Fresh films: Reviews for award nominated movies


Writer and director of In Burgess and Seven Psychopaths brings another dark comedy to viewers, this time with the added dramatic intensity of leading actress Frances McDormand. In a small town, grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) demands justice for her teenage daughter who was brutally raped and murdered. Mildred agitates the inefficient local police force when she puts up billboards calling out Ebbing’s Sheriff (Woody Harrelson) – a nice guy who happens to be dying of cancer – for not catching her daughter’s killer in the several months since her death. Although an unsolved murder case kicks off the story,the film is much less a mystery than a bitter satire following the metamorphosis of people faced with loss. It won both Best Motion Picture and Best Screenplay at the 2018 Golden Globes and has received much Oscar buzz since its release.

Three Billboards relies heavily on the talents of McDormand who delivers an incredible amount of strength to a woman in mourning with so little support from her community. Most of the film fails to establish a balance between dark comedy and drama, however, McDormand is able to save it with genuine emotion delivered in a line of sarcasm. Her performance won her the 2018 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress. A surprising depth also comes from Sam Rockwell, who plays a cop looking for the valor of a civil servant, but is mislead by stupidity, racism and a bad temper. Rockwell stood alongside McDormand in winning a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

GET OUT: Emily Weaver, Editor-in-Cheif
This dark social satire and horror flick by first time solo-director Jordan Peele has been met with waves of praise from both critics and viewers alike. “Get Out”, tells the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black man who goes with his white girlfriend Rose to visit her parents in upstate New York for their annual garden party. Though Rose initially reassures Chris that her parents will have no qualms about his race – “My dad would legit vote for Obama a third time he could,” she reassures – Chris soon realizes that the weekend is anything but innocuous. After suspicious interactions with the family’s black help, who seem devoid of personality, the weekend takes a particularly bizarre turn when Rose’s mom, Missy, hypnotizes Chris. He soon realizes the dark truth about the family and is left to escape the house of horrors. The film, which was released during a time of political turmoil, is riddled with imagery regarding liberal and conservative politics, Jim Crow, and White Supremacy. Peele makes use of subtle plot points tinged in social and historical commentary, such as a scene where Chris is the only person wearing blue in a sea of party attendees all donned in red, a nod to political divisions in the US, or a plot point where Chris is picking cotton to free himself, turning a common narrative of slavery into one of self-salvation. The subliminal messages fueling this film are what make this social satire a stand-out film this awards season.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT: Emily Weaver, Editor-in-Cheif
Director Sean Baker has been the driving force behind two of indie cinema’s most talked-about movies of the past decade.His two most recent and critically acclaimed films, “Tangerine” and “The Florida Project” highlight narratives typically left out of Hollywood, with 2015’s “Tangerine” – famously shot on an iPhone 5s – following a pair of transgender sex workers, and 2017’s “The Florida Project” showing povertyand homelessnessthrough the eyes of children. “The Florida Project” tells the story of Moonee (played by Brooklynn Prince), a six-year-old who goes around the hotel where she and her rebellious, young, and poor mother Halley are staying. Living just out of reach of Disney World, Moonee and her friends spend their summer days stirring up mischief. For a film so deeply set on whimsicality and magical realism, the reality is that the movie is one of stark minimalism. Between the film’s modest budget (just a few million, notably small scale for movies) and low-key actor recruitment (including pulling children with no acting experience from a Florida Target), “The Florida Project” is a fantastical film that is grounded in realism, reminding viewers amid a world of large-scale-explosions and elaborate FX of the true beauty of movie magic.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME: Eleanor Jeansone, Staff Writer

Luca Guadagnino captures the true essence of forbidden love in this Oscar and Golden Globe  nominated film. The movie starts with a seventeen-year-old Elio Perlman, spending the summer holiday in the family villa circa 1983. During their stay, Elio’s father has an intern, Oliver, stay with them for six weeks while studying for a doctoral degree on the landscape and history of Italy. As the number of days grow, the conflicted Elio has to face emotions he has never felt before and the struggle of falling in love. This movie encapsulates the bonding of two boys over Jewish heritage, Italian architecture, music, and embracing sexuality. The setting of Lombardy, Italy mirrors the characters’ passion, free will, and impulsivity of young love. This movie is especially important for the youth community because of how relatable and honest the emotions represented in the film are shown. Though “Call Me By Your Name” has sparked controversy about hypocrisy and homophobia in the media, decide what you think about this film for yourself at exclusive theaters around Austin such as the Violet Crown and the Alamo Drafthouse.

THE SHAPE OF WATER: Eleanor Jeansone, Staff Writer
From author and director, Guillermo del Toro comes “The Shape of Water”, a story of a mute woman, Elisa, working as a cleaning lady in a highly protected government lab. When Elisa and co-worker, Zelda, discover a mysterious water creature, transported from South America, in the buildings confinement, she discovers a bond between them like she’s never experienced before. Set in 1962, Baltimore, this story captures honest emotion and connection between woman and monster. Nominated for five Golden Globes, three Screen Actors Guilds, and ten Critic’s Choice Movie Awards, “The Shape of Water” shows that love can take all forms.

THE POST: Eleanor Jeansone, Staff Writer
Steven Spielberg’s latest film follows the true story about the partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (played by Meryl Streep), the first female publisher of a leading American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks), as they compete with The New York Times to expose a massive government secret. The unlikely two face obstacles, risk their careers, and overcome their differences for the greater good. This PG-13 mystery and drama has six Golden Globe nominations as well as eight Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. “The Post” is a suspenseful, climactic movie will have you on the edge of your seat with Streep and Hanks incredible chemistry.

I, TONYA: Lily DiFrank, Managing Editor
This movie follows the life of Tonya Harding, a famous ice skater of the 80’s and 90’s. It shows how she rose to fame, and then lost it all with much controversy about her and a fellow opponent. Craig Gillespie is the director of I,-Tonya and other sports-related movies such as Million Dollar Arm, and Fright Night. Actress Mckenna Grace plays young Tonya, and does a wonderful job embracing her character. In addition, adult and teenage Tonya is played by actress Margot Robbie, who has won awards for this role and others, including Critics Choice award, Empire award for best Female Newcomer, People’s Choice award, and Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. This movie had a lot of thought put into it, and the cinematography was beautifully done with just the right shots created to engulf you istoryliney line.