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Updated: 2017-02-21T08:55:41-06:00

 



Lost in America: Melanie Lynskey & Elijah Wood on “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”

2017-02-21T08:55:47-06:00

Actor Macon Blair, star of “Blue Ruin” and “Green Room,” made a huge leap this January when his directorial debut, “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” not only made into the U.S. Dramatic Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival, but walked off with the Grand Jury Prize as the best film. If you need any further proof that Netflix is changing the festival and independent film markets, just look how the company is releasing this year's Sundance winner less than a month after it took home the prize, and not to theaters but on their streaming service this Friday, February 24. “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” features a fantastic lead performance from the always-great Melanie Lynskey, as a woman whose world changes after a robbery. Instead of putting up with one more assault by an unfair world, she gets the assistance of a reclusive neighbor (Elijah Wood) to track down the thieves. Let’s just say things do not go as planned. Lynskey and Wood sat down with us in Park City the opening weekend of the festival and the same as the marches against now-President Trump all over the country, including one on Main Street of the festival. As the marchers were subsiding and snow was falling we discussed why Sundance still matters, displacement, and how this project was different from other ones. You’re both veterans of Sundance. How does this year feel different than ones past? ELIJAH WOOD: I think there’s the obvious. It’s unavoidable. It’s in the atmosphere. There was the march today. I initially thought it was going to feel weird to be here while this was happening. And feel disconnected in that way that feels irresponsible. But the other side of it is that there are people here who believe the right things that are trying to make a difference with art. That’s one of the ways that change can be affected. In that respect, it feels kind of good to be here. There is a sense of unification and community and voices rising together, and that all feels good. MELANIE LYNSKEY: People have something on their mind. It almost feels like after-tragedy. People seem sort of preoccupied. Why is Sundance still important? EW: It still feels like an incredible place for championing emerging voices and art. It still feels like an honor to bring something here. It still feels significant. I don’t think you can help but come here and not feel that sense of history and its significance in influencing film. And I think it still does. Some of that is based on history, but it’s also based on really incredible programmers who are showcasing such an incredible variety of cinema. Giving people a chance—many first-time filmmakers. It carries that weight—if you bring something here, people connect with it and it can launch a career. Speaking of emerging voices, one of the things I thought while watching the film was that this was an ambitious undertaking for a debut directorial effort—tonally. Was there any concern? How did you trust that he would get the tone right? Why did you trust that he could pull it off? ML: I felt like the script was so clear. It was sort of packed full of information. Some scripts are pretty sparse. He puts in a lot of discussion in the script. Characters are introduced very thoughtfully. The way he described walking into particular environments was very specific. Even just reading it I got a sense of the world and the story he wanted to tell. And then I had a meeting with him and understood how he likes to work. I really trusted him from the beginning. EW: Me too. It really jumped off the page. And there were so many specific notes within the context of the script. Music cues, for instance. Music says so much. Really specific but those are also real tonal things as well. It was so clear from the beginning—what it was he wanted to make. Was there any concern about the physical challenge of it all? It’s not something you’re typically associated with or asked to do. Yeah. I’m pretty active, so I wasn’t really worried. I felt OK about it. I f[...]



If We Picked the Winners 2017: Best Original Screenplay

2017-02-21T17:57:33-06:00

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In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see what they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Scout Tafoya makes the case for the Best Original Screenplay of 2016: "Manchester by the Sea" Two winners will be announced Monday through Thursday, ending in our choices for Best Director and Best Picture on Friday.


It's not simply that "Manchester by the Sea" is so devastating you'll want to hug whoever may be next to you in the theatre when the credits roll, but that it orchestrates its tempestuous crescendos in between the most screamingly funny dialogue you've ever heard. And it does all that without making the contrapuntal relationship between its tonal registers seem like the point of this still gentle exercise. 

Kenneth Lonergan knows we suffer enough in our lives and at the movies without making his audience pay for his desire to see grief and loss treated realistically. The laughs come because they would. Unfortunate accidents pile up, people misunderstand the easiest sentiments, cell phone service is interrupted during tough phone calls, wheels on a gurney don't always cooperate, and people say funny things when backed into corners. These things happen and "Manchester by the Sea"'s deeply intelligent script lets them appear and disappear without so much as a backward glance. 

This is most purely a film about people missing the one thing they need in any given situation. The days of having enough beer and the right touch with his kids is over for broken Lee Chandler. He doesn't have the family he once relied on, the fortitude to deal with his needy nephew, the resilience to overcome tragedy; he doesn't even have the garage door opener. This neo-weepie takes it all from him and watches him try to swim through rough seas. The script arms him only with his sense of humor and the solidity granted to anyone who knows that life can always get worse. The surreality of the tragedy he deals with always seems like one more thing on life's long and arduous to-do list. Lonergan's beautifully busy writing keeps us hooked through every new addition. 






If We Picked the Winners 2017: Best Adapted Screenplay

2017-02-21T17:57:33-06:00

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In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see what they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Peter Sobczynski makes the case for the Best Adapted Screenplay of 2016: "Moonlight." Two winners will be announced Monday through Thursday, ending in our choices for Best Director and Best Picture on Friday.


In the days leading up to the Oscar nominations, there was some controversy surrounding the status of the screenplay to the widely praised drama “Moonlight.” Although inspired by Tarell McCraney’s never-produced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, many deemed the script by filmmaker Barry Jenkins and McCraney to be an original work and would be cited as such by organizations ranging from critics groups to the Writers Guild of America, who nominated it for their Original Screenplay award. However, the Academy decided that even though it had never been produced, what Jenkins and McCraney did was in fact an adaptation and moved it into the Adapted Screenplay competition instead.

One could debate the Academy’s methodology for qualifications but what cannot be denied is that the screenplay for “Moonlight” is more than worthy of winning the prize, regardless of category. The script follows three key stages in the evolution of a young black man in Miami, as he struggles to escape the cycle of poverty and drugs that have already claimed his mother. Simultaneously, he establishes his own personal and sexual identity with the influence of a local drug dealer and his girlfriend—who serve as surrogate parents—and a childhood fiend, the latter for whom he develops increasingly complex feelings. 

Jenkins and McCraney bring new life and perspective to what could have been a standard coming-of-age narrative. They use vivid characteriziation and a narrative style that helps universalize the stories and struggles of those too often marginalized in contemporary filmmaking, all without resorting to mawkish sentimentality. The end result is a screenplay—and a film—that is powerful, direct, human and, despite what the category might suggest, blazingly original. 




#296 February 21, 2017

2017-02-21T00:01:43-06:00

Matt writes: With this year's Oscar telecast just around the corner, RogerEbert.com has compiled a round-up of award prognostications into one of its latest Thumbnails installments. Join in the debate with writers such as Indiewire's Anne Thompson, Gold Derby's Paul Sheehan, Variety's Tim Gray and our own Collin Souter as they offer their best guesses on who will take home the evening's top prizes. The article comes complete with a link to a printable ballot courtesy of the official Oscar site. In addition to this, our critic Susan Wloszczyna recently published an essay entitled, "Oscar's History of Pickiness." Here is an excerpt: "The true measure of Oscar’s power to make a difference might be better measured by the kinds of movies that Hollywood deigns to put out each year. Voters can only choose from the pool they are given. The fact is that ‘Hidden Figures’—whose current domestic box office of $130-plus million and counting makes it the top moneymaker among the nine nominees—yet again belies the supposed truism that films with female leads don’t draw big crowds while giving a trio of top-notch actresses incredibly rich roles as smart, successful role models. It’s proof that enriching entertainment can also be box-office bonanzas."Trailers Split (2017) Written and directed by Deborah Kampmeier. Starring Amy Ferguson, Morgan Spector, Anna Mouglalis. Synopsis: A young woman embarks on a journey to claim her own darkness and sexuality so she can stop putting it into the hands of her abusive lover. Opens in US theaters on March 18th, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qAUjgF4Nlgo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Graduation (2017). Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu. Starring Adrian Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Rares Andrici. Synopsis: A film about compromises and the implications of the parent's role. Opens in US theaters on April 7th, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hEvwtb_GsBc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Carrie Pilby (2017). Directed by Susan Johnson. Written by Kara Holden (based on the novel by Caren Lissner). Starring Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne. Synopsis: A person of high intelligence struggles to make sense of the world as it relates to morality, relationships, sex and leaving her apartment. Opens in US theaters on April 4th, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/L1GmET4U16A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Dean (2017). Written and directed by Demetri Martin. Starring Demetri Martin, Gillian Jacobs, Kevin Kline. Synopsis: Dean is an NY illustrator who falls hard for an LA woman while trying to prevent his father from selling the family home in the wake of his mother's death. Opens in US theaters on June 2nd, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1a-TDnXEV7M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> The Void (2017). Written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. Starring Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh. Synopsis: In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. Opens in US theaters on April 7th, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DTYhFeX7pM4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Everything, Everything (2017). Directed by Stella Meghie. Written by J. Mills Goodloe (based on the novel by Nicola Yoon). Starring Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose. Synopsis: A teenager who's lived a sheltered life because she's allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. Opens in US theaters on May 19th, 2017. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0LyEE7eR0nM" frameborder="0"[...]



RogerEbert.com's Coverage of 2017 Oscar-Nominated Films: Table of Contents

2017-02-21T17:57:33-06:00

The 2016 movie year officially ends after the "Best Picture" Oscar is given out Sunday night, concluding our various film journeys that ran season-long ("La La Land," "Hidden Figures") or even year-long ("Manchester by the Sea"). The conversation about these movies, among many others, made 2016 an unforgettable year for film, and we're pleased to have participated through our festival reviews, interviews, essays and theatrical reviews, all with the help of our expansive, eclectic RogerEbert.com crew.  Below is a one-stop shop of our year-long coverage of the major Oscar-nominated films, including titles picked from the categories that we celebrate in our "If We Picked the Winners" feature (Best Foreign Language Feature, Best Documentary Feature, all acting and writing designations, directing and Best Picture). The films are listed in alphabetical order, along with their respective nominations. “Arrival” [Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design] The Nature of Our Existence: On Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” by Pablo VillaçaAlien and Time: The Philosophy of “Arrival” by David RoarkBright Wall/Dark Room Essay about “Arrival”: “Sticks & Stones” by Andrew Root Three-star review of “Arrival” by Brian Tallerico “Captain Fantastic” [Best Actor] Review from world premiere at Sundance Film Festival by Brian TallericoVideo from Cannes Film Festival: “Captain Fantastic,” “Toni Erdmann” and More by Chaz EbertInterview with writer/director Matt Ross by Matt Fagerholm One-and-a-half-star review of “Captain Fantastic” by Sheila O’Malley “Elle” [Best Actress] Review from world premiere at Cannes Film Festival by Barbara Scharres Review from Toronto International Film Festival by Matt Fagerholm  Interview with Oscar-nominee, actress Isabelle Huppert by Matt Fagerholm  Four-star review of “Elle” by Sheila O’Malley"Fences" [Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay]Interview with Stephen McKinley Henderson and Jovan Adepo by Matt Fagerholm  Video Interview with Oscar nominees actor/director Denzel Washington and actress Viola Davis by Katherine Tulich  Four-star review of “Fences” by Odie Henderson “Fire at Sea” [Best Documentary]  Review from world premiere at Berlin Film Festival by Michael Pattison Three-star review of “Fire at Sea” by Glenn Kenny“Florence Foster Jenkins” [Best Actress, Best Costume Design] Interview with Simon Helberg by Matt Fagerholm  Three-and-a-half-star review of “Florence Foster Jenkins” by Susan Wloszczyna"Hacksaw Ridge" [Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing] Review from world premiere at Venice Film Festival by Glenn Kenny Interview with Vince Vaughn by Peter Sobczynski  Two-and-a-half-star review of “Hacksaw Ridge” by Matt Zoller Seitz"Hell or High Water" [Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing]Video review from world premiere at Cannes Film Festival by Chaz Ebert  Outsider Visions of Americana: “Hell or High Water” and “American Honey” by Michael Snydel  Two-and-a-half-star review of “Hell or High Water” by Peter Sobczynski “Hidden Figures” [Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay] Video interview with Kevin Costner and Oscar nominee, actress Octavia Spencer by Katherine Tulich  Three-and-a-half-star review of “Hidden Figures” by Odie Henderson"I Am Not Your Negro" [Best Documentary]Interview with director Raoul Peck by Matt FagerholmIf We Picked the Winners: "I Am Not Your Negro" for Best Documentary by Omer M. MozaffarThree-and-a-half-star review by Matt Zoller Seitz"Jackie" [Best Actress, Best Costume Desi[...]



The art of entertainment: Richard Schickel, 1933-2017

2017-02-20T15:38:41-06:00

Richard Schickel, who died yesterday at 84, reviewed movies and made movies. He was an influence on a lot of people who wanted to do both things, hopefully as skillfully as Schickel did them. The 84-year old Milwaukee native directed 21 documentaries about movie actors and directors, including feature-length examinations of the life and work of Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Myrna Loy, Clint Eastwood, Elia Kazan and Charlie Chaplin. He also wrote and/or directed all-encompassing films about eras and movements, including 1993’s “Hollywood on Hollywood,” about how the film industry portrayed itself, and “Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen.” Schickel also wrote about movies for Time magazine for 45 years, making him the magazine’s longest consecutively serving critic. He and his fellow Time film critic Richard Corliss, who died in 2015, were towering figures to a lot of young cinephiles who came up in the middle part of the 20th century. They weren't groundbreaking theorists or crusaders of any sort; they wrote for a mass market publication, often under a tight word count. But they did their jobs with insight and flair, trying to connect movies to historical and cultural forces and arguing for and against certain trends in the industry. Whether I agreed or disagreed with their verdicts, they  made me appreciate the skill involved in sketching a concise but thorough portrait of a movie-going experience. And they were especially good at drawing the reader’s attention to films that weren’t big deals yet but were about to be. The most obvious example is the original 1977 “Star Wars,” which Time put on its cover and declared the year’s best movie. I wouldn’t agree with that hyperbole, and even back then a lot of people had a problem with it—22 years later, Time magazine’s art critic, Robert Hughes, would write a New York Daily News piece about "The Phantom Menace" declaring “Star Wars” a destroyer of both intelligent popular art and skeptical arts journalism. I mention that first Time cover here because it shows how Schickel, who championed the movie behind the scenes at Time, was always thinking about how certain movies fit into the culture and what effect they might have on it, even as he appreciated them at the level of craft. Time put the next two "Star Wars" films on their cover as well, and Schickel wrote two documentaries about the original trilogy, 1977’s “The Making of Star Wars” and 1983’s “From Star Wars to Jedi,” that were mostly about the productions themselves, with lots of details about then-new special effects processes. I watched both of these documentaries on TV as a kid and was blown away by how simply and clearly they explained the technical magic behind the images. Schickel had a knack for that kind of thing and applied it to a lot of different projects. He was at his best, I think, examining the individual moving pieces of a movie, or an artist’s mind, or a particular school of filmmaking or period in movie culture, and showing how all the gears clicked together. His documentary about World War II combat cameramen is an affecting depiction of the World War II era and the generational experience of people who were in their twenties and thirties back then, but it also talks about the cameras themselves and the challenge of capturing a memorable image when people are trying to kill you. His documentary about Elia Kazan is not just a fine primer on that controversial stage and film director’s life, but on the McCarthy period as a whole, and an examination of how difficult it is to reconcile art that moves us with artists who disappoint or disgust us. I didn’t know Richard that well personally, although we were members of a couple of the same professional groups, The New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. But I did get a chance to tell him how im[...]



Get Out

2017-02-21T09:00:58-06:00

This review was originally published on January 24, 2017, as a part of our Sundance Film Festival coverage.With the ambitious and challenging “Get Out,” which premiered in a secret screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Jordan Peele reveals that we may someday consider directing the greatest talent of this fascinating actor and writer. We knew from his days on “Key & Peele” and in feature comedies that he was a multiple threat, but his directorial debut is a complex, accomplished genre hybrid that should alter his business card. “Get Out” feels fresh and sharp in a way that studio horror movies almost never do. It is both unsettling and hysterical, often in the same moment, and it is totally unafraid to call people on their racist bullshit. When he introduced the film in Park City, he revealed that it started with an attempt to write a movie he hadn’t seen before. We need more directors willing to take risks with films like "Get Out." To be fair, Peele is clearly riffing on some films he has seen before, including “The Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” although with a charged, racial twist. His film is essentially about that unsettling feeling when you know you don’t belong somewhere; when you know you’re unwanted or perhaps even wanted too much. Peele infuses the age-old genre foundation of knowing something is wrong behind the closed doors around you with a racial, satirical edge. What if going home to meet your girlfriend’s white parents wasn’t just uncomfortable but downright life-threatening? “Get Out” opens with a fantastic tone-setter. A young man (the great Keith Stanfield, in two other movies at this year’s Sundance and fantastic on FX’s “Atlanta”) is walking down a suburban street, joking with someone on the phone about how he always gets lost because all the streets sound the same. A car passes him, turns around, and slowly starts following him. It’s an otherwise empty street, so the guy knows something is wrong. Suddenly, and perfectly staged in terms of Peele’s direction, the intensity of the situation is amplified and we are thrust into a world in which the safe-looking suburbs are anything but. Cut to our protagonists, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams of “Girls”), preparing to go home to meet her parents. Rose hasn’t told them he’s black, which she blows off as no big deal, but he’s wary. His TSA Agent buddy (a hysterical LilRel Howery) warns him against going too, but Chris is falling in love with Rose. He’ll have to meet them eventually. And Rose swears her dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have. From the minute that Chris and Rose arrive at her parents’ house, something is unsettling. Sure, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) seem friendly enough, but almost too much so, like they’re looking to impress Chris. More unnerving is the demeanor of a groundskeeper named Walter (Marcus Henderson) and a housekeeper named Georgina (Betty Gabriel), who almost appear to be like the pod people from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” There’s just something wrong. But, as we so often do in social or racial situations, Chris keeps trying to excuse their behavior—maybe Walter is jealous and maybe Georgina has an issue with Chris being with a white woman. The lurking presence of Rose’s odd brother (Caleb Landry Jones), who often looks like he’s auditioning for a remake of “A Clockwork Orange,” doesn’t help. Chris goes out to have a smoke one night, and, well, things start to get even stranger in ways I won’t spoil—in fact, the preview gives away way too much. Avoid it if you can. “Get Out” is a slow-burn of a film for its first half as Peele piles up the clues that something is wrong. Or could Chris just be overreacting to everyday racial tension? Peele’s greatest gift he[...]



A Special Trip to Disney Vaults Shares the Magic of “Pinocchio”

2017-02-20T11:03:37-06:00

For most of us in the United States, our knowledge of "Pinocchio" comes from an 88-minute 1940 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Productions. When Disney announced that the animated gem is coming out of the vault, the company is talking about an actual vault in a secret location. Last month, a few lucky journalists went into that vault to learn more about the creative process behind the wooden puppet who wanted to become a boy. "Pinocchio" was the second animated feature, following up the 1937 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." While Snow White was based on a Brothers Grim German fairy tale, "Pinocchio" was based on an 1882 children's book, "The Adventures of Pinocchio," by Italian Carlo Collodi (1826-1890). This Walt Disney Signature Collection release on Blu-ray includes a new rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star," rare artwork from the Pleasure Island sequence, archival recordings of Walt Disney during the film's production and a restored 1927 animated short of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. There are 11 actual vaults at the secret Animation Research Library (ARL). While other animation production studios threw away drawings, conceptual design artwork, backgrounds, cels, story boards, model sheets and maquettes, the Walt Disney Animated Studios did not. Fox Carney, manager of research at the ARL, said that "For a long time, it was known as Disney's Secret weapon." The archives were used for informational, educational and inspirational purposes where "generations of artists can learn from it." For those unfamiliar, Carney explained, "Concept art helps define our environment" and by doing so, "helps define our story." Story art is "what exactly is going to happen." The problem is always "how do we make this story engaging?" In the original tale, Pinocchio "was a bit of a brat" and while the animators "started down that road" and even did animation on some scenes, Fox explained, "It just wasn't working; the character wasn't appealing." Looking at the preliminary sketches, one sees a thinner, gawkier character. Fox related that one animator drew a warmer, rounder and more appealing character that looked more like a boy and the Disney version of Pinocchio was born. Instead of a brat, Pinocchio became "an earnest, innocent who goes through a learning process." One of the Blu-ray features is a deleted song, "Three Cheers for Anything" which was meant to be used on the journey to Pleasure Island. The boys were thinking of "all the rotten things they're going to do, like swiping a pie or telling a lie." Yet that sequence seemed to drag and for better pacing it was cut. Sketches show that at one time, the animators considered calling Pleasure Island Boogey Land instead and focused on eating candy. That changed and even with all the items they have about "Pinocchio" they don't have everything. Fox notes that while "Pinocchio" was being developed Disney Animation moved from the Hyperion Studios to Burbank and a lot of related artwork was tossed.The ARL spends about a year, cataloguing every single story and concept art, dealing differently with various artistic mediums. Softer mediums, like pastels, require a pastel tray. Other pieces, such as the maquettes are stored in one specific vault. Other vaults are in chronological order. One department digitally photographs the pieces so that Disney artists can have access to the pieces more easily. Each request, however, even in company, is carefully vetted out. Fox stated that the ARL must "think toward anniversaries" because something might become part of a Blu-ray, but they also "think toward types of art that need intervention." What things need to be saved now that better ways of storage and preservation are becoming available. The ARL is evidence of just "how forward thinking he was. He started in animation" and perhaps that's what made him value the art so much. Yet Fox also comm[...]



Thumbnails 2/20/17

2017-02-20T09:58:25-06:00

1."Michael Gibson on Musicality": The celebrated teacher at Chicago's Curie Metropolitan High School chats with me at Indie Outlook about his after school singing group, which became semifinalists on NBC's "America's Got Talent" last year. “It was important to me that I never said the name of the school on the show. People are already mad that I mentioned the neighborhood being ‘rough,’ because it is not the worst neighborhood in the city. But it is not the best neighborhood either. When you have an alumnus who dies from gang violence two blocks from our school, that’s a problem to me. A lot of our Musicality kids knew him personally. This year alone, we have lost two of our kids to gun violence. And yet, I’ve had to defend myself so many times. One woman came up to me and said, ‘The boundaries of Archer Heights, where the school is, are statistically not that high in terms of violence,’ and I’m like, ‘When I went on the show and said it’s a rough neighborhood, I’m not talking about these small boundaries. I’m talking about the South Side of Chicago, which anyone can say is a problem.’ Teachers at the school have told me, ‘You exaggerated so much,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re driving here from the suburbs!’ I even had to explain myself to State Rep. Burke, who represents the area where we’re from. He took us out to dinner and asked, ‘So was that mostly production that was pushing you to say that?’ and I’m like, ‘They actually did want me to push that part of the story, but I also did not want to exaggerate it to the point where it was fake.’ It is a rough area. The first student who was killed this year was a passenger in a car going to a birthday party. A random victim of gunfire. This is something that the kids are afraid of. I even had alumni tell me that I was making the school look bad, and the fact is, the school has changed so much. When I first started, those students were a different group than who I have now. I’ve had to change my teaching a lot because it’s getting rougher and rougher. One of my students, Ephram, told me a story of how his mom had to pull him off the porch because there was gunfire. Another student, Roxie, lives a five-minute walk away from school, and there’s a bullet hole in her front window. Do people not care about this stuff? They just don’t listen, they don’t want to hear it.”2."Why 'Six' is Giving Award Season Movies a Run for Their Money": The new History Channel series is praised by The Talkhouse's Jim Hemphill.“This approach makes ‘Six’ a perfect fit for Kimberly Peirce, the director of its best (of the four I’ve seen thus far) episode, the aforementioned ‘Tour of Duty.’ Peirce’s three features to date – ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ (1999), ‘Stop-Loss’ (2008), and ‘Carrie’ (2013) – are all exquisitely calibrated portraits of extreme emotional crisis, movies about characters losing control in which Peirce’s own formal control remains supreme. Sophisticated and at times extreme shifts in perspective are her specialty; the criminally underrated ‘Carrie’ is almost painfully empathetic not only to its title character but to many of her tormentors, as Peirce utilizes subtle camera placement and delicate direction of her actors to deepen, not cheapen, De Palma’s original take on the same material. In the case of ‘Tour of Duty,’ she pulls off something extraordinary, applying a Kurosawa-esque mastery of space to her action sequences in a way that conveys the messy confusion of violence without losing visual clarity – the audience is always completely acclimated within the frame, yet still gets a sense of the visceral chaos as it’s experienced by the characters. This kind of thing is tougher than it looks – in fact, the harder a director works on it the easier it [...]



If We Picked the Winners 2017

2017-02-21T17:57:33-06:00

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In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see who they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. We're posting those essays this week, two a day, leading up to the big reveal of our picks for our best director and best picture on Friday. Check back all week. Here you'll find links to all our picks.

Best Documentary: "I Am Not Your Negro— Essay by Omer Mozaffar

Best Foreign Language Film: "Toni Erdmann" — Essay by Matt Fagerholm 

Best Adapted Screenplay: "MoonlightEssay by Peter Sobczynski

Best Original Screenplay: "Manchester by the SeaEssay by Scout Tafoya

Best Supporting Actor: 

Best Supporting Actress: 

Best Actor: 

Best Actress: 

Best Director: 

Best Picture: