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AWFJ Awards 2020

Posted on January 11, 2020 at 10:25 pm

I am proud to be a member of the alliance of Women Film Journalists and delighted to announce our awards.

Best Film

PARASITE

Best Director

Bong Joon-ho, PARASITE

Best Screenplay, Original

PARASITE, Bong Joon-ho

Best Screenplay, Adapted

LITTLE WOMEN, Greta Gerwig

Best Documentary

APOLLO 11

Best Animated Film

I LOST MY BODY

Best Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, US

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Florence Pugh, LITTLE WOMEN

Best Actor

Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director

LITTLE WOMEN, Kathy Driscoll and Francine Maisler

Best Cinematography

1917, Roger Deakins

Best Editing

THE IRISHMAN, Thelma Schoonmaker

Best Non-English-Language Film

PARASITE

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only.

Best Woman Director

Celine Sciamma, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

Best Woman Screenwriter

Greta Gerwig, LITTLE WOMEN

Best Animated Female

Bo Peep, Annie Potts in TOY STORY 4

Best Breakthrough Performance

Florence Pugh, MIDSOMMAR, LITTLE WOMEN and FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry

Ava DuVernay for creating ARRAY and championing women in film

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism

Zhao Shuzhen, THE FAREWELL

Bravest Performance

Aisling Franciosi, THE NIGHTINGALE

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent

Anne Hathaway, THE HUSTLER and SERENITY

Most Egregious Lovers’ Age Difference Award

THE PUBLIC: Emilio Estevez (57) and Taylor Schilling (35)

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made

CHARLIE’S ANGELS

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award

HFPA for excluding women nominees in major Golden Globe categories.

Sunday Night: Critics Choice Awards!

Posted on January 10, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Copyright 2017 Fremulon
I won’t be there this year, but that means I’ll have an even better view of the Critics Choice Awards because like all of you I’ll be watching it on the CW.

The just-announced presenters joining returning host Taye Diggs for the 25th anniversary awards presentation (statistically the best predictor of the Oscars for all of you participating in an office betting pool): Keegan-Michael Key will be on hand to recognize Eddie Murphy with the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award and Ted Danson will present Kristen Bell with the #SeeHer Award. Additional stars from some of this year’s favorite films and television shows who will present throughout the evening include Kate Beckinsale, Alison Brie, Kelly Clarkson, Brian Cox, Adam Devine, Sara Gilbert, Walton Goggins, Lucy Hale, Chris Hardwick, Anne Hathaway, Sam Heughan, Nick Kroll, Eugene Levy, John Lithgow, Sebastian Maniscalco, Caleb McLaughlin, Kennedy McMann, Seth Meyers, Ashleigh Murray, Niecy Nash, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, Lupita Nyong’o, Catherine O’Hara, Edi Patterson, Tom Payne, Michael Sheen, JB Smoove, Bradley Whitford, and Scott Wolf.

The Critics’ Choice Awards will be broadcast live on The CW Network on Sunday, January 12th, from 7 – 10 p.m. ET (delayed PT).

Nominations:

BEST PICTURE
1917
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite
Uncut Gems

BEST ACTOR
Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro – The Irishman
Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite Is My Name
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

BEST ACTRESS
Awkwafina – The Farewell
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
Lupita Nyong’o – Us
Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Renée Zellweger – Judy

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
Al Pacino – The Irishman
Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers
Florence Pugh – Little Women
Margot Robbie – Bombshell
Zhao Shuzhen – The Farewell

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Julia Butters – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Roman Griffin Davis – Jojo Rabbit
Noah Jupe – Honey Boy
Thomasin McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit
Shahadi Wright Joseph – Us
Archie Yates – Jojo Rabbit

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
Bombshell
The Irishman
Knives Out
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite

BEST DIRECTOR
Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story
Greta Gerwig – Little Women
Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
Sam Mendes – 1917
Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems
Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story
Rian Johnson – Knives Out
Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won – Parasite
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Lulu Wang – The Farewell

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Greta Gerwig – Little Women
Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony McCarten – The Two Popes
Todd Phillips & Scott Silver – Joker
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit
Steven Zaillian – The Irishman

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jarin Blaschke – The Lighthouse
Roger Deakins – 1917
Phedon Papamichael – Ford v Ferrari
Rodrigo Prieto – The Irishman
Robert Richardson – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Lawrence Sher – Joker

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran – Joker
Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales – 1917
Jess Gonchor, Claire Kaufman – Little Women
Lee Ha Jun – Parasite
Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Bob Shaw, Regina Graves – The Irishman
Donal Woods, Gina Cromwell – Downton Abbey

BEST EDITING
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems
Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker – Ford v Ferrari
Yang Jinmo – Parasite
Fred Raskin – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Thelma Schoonmaker – The Irishman
Lee Smith – 1917

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Ruth E. Carter – Dolemite Is My Name
Julian Day – Rocketman
Jacqueline Durran – Little Women
Arianne Phillips – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson – The Irishman
Anna Robbins – Downton Abbey

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP
Bombshell
Dolemite Is My Name
The Irishman
Joker
Judy
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Rocketman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
1917
Ad Astra
The Aeronauts
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
The Lion King

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Abominable
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

BEST ACTION MOVIE
1917
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Spider-Man: Far From Home

BEST COMEDY
Booksmart
Dolemite Is My Name
The Farewell
Jojo Rabbit
Knives Out

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE
Ad Astra
Avengers: Endgame
Midsommar
Us

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Atlantics
Les Misérables
Pain and Glory
Parasite
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

BEST SONG
Glasgow (No Place Like Home) – Wild Rose
(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Rocketman
I’m Standing With You – Breakthrough
Into the Unknown – Frozen II
Speechless – Aladdin
Spirit – The Lion King
Stand Up – Harriet

BEST SCORE
Michael Abels – Us
Alexandre Desplat – Little Women
Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker
Randy Newman – Marriage Story
Thomas Newman – 1917
Robbie Robertson – The Irishman

Like a Boss

Posted on January 9, 2020 at 5:38 pm

C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, crude sexual material, and drug use
Profanity: Very strong and crude language
Nudity/ Sex: Crude humor including sexual references
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking and marijuana
Violence/ Scariness: Comic mayhem
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: January 10, 2020
Copyright Paramount 2019

Sigh. And here we go. There will be lots of great and memorable and inspiring and funny movies coming in 2020, but first, as always, we have to slog through the misery of disappointing January releases, and “Like a Boss” is in that category. Three brilliant, funny women and a promising premise sink under the weight of frantic antics and an exhausting stream of raunchy references instead of jokes. A great Lizzo song plays over the opening credits and it’s all downhill from there.

Tiffany Haddish (who also produced) plays Mia, who lives and works with her lifetime BFF Mel (Rose Byrne) in blissful partnership. Their M&M make-up company is all about making women feel wonderful about themselves. Instead of the usual only-we-can-fix-you make-up sales pitch about covering up flaws, their you-go-girl vibe is about putting on make-up for fun, for exploring your persona, and for sharing good times with your own BFFs. The outspoken, more volatile Mia is the creative force behind the business, and the quieter, more practical Mel is responsible for the business side, though she has not been able to tell Mia that they are in far rockier financial shape than she thinks.

The M&M employees are Bennett (Billy Porter) and Sydney (Jennifer Coolidge). So far, so good. This is a powerhouse cast of brilliant comic actors who could probably read a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches and make it funny. But a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches would be funnier than this mess of s script, which relies much too heavily on insults and sexual references to disguise its absence of actual comedy.

Mia and Mel have a group of besties who sometimes teeter into frenemy territory when our heroines compare themselves to the friends who have graduated into an adulthood, with stable jobs and babies (presumably there are some life partners there, too) that Mia and Mel are not ready to measure themselves against. A baby shower with an extremely graphic cake depicting childbirth is so overwhelming that they have to go upstairs and smoke weed (dropping a joint next to a sleeping infant who may be sleeping due to a contact high, hilarious, amirite?).

M&M is nearly half a million dollars in debt. So when make-up mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) offers to invest, it is an offer they cannot refuse. Mia insists, though, that they maintain 51 percent ownership and thus control. Claire knows, however, that she can get effective control by dividing and conquering, and begins to manipulate Mia and Mel by making them compete for her approval, with each other and with another BFF-led team (Ryan Hanson and Jimmy O. Yang, wasted, and not in the pot-smoking way). “No one stays besties once money comes in,” she says.

There are a few clever quips and bright moments, mostly when Billy Porter is on screen. “Witness. My. Tragic. Moment,” he says with delicious dramatic flourish after Claire forces M&M to fire him. But it is disappointing to see the duo from the ambitious “Beatriz at Dinner,” Hayek and director Miguel Arteta (who also directed the charming “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) try to get by with this silly mess.

Parents should know that this film features pervasive extremely crude and raunchy humor with many explicit references to sex, body parts, and body functions and some very graphic images, extremely strong and crude language, drugs and drug humor.

Family discussion: What did Mel and Mia learn about themselves and each other from their involvement with Claire? Which of your friends would you like to be in business with?

If you like this, try: the “Horrible Bosses” movies and “Girls Trip”

Just Mercy

Posted on January 9, 2020 at 5:26 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic content including some racial epithets
Profanity: Strong language including n-word and other racist terms
Nudity/ Sex: Reference to sexual assault
Alcohol/ Drugs: Social drinking, smoking
Violence/ Scariness: References to violent crimes, non-explicit depiction of an execution
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: January 10, 2020

Copyright Warner Brothers 2019
The third 2019 awards season story based on a real-life lawyer stars producer Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Legacy Museum (sometimes referred to as the Lynching Museum) and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The movie shows him as a young graduate of Harvard Law School who moved to the small town where Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Lee’s Atticus Finch, Stevenson defends those who were unfairly accused. He established the Equal Justice Initiative. The only other staff was a local woman named Eva Ansley (Brie Larson). Stevenson began helping men on death row at no cost.

The local community, especially law enforcement, did not like having old cases re-opened and weaknesses of evidence and exposed. The hostility and obstruction seemed insurmountable. But Stevenson was undaunted. Unlike most heroic lawyers in movies (and real life), this story does not have family members complaining that he is working too hard or a love interest who feels neglected. Stevenson does not lose his temper or feel like giving up. The great gift of this movie is what sometimes, if you are not watching carefully, may make it seem like its pilot light is turned down too low. This movie does have some rousing moments (and some sad ones) but it does not follow the usual courtroom underdog stories that make the intricacies of the judicial system follow the beats of a feel-good sports story.

Jordan is that rare performer who is a superb actor and a full-on movie star. After his electrifying appearance in “Black Panther,” he shows his range as a lawyer whose only superpowers are his integrity and his constant courtesy toward everyone he deals with. client, friend, and foe. The quiet power of the respect he shows to his clients is critical to gaining their trust and to restoring their sense of dignity in a system that has done its best to take it from them. And it is wisely given as much weight here as any revelation of evidence or legal right left out of the original proceedings.

Director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton also treats Stevenson’s clients with respect, with an outstanding performance by Jamie Foxx as Stevenson’s first significant client. It’s a quieter role than we have seen him in for a while, and his subtle work here is extraordinary, telling us the whole history of a man who has never been able to expect fairness for himself or his family. Rob Morgan plays another prisoner, performed with heartwrenching simplicity and delicacy to bring home to us what brought Stevenson to devote his life to this cause.

Parents should know that this movie concerns men on death row and abuses of the justice system. It includes some strong language, including racist epithets, and references to sexual assault and violent crime an a non-explicit depiction of an execution.

Family discussion: Why was it important for Stevenson to address his clients and their families as Mr. and Mrs.? What kept him from giving up?

If you like this, try: Bryan Stevenson’s book and TED Talk, and documentary

Online Film Critics Society Awards 2019

Posted on January 6, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Copyright Annapurna 2019
In their twenty-third year, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) continues to recognize the most superlative achievements of the year with no higher honor being presented by a body of film critics whose work appears predominantly online. This marks the second consecutive year that a non-English language film has taken their top prize.

Confirming the overall quality of Bong Joon-ho’s work on “Parasite,” the Korean production also won awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, a special award for its production design, and Best Film Not in the English Language. Bong co-wrote the screenplay with Jin Won Han based on his own idea.

Other feature awards went to Josh Cooley’s “Toy Story 4″ for Best Animated Feature and Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11” for Best Documentary. Director Olivia Wilde won Best Debut Feature with “Booksmart”.

Steven Zaillian won Best Adapted Screenplay for his screenplay for “The Irishman“. This was Zaillian’s second nomination from the OFCS. The previous citation was in 2012 for “Moneyball.” This is his first win.

Seven years after her OFCS victory for “12 Years a Slave,” Lupita Nyong’o won a second award from the OFCS, this time in the lead actress category for her dual role in “Us.” Adam Driver’s third OFCS Awards nomination in four years yielded his first award for Best Lead Actor for his performance in “Marriage Story.” The supporting awards went to Brad Pitt on his second nomination for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” and Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” her first nomination.

“Us” was also the winner of the Best Original Score award while fellow Best Picture nominee “1917” was given the award for Best Cinematography. In addition to these three creative categories and the award to “Parasite” for its production design, five special achievement awards were given for technical achievements.

Copyright 2019 Netflix

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” was honored for its stunt coordination, “Ad Astra” for its visual effects, “1917” for its production design, and “Knives Out” for its acting ensemble.

Each year, the OFCS also asks its members to nominate people and organizations for special recognition. These special achievement awards are given to achievements that aren’t directly related to filmmaking or even to the film industry itself. This year, the OFCS has chosen to honor the Agência Nacional de Cinema (the National Cinema Agency of Brazil) for their work supporting art against attacks from their fascist government.

The OFCS also recognizes five individuals each year who have given tremendously to the art of cinema over lengthy careers, representing various aspects of the filmmaking process including this year’s honorees: actors Julie Andrews and Olivia de Havilland, producer Roger Corman, director Martin Scorsese, and multi-hyphenate John Waters.

The OFCS, which represents 284 film critics from around the world, recognizes the global nature of film and encourages international producers to screen their films for U.S. audiences. To that end, the OFCS recognizes ten films each year that have not yet been released in the United States. These films represent a broadly diverse set of nations from Brazil to Russia to Japan.

And Then We Danced (A European co-production)
Bacurau (Brazil)
Bait (United Kingdom)
Beanpole (Russia)
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (United Kingdom)
A Rainy Day in New York (USA)
The Truth (France-Japan)
Vitalina Varela (Portugal)
The Whistlers (A European co-production)
Zombi Child (France)

In addition to films that haven’t seen release in the United States, they also want to recognize films that are released on digital platforms, but which are not afforded theatrical distribution. This list includes narrative features and documentaries alike.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror
Little Monsters
One Cut of the Dead
The Perfection
See You Yesterday
The Wind

Based on the votes of our members, the following are the year’s top ten films based on their ranked voting during the awards process.
1. Parasite
2. The Irishman
3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
4. Marriage Story
5. Knives Out
6. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
7. Us
8. Uncut Gems
9. 1917
10. Jojo Rabbit