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While they are plentiful in the world of literature, original works in the “whodunnit” subgenre are rare in film. With his newest film “Knives Out” though, filmmaker Rian Johnson has put the murder mystery genre up on the silver screen in extravagant fashion, crafting a delightful puzzle of a tale that both echoes and subverts the greats like Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Acclaimed director James Gray has taken his big shot at the storied space genre with “Ad Astra,” an expansive, impeccably produced movie that sadly does not achieve the equilibrium between internal character study and sci-fi epic that it attempts to reach.
In the glut of horror films that come it each year, it can be difficult to find works that either have noticeable technical effort and prowess behind them or do not rely on jump scares to provide tension. Thankfully, the new horror release “Ready or Not” satisfies both qualifications, as well as excelling in another genre as makes the movie all the more entertaining: comedy.
Known as the biggest night in showbiz, the Oscars are an important way for the film industry to celebrate the best work it has to offer. This year’s ceremony will be especially interesting to watch, as the Academy is undergoing an identity crisis regarding its balance between rewarding commercial and artistically successful cinema. Whom they decide to hand out trophies to will likely highlight the ideological direction of the ceremony going forward. Taking into account the quality and perceived notions surrounding the films, I have listed here my personal predictions (bolded) for who will win this year.
As the new year starts, so does the next cycle of movies Hollywood will inundate us with. Here are some of the films to get excited about in 2019.
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Given Hollywood’s gluttony of remakes and reboots, it is tempting to be turned off by the newest “A Star is Born”: the fourth interpretation of the tale first seen in the 1937 classic. Despite that, debut director Bradley Cooper breathes new life into the story with a modern, uncompromising perspective on celebrity that generates one of the most emotionally-affecting cinema experiences of the year.
Since his debut in 1996, Wes Anderson has arguably proven himself as today’s most creatively distinctive filmmaker. From his symmetrical shots to his dollhouse-esque set design, audiences know a Wes Anderson film when they see one. Although he mainly works in live-action, Anderson released his stellar stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in 2009. Now, Anderson returns to animation with “Isle of Dogs,” another wonderful showcase of his seemingly limitless imagination.
One of the most discussed and anticipated movies to come out in some time, “Black Panther” is a milestone for black representation in Hollywood, as it is the first superhero blockbuster to have a mostly-black cast. With that important cultural weight on his back, director and writer Ryan Coogler had a lot to live up to in making this film. He succeeds, crafting a beautiful work that simultaneously serves as a fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a powerful statement on the contemporary political climate.
During Super Bowl LII, Netflix dropped the first trailer for “The Cloverfield Paradox,” the third installment in the fascinating, ever-shifting Cloverfield franchise that began in 2008. In a ground-breaking move, the company released the film only a couple hours later. However, while the movie’s release is revolutionary, the feature itself is anything but; it’s a derivative, dull affair without a coherent story or engaging characters.
Arguably the greatest actor of his generation, Daniel Day-Lewis claimed this past year to be retiring from the profession. If this holds true, Day-Lewis certainly leaves on a high note in director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” a twisted period romance that once again proves the mastery of all those involved.
Last summer, Netflix released the 80s-inspired TV show “Stranger Things,” created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, to little anticipation. However, word of mouth quickly made the series one of Netflix’s most popular. The show’s hyped second season, which dropped on Oct. 27, mostly recaptures the quality of its predecessor, though narrative missteps make it slightly inferior.