Little Women is a marvelous film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig (2017's Lady Bird). The acting, writing, and costume designs were all perfection. This accomplishment comes from Gerwig’s vivid direction on the retelling of its classic source material.
Actors Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothèe Chalamet, and Meryl Streep were all exquisite on screen together. Plus, the beautiful cinematography deepens the film’s timelessness. Little Women is one of the best films of the year and will be in my Top Five for 2019. This sensitive retelling of a timeless classic is one for the books. Gerwig's beautiful vision is accompanied by her talented cast of actors, who all work seamlessly to tell an old story in a brand new way. On top of that, we are paired with the lushest cinematography and a weaving storyline of past and present. The genius of Gerwig is seen on a larger scale inside Little Women. An absolutely lovely film in the highest orders — Little Women is the very embodiment of novel and film blended together, rewarding our viewers with an enriching experience. Our coming-of-age story follows the four young March sisters — Jo (a fierce Saoirse Ronan), Meg (a warming Emma Watson), Amy (a lively Florence Pugh), and Beth March (a wholesome Eliza Scanlen). In the film and book, Jo reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved sister's story of how they were determined to live it on their own terms.
In the film, Gerwig interweaves the story cutting back and forth between the past and present. This embellishes the sister's bond between one another at certain places in their lives. Jo (Ronan) is determined not to be defined by her sex in a man's world. Jo is independent, fierce, and full of life in telling her stories from pen to paper. Ronan received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. At 25-years-old, Ronan is the 2nd youngest person to receive four Academy Award nominations, behind only Jennifer Lawrence. Meg (Watson) is determined to be happy in starting a family with a man she dearly loves. Meg chooses John Brooke (James Norton), a tutor hired to teach the mischievous Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (a never better Timothèe Chalamet). John struggles to make ends meet financially, but that doesn't stop Meg from marrying him. In the end, Meg knows that she will always be happy with the man she fell in love with. Next, there's Amy (Pugh) — the most complex character of the March sisters. Amy is loud, snarky, and a total blast to watch on screen. In the book and past film adaptions, Amy has gotten a bad rap from Jo fans for 'stealing' Laurie from her. Here, Pugh gives Amy a beating heart full of compassion and gratitude. We see Amy's side of the story better, as she's the one who always loved Laurie ever since she first met him. Jo chose her writing over Laurie and in the end, didn't have the same feelings towards him that Amy always did.
Gerwig and Pugh perfected this perspective, making Amy one of the best and fully developed characters in this film. Pugh received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Pugh, a 24-year-old breakout star, has a bright acting future ahead of her. Lastly, we have Beth (Scanlen) who is the shyest, but musically gifted, sister. Beth expresses herself through music, Joe through writing, Meg through acting, and Amy through painting. In this version, Gerwig paired the events of Meg's wedding and Beth's death back-to-back — showing us how Jo lost two sisters in different ways. Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Gerwig) — Little Women is one of the most superb movies to come out in 2019. Sadly, The Academy snubbed Gerwig from a spot for Best Director. This is a bitter blow to an extraordinary director and it leaves me frustrated. Gerwig deserved that nomination. The Academy is telling Gerwig that her movie was good enough to be nominated, but she (as a director) was not. “Since [Gerwig] started, she has made two perfect films, and I hope when she makes her next perfect movie, she gets recognized for everything because I think she’s one of the most important filmmakers of our time,” Ronan told Deadline.
“I think everybody’s angry, and quite rightly so,” Pugh said. “I can’t believe it’s happened again, but I don’t really know how to solve it. I don’t know what the answer is, other than we’re talking about it.” Unfortunately, this is a typical pattern for The Academy — Since the Oscars first aired in 1929, The Academy has only nominated five women for Best Director. Only Kathryn Bigelow has won, in 2010 for The Hurt Locker. The Academy needs to change and we need to start recognizing female directors for their work. Some of the finest movies to come out in 2019 were directed by female directors — films like The Farewell (Lulu Wang), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma), Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas), Booksmart (Olivia Wilde), Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria), Honey Boy (Alma Har’el), The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent), Atlantics (Mati Diop), The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg), Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu), High Life (Claire Denis), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller). In the end, this beautiful film adaption to Louisa May Alcott's classic 1868 novel receives a five-star review from me. Little Women is a enduring tale and Gerwig extends that timeliness we've all fell in love with over the years. What a marvelous movie — vivid, passionate, and powerfully acted. Little Women is here to stay, in our hearts and on film.
Little Women is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For thematic elements and brief smoking.
Directed by Greta Gerwig, AKA a far better director than Todd Phillips (Joker).
Starring an all-star cast — Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothèe Chalamet, and Meryl Streep.
Frozen II is a captivating sequel that travels deeper and darker into its animated roots.
With vibrant songs and splendid visuals, this Disney sequel is another great adventure for the whole family. Frozen II recaptures another showstopper just like its predecessor did (2013's Frozen). 2013's Frozen was a worldwide phenomenon and it looks like this more mature and ambitious sequel will be as well. This time, Disney Animation Studios takes you on a dazzling adventure 'Into The Unknown'. The charm and catchy songs are all still there — your kids and wife won't stop humming them for the weeks that follow...
"...Into the unknown
Into the unknown
Into the unknown
I can hear you but I won't
Some look for trouble while others don't
There's a thousand reasons I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers which I wish would go away, oh
...Hmm, sorry I got carried away there. Moving along, Frozen II takes our friends Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), and Sven on a journey to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. Here, the group sets out to find the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their kingdom, Arendelle. Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is that I won't tell you, you'll have to watch for yourself. We are also introduced to new characters, like Lieutenant Destin Mattias (voiced by Sterling K. Brown). Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck (2013's Frozen) return to the director's chair enchanting a darker story filled with humor and top-notched songs. Songs like All Is Found, Some Things Never Change, Into the Unknown, When I Am Older, Lost in the Woods, Show Yourself, and The Next Right Thing.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez returned from the first film to write new songs for the sequel, while Christophe Beck returned to compose the film's score. Lots of transformation happens to our characters in Frozen II, giving us some much-needed character development to propel the story forward. Frozen II has grossed $1.405 billion worldwide, had the highest all-time worldwide opening for an animated film, and is the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time and the third highest-grossing film of 2019, as well as the 11th highest-grossing film of all time. Frozen II is a worthy sequel full of beautiful animation, fun-filled characters, and a chorus line that will knock you off your seat. I enjoyed it.
Frozen II is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For action/peril and some thematic elements.
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck.
Starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, and Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Iduna (Anna and Elsa's mother).
A Double Feature Review!
This based-on-a-true-story dramatization of sexual harassment at Fox News, Bombshell is a whirlwind of a movie. Bombshell is a vital film that tells the story of how women took down Fox News’ most powerful CEO. Actors Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie are knockouts throughout the entire picture. Theron portrays Megyn Kelly, Kidman portrays Gretchen Carlson, and Robbie portrays Kayla Pospisil (a fictionalized character). Theron and Kidman’s incarnations of Kelly and Carlson are perfection. While Robbie’s performance was riveting scene after scene. This urgent and high-energy movie will keep you glued to your seat. It’s a film that needs our attention. What struck me throughout this entire movie was Theron's ability to trick me in thinking I was listening to and watching the 'real' Megyn Kelly. Everything from her mannerism to her voice was constructed to a T. It was almost on the verge of scary. Theron's tour de force of a role is Oscar-worthy. Bombshell received two Golden Globe nominations for Theron and Robbie — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Theron) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Robbie).
The film received four Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) nominations for Theron, Robbie, and Kidman, as well as Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Bombshell received three BAFTA Awards nominations, including Best Lead and Best Supporting Actress for Theron and Robbie. Finally, Bombshell received three Oscar nominations this morning for Theron and Robbie — Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Theron) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Robbie). Bombshell is based on the real-life scandal, revealing a look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time, Fox News. This is an explosive story of how a group of women brought down a predatory man (Roger Ailes, played by a strong John Lithgow) who ran Fox News. One of the most powerful scenes in Bombshell is one that, in fact, never happened. The scene is invasive and painful to watch, but it's also important. Kayla's character may be a combination of multiple real-life women, but her experiences in the film are real. They're summaries of several allegations made about Ailes in sexual-harassment lawsuits that Fox News employees brought against the network. Yes, there are pitfalls in Bombshell's dramatization, nevertheless; its message is still important.
Bombshell is rated R (Restricted). For sexual material and language throughout.
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, and John Lithgow.
Megyn Kelly Presents: A Response to Bombshell - Full Discussion
"What I love about Nicole..." "What I love about Charlie..."
Marriage Story emotionally wrecked me. Writer-director Noah Baumbach's (Frances Ha and Mistress America) latest film is a masterpiece, hands down. Marriage Story follows the story of a stage director (a never better Adam Driver) and his actor wife (a fantastic Scarlett Johansson) as they struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them both to their personal and creative extremes. This is a hard movie to watch and it is also a film that emotionally wrecks your psyche. Driver and Johansson's performances are some of the best of the year. Through sweat and tears, we follow their stories and ache for them both. Through it all, Charlie (Driver) and Nicole (Johansson) are trying to do what they think is best for their son, Henry. Marriage Story holy observes the splintering union of a husband and wife falling apart before your very eyes. But, Baumbach gently crafts this picture with compassion and grace. Driver's performance, in particular, is one of the best from 2019. His acting was a tour de force of emotion and vulnerability. Driver put everything he had into this vital role.
Slowly, your heart will sink and in the end, you'll be left in a puddle of tears like I was. Nominated for six Golden Globes — actor Laura Dern took home the Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Marriage Story was also nominated for five BAFTA Awards — Best Original Screenplay (Baumbach), Best Leading Actor (Driver), and Best Leading Actress (Johansson). This morning, Marriage Story was nominated for six Oscars — including Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Johansson), Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Driver), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Dern), and Best Original Screenplay (Baumbach). Sadly, The Academy snubbed Baumbach of Best Director. But, fingers crossed that Driver can take home the Oscar for Best Actor. Through thick and thin, we look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. Marriage Story receives a five-star review from me, yes it is that good. Hold your loved ones close tonight, because when you watch Baumbach's latest picture, you won't want to let go.
Marriage Story is rated R (Restricted). For language throughout and sexual references.
Directed by a wonderful writer-director (Noah Baumbach), who knows how to crush your soul.
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, and Wallace Shawn.
A Double Feature Review!
Knives Out is an exciting murder-mystery blended with a contemporary theme. Writer-director Rian Johnson's (Looper and The Last Jedi) stellar ensemble consists of Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer. This whodunit thriller delivers a handful of stabs filled with cheerful cynicism. It’s blockbuster entertainment that’s smart, witty, and stylish. Plus, Daniel Craig shows off his Southern accent. Nominated for 3 Golden Globes, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Ana de Armas) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Daniel Craig).
Johnson pays tribute to author and mystery mastermind Agatha Christie, with a modern-day murder-mystery where everyone is a suspect until Craig can figure out the whole 'doughnut' surrounding this puzzle. Craig's acting is sleek and funny, while de Armas breaks through new ground with her attention to detail. Her performance is a revelation as she continues to add layers to her roles (Knives Out and Blade Runner: 2049). The rest of the cracks are filled in with terrific acting from Evans, Curtis, Shannon, Johnson, Collette, Stanfield, Langford, Martell, and Plummer. In the end, Knives Out is a grand murder-mystery you won't want to miss. P.S. Chris Evans kills it in his white sweater.
Knives Out is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material.
Directed by Rian Johnson, AKA the mastermind who upset insecure Star Wars fans.
Starring Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer, and a lot of references about doughnuts.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a good and wholesome movie. Tom Hanks transforms into the role of Mr. Fred Rogers. Hanks’ Oscar-worthy incarnation comes full circle as he shows us how kindness prevails. It’s the movie to watch this holiday season. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood shares a powerful message about acceptance and understanding. Nominated for one Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Hanks), A Beautiful Day captures Mr. Rogers' love for humans and shares his gift of kindness with you on the big screen.
Director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) succeeds in sharing a timely story of goodness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys). In the film, Rhys' character is changed to a fictional journalist named Lloyd Vogel. Vogel's incarnation is based loosely on journalist Tom Junod. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was chosen by Time magazine as one of the ten best films of the year. For his performance, Hanks was nominated for a Golden Globe, Critics' Choice, Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG Awards), and BAFTA Award (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). All-in-all, A Beautiful Day is a charming movie about an extraordinary man. "Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people." — Mr. Rogers.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language.
Directed by Marielle Heller
Starring Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper.
For Your Consideration:
In Their Own League
Mashley at the Movies
Mike, Mike, and Oscar
Next Best Picture
The Movie Oracle
Untitled Cinema Gals Project