Monday, December 11, 2017
Movie News
Movie News

the last jedi Star Wars: The Last Jedi scores major praise in first reactions from premiere
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

There was a great disturbance in the Force late Saturday night in Los Angeles, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi had its world premiere at the Shrine Auditorium in Hollywood — and wowed the first audiences to see the eighth installment in the Star Wars franchise.

Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran, and returning Star Wars legends Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, The Last Jedi arrives in theaters on Friday. Before general audiences get to see Rian Johnson’s film, however, check out these spoiler-free reactions from the premiere below.

1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi scores major praise in first reactions from premiere

Jumanji Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) Movie ReviewAn enjoyable modernization of Chris Van Allsburg’s storybook source material.

High school nerd Alex Wolff transforms into The Rock in Jake Kasdan’s action-fantasy sequel.

Stepping far enough away from Chris Van Allsburg’s 1981 children’s book Jumanji to appeal to older kids while remaining just connected enough to justify keeping the name, Jake Kasdan’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle reimagines the book’s magic-board-game conceit for the era of video games. By transforming its teen heroes into adult avatars, this outing both gets beyond the discomfort of throwing small kids into peril (a complaint some critics made against Joe Johnston’s 1995 adaptation starring Robin Williams) and finds a way to milk a talented crew of A-list grownups — toplined by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart — for comic value. Young audiences should enjoy the body-swap adventure, which has a few dopey moments but in general is funny enough for their parents to enjoy as well.

Modernization only goes so far here. Instead of making Jumanji, say, an augmented-reality smartphone app — a promising way to have fantasy and the mundane world collide — the screenwriting team reimagines it as a 1990s-style gaming console. In a prologue, a lone teenager stumbles across the game in 1996, turns it on, and is immediately transported from his bedroom into some world we do not see.

Cut to the present day, as Spencer (Alex Wolff) squirts some sanitizer on his hands, packs his EpiPen, and heads into the germ-filled world of high school. After a brisk sequence of events, he winds up stuck in detention alongside football player Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), narcissistic Bethany (Madison Iseman), and the introverted Martha (Morgan Turner). They’re supposed to be cleaning up the school’s vast storage closet as punishment for their assorted transgressions. But when they find this relic of a videogame among the detritus (who knows how it got to school from that kid’s bedroom), the four decide to try it out. They, too, get sucked into another dimension.

Thrown into a dense jungle, each kid is transformed into the character he or she selected, Mortal Kombat-style, when they fired the game up. Luckily for the film’s comic side, each unwittingly chose someone very unlike himself: Scrawny and skittish Spencer becomes The Rock’s Smolder Bravestone, the expedition leader. The jock is now a diminutive zoologist, Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart), and is none too pleased about it. Mousy Martha is kick-ass Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan, Doctor Who‘s Amy Pond), and immediately complains about her dumb Lara Croft-like wardrobe of exposed midriff and breast-hugging shoulder holsters. And Instagram-addicted Bethany, so proud of her hotness, has turned into a tubby, balding middle-aged man, Jack Black’s Professor Shelly Oberon.

The script winks at videogame conventions as it explains its heroes’ strengths and weaknesses, gives them a mission, and reveals that each has three lives to expend before it’s Game Over for real. They’re supposed to find a magical “jewel of the jungle” and return it to a giant statue’s eye socket. But that stone is also hunted by a villain (Bobby Cannavale) who has somehow become one with the jungle’s beasts, making his body a skin-crawling home for millipedes and scorpions.

Structuring its challenges in the level-by-level mode familiar to gamers, the movie’s action has a much more ordinary feel than that of the earlier picture. But while each stage of their quest seems like it would make for a pretty easy-to-beat video game, the action suffices in big-screen terms.

The film’s main appeal is in watching familiar actors pretend to be ordinary kids grappling with their new selves. Johnson is predictably charming, imagining himself as a kid suddenly blessed not just with a spectacular physique but a superpower defined as “smoldering intensity.” And Jack Black gets the expected kind of laughs as he mimics the voice and gestures of a mean girl who recoils at being stuck in this unbangable bod but is then, I don’t know, kind of fascinated to have a penis? Gillan and Hart more than hold up their end of things, and while the choice of music could be much better, Ruby Roundhouse’s demonstrations of her “dance fighting” skills are crowd-pleasing.

Occasional character-development interludes reek of group screenwriting sessions: “Guys, how can we use the fewest possible lines to get across the idea that these kids are learning important lessons about themselves?” But a shy romance between Spencer/Bravestone and Martha/Roundhouse charmingly exploits some of these choose-who-you’ll-be-in-life notions, and an encounter with a stranger who has also been trapped in the game gives even Bethany a credible shot at redemption.

jumanji welcome to the jungle ver18 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) Movie Review

Production companies: Matt Tolmach Productions, Seven Bucks Productions, Columbia Pictures
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, Rhys Darby, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner
Director: Jake Kasdan
Screenwriters: Chris McKenna, Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenberg, Erik Sommers
Producers: Ted Field, William Teitler, Matt Tolmach, Mike Weber
Executive producers: Dany Garcya, David B. Householter, Jake Kasdan
Director of photography: Gyula Pados
Production designer: Owen Paterson
Costume designer: Laura Jean Shannon
Editors: Steve Edwards, Mark Helfrich
Composer: Henry Jackman
Casting directors: Nicole Abellera,Jeanne McCarthy
PG-13, 118 minutes

just getting started Just Getting Started (2017) Movie ReviewCourtesy of Broad Green Pictures

Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones play rivals who must join forces to fend off a mob hit in Ron Shelton’s action comedy.

A film that is not screened in advance for the press is not likely to be an undiscovered masterpiece. But it is not necessarily going to be as bad as such neglect suggests. Just Getting Started, the first feature written and directed by Ron Shelton in more than a decade, is sneaking into theaters without much attention.  Shelton, the filmmaker behind such hits as Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump and Tin Cup, hasn’t matched those movies with his new comedy, but given his track record and the cast he’s assembled, headed by Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, he deserved a better break.

The faltering studio behind the film, Broad Green Pictures, has rightly positioned the movie as a holiday release, aimed squarely at older audiences. It’s set in a retirement community in Palm Springs over the Christmas holidays, and Shelton finds humor in the incongruity between the sunlit desert and the ostentatious Christmas decorations. (Most of the film was actually shot in New Mexico, with just a few establishing shots of the California enclave.) Duke (Freeman) is top dog in the community, with a number of women vying for his sexual attention and a few cronies who are happy to act as lapdogs. But his position is threatened by a mysterious new arrival, Leo (Jones), who challenges him on the golf course and in the boudoir.

Duke also faces a more serious threat in the form of a criminal boss lady (Jane Seymour) who sees him on a TV promo for the resort and sends her son to dispatch him for his testimony against her family some years earlier. Duke has been hiding in a witness protection program until inadvertently unmasked. Leo proves to have the lethal skills that Duke needs to survive a mob hit, and the two are forced into an uneasy partnership.

The first problem with the movie is that it’s a little too jaunty ever to generate any real sense of jeopardy for our hero. A scene with a rattlesnake in a golf bag does offer a nifty jolt, but the suspense in the rest of the film is decidedly low-key. Our two villains are too bumbling to represent much of a threat, and this makes the film lag, even though it’s tightly edited by veteran Paul Seydor.

The humorous interludes in the picture are also of varying quality. Freeman seems to have enjoyed the rare opportunity to play a frivolous role, but he’s sometimes too broad in straining for seductiveness. Jones, on the other hand, demonstrates his expertise without ever breaking a sweat. He worked with Shelton on Cobb, and he underplays most effectively here, bantering smoothly when that’s required, but also convincing us that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Rene Russo (the co-star of Shelton’s Tin Cup) also gives a satisfying performance as a woman mistakenly underestimated by both Duke and Leo.

Less successful are the three ladies trailing after Duke. This is no fault of the three actresses — Elizabeth Ashley (in a rare screen appearance), Sheryl Lee Ralph, and the late Glenne Headly. All of them are a pleasure to watch, but their roles as breathless acolytes desperate to bed Duke seem a bit squirm-inducing at this particular moment in history.

The film is ingratiating enough, but its main value is to make us eager for another, more substantial Shelton movie long before another decade has slipped by.

just getting started ver2 Just Getting Started (2017) Movie Review

Cast:  Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo, Glenne Headly, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Elizabeth Ashley, Joe Pantoliano, Jane Seymour

Director-screenwriter:  Ron Shelton

Producers:  Bill Gerber, Steve Richards

Executive producers:  John Mass, Alan Simpson

Director of photography:  Barry Peterson

Production designer:  Guy Barnes

Costume designer:  Carol Oditz

Editor:  Paul Seydor

Music: Alex Wurman

PG-13, 91 minutes

golden globe What time are the Golden Globes nominations? And other burning questions answered!
THE 75TH GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS — Pictured: “The 75th Golden Globe Awards” Key Art — (Photo by: NBC)

Next week, Christmas will come early for a few of Hollywood’s biggest stars, who will wake up to find a great big shiny Golden Globe nomination in their stocking (or at least, like, in their email).

That’s right — awards season is officially in full swing, and the next stop on the whole statuette circuit is coming up fast. So if you don’t want to be a minute behind the news of which movies and series will be battling it out for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s top honors, read on for the answers to all of your burning questions about the Golden Globe nominations, below!

When are the Golden Globes nominations?

The nominations for the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced on Monday, Dec. 11, bright and early at 5:15 a.m. PT/8:15 a.m. ET.

How can I watch?

You can stream the presentation live on the Golden Globes website or in a Facebook Live that will take place on the Golden Globes Facebook page. For more exclusive content from the announcement ceremony, check out the Golden Globes Instagram Story on Monday.

Who is announcing them?

The HFPA has assembled a starry quartet to share the big news: Alfre Woodard, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Bell, and Sharon Stone will announce the nominees. Joining them for the event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills will be new Golden Globe Ambassador Simone Garcia Johnson (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson’s daughter), HFPA President Meher Tatna, and Executive VP of Television at Dick Clark Productions Barry Adelman.

What and who will be nominated?

Of course, nobody actually knows quite yet — but we certainly have a few ideas about which names we expect, and hope, to hear Monday morning. One thing we do know: If Jordan Peele’s genre-bending social satire Get Out picks up some nods (and it really, really should), they’ll be in the comedy/musical categories rather than drama.

What about the ACTUAL Golden Globes?

Hollywood’s biggest party of the year (and accompanying awards presentation) will take place on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Seth Meyers will host the ceremony, which will air on his home network, NBC. That gives you less than a month! Now don’t you have some movies to watch?

dunkirk The 10 best (and 5 worst) movies of 2017

Robin Hood Taron Egerton takes aim in Robin Hood first look
Robin (Taron Egerton)

No mud. No pitchforks. And definitely no “guys in tights running around swashbuckling.” Director Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) knew he would need to lay down a few ground rules if he was going to blow the cobwebs out of Sherwood Forest. But hold on to the hero: “You don’t become a legend for 800 years if you’ve just stolen a few bags of money from rich people to give to the poor,” Bathurst told EW on the Budapest set in April. “In my mind, Robin Hood was this sort of seriously militarized anarchist revolutionary, a freedom thinker and a truth seeker. And the more I got into the story, it just became startling how utterly relevant it is to what’s going on in society now.”

His Robin, 28-year-old Taron Egerton, agrees: “I was approached not long after the first Kingsman movie had come out, and my initial response, to be totally honest, was ‘Why?’ [But] Otto told me he wanted to do something entirely revisionist, something that can’t be tied down to a medieval universe. The first act of the movie, these scenes crusading in Syria, were written like something from The Hurt Locker. It was fantastic, and that was enough to convince me.” Also on board: Merry Men Jamie Foxx (Little John) and Jamie Dornan (Will Scarlett), and The Knick‘s Eve Hewson as Maid Marian. And Ben Mendelsohn steps into the Sheriff of Nottingham’s boots — a role that for many is still defined by the late Alan Rickman in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. “I ain’t gonna be outdoing him,” he admits. “That performance is a delightful tour de force, and I knew and loved the man. But I get a kick out of [sharing it], and I think he would have too.”

Robin Hood 2 Taron Egerton takes aim in Robin Hood first look
Robin (Taron Egerton) and Marian (Eve Hewson)

Foxx, for one, is already a Mendelsohn superfan: “He’s venomous. So good. There are some people that can just whup your ass. Him, Samuel Jackson, Viola Davis: ass whuppers.” And he says he too felt galvanized by Bathurst’s vision, freed from the constraints of period-perfect accents, costumes, and soundtrack cues. “I wanted to be part of it because it’s hood, not Robin Hood. He’s making it new and interesting, and it gives it weight.” Though one early promise might have been broken, Egerton admits with a laugh: “I did initially say the only thing I wouldn’t do was wear tights, and the pants did sort of get tighter and tighter… Let’s just call them jeggings now.”

Incredibles 2 Incredibles 2 first look: Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl takes the lead
The Incredibles 2
Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice by Craig T. Nelson), Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voice by Holly Hunter), Dashiell ‘Dash’ Parr (voice by Huck Milner), Jack Jack Parr, and Violet Parr (voice by Sarah Vowell)

No, your eyes aren’t duping you — this is indeed a first glimpse at Incredibles 2, which, despite 14 years having passed in the real world, will find the superpowered Parr family exactly where you last saw them way back in 2004, only much sharper and slicker.

Incredibles 2 picks up, literally, where the first film left off, with Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl battling The Underminer, while Violet and Dash are stuck with babysitting Jack-Jack,” says writer-director Brad Bird, who has kept plot details about the highly-secretive sequel to his Pixar blockbuster under tight wraps. Save for a brief tease at Disney’s D23 fan expo this summer, “that’s all we’re saying for now,” Bird continues, “but rest assured, there are a lot more superheroics in store for our ‘family dynamic.’”

Being a story of superheroes, secrets have always been part of the DNA of The Incredibles. Identities, however, are out — original voice cast members Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible/Bob), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl/Helen), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone/Lucius), and Sarah Vowell (Violet) are all returning for the June 15, 2018 sequel, with newcomer Huck Milner now stepping in to voice speedy pre-teen Dash.

On the plot front, a chain of events in Incredibles 2 sends Elastigirl into the center of the action while Mr. Incredible, at home in the family’s sleek new hideout headquarters, must contend with baby Jack-Jack’s burgeoning new powers, as revealed in November’s record-breaking teaser trailer.

“Helen’s appetite for adventure comes to the fore,” says Hunter. “Whereas before, she was driven to become Mrs. Incredible out of necessity, where she went into it to save her husband, I think this time she really meets her own ambition head-on. The ambition of being an adventure is something that we get to explore.”

For Hunter, recording the first Incredibles film was a mysterious, abstract experience, as it can often be in the lengthy, fluid process of feature animation; after seeing the “stunning” end result, the Oscar winner was more than eager to fall back into the mystery again, especially as Bird’s sequel story revealed itself over time. “It’s always interesting when you have a storyteller who can take off the way that Brad can, and in a way, I feel that his storytelling abilities acquired a different kind of lift-off with this movie,” says the actress. “This time was so much fun because I know Brad so much better, and the way the story unfolded for me in the recording sessions has been kind of stratospheric. Brad’s imagination veers off into intensely funny stuff, and I find that so fresh. And of course, that also includes the character development of Helen throughout this second movie. It just feels really rich, and like… this guy is a true feminist.”

Helen/Elastigirl’s journey is, as Hunter puts it, “full-fledged,” filling in certain blanks about the super-mom’s life that Hunter relished uncovering, including “a real incredible sense of competitiveness and ambition. She throws down the gauntlet in this one. It’s so much fun to see a woman luxuriating in those two arenas, because women have for so many generations been brought up to not be ambitious or to not be competitive, and it’s fun to see Helen basking in those two arenas in much the same way that we give men license to do.”

What’s also exciting is seeing Mrs. Incredible (who, let’s add, deserved far more cred for being a game-changing movie superhero back in 2004) reappear onscreen at a time when female icons like Wonder Woman and Battle of the Sexes’ Billie Jean King are still reverberating in cinemas. “It feels like women are reasserting their strength in different ways,” says Hunter. “I just think it’s beautiful that Incredibles 2 is allowing Mrs. Incredible to reveal all these other different colors of who she is.”

Make no mistake, though: Red is definitely her color.

The Post The Post Named Best Film by National Board of Review

Courtesy of Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox
‘The Post’

This year’s honors will be presented during a January gala at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street, hosted, as they were last year, by NBC News’ Willie Geist.

The National Board of Review on Tuesday announced its 2017 award winners, naming The Post as the best film of the year. The Steven Spielberg-directed film about the Pentagon Papers saga also scored best actor and actress prizes from the group for its lead performances by Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

The accolades are the first major awards for the Fox and DreamWorks film, which is set to be released Dec. 22 in select theaters.

The NBR also bestowed the first major awards on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Christmas release, Phantom Thread. The film, which marks Daniel Day-Lewis’ final acting role, was honored with the best original screenplay prize and was named one of NBR’s top films.

Greta Gerwig earned best director honors for her acclaimed feature-helming debut Lady Bird (also named one of NBR’s top 10 films), with the dramedy’s Laurie Metcalf also nabbing a supporting actress award. The honor comes less than 24 hours after Lady Bird star Saoirse Ronan won the Gotham Award for best actress.

The Florida Project‘s Willem Dafoe was named best supporting actor.

The best adapted screenplay prize went to The Disaster Artist‘s Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, with the movie also being named one of NBR’s top 10 films. The honors came the day after star James Franco was named best actor at the Gotham Awards.

Less than 24 hours after Get Out won three Gotham Awards, the Jordan Peele-helmed racially themed horror film won best directorial debut for Peele and best ensemble honors. And following Call Me by Your Name‘s best feature Gotham Award, star Timothee Chalamet won the NBR’s breakthrough performance prize for his role in the Luca Guadagnino-directed coming-of-age romance. Both films were also named to NBR’s list of top films.

Other notable NBR winners include Coco (best animated feature), Wonder Woman‘s Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins (Spotlight Award) and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father (one of two Freedom of Expression Awards).

The Post is a beautifully crafted film that deeply resonates at this moment in time. We are so thrilled to award it our best film as well as to honor the wonderfully talented Greta Gerwig as our best director,” NBR president Annie Schulhof said in a statement.

The winners will be recognized during a Jan. 9 gala at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street, hosted, as they were last year, by NBC News’ Willie Geist.

The NBR awards are voted on by a group of film enthusiasts, professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students.

Last year, NBR selected Manchester by the Sea as its best film. The previous year it picked post-apocalyptic blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, which earned a number of critical accolades and awards and won six Oscars.

In 2014, NBR named A Most Violent Year as its best film, but the J.C. Chandor-directed drama about New York in 1981 was completely snubbed by the Oscars. The year before, NBR chose Spike Jonze’s Her as its best film. That movie won only one Oscar, for best original screenplay. Previous NBR best film winners include Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Hugo (2011), The Social Network (2010) and Up in the Air (2009).

A complete list of this year’s NBR winners follows.

Best film: The Post
Best director: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Best actor: Tom Hanks, The Post
Best actress: Meryl Streep, The Post
Best supporting actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Best supporting actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Best original screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Best adapted screenplay:  Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Best animated feature: Coco
Breakthrough performance: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Best directorial debut: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Best foreign language film: Foxtrot
Best documentary: Jane
Best ensemble: Get Out
Spotlight Award: Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: First They Killed My Father
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992

Top Films

Baby Driver
Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread

Top 5 Foreign-Language Films

A Fantastic Woman
Summer 1993
The Square

Top 5 Documentaries

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Brimstone & Glory
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars
Faces Places
Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS

Top 10 Independent Films

Beatriz at Dinner
Brigsby Bear
A Ghost Story
Lady Macbeth
Logan Lucky
Loving Vincent
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Patti Cake$
Wind River

the post Steven Spielbergs The Post praised in early reactions

A journalism drama in the age of President Trump was bound to strike a chord, but film critics coming out of early screenings for Steven Spielberg’s The Post are calling it one of the most important films of the year — though, not necessarily the best.

In what one critic called “the best Spielberg movie since Munich,” the director shines a spotlight on a story from 1971 when the free press was demonized by a sitting U.S. president: The Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) team up to catch up to The New York Times with the reveal of The Pentagon Papers, a document comprised of thousands of pages about U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

If Trump claiming mainstream media to be the “enemy of the American people” sounds familiar, it’s because of Richard Nixon, who served as president during this time of The Pentagon Papers and said something similar.

“[The Post] is best of all a vital and timely reminder that a free press must remain free, and that the burden to protect that freedom belongs to everyone,” L.A. Times writer Jen Yamato tweeted amid a flurry of critical reactions on social media late Monday night.

Others praised the performances of Streep (“her best in years”) and Hanks (he “rips his role to shreds”), along with a shoutout to Bob Odenkirk. But while The Post proved to be surprisingly “feminist” and shot like “Robert Zemeckis on a coke bender,” according to some, many agree this likely Oscar contender isn’t the best film they’ve seen this year.

“[The Post], as everyone else is saying, is dynamite,” Jordan Hoffman writes. “As good as [The Paper]? As good as [Lincoln]? I dunno. Probably.”

The A.V. Club‘s A.A. Dowd adds, “Can’t entirely put my finger on why [The Post] left me a little cold. I think maybe it’s that this story, while brimming with topical import, is tougher to dramatize than the last two true tales that Spielberg tackled.”

The Post, opening in theaters on Dec. 22, also features Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods.

lady bird Lady Bird sets Rotten Tomatoes record as best reviewed movie of all time

Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age story, Lady Bird, has officially become the best-reviewed movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes, beating out the beloved classic Toy Story 2.

The Oscar contender starring Saoirse Ronan was “certified fresh” with a 100 percent score earlier this month, but now officially reigns over all other films on the website with 165 reviews (Toy Story 2 has a score of 100 percent, with 163 reviews). Since it was released on Nov. 3, the film has made more than $10 million with only having played in under 800 theaters nationwide.

EW gave the film an A- grade, with Leah Greenblatt writing, “The loosely autobiographical Lady Bird is actress-writer Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, and it feels like the fullest realization yet of her already-patented brand of gangly bittersweet whimsy.”

Lady Bird is one of only six films to earn a perfect score so far this year alongside Faces Places, Jane, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Truman, and Bright Lights. The film stars Ronan as the titular Lady Bird, a high schooler living in 2002 Sacramento, navigating her tense relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and unclear future. It has since, obviously, earned rave reviews from critics.

Lady Bird is in theaters now.

Kate winslet James Cameron reveals first details of Kate Winslets Avatar sequel character

James Cameron is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Titanic, in part, by reuniting with star Kate Winslet. The pair are currently filming The Avatar Sequels, a.k.a. Avatar 2, the first of four planned continuations to Cameron’s record-setting 2009 blockbuster.

“She’s very excited about it. She blazed through for a couple of days of rehearsals and saw the world that we had created, and how we do the work, and she’s very excited,” Cameron told Vanity Fair in an interview.

The director previously revealed Winslet will star as Ronal in the film and explained to Vanity Fair that she’s “a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people.”

“The one thing she did do is demand that she do all her own water work,” Cameron said of Winslet. “I said, ‘All right, that’s fine, we’ll have to teach you how to free dive.’ The other actors are up to three- and four-minute breath holds. We’ve already been doing underwater capture. We did a scene last week with six teenagers, well, actually five teenagers and one 7-year-old underwater holding their breath for a couple minutes and acting, actually doing a dialogue scene under water because they speak kind of a sign language.”

Winslet’s casting was first announced in October. “Kate and I have been looking for something to do together for 20 years, since our collaboration on Titanic, which was one of the most rewarding of my career. I can’t wait to see her bring the character of Ronal to life,” Cameron said previously.

Back in October, the second Avatar film will focus on the offspring of Jake Sully and Neytiri (original stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, who will return for the sequels). “We never had this youthful element before, and that brings a different kind of energy to the film,” Avatar producer Jon Landau told EW. “They represent the future generation of Pandora [the plant the film’s aliens, the Na’vi, call home] and play a very significant role — not just in this movie but throughout all the movies.”

The first of the Avatar Sequels is set to hit theaters in 2020, 11 years after the original. “It will be a natural extension of all the themes, and the characters, and the spiritual undercurrents,” Cameron told Vanity Fair of what fans should expect. “Basically, if you loved the first movie, you’re gonna love these movies, and if you hated it, you’re probably gonna hate these. If you loved it at the time, and you said later you hated it, you’re probably gonna love these.”

17 movies to see or not this Thanksgiving 17 movies to see (or not) this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to feast on leftovers, spend time with the family, and sit in a dark theater for two hours catching up on the year’s biggest movies. From new releases like Pixar’s Coco to critically acclaimed favorites like Lady Bird to streaming gems like Mudbound, here’s what to know about 17 big movies worth considering during the holiday break.



Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina (co-director)
Rating: PG

Review: “Mamas don’t let their babies grow up to be mariachis. That’s one thing Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) knows for sure: Ever since his great-great-grandfather abandoned the family decades ago to pursue la vida musical, every descendant has shunned both his tainted memory and any stray melody unwise enough to drift past a window. They are shoemakers now, not dreamers. But Miguel, a tenacious 12-year-old with a single dimple in his cheek and an unhushable song in his heart, can’t help it; his fingers ache for a guitar. And like every hero on a quest, he will find one. Though unlike most — especially in the shiny world of Pixar, whose Technicolor critters, toy cowboys, and anthropomorphized race cars often seemed to come in every shade but brown — he is also proudly, unmistakably Mexican.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters everywhere (buy tickets)

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farell, Carmen Ejogo
Director: Dan Gilroy
Rating: R

Review: “Roman J. Israel, Esq. doesn’t quite have the same frayed-wire electricity as Nightcrawler, but what it does have on its side is Denzel Washington — a squalling, one-of-a-kind screen presence whose mere presence elevates just about any movie he’s in. That’s no small thing. Washington’s Roman is a former inner-city civil rights activist who is the silent, unseen partner in a small, two-person criminal-defense law firm in downtown L.A. With his grown-out, Don Cornelius Afro, ‘70s glasses frames, and ill-fitting blazer over a threadbare cardigan, Roman is a man out of time (his iPod is crammed with soul classics from the Nixon era). Roman is the kind of Luddite relic who favors index cards to computer spreadsheets, payphones to cellphones, and actually walks to get around in the pedestrian-unfriendly city. He’s a brilliant, encyclopedic legal mind who seems to be just shy of the autism spectrum, unable to play well with others. He’s a blunt instrument and an odd duck. Which is why he does the backroom paperwork while his partner, the face of the firm, is the one who appears in court. Roman is a walking contradiction. He can’t stomach the inequalities he sees in the legal system, but he proudly insists on adding the term ‘Esquire’ to his name. When asked by a client what the honorific means, he replies, ‘It’s slightly above gentleman and below knight.’” B

Where to watch: In theaters everywhere (buy tickets)

Darkest Hour

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Joe Wright
Rating: PG-13

Review: “I’ll be honest, Oldman hasn’t been this good for a very long time. To be even more honest, he’s starred in a lot of junk in the past decade. But remember, this is the actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy and was so hypnotic (and often scary) in Prick Up Your Ears, State of Grace, JFK, The Professional, True Romance, Immortal Beloved, and The Contender. It’s both a relief and revelation to see him get the chance to swing for the fences again.” B+

Where to watch: In limited release (buy tickets)

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer
Director: Bharat Nallui
Rating: PG

Review: “There are not very many surprises in this movie, since most of us know A Christmas Carol by heart. True to its title, though, The Man Who Invented Christmas does give viewers a look at how Dickens’ book changed perceptions of the winter holiday. Every time he pitches it to someone, they express shock that he would even bother writing about Christmas at all. There’s hardly a Christmas tree to be seen. The film’s argument is that Dickens’ wonderful story had the same effect on the general populace as it does on Scrooge himself, inspiring people to be more generous and forgiving at Yuletide. Perhaps some of its power comes from its parallels with Dickens’ own life story; it was hard for him to complete when he still had unresolved issues with his profligate father (Jonathan Pryce). Again, we know the beats by heart, but there’s a reason A Christmas Carol has been told every which way from Muppets to Disney. You can’t help getting swept up in it, even if you’ve heard it all before.” B-

Where to watch: In limited release (buy tickets)

Call Me By Your Name

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Rating: R

Review: “Call Me By Your Name, adapted by Oscar nominee James Ivory from André Aciman’s acclaimed 2007 novel, is in no rush to tell its story. The narrative casts a sort of languorous spell over its two-plus hours, capturing the unhurried sun-drunk rhythm of Elio’s days as his crush evolves from intriguing distraction to full-blown obsession. There are other contenders for his affection, and Oliver’s, too: local girls whose own sidelined desires Guadagnino captures with startling poignancy. The Italian director, best known for stylized sensory feasts like last year’s sleek, brittle A Bigger Splash, is as lavish with his visual gifts as he’s ever been. And he even finds levity in moments like an already internet-famous dance to the Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Love My Way,’ or in the sheer awkwardness of living inside a teenage body. But there’s a new kind of empathy here—one that allows the winsome Chalamet to shine and pulls surprising new depths from Hammer, an actor whose serene symmetry finally cracks open to reveal the remarkably flawed and feeling human being beneath.” A-

Where to watch: In limited release starting Friday (buy tickets)


Justice League

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons
Director: Zack Snyder
Rating: PG-13

Review: “First, the good news. Justice League is better than its joylessly somber dress rehearsal, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now the ‘but’… you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, right? But it also marks a pretty steep comedown from the giddy highs of Wonder Woman. When Gal Gadot’s proto-feminist Amazonian avenger got her solo showcase earlier this year, there were a lot of DC partisans who finally had a reason to feel bullish about the state of their union. Following the exit of Christian Bale in 2012, it was the first real glimmer of hope that maybe the studio was headed in the right direction. That the future was bright. Justice League won’t extinguish that hope. Not by a long shot. But it also doesn’t quite translate into a winning streak either. It’s a placeholder in a franchise that’s already had too many placeholders.” C+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)


Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Rating: PG

Review: “There’s no movie genre more fraught with mixed emotions than the humble tear-jerker. If you’re a filmmaker, getting a theater full of complete strangers to sob on command is no small feat. It may seem easy, but in truth it’s a sort of middlebrow magic act that’s a lot harder than people give it credit for. On the flip side, for those of us in the audience, we demand more than simple manipulation. We want to feel that the tears we shed are earned, not pried out of our ducts with a crowbar. We want subtlety in exchange for our precious sniffles. Stephen Chbosky’s new three-hankie drama, Wonder, is not a subtle movie. Let’s be absolutely clear about that. Hell, an adorable dog dies in the middle act for no essential reason to the plot. So it’s a minor miracle that the film works as well as it does. You’re guaranteed to spend nearly two hours with a lump the size of a nectarine in your throat without resenting it.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Thor: Ragnarok

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13

Review: “There’s a lot more to the bloated story, but honestly, none of it is very interesting. In fact, it’s endless. You don’t care what’s happening or what’s going to happen next. We’re just led from place to place for a hash of foggy reasons that no one will ever remember 10 minutes after leaving the theater. But that’s not really the point of this movie. Ragnarok is basically a Joke Delivery System — and on that score, it works. The movie is fun. So to recap: Taika Waititi was mostly the right director for the job. Chris Hemsworth is hilarious. Tessa Thompson is going to be a star. And while Ragnarok’s story is an aimless mess, you won’t stop laughing. In other words, it’s a…” B

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Murder on the Orient Express

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom, Jr.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Rating: PG-13

Review: “The resolution of the movie’s central mystery is almost endearingly corny, less shocking twist than slow dinner-theater twirl. But Branagh executes his double duties with a gratifyingly light touch, tweaking the story’s more mothballed elements without burying it all in winky wham-bam modernity. His Poirot isn’t just highbrow camp, he’s a melancholy soul with a strict moral code. And his superhuman intuition serves him well; in the final scenes, he may just smell a sequel.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Daddy’s Home 2

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow
Director: Sean Anders
Rating: PG-13

Review: “Much like pumpkin spice lattes, holiday comedies seem to be rolling out earlier and earlier every year. Now, hot on the heels of the mistletoe rebel hellions of A Bad Moms Christmas, comes the aggressively mediocre sequel, Daddy’s Home 2. Since it seems like there hasn’t been very much to laugh about in the real world lately, I suppose we should all be grateful for whatever mirth we can find at the multiplex — or anywhere else for that matter. And this follow-up to 2015’s dueling-daddies hit does have a few mild chuckles, but not as many as you want. It makes a perfectly fine (and instantly forgettable) diversion during an afternoon of Christmas shopping.” C+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

A Bad Moms Christmas

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski
Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Rating: R

Review: “What follows is another slapstick dose of hard-R ridiculosity with a soft-nougat center, but it also passes the Bechdel test maybe better than any other film this year, and its older generation of stars are too smart not to go to town on their stock roles. Baranski’s preening matriarch is an imperious monster whose eyebrow tilts deserve their own EGOT; Hines’ stage-five clinger is fantastically deranged, a child-like widow who can’t understand why her daughter wouldn’t want to be her best friend, or have her face screen-printed on her own pajamas. And Sarandon rolls in in lipstick and leather like she never stopped shooting The Banger Sisters.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

The Star

Starring: Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant, Zachary Levi, Christopher Plummer, Ving Rhames
Director: Timothy Reckart
Rating: G

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Lady Bird

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Lois Smith
Director: Greta Gerwig
Rating: R

Review: “Gerwig doesn’t trap her protagonist in the oblivious underage bubble that most coming-of-age dramedies inhabit; Lady Bird’s parents, played by Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf, are fully formed humans with their own deep flaws and vulnerabilities. Their messiness is hereditary but it’s also a gift, the wind beneath their weird little Bird’s wings.” A-

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges
Director: Martin McDonagh
Rating: R

Review: “A tar-black comedy so caustic it nearly burns a hole in the screen, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri banks a lot on the gale force of Frances McDormand, and nearly pulls it off. She’ll walk away with an Oscar nod almost as surely as her formidable Mildred Hayes marches into the local rental agency and lays her life savings down on those billboards, blank space she rents to send a message to the local sheriff (Woody Harrelson) that asking nicely hasn’t seemed to accomplish. Specifically, that her daughter has been dead for seven months — raped and beaten and burned alive — and no one has come close to catching who did it.” B

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

The Florida Project

Starring: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
Director: Sean Baker
Rating: R

Review: “But it’s also not hard to see that there’s nothing sweet about Moonee’s prospects; as Halley’s emotional and financial situation slides into the red, so does their already tenuous existence. Dafoe’s sensitive performance anchors the movie’s slippery adult world, and Baker builds a cinematic mood beautifully; the strip malls and swampland and buzzing cicadas on screen feel as real and tactile as the theater seat beneath you. Once he establishes it, though, he doesn’t seem to quite know where to take it, and the story begins to feel more like a series of strung-together anecdotes: an intriguing project, incomplete.” B

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)


Starring: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige
Director: Dee Rees
Rating: R

Review: “There are a half dozen or so main characters in Dee Rees’ devastating, festival-tested epic about race, poverty, and the war being fought at home and abroad in rural Mississippi in the ’40s. So it seems like a small miracle that by the end of the film, you feel as though you’ve lived inside all of their heads, felt inside all of their hearts, and walked in their shoes. I’m not quite sure how Rees (2011’s Pariah) has done it, exactly, but the depth of heartbreak and humanity in this — just her second feature film — is remarkable.” A-

Where to watch: Netflix (watch now)

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating: R

EW review: “The title is a tip-off to the literary ambitions of writer-director Noah Baumbach’s semi-dark Netflix comedy, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). It gives off the faint bookish whiff of a J.D. Salinger short story collection. And what unspools over the next comedically caustic two hours does as well. This is a New York-set fable about a dysfunctional, artsy family and its discontents that are aimed at the same audience who appreciated previous Baumbach films such as The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. It’s smart, relatable, laughter-through-psychic pain entertainment that happens to be elevated by a handful of wonderful performances even if it, at times, feels like a lesser version of The Royal Tenenbaums — another urbane tale about an oblivious, difficult, self-centered patriarch and the lingering damage he’s done to his three neurotic, now-grown children.” B

Where to watch: Netflix (watch now)