Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8 breakout star Awkwafina takes her first major lead role in The Farewell, the critically acclaimed new film that was the darling of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In the movie, Awkwafina plays a New Yorker whose grandmother in China is diagnosed with a terminal illness; when the family decides not to tell gran she’s dying, and instead cooks up an elaborate family wedding as a ruse to get the everyone together one last time, Awkwafina’s Billi must head East.The actress is earning raves for the role, which is one she says she relates to: she and her own grandma are close, and developed a bond watching movies together in the family’s Queens home. Here, Awkwafina remembers those days and nights watching movies, and talks about her gran’s favorite films, from Babe to Blue Streak and anything with Kenan and Kel. Really.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week. as Fresh news. Warner Bros. has scheduled Space Jam 2 for July 16, 2021 (the week after Indiana Jones 5).5. REGINA KING TO DIRECT THEATRE ADAPTATION ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI (Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)Actress Regina King won an Academy Award earlier this year for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk, but to paraphrase the old saying, maybe what she really wanted to do next was direct. King is now signed to make her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of the play One Night in Miami The play s setting is the night of February 25th, 1964, when the young boxer Cassius Clay (A.K.A. Mohammad Ali) celebrated his win over Sonny Liston at a motel where he was joined by three other icons of the 1960s: civil rights leader Malcolm X, soul singer Sam Cooke, and Cleveland Browns star player Jim Brown. It should be interesting to see whom Regina King will cast as her four leads. Will Smith starred in Ali, and Denzel Washington starred in Malcolm X, but the long-planned Sam Cooke biopic is still in development.6. NETFLIX BETS BIG ON STAR-DRIVEN THRILLERS RED NOTICE AND KATE (Photo by Frank Masi/Columbia Pictures, Jack English/Summit Entertainment, Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)There was a story this week that reported Netflix may start being more budget conscious about their film and TV projects. That may be, in a big-picture sort of way, but it also came in the same week that news broke about two star-driven Netflix thrillers. Red Notice is the title of a heist thriller that Universal Pictures had previously scheduled for November 13, 2020, with both Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot attached to star. Reportedly, Universal had reservations after the screenplay was turned in, and so the project was picked up by Netflix instead, with Johnson and Gadot now to be joined by Ryan Reynolds. Woody Harrelson also signed on this week to co-star in the assassin thriller Kate, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane). Red Notice will be directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who earned Rotten scores for We re the Miller and Skyscraper, while Kate will be directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who made his debut with The Huntsman: Winter s War (Rotten at 18%). Neither of the directors inspires much confidence, but we can t deny those casts are impressive.7. UNIVERSAL CASTS ITS INVISIBLE MAN (Photo by Steve Dietl/Netflix)Back when Universal Pictures had ambitious plans for a Dark Universe of reboots of their classic monsters, Johnny Depp had been expected to star in The Invisible Man, but those plans were dropped after the box office disappointment that was 2017 s The Mummy. For a while, there was some confusion over whether or not the movie might be called The Invisible Woman, because Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid s Tale, The West Wing) was described as the film s star. The confusion was cleared up slightly this week as Blumhouse and Universal has cast relative newcomer Oliver Jackson-Cohen (of Netflix s The Haunting of Hill House) as the title character in The Invisible Man. Univesal has scheduled The Invisible Man for March 13, 2020, up against another monster movie, Godzilla vs Kong. One of the other co-stars in The Invisible Man will be 16-year-old Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave, A Wrinkle in Time), who this week also joined The Suicide Squad (8/6/2021) as the daughter of Idris Elba s character.Rotten Idea2. MOMO INTERNET HOAX TO GET ITS OWN MOVIE(Photo by DOUGBERRY/Getty Images)It seems longer ago than 2018, but last year, stories started appearing online about the Momo Challenge, which reportedly encouraged children and teeangers to put themselves in dangerous or injurious situations. The character called Momo was actually a Japanese sculpture called Mother Bird (but really, it most resembles Geena Davis in some scenes from Beetlejuice). Orion Pictures (of the recent Child s Play reboot) is now teaming up with producer Roy Lee (IT, The Ring) to develop a horror film based on the Momo challenge. The decision to adapt an Internet meme seems similar to Sony PIctures choice last year to release a film based on Slender Man, which ended up earning a very low Rotten score at just 7%.1. LOOK WHO S REMAKING LOOK WHO S TALKING(Photo by TriStar Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)Amy Heckerling s 1989 comedy Look Who s Talking (Rotten at 59%) was followed in 1990 by Look Who s Talking Too (Rotten at 14%), and in 1993 by Look Who s Talking Now (Rotten at 0%). John Travolta and Kirstie Alley starred in those movies about talking babies and, in the third movie, talking dogs. Despite those critical drubbings, Sony Pictures is now developing a Look Who s Talking reboot to be written and directed by Jeremy Garelick, whose 2015 comedy The Wedding Ringer earned a Rotten score at 27%. It s not yet known if Bruce Willis or any of the other voice actors might return for the reboot (but probably not).Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)New Pirates of the Caribbean MovieDirector: TBDStarring: TBDThe ship that doesn t ever seem to sink will keep sailing with Disney s newest attempt to revive the franchise. Initially, Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were hired for the project, but in October 2019 it was announced that franchise vet Ted Elliott and Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin were taking over writing duties. No word on cast and director or on whether Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) will be a part of the new story.New Pirates of the Caribbean MovieDirector: TBDStarring: Margot RobbieThe above Pirates film should not be confused with the one set to star Margot Robbie. This film, which The Hollywood Reporter says will be penned by Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson, will reportedly be female-fronted and be its own story that will introduce new characters beyond those already part of Jack Sparrow s orbit.29 DatesDirector: Richard WongStarring: TBDThis young adult rom-com, which is based on the Melissa de la Cruz novel, will appear on Disney+. While no cast or writer has been announced, we know that this story centers on a 16-year-old Korean exchange student who meets a host of eligible bachelors from around the globe. It has been compared to author Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I ve Loved Before series.© Walt Disney Studios Motion PicturesHunchbackDirector: TBDStarring: TBDM. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang is writing the script for this live-action telling of author Victor Hugo s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music and lyrics for the 1996 animated film (among many, many other Disney projects) are also on board. So is actor Josh Gad but so far just as a producer, even though he did Tweet a fun image of himself outside of the famous French cathedral.© Walt Disney Studios Motion PicturesJungle Book 2Director: Jon FavreauStarring: TBDJungle Book writer Justin Marks told Rotten Tomatoes that he and Favreau co-wrote the sequel to their blockbuster film in December 2017, but they had to wait until the director finished work on the revival of The Lion King before they started production. And while Neel Sethi, who starred as Mowgli in the 2016 film, has said that he s down to return, Marks stressed that the character has aged along with the young actor. Jon and I saw The Jungle Book story as a coming-of-age story and the second movie continues in that direction, Marks says. Really, if it’s done right, it should break some hearts with where it goes.” He added that the sequel will pull in more animal characters from author Rudyard Kipling s book because (duh) there’s such a wealth of characters in that world.” © Walt Disney PicturesLilo StitchDirector: Jon M. ChuStarring: TBDAnother fan-favorite Disney film to ride the waves of the live-action/CG trend, this upcoming adaptation of the Hawaiian-set film about friendship and family is being produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich of the live-action Aladdin. No cast or has been announced, but rising star Mike Van Waes is reportedly writing the script and Variety reported in 2020 that Crazy Rich Asians Jon M. Chu was in talks to direct.Marvel StudiosCaptain America 4Director: TBDStarring: TBDThe Hollywood Reporter broke the news in 2021 that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series showrunner Malcolm Spellman was working with Dalan Musson to develop a script for a fourth Captain America movie. While no director or casting has been announced, it s to be assumed that Falcon co-star Anthony Mackie will appear in the film. Rick Famuyiwa SadéDirector: TBDStarring: TBDOne of the handful of original properties in the works for Disney, this live-action fairytale centers on an African princess who must accept her newly discovered magical powers and protect her kingdom when its threatened by a mysterious evil force. Ola Shokunbi and Lindsey Reed Palmer are writing the script and Dope director Rick Famuyiwa is one of the producers, but a director and cast have not been named. The film was announced a few months after Disney saw both massive success for its Marvel film, Black Panther, and allegations of whitewashing its The Princess and the Frog heroine, Princess Tiana, in a promo for its animated film, Ralph Breaks the Internet. (The character was redrawn for the film’s release). © Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett CollectionSister Act 3Director: TBDStarring: Whoopi GoldbergAnother classic IP that’s getting a modern rendition, the third chapter in the Sister Act franchise is written by Regina Hicks (HBO’s Insecure) and Karin Gist (Fox’s Star) and will air on streaming service Disney+. Plot and cast details are scarce, but it was confirmed during The Walt Disney Company s December 2020 investors day that original star Whoopi Goldberg would return to star and produce and that Tyler Perry was also producing.Starlight (20th Century Studios)Director: Joe CornishStarring: TBDDeadline reported in 2021 that Attack the Block s Joe Cornish would be writing and adapting a film based on the Mark Millar comic. The article explains that the plot centers on a space hero who saved the universe 35 years ago but when he came back to Earth, no one believed his fantastic stories. He married, had kids and settled into old age. But then his old rocket ship shows up and he is called back for one fantastic adventure. Haunted MansionDirector: Justin SimienStarring: LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, Owen WilsonDeadline reported in 2021 that Dear White People s Justin Simien would be directing a film based on the iconic Disneyland and Walt Disney World ride. According to the article, this film will be a completely different take on the project than the 2003 flop. It was later reported that Lakeith Stanfield and Tiffany Haddish would star in the film. It was recently announced Owen Wilson and Rosario Dawson would be joining them.© Walt Disney PicturesThe Sword in the StoneDirector: Juan Carlos FresnadilloStarring: TBDAnother live-action version of an animated Disney favorite, this film is also awaiting a release date on the Disney+ streaming platform. Last we heard, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was directing the film based on Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman s script.© Walt Disney PicturesBlade Director: TBDStarring: Mahershala AliAt his 2019 Comic-Con presentation, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that they would be rebooting the Blade franchise and that Oscar winner Mahershala Ali would star as the new version of the half-vampire superhero (Wesley Snipes played the character in the original three movies). Other details, such as a director or other cast members, have yet to be released, though it has been announced that Watchmen story editor and writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour has been hired to write the script.© Walt Disney PicturesNational Treasure 3Director: TBDStarring: TBDIn January 2020, it was announced that Disney and mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer were developing a third installment of the National Treasure movies and had hired Bad Boys for Life screenwriter Chris Bremner to pen the script. The first two films, which starred Nicolas Cage, premiered in 2004 and 2007.(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)Pinocchio Live-Action MovieDirector: Robert ZemeckisStarring: Tom HanksContinuing Disney s trend of making live-action versions of fan-favorite films from its vault, it was announced in January 2020 that Robert Zemeckis had signed on to co-write and direct a version of Pinocchio in this format. It was announced during the December 2020 The Walt Disney Company investors day that Tom Hanks would star as woodworker Geppetto. In March 2021, it was announced that Benjamin Evan Ainsworth would play the title character, Cynthia Erivo would play the Blue Fairy, Keegan-Michael Key would play Honest John, and that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would play Jiminy Cricket. The film will air on Disney+.© Walt Disney PicturesShrunkDirector: Joe JohnstonStarring: Josh Gad, Rick MoranisLooks like we re getting the gang back together again. In 2020, it was announced that Honey, I Shrunk the Kids star Rick Moranis will appear in the new chapter in the family favorite film series one that Joe Johnston, who had directed the original 1989 movie, was already on board to direct. Disney regular Josh Gad stars in this film as the grown-up version of Moranis son.© Walt Disney PicturesChip n Dale: Rescue RangersDirector: Akiva SchafferStarring: John Mulaney and Andy SambergIn 2019, we learned that Lonely Island member Akiva Schaffer had been tapped to direct a version of this children s cartoon series and one that is described as a distinctly meta or self-referential take at that. Dan Gregor and Doug Mand wrote the script. It was announced at the December 2020 Walt Disney Company investors day that John Mulaney and Andy Samberg would star in the hybrid live-action/animated feature (and that Seth Rogen would cameo).(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)Peter Pan WendyDirector: David LoweryStarring: Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Jude LawSomething to crow about? In March 2020, Variety reported that newcomer Ever Anderson would play Wendy and The Reluctant Landlord s Alexander Molony will play Peter in this live-action version of the 1953 Disney animated classic. It w亚博网软件From music biopics to KKK infiltration to superhero theatrics, it can be tough keeping track of this year s eight Best Picture Oscars nominees, let alone their separate journeys to this prestigious point. We ve put together a refresher cheat sheet that helps you keep track of this year s gold rush, with stats like box office, Tomatometers, and even the number of awards the nominees have collected to this point. Continue on to get it all, or take a look elsewhere with out Awards Leaderboard or the full list of Academy Awards 2019 nominees.
4. 呼朋唤友 随心所欲
Join us weekly as Rotten Tomatoes reports on what s opening, expanding, and coming to the specialty box office. From promising releases from new voices to experimental efforts from storied filmmakers – or perhaps the next indie darling to go the distance for end-of-year accolades – we will break it all down for you here each week in Fresh Indie Finds. This week the specialty box office provides us with a host of Pride-ful documentaries featuring iconic drag performers, along with some inspiring female-focused cinema. Plus, we re looking ahead to August with the just-dropped trailer for Peanut Butter Falcon, which looks to be hilarious and heartfelt, and is currently at 100% on the Tomatometer.Opening This Weekend
5. HD 画质与高品质音讯
(Photo by IFP)The 30th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were awarded Monday night in New York during a semi-live virtual broadcast. The Gothams honor films that encapsulate every facet of modern independent cinema and pay tribute to the industry s best, including a tear-jerking tribute to Chadwick Boseman and stunned acceptance speeches from people like The Forty-Year-Old Version writer/director Radha Blank, who took home the prize for Best Screenplay. Amazon led the night with four wins, followed by HBO and Searchlight Pictures with two each.Riz Ahmed took home the Best Actor trophy for his visceral performance of a drummer losing his hearing in Sound of Metal, while Nicole Beharie took Best Actress for her turn in the Texas pageant queen drama Miss Juneteenth. Newcomer Kingsley Ben-Adir was awarded the Breakthrough Actor prize for his role as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, adding to a landmark year for representation as people of color took home prizes in most of the top categories. See below for the full list of winners.Best Feature
What it is: While The Crown will ultimately chart Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her 1947 wedding to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to the present day, seasons 1 and 2 of this sprawling royal drama cover the first half of that period through the early days of her reign. Golden Globe winner Claire Foy starred as the titular monarch before Oscar winner Olivia Colman took the reins for seasons 3 and now 4.Why you should watch it: Oh, how we’ve missed The Crown! As one of Netflix’s most decorated series, this period drama should be mandatory viewing for anyone with not just an interest in world history and the British monarchy, but an interest in first-rate prestige TV. Exquisitely acted, written, directed, and designed, The Crown was, upon its premiere, Netflix’s most expensive series to date – and year after year it proves well worth the investment. Season 4 promises fireworks from Colman and Helena Bonham Carter’s final outing before the series moves on to the Queen’s later years, embodied by Imelda Staunton; plus, the introduction of another iconic royal this year, Princess Diana (Emma Corrin), is all the more reason to catch up with a binge. Season 4 premieres Nov. 15 on Netflix.Where to watch: NetflixCommitment: Approx. 30 hours (for the first three seasons)
亚博网软件 With literally hundreds of films released in any given calendar year, not even professional critics who watch movies for a living can catch everything that comes down the pipe. As for general audiences, there are countless movies that open in just a few theaters in the biggest markets (i.e. Los Angeles and New York) before transitioning unceremoniously to home video, eluding the notice of most casual moviegoers entirely. Luckily, the staff at RT are here to offer up some recommendations for films we personally loved that quite possibly came and went from your local theater or never arrived at all without much fanfare. Maybe you re familiar with some of these and simply never got around to seeing them, or maybe this is the first time you ve heard of them; either way, there s a good chance you ll find something new and interesting in our list of compelling 2019 limited releases below.The Biggest Little Farm (2018) 91%It s difficult to describe the documentary The Biggest Little Farm without feeling as though you’re pitching a quirky sitcom: John and Molly Chester are an adorable married couple living in Los Angeles who, sick of the urban grind, decide to hatch a manic scheme: they’ll sink their savings into starting a farm! What the film offers, though, is a beautifully woven story of a family investing not merely money, but also their faith literally into the ground as they slowly construct a 213-acre biodynamic farm. Apricot Lane Farms was founded on a holistic approach, meaning every element on the property serves a connective purpose in the entire farm’s growth and survival (for example, the animals’ manure nurtures the soil, which then sustains the ground plants that feed their sheep, and so forth). Spanning an eight-year timeline, The Biggest Little Farm allows us an intimate look at the complex ecosystem at a working farm, depicting the high points – adorable animals, of course, including the marvelous Emma the pig – but also the low, such as the ongoing struggle with natural hardships and the impact of climate change on the Chesters’ utopian vision. Although it wanders into too-cute territory at times, The Biggest Little Farm is, at its core, an inspired look at the impact of humans purposely learning to coexist with nature. The perseverance and sincere aim of the Chesters is a heartening reminder that if we don’t give up on the Earth, she won’t give up on us. Jenny JedinyAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduFast Color (2018) 81%Julia Hart s Fast Color deserves your attention. The multigenerational family drama about a black woman with unexplainable powers played in just 25 theaters this year and had almost no marketing to speak of, but still managed to be one of the most poignant looks at the superhero narrative in the last decade. Instead of going bigger, Fast Color made everything smaller, keeping the stakes to the realm of the family, and exploring how the vast possibilities presented by superhuman abilities might be exploited in a dying world. Lorainne Toussiant and Gugu Mbatha-Raw give incredible performances as Bo and Ruth, an estranged mother and daughter bonded by trauma and their love of Ruth s daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney). This Certified Fresh original film is a nuanced take on responsibility, guilt, and grief, effectively built inside a genre we all know and love. Cate YoungAvailable on: Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduGreener Grass (2019) 81%Welcome to a twisted vision of American suburbia as if there s any other interesting kind in the movies. Greener Grass takes a pillowy sledgehammer to the trappings of upper-middle-class home life to a repellent extreme. There s courtesy : Neighbors spend minutes at four-way stop signs, imploring everyone else to go first. There s looking good : Everyone unnecessarily wears braces. There s jealousy : A woman puts a soccer ball under her dress for the pregnancy attention, and then gives so-called birth to it later. There s being disappointed in your kids : A dad thinks his son is a loser until his problem is solved after he falls in a pool and turns into a golden retriever. And there s being neighborly : A woman gives her friend her newborn baby for the hell of it of course, there s the matter of what happens when she wants it back Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe pull off triple duty as stars, writers, directors, the Tim and Eric of this placid, candy-coated nightmare. Comedies of this head-scratching and disgusting variety often fall under the direction of men, and they re normally repulsive to look at and listen to from the top down. That s their, uh, charm. But DeBoer and Luebbe use a more fanciful touch: The sets are carefully arranged and presented, the colors pop, and there isn t really the threat of imminent violence which of course makes this demonic comedy of manners all the more pressurized and chaotic. Alex VoAvailable on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, VuduHer Smell (2018) 84%I love Alex Ross Perry movies, but I’ve never been sure whether or not the writer-director has much love for people. Gifted at writing memorably vicious put-downs and mining agonizing tension from passive aggression, the indie filmmaker has made a name for himself with caustic chamber pieces about acerbic characters who are confronted by their own narcissism, only to emerge from the tumult even more misanthropic than before. Not so with Her Smell, the enfant terrible’s most redemptive film yet. Elisabeth Moss stars as tempestuous rocker Becky Something, whose abuse of her body and all of those within her proximity blazes a steady march towards self-immolation in the film’s first half. The slow-motion train wreck gives way to shaky optimism as Becky slowly rebuilds her life, haunted by past mistakes. This marks the director and star’s third collaboration, and Moss is astonishing as a musical dynamo who is too enthralled by the demons raging inside her mind to ever consider the damage she is wreaking upon colleagues and family. Her Smell is not just a vehicle for one of this generation’s greatest actresses, however; the ensemble is rich with some of the year’s best performances, from Agyness Deyn as a bandmate at the end of her rope to Eric Stoltz’s indefatigably patient manager. Perry’s evident affection for punk rock also infuses the set-pieces which are almost exclusively confined to green rooms and recording studios with an anarchic energy. Her Smell is an exhausting and rewarding testament to Moss’ power as a performer and evidence that Perry may be developing a soft spot for people after all. Rob FowlerAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduHigh Life (2018) 82%The last few years, we have been gifted with a glut of space films that have taken great pains to explore the way humans love and find meaning in the galaxy, but none will disgust and mystify you the way that Claire Denis’ High Life will. Anchored by an arresting performance from Robert Pattinson and haunting work from Juliette Binoche, the film follows a group of prisoners sent on a space mission to explore a black hole and jumps back in forth in time filling us in on how its passengers were taken out. Denis dismisses the sleek and lavish looks of films like 2014’s Interstellar or this year’s Ad Astra in favor of a minimalist design, and unlike those films, High Life chooses to retain its focus inward on the existential dread that pervades those aboard. In space, no one can hear you cry? Denis explores what really lies underneath the surface of human nature with poetic rigor. High Life is angry. It’s ugly. But it’s beautiful and even hopeful. You will see nothing else like this, and its hypnotic allure will draw you in and never let go. Daisy GonzalezAvailable on: Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduThe Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) 92%Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. The Last Black Man in San Francisco deftly captures the uncomfortable truths of change, both environmental and internal. The story follows Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) as they attempt to save the most precious thing in San Francisco: the house Jimmie’s grandfather built with his own two hands, now unlovingly left to rot by its new owners. Though his methods are not always… by the book, Jimmie is determined to do whatever he can to ensure the home of his dreams and the dreams of his forefathers aren t lost to the endlessly hungry monster that is gentrification. It’s a story of love and devotion, obsession and mythology, and above all, how difficult and disorienting change can be. It’s a familiar message to many living in quickly changing metropolitan areas: As money moves in, places once sacred are quickly consumed and repurposed for the new tenants. The Last Black Man in San Francisco explores the feeling of that change with poise, beauty, and of course, a lot of heartache. Visually, the film is stunning; shots are composed like paintings, with rich light bouncing off of deep saturation to create tableaus that look like oil paintings come to life. Fails and Majors’ easy chemistry and charming idiosyncrasies make it easy to root for them, even when they make questionable choices, while Rob Richert and Joe Talbot’s script gives them plenty to play with and surrounds them with an equally compelling cast of characters. But more than anything, The Last Black Man in San Francisco captures the beauty and suffering that is watching something you love die and become something entirely new, for better or worse. Haña Lucero-ColinAvailable on: Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduLittle Woods (2018) 95%Enjoying debut films tends to be an exercise in forgiveness. They re made with limited resources, yet are under tremendous pressure to strive for perfection. They need to stand out long after the festival buzz has died down and hopefully become a career stepping stone for the filmmaker. As far as premiere films go, Little Woods definitely has a leg up, with stars Tessa Thompson, Lily James, and Lance Reddick. However, the film ends up being a showcase for filmmaker and native New Yorker Nia DaCosta s poised voice as she puts forth a tense, emotionally honest look at what it means to be a woman living in rural poverty. Little Woods sometimes brushes up against romanticizing said poverty. The grit, rust, and long stretches of road at times feel poetic, rather than a harsh reality, but that s almost unavoidable with DaCosta s use of the gorgeous scenery that surrounds the film. The environment is a constant reminder that just outside of truck stops, fracking sites, and homeless encampments are natural riches the characters are rarely able to enjoy. Like Frozen River and Winter s Bone, these wide open spaces are both awe-inspiring and threatening. Tessa Thompson s Ollie and Lily James Deb are facing homelessness and an unwanted pregnancy unless Ollie manages to make some quick cash smuggling prescription pills across the Canadian border. However, Ollie is still on probation from a previous drug-running charge. Part heist and part rural noir, the film is still, at its core, an evocative, moving, family drama. If all this doesn t make you want to see Little Woods, maybe this will: DaCosta s been tapped to direct the upcoming Candyman reboot produced by Jordan Peele. Sara AtaiiyanAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduLuce (2019) 90%In 2018, director Julius Onah gave us The Cloverfield Paradox, which came in at 19% on the Tomatometer; in 2019, he released Luce, which stunned at Sundance and went on to land at a Certified Fresh 93% – and just happens to be one of my favorite films of the year. Talk about a turnaround. Luce did well enough at the specialty box office when it was released in September, and has earned three Independent Spirit Award nominations – for Onah, for Kelvin Harrison Jr., who plays the titular overachieving high school student, and for Octavia Spencer, who plays the teacher who sees something off in him. Yet it confounds me that this complex drama (almost a thriller, in some ways) isn’t lighting up awards seasons and top 10 lists. Based on a play by J.C. Lee, who also wrote the screenplay, the story centers on teenaged Luce, a star athlete and student, who was adopted as a young child after spending his early years in war-torn Eritrea; when his teacher brings a troubling essay he’s written to the attention of his adoptive parents (a harrowed and perfectly cast Tim Roth and Naomi Watts), they’re forced to wonder if their son is as perfect – and level-headed – as he seems. It’s the kind of set-up that could get silly if overplayed by any of the actors or oversteered by the director, but the work here is subtle, the audience left to guess at the truth and various motivations. Harrison Jr., who many will have seen in Waves this year, is great as the terrify-er/charmer at the movie’s center, and Octavia Spencer gives one of the best supporting performances of any man or woman on screen this year as the teacher who seems to see him for what he is. Seriously: Nominate her. It’s a small story, contained, and at times it can’t shake off its stage roots, but it’s also somehow big and bold and about everything happening in America right now. Onah didn’t need to go to space to make his mark – he found liftoff in a drab suburban high school. Joel MearesAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduThe Nightingale (2018) 86%Jennifer Kent followed up her critically acclaimed horror film The Babadook (Certified Fresh at 98%) with this war story set in 1825 colonial Australia. Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones) plays Clare, an abused convict who has served out her seven-year sentence and is desperate to be free of her overseer, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) of the British military. When her husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) retaliates for Hawkins refusal to release Clare, Hawkins and his men commit atrocities against her and her small family. Left for dead, Clare then finds herself on the road to vengeance, chasing the lieutenant and his men north, where Hawkins hopes to secure a promotion. Clare faces more brutalities along the road, with Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) as the reluctant guide and unwilling protector of the traumatized and hostile young woman. A limited release in the States, the harrowing film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, won several festival and critics awards, and took six Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards, including best film, screenplay, direction, lead actress, supporting actress, and casting. The Nightingale is also Certified Fresh at 87% on the Tomatometer with 220 reviews. “Jennifer Kent s The Nightingale is a film that bruises the soul,” wrote critic Clarisse Loughrey of the UK’s Independent. “One of the most powerful films yet seen about the country s colonial foundation and the cruelties that were an indelible part of it,” Sydney Morning Herald critic Sandra Hall wrote. Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers praised Franciosi: In Jennifer Kent s pulverizing revenge tale, Aisling Franciosi delivers a tour de force as an Australian woman determined to put a stake through the heart of toxic masculinity. You won t know what hit you. Debbie DayAvailable on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, VuduEsto no es BerlÃn (2019) 82%Director Hari Sama’s This is Not Berlin is a coming-of-age story through the lens of 1980s Mexico City’s underground arts scene. It follows 17-year-old Carlos (Xabiani Ponce de León) as he falls in love with punk music, discovers drugs, explores his sexuality, shaves himself an undercut, sheds his shame, and challenges the world around him. When the film begins, Carlos is quiet, the least inclined of his classmates to engage in violent brawls, despite the fact that his masculinity appears to depend on it. When he discovers a space filled with eyeliner and protest art, he’s all-in. And the rest of the film sees him navigating his place in that space, where his talents as an engineer can be leveraged to amplify his voice. Carlos’ transformation is beautiful, and Sama’s direction places us right there with him through every peak and valley. This is Not Berlin paints a gritty, deeply felt portrait of teenage angst — the pressures, the temptations, the desire to be understood and heard by the world. Sophie-Marie PrimeAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduVillains (2019) 85%Writer-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen s darkly comedic third feature is exactly the kind of oddball treat I tend to seek out when I m exhausted from heavy Oscar contenders and numb from blockbuster pyrotechnics. It s a fairly contained cat-and-mouse game of a thriller that makes the most of its dedicated cast, who all get individual moments to shine and look like they re having a blast with their characters. The setup isn t especially revolutionary: Petty criminals Mickey and Jules (Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe from It and It Follows no relation) break into what looks like an ordinary house in search of a getaway vehicle, only to be confronted by the homeowners, George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick), a disturbed married couple who just happen to have a young girl chained up in their basement. The tables quickly turn, before they turn again, and then again, but the moments in between are populated by off-kilter humor and little touches that almost almost make you root for everyone involved, particularly thanks to a quartet of no-holds-barred performances. It s not the most subversive thriller, nor is it without a handful of predictable moments, but it s just weird enough, funny enough, and vicious enough to scratch multiple itches for me. Plus, Jeffrey Donovan s George, with his lazy drawl and mannered affectations, is the most charming psychopath this side of Ted Bundy, and he is just so much fun to watch. Ryan FujitaniAvailable on: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, VuduLike this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.Thumbnail image: LD Entertainment, IFC Films, A24
Adjusted Score: -1% Critics Consensus: A stellar series perfect for anyone looking for a little hope, Stargirl is delightful fun the whole family can enjoy.