Lady Bird – Joy, Sadness, and Dysfunction


I love Oscar season. I love having an excuse to go to the movies every week. I love predicting the winners. But mostly, I love seeing movies that I normally wouldn’t see and discovering how wonderful they are. As of this writing, Lady Bird is my favorite film of 2017. There’s something instantly relatable, yet simultaneously foreign about watching female coming-of-age stories, seeing familiar adolescent milestones through the eyes of the opposite gender. School life, awkward stabs at romance, sexual milestones, all of it is present and accounted for in this charming little film about finding yourself in all the places you haven’t been looking.

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Darkest Hour – Curmudgeonly Humanity


The British sure do love the story of Dunkirk. It’s a bit of an odd fascination really, considering Dunkirk was the moment the Germans sent their whole army fleeing across the channel. Yet all these years later they’re still telling the story. Twice in one year, in fact. While Dunkirk the film is about the battle itself, Darkest Hour is a biopic about Winston Churchill’s stalwart leadership during said battle. The scope of Darkest Hour is both broader and more intimate than it’s counterpart, spending a great deal of time on the personal struggles of Churchill and the political scheming that surrounded his appointment as prime minister, but the titular “darkest hour” remains the battle of Dunkirk. The two film’s complement each other nicely. In fact, if viewed alongside another unrelated production, The King’s Speech (a Best Picture winner), one could enjoy an unintentional trilogy about this one moment in British history.

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The Post – Political Subtext


In 2015, Spotlight, a film about an investigative journalism team who broke one of the most significant stories in recent memory, was released. It went on to win Best Picture. It wasn’t the most creative or technically impressive film, but it won on the strength of its subject matter. The Post is following in its footsteps. While it functions adequately as a vehicle for the impressive performances of its two lead stars, this film skated into the Best Picture category due to its topical relevancy and the political subtext of its story.

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The Shape of Water – Affirmation of The Other


The Shape of Water is the surprising front runner at this year’s Academy Awards. Leading the pack with 13 nominations, it is probably best, albeit reductively, described as an inter-species romance. While it is true that falling in love with an Amphibian Man is a significant element of the film, this is but a piece of a larger thematic tapestry. This film is about cultural norms and how we treat those who do not conform to them; it is about a period in American history so often viewed through the gilded lens of nostalgia in our modern political sphere being dissected to reveal the ugliness within; it is about authenticity vs. artificiality at the personal and societal level; and it is about what it means to be a monster.

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The Disaster Artist – Hilarious and Surprisingly Moving


“Don’t watch The Room. It sucks out your brain and replaces it with stupid.” This was how I first heard about Tommy Wiseau’s magnum opus. Ostensibly a dramatic tragedy, The Room is so painfully, egregiously horrible in every conceivable way that it devolves into unintentional comedy. And therefore it is a masterpiece – one that has achieved cult status the world over. Naturally, I had to see it. So when Fathom events put together a live Rifftrax screening of The Room at my local theater, I rounded up all my friends to go with me. We left the theater in hysterics, becoming part of the throng of who knows how many people who have now paid good money to see the worst movie ever made. But how did this movie get made? Were the people working on it aware of how bad it was? What was it like on set with this mysterious weirdo calling the shots? At long last, The Disaster Artist is here to answer all those burning questions.

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The Last Jedi – Subverting Expectation



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Justice League – Bloated and Tonally Schizophrenic


Justice League has problems. That’s a statement that will surprise no one. If you’ve seen DC’s previous offerings, or basically any film by Zack Snyder, then you probably knew before you even sat down in the theater that the movie you were about to see would have problems. To it’s credit, Justice League is a shade better than Dawn of Justice. It is somewhat lighter in tone, has a sense of fun to it, and is even periodically entertaining. However, like its predecessors, this is a bloated film overstuffed with characters and overburdened with too many plotlines and backstories. It is watchable, but ultimately unsatisfying because it fails to live up to its full potential.

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