I, Tonya, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name: Awards Contenders Expand to Arkansas this Weekend

This week, three great films are expanding their theater runs to Arkansas just in time for awards season, they're all contenders but let's start off with one that, in my opinion, gets the gold medal.

This week, three great films are expanding their theater runs to Arkansas just in time for awards season, they’re all contenders but let’s start off with one that, in my opinion, gets the gold medal.

The story of Tonya Harding has been thrust back into the spotlight. You may remember that she was an Olympic Figure Skater who was a little different that the rest. She was a little rougher around the edges and didn’t conform to the idea of what a figure skater should be and it’s all thanks to Director Craig Gillespie’s new film I, Tonya. It’s also fitting that it comes out a few weeks before the Winter Olympics. I, Tonya is a darkly comedic tale of Tonya Harding’s rise and fall from her beginnings as an outsider of the skating world to one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. No matter her performance in the skating rink, she will always be remembered for her association with a terribly conceived and executed attack on fell Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan.

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I, Tonya is a fun movie to watch. It paints Tonya Harding as a sympathetic villain. We will probably never know what the truth is but this film reveals that there was a rich cast of characters involved. A lot of the story is he said/she said between Harding and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. The one person in the story that you believe whole heartedly is Harding’s abusive Mother, Lavona Golden, who is played by Allison Janney. The film’s ensemble cast was stellar! Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are getting all the accolades (and they deserve all of them) but Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly and Paul Walter Hauser as their odd friend are the subtle performances that pull the movie together.

Margot Robbie and Allison Janney have been nominated for their roles at most of the major awards programs of the season. Janney won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

On to our next film that finally expands to Arkansas this week, Phantom Thread stars the impeccable as always Daniel Day-Lewis as dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock in 1950’s post-war London. He and his sister Cyril are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, and socialites with their distinct style. He’s a bit of a womanizer, latching on to a woman until she no longer fills his needs for companionship or inspiration. When he meets the young, strong-willed Alma, she becomes a fixture as his muse and lover. His world falls into chaos as his carefully controlled and planned life is disrupted.

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Day-Lewis is wonderful as usual but aside from that, I didn’t find Phantom Thread to be that interesting. Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who also wrote the film, is a gifted storyteller who hasn’t made the same kind of movie twice, exploring different periods of time, industries, and types of people. For some reason, I’ve never connected to one of his films, I appreciate the artistry and how well-crafted the characters are but in most of his films, I’m a bit bored.

I’m not going to come right out and say skip Phantom Thread because it’s boring. It was boring to me, if I were watching it at home, I probably would have started doing something else.

Daniel Day-Lewis has been nominated in several awards programs for his role as Reynolds Woodcock and Phantom Thread has been nominated for several Productions Design, Costum Design, and Hari and Make-Up categories.

…and the latest film to expand to Arkansas this week…

Call Me By Your Name takes place in the summer of 1983 in the beautiful countryside of Northern Italy. Elio, played by the wonderful TImothee Chalamet, is a 17-year old boy spending his days in his family’s villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with a local girl. His father, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, is a prominent art professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture and his Mother, played by Amira Casar, is a translator. One day, Oliver a charming American Scholar, played by Armie Hammer, who is working on his doctorate arrives for an internship with Elio’s father. In the beauty of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover who they really are and how they feel for each other will change their lives forever.

Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful film. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer are perfect in these roles. Armie Hammer surprised me because until this point, I wasn’t sure that he was a good actor. Now, I’m convinced that he probably is as he plays Oliver as the guy you like and hate. His character has an aura of coolness to him but at the same time, you really don’t like him. It’s mostly a sweet coming of age story about falling in love and then losing that love.

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There’s one thing I need to address, this movie is getting a lot of praise for its’ subject matter and for the performances in the film but the core of this movie is about a relationship between 17-year-old boy and a man in his mid-20’s. I can’t help but think that this movie would be really creepy and might not be getting the same praise if it were a 17-year-old girl and a man in his mid-20’s or vice versa. I just can’t get past that thought. I know it sound prudish but that’s my hang up on this otherwise wonderful and beautiful film.

Call Me By Your Name has been nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Timothee Chalamet), Supporting Actor (Armie Hamme and Michael Stuhlbarg), Best Director (Luca Guadagnino), and Best Cinematography at several awards programs.

Also new to theaters this week, Chris Hemsworth and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon star in 12 Strong, a new war drama based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers, it’s the story the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down a group of Taliban fighters.

Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr, and 50 Cent star in Den of Thieves. Every day, $120 million in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed by the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve - unless a notorious, elite crew of bank robbers can pull off the ultimate heist and get to the money first... right under the noses of LA's most feared division in law enforcement.

Forever My Girl tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page who left his bride, Josie at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.