In my post Planes, Trains and Automobiles from last March, I highlighted:
Diva is a 1981 French thriller film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. It is one of the early French films to let go of the realist mood of 1970s French cinema and return to a colorful, melodic style, later described as cinéma du look.
I was reminded of it recently as I read this NYTimes obituary this past week:
Jean-Jacques Beineix, ‘Cinema du Look’ Director, Dies at 75
His first feature, “Diva,” a visually unusual tale, is credited with starting a new, style-focused genre of filmmaking in France.
Talking about films that have a slick, gorgeous visual style, I just saw this on Sunday:
Death on the Nile is a 2022 mystery film directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.
I admit that I usually do not agree with the “professional critics” about a film (versus “audience score”) but in this case, I must admit that, after watching the movie (on Valentine weekend), we (now 27 years together 😳) needed a “pick-me-up.”
Not quite charming as The Queen’s Gambit or as gripping as The Night Manager, but more satisfying than The Chair, my favorite streaming series right now – that combines very good cinematography with thoughtful interiority using voice-over narration – is (a prequel to Yellowstone):
It is much better than Witnesses (France), Gone for Good (Italy), Safe (UK), Perfume (Germany) and (pretty fun) Anxious People (Sweden).
For those who are not aware of Taylor Sheridan who created 1883:
2015. Sicario (Spanish and Italian for “hitman”) is an action thriller film (starring Benicio del Toro) directed by Denis Villeneuve, written by Taylor Sheridan. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing at the 88th Academy Awards. It grossed nearly $85 million on a budget of $30 million.
2016. Hell or High Water is a neo-Western crime film directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan, was nominated for (at the 89th Academy Awards): Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. It grossed nearly $38 million on a budget of $12 million.
2017. Wind River is a neo-Western murder mystery film written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The film stars Jeremy Renner, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $45 million against an $11 million budget.
All three of the above movies are well worth watching. And, if you can really handle some serious darkness (and violence), here is another series streaming right now:
2021. Mayor of Kingstown is an American crime thriller streaming television series (starring Jeremy Renner) created by Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon.
You can see my highlights above on what I would like to win at the Oscars.
Recommended: Nightmare Alley. Avoidable: The Lost Daughter.
Mainstream pick is The Power of the Dog. Several others are most likely (like Dune, Belfast, Encato). I really want Summer of Soul to win for Best Documentary (check out Tayur’s Eleven). My “risky” picks:
Best Actress. Kristen Stewart. Costume Design. Nightmare Alley. Makeup and Hair Styling. House of Gucci. Visual Effects. No Time to Die.
The most competitive award is probably for Original Song:
Billie Eilish v Lin-Manuel Miranda v Beyonce v Van Morrison v Diane Warren (sung by Reba McEntire).
Here is my favorite line from last year at the movies (Lady Gaga, in House of Gucci):
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly ethical person, but I am fair.
I wonder what John Rawls would have thought of that!
And, sadly, Ivan Reitman also passed away a couple days ago:
Stripes. Ghostbusters. Twins. No Strings Attached.