Tag Archives: Adam Sandler

The MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2019

Neon/Courtesy

Film in 2019 was about family. It was about love. It was about defiance. And it was about growing old. From the March sisters to Jimmy Hoffa, Rick Dalton to Lance Corporal Schofield, Mr. Rogers to best friends Amy and Molly, the characters of 2019 embodied what keeps us human, even when things, or even people, are at their worst. It was yet another beautiful year in film, so let’s celebrate. Here are the MovieMini Awards for the Films of 2019:

(These awards were voted on and compiled by Danielle Gutierrez, Levi Hill, Kyle Kizu, Miyako Singer, and Hooman Yazdanian.)

Best Specialty Performance

Winner: Tom Hanks as Woody — Toy Story 4

Disney/Courtesy

Runner-up: Tony Hale as Forky — Toy Story 4
3. Shirley Henderson as Babu Frik — Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
4. Billy Eichner as Timon — The Lion King
5. Zach Galifianakis as Mr. Link/Susan — Missing Link

Next Group:
Rosa Salazar as Alita — Alita: Battle Angel
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup — How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Chris Pratt as Emmet/Rex — The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu — Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky — Toy Story 4

Best Feature Debut

Winner: Olivia Wilde — Booksmart

François Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Alma Har’el — Honey Boy
3. Joe Talbot — The Last Black Man in San Francisco
4. Jérémy Clapin — I Lost My Body
5. Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz — The Peanut Butter Falcon

Next Group:
Vince Gilligan — El Camino
Nia DaCosta — Little Woods
Melina Matsoukas — Queen & Slim
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson — Someone Great
Josh Cooley — Toy Story 4

Best Original Song

Winner: “Control” — Her Smell

Don Stahl/Gunpowder & Sky/Courtesy

Runner-up: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” — Rocketman
3. “La Jeune Fille en Feu” — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
4. “Pulled Down” — Her Smell
5. “Jose and Mark” — The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience

Next Group:
“Show Yourself” — Frozen II
“A Glass of Soju” — Parasite
“The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” — Toy Story 4
“IHOP” — The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience
“Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” — Wild Rose

Special Mention: Jessica Only Child Illinois Chicago — Parasite

Best Original Score

Winner: Thomas Newman — 1917

François Duhamel/Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Daniel Lopatin — Uncut Gems
3. Emile Mosseri — The Last Black Man in San Francisco
4. Alexandre Desplat — Little Women
5. Matt Morton — Apollo 11

Next Group:
Max Richter, Lorne Balte — Ad Astra
James Newton Howard — A Hidden Life
Dan Levy — I Lost My Body
Jail Jung — Parasite
Michael Abels — Us

Best Sound

Winner: Donald Sylvester, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, Steven Morrow — Ford v Ferrari

Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy

Runner-up: Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson — 1917
3. Eric Milano, Brian Eimer — Apollo 11
4. Gary Rydstrom, Brad Semenoff, Tom Johnson, Mark Ulano — Ad Astra
5. Matthew Wood, David Acord, Christopher Scarabosio, Andy Nelson, Stuart Wilson — Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Next Group:
Ryan M. Price, Patrick Southern — Her Smell
Damian Volpe, Mariusz Glabinski, Robert Fernandez, Alexander Rosborough — The Lighthouse
Wylie Stateman, Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, Mark Ulano — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Matthew Collinge, John Hayes, Mike Prestwood Smith, Danny Sheehan — Rocketman
Warren Shaw, Skip Lievsay, Tom Fleischman — Uncut Gems

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Winner: Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, Rebecca Cole — 1917

François Duhamel/Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Fríða Aradóttir, Judy Chin — Little Women
3. Janine Rath, Heba Thorisdottir — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
4. Mónika Tóth, Katalin Jakots, Iván Pohárnok — Midsommar
5. Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, Victoria Money, Barrie Gower — Rocketman

Next Group:
Debra Denson, Carla Farmer, Stacey Morris, Vera Steimberg — Dolemite Is My Name
Emma Strachman, Elissa Ruminer, Amy L. Forsythe — Her Smell
Nicki Ledermann, Sean Flanigan, Michael Marino — The Irishman
Traci Loader, Linda Flynn, Adrien Morot — The Lighthouse
Scott Wheeler, Camille Friend — Us

Best Costume Design

Winner: Julian Day — Rocketman

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Jacqueline Durran — Little Women
3. Arianne Phillips — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
4. Ruth E. Carter — Dolemite Is My Name
5. Albert Wolsky — Ad Astra

Next Group:
Mitchell Travers — Hustlers
Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson — The Irishman
Mayes C. Rubeo — Jojo Rabbit
Dorothée Guiraud — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Miyako Bellizzi — Uncut Gems

Best Production Design

Neon/Courtesy

Winner: Lee Ha-jun, Cho Won-woo — Parasite

Runner-up: Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
3. Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales — 1917
4. Craig Lathrop, Ian Greig — The Lighthouse
5. Jess Gonchor, Claire Kaufman — Little Women

Next Group:
Kevin Thompson, Karen O’Hara — Ad Astra
Bob Shaw, Regina Graves — The Irishman
Henrik Svensson — Midsommar
Thomas Grézaud, Hélène Delmaire — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Sam Lisenco, Kendall Anderson — Uncut Gems

Best Stunts

Winner: Hayley Saywell, Ben Cooke, Rhye Copeman — 1917

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Robert Nagle, Brian Simpson, Chris Palermo — Ford v Ferrari
3. Jonathan Eusebio, Scott Rogers, Cale Schultz — John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
4. Robert Alonzo, Jacob Dewitt, Samuel Le — Ad Astra
5. Monique Ganderton, Sam Hargrave, Daniel Hernandez, James Young, Terry Notary, Michael Hugghins, Ralf Koch — Avengers: Endgame

Next Group:
Mindy Kelly — The Art of Self-Defense
Chris O’Hara, Simon Crane, Ralf Koch, Greg Rementer, Randy Beckman — Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw
Ian Mclaughlin, Tabitha Dumo — Hustlers
Gáspár Szabó, Ildikó Szücs, Anna Vnuk — Midsommar
Ku Huen-Chiu, Feng Weilun, Lin Zhitai, Tang Tengfei — Shadow

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, Dominic Tuohy — 1917

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Allen Maris, Guillaume Rocheron, Scott R. Fisher, Jedediah Smith — Ad Astra
3. Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, Dominic Tuohy — Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
4. Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken, Daniel Sudick — Avengers: Endgame
5. Guillaume Rocheron, Robert Winter, Eric Frazier, Brian Connor, Peter Nofz — Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Next Group:
Louis Morin, Annie Godin, Christian Kaestner, Ara Khanikian, Michael Dawson — The Aeronauts
Richard E. Hollander, Joe Letteri, Kevin L. Sherwood, Eric Saindon, Richard Baneham, Bob Trevino, Nick Epstein — Alita: Battle Angel
Bill Westenhofer, Karen M. Murphy, Guy Williams, Sheldon Stopsack, Mark Hawker — Gemini Man
Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda, Stephane Grabli — The Irishman
Jonathan Fawkner, Carlos Monzon, Dale Newton — Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Best Cinematography

Winner: Roger Deakins — 1917

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Jarin Blaschke — The Lighthouse
3. Claire Mathon — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
4. Adam Newport-Berra — The Last Black Man in San Francisco
5. Hoyte van Hoytema — Ad Astra

Next Group:
Phedon Papamichael — Ford v Ferrari
Rodrigo Prieto — The Irishman
Yorick Le Saux — Little Women
Robert Richardson — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Hong Kyung-pyo — Parasite

Best Film Editing

Winner: Nick Huoy — Little Women

Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Yang Jin-mo — Parasite
3. Todd Douglas Miller — Apollo 11
4. Thelma Schoonmaker — The Irishman
5. Fred Raskin — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Next Group:
Lee Smith — 1917
Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker — Ford v Ferrari
David Marks — The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Julien Lacheray — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie — Uncut Gems

Best Documentary Feature

Winner: Apollo 11

Neon/CNN Films/Courtesy

Runner-up: Diego Maradona
3. American Factory
4. Honeyland
5. Knock Down the House

Next Group:
The Biggest Little Farm
For Sama
Fyre
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
The Legend of Cocaine Island

Best Animated Feature

Winner: I Lost My Body

Netflix/Courtesy

Runner-up: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
3. Toy Story 4

Next Group:
Klaus
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Missing Link

Best International Feature

Winner: Parasite

Neon/Courtesy

Runner-up: Portrait of a Lady on Fire
3. Pain and Glory
4. I Lost My Body
5. Slut in a Good Way

Next Group:
Ash Is the Purest White
Everybody Knows
Honeyland
Monos
Shadow

Best Scene/Sequence

Winner: The Peach Scam — Parasite

Neon/Courtesy

Runner-up: The Final Bet — Uncut Gems
3. Sixteen Hundred Men — 1917
4. The Trailer — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
5. The Benoit Blanc Breakdown — Knives Out
6. It’s What It Is — The Irishman
7. The Night Window — 1917
8. Leaving China and Nai Nai — The Farewell
9. The Laurie-Jo Devastation — Little Women
10. She Didn’t Notice Me — Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Next Group:
Leave It Open a Little Bit — The Irishman
Beth — Little Women
Shirtless Cliff Booth — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Lovers — Pain and Glory
I’ll Remember — Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Greta Gerwig — Little Women

Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Steve Zaillian — The Irishman
3. Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
4. Taika Waititi — Jojo Rabbit
5. Matthew Michael Carnahan, Mario Correa — Dark Waters

Next Group:
Mike Flanagan — Doctor Sleep
Terrence Malick — A Hidden Life
Lorene Scafaria — Hustlers
Jérémy Clapin, Guillaume Laurant — I Lost My Body
Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom, Martin Hynes, Josh Cooley, Valerie LaPointe, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack — Toy Story 4

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Bong Joon-ho, Han Jin-won — Parasite

Neon/Courtesy

Runner-up: Lulu Wang — The Farewell
3. Céline Sciamma — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
4. Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein — Uncut Gems
5. Quentin Tarantino — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Next Group:
Shia LaBeouf — Honey Boy
Rian Johnson — Knives Out
Noah Baumbach — Marriage Story
Joe Talbot, Jimmie Fails — The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Pedro Almodóvar — Pain and Glory

Best Ensemble

Winner: Parasite

Neon/Courtesy

Runner-up: The Irishman
3. Little Women
4. Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
5. Knives Out

Next Group:
1917
Booksmart
The Farewell
Hustlers
Uncut Gems

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Al Pacino — The Irishman

Netflix/Courtesy

Runner-up: Joe Pesci — The Irishman
3. Song Kang-ho — Parasite
4. Shia LaBeouf — Honey Boy
5. Jonathan Majors — The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Next Group:
Dean Charles-Chapman — 1917
Tom Hanks — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Chris Cooper — Little Women
Alan Alda — Marriage Story
Kevin Garnett — Uncut Gems

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Zhao Shuzhen — The Farewell

Casi Moss/A24/Courtesy

Runner-up: Florence Pugh — Little Women
3. Cho Yeo-jeong — Parasite
4. Scarlett Johansson — Jojo Rabbit
5. Park So-dam — Parasite

Next Group:
Jennifer Lopez — Hustlers
Thomasin McKenzie — Jojo Rabbit
Jamie Lee Curtis — Knives Out
Lee Jeong-eun — Parasite
Julia Fox — Uncut Gems

Best Lead Actor

Winner: Adam Driver — Marriage Story

Netflix/Courtesy

Runner-up: Brad Pitt — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
3. Adam Sandler — Uncut Gems
4. Leonardo DiCaprio — Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
5. George MacKay — 1917

Next Group:
Brad Pitt — Ad Astra
Robert De Niro — The Irishman
Robert Pattinson — The Lighthouse
Antonio Banderas — Pain and Glory
Choi Woo-sik — Parasite

Best Lead Actress

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o — Us

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Saoirse Ronan — Little Women
3. Elisabeth Moss — Her Smell
4. Awkwafina — The Farewell
5. Adèle Haenel — Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Next Group:
Beanie Feldstein — Booksmart
Ana de Armas — Knives Out
Florence Pugh — Midsommar
Noémie Merlant — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Samara Weaving — Ready or Not

Best Director

Winner: Bong Joon-ho — Parasite

Neon/Courtesy

Runner-up: Greta Gerwig — Little Women
3. Céline Sciamma — Portrait of a Lady on Fire
4. Sam Mendes — 1917
5. Martin Scorsese — The Irishman

Next Group:
Todd Douglas Miller — Apollo 11
Marielle Heller — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Lulu Wang — The Farewell
Lorene Scafaria — Hustlers
Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie — Uncut Gems

Best Film

Winner: Little Women

Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Runner-up: Parasite
3. The Irishman
4. Uncut Gems
5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
6. 1917
7. Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
8. The Farewell
9. Apollo 11
10. Marriage Story

Next Group:
Ad Astra
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Booksmart
Dark Waters
Ford v Ferrari
Honey Boy
Jojo Rabbit
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The Lighthouse
Pain and Glory

The Cats Category or (The Buck Wild Film Beyond Awards Comprehension): Cats

Not Quite a Feature Film, But Deserving of Cinematic Awards Recognition Anyway: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience

Top 10 Netflix Original Films

Over the past two years, Netflix has been building itself in the image of a legitimate film studio. They got started with documentary films and have held a consistent and impactful presence in that space — we were and still are stunned by the likes of Virunga and 13th — but it wasn’t until the release of Beasts of No Nation when the potential to carve a space in narrative filmmaking really presented itself. And as with any company trying out new things, Netflix stumbled. For every The Fundamentals of Caring, there were five to six dramatic duds. Adam Sandler comedies drowned out the Win It Alls of the bunch. But recently, the conversation and controversy around Netflix has ramped up, and that’s because they’ve been making seriously good movies. Almost all complaints about the streaming company’s release model are valid, but it’s difficult to deny the pure quality and singularity of films such as Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father. 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for Netflix and truly just the start of what they likely intend to do down the line. And with The Meyerowitz Stories, which genuinely makes up for the Adam Sandler atrocities with a wonderful Sandler performance, the best of the best for Netflix throughout its film production/distribution endeavors is quite a formidable group. Here is our list for the top 10 Netflix original films:

10. The Ivory Game

Netflix/Courtesy

Following in the footsteps of Virunga, The Ivory Game presents itself as an international (Kenya, Tanzania, Hong Kong) thriller working to uncover the dark truths of elephant poaching. Unlike Virunga though, The Ivory Game is less tepid to show the true mutilations and horrors of the violence being committed against these beautiful, sacred animals. As with most advocacy docs, it is heavy-handed and straightforward in its approach, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

— Levi Hill

9. I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Netflix/Courtesy

Macon Blair’s directorial debut also happens to be the 2017 winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition, and for good reason. Its one-two punch of humor and violence makes for a quirky crime-comedy, one that simply asks for people to do right by each other. If anything, the film is worth checking out for Melanie Lynskey’s performance as a windpipe-breaking, novice vigilante, and Elijah Wood as a shuriken-chucking eccentric.

Harrison Tunggal

8. First They Killed My Father

Netflix/Courtesy

Angelina Jolie’s latest directorial effort also happens to be her best and most important. First They Killed My Father functions as a memoir of author Loung Ung’s childhood during the Khmer Rouge’s regime, but it also acts as the therapeutic recollections of an entire country. This film belongs to Cambodia, a testament to the country’s collective trauma, a filmic monument. Jolie crafts such a monument with precision, delivering some of the year’s most haunting visuals, making First They Killed My Father a singularly important film in Netflix’s library.

Harrison Tunggal

7. Our Souls at Night

Netflix/Courtesy

Our Souls at Night is a quiet piece, a film that, like those at the age of the main characters, takes its time and doesn’t take things too seriously, but, when real emotions are at stake, can engage and devote care unlike any other. And in that way, we don’t really realize how emotionally invested we are as viewers until the end of the film. The pacing is so methodical, the dialogue so calculated to construct a genuine naturalism that we become enveloped in a seriously refreshing type of cinematic experience. But the majority of work done to craft empathy is through Jane Fonda and, especially, Robert Redford. Redford is incredibly vulnerable, shouldering the weight of his character’s backstory in such immensely affecting ways, whether that be through the breathy delivery of a single line of dialogue at the end of the film or through a short glance during the various emotional moments. It’s a performance that is reserved yet entirely wholesome, and one of the best of 2017.

— Kyle Kizu

6. Gerald’s Game

Netflix/Courtesy

While It is undoubtedly the bigger crowd-pleaser and entertainer, Netflix’s Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game may honestly be the better film. Navigating one location and one character’s mind for a majority of its runtime, Gerald’s Game is a surprisingly visual and intensely engaging story. The editing, cinematography, lighting and, especially, the vigorous and committed performances from Bruce Greenwood and Carla Gugino all work harmoniously to construct a world of hallucinatory, overwhelming terror, and the story and main character are granted a sense of empathy and care, even if a bit too on the nose, that too many horror pieces are devoid of. If not for anything else, though, seek out Gerald’s Game for one of the most physically affecting gore sequences of recent memory. It’s truly sickening. In a sickeningly good cinematic way.

— Kyle Kizu

5. Virunga

Netflix/Courtesy

In due time, people will begin to see that, in 2014, Citizenfour wasn’t the most important documentary of that year, but rather, Virunga had the most to say regarding humanity, animal rights, conservation measures and how capitalism and war affect everyone and everything. Merging an investigative reporting style about bribery and greed for French oil companies depleting the natural beauty and resources of the Virunga National Park, with a tender look at the selfless gorilla caregivers in the park, the film presents a breathtakingly beautiful, but horrifically heartbreaking look at the complex political issues in the region.

— Levi Hill

4. The Meyerowitz Stories

Netflix/Courtesy

The Meyerowitz Stories features the best performance Adam Sandler has ever given. He nails this quiet complexity, where he is outwardly loud and has random moments of (comic) swearing, but, for the most part, keeps his pain under the surface. The film is pretty low-key and likely won’t gain much awards traction, but Sandler deserves notes throughout the season for his turn. The whole cast, though, is excellent throughout, with Hoffman being particularly affecting as a cranky, retired intellectual, and the film itself is truly wonderful, a very distinctive but realistic New York state-of-mind story that only Noah Baumbach could concoct.

— Levi Hill

3. Okja

Netflix/Courtesy

Even though Netflix tends to get flack for burying its projects deep in its library of titles, and for not properly promoting any of them, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja is such a delightfully unconventional film that one has to commend Netflix for letting it see the light of day, especially when the release of Bong’s previous film, Snowpiercer, was fumbled by the true winner of Mirando’s super pig contest, Harvey Weinstein. Functioning as a 21st century, sci-fi reupholstering of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Okja has plenty to say about the meat industry, capitalism and Jake Gyllenhaal’s facial hair (it’s Oscar worthy). The film does it with a blend of humor, warmth and violence, and while such a combination would feel out of place in any other director’s hands, Bong maneuvers a wide spectrum of tones with ease. As a Cannes competitor, Okja is one of the year’s best films, and it’s a film that truly elevates Netflix’s stable of original projects.

Harrison Tunggal

2. 13th

Netflix/Courtesy

With 13th, Selma director Ava DuVernay returns to the topic of race relations in the United States, making an equally as powerful, yet strikingly different artistic statement as she did with the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. Tracking the changes in racism and how it takes form from the abolition of slavery until now, DuVernay truly defines what “necessary cinema” means — but not simply with content, but also with how she directs and composes said content. Strangely for a documentary film, the interview cinematography is intimate and blunt. The score guides the viewer through the overwhelming amount of information to consume, and the editing renders the progression of over 100 years smooth and fluid. But DuVernay never allows it to be easy to forget the true weight of this all. Words slam onto the screen, highlighted by every aspect of the film to force us to confront the horrific facts that have been produced by a system built on slavery. The cliche is true: 13th should be in classrooms across the country. Or maybe Netflix has become that classroom, giving this brilliant film a massive platform.

— Kyle Kizu

1. Beasts of No Nation

Netflix/Courtesy

What can be said about the film that put Netflix on the theatrical map, a great movie that went nearly unnoticed in traditional distribution and at the Oscars, is that people began to question if Netflix would be the right company to release these vital films. Regardless of how people feel about Netflix’s distribution model though, there’s no doubting that Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation is not only his best movie, but the best movie Netflix has ever released. Featuring a heartbreaking debut performance from Abraham Attah, and what should have been an Oscar-winning turn from Idris Elba (he won the SAG and the BAFTA, only to be snubbed of even a nomination by the Oscars), Beasts of No Nation is one of the most politically important war movies ever made. Acting as a Heart of Darkness-esque descent into the violence that plagues young children who are torn away from their homes and forced to fight in militias, Beasts of No Nation never shies away from showing the atrocities of these wars created by adults and fought by kids. If you haven’t seen the film yet, then please do, as the fact that the film will always exist for streaming on Netflix is one of the many great elements of this new model of film distribution.

— Levi Hill

 

Featured image via Netflix.

‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ Review: Adam Sandler gives his best performance yet in this neurotic, affecting Baumbach ensemble

Imagine The Royal Tenenbaums, featuring a sprawling ensemble cast who all bring their A-game playing an entirely dysfunctional family, blending drama and comedy in equal measure, but without the Wes Anderson artificiality, and with a very distinctive but realistic New York state-of-mind story that only Noah Baumbach could concoct, and you get Netflix’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).

Yet comparing The Meyerowitz Stories to The Royal Tenenbaums might be a slight to both films, as each have their own pleasures. For example, and maybe most notably, The Meyerowitz Stories features the best performance Adam Sandler has ever given. As Danny Meyerowitz, the black sheep of the family, with a bad limp, Sandler plays one of the sons to Harold (Dustin Hoffman) — the son with the most strained relationship to his Dad. Once a seemingly talented musician, who blew his career on drugs and having a child at a young age, he is a caring father but a shell of a man when around his domineering, former sculpture professor father. As the story reveals more and more about Danny’s past, we realize that he and his sister Jean were neglected as children, because their father and his four wives (he was divorced three times) never spent quality time with Danny and Jean.

Partly because of this, he feels a great rivalry with half-brother Matthew (Ben Stiller), who may be the only Meyerowitz child with a successful career — even though he is far removed from his father’s goals for having each of his children become a talented artist. Sandler nails this quiet complexity, where he is outwardly loud and has random moments of (comic) swearing, but, for the most part, keeps his pain under the surface. The film is pretty low-key and likely won’t gain much awards traction, but Sandler deserves notes throughout the season for his turn. It’s good to see him do this much character work, rivaling his performances in Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People.

The whole cast, though, is excellent throughout, with Hoffman being particularly affecting as a cranky, retired intellectual. In fact, the biggest complaint for the film would be its longish run time. At 1 hour and 52 minutes, it seems as if Baumbach loved the characters so much that, instead of maintaining the novelistic short story ambitions the film starts with, he creates three to four seemingly capable endings before deciding on the last sequence.

Overall, though, this neurotic, poignant dramedy is a welcome addition to the fall season.

Grade: 8.2/10

 

Featured image via Netflix.

25 Most Anticipated Films of Fall/Winter 2017

2017 has proven to be one of the best years for film in recent memory, and the hits are bound to keep coming in the fall and winter. It Comes At Night may have led us down a dark and unsettling path earlier this summer, but we will likely remain wholly unprepared for the brilliant discomfort of Yorgos Lanthimos’ upcoming film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. (This film has been described as more agonizing than Lanthimos’ previous work, The Lobster, which came this close to showing a man blind himself with a steak knife. Let that sink in.) Regarding films that don’t require an immediate, consolatory hug upon viewing, Baby Driver was a fun joyride — a perfect forbear for the frenetic energy of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. And then there’s a little indie coming in December called Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a family drama about space people who should never have become parents.  

The following list represents the films that make us at MovieMinis spontaneously squee. But since the list only includes 25 films, it doesn’t truly represent the amount of squeeing we do. The cutting room floor is littered with heavy hitters such as Steven Spielberg’s The Post, as well as The Current War, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse. There are also Cannes darlings that didn’t make the cut (but which you should see anyway) such as Michael Haneke’s Happy End and Palme d’Or winner The Square. We feel a great pang of guilt for excluding Justice League (squee!).

Regardless, here are our 25 most hotly anticipated films from the remainder of the year.

25. mother!

Paramount/Courtesy

The illustrated posters of mother! were merely beautiful yet unnerving glimpses into the horror of Darren Aronofsky’s next film. Bring in the trailer and it seems as though the director is returning to the brilliance of the genre that he dabbled in with Black Swan. And if this film really will follow in that one’s footsteps, then audiences should expect committed and haunting performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, as well as a story with some of the most affecting scares since, well, Black Swan. Let’s just hope it appropriately contextualizes the relationship between a 27 year old and a 48 year old because, if it doesn’t, that might be more frightening.

— Kyle Kizu

24. Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel/Courtesy

Taika Waititi is easily one of the funniest filmmakers working today — just see here and here. His films bring loads of heart and even more laughs, something direly needed for Thor, a franchise whose second entry literally self-proclaims doom and gloom. Throw in Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, the magic of Jeff Goldblum, a colorful Jack Kirby aesthetic and elements of Planet Hulk, and Thor: Ragnarok could be one of the best MCU entries to date. Oh, and in the last shot of the most recent trailer, Hulk goes toe-to-toe with Surtur the fire demon. In the immortal words of Ricky Baker, “Shit. Just. Got. REAL!”

— Harrison Tunggal

23. Suburbicon

Paramount/Courtesy

Suburbicon pulses with star power. The film is written by the minds of the Coen brothers, George Clooney (doing double duty as director) and his frequent collaborator Grant Heslov. If that isn’t enough, it stars Matt Damon, who invokes his Jason Bourne days by taking a fire iron to some poor thug’s face. The film also includes Julianne Moore (her third film on this list, she’s in Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Wonderstruck) and Oscar Isaac, whose mustache here deserves it’s own billing. Here’s to hoping that said mustache stays intact over the course of this darkly comic crime caper.

— HT

22. It

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Stranger Things, but a million times scarier. If that seems like an oversimplification of the upcoming Stephen King adaptation, it isn’t anything less than the utmost excitement condensed into seven words. Despite an initial rocky start (writer-director Cary Fukunaga left the project in 2015), It appears to deliver well-acted, visually stunning horror fare — such that will strike an existential fear of killer demon clowns into the hearts of a whole new generation.

— HT

21. The Meyerowitz Stories

Netflix/Courtesy

Welcome back, Adam Sandler. No, seriously. After a string of critically lashed Netflix comedies, here comes Noah Baumbach to remind us all, that when Sandler wants to, he can be one of the most emotionally affecting actors on the screen. Throw in Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and the full support of Netflix, and The Meyerowitz Stories appears to be the first Netflix Oscar-contender that will gain traction among voters, audiences and critics when it releases in mid-October.

— Levi Hill

20. Coco

Pixar/Courtesy

Coco is a Pixar film. Need we say more? Well, we can. The film follows a young kid who dreams of becoming a musician and, through a spiritual connection with an ancestor, he enters the Land of the Dead. The trailer shows that the film will be a visual wonder, but the subject matter offers a look at Latino culture, one that mainstream cinema largely ignores. And with longtime Pixar veteran Adrian Molina stepping into the director’s chair alongside Pixar legend Lee Unkrich, Coco looks to be informed and genuine in its endeavors as well.

— KK

19. Mute

Netflix/Courtesy

Many may only think of Warcraft when they hear the name Duncan Jones, which is a shame because this is the director behind Moon and Source Code, two phenomenal sci-fi films. With Mute, Jones returns to the universe of Moon, but this time he takes us to the futuristic, seemingly Blade Runner-esque Earth within it. That tiny detail may be the biggest sign that this film could be special. Moon crafted such a thorough sense of society down on Earth, one that Jones has explored for years in planning for Mute, so the storytelling should be refined and invigorated.

— KK

18. Wonderstruck

Amazon/Courtesy

Todd Haynes’ upcoming Wonderstruck is based on the Brian Selznick novel of the same name, and the last time Selznick’s work was adapted for the big screen, the result was the Martin Scorsese stunner Hugo. With Selznick himself penning the screenplay, Wonderstruck seems poised to deliver a timeline-hopping, visual treat that will remind us of that which fills us with childlike wonder — film, museums and, if the trailer is to be believed, cool David Bowie covers.

— HT

17. Battle of the Sexes

Fox Searchlight/Courtesy

Sometimes talent alone can put a film on this list. Recent Academy Award winner Emma Stone, comedic (and now dramatic?) powerhouse Steve Carell, the co-directors of Little Miss Sunshine and the writer of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours will bring us Battle of the Sexes. But that title, and the story behind it, makes this film about more than just talent — or maybe precisely about talent, that which is underserved. The story of tennis star Billie Jean King facing off against Bobby Riggs is an uplifting and landmark tale, with a whole lot of lively fun throughout, that could make for a wonderful and necessary statement in today’s landscape.

— KK

16. The Death of Stalin

IFC Films/Courtesy

Armando Iannucci may be the king of political satire, his time as Veep showrunner offering us some of the most gut-busting commentary on the current state of D.C. Pair him with the juicy material of the Soviet regime in the immediate aftermath of Stalin’s death — utilizing a bluntly British angle (they’re not even attempting Russian accents) — and you’ve got a comedy to die for.

— KK

15. Roman J. Israel, Esq

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

Nightcrawler is aging like fine wine, with many critics and movie fans looking back at it as not only an absolutely brilliant movie, but also a significant independent film and a vehicle for one of the best performances of the 21st century from Jake Gyllenhaal. So any movie that writer-director Dan Gilroy does next is on a must-see list. Cue Roman J. Israel, Esq, a film where Denzel Washington has an afro and plays a snazzily dressed defense attorney.

— KK

14. Last Flag Flying

Amazon/Courtesy

Honestly, if there is one film on this list that just can’t go wrong (outside of the movies that have already premiered), it is Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. Starring the dream-team worthy trio of Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne, the film is a years-after sequel to the Oscar-nominated, Jack Nicholson-led and Hal Ashby-directed The Last Detail. With that set-up, Last Flag Flying could potentially end up being the de facto critics favorite with Linklater’s humanist style mixed with the socially angry, if touching tale of three Navy vets coming to terms with the world they live in that Ashby knocked out of the park back in 1973.

— LH

13. Lady Bird

A24/Courtesy

Casual fans of indie cinema know Greta Gerwig as the magnetic star of films like Frances Ha, Mistress America and 20th Century Women, but those of us obsessed with the genre know that it’s behind the camera where she makes even more of an impact. After writing a number of successful indies, Gerwig will make her solo directorial debut this fall with Lady Bird. While not much is known about the plot, the film follows a high school girl (Saoirse Ronan) as she spends a year in Northern California. Joining Ronan is a heavy hitting cast of indie favorites that includes Timothée Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts and Lucas Hedges.

— Kate Halliwell

12. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Fox/Courtesy

Matthew Vaughn established himself as an action director extraordinaire with the first Kingsman — the film’s church scene now infamous as one of the most exhilarating fight sequences in recent memory. With that style, Vaughn’s dry British wit, the brilliant cast and brand new American territory to explore, The Golden Circle is set to be one of the most fun films of the fall — and sometimes, fun is all we need.

— KK

11. Molly’s Game

STX Entertainment/Courtesy

Aaron Sorkin is widely known as one of the great writers — of most mediums — of our time. The fact that Molly’s Game is written by him is enough reason to be excited, but the film is also his directorial debut, which elevates our hype tenfold. Even if the film isn’t good, it will be fascinating to see his visual style directly translated to the big screen. But it seems like there are too many pieces in place for this to be a dud — Jessica Chastain munching on Sorkin’s words is the dream performance we need.

— KK

10. Downsizing

Paramount/Courtesy

When every single one of your films (except your first) received Oscar nominations and endless critical heap, audiences will take notice when your next film comes out. And thus is the case with Alexander Payne, who, to this day, seems incapable of making a bad scene, let alone a bad movie. However, the science-fiction satire Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, promises to be a marked difference from the traditionally very naturalistic stories Payne has told in the past. Yet, that’s what it makes it this writer-director’s most intriguing project yet.

— LH

9. Hostiles

Lorey Sebastian, Le Grisbi Productions/Waypoint Entertainment/Courtesy

Hostiles may not release this year as it currently doesn’t have a distributor, but it’s set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in a bid for an acquisition. Made by Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper, the film stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster and Timothée Chalamet, so it’s got a great chance of being picked up for an end-of-year release. And that team of talent is precisely why this movie is so salivating. Christian Bale is never anything less than entirely transformed, Rosamund Pike needs more roles after her Oscar-nominated, frightening turn in Gone Girl, Ben Foster is one of the most underrated actors working today and Timothée Chalamet is on the verge of breaking out with Call Me by Your Name later this year.

— KK

8. The Shape of Water

Fox Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy

The great Guillermo Del Toro returns to the big screen with The Shape of Water, which stars Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg. The film’s stellar trailer teased a sweet romance with sci-fi elements, but also raised the possibility that The Shape of Water is a secret Hellboy prequel centering on Abe Sapien. Even though Del Toro has since debunked those rumors, we’re still thrilled to see him combine the things we love about his filmography — fairy tales with a touch of the macabre and of course, amphibian men.

— HT

7. The Disaster Artist

A24/Courtesy

James Franco can never be faulted for producing/starring/writing/directing in a seemingly impossible amount of projects in one year. What he could have been faulted for in the past, though, is that each project he stood behind the camera on felt like an interesting misfire. Not anymore. With stunning, Oscar-potential raves out of SXSW, Franco seems to have found the perfect source material for his stylings: the best worst movie of all-time, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. With Franco directing and, more excitingly, playing Tommy Wiseau on the set of The Room, The Disaster Artist promises a hilarious, if pointedly tragic real-life story of a failed artist. But really, we can’t wait to hear “YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” again.

— LH

6. The Florida Project

A24/Courtesy

Sean Baker turned heads and took home awards with his 2015 film Tangerine, notably shot entirely on iPhones. He returns this year with The Florida Project, which follows a six-year old girl (Brooklynn Prince, this year’s Jacob Tremblay) and her adventures living in a run-down motel near Disney’s Magic Kingdoms. With Willem Dafoe and a host of talented newcomers rounding out the cast, this one is not to be missed.

— KH

5. Blade Runner 2049

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Getting another Denis Villeneuve film immediately after last year’s Arrival is already worth celebrating, but the fact that his upcoming project is a Blade Runner sequel (shot by Roger Deakins, no less) makes the occasion seem like Christmas — of the neon, steampunk, existentialist variety, of course. With Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford teaming up, the hype couldn’t be bigger for this film, which will hopefully answer the greatest question of our time — what happened to the other 2,047 Blade Runner sequels?

— HT

4. Call Me by Your Name

Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy

The trailer alone launched one thousand Armie Hammer crushes and caused us all to stop and consider spontaneous trips to Italy; the film itself might cause actual meltdowns (in the best way). Timothée Chalamet and Hammer star in Luca Guadagnino’s book-to-screen adaptation as two bisexual Jewish men who fall in love over the course of a sun-drenched summer. The film has drawn rave reviews from early festival screenings and has film buffs all over the world hungry for its November release. Peaches, anyone?

— KH

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A24/Courtesy

Following the surprise Oscar nomination for the dark (twisted) comedy/science fiction fantasy film The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell return with an even more twisted, full-on psychological horror film. The early reviews for Sacred Deer, out of the in-competition bow at Cannes, promise that it will blend the calculated coldness of craft found in a Stanley Kubrick movie mixed with the cynical social commentary found in the best genre films. Add in the rising star Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as what appears to be the villain (but nothing is that simple in a Lanthimos tale) and the where-is-she-not Nicole Kidman as Farrell’s estranged wife experiencing horrific acts she has no fault in causing, and Sacred Deer promises to be the feel-bad movie of the Fall movie season.

— LH

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Lucasfilm/Courtesy

You don’t hire director Rian Johnson to make a cookie-cutter Star Wars movie. The man behind Looper, Brick and two of Breaking Bad’s most daring episodes seems poised to deliver — dare we say — the best Star Wars entry of all time. Forget getting answers to questions we’ve had since 2015 (Is Rey a Kenobi? Is Snoke actually Sy Snootles? Will Luke get a haircut?). We just want another Rian Johnson movie.

— HT

1. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Film

Jürgen Fauth/Courtesy

Quite simply put, There Will Be Blood is one of the best films of the 21st century and Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in it is one of the best of all time. So, with Paul Thomas Anderson pairing up with DDL yet again for what is, apparently, DDL’s last performance ever, this film — rumored to be titled either Phantom Thread or Woodcock — will be a special one in the history of cinema, even if it’s not as breathtakingly affecting and engaging as TWBB (and, of course, it easily could be). Add in the rumors that the film is Fifty Shades of Grey if directed by Mike Leigh and we are more in than we’ve ever been for anything, honestly.

— KK

Featured image via Warner Bros.