It’s almost a cliché to write a thinkpiece about the lack of diversity in the latest set of Oscar nominations. Every year, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences congratulates the best films that English-speaking cis-het white men produced in the preceding year, and also some of the bad ones too. Oh, and they’ll also throw in a meagre handful of films made by women, people of color, etc. The slate of nominees for the upcoming 2020 Academy Awards is exceptionally representative of this feet-dragging approach to representation and inclusivity.
Last year was probably one of the best years for film in quite some time. Throughout the entire fall, week after week, it felt like the phrase “oh, this is going to be in my top ten for sure” became incredibly common. From Bong-Ho Joon’s enthralling and mind-blowing depiction of class with “Parasite” to the box-office smashing end of the Infinity Saga with the Russo Brothers’ “Avengers: Endgame”, there were so many new kinds of stories and visions that constantly pushed genre boundaries. 2019 was especially a great year for female filmmakers as there was an onslaught of incredible films from both new and already established women in film.
Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” encapsulates everything which made Fred Rogers such an inspiration to children over the years, and the film carries its message of goodness and love so sincerely that even in this increasingly cynical world.
“Little Woods” isn’t a perfect film, but it certainly is an indication that Nia DaCosta is a director to keep our eye on. While it has much to say about the United States that is particularly relevant, it is also a movie about the lengths that sisters will go to for each other. If you’re looking to catch up on some films in 2019 that were overlooked, “Little Woods” is a great place to start.
As we approach the end of 2019, the ITOL team are compiling their end of year lists of their favourite films. Here's James Cain's list and his personal top 20 films of 2019! Another year, another fresh bout of shame. I didn’t see “Hustlers”! I didn’t fit “Always Be My Maybe” onto my list of favourite movies! Anyway, here are my Top 20 Films of 2019.
Regardless of your opinion on the merits (or lack thereof) of Batman vs Superman, there was a clear winner that came out of it all. Though only in the film for a handful of scenes it was immediately obvious that Diana, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), was going to be a force to be reckoned with in her own solo film. This film also came at a perfect time for the DCEU. While the MCU was racking up critical and box office successes, they were yet to have a solo film for any of their female characters or a film directed by a woman. DC decided to buck that trend and handed the reins of one of their trinity to Patty Jenkins. It came as a bit of a surprise, given the last film she had directed was "Monster" in 2003, and a far cry from a superhero film.
To say that "Black Christmas" is the movie society needs to take note of is a massive understatement. Directed by Sopia Takal and written by herself and April Wolfe, "Black Christmas" is a modern updating of the 1974 classic. Whereas most remakes and reboots take the safe and give us what we as an audience expect, this 2019 update is at once a loving tribute to the original but also pushes it into scary and very real directions. Lead by a standout performance by Imogen Poots as Riley Stone, "Black Christmas" has themes that are sure to resonate with young women. Riley, herself a victim of a sexual assault, is forced throughout to constantly face her abuser and the ramifications of her speaking out against him.
I had the unique privilege of reading My Abandonment in Pete Rock’s creative nonfiction class during my junior year at Reed College, a tiny, liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. I already knew that I wanted to write a creative thesis my senior year, but I had not yet taken a creative writing class (oops). Pete was kind enough to take a chance on me, accepting me into his mostly full upper-level course. It was in this course that we read a vast array of creative nonfiction, a unique genre that Pete capped off with one of his own works. The writing of My Abandonment is solid, of course, the story of a weathered Iraq war verteran and his thirteen-year-old daughter imbued with the rough Oregon life that I myself had been growing accustomed to for the past two and a half years.
Every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosts the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes are used as a predictor for Oscar nominations. As always, there are only so many slots for each category. Not every actor, filmmaker, or movie can be nominated. But the Golden Globes typically proves to be pretty white and male dominated. This year, five male filmmakers were nominated for Best Director. Bong Joon-Ho, who directed “Parasite” (2019), is the only non-white person nominated. The other nominees, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino are all white dudes. And, in my frank and honest and personal opinion, it is comprised of mediocre white film bros. Sue me. (Actually, please don’t. I have lots of student loans.)