Oscars II

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Oscars II

Last week I commented on five of the Oscar nominated movies. Now to the remaining four in a season that took flight only toward the end of the year. All nine will be widely available in local theaters until the Academy Awards are broadcast on March 4th.

Darkest Hour is a fine portrait of the rise of Winston Churchill in 1940 when England faced imminent attack on their own country after the fall of Europe. As England stood alone against Germany, Churchill rose to the demands of leader of a nation the world thought was about to fall. Gary Oldman is superb as Churchill. Because makeup artists managed to create such a credible likeness, he becomes Churchill and we sink quickly into the thoroughly grim story. This is an absorbing way to sink into the reality of the impending loss faced by Britain and Europe. Gary Oldman is certainly a front runner for Best Actor this year.

Get Out is Jordan Poole’s slashing of the shallow understanding white people have of black culture. It is his command that white liberals face the truth that their level of acceptance is shallow, phony, and late. He knew we wouldn’t hear his message unless it was tough. He creates a family of white simpletons who show us that they are no more shallow than those of us who think we understand. It’s a command that we look inward about a historical disgrace. This is a long overdue, important attack on those of us who didn’t understand how much we don’t know.

Dunkirk pays tribute to the men who died and to those who rallied to save the allied forces trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. Christopher Nolan has captured the reality of the impending disaster. The water ahead and the sky above were full of Nazi soldiers, sailors, and pilots bent on slaughter. And then came the small boats. See Dunkirk and Darkest Hour for a renewed appreciation of the detail and depth of World War II. You will never forget the sounds of inevitability.

Phantom Thread is a perfect example of Daniel Day Lewis’s devotion to perfection. You may well love this movie that is made in such exacting, telling detail or you may be angry at a character so thoroughly absorbed in himself. As a designer of dresses that he invents not for sale as much as to create what’s going on in his head, he is absorbed every second in minute detail – each button, each thread. And when he eats out with his new lover or sister, the slight noise of a clinking ice cube sends him into a tantrum. Fastidious? Weird? Whatever this actor chooses to do, he does it perfectly.

All are creative in thought and beautifully acted. Five equally deserving actresses and at least five movies. Here’s the challenge: If you love movies, see as many of these nine as you possibly can before they disappear. Every one is an original.

Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : OSCARS II
Word Count: 504
Date: 16 February 2018



Movie Review by Joan Ellis –


After a lukewarm movie year, most of the Oscar nominated films are in theaters now. If you missed any, all are worth seeing before Oscar night on Sunday March 4th. Hollywood not only saved the best for year’s end, they reassured us that there are some brilliant performers of all ages still acting for our pleasure.

Lady Bird Is director Greta Gerwig’s masterpiece. A whip smart high school graduate is navigating the familiar elements of growing up. Gerwig assembled and directed a cast that lifts this right to the top of this year’s movies. In the hands of Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, and Timothee Chalamet, what might have been ordinary is fiercely intelligent and deeply moving.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the explosion of a mother enraged at police who have failed to find her daughter’s murderer. Frances McDormand embraces the violent script with abandon by painting her anger at the police on three giant billboards just outside town. The movie unfolds inside the police department in an odd mixture of accusations, violence, profanity, shifting alliances and comic moments. You will laugh and shiver as McDormand unleashes her rage. She’s an original, no question.

Call Me By Your Name unfolds with sublime gentleness in Italy. We soak up the beauty of the Italian countryside as a young boy and his older friend build a friendship, and make love. In other hands, this might have been fraught with family disapproval and drama. Director Luca Guadagnino has created magical surroundings and wise, quiet people who make this a thoroughly natural coming-of-age story that catches what so many feel but don’t say. A salute to a superb cast that delivers this story with great sensitivity.

The Post gives us the threads of the Pentagon Papers case that ignited Watergate. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks create Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee in two subtle and very effective performances. As owner and editor, the two took the Washington Post into the big time as they faced jail time if the courts had ruled against them. Tom Hanks simply becomes Bradlee and Meryl Streep uses great restraint in creating the woman who succeeded her editor husband after he committed suicide.

The Shape of Water gives us a tender love story between two afflicted, isolated people who never expected to lose themselves in a beautiful romance. In one of the finest performances of this year, Sally Hawkins becomes a mute woman who can convey everything she is thinking by gesture and expression.
That said, we are also given hatred, cruelty, violence and murder. Guillermo Del Toro and Hawkins, with fine help from other actors. Against tough odds, she turns the story into a powerful fable and her astonishing performance helped the film win 13 Oscar nominations.

Nominees from these five films: Best Actor: Timothee Chalamet. Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep. Each one of these five movies springs from original and inspired thinking by writers, directors, and actors.

Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Oscars
Date : 9 February 2018
Word count: 500