lesbian, married to a man she really cared about was at the time. In fact, the parts of this that will stay with me are about her relationships. They’re also two of the most emotional dialogue free moments for the year so far. One where she watches the woman she’s attracted to (Andrea Riseborough) dance to “Crimson and Clover” and is clearly overcome. And the other is a long shot, much later, of her husband (Austin Stowell) standing mutely in a hotel hallway holding his bags after discovering what’s going on. It crushed me. But yeah, great comedy.


You can read my poem about this film here.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) 


I almost wrote, “my first foreign language film nominee!” But then I remembered I endured The Square, but that’s best forgotten.

This is a beautiful film about ACT UP Paris in the 1990s. It manages the tricky balance of being about AIDS activists without preaching. It captures the way the personal is political in a really lovely and vital way. It’s told with a lose grip on time, allowing the protest to blend into the meeting room onto the dance floor into the bedroom, with a captivating fluidity.

There’s something visceral about the way director Robin Campillo shoots these lives – both public and private – that makes it feel somehow both artful and natural. His camera doesn’t flinch from pleasure or (sometimes extreme) pain. But it never veers into suffering-porn. This type of story is a tightrope, but this movie walks it almost perfectly.


You can read my poem about this film here.



And the Nominees Are 2018: Round 1!

Happy Awards Season!

The 2018 Critics Choice nominations have been announced! And I have already seen a bunch of the nominees (this year is already so good you guys, at one point I had 4 movies tied for my favorite film.)

Also, I’ve started a new project, combining two of my great loves, movies and poems. It’s a new site, called Poems from the Pictures. Basically I’m writing a new poem about each movie I see in the theater. I’ll link to poems for movies I review here, but I don’t just write about award nominees over there, so please go check it out! (And share it with your friends.) (The project also has a Twitter account, please follow it!)

OK, enough self-promotion, here’s what I’ve seen so far:



Chris Evans can act. That kid is cute. Jenny Slate is perfect. Watch this on a Saturday afternoon when you feel bad about humanity.


The Big Sick


This is the only movie on this list that I’ve seen twice, but I managed to not take any notes on for a post, which I feel really stupid about, because it combines a lot of my favorite things. Zoe Kazan. Indie romantic comedies. The city of Chicago. Comas. OK I don’t love comas, obviously, but I do love real life love stories and charming characters and this one has all that in spades. Sorry I’m giving short shrift in this review. Just watch it, it’ll make you angry and sad and then happy.




I know I overuse the word remarkable, but this is really a remarkable film. It’s a quintessentially Christopher Nolan piece – sweeping, complicated, immersive, with an innovative narrative structure – but also a classic-feeling WWII picture. The casting is impeccable, even the potential stunt of casting a pop star is quickly forgotten, as each of these men inhabit the desperation of their characters so completely.

I’m not breaking any ground by saying I love this. So instead of waxing rhapsodic about Nolan and his collaborators’ expert artistry I will point out my three favorite choices he/they made.

  1. The minimal dialogue. When you are 95% sure you will die but are being told to wait in a line for a ship that even if you get on it will probably sink, what is there to say really? In a more traditional movie about this battle there are so many opportunities for bombastic Oscar reel speeches, but its much more heart-wrenching to see a tear in Kenneth Brannagh‘s eyes or three boys sitting on a beach passing around a can of water.
  2. Which, also, the casting of actors that are actually 19-20 was such a great choice. So often Hollywood shoots these stories with fully grown, “built,” action heroes. But these men were ordinary young people, and that makes the horror that they lived through (and we live a bit of with them) all the more harrowing.
  3. See this on a big screen (it’s being rereleased for a special awards season engagement). It is immersive and it’s meant to be. My mom and I both jumped and gasped our way through this, especially the sequences in the air.


You can read my poem about this film here.

The Florida Project


I realized weeks after seeing this that I had forgotten to write notes for a review, which sucks because its one of favorite movies of the year. But I’ll try to reconstruct why I loved it.

Firstly, it’s visually appealing. It makes rundown motels look like confections and made Florida wasteland look like a classical landscape painting. But all the artistry in the world wouldn’t matter much to me without the people at the center of it.

Sean Baker takes a story that could have been melodrama, teen mom living on the margins with her young daughter and gives us a humane, warm but not saccharine portrait of a childhood. A lot of the brilliance here is in the casting of both the little girl (Brooklyn Prince) and her mother (Bria Vinaite) both of whom weren’t actors before this, but radiate a kind of pressure. Baker’s work is remarkably naturalistic and it feels less like watching performers and more like peeking in on a life.

That life is precarious though, and as long time readers know, images of children in peril (even when they don’t seem to realize it) usually stress me our so much I can’t enjoy a film (I call this my Beasts of the Southern Wild/Lion phenomenon.) But Baker solves this problem by including Willem Dafoe as a kind, beleaguered motel manager who keeps a watchful eye out for the kids (and their parents). His empathy and sadness for his tenants’ situations never crosses a line into condescension and this movie completely changed my opinion of Dafoe as a performer. Oh, I could gush forever, just go see it.


You can read my poem about this film here.



I wanted to like this movie. And there were sections in it, particularly the earliest sections with the young deaf actress (and Critics Choice nominee!) Millicent Simmonds journeying to 1920s NYC. I like modern takes on classic film technique, and I think I would have loved to watch just her story as a short film.

Which isn’t to say necessarily that I didn’t like the sections set in the 1970s, because they have their own charm, and I tend to like stories that begin disparate and eventually interweave. But, I think the quiet style of director Todd Haynes (which I’ve liked in the past but never quite understood the critical community’s rapturous ton about) doesn’t lend itself will to a story with this much plot. I but this book is charming, but the film left me confused.


You can read my poem about this film here.

Lady Bird


I don’t even know how to write about this movie. I just…love it. It’s honest and warm, well crafted and witty, with wonderfully grounded performances from everyone. (Especially my girl Saoirse Ronan and Laurie MetcalfLaurie Metcalf. Oh and Timotheé Chalamet and Lucas Hedges…and Tracy Letts, literally everyone in the movie.)

I put this in the “Movies That I Related To So Strongly I Can’t Explain Why Without Oversharing” category. (This category now has 2 entries, this and last year’s Edge of Seventeen no coincidence that they are both written and directed by women.) And in this case its even more so, because its set in 2003, the year I started high school and this protagonist left it. The cultural references, and high school theater nerd subculture is perfectly captured. Greta Gerwig clearly lived this life, as someone who lived a similar one, she totally nails it.

I will talk your ear off in person about its perfection when it comes to religion, female friendship (both its strength and fragility), mother-daughter relationships (in all their maddening-complexity), and class tensions in a culture that does not want to acknowledge that i has a class system*. But for this post I want to end with the fact that this movie has such affection for its characters, sure there’s the hindsight is 20/20 moments about how much Lady Bird has to learn, and some cringing at how dumb high schools are in general, but it never veers into mocking. It takes the life of a teenage girl seriously without making it a tragedy. It’s fantastic.


You can read my poem about this film here.

*Seriously seek me out if you want to have these conversations. 

The Square


I’m not sure I can coherently articulate how much I hate this film. Which was really disappointing because I loved Force Majeure (also written and directed by Ruben Östlund). But this was, to quote my boyfriend “nihilistic trash.” To avoid spiraling into the rant I have by now subjected my friends, family, coworkers, and roommate to I will just say 4 things:

  1. It’s too long. (It have Grand Beauty never ending problems.)
  2. I can’t decide if its making fun of pretentious arty people or is for pretentious arty people, but it’s condescending either way.
  3. It’s borderline exploitative of poor and homeless people.
  4. It portrays casual violence in a way that it doesn’t earn. I understand it’s supposed to be a critique of how bystanders don’t help each other, but then it also ridicules those who try for trying. If I’m going to be subjected to images of women being pulled by their hair onto the ground or children being pushed down staircases you better be making a coherent fucking point.

Or, as I emailed Tim the day after we it: “That piece of trash won the P’alme Dor?!?!? I definitely have an awards season nemesis now.


You can read my poem about this film here.



I had heard people rave about R.J. Palcio’s novel for young people, Wonder, seemingly endlessly since it came out in 2012. But I only got around to reading it when the trailer for this movie was released. I (as so often happens) shouldn’t have held out on the book, but I’m glad this movie exists to introduce the Pullman family to a wider audience.

If you have an issue with earnestness (no judgement a few of my favorite people do) then this tale of children learning to overcome their fear and prejudice of a little boy with a genetically malformed (differently formed? I don’t know what the preferred language is on that. I’m sorry!) face, probably isn’t for you. But if you, like me, sometimes need a well acted tear-jerker on a Friday night, you could do a lot worse than this lovely reminder that we’re all carrying burdens, some of them are just easier to hid. (Plus Broadway nerd bonus points for Mandy Patinkin and Daveed Diggs, shoring up as inspirational educators!)

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You can read my poem about this film here.


Thor: Ragnarok


Not going to lie. I did not think I would have to be writing this for awards time. But it’s fun. And Taika Waititi is a really talented director who brought a unique vision to this silly world.


You can read my poem about this film here.


mudbound-posters-00I’m having trouble putting my feelings about this one down on paper. Director and co-writer Dee Rees has created a layered and visually stunning epic of the mid-century American South that brought to mind early Terrance Malick (in the best way.) And not only because she loves a voice over. The acting is a universally stunning. Mary J. Blige is a particular surprise.

The story itself makes for a rough sit. It’s about the mid-century American South after all, but despite its realism about the violence that hung in the air around these characters, Rees never allows her main characters to be anything less than human. That, of course, doesn’t mean that those who aren’t poisoned to a greater and lesser extents by hatred. I’m not going to write a treatise about the original sin of American racism, others have done that better than I ever could, but I think this film does a remarkable job of showing the brutal ways that power, particularly white supremacist, patriarchal power, reasserts itself. (Often by punishing those white people (or men) who refuse to participate in the status quo. It’s a brutal watch, but a vital and important one. And it’s one Netflix, so you don’t even have to ugly cry in public like I did.

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You can read my poem about this film here.

Call Me By Your Name

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Based on the trailer for this I went out and the book to fill the time before I could see the beauty that is Timothée Chalamet pining after Armie Hammer. It’s a great book, but – and I almost never say this, like I think I can think of maybe 3 other times – this movie matches and maybe even surpasses it.

A lot of its brilliance is stylistic, it’s beautifully shot and edited to make everything on screen seem sumptuous, like if you could just reach out and touch the screen then you would be able to feel everything. This sensuality was present in director, Luca Guadagnino‘s previous work, but I always felt a certain distance from his sharacters. Which is where the richness of author André Aciman and screenwriter James Ivory‘s script come in. Every person here, even those we meet only for a scene, is a fully drawn human being. Even Hammer, how I’ve always liked but often found a bit icy, melts into this world.

I won’t get started on how Chalamet’s raw desire is palpable and gorgeous because I don’t want to cry at my desk. But, speaking of crying, Michael Stuhlbarg (as Chalamet’s father) delivers a monologue at the end of this film that should go down in history as one of the great tear jerker moments in acting history. So glad he’s getting recognition for it.


You can read my poem about this film here.

The Disaster Artist


I should start with 2 facts:

  1. I’ve seen The Room once, 10ish years ago and I wasn’t sober. I saw that appeal, but re-watching something just because its awful isn’t that interesting to me.
  2. I love James Franco. I hear your reasons that you find him insufferable, and I hear you and love him more because of them. Dude goes for things. I admire that, (Hell, he’s sort of the reason I have a blog.)

OK, not that all of that has been disclosed, I…liked this fine. I appreciated that it didn’t feel like one long joke at Tommy Wiseau, when the first trailed made it seem it might be. But, despite good performances from both Franco brothersbrothers and surrounding cast I couldn’t quite get on the level of love for him (and Greg Sestero) the movie clearly has. Instead of being appreciative of the commitment these two had to their dreams (and the Francoian drive to do the thing you want to do, no matter how unlikely or strange) I came away mostly sad. Not for Wiseau, I’m not convinced that he’s not an alien, at the very least he doesn’t seem to take in others’ criticism of his work. But for Sestero who, as far as I can tell has basically been trapped by Wiseau into a very strange life. I’m overthink this I know, but while parts are very  funny, the movie just left me a bit deflated.


You can read my poem about this film here.

Weekly Adventure: After the Blast at the Claire Tow Theater


I’m not usually a huge fan of dystopias. I know that might seem odd given that the last time I actually got around to writing a theater review was when I went to 1984, but it’s true. So the premise of After the Blast, generations after an ecological disaster people live in highly regulated underground compounds where they rely on chips in their brains to taste food or experience the outside world, wouldn’t have exactly grabbed me on its own. But the name Zoe Kazan almost always will. I love her as an actor, and her debut film as a screenwriter (Ruby Sparks) as always stuck with me.  So I was very excited when I got an email from Lincoln Center Theater that I could get LincTix to her new play.

And I am so glad that I did! Despite it’s extremely high concept premise, this is really a character study, or maybe a relationship study. The main female character, played wonderfully by Cristin Milloti, is a woman struggling with depression and Vitamin D deficiency (hard to image that they all wouldn’t be), who wants to start a family with her husband, the charming William Jackson Harper, but hasn’t yet passed the mental health evaluation to be allowed. So, naturally, he sets her up with a companion robot.


Photo Credit: TheaterMania/Jeremy Daniel

It should be hokey, but it isn’t. It’s emotional and funny and raw. It’s both a glimpse at a possible (maybe uncomfortably so) future and a meditation on why it is important to keep fighting for hope in the present. It’s really good and I want a copy of it to read and underline and think about for a long time. If you’re in New York you should go.

The show runs through November 19th at the Claire Bow Theater at Lincoln Center