Being only the fifth woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director, Greta Gerwig’s work and accomplishments have had a monumental impact on women across all industries. But, Lady Bird‘s highest nominations offer a deeper significance for a group of women I am proud to be a part of. Like Gerwig, I am a St. Francis High School alumna, an all-girls, Catholic high school in Sacramento, California. As St. Francis Troubadours, aka Troubies, we were taught that we would one day change the world, whether it be in STEM or the arts. Seeing other girls doing such amazing things as teenagers only made me eager to see what I, and the young women I went to school with, would do as adults.
This essay is by our guest writer Edina Alix.
In the Twitter bio of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it reads “we champion the power of human imagination.” In the last ninety years of the academy’s existence however, this “human imagination” has been overwhelmingly straight, white and male. In this year’s Oscar nominations alone, only one of the five directors nominated for best director was a woman (Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”) and her presence in the prestigious lineup marked the end of an eight year dry spell of the exclusive “boys club” of male directors in the category. Dee Rees (Mudbound) was snubbed of a best director nomination, marking yet another year that no women of color were nominated for best director. What was truly shocking was that this year marked the very first time that a woman was nominated for best cinematographer (Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound”) in the entire history of the Academy Awards.
* This piece contains spoilers on the endings of Del Toro’s 2006 work Pan’s Labyrinth, 2015 work Crimson Peak and 2017 work Shape of Water.
My relationship with literature long before I knew how to read, with my mother taking at least half an hour of her night before my bedtime to read me stories. There was never a single night lacking the sound of turning pages and her raspy yet sweet voice; no matter how tired or sad she was, my mother would knock on my door exacly at nine thirthy, and we would spend our little quality time together until I fell asleep in her arms. And if there’s one reason that I became an avid reader, a maybe-future writer, a literature student: it is because of her, and her efforts.
This, of course, also meant that as I grew older and older, our libraries merged into one, too. Of course, there wwere my populist fantasy series — looking at you Harry Potter and Twilight —, which I would read even on my way to home from school while walking, and there were her thick, old looking books from Turkish novelists. Somewhere in the middle, just after I became a highschool student and started one of the hardest periods of my teenage years, I started picking up books from her side of the shelves. Then came Paul Coelho and Isabel Allende, Camus and Christie, Le Guin and Kafka, but most important of them all, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was the favorite writer of my mother, and he quickly became mine too. His writing style, even when translated, had the power to carry me from my reality to another one; one that still seemed so close yet so far away, a purgatory between reality and dream. As I learned later later, this was called magical realism, a very popular type of fiction from Latin American literature that was known for its merging of fantasy elements with otherwise “normal” settings.
After months of a less than fruitful awards season, the beginning of the home stretch is finally upon us: Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow. With our varied taste at Much Ado, some of us have celebrated as their favourite films win big at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards, while others have suffered as their favourites get paid dust. It’s been a tumultuous couple of months, but now it’s time to honour the grand old tradition of making predictions. Without further ado, we present our Oscar predictions, along with some films and performances that we think deserve more awards attention.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” whispers Margaret White to herself, near the start of the infamous third arc of Brian De Palma’s 1976-made cult masterpiece Carrie, based on Stephen Kings’s novel of the same name and starring Sissy Spacek in the titular role of a demure, innocent high-school girl who realizes she has telekinetic powers after her first period. The setting is the movie’s silence before the storm, with Carrie having just left her mother alone in their home to go to the prom, which is in itself an act of rebellion that accumulates the varying loose threads of her growing confidence in a final push against her mother, who begs her not the go many times, basing her protests on the ground that “they’re (as in her peers) all gonna laugh at her”. Carrie doesn’t listen to her mother’s paranoid arguments and leaves, happy to finally be seen as beautiful and noteworthy, her breasts showing behind her pink dress and a corsage in her hand, given by William Katt’s Tommy Ross.
From the snarky title, you may think I hate this film, but I promise you, that is the opposite of how I feel.
Every film fan and film student loves it when a new Paul Thomas Anderson film comes out. He’s directed six critically acclaimed films (and Inherent Vice), and his style is so unique that you could tell he directed it by watching just a five minute clip with no context. Much like Scorsese, Tarantino, Kubrick and Spielberg, I consider Paul Thomas Anderson one of the great auteurs of our time, and I’m very happy I’m alive during a time when I can see his films in a theater.
Phantom Thread is the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a dressmaker well into his 60s, who has a very particular way of living and treating others. He is both eccentric and reclusive, giving off a sort of Charles Foster Kane vibe at times. His very strange way of living is challenged by Alma (Vicky Krieps), a French waitress he meets when going out for breakfast alone one day. From this interaction on, we see Reynolds and Alma develop a very beautiful, complicated, and at times twisted relationship, that is one of the most unique on screen romances portrayed in a very long time. Continue reading “Review: Phantom Thread: Who Better to Do Fifty Shades of Grey than Paul Thomas Anderson?”
Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen this movie before at some point.
You know what movie I’m talking about: that true underdog story of a man or woman, who was very disliked in the beginning, breaking through their social barriers to make real change, whether that change be in politics, film, music, etc. This film I’m describing is your standard biopic.
The term bio-pic is short for biographical picture, so this sub-genre of film mostly focuses on true life stories of real and influential people, and most of them subscribe to the formula mentioned above. The most popular, and effective biopics use this formula, but make variations to it. The best examples of this would be films like The Aviator, Goodfellas, Walk the Line, Lawrence of Arabia, Ray, and more recently, The Disaster Artist. There are even films like this that break the mold that I mentioned previously like Love & Mercy, Malcolm X, Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, Frida, Secret Honor, The Social Network, Raging Bull, I’m Not There, and Steve Jobs, which use non-linear structures or examine short periods of time in the persons life instead of trying to cover every one of their accomplishments in a two hour time frame.
However, the films that have actually perfected this formula are few and far between. The majority of biopics are incredibly stale, bland, and lazy ways of big studios trying to win an Oscar. These films range from being flat out bad (Jobs, Gacy, I Saw The Light, Hidden Figures, J. Edgar, American Made, Amelia, Gold, Jersey Boys, American Sniper) to being painfully average like The Founder, Lincoln, Bleed for This, and most recently, Darkest Hour.