2019 and I didn’t really see eye-to-eye, at least in terms of movies.
I’ve done this list every year for a long time and I can’t remember an awards season where only one of my favorite films was nominated for an Oscar. But that happened this past year. The Academy and I both agreed that 1917 was one of the best. But that’s where we diverged.
Granted, maybe I just needed escapism this year, a break from all the chaos swelling around us. But for whatever reasons, these films stood out for me and if you’ve been reading my lists for a while, they’ll likely stand out for you too.
“Go See Yesterday,” I wrote in a full blog post moments after flying out of the theatre.
You just have to buy the premise. Once you do, once you’ve bought into the idea that a guy is suddenly thrust into a world where The Beatles don’t exist and never have, well, now you’re along for the magical mystery tour.
For a quick and very cursory synopsis; a struggling singer/songwriter, played by Himesh Patel, in present day England can’t seem to catch a break. He decides to quit, but then a quick 12-second, world-wide blackout hits — and he gets hit — waking up to a Beatles-less planet. That’s all you really need to know.
There are lots of twists and fun surprises. I was so sure I knew where different plot lines were headed, but I was continually wrong.
Richard Curtis (Love Actually), wrote the film. Director Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame got the rights to 15 Beatles songs used in the movie. In the end, Ringo Starr and George Harrison’s widow both approved of the final cut.
My wife asked as the credits rolled, “Didn’t you just love the movie?”
My response, Yeah, yeah, yeah!
I just got out of Long Shot and, “oh boy,” was it funny! But it was touching, inspiring, meaningful, raunchy and just a fantastic film. I am writing this on May 13th, 2019 and I’m guessing there will be other movies released — probably sometime in December — that I’ll like a lot. But they have a tough mountain to climb against this storyline.
A popular Secretary of State, played by Charlize Theron, hires the kid she used to babysit, played by Seth Rogen, as her speechwriter. That’s all you really need to know. But let me warn you not to walk out, or — in your case a year from now — switch to another show during the first five minutes. An older gentleman sitting down the row from me in the theatre said quite loudly, “I can’t believe they can put this crap in a movie.”
Spoiler Alert: it involved Nazis. Relax, the guy in the theatre stayed for the whole movie and enjoyed it. Also, you should be careful renting or streaming it. There are at least 25 titles on IMDB with some iteration of the words Long and Shot in their titles! Long Shot is written and executive produced by Dan Sterling who’s also known for the HBO series Girls, The Office and The Daily Show among many other credits. Liz Hannah, who co-wrote The Post also co-wrote Long Shot, so there’s a lot of talent already going into the movie before Rogen and Theron take over.
And they truly take over the entire movie. There’s a lot of slapstick, references to drug use, terrorism, gratuitous smoking — something that bugs me in movies — and political manipulation — something that REALLY bugs me in real life. But you’ll have a great time amongst all that nastiness. When you get right down to it, it’s a fun and phenomenal film.
UPDATE: Yep, even now at the end of January, it still holds up as one of the best movies of the year.
Think Superbad, but with high school girls. I walked out of the theatre certain I wouldn’t write this next line. But dang, one of the two main characters reminded me so much of Jonah Hill. Nope, that’s too male-centric and doesn’t give her the glowing respect she deserves.
Then I logged onto IMDB and pushed back from the screen laughing. Beanie Feldstein? She’s Jonah Hill’s younger sister! Damn, was this a funny, funny film.
No, her co-star Kaitlyn Dever is NOT Michael Cera’s sister, but Feldstein and Dever paired up equally, if not better than their male counterparts from Superbad a dozen years ago. It’s too trite to say the movie exudes girl power. It’s more appropriate to say the young women own this film and guys had better back the F off.
Directed by Olivia Wilde in her first feature-length stint, the movie follows the two young women during the evening before and the day of high school graduation. What have they missed during all their years of studying? They’re about to find out. You may think you’ve seen stories like this, but you definitely haven’t. It’s sweet, edgy, incredibly (book) smart and hilarious. Several SNL alums play minor roles, including Wilde’s husband Jason Sudekis as the principal and, well, another character.
This sets the bar high (school) for teen Rom Com/coming-of-age movies. Last I checked, this movie was sitting at a lofty 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Wilde really should’ve been nominated in the Best Director category, but I guess they only wanted men nominated this year.
Watch this movie; you won’t be disappointed.
1917 was riveting.
It’s an epic WWI movie, filmed to look like it was shot in one continuous take, over a 24-hour period. In it, soldiers are tasked with getting a vital message to their front lines by foot, miles away, through enemy territory and No man’s land. Imagine Saving Private Ryan meets the last of The Lord of the Rings movie: The Return of the King.
It’s intense, beautifully filmed, emotional and immediate. George MacKay — who starred in Pride, my favorite film of 2014 — leads us through the trenches, bombed-out villages and filth of war in the ravaged French countryside. I am astounded that MacKay didn’t receive a Best Actor nomination. Coincidentally, the ubiquitous Andrew Scott — who was also in Pride — had a cameo in this film.
The movie is dedicated to director and co-writer Sam Mendes’s grandfather, who told tales from his days as a soldier on the Western front in WWI. Even though it’s fictional, his grandfather was a messenger and inspired the film.
I was anxious to see this movie, anxious during the movie, happy when it was over and appreciate most everything about it.
To hear more, Scott Simon did a nice NPR interview with Mendes.
Any movie, or anything really, that takes on Fox “News” is going to get my attention. The so called “news” organization lies 59% of the time and tells half-truths 19% of the time according to Politifact.
Bombshell has dual meanings:
The “stunning” information that Fox personalities were harassing female coworkers.
The woman were “bombshells” in the archaic, male-centric meaning of the term.