Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

It is perhaps ironic for a film titled News of the World to have nothing actually new within it. Fortunately, it’s doing very familiar things very well, so even if the exact people most likely to enjoy what it’s doing (diehard Western fans) are exactly the people most likely to have seen it all before, […]

August Wilson’s 1984 play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is, to my mind, one of the best American plays from the latter half of the 20th Century. I have not, of course, read all of them, and I have seen even fewer, but still, we’re talking about a towering piece of theater from a formidable talent, […]

I can barely process the words I’m about to type myself, but here goes nothing: imagine if – and it is a tough thing to imagine if you haven’t seen the evidence – imagine if there was a film about a 1970s British glam rock superstar so fucking bad that it made Bohemian Rhapsody look […]

My first response to Mank has absolutely nothing do with the what we do see in the film, and everything to do with what we don’t: this is not, as was rumored, “Raising Kane: The Movie“, and for that I am grateful. “Raising Kane”, if you have the good fortunate not to have read it, […]

J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis came out at a perfect time to be glommed onto by political and cultural commentators from every corner who desperately needed something that could shore up their Grand Narrative about what happened in American politics that year. I myself haven’t […]

The soullessly glossy new version of Rebecca, paid for and distributed by the soulless gloss specialists at Netflix, lives in the shadows of ghosts. There is the ghost of Daphne Du Maurier’s beloved 1938 novel, one of the pinnacles of inter-war Gothic fiction, still a widely-read classic. And there is the ghost of the 1940 […]

The project that has finally emerged as The Trial of the Chicago 7, a direct-to-Netflix that was supposed to be Paramount’s big awards push and the inaugural film of Oscar movie season back in the Before Times, has been percolating since 2006. That was when Steven Spielberg commissioned Aaron Sorkin to write a film based […]

We arrive now at the only time that the Oscar for Best Picture been awarded to a single piece of music. For if there’s any other explanation for how Chariots of Fire took the top prize at the Academy Awards for 1981, I’m god-damned if I know what it might be. Nomination leader and Best […]

Worse films have won the Best Picture Oscar than 1933’s Cavalcade, though not many. I think there is a real argument to be made, though, that it is the most defective movie to win that award. Sure, 1929’s The Broadway Melody and 1931’s Cimarron are both weaker technically, with their janky early sound hiccups, and […]

I have a my disagreements with legendary film critic Pauline Kael, some of them fairly intense, but one thing I’ll never fault her for: she could write a hell of a sentence. And there’s no sentence of hers I co-sign more eagerly than the one that she used to start her review of Rain Man, […]

Fred Zinnemann is the epitome of a certain kind of film director. He was a workhorse – not a hack, not somebody who’d just show up and do the job in the most uninspired way, but somebody who still did obviously view it as a job. There’s nothing flashy in a Zinnemann film, but they’re […]

There’s no way around the elephant in the room, so it’s best just to start with it, and clear it out: yes, Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for Best Picture, and because of that, Saving Private Ryan did not. If you click on that link and compare my star ratings, you’ll note that I […]