Tomb Raider Radiates Authenticity and Female Empowerment

I had low expectations for Tomb Raider given past video game adaptations, including 2016’s Assassin’s Creed which I barely got through. I had played the origin story video game Tomb Raider and loved it for the more realistic approach to Lara Croft as opposed to the previous midriff baring Angelina Jolie incarnation. This film stars Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, a surprising choice that works. Focused on Croft’s story, Vikander imbued each scene with believability and emotional depth while still showing she really could leap off cliffs and fight with the best of them. From the start of the film, Croft is portrayed believably: she is a strong member of a boxing club, a characterization that makes some of the later fight scenes more believable.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

A Gay Man’s Take on Love, Simon

For a while, Love, Simon flew under my radar. Once I first saw trailers for it though, I became intrigued — but also cautious. I didn’t know how a teenage romance movie would handle a gay protagonist. The film, directed by Greg Berlanti and written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Bergerm, could easily go so wrong. Luckily, my fears have been dispelled.

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A Wrinkle in Time Leaves Audiences With Frown Lines

When my third grade teacher read A Wrinkle in Time to the class, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. In my local theater, the cinematic rendition of Madeleine L’Engle’s book failed to evoke the same emotional response: there was not a single tear shed, but rather the occasional yawn. The first act follows the typical coming of age narrative that we’ve all seen hundreds of times, even featuring the classic bully scene where the mean girls gang up to taunt the protagonist in the school hallway. The head mean girl, Rowan Blanchard from Girl Meets World, just so happens to live next door to the protagonist and spends the majority of her screen time scowling from her bedroom window. The story was written before the various tropes such as this one even existed, but when adapted to the screen, seems like a poorly executed rip-off of other movie franchises like Divergent and The Hunger Games.

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Hit the Road and Celebrate Humanity with Agnès Varda and JR

Just to be upfront, I’m upset by a bunch of Oscar results this year. But seriously, how could they give Best Documentary to Icarus when something as beautiful and humane as Faces Places was in the race? I learned about Agnès Varda in a film class and have since been a fangirl of hers. As the leading female director of the French New Wave, she has approached both fiction and documentary with her experimental yet always personal cinematic vision. This time, at 89, she set out on a journey with JR, a 33-year-old photographer and mural artist.

GOULDTHORPE | My Thoughts on Coco’s wins at the Oscars

What an absolute shock that Pixar won Best Animated Feature. Okay, so sarcasm doesn’t translate well into text. It was practically certain that Pixar’s Coco would end up with the coveted Oscar. Of course, when half of its competition is Ferdinand and The Boss Baby, it had a relatively easy path forward. Now there has been plenty of discourse about how the animation nominations are selected, and plenty of discourse over whether it’s proper for Disney to win the award so often.

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.

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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.

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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.