Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Red Sparrow’s Promise Goes Unfulfilled

I had high hopes for Red Sparrow when I saw the trailer. It looked stylish and sharp, and I’m a sucker for a good thriller. At the same time, I had some reservations. A spy using their sexuality as a weapon to seduce targets is a tired trope that never clicked with me in the first place. Nonetheless, I went in with some strong expectations.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

GUEST ROOM | Which 2017 Movie Would Win A Hypothetical Oscar For Best Scene?

When you consider what the Oscars are about — ranking our favorite movies of the year — they should really be a lot more fun. So let’s drop some boring categories (I’m sure everyone would be absolutely devastated if we got rid of Best Song and Best Makeup and Hairstyling) and add some fun ones, like Best Practical Effects, Best Ensemble Cast and Is Your Picture A Wildly Entertaining Horror/Thriller/Comedy That Doubles As A Nuanced, Thought-Provoking Metaphor For The Hardships Faced By Minorities In America? Another such fun award would be Best Scene. It’s the perfect way to both reflect on the standout sequences from some of the Best Picture front-runners as well as reward moments of brilliance in flawed films that would otherwise go unacknowledged at the Oscars. For reference, here are the scenes I would have picked each year for the past decade:

2016 – Moonlight – “What’s a Faggot?”
2015 – Furious 7 – Double Skyscraper Jump
2014 – Whiplash – Final Concert
2013 – Gravity – Opening Debris Sequence
2012 – Django Unchained – Dinner Monologue
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise Scales the Burj Khalifa
2010 – Inception – Rotating Hallway Fight
2009 – Up – Married Life Montage
2008 – The Dark Knight – Literally Any Scene
2007 – No Country For Old Men – Coin Toss

We’re looking for instantly memorable scenes that are essential to their film’s success and have the chance to become iconic years down the road.


The Sun’s Oscar Predictions

Here are the Sun’s predictions for the 2018 Academy Awards. Best Picture:

Should Win — Get Out

Unless we want another Crash over Brokeback Mountain situation, Get Out should win Best Picture this year. It captures the zeitgeist of 2017 in a way that something like The Shape of Water simply doesn’t. Jordan Peele, in his directorial debut, accomplished the rare feat of creating a movie that is entertaining as hell and a layered onion to peel far after you leave the theater. At nearly every juncture, Peele’s script goes somewhere smart and unexpected, with plenty of clever foreshadowings along the way.


GUEST ROOM | Lady Bird: A Story of Love and Attention

The number of movies, TV shows and books that attempt to show the transition from high school to college is too large to count. It is always the same story, with most depictions relying on one-dimensional or thematically exhausted protagonists. Then Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, came out of nowhere and reminded me of the power of authentic characters. Gerwig’s characters stepped outside of stereotypes, not fitting into villain or hero because in actuality, people don’t fit into those roles so easily. It felt different as soon as the movie opened with a Joan Didion quote about California.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Annihilation is a New Sci-Fi Classic

Last September, a trailer popped up on YouTube that immediately captured my attention. Right from the get-go, Annihilation had me hooked with its enigmatic teaser. It seemed to ooze all kinds of clever science-fiction goodness. The film is directed and written by Alex Garland, the mind behind Ex Machina, and the story comes from an acclaimed series of  novels by Jeff VanderMeer. As time went on, I began counting down the days to Annihilation’s release.

Dug and Hognob in Early Man

GOULDTHORPE | Eating My Words: Early Man vs. Peter Rabbit

A couple weeks ago, I delivered an early rebuke of Peter Rabbit and talked about the prevalence of Shrek-style humor in modern family movies. I had dreaded Peter Rabbit, and looked forward to Feb 16 — the release of Early Man. Early Man is the work of Aardman Animations, the studio famous for Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. Directed by Nick Park, the film centers around Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his Stone Age tribe of rabbit hunters. They live in a peaceful valley, until one day the evil Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) takes over the area to strip for metals.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Black Panther Roundtable

What was the best moment in Black Panther? Jonvi Rollins: Black Panther taking Killmonger to watch the Wakandan sunset. The moment perfectly exemplifies the “good heart” of the title character while farther humanizing his adversary. The paths of the men finally converge as Panther takes steps to understand, through Killmonger, his duty to others outside of his nation. Andrea Yang: T’Challa’s second visit to the spirits of the past Black Panthers, in which he speaks to his father again and makes a decision about what kind of king he wants to be.


Game Night Leaves Audiences in Confusion

Have you ever seen one of those movies that is so stupid that it’s actually good? I would say that that is probably the most accurate way to describe Game Night.  It was really a whirlwind.  I laughed, I was scared and I was definitely confused.  I’m pretty sure I even said, “wait, what?” out loud a couple of times.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Black Panther: Good King, Maad Nation

“You are a good man with a good heart. But it is hard for a good man to be king.”

These are the deceased T’Chaka’s final words to his son T’Challa before the latter is crowned king of Wakanda, an African nation that poses as a third world country, when in reality it is one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, thanks to the natural resource of vibranium. Throughout the Black Panther, T’Challa has a hard time accepting the contradiction of this statement: there is a disconnect between the man he is and the king he must be. As a whole, the film questions (and answers) its own permutation of T’Chaka’s proclamation: can a good superhero film have heart and explore themes of race, power and privilege, or will its genre conventions — namely CGI spectacle and quippy one-liners — reduce it to simply being blockbuster entertainment? Black Panther shows that the two can be harmonious; Ryan Coogler’s film is at once a celebration of blackness, a sobering analysis of the responsibilities and obligations that people of privilege and power have and a dazzling superhero film in its own right.