Articles on this Page
- 12/07/17--09:00: _Daniel Day-Lewis gi...
- 12/07/17--09:52: _Here's how the cast...
- 12/07/17--11:59: _Margot Robbie gives...
- 12/07/17--14:03: _'Justice League' is...
- 12/08/17--05:31: _The best movie of e...
- 12/08/17--06:05: _After burning out w...
- 12/08/17--10:54: _The 24 best movies ...
- 12/09/17--13:06: _RANKED: The 17 most...
- 12/10/17--07:40: _The 17 Oscar best p...
- 12/10/17--08:43: _Indies 'The Disaste...
- 12/10/17--14:00: _International audie...
- 12/11/17--00:50: _Saudi Arabia to all...
- 12/11/17--05:34: _Here are all the no...
- 12/11/17--06:35: _Guillermo del Toro'...
- 12/11/17--07:05: _10 movies that comp...
- 12/11/17--08:33: _Golden Globes misse...
- 12/11/17--09:05: _The Golden Globes h...
- 12/11/17--11:27: _Why you need to see...
- 12/12/17--09:00: _REVIEW: 'The Last J...
- 12/12/17--09:00: _'The Last Jedi' is ...
- Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie, "Phantom Thread," is another memorable work from the auteur.
- Daniel Day-Lewis gives his usual tour-de-force performance, but it's his costar Vicky Krieps who is the standout.
- There are no immediate plans for Zack Snyder to direct another DC Comics movie.
- The "Justice League" director will still have a production deal at Warner Bros. and will have executive producer credits on "Wonder Woman 2" and "Aquaman."
- 12/08/17--05:31: The best movie of every year since 2000, according to critics
- Screenwriter Steven Rogers was known in Hollywood as the go-to scribe for romantic movies, both comedies and dramas.
- He decided to reinvent himself by writing a screenplay on the life of infamous figure skater Tonya Harding.
- Rogers spent a year tracking down Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly before writing the script.
- 12/08/17--10:54: The 24 best movies you probably didn't see this year
- 12/09/17--13:06: RANKED: The 17 most disappointing movies of the year
- With Hollywood studios bracing for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" opening next weekend, independent films are benefiting at the box office.
- "I, Tonya" had an impressive opening weekend.
- Movies like "The Disaster Artist" and "Lady Bird" continue to preform well as they expand to more theaters.
- It has long been known that Hollywood has a diversity problem.
- But the reason may not be what you think.
- Studies show that the more movies cast blacks and Hispanics, the less international audiences will pay to see those movies.
- 12/11/17--00:50: Saudi Arabia to allow movie theaters in 2018
- 12/11/17--05:34: Here are all the nominees for the 2018 Golden Globes
- "The Shape of Water" by Guillermo del Toro led all Golden Globe nominees with seven.
- That could foreshadow a major Oscars run.
- We saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival and found it to be a moving monster love story.
- The 2018 Golden Globe nominations were announced Monday.
- All five best director nominees were men.
- Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird", Patty Jenkins ("Wonder Woman"), and Dee Rees ("Mudbound") each directed a critically-acclaimed movie this year.
- 12/11/17--09:05: The Golden Globes has no idea what counts as a comedy or a drama
- The Golden Globes nominated "Get Out" in its "musical or comedy" categories this year.
- It's part of its rich history of mis-categorizing movies. "Three Billboards," a comedy, is also marked as a drama this year.
- The comedy nomination for "Get Out" is especially patronizing, since it's a horror movie about racism.
- Writer-director Greta Gerwig crafts an authentic high school movie with "Lady Bird."
- The movie isn't just becoming a box-office hit, but is the best-reviewed movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes.
- A big reason for that is the performance by Saoirse Ronan, who delivers a role that is one of the best ever in the coming-of-age genre.
- "The Last Jedi" is a super-sized "Star Wars" movie that will make you laugh and cry.
- Writer-director Rian Johnson has created a story that is worthy of the saga, but also has the feel of a powerful standalone movie.
Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably at his best when he delves into themes of obsession, and "Phantom Thread" (in theaters on Christmas) is full of that.
Movies like "Boogie Nights,""There Will Be Blood," and "The Master" examine characters driven by desires that will never be attained. With every achievement reached, another is seen on the horizon. It's their drug of choice: Never be satisfied.
In "Phantom Thread," Anderson uses the character of Reynolds Woodcock as his latest example. Woodcock is a dressmaker in 1950s London whose life revolves around his obsession of making the most beautiful dresses he can imagine.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Woodcock as a soft-spoken man with huge talent but also a huge ego. He has created a world where his every need is taken care of by his sister (played with ice-queen goodness by Lesley Manville) so he can strictly focus on his work, which is sought by the most powerful and famous women in the world. But as with every obsession, there has to be more. And that's where Alma (Vicky Krieps) comes in.
Woodcock plucks her from a countryside tavern she's waitressing at and brings her into his world. But first he has to take her measurements, which he does on their first date. Can she be worthy of his designs? It's strictly a formality, however. His eye has never failed him. He knows this is his muse.
Thus begins a relationship that despite all of Alma's efforts is one-sided. The only affection she is given is when Woodcock is exhausted after completing a dress. But it's those times that keep her going with the relationship. He is obsessed with the work, but she is obsessed with him. And this is where the movie takes an unexpected turn that's as twisted as it is beautiful.
"Phantom Thread" is as exquisitely crafted as the dresses in the movie. Its costume and set design instantly suck you into the setting. And Anderson (who shot the movie himself) has created a dark love story that is wickedly funny and that offers some of the best performances of the year.
Day-Lewis gives his usual master class in acting. He plays Woodcock as a man as driven as Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood," but not as psychotic. His bursts of anger are to drive people away so he can dig deeper into his work. But he's found his match in Alma, and Anderson has found a star in Krieps.
Krieps is the movie's standout. She is up to the task of acting opposite a legend like Day-Lewis, playing Alma with a feistiness that energizes the scenes when Woodcock and Alma trade jabs at each other. And her dry comic timing is one of the movie's many highlights. I can't wait to see more of her work.
"I, Tonya" is a new dark comedy movie that tells the real-life story of the Tonya Harding controversy, where the figure skater was involved in a plot to hurt her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
The movie, at its root, is deeply problematic. But the filmmakers deserve credit for the casting. Margot Robbie does a compelling job in her performance as Harding while the rest of the actors bumble around as comic relief.
Here's how the actors in the movie stack up to the people in the real-life drama.
Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding, the disadvantaged but persistent ice skater caught in the middle of the drama.
The movie gets the costumes right. Here's the real-life Harding right after she became the first American woman to perform a successful triple axel in a competition.
Sebastian Stan plays Jeff Gillooly, Harding's ex-husband who hired someone to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The dark, twisted, and hilarious look at the rise and fall of US Olympic figure-skater Tonya Harding had buyers scrambling to nab it at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, and now it's time for general audiences to get their chance.
Margot Robbie plays the disgraced skater in a performance that is the best of her career to this point.
Though Harding’s claim to fame should be as the first American woman to land a triple axel in competition, what she’s really known for is being the center of one of the biggest scandals in US sports history when her rival, US figure-skater Nancy Kerrigan, was attacked leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics. Later on, it was discovered that Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, hired someone to assault Kerrigan.
But “I, Tonya,” directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “The Finest Hours”), doesn’t only focus on the scandal that became a pop-culture obsession in the mid-1990s. To tell the story right, you have to delve deeper into Harding’s life and that’s just what Gillespie and screenwriter Steven Rogers did.
Pushed to be a figure-skater by her mother (played by Allison Janney) at 3, Harding knew two things growing up, skating on the ice and being abused.
There’s a lot to laugh about and get nostalgic over in “I, Tonya,” but at its core it’s a story about a woman who has been mentally and physically abused by everyone who has ever been in her life.
By 15, Harding moves from the slaps and shoves of her mother to go live with Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and things don’t get better. He beats her constantly, which doesn’t stop Harding from marrying the guy.
Through all of this, Harding rises through the ranks of US figure-skating, and because of her ability to land the triple axel, becomes an elite skater. Which is even more remarkable in a sport like figure skating — where privilege and a wholesome image is a necessity — Harding did it all dirt poor and never making nice with anyone.
Robbie (who is also a producer on the movie) captures the rough Harding persona and delivers a performance which is at times heart-achingly real and at others masterfully comedic. From her hair to her loud outfits, Robbie is everything that made you love Harding if you lived through the time when she was one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
And then there’s the supporting cast that only makes Robbie and the movie better. Stan as the mustached Gillooly is the perfect villain. And Paul Walter Hauser, who plays Gillooly’s friend and Harding’s “bodyguard” Shawn Eckhardt, is a hilarious scene stealer. But it’s Janney as Harding’s unforgiving mother that's the most remarkable. She plays her ruthless and never gives the character the slightest hint of compassion towards Harding.
The movie has top notch make-up and costume design as it goes through the decades of Harding’s life and jumps forward to present day with the characters giving interviews looking back on the events. This style gives the movie one of its most memorable moments, when present day Harding looks into the camera and describes the pain she feels being the punching bag of the media and public. They being her latest abuser. And how this movie, and we the audience enjoying her messed up life, are now her current abuser.
If there’s one knock on the movie, the poor CGI for the skating scenes makes it obvious Robbie isn't doing most of the skating. But, no one was expecting her to learn the triple axel for the role.
Neon ended up winning the “I, Tonya” sweepstakes out of Toronto, and its betting on the movie to not just be a box office hit but an award season contender.
I certainly hope that happens because I think it's a very unique movie.
This review has been edited since its original posting during the Toronto International Film Festival.
NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly reveals why she left Fox News
There looks to be major shifts at Warner Bros. with its DC Comics movies, and not even its top creatives are safe.
Variety reported Thursday that there were no immediate plans for Zack Snyder, director of numerous DC Comics titles for the studio including "Justice League," to direct another DC movie.
This is on the heels of his last two DC movies, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Justice League," both getting hammered by the critics. Though the over-$800-million worldwide gross for "Batman v Superman" cushioned the blow for Warner Bros., Variety reported that the studio was concerned by the dark tone of the "Justice League" script and was hoping for something lighter. The trade also said that executives were concerned with the choice of doing a CGI Steppenwolf as the villain. This aspect of the movie was a standout complaint by critics and audiences.
Snyder also directed "Man of Steel" and was executive producer on DC movies "Suicide Squad" and "Wonder Woman."
The studio hired on Joss Whedon to punch up the "Justice League" dialogue, and he took over directing the reshoots after Snyder left the project following his daughter's suicide. However, the movie was too far along to make any substantial changes.
Though Snyder won't be directing another DC movie, his production deal will stay intact and he will still be executive producer on upcoming DC titles for Warner Bros., "Wonder Woman 2" and "Aquaman."
Jon Berg, who has been running the DC Comic Films with Geoff Johns, is stepping down from his role, according to the trade.
Business Insider contacted Warner Bros. and Snyder's rep for comment but did not get an immediate response.
Each year in film, one movie stands out from the rest as the most critically acclaimed picture of the year.
Since the turn of the century, the reviews aggregator Metacritic has compiled an annual list of the year's most well-received movies by assigning scores based on their composite critical reception.
We selected the top film from each year's list, starting with 2000 and including the best film of 2017.
The resulting list includes cultural landmarks like "The Social Network" and "Moonlight," and multiple appearances from the "Lord of the Rings" series.
Here is the best movie of every year since 2000, according to critics:
2000: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Critic score: 93/100
User score: 8.1/10
Summary:"In 19th century China, a magical sword given by a warrior to his lover is stolen and the quest to find it ensues. The search leads to the House of Yu where the story travels in a different direction with the introduction of a mysterious assassin and another love story."
What critics said: "Ang Lee, a world-class director working at the top of his elegant form, has done something thrilling."— Rolling Stone
2001: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
Critic score: 92/100
User score: 9.1/10
Summary:"An epic adventure of good against evil, a story of the power of friendship and individual courage, and the heroic quest to pave the way for the emergence of mankind, J.R.R. Tolkien's master work brought to cinematic life."
What critics said:"So consistently involving because the excellent cast delivers their lines with the kind of utter conviction not seen in this kind of movie since the first 'Star Wars.'"— New York Post
2002: "Spirited Away"
Critic score: 96/100
User score: 9/10
Summary:"A young girl, Chihiro, becomes trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world."
What critics said:"The most deeply and mysteriously satisfying animated feature to come along in ages."— New York magazine
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The life of a screenwriter in Hollywood is a thankless job. It’s days filled with coming up with stories that will satisfy the tastes of a mass audience, which eventually get poked and prodded by everyone from executives to directors to stars. When a movie you wrote finally shows up on the big screen, it looks nothing like what was originally written — if it makes it on screen at all.
Steven Rogers has spent decades working as a scribe in the studio system, and though his name is on recognizable titles like “Hope Floats,” “Stepmom,” and “Kate & Leopold,” he’s also got the scars of a career Hollywood screenwriter.
“Starting out I didn’t know anything,” Rogers told Business Insider recently while sitting in a hotel room at the Crosby Hotel in Lower Manhattan. “I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to protect myself.”
Rogers was in his twenties when his first-ever screenplay was made, “Hope Floats,” the 1998 romance movie starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. that has since become a staple on cable TV. That same year his second script hit theaters, “Stepmom,” a tearjerker starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon that also became a classic on paid cable.
Rogers didn’t know it yet, but he was instantly pigeon-holed as the “romance” guy in Hollywood. If a romantic drama or comedy needed to be written, Rogers was the guy. It led to years of his phone ringing off the hook matched by years of barely getting a call back from his agent. As Rogers put it: “I’ve been flavor of the month and I’ve been told I’m cold and they can’t do anything with me.”
When Rogers hit a cold spell he would just block everything out and come up with a new script. But after the horrific reviews for the 2015 holiday comedy he penned, “Love the Coopers,” he knew he couldn’t go on much longer working like this.
“I had to reinvent myself,” he said. “Even if I had wanted to go back to the studio system, the rom-coms and romantic dramas, they were rapidly not making those anymore. I had to go in a different direction.”
It was around this time when Rogers realized how he could start over after watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “The Price of Gold.” Sitting with his niece, they were glued to the screen watching the story of one of sport’s most infamous people, Tonya Harding. A brilliant figure skater with Olympic hopes, in 1994 she became one of the most known names and faces on the planet when her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, organized (with his dimwitted friends) an attack on Harding’s fellow US figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan. Footage of Kerrigan screaming “Why, why, why?” as she clutched her leg was the main story on the 24-hour news channels and evening news for weeks. And Harding became the target of every news outlet trying to figure out if she was involved in the attack.
“The perception of truth, memory, family, media, and class, I thought that all would be interesting to write about,” Rogers said looking back on watching “Price of Gold.”
Rogers looked up Tonya Harding’s website and called the contact number on it. The phone number went to the front desk of a Motel 6. Rogers was hooked.
Rogers broke every screenwriting rule he knew to write “I, Tonya” (opening in theaters on Friday). The movie looks at the life of Harding (played by Margot Robbie) from the perspectives of the disgraced figure skater, ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and Harding’s mother (among others). It’s hilarious and horrific at the same time. Rogers weaves a tale of Harding’s rise in figure skating, her abusive upbringing by her mother (Alison Janney), and her abusive relationship and eventual marriage to Gillooly. (Gillooly claims most of the physical assaults Harding says happened didn’t.)
And that’s the core of Rogers’ story (brought to life by director Craig Gillespie). He lets all his characters have the floor to set the record straight. It’s up to the audience to decide if any of it is true.
The movie also delves deep into the Kerrigan attack and aftermath. Again, it’s up to you to believe who is telling the truth.
The reason why Rogers’ script is such a knockout is because of the work he put in before typing a single word — all done on spec. After realizing Harding was not at the Motel 6, Rogers continued to try and track her down. His search led him to Texas where he thought he had found Harding’s manager. It turned out the person wasn’t, but she was a friend of Harding’s and because the woman was familiar with Rogers’ writing credits she connected him with Harding.
After a few months of searching, Rogers was finally face-to-face with Harding. The two hit it off and agreed to have Rogers sit with her over two days and interview her about her life. But first Rogers had to get her life rights. It took some time, mostly because Rogers said Harding didn’t want to pay for a lawyer so she got her ex-manager to do the negotiation pro bono.
Rogers said Harding was open to talk about everything. “She did say to me at one point, ‘Now, do I have any say in this?’” Rogers said. “And I said, ‘No, I’m going to tell everybody’s point of view.’ She was okay with that.”
With the Harding interviews done he went out to find Jeff Gillooly.
After getting out of prison in 1995 on a racketeering charge for masterminding the Kerrigan attack, Gillooly tried to move on with this life. He shaved his trademark mustache and changed his last name to Stone. But it wasn’t a total disappearing act because he moved back to his hometown. So Rogers found Gillooly/Stone easier than Harding.
To Rogers' amazement, he agreed to meet with him.
“I think it was because his wife liked the movies I wrote, that was my in,” Rogers said.
Rogers was even more amazed that Stone said he didn’t want any money for the interview. The two sat down for one day and talked about Harding.
“He didn’t want to profit on it,” Rogers said. “That’s not how he was portrayed in the media. I genuinely liked him.”
Writing a screenplay that Hollywood studios would never make
Rogers was convinced the best way to write the screenplay was to tell it from the point of view of both Harding and Gillooly. (He couldn’t find Harding’s mother so Rogers created the character through research and Harding’s recollections. Shawn Eckardt, Harding’s bodyguard who was also involved in the attack on Kerrigan, died in 2007). He wanted to go beyond how the media had portrayed them but also not tell the story as a standard biopic. For a writer who only knew how to write for Hollywood, it was thrilling. He had characters talk to the screen in mid performance. There’s even one point when Harding’s mother criticizes the filmmakers for keeping her out of the story for a long stretch of time.
“All the characters were very rebellious in their own way, but also very wrong headed, and I wanted the screenplay to mirror that,” Rogers said.
That included bringing out the domestic abuse that Harding alleges her mother and Gillooly inflicted on her. “Life's not one thing, why can't you be funny and tragic?” Rogers said. “To me, you can. You don't know if you should laugh, that's what we were going for.”
For all these reasons, Rogers knew when he was done with the script at the beginning of 2016 he could not send it to the studios. He couldn’t bear seeing all the work he put in get gutted. For the first time ever in his career he went the independent film route and quickly found Brian Unkeless (the “Hunger Games” franchise) as a producing partner. But there were a few caveats before he took it out on the market: there couldn’t be rewrites without his consent, and Allison Janney had to play the role of Harding’s mother.
“I have always written parts for Allison in all my scripts,” Rogers said. He has known the actress for most of his adult life. “She’s never gotten to play a part that I’ve written for her.”
Rogers didn’t just get all his requests, but also Margot Robbie. The actress was hot off her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and searching for movies that could be star vehicles for her when she came across Rogers’ script. She jumped on board to star as Harding and also be a producer.
They chose Craig Gillespie (“The Finest Hours”) as the director and Rogers said over the 31-day shoot very little from the script was changed. The movie was bought for around $5 million following its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
By this time Rogers had become close with both Harding and Gillooly. He invited Harding to see the movie once it was completed. He did not watch it with her.
“I let her see it on her own,” Rogers said, adding that he’s also setting up a time when Gillooly can also see it. “Tonya emailed me twice to thank me. She said she laughed, she cried, there were things she didn’t like, but she was happy.
Harding attended the premiere of the movie.
Rogers can’t tell yet what the success of “I, Tonya” has done for him. He’s never been involved with a movie that’s received award season buzz like “Tonya” is, or ever been asked to do press for a movie. Hollywood has taken notice, though. He says now instead of being offered rom-coms he’s getting scripts about every misunderstood woman from the 1990s.
“It’s like, ‘I, Lorena’ or ‘I, Monica,’ I mean really?” Rogers said with a laugh, referring to women who, like Harding, also grabbed the media spotlight in the 1990s — Lorena Bobbitt and Monica Lewinsky. “Right now, I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Every year, plenty of lists appear touting the best movie of the year (we're no exception), box office results are tallied, and a consensus builds around the top movies everyone loved. Some, if they're lucky, end up among the best of all time.
These movies are definitely worth watching. Everyone should watch "Get Out" and "Wonder Woman." But there are many, many more great movies out there.
Some just didn't get the right push from their distributors, some opened on the same weekend as a box office juggernaut, and others just didn't find the right audience at the right time.
But they're all still excellent, and many of them are among the best movies of the year. Definitely track down these 24 great movies you probably missed this year.
What it's about: Out of work, Gloria moves back to her hometown and reconnects with some people from her past and drinks too much. At the same time, she learns that she can control a giant kaijū monster terrorizing Seoul.
Why you should see it: Since it has a high-concept story, "Colossal"could have easily been terrible, but bucks the trend by being a funny and smart movie about the dangers of alcoholism and abuse. Anne Hathaway anchors the whole thing and Jason Sudeikis demonstrates he can be an effective dramatic actor.
"The Lost City of Z"
What it's about: Based on a true story set in the 1920s, the British explorer Percy Fawcett sets off to discover a mythological city in the Amazon jungle, disproving the Royal Geographical Society but leaving his wife behind.
Why you should see it: Hollywood rarely makes grand adventure stories like this anymore unless they feature one of the Avengers or a lightsaber. "The Lost City of Z" is both grand, as well as an insightful movie about obsession, one's place in history, and what happens to what you leave behind.
"The Big Sick"
What it's about: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani falls in love and breaks up with a graduate student named Emily Gardner. When Gardner falls ill, he finds himself taking care of her and becoming close to her parents as their cultures clash.
Why you should see it: Aside from being the best movie about an interracial romance ever made, "The Big Sick" is hilarious, deeply personal, and has a miraculously nuanced portrayal of Nanjiani's Muslim-American heritage. Oh, and it's also based on a true story — Nanjiani is happily married to Emily V. Gordon.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
2017 has given us a lot of great movies, but boy was it a year for some big clunkers and disappointment at the box office, too.
Audiences were loud and clear this year. You need more than big star power to sell a potential blockbuster. A good script and story helps. This year was filled with unnecessary reboots, whitewashing controversies, and lazy adaptations of popular books and manga.
INSIDER compiled together the movies we had high hopes for but that didn't quite live up to the hype. Keep reading to see the movies that let us down the most this year, ranked from bad to worse.
17. "Alien: Covenant"
Fans were genuinely excited to have director Ridley Scott back in the director's seat and that's why it's a bummer this movie left us wanting more.
We were expecting a movie featuring a lot of aliens attacking humans and were treated to a movie about a sentient, evil android (Michael Fassbender) who decided to become an alien overlord and unleash his children on mankind.
There were some good and surprising moments in "Covenant," but it was not the "Alien" prequel we were expecting.
You can read Business Insider's review here.
Fox clearly wanted "Life" to be its next "Alien" franchise, but instead we got a thriller about a sentient killing machine that hyped Ryan Reynolds in the trailers only to kill him off in the film's first half hour.
The film also wastes Jake Gyllenhaal’s Oscar-caliber talent as part of a space crew that's being hunted down one by one by a sentient being that looks like an overgrown plant. The most surprising bit was that Gyllenhaal wasn't killed early in the movie, too.
15. "Cars 3"
"Cars 3" may have been a big improvement on the last film in the series, but that's not saying much. ("Cars 2" is widely considered Pixar's worst movie.)
The movie hopes to walk you down memory lane, but it never tugs at your heartstrings the way the first film did. It's not that all of the ingredients aren't there. It's just that Pixar has delivered a similar story so many times now that the emotional beats don't hit with the same punch as they did before. They simply don't feel as genuine.
Nostalgic appearances by Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman) are ultimately frustrating, because the film fails to outright address the character's mysterious death.
You can read our review here.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The 21st century is less than two decades old, but its first batch of Best Picture winners already paint an extraordinary portrait of a world in flux.
From a massive historical epic to an intimate digital indies — from a musical that riffs on showbiz standards to period drama that reflects on present crises — these 17 films range from “problematic” to “perfect” and hit all points in between.
More than that, they illustrate Hollywood’s evolving definition of greatness, and the relationship between the film industry and the times that forge it.
Here are the 17 Best Picture winners of the 21st century, ranked from worst to best:
17. “Crash” (2005)
“Brokeback Mountain” deserved better, but the Academy didn’t know it. Paul Haggis’ painfully obvious ensemble drama about racial prejudices in Los Angeles was a smug, one-note drama designed to make white liberals feel good about themselves. (It took a decade for “Get Out” to put this recurring tendency in its place.) The spin-the-racial-wheel structure careens from a black filmmaker to a Persian immigrant to a Hispanic locksmith as it heads toward a tidy climax in which everyone’s bias comes to a head.
The movie was released early in the year and gradually crept back into the conversation so the Academy’s homophobic contingency had a backup plan as “Brokeback” gained momentum. But perhaps that’s unfair: Some very reasonable people like “Crash,” which is so sincere and eager to make its purpose obvious that support for the movie was synonymous with endorsing its good intentions. It’s possible to appreciate the outlook of “Crash” while still recognizing that it’s a bad movie; unfortunately, Oscar season circa 2005 wasn’t interested in subtle distinctions. —Eric Kohn
16. “The King’s Speech” (2010)
Tom Hooper’s snoozy character study about the stuttering future King George VI’s attempt to get over his impediment and deliver a declaration of war on Germany demonstrates the worst tendencies of Oscar bait: weighty subject matter given a quirky, entertaining twist. That was the Weinstein formula in a nutshell.
Colin Firth does his thing in the lead, carrying this gimmicky period piece along as well as possible, but “The King’s Speech” never manages to wrestle free of its obvious framework. At this point, as best picture winners go, it speaks to another era — when the most boring, unadventurous option is automatically the consensus choice. —EK
15. “Argo” (2012)
It’s crazy to think that, only five years ago, Hollywood awarded their highest honor to a glorified TV movie because they felt bad for Ben Affleck. And the only reason they felt bad for Ben Affleck was because they forgot to nominate him for their highest individual honor. Oscar narrative sure take on a life of their own. Of course, as is often the case, “Argo” doesn’t fully deserve the scorn it continues to receive for being an undeserving Best Picture winner; it’s a fine little historical thriller, smartly crafted and suspenseful from start to finish.
There’s not much to it beyond the fun of watching the guy from “Good Will Hunting” sneak a bunch of Americans out of Iran during the Revolution, but that is fun. Affleck knows how to put a good story together, and it’s hard to regret sitting through anything that stars Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kerry Bishé, Victor Garber, Richard Kind, and/or Clea DuVall. Still… it’s never a great sign when a movie gives the impression that it directed itself. —David Ehrlich
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Another week passes, and it's another one where "Coco" tops the domestic box office.
With its estimated $19 million take over the weekend, according to The Wrap, that makes three straight weekends the latest Disney/Pixar title has been No. 1.
Why has it been such an easy road to dominance? Because all the other studios are taking a breath until another Disney title, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," comes in and takes the torch from "Coco" and dominates the box office (likely for the rest of 2017).
As the studios see it, why release one of their big titles these past two weekends and spend millions on marketing when it's likely just going to suffer the buzz saw that is a new "Star Wars" movie? That's allowed independent movies to sneak in and attract audiences.
It's a perfect time as many are hoping to get recognition on Monday morning when Golden Globes nominations are announced, which will only lead to more interest in the weeks to come.
Neon/30WEST's "I, Tonya," an unconventionally told biopic focused on the life of infamous figure skater Tonya Harding, opened on four screens this weekend and scored an impressive $245,000. That's a $61,000 per-screen average.
With the movie's star Tonya Harding likely to get a Golden Globes nomination (and maybe even an Oscar), Neon/30WEST has a title that more and more audiences will check out as the film expands its release in the weeks to come.
Same with Fox Searchlight's "The Shape of Water." Guillermo del Toro's unique love story was on 41 screens this weekend and earned $1.1 million (a $26,000 per-screen average). It was only on two screens last weekend.
And A24 had two titles crack the top 10 this weekend. "The Disaster Artist" went from 19 screens last weekend to 840(!) this weekend, and it proved to be the right move.
James Franco's funny and touching behind-the-scenes look at the making of "The Room," regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, took in $6.4 million to take fourth place.
And Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" came in ninth place with $3.5 million ($22 million lifetime total) and continues to be one of the feel good titles of the holiday season. The movie is now in over 1,500 theaters. This is another title that will only see its box office numbers increase with likely Golden Globes and other major award nominations to follow.
Studio titles took home second and third place this weekend, with "Justice League" and "Wonder," respectively. "Justice League" took in $9.6 million, putting its domestic total to $212 million. "Wonder" continues to be the little engine that could, earning $8.5 million to put its total over $100 million.
Hollywood is desperate for a home run at the box office, and that will come next weekend with the release of "The Last Jedi."
The only question is: How high will that opening number be?
In 2014, a hacker group leaked confidential information from Sony Pictures Entertainment, including a controversial email written by an unnamed producer.
In the email, which went viral, the producer questioned the decision to cast Denzel Washington as the lead in “The Equalizer”:
“I believe that the international motion-picture audience is racist – in general, pictures with an African-American lead don’t play well overseas… But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pictures with decent-size budgets.”
Many actors, activists and newspapers have raised concerns related to diversity in Hollywood films. Several organizations, including blackfilm.com and the Geena Davis Institute, now actively monitor and promote diversity in media.
But was the Sony producer onto something in raising concerns about the biases of moviegoers abroad? Is it possible that the lack of nonwhite and female lead characters in Hollywood films is driven, in part, by economic concerns from movie studios? Our analysis of more than 800 films sampled between 2005 and 2012 suggests the answer is “yes.”
Who's in the movies
Research suggests that films suffer from demographic disparities.
In one study, researchers at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism analyzed the demographic characteristics of over 11,000 speaking characters in hundreds of films and television series released in 2014. Approximately 75 percent of all actors involved were white. Meanwhile, 12 percent were black, 6 percent Asian, 5 percent Hispanic/Latino and 3 percent were identified as Middle Eastern or “other.”
We looked at the top-grossing films each year from 2005 to 2012, using information from Box Office Mojo, IMDB, The New York Times movie reviews and Rotten Tomatoes. Our data include the 150 top films each year that were distributed domestically and abroad, excluding G-rated and animated films.
Just 28 percent of movies in our sample had a female first lead character. Only 19 percent had a nonwhite first lead character.
These figures are in stark contrast to the demographics of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 51 percent of the U.S. is female and 35 percent is nonwhite or Hispanic.
Recently, film studios have faced more intense competition from independent filmmakers, increased globalization and streaming video sources. In this environment, film studios may be inclined to supply movies with characteristics that appeal to more consumers and increase profits.
Since international box office revenue is now more than twice as large as domestic revenue, the economic incentive for studios to cater to the preferences of international audiences is larger than ever. The top five international box office markets are China, Japan, the U.K., France and India.
Does consumer discrimination in these markets explain the underrepresentation of female and nonwhite actors in Hollywood films?
We analyzed the potential gender and racial biases from the consumer side through their influence on box office revenue, both domestically and internationally. We looked at the relationship between cast demographics and theater audiences, controlling for other factors that may affect a movie’s success, such as production budgets, release timing, genre, critic ratings and star power.
There’s significant evidence that a film cast’s racial diversity negatively affects international box office performance. By our estimates, a 10 percentage point increase in racial cast diversity leads to 17 percent less international revenue, even after controlling for key film characteristics. This effect disappears in the domestic market.
Similarly, adding just one nonwhite lead actor led to a 40 percent decrease in international revenue.
However, we did not find any link between gender diversity and movie revenue. Productions with a female lead character fared as well economically outside the U.S. as those with a male lead.
The results provide convincing evidence that studio executives have legitimate concerns about the relationship between diversity and revenue.
The negative effects of nonwhite characters on profits could explain the racial disparity observed in Hollywood films. In that case, it could be argued that consumer prejudice leads to roles that favor white actors more, because the increased revenue is attractive to studio executives.
Most movies make a lot more foreign revenue than domestic revenue, but movies with diverse casts can struggle abroad, even if they are incredibly successful domestically. For example, 2012’s “Think Like a Man” made US$91.5 million in the domestic market but just $4.5 million in the international market. “The Help,” a 2011 Academy Award-winning period drama, made $169.7 million in the domestic market compared to $46.9 million in the international market.
This doesn’t mean that preferences of studio executives are not at all responsible for the demographic disparity, but it does suggest that market forces are at least partly responsible.
Consumer tastes are a likely factor driving studios’ preference of nonwhite underrepresentation in movies. The revenue implications of international audience preferences are simply too large for studios to ignore.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that public cinemas would be allowed in the conservative kingdom and the first cinemas were likely to open early next year.
"As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom," Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said in a statement.
"We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”
Nominations for the 75th Golden Globe Awards were announced Monday morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
Kristen Bell, Sharon Stone, Alfre Woodard, and Garrett Hedlund announced the nominations in a live stream.
Guillermo del Toro's unique love story "The Shape of Water" led everyone with seven nominations. Steven Spielberg's "The Post" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" each nabbed six. On the TV side, HBO's hit "Big Little Lies" picked up six nominations.
The Golden Globes ceremony is set to air on January 7 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, with Seth Meyers hosting.
Here are the nominees:
Best motion picture, drama
"Call Me by Your Name"
"The Shape of Water"
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Best motion picture, comedy or musical
“The Disaster Artist"
"The Greatest Showman"
Guillermo del Toro, "The Shape of Water"
Martin McDonagh, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Christopher Nolan, "Dunkirk"
Ridley Scott, "All The Money in the World"
Steven Spielberg, "The Post"
Best TV series, drama
"Game of Thrones"
"The Handmaid's Tale"
"This is Us"
Best TV series, comedy
"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
"Master of None"
"Will & Grace"
Best actor in a motion picture, drama
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
Best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical
Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Hugh Jackman, “The Greatest Showman”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Best actress in a motion picture, drama
Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Michelle Williams, “All the Money in the World”
Best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical
Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”
Helen Mirren, “The Leisure Seeker”
Best actor in a TV series, drama
Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us”
Freddie Highmore, “The Good Doctor”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Best actor in a TV series, comedy
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
Kevin Bacon, “I Love Dick”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Eric McCormack, “Will and Grace”
Best actress in a TV series, drama
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander”
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Deuce”
Katherine Langford, “13 Reasons Why”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Best actress in a TV series, comedy
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Alison Brie, “Glow”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Frankie Shaw, “SMILF”
Best supporting actor in a motion picture
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me by Your Name”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Best supporting actress in a motion picture
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Hong Chau, “Downsizing”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Best TV movie or mini-series
“Big Little Lies”
“Feud: Bette and Joan”
“Top of the Lake: China Girl”
Best actor in a TV miniseries or movie
Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
Jude Law, “The Young Pope”
Kyle MacLachlan, “Twin Peaks”
Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”
Best actress in a TV miniseries or movie
Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”
Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”
Best supporting actor in TV miniseries or TV movie
Alfred Molina, “Feud”
Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”
David Thewlis, “Fargo”
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
Best supporting actress in TV miniseries or movie
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chrissy Metz, “This is Us”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lies”
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies”
Best animated film
“The Boss Baby”
Best original score
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
“The Shape of Water”
Best screenplay, motion picture
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Best foreign language film
“A Fantastic Woman”
“First They Killed My Father”
“In the Fade”
Best original song
"Remember Me," Coco
"This Is Me," The Greatest Showman
"Mighty River," Mudbound
"The Star," The Star
SEE ALSO: The 10 biggest box office bombs of 2017
The latest film by visionary director Guillermo del Toro, "The Shape of Water," is officially a frontrunner in the race to the Academy Awards. Leading all nominees at this year's Golden Globes with seven, this unique love story is one that shouldn't be missed.
Here's what we thought about the movie when we saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival:
There are some directors who have a special talent for building worlds all their own, without any source material, and Guillermo del Toro is one of the best doing it right now.
His latest movie, "The Shape of Water," followed up its grand prize win at the Venice Film Festival this past weekend by dazzling everyone here at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, the movie is set during the Space Race at a time when America isn't ready to put a man in a shuttle yet. In the film, there's a creature the government has captured in the Amazon that it thinks can be used as a test dummy on a launch. But that plan is quickly knocked down, as the military believes it makes more sense to kill and examine the creature to know more about its capabilities.
There's one problem: The creature has befriended a mute janitor named Eliza (Sally Hawkins), who is determined to see that doesn't happen.
That's the real story of "The Shape of Water," the relationship between the creature and Eliza. She lives atop a run-down movie theater and spends her days going to work at an military base, where she cleans alongside chatty Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and at home hanging out with her gay neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). Only able to communicate through signing, Eliza instantly has a connection with the creature as she sees them both as prisoners: literally for the creature and figuratively for Eliza, as she cannot find someone to love her.
After Eliza comes up with a daring escape from the lab with the creature, pulling a fast one on the head of security, Strickland (Michael Shannon), Eliza keeps the creature in the bath tub of her apartment until the rainy season comes when she'll bring him out into the ocean. In that time, a relationship between Eliza and the creature sparks.
Throughout all this, we're surrounded in a world del Toro has created that has the feel of an old Hollywood movie, from the set design to the wacky dream sequence when Eliza and the creature suddenly have a brief dance number. "The Shape of Water" combines a creature feature and a melodrama to tell a beautiful story that will thrill as much as get you emotional.
As with every del Toro movie, there's a nice touch of gore in it, too. The major squirm moments come from the Strickland character, who early in the movie has two fingers sliced off by the creature. And let's just say the reattachment of the digits to the hand doesn't work out.
The creature is played by the always great Doug Jones, who del Toro fans will remember played Abe Sapien in his "Hellboy" movies, while Hawkins gives a wonderful performance as Eliza. And let's not forget two of the best Michaels working today: Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg (as the good-natured scientist).
Expect a lot of talk about this movie as we get deeper into awards season.
"The Shape of Water" is currently playing in limited release:
This year's Golden Globe nominations are here. And, as usual, they're pretty weird.
It's great to see some universally beloved movies get a lot of nominations, like "The Shape of Water" and "The Post." And it was nice to have some overlooked performances get highlighted, like Denzel Washington in "Roman J. Israel, Esq."
But other movies are shockingly snubbed, like "Wonder Woman" and "The Big Sick." You can chalk it up to the eccentric tastes of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the 90 or so foreign journalists who run the Golden Globes every year and decide the nominees.
The winners will be announced when The Golden Globes airs at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 7, on NBC.
For now, here are 10 baffling inclusions in this year's round of nominations.
"The Boss Baby"? Really?
To be fair, "The Boss Baby" wasn't actually all that bad. And neither is, I'm sure, "Ferdinand," which looks like it's the most generic animated movie about animals ever made. But it's hard to believe these two rank among the "best" animated movies of the year.
"The LEGO Ninjago Movie" was much more clever than "The Boss Baby," for example, and the charming "Captain Underpants: The First Movie" deserves a shot. Heck, even "Cars 3" was miles better than "Cars 2" and had some of that classic Pixar spark.
Why on Earth did the Golden Globes nominate "In the Fade"?
The Golden Globes has a tendency to nominate people who are famous even when they haven't made anything good that year. This year, one of those movies is "In the Fade," for best foreign language film.
The weird thing is director Fatih Akin isn't even that famous and he hasn't been since he last made a good movie, which was "The Edge of Heaven" 10 years ago. Instead, the HFPA could have nominated something like "BPM (Beats Per Minute)" or "Foxtrot."
"Molly's Game" is far from Aaron Sorkin's best work.
Aaron Sorkin is one of the few movie screenwriters you'll recognize just by listening to his distinctive, rapid dialogue. But while "Molly's Game" — also his first directorial effort — is a solid movie, it's hard to argue that it has one of the best screenplays of the year. It's far from Sorkin's best effort (I'd give that to "The Social Network"), and something like "Coco,""Phantom Thread,""Get Out," or "The Big Sick" would be more deserving in the best screenplay category.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Despite a best picture, comedy or musical nomination for "Lady Bird" and widespread acclaim for its first-time director, Greta Gerwig, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association stuck with an all-male group for the 2018 best director nominations.
In a year in which Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" and Dee Rees' "Mudbound" also received universal praise — and in the case of "Wonder Woman," massive box office as well, the slight was seen as significant.
Gerwig, who has acted in numerous films, had never directed a feature before "Lady Bird." She did, however, score a screenplay nom for her original "Lady Bird" script. The Globes combine both adapted and original screenplays into one category.
The push to hire and recognize female directors has intensified in the wake of the Academy's efforts to improve diversity and the massive sexual harassment scandals that are gripping Hollywood.
Instead, the HFPA nominated Guillermo del Toro, whose "The Shape of Water" had the most noms overall, Martin McDonagh, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg. Spielberg previously won Globes for directing "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List."
"Lady Bird" stars Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf were nominated for Golden Globes for best actress, comedy and supporting actress, respectively. Among other honors, "Lady Bird" won best film from the New York Film Critics Circle.
Ronan stars as the title character in "Lady Bird," a high school senior who deals with a strict mother, college plans and boys in early-2000s Sacramento, Calif.
However, the Globe nominations weren't all bad news for women directors. Angelina Jolie's "First They Killed My Father" did receive a best foreign film nomination. The Cambodia-set film's dialogue is in Khmer, French and English. And "The Breadwinner," directed by Nora Twomey, will compete in the best animated film category.
The Golden Globes has a lot of bizarre traditions, but there's one it can't quit. Every year, it considers random movies a "musical or comedy" when they clearly aren't.
If you look at this year's nominations, for example, the horror movie "Get Out" is competing in the musical and comedy categories, while the dark comedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" is a drama for some reason.
Unlike most other major awards groups, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) — the consortium of around 90 foreign film journalists who decide the Golden Globe nominees and winners — categorize movies as either "drama" or "musical or comedy" for its awards. It's an exciting idea: More categories means more movies and actors can be nominated. But every year, the organization makes categorizations that defy reason.
The categorizations for "Get Out" and "Three Billboards" are, in fact, part of the HFPA's rich history of putting movies in the wrong category.
The Golden Globes does this all the time.
In 2016, for example, "The Martian" — a science fiction movie about a man trapped on Mars and trying to return back to Earth — won the best movie award in the comedy or musical category, despite being neither, and winning over the likes of "Trainwreck" and "The Big Short." Furthermore, Matt Damon won the best actor award in a musical or comedy category.
This happens pretty much every year: "20th Century Women" was nominated for best musical or comedy last year, even though it isn't one. "My Week With Marilyn" got a nomination in the category in 2011, and "The Tourist" in 2010 (by the way, why was that movie nominated for anything?).
In fact, the nomination and win for "The Martian" was so egregious that the HFPA changed its rules a few weeks after the awards, telling studios that "dramas with comedic overtones should be entered as dramas," not comedies, when submitted for nominations.
But they seemed to ignore that this year, when nominating "Get Out" in the categories designated for musicals or comedies. Studios are the ones who choose a category when submitting a movie, which they may do because one category may be less competitive than another, but the HFPA could still nominate a movie in whatever category they want.
Nominating "Get Out" as a comedy is a patronizing move.
It's especially insulting to "Get Out," even if the movie does have some funny moments, since director Jordan Peele wasn't happy about a genre categorization.
"The reason for the visceral response to this movie being called a comedy is that we are still living in a time in which African American cries for justice aren’t being taken seriously,"Peele said in a statement last month. "It’s important to acknowledge that though there are funny moments, the systemic racism that the movie is about is very real."
‘Get Out’ is a documentary.— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) November 15, 2017
Sometimes, the way the Globes categorizes certain movies makes some sense. While some people didn't think "The Wolf of Wall Street" wasn't a comedy, it has enough laugh-out-loud moments to make the category work. And often, the "musical or comedy" category simply have fewer good contenders (hence mashing together "musical" and "comedy" in the first place), so lighter fare like "The Martian" is pushed in there.
Jordan Peele doesn't seem too upset right now. "I’m so damn proud of Daniel and the cast and crew of GET OUT for these nominations!✊🏾,"he diplomatically tweeted after the nominations were announced.
But "Get Out" is not a comedy. The movie may offer a few nervous laughs, but it's patronizing to consider a horror movie about racism on the same level as "The Greatest Showman" or "I, Tonya." Sometimes, you just have to call a spade a spade.
Sign up here to get INSIDER's favorite stories straight to your inbox.
Greta Gerwig has gone from one of indie film’s most sought-after actresses to now being one of its rising directors.
Her first solo directing effort, “Lady Bird,” has become the end-of-year FOMO movie thanks to its award season hopes (it received four Golden Globe nominations on Monday), and status as the best-reviewed movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes (at the time of writing it had an astounding 195 "fresh" reviews).
What has wowed audiences about “Lady Bird” (currently playing in theaters) is its authentic feel focused on coming-of-age and family. These are two things that almost any audience member can relate to.
Gerwig, who in the early 2000s became the face of the mumblecore genre with her captivating acting talent, also got her own ideas to the screen through writing (a highlight was Noah Baumbach’s 2012 film “Frances Ha”), and codirecting “Nights and Weekends” in 2008 with Joe Swanberg.
“Lady Bird” is a culmination of the work she’s absorbed in front of and behind the camera throughout her career.
A semi-autobiographical look at her youth growing up in Sacramento, California, the movie revolves around the senior year of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (beautifully acted by Saoirse Ronan). Literally living on the wrong side of the tracks, Lady Bird is seeking more than what her current circumstances offer. She wants to live in a better part of town, she wants to lose her virginity to a hot guy, and she wants to go to a college on the East Coast. The latter is the hardest because of her family’s financial situation. Already struggling to pay the bills, things get worse when her dad (Tracy Letts) gets laid off. This puts even more pressure on her mom (Laurie Metcalf) to do it all.
Lady Bird is basically Andie in “Pretty in Pink,” but she’s got a lot more guts and doesn’t give a damn what people think about her.
The center of Gerwig’s story is the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, which is constantly hot and cold. Conversations with them can jump from happiness to cutthroat hatred in the blink of an eye (or vice versa). It's watching this emotional relationship that leads to the movie's powerful ending.
And along with drama, Gerwig also gives us a lot of comedy.
The movie’s 94-minute running time flies by because Gerwig’s pacing is at lightspeed. With jump cuts and brief scenes, Gerwig plows through the story, and with a lot of the fat trimmed, when a meaty scene comes up, it pays off because there is importance to it. These scenes can come in the form of a mother-daughter (or father) chat; Lady Bird navigating her relationship with best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein); or exploring love or lack thereof with a boyfriend (Lucas Heges followed by Timothée Chalamet).
And set in 2002-2003, Gerwig pulls off the nostalgia perfectly by including some great needle drops, including Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” Bone Thugs N Harmony’s “Crossroads,” Justin Timberlake’s “Cry My A River,” and Dave Matthews Band's “Crash Into Me.”
Though Gerwig’s talents as a writer-director shine, it’s the casting of Ronan in the lead that makes “Lady Bird” such a memorable work. The layers she gives the character will make the performance go down as one of the best high school characters ever.
The movie is one of the best teen movies I’ve seen in a long time, you should really find time to see it.
NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly reveals why she left Fox News
Warning: There are some mild spoilers ahead for "The Last Jedi."
If you were among the fans who thought "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was little more than a rehash of "A New Hope," then "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is the movie you've been waiting two years for.
It's tough to rank it among other "Star Wars" movies just yet, but it's safe to say "The Last Jedi" is one of the best "Star Wars" movies ever made. It's right up there with "Empire Strikes Back."
From the moment the Lucasfilm logo pops on screen and the John Williams’ score roars to life, it’s two-and-a-half hours of pure bliss to a galaxy far, far away.
There is so much to love about "The Last Jedi," it’s difficult to know where to start without giving too much away. The most important thing I can emphasize is that you should most certainly go into this movie knowing as little as possible about it.
Where "The Force Awakens" felt like a rehash of "A New Hope,""The Last Jedi" feels a lot different from "Empire Strikes Back."
Director Rian Johnson does such a good job avoiding the sequel trap by taking the film in directions you don’t expect. If you think you have "TLJ" figured out, you’ll be sorely mistaken. There are several moments throughout the film where you’ll be sitting in your seat, your heart in your chest, completely unsure of what will happen next, and maybe that’s why Lucasfilm invited him back to direct his own standalone trilogy. There are also plenty of surprises I won't spoil here.
There’s one device Johnson uses to great effect. He masterfully juxtaposes big, loud space sequences and fight scenes with unexpected moments of silence. These are best utilized when highlighting emotional, tender moments.
The visual effects team and cinematographers really show off what they can do with the creation of two new worlds. The salt flats of Bolivia lend themselves to a gorgeous fight on Crait, a world that has a red mineral lying just below the surface.
The film really outdid itself with the Casino city of Canto Bight which almost serves as an excuse to show off Lucasfilm’s workshop of “Star Wars” creatures in a fancy cantina-like setting.
One of the best things about “The Last Jedi” is that when you think it’s going to be over, it keeps going. I thought the film was nearing its end once or twice and was happily surprised that there was about another half hour to go. You usually don’t feel that way during a big movie.
The entire cast is wonderful, but it's Mark Hamill’s return as the troubled and haunted Jedi Master Luke Skywalker fans will rejoice over. Hamill's Skywalker is equally funny and cryptic with a secret of his own.
Without giving much away, there is a very giffable Skywalker eye wink in the movie that I can’t wait to see hit the internet after its home release.
Young girls who fell in love with Daisy Ridley’s Rey in “Episode VII,” will no doubt be styling their hair in three buns to match the spunky and eager Force sensitive woman. This is a character who feels as cemented in “Star Wars” lore as Luke at this point and she has rightly earned her place.
If you’re not here for Luke and Rey, you’re certainly here to see Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa on screen once more. Every scene with Fisher feels like it was made with extra care.
If Kylo Ren wasn’t one of your favorite characters in “The Force Awakens,” he may be now. Adam Driver continues to deliver a complex and conflicted antihero who just doesn’t want to be alone in the universe.
We finally get face time with the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke and he feels as menacing as Emperor Palpatine in “Return of the Jedi” even if the villains' true motivations aren’t quite clear.
I’m not sure when Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux was reduced into a hilarious punching bag, but it works here and is fantastic every time he comes on screen. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron delivers some of the film’s other biggest laughs as the Resistance’s fiery fighter pilot. Kelly Marie Tran’s new character Rose will give young girls another hero to look up to alongside Rey. And Benicio del Toro enters the fray as a delightfully wonky side character.
A lot of the legacy characters — Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3P0 — are in the film too, but they feel like they’re just there for nostalgia’s sake. Most take a back seat to make way for new favorites like BB-8.
“The Last Jedi” makes sure to get in enough scenes of its most bankable new droid even if his appearance doesn’t quite make sense. The cute penguin-like creatures called Porgs get more screen time than C-3P0 and you know it’s a push to sell all of those adorable stuffed animals. You win on this one, Disney.
Keep your eyes peeled for star power. You may do a double take in a casino scene and wonder if you just saw “The Leftovers” star Justin Theroux. Yes, yes you did.
Underneath all of the star power and fight scenes, “The Last Jedi” sends a message we need more than ever, one of hope. “We’re going to win not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love” is a line said late in the film that feels pretty applicable in the scope of 2017.
After you get past the excitement of being reunited with Hamill and Fisher and after the thrill of seeing another “Star Wars” movie die down, you’ll be hit with a realization. For as good as “The Last Jedi” may be, it doesn’t answer a lot of lingering questions you may have had from “The Force Awakens.”
We still don’t know who Snoke is and we may never know. That may agitate some viewers.
Wondering who Rey is? Though the film gives us some sort of answer, it doesn’t feel like a genuine or satisfying one. It’s puzzling, especially after so much of the movie is pregnant with the mystery of Rey’s origin.
While the movie does a good balancing act with its characters, a few of them feel a bit shortchanged.
Once again, break-out character Captain Phasma gets some of the least amount of time on screen. But when she is front and center, she's a commanding presence who steals every scene. It seems like she may have only survived the trash compactor from “The Force Awakens” because of her popularity.
Lupita Nyong’o’s alien creature Maz Kanata is reduced to such a minor role that it’s a wonder why it was even necessary to bring her back in the first place. For as much as the droid BB-9E was teased, he’s in the movie for a brief few minutes. It almost feels like a scene or two of his were cut from the finished film.
Unanswered questions aside, "The Last Jedi" contains some scenes, concepts, and ideas that have never been done in any "Star Wars" movie proceeding it. Longtime fans of the franchise will either embrace it or seriously question the creative decisions.
There’s a brief scene at the film’s very end that doesn’t feel like it fits in a "Star Wars" movie. It almost feels like an ad for Walt Disney World’s upcoming “Star Wars”-themed land. It didn’t need to be in the movie at all and felt like something that could have followed the credits. “Star Wars” movies don’t do post-credit scenes though.
The Bottom Line
I found myself grinning like a fool from the moment the “Star Wars” logo appeared throughout most of the movie, and I expect many fans will do the same. As soon as you leave the theater, I'll be surprised if you don't want to immediately watch “The Last Jedi” again. There are so many scenes you want to watch a second time either because you need to see a lightsaber duel again or out of fear that you missed something important said in whispers.
This movie is going to make a lot of money, folks. No one should be surprised if it breaks box-office records opening weekend. The combination of a fresh, original sequel and fans coming out to see Princess Leia on screen again will please fans the world over. if you're looking for a good escape for two and a half hrs, “The Last Jedi” will make you laugh and believe in hope. Just make sure you bring a few tissues along for the ride, too.
Grade: A -
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is in theaters December 15.
NOW WATCH: The world's largest pyramid is not in Egypt
If you are wondering why director Rian Johnson has been handed the keys to the “Star Wars” franchise, and been allowed to create a whole new trilogy, look no further than what he’s accomplished in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
After J.J. Abrams helmed the first “Star Wars” movie beyond "Return of the Jedi" 32 years ago with 2015's “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” — an entry that featured new characters but also included many familiar hallmarks from the original three movies — Johnson has essentially delivered a sequel that forges a new path in the “Star Wars” saga, as it extends the mythology without using the original three as a crutch.
“The Last Jedi” (opening in theaters on Friday) breaks the usual rules sequels live by. Put simply: It doesn't just take the things the audience loves about the previous movies and amplify them.
Unfortunately, going into detail on how“The Last Jedi” breaks these rules would divulge things about the movie that would spoil it for you, but what I will say is that all the fan theories that sprung from “The Force Awakens” mean very little.
Johnson, who also wrote the screenplay, proves there are greater things to explore — more complex and fascinating subplots. And to get to those he gives us a movie with the kind of moments you usually never see in the second film of a trilogy.
Adam Driver's multi-layered performance as Kylo Ren is a highlight of the movie
We left off in “The Force Awakens” with the Resistance destroying the First Order’s Starkiller Base and Rey (Daisy Ridley) going off to track down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). At the start of “The Last Jedi,” Rey is still on the island Skywalker has purposely used to hide from the universe, and the First Order has tracked down the Resistance and is looking to wipe them out.
This is the foundation of “The Last Jedi,” as both settings are where we stay for most of the movie. But thanks to multiple characters we care about and a surprising amount of lightheartedness, the 2.5-hour running time never gets boring or stagnant.
We follow Rey delving deeper into the power of the force, under the reluctant guidance of Skywalker. Poe (Oscar Isaac) and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) are together for most of the movie, with the legendary Resistance leader trying to make the talented fighter pilot understand the difference between heroism and leadership. Finn (John Boyega) finds a new girl to go on adventures with, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran). But out of the new crop of characters, the most fascinating is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
Ren is still trying to prove to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) that he can be as evil as Darth Vader. But more importantly, Johnson further explores the mysterious connection Ren has with Rey. This is done using a heightened way of the force that has never been fully fleshed out in the saga before.
The complexities, anger, and manipulation that Driver gives Ren are a major highlight of the movie. It’s far from the only thing that’s impressive, but it’s just refreshing to see a fleshed out villain in this era of blockbusters and superhero movies where the bad guy character feels hastily put together.
Mark Hamill gives Luke Skywalker an aging samurai feel
Hamill’s return as Skywalker does not disappoint, either. The master Jedi has tried to block himself entirely from the legendary life he once lived, and the tipping point was Skywalker's failure to train Ren (aka Ben Solo). This is explained to Rey by both Skywalker and Ren, with Johnson cleverly using a “Rashomon”-like storytelling style to do it.
And this isn’t the only time in the movie when Johnson uses the feel of classic Asian cinema to influence his storytelling. The sections that involve Skywalker’s story have the feel of old samurai movies, with Luke as the elderly teacher who has nothing left in his life but the past, and the knowledge of his craft, neither of which he wants anymore. Johnson also shows this visually with a striking shot of Skywalker’s X-Wing resting at the bottom of the shallow water by the cliffs where he lives.
That's another thing "The Last Jedi" has a lot of: beautiful wide lens shots.
Another great part of “The Last Jedi” is that Johnson pulls off the difficult task of giving solid screen time to the ensemble, and including the new characters. Rose Tico is a spark plug of energy. Benicio Del Toro was born to be in a “Star Wars” movie, and he pulls off another unique speaking style for his role as the code breaker, DJ. And Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo has one of the biggest WOW! moments in the movie.
Yes, and the Porgs are fantastic!
Then there’s Leia. “The Last Jedi” marks the final performance in the iconic career of Carrie Fisher. She gets a good amount of screen time, including one scene that will certainly spark some major internet chatter.
If there’s one knock I have on the film it’s that, once again, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is given very little screen time. Guess we can only hope that will be rectified in “Episode IX.”
It certainly looks like Disney/Lucasfilm has found the filmmaker who it can use to extend the saga beyond just rehashing the greatness of the original three movies.
That’s perhaps the best part of “The Last Jedi.” Johnson has made something that isn’t just a worthy addition to one of the most fan obsessed franchises ever, but is also a powerful standalone story.
A rare feat for any sequel.