THE DISASTER ARTIST
The Disaster Artist tells the real-life story of Tommy Wiseau, the man behind what is considered to be the best worst movie ever made, The Room. The Disaster Artist chronicles how this “Citizen Kane of Bad Movies” came to be and its eventual cult success.
James Franco is Tommy Wiseau in, at least in my opinion, the best part he’s ever played. He plays Tommy as a dreamer and a doer. Tommy wants so badly to be an actor and to be famous that he says, “if Hollywood doesn't think I’m good enough to be in their movies then I’m going to write, direct, and star in my own movie”. He does this despite being a terrible actor, a bad writer, and no experience working in film at all, let alone directing. He’s an enigma. No one knows who old he is, where he comes from (although he claims to be from New Orleans), or where his money comes from. No one seems to like Tommy but he’s like gravity - he draws people in and captivates them because of his enigma.
The Disaster Artist is one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s well written and, like it’s subject, is absolutely captivating. It feels like you’re watching a mystery and you’re seeing all these things, which really happened, take place on screen. You’re waiting for this big reveal that doesn't pay off in the way you hoped it would but it’s somehow satisfying. It is like watching a train wreck. You know it’s going to be bad but you can’t look away. In this case, that bad train wreck is a pretty good movie.
If you want to see The Room, then you’ll have to hope you catch a random screening announced on the movie’s website. It’s a 14-year old movie that is still in theaters despite not having a major distributor. People who have seen the movie are secretive about where and how they saw it but once you’ve seen, you’re suddenly a member of the club. Don’t worry, seeing The Room is not a prerequisite for seeing The Disaster Artist.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
The Florida Project is another awards contender. It tells the story of a precocious 6-year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with adventure while the adults around them struggle through tough times. They spend their days generally causing (mostly harmless) trouble at the long term stay hotel where they live.
Led by Brooklyn Prince, the kids are adorable and fun to watch. Yes, they generally misbehave but director Sean Baker manages to capture the innocence of their childhood and their situation in a way that feels very real. Willem Dafoe plays the manager of the hotel who must deal with the mischief of the children daily.
The Florida Project is not a movie that I don’t think is going to be liked by the general movie audience but it’s worth watching as an examination of how to make a relatively inexpensive independent film. It’s a simple film that tells a rich story with lots of humanity.
LAST FLAG FLYING
Last Flag Flying also open in theaters this week, starring Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne.
In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Richard "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with Former Marines Sal and Richard for a different type of mission: to bury Doc's son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo a burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire.
Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms with shared memories of the war that continues to shape their lives. Director Richard Linklater and author Darryl Ponicsan collaborated on the screenplay which follows the trio as they wrestle with the pangs of war both past and present.
JUST GETTING STARTED
From Ron Shelton, writer/director of Tin Cup and Bull Durham, comes the new comedy, Just Getting Started. Morgan Freeman stars as Duke Diver, the freewheeling manager of the luxury Palm Springs resort, the Villa Capri.
Diver may have a mysterious past, but he's a pro at making sure that life for the high-spirited residents is one big, non-stop party. But the status quo is challenged when ex-military charmer Leo, played by Tommy Lee Jones, checks in, triggering a competition between Duke and Leo for the top spot of Alpha male, as well as for the affections of the newly-arrived Suzie, played by Rene Russo. When Duke's past suddenly catches up with him, the rivals put aside their differences and the two men reluctantly team up to stop whoever is trying to kill Duke, and save the Villa Capri.
The Nominees for the Critics’ Choice Awards were announced earlier this week. As a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association, I thought I’d share the nominees in some of the categories here as well as my picks. Take it as a list of “movies to check out” if you haven’t already. My picks may change as I go back and reconsider some films.
1) Lady Bird
2) Get Out
3) The Big Sick
4) Call Me By Your Name
5) Darkest Hour
7) The Florida Project
8) The Post
9) The Shape of Water
10) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Misourri
MY PICK: Get Out
1) Get Out
2) Lady Bird
3) The Shape of Water
4) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6) Call Me By Your Name
7) The Post
MY PICK: The Shape of Water
1) Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
2) James Franco – The Disaster Artist
3) Timothee Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
4) Jake Gyllenhall – Stronger
5) Tom Hanks - The Post
6) Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
7) Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
MY PICK: Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
1) Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
2) Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
3) Margot Robie – I, Tonya
4) Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game
5) Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6) Meryl Streep – The Post
MY PICK: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1) Patrick Stewart – Logan
2) Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
3) Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
4) Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name
5) Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
6) Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me By Your Name
MY PICK: Patrick Stewart - Logan
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1) Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
2) Allison Janey – I. Tonya
3) Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
4) Hong Chau – Downsizing
5) Tiffany Hadish – Girls Trip
6) Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
7) Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
MY PICK: Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird