(Photo by Netflix)Move over, “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” The internet’s hottest new debate is about the Netflix movie that launched a thousand memes, Bird Box.The thriller stars Sandra Bullock as a woman tasked with ushering a pair of young, cherubic children over the river and through the woods. The catch? They’re blindfolded the whole time to protect themselves against supernatural entities that cause your death if you see them.In addition to inspiring people around the world to blindfold themselves and grievously injure their bodies in the name of memes — Netflix had to issue a warning against participating in the “Bird Box Challenge” because it is 2019 and we’re all doin’ it for the gram, even if it’ll cause us to trip over furniture and give ourselves massive bruises — the film has also sparked serious debate about whether or not it is actually a good movie.Just search “Bird Box” on Twitter to find the extremely divided discourse. It’s an argument that has spread to the Rotten Tomatoes staff, too, with some passionately pro and some vehemently against the film as a whole. In fact, we got so heated about it that we’ve outlined the two main arguments below. The Tomatometer is split: The movie is sitting at 62%.Help us settle another movie debate: Is Bird Box a suspenseful masterpiece, or just a boring, two-hour-long setup for memes? Below, we present an argument representing each side of the debate from a passionate RT staffer, but it’s up to you to make the call. Read on and vote below!Yes, Bird Box Is A Terrifying, Claustrophobic Masterpiece(Photo by Netflix)There’s a reason we’re entering 2019 with scraped knees and black eyes: Bird Box challenge! And there’s a reason we’re covering our eyes like fools and navigating the twists and turns of our own homes: Bird Box! Susanne Bier’s masterful little shocker is every bit as good as A Quiet Place — there, we said it — a suspense flick with a masterful conceit, killer set pieces, and something to say. What elevates Bird Box, however, are the performances: Sandra Bullock is incredibly compelling as the tough Malorie (“Boy! Girl!”) while John Malkovich keeps things tense in the house with big globs of smarmy menace. Also, Bird Box has just confirmed that Trevante Rhodes, whom many of us first met in Moonlight, is a superstar in the making (and that bod, though). The true measure of a horror flick is whether it sticks in the memory, if its disturbing imagery and spine-shattering scares linger. And by that measure — at least, going by the Internet — Bird Box is a classic.No, Bird Box is an Overrated, Scare-Free Mess(Photo by Netflix)There’s a reason we entered 2019 scratching our heads and going, “huh?” The Internet had been hijacked by a new Netflix flick called Bird Box and frankly, we just didn’t get it. Because… Bird Box is actually terrible. Full respect to director Susanne Bier, who’s done some really great stuff in the past, but the movie feels like it was made by someone wearing a blindfold. There’s almost zero suspense — how did they manage to botch even the scene with the car sensors! — and the central threat is about as menacing as The Happening’s threatening vegetation. When anything like tension starts to creep in, we’re suddenly back on the river for cinema’s most tedious white water rafting adventure. And don’t get us started on Bullock’s post-apocalyptic hair and makeup — impeccable and totally confounding. The only thing scary about Bird Box is the strong likelihood of a sequel.
Monica Castillo for Rotten Tomatoes: What went through your mind when you first heard the news that there would not be a fourth season of One Day at a Time at Netflix?Rita Moreno: I speak for everyone when I say we were heartbroken. I, personally, intuited that it was not going to happen. I don’t know why. I just had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen. Somehow, Netflix obviously wasn’t happy with us or the results of our show. It’s not as though everybody was running over to the set to tell us how much they loved us. That’s how things happen, and that’s the nature of Netflix – they keep everything a secret with respect to ratings and such. They keep you up in the air. I just had a feeling that it was not going to happen.I thought that was the end of it, but I forgot to count on Sony, because Sony from the very, very beginning has absolutely loved our show, from the very first reading at the table years ago. They loved the concept, they loved the comedy and they absolutely adored the cast. They saw it and they were right – we have this incredible rapport! And that was there from the get-go, and that was very unusual. Sometimes, people in series grow into their characters more and there’s a chemistry that develops over time. We had that chemistry from the moment we opened our mouths!After the news broke about the series cancellation, fans banded together online and called for its return. What was your reaction to hearing the fan reactions?Moreno: I was very, very touched. I believe in the public. If they really love something, they will fight for the thing that they love, and that’s sure as hell what they did. I was amazed that aside from Sony trying very hard to take the series elsewhere, I think [showrunner] Gloria Calderon-Kellett did a huge job of goosing our fans. She’s a determined woman, and it shows.And what was your reaction to the news that you would play Lydia again?Moreno: Oh, we were delighted! We were thrilled. It was marvelous. I couldn’t actually believe that we had this family again.When we last saw Lydia, she was in Cuba. Are we going to see any of that in the new season?Moreno: Oh, you’re going to see that. That happens in the third – I guess, the fourth one. It is beautiful and it is very, very touching. You’re gonna love it. And it’s funny! We never fail to be funny. Not everyone can accomplish that so smoothly as our writers do. Some shows try to do that and they’re clumsy at it. It’s like the jokes come, then the sad part comes, and then the jokes come again. It takes an enormous amount of skill to glide easily back into the humorous part.(Photo by Nicole Wilder/POP TV.)One of Lydia’s signatures on the show is her grand entrances. What’s the story behind them?Moreno: That’s one of the best things that happened to that character, that damn curtain. And the funny thing is, I didn’t think it would work. Just goes to show how much I know. I thought it would just be a flourish, but then the audience, from the first time I did it, went crazy. They literally went bananas, cheering, and carrying on. They had to cut some of that down because it just took too long. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve gotten on this show.Whose idea was it?Moreno: Oh, it had to be Gloria’s because she’s Cuban. I just can’t imagine anyone else coming up with that. She has that Cuban flare. We understand each other in that overly dramatic, theatrical way.Where there any challenges moving the show from a streaming platform to a cable channel with a set time limit?Moreno: What happens is sometimes the laughs are huge, and they take up a lot of time. Here’s something that’s so unusual. We didn’t have a laugh track until now [for coronavirus precautions]. We had an audience, and we’d have to cut that down because that took up so much time and now we only have 22 minutes. So this happens rather often until now because we’ll no longer have audiences, which is going to be tough. Well, I’ll take some of that back. The writer’s room comes down and provides the laughter, except after five or six takes, what was very funny on take one isn’t so funny on the fifth take.What are some of your favorite moments playing Lydia?Moreno: One of my favorites is one where I barely spoke, that was the episode where Lydia has a stroke and is unconscious in the hospital. It’s a wonderful, beautifully written episode. It’s one of those episodes that had a very strong through-line. A lot of shows don’t have that. It’s not necessarily the nature of a sitcom to have something like that. It was beautifully done. I also loved one from the first season where Lupita (Justina Machado) says something about how she’s not so sure she believes in the Almighty, and her mom Lydia gets very, very upset about that. I just thought, my God, how wonderful is it to do this kind of television where you don’t have to worry about subject matter? Where someone can say, “I’m not sure I believe in God.” And the other one says, “You better believe because my prayers saved you were in Iraq.” The subject was heavy, but extremely funny when it had to be. I think it’s one of Justina’s favorites, too.What are some of your hopes for Lydia in the future?Moreno: I would love it if she gets into ultra-local politics. She has such a big mouth, and she can get in so much trouble. You know, the kind of politics where the trash isn’t being picked up enough, and we have to do something about it. Nothing heavy. I would just love it if she going into trouble because she opens her mouth and says things she shouldn’t, not realizing that in politics you don’t open your big mouth every time you want to.@onedaypopWhen Abuelita wants you to explain TikTok to her ##fliptheswitch ##onedayatatime ##odaat♬ Nonstop DrakeI saw you were also on the One Day at a Time TikTok account. What was that experience like?Moreno: You know, I still don’t know what the hell that is. It’s so bizarre. They said, “Here’s what you do,” and I said, “OK.” Everybody seems to watch TikTok. It’s weird.With so much uncertainty going on, what’s it like to be a part of a show that offers its audience some comfort?Moreno: It’s wonderful, and [the show] provides many wonderful things. It provides warmth, it provides humor, it provides very serious and profound issues. It’s perfect in its own way. It’s absolutely a perfect show.One Day at a Time season 4 premieres on March 24 at 9:31 p.m. on Pop TV.
Joel MearesCovering the year s buzziest movies, series, and chatter during the feverish time period known as Awards Season presents unique challenges. Screenings and screeners can be hard to come by, advanced access is limited, and everyone’s trying to articulate increasingly edgier takes about properties that everyone else is writing about, too. But there are ways to cut through. Ahead of the Golden Globes, Guild awards, and Oscars, Rotten Tomatoes asked editors and awards experts what tips they have for freelancers covering the contenders.Eric Kohn, Executive Editor and Chief Critic, IndieWire Read as much as you can from the established pundits who cover awards season and pay attention to the calendar of awards events throughout the year — from the Gothams to the SAG Awards — so you can deepen your understanding of the awards season ecosystem. Your take on the race will have more authority if you make the effort to see how each piece fits into the larger whole. Erik Anderson, Founder and Owner, AwardsWatch For me, breaking into awards coverage was a 20-year game. I started out in forums, talking about movies, and then building my way up in the ranks, and then ultimately creating my own outlet. That might not be for everyone, but if I had to give any advice to people who want to break in, it would be to say ‘yes’ to everything at first. Publicists will grab onto to you and the reciprocal relationship will hopefully then bring you bigger and better things. I try and answer every email back, even if it’s with a ‘no.’ Be as persistent as they are. It’s respectful and it garners respect. Something else I will tell anyone, freelancer or entrepreneur, know your worth. It took me a long time to get to that, to even knowing what it was. But it made all the difference in the world. Clayton Davis, Editor-in-Chief and Owner, AwardsCircuit.com After removing the ‘glitz’ and ‘glam’ or just merely watching films and meeting stars for a living, you have to ask yourself, why do you WANT to write? If passion is the foundation for your pitches, then the next course of action is to show how your voice is unique in an industry that has so many perspectives and feels oversaturated. Be persistent, but not rude or overbearing when you receive a ‘no’ or a non-response. Get your foot in the door, no matter how trivial, and show what you re worth when you re finally inside. Rubin Safaya, Executive Editor, AwardsWatch Cinemalogue The most consistent factor impacting a journalist’s visibility is speed. International festival coverage – Cannes, Venice, Toronto, etc. – is early in the cycle. From these reviews, studios pull quotes for FYC campaigns, trailers, one-sheets. In addition to notoriety as one of the first 15 to 20 critics on the Rotten Tomatoes listing for a feature, festivals provide resourceful journalists a feel for the rhythm and flow of the entire cycle: what films are being tapped by distributors for their awards potential, how public and press/industry screenings are shaping the distributors public and trade (FYC) marketing campaigns, and which films public sentiment and critical consensus are likely to coalesce around. Jacqueline Coley, Editor, Rotten Tomatoes One of the best assets for a freelancer is cultivating positive relationships with editors. Editors get hundreds of pitches a week. Having familiarity with them is always going to fare better than cold calls. So, make the rounds and say hello at screenings, events, or whenever possible. Get contact information and make sure to follow up. The next most important thing for pitches is uniqueness. If a site has four reporters on staff, then don’t pitch an article they could easily staff out. Give perspective or an outlook they would not normally contemplate. Make sure your pitch is tailored to you and make sure to explain why you’ll be the best person for the job. You can do this in the thoughtfulness of the pitch or with the subject matter. Either way – and forgive the quote, but – ‘Make them a pitch they can’t refuse.’ Best of luck, and pitch away. Check out more resources for critics from Rotten Tomatoes