Culture Crash 18-39: 2018 Fall Films

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Now that summer is behind us, it’s time for fall movies to take over.

Of course, there are some big ones coming, most notably Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gindewald, the next installment in JK Rowling’s wizarding world. But there is a lot of excitement for some non-franchise films as well.

Typically, the day Oscar nominations are announced is a day when the majority of the public shrugs their shoulders and says ‘I’ve never heard of these movies.’ But each year presents a new opportunity to get out ahead of those confused hours, and if you want to have a good sense of the awards season to come, these are the titles to keep your eyes peeled for.

This week will see the release of the eagerly anticipated Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga remake of A Star Is Born. The movie has been earning rave reviews from film festivals and its release is coupled with a steady Oscar buzz.

A movie I’m particularly excited for is Widows, a thriller directed by Steve McQueen, co-written with Gone Girl and Sharp Objects author Gillian Flynn. The movie has one of the most exciting casts in years, headed by Viola Davis. Widows tells the story of an armed robbery gone bad–one where all four robbers are killed in the attempt… and their widows attempts to finish the job in their stead.

Other movies set to dominate conversation over the next few months include If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’s next film, an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel; First Man, Damien Chazelle’s retelling of Neil Armstrong’s mission to the moon; Can You Ever Forgive Me? Marielle Heller’s biographical film about Lee Israel, a writer who resorted to forgery, starring Melissa McCarthy, and Roma, Alfonso Cuaron’s passion project set in 1970s Mexico City.

This is the time of year cinephiles look forward to: the time when big swings come from exciting directors and we get to bask in all of its glory.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Culture Crash 18-09: Oscar Sunday

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Tonight’s the night. Hollywood’s biggest night – the “Academy Awards.” The nominations were announced a while ago, so we’re here to help jog your memory on some of the big contenders, as well as where you can watch them for some last-minute cramming:

Dunkirk is an intense re-telling of Operation Dynamo, the successful evacuation of over 300,000 British soldiers trapped on a French Beach by Nazis during World War II. The film was one of the biggest box office hits of the year and is nominated for the eight awards tonight, including Christopher Nolan for Best Director, Best Picture, and a number of technical categories. Dunkirk is available to purchase and rent in all formats including DVD.

Lady Bird is a coming-of-age drama of a young woman in Sacramento circa 2002. The movie tells the fraught and relatable story of a mother and a daughter struggling to get along over the course of a year. The film is writer Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut for which she became the fifth ever woman nominated. Saorise Ronan and Lauri Metcalf are nominated in each of the Actress categories and the film is nominated for a few other awards, including Best Picture. Lady Bird is available to rent or buy on Digital platforms.

Get Out was one of the most talked-about movies of the year and tells the story of Chris, an African-American man visiting his girlfriend’s white family. The premise sounds familiar until the movie takes a turn into thriller/horror territory. Director Jordan Peele became the first black director to be nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture on any one film. It is also his first film. The movie is available to purchase or rent in all formats, and is streaming on HBO Go.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri follows the story of a grieving mother challenging the local police who have been unable to solve her daughter’s murder. The movie takes a controversial look at race and privilege in America, mostly through actor Sam Rockwell’s role, for which he is the favorite for Best Actor. The movie is also nominated for Best Picture and six other awards. The film is available to rent or buy on all platforms.

Finally, The Shape of Water is about a mute woman who falls in love with a strange  aquatic being that is held prisoner by the US government during the Cold War. Director Guillermo del Toro is the favorite to win Best Director and the film is a strong contender for Best Picture and a number of other awards, including Best Score, on the show tonight. The Shape of Water is available on digital streaming platforms.

Tonight, it’s almost certain those 5 movies will win the biggest awards of the night, so a last-minute cram may help you understand what all the fuss is about when they’re accepting their statues.

I’m Evan Rook.