Top 10 Films of 2019 + Honorable Mentions

HAPPY NEW YEAR … and welcome to a new decade!

(I think you can still say that until end of Jan right? 😀 )

Well, it’s time for the obligatory Top 10 Best list. I usually post mine a bit later in January, but this year, time ran away with me as next week is already February! But hey, I think it’s still fine to post one’s top 10 list before the Oscars anyway.

Since there are still plenty of 2019 movies I have not seen yet, I should preface this post with the fact that I haven’t seen The Lighthouse, The Two Popes, Dolemite Is My Name, Uncut Gems, Honey Boy, The Irishman, etc. which might alter my current Top 10.

It goes without saying of course, that it’s my list… my criteria is that a film makes a lasting impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply-moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Replay-ability is a factor I take into consideration as well, though I don’t necessarily want to rewatch every single film on my list.

Well without further ado, here we go… 

Top 10 Films of 2019

(In alphabetical order)

1. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

I just remembered that the Mr. Rogers’ documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was on my Top 10 of 2018. I didn’t even grow up watching his show, but I do know of his legendary kindness and iconic red cardigan. I love that Marielle Heller’s heart-rending film isn’t really about Fred Rogers himself, but more about his friendship between him and journalist Lloyd Vogel. Tom Hanks is an obvious choice to play Mr. Rogers given his also legendary ‘nice guy’ reputation, but Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper are also exceptional in portraying a combative relationship between father and son. The film definitely captures the essence of Mr. Rogers and how kindness is always on trend.

2. A Hidden Life

I have to say that Terrence Malick is a hit and miss filmmaker for me, but I was immediately intrigued when I heard about Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian conscientious objector who refuses to fight for the Nazis in WWII. It’s an undeniable s-l-o-w film but it doesn’t feel tedious or boring to me as the reflective style is absorbing, boasted by the performances of August Diehl as Franz and Valerie Pachner as his wife Fani. You truly feel for them as they struggle to stand by their Christian principles to oppose the Nazis, despite being clearly hated by the community and seen as traitors of sort. The stunning visuals are to be expected in a Malick’s film, but it never overshadows the narrative. Definitely an emotional experience and an inspiring one about what it means to courageously stand firm in one’s faith.

3. The Farewell (my review)

If you’ve read my review from last Spring, you’d already know how much I adore this film. I’m dismayed that the Oscars completely snubbed the film, director Lulu Wang and Awkwafina‘s performance, but hey it’s definitely NOT the end of the road for everyone involved. It’s such a compelling, specific-yet-universal story told in a brilliant way, funny and heartbreaking. As an SE-Asian woman living in the US, the story struck a chord with me and it made me think of my own family and the cultural clashes I sometimes face as an immigrant. The Farewell has a deceptively simple premise but one that packs a wallop, I sure hope Wang will continue to make films in the future!

4. Fighting With My Family

What a year for Florence Pugh! I didn’t even know who she was a year ago and this year she’s got not one but TWO films on my Top 10 list! I remember hearing from someone that this is a good movie, and despite not being a fan of wrestling at all, I decided to rent it. I’m SO glad I did. Pugh is absolutely mesmerizing as a small-town UK girl who dreamed of being a WWE superstar. But the supporting cast is wonderful as well, including Jack Lowden, Lena Heady and Nick Frost who made up her family. Thanks to a fantastic script and direction by the multi-talented Stephen Merchant, this is such a hidden gem that should’ve gotten more love. It also boast one of the most memorable performances from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson playing himself!

5. Jojo Rabbit (my review)

This is one of the three movies I saw at Twin Cities Film Fest that ended up in my Top 10 (the other two are Marriage Story and A Hidden Life). I had been a fan of Taika Waititi, as he’s got such a gift of mixing humor and pathos. He’s done it again this time with this rather controversial film, with the filmmaker portraying Adolf Hitler, no less! It’s always tricky to make a satire, especially involving the Holocaust. But Jojo Rabbit is a deceptively flippant film as it tackles a deeply emotional story and there’s SO much more than meets the eye. Taika’s gift in casting child actors makes brilliant use of Roman Griffin Davis as the lead, and Archie Yates as his hilarious BFF Yorki. I doubt it’ll win Best Picture, but it sure deserves its nomination.

6. Knives Out (my review)

I’m SO glad I got to see this before the end of the year in the theater! As it turns out, this film’s got legs as it’s still playing in some cinemas, more than two months after it’s released around Thanksgiving! Perhaps some people went to see it multiple times, and it’s easy to see why. Rian Johnson‘s delightful whodunnit has a brilliant script and a fun ensemble cast who seem to have a blast in their roles. Apparently Daniel Craig loved playing detective Benoit Blanc so much there’s rumor of a sequel with him reprising the character. It’s definitely a breakout role for Ana de Armas who proves that she’s quite a versatile performer.

7. Little Women (my review)

I have to admit that when everyone was swooning over Ladybird, I was a bit skeptical. When I finally got around to it, I wasn’t really wowed by Greta Gerwig‘s writing nor direction. But her sophomore effort won me over, and her Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nominations are well deserved. Once again starring Saoirse Ronan in the lead role, Gerwig did a beautiful job adapting Louisa May Alcott‘s classic novel. The non-linear narrative is a bold directing choice but somehow the film flows nicely and has an immersive quality. I love how each character has a proper arc with its own ups and downs. It’s an inspiring story for the ages and it’s infused with wonderfully memorable scenes that I know I’ll enjoy again and again.

8. Marriage Story

I’m doing this list in alphabetical order, so it’s interesting that the next film on the list is written/directed by Gerwig’s life partner, Noah Baumbach. I’ve actually only seen one film he’s directed, While We’re Young, which I like but not love. But I can say with confidence that I LOVE Marriage Story. If someone were to ask me which 2019 movie that made the most impression on me, I’d say it’s this one. I tip my hat off to Baumbach for creating such a marvelous script that feels so natural and incredibly immersive. The story about the dissolution of a marriage is nothing new, but the genius is in the execution and the way the story is told. I felt like I was watching the characters Charlie and Nicole on screen instead of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, which are a testament to their acting prowess. I sometimes think using letters to convey an emotion can be such cliché, but not only did Baumbach make it work beautifully, the scenes are pivotal to the story. Needless to say, I am rooting for this one to win Best Original Screenplay (I certainly hope it would NOT go to Tarantino!!)

9. Parasite

Parasite made Oscar history with six nominations, the first Korean feature to compete at the Academy Awards! I think many fans of Korean cinema know the power of Korean films, and Bong  Joon  Ho is definitely one of its best filmmakers. The story about a destitute clan injecting themselves into a wealthy family is a shrewd blend of black comedy, social satire, and Hitchcockian thriller. It’s definitely one of the most indelible films I’ve seen in a while, not just last year. Greed, class system, and familial loyalty are all universal themes even when it’s told in a specific culture and time. The film is full of surprises and some even made me gasp out loud, I know some scenes would be tough to forget. Now, it’d be a total surprise to me if Parasite would go on to win the coveted Best Picture, but this masterful piece of cinema certainly deserves a place amongst the nominees.

10. Toy Story 4

I never thought I’d include this movie on this list as honestly, I thought Toy Story 3 was a perfect ending to a fantastic trilogy. I almost didn’t even want to see it, but I’m glad I decided to give it a go. Well, leave it to director Josh Cooley and the Pixar team to craft yet another heartwarming tale of adventure that’s not just a soulless cash grab. Woody, Buzz and the ‘ol toy gang are back together again… who doesn’t love a good reunion story? But they run into new toys such as Forky and Duke Caboom who enliven their adventure and prove to us once again that this is truly the best animated franchise ever. For a movie about toys, Toy Story 4 (and its predecessors) carries such an emotional poignancy and deep humanity for anyone of all ages.


20 Honorable Mentions

(in random order)

Some of the movies here I like very, very much and I have actually enjoyed more than the ones on my main top 10. Some I appreciate but I don’t really feel like watching it again.

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  1. Aladdin 
  2. Always Be My Maybe
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Blinded By The Light
  5. Captain Marvel
  6. Ford Vs. Ferrari
  7. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 
  8. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
  9. John Wick 3: Parabellum
  10. Joker
  11. Late Night
  12. Motherless Brooklyn
  13. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  14. Peanut Butter Falcon
  15. Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct
  16. Spiderman: Far From Home
  17. The Report
  18. Triple Frontier
  19. Wedding Guest
  20. Yesterday

Best Series I saw in 2019:

  • Killing Eve – season 1
  • The Crown – season 3
  • The Man In The High Castle

Well, what do you think of my Top 10 list? Any of your favorites on the list?

Thursday Movie Picks #288: Films Released In 2019

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! I can’t believe it’s been five years since I participated in this weekly Thursday Movie Picks blogathon that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 2019 Releases

Well, since I am still working on my Top 10 Best of 2019 that I’m planning to post next week (as I always like to wait at least a week or two after new year before publishing), then consider this post a preview of what you’ll see either on my main list or honorable mentions. I’ll choose three that I haven’t personally reviewed it myself.

So without further ado, here are my picks:

Marriage Story

A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.

I saw this film back in October 2019 at Twin Cities Film Fest, and I still remember how much I was taken by it. Somehow I haven’t gotten around to writing a review of it, not sure why because I have SO much praise for it. Perhaps it’ll be too long of a review, ahah. If someone were to ask me my favorite film of 2019, I often say this one right away because it’s on my mind so much. I just LOVE Noah Baumbach‘s script, which I feel depicts a dissolution of a marriage in an unflinching-ly real and emotional way, with the actors performing in such a naturalistic way it’s as if I was watching the characters themselves, not a performance. I kind of have a thing for Adam Driver these days, and he’s absolutely phenomenal here (plus he sang, too!)

I actually have only seen one film he directed, While We’re Young, and while I like parts of it, I didn’t really love it. But I know I’ll be rooting for Baumbach to win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars!

A Hidden Life

Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter faces the threat of execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

I actually just had a discussion about this film with my fellow blogger Keith who also loved this movie (check out his review of this film here). It’s definitely a return to form for Terrence Malick, which tells the true story of a conscientious objector during World War II. It’s a slow, reflective film but not-at-all boring… it’s a typical Malick film with gorgeous cinematography and long silences, but unlike his previous film Knight Of Cups (a film about a screenwriter without a script??!), this time it has such a strong emotional center. I truly felt for Franz and his wife and their struggle is so painstakingly-palpable. Truly an unforgettable film that stays with you long after the end credits roll.

Peanut Butter Falcon

After running away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler, a man who has Down syndrome befriends an outlaw who becomes his coach and ally.

One of my awesome blog contributors Holly P. has reviewed this a while back,  but I had finally seen it this past weekend. Oh it’s such a delightful film and Zack Gottsagen will steal your heart. I think it’s wonderful that the film employed an actor with Down syndrome to portray a character with that condition and he did a marvelous job. I love the relationship between him and his co-stars Dakota Johnson and Shia LaBeouf, there are SO many scenes that pack such emotional wallop. It’s such a funny, uplifting film, definitely one of the best 2019 offerings. In fact, I think it should’ve gotten more awards love than some movies that got nominated recently.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

Musings on 2020 Golden Globes nominations – who got snubbed?

Happy Monday everyone! I just came back yesterday afternoon from a three-day shoot of my third short film that I produced. So I’ve sort of been out of it in terms of award season. Well it’s officially here!! Snow and awards nominations, two things one can expect in December (yep, the white stuff is falling as I’m typing this!)

So the nominations were announced this morning by Tim Allen, Dakota Fanning and Susan Kelechi. In terms of which studio got the most noms, well Netflix definitely leads the pack with a whopping 34 nominations, 17 for films and 17 for different tv series. In fact, it’s definitely the era for streaming giants, as for the first time ever, not a single program nor performer from major networks were nominated.

Now per usual, in addition to my thoughts about the nominees, I thought I’d include my winner pick for some of the categories… this isn’t necessarily who I WANT to win, but who I think WOULD win, but sometimes it’s both.

Here is the full list of 2020 Golden Globe nominees…

Best Motion Picture – Drama

1917
The Irishman
Joker
The Two Popes
Marriage Story

I’m SO behind this year so I’ve only seen Joker and Marriage Story. I absolutely LOVED the latter and had me thinking about it for weeks. It’s definitely one of the best dramas I’ve seen, not just this year, and I’m glad Noah Baumbach is getting a Best Screenplay nominations. For sure I’ll be rooting for him to win in that category!

My winner pick: Marriage Story


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Renée Zellweger, Judy
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Man, I’m kicking myself that I’ve only seen ONE of these (well, Little Women‘s press screening isn’t until next week). Scarlett was incredible in Marriage Story, and I have heard great things about all the other performers so this is one tough category!! But if I absolutely had to pick one who I think would win… well I feel like the HFPA loves Renée and everyone loves a comeback.

My winner pick: Renée Zellweger


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Ok I’ve seen three performances of this list (Driver, Phoenix and Bale). I LOVE all three of them, but given all the buzz surrounding Joker, I have a strong feeling Joaquin Phoenix would nab the award. I think it’s a safe bet he’d rake in ALL of the awards in the Best Actor category this year. Though I’m not in love with the film, Joaquin is an excellent actor and this win would be well deserved.

My winner pick: Joaquin Phoenix


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Dolemite Is My Name
Knives Out
Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Rocketman

Somehow I thought Rocketman would be in last year’s category?? In any case, I LOVE Jojo Rabbit (read my review), but somehow I have a hunch that Rian Johnson’s star-studded Knives Out would win this category. I’m hoping to see it this weekend and everything about it just looks SO good!!

My winner pick: Knives Out 


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Awkwafina, The Farewell
Ana de Armas, Knives Out
Cate Blanchett, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart
Emma Thompson, Late Night

Firstly, woo hoo for Awkwafina!! I was worried she would be snubbed, so I’m thrilled to see her here along with Emma Thompson in Late Night. I’m sad for the lack of love for that film, but Emma was wonderful as a talk show host. It’s been quite a year for miss de Armas, but I can’t wait to see her in Knives Out. I read she almost turned down the role? She’d have to send a huge thank you note to Rian Johnson for convincing her to accept it AND for giving her a juicy role. Now, for this category, my winner pick is one I’d WANT to and SHOULD win.

My winner pick: Awkwafina


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Daniel Craig, Knives Out
Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Taron Egerton, Rocketman
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Wow, what a week for Daniel Craig. The GG noms and first trailer for No Time To Die are released on the same week! He looks like he’s having an absolute blast in Knives Out, though he faces some tough competition in this category. No surprise to see Leo here, I do think he deserves a nom in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, though again, it makes me smile seeing Eddie Murphy‘s name on here, glad to see him make a strong comeback.

My winner pick: Eddie Murphy


Best Supporting Actress 

Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Annette Bening, The Report
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Seeing this list just made me sad I’ve only seen ONE from the list Laura Dern, and she’s definitely memorable as one of the slimy divorce lawyers. I’ve heard so many terrific things about everyone else’s performances (except for Bates who I didn’t even know is in Richard Jewell). So this pick is more based on instinct…

My winner pick: Jennifer Lopez


Best Supporting Actor 

Al Pacino, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Wow, every single one of these actors in this categories are older white men. Brad Pitt is the youngest at 55 years old, with Anthony Hopkins as the oldest at 81 (hey, it’ll be a Meet Joe Black reunion at the GG telecast, ha!) I LOVE Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but seeing him here just makes me think where is director Marielle Heller and Matthew Rhys in the Supporting Actor Category?? (more on that later).

My winner pick: Brad Pitt


Best Motion Picture – Animated

Toy Story 4
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Missing Link
The Lion King

I feel like How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was released quite a while ago. I have only seen that one and Toy Story 4 which exceeded my expectations. I know I REALLY don’t want to see The Lion King win somehow, and honestly I’d rather go back and watch the 1994 animated classic.

My winner pick: Toy Story 4


Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

Parasite
The Farewell
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Les Misérables
Pain and Glory

I’m kicking myself that I had a conflict when Les Misérables was screened at TCFF. It looked absolutely intense from the trailer. I haven’t had a chance to see Parasite either, which has been raking all kinds of film festival awards including Cannes’ Palme d’Or. I’d say Bong Joon Ho‘s film is the one to beat this year.

My winner pick: Parasite


Best Director – Motion Picture

Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Sam Mendes, 1917
Todd Phillips, Joker
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Ok I can’t believe I’m gonna say the same thing as last year… Um, firstly… where are the female directors?? Hello???! LA Times listed the female directors who should’ve been nominated this year: Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), among others.

Oh well.

Looking at this list… I guess I see the usual suspects that makes me go ‘meh.’ Todd Phillips?? Really?? I thought I’d see Robert Eggers‘ name on there given how well-received The Lighthouse has been.

My winner pick: Bong Joon-ho


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, Parasite
Steven Zaillian, The Irishman

As I mentioned before, I REALLY love Marriage Story. I feel like it’s the kind of film where the “special effect” IS the script. The dialog and how the film is structured is simply amazing, and the no-frills filmmaking style and naturalistic acting just made the words come to life. I have yet to see the others nominated here, but Baumbach’s script set such a high bar that at this point, I can’t imagine wanting someone else to win.

My winner pick: Marriage Story


Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat, Little Women
Hildur Guðnadóttir, Joker
Randy Newman, Marriage Story
Thomas Newman, 1917
Daniel Pemberton, Motherless Brooklyn

Well I know which one I DID NOT love, Guðnadóttir’s Joker, which I found a bit distracting. I was so immersed in the dialog in Marriage Story I barely notice the score (which I suppose is a good thing!), but I did remember Daniel Pemberton‘s gorgeous score in Motherless Brooklyn. I have a hunch it wouldn’t win however, somehow I have a feeling this could be Newman’s year (he’s been nominated for Oscars 13 times but have yet to win one, he’s like the Roger Deakins in the composer category).

My winner pick: Thomas Newman – 1917


Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“Beautiful Ghosts,” Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats
“Into the Unknown,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Frozen II
“Spirit,” Beyoncé, The Lion King
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Elton John, Rocketman
“Stand Up,” Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

I don’t really have a particular favorite out of this, but I have a feeling this might be the only category Rocketman would bring home an award.

My winner pick: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again, Elton John


Best Television Series – Drama

Big Little Lies
The Crown
Killing Eve
The Morning Show
Succession

I’ll refrain from making my pick as I’ve only seen The Crown (all 3 seasons) and season 1 of Killing Eve. Kinda surprised to see The Morning Show as I heard it isn’t that great? But glad to see Brian Cox’s Succession is nominated, he’s such a formidable actor and that show looks marvelous.


I’m going to refrain from picking my winner picks in most of these TV categories, except for a handful of categories. The one I think would win is in bold. Yes I have picked winners from films/shows I haven’t seen before, but I don’t have any strong hunch or feelings about the following shows and performers to make up my mind. 

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Brian Cox, Succession
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Tobias Menzies, The Crown
Billy Porter, Pose

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
Ben Platt, The Politician
Paul Rudd, Living With Yourself
Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kirsten Dunst, On Becoming a God in Central Florida
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series

Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Andrew Scott, Fleabag
Stellan Skarsgård, Chernobyl
Henry Winkler, Barry

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series

Patricia Arquette, The Act
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Toni Collette, Unbelievable
Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
Emily Watson, Chernobyl

Best Actor In a Limited Series or TV Motion Picture

Christopher Abbott, Catch-22
Sacha Baron Cohen, The SpyRussell Crowe, The Loudest Voice
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

Best Actress In a Limited Series or TV Motion Picture

Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
Joey King, The Act
Helen Mirren, Catherine the Great
Merritt Wever, Unbelievable
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon


Biggest Surprises

Well, for me it’s Roman Griffin Davis for Jojo Rabbit. He’s only 12 years old, though he’s not the youngest ever to be nominated. According to this article, Jackie Cooper was the youngest to be nominated in Best Leading Actor category at 9 years old for his performance in Skippy. I thought Davis was excellent, though I think Thomasin McKenzie warrants a nom as well in the Supporting Actress category.

I remember going to a film fest gala earlier this Fall and saw someone who just went to Telluride and I asked him what his favorite film was. He said The Two Popes. But then I forgot all about it, so in terms of Best Picture, that film was a huge surprise to me. The film hasn’t opened until later in December, but I’ll probably wait ’til it’s on streaming. I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other, it was more like ‘wait what??’ I thought I’d see The Lighthouse in the Best Picture noms list, which brings me to…

Most egregious snubs

I’m keeping what I’ve written last year [sigh] Well firstly, the obvious… where are the female directors?? In a year with a bunch of strong female contenders, it’s so disheartening.

Out of the five possible female directors to be nominated that I mentioned above, I’m most dismayed for the omission of Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Lulu Wang (The Farewell) Heller was snubbed last year too for Can You Ever Forgive Me? 

The filmmaker power couple Greta Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach are both shut out of Best Director category. I wonder if this is going to be the same at the Oscars??

As for the performers… last year I was disappointed Viola Davis didn’t get nominated for Widows. Well, this year it’s another exceptional black actress, Lupita Nyong’O for Us.

In the male categories, where are Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe?? Did HFPA have something against The Lighthouse? Maybe it’s too off the wall for them?? I’d think one of those actors is a shoo-in this year in the leading and supporting category.

I also think Matthew Rhys was snubbed. He’s such an underrated actor and he’s fantastic as the bitter journalist in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. His transformation towards the end is so deeply moving, and he more than held his own against Hanks.

I know people are upset for the lack of noms for Robert De Niro (The Irishman) and Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems). I am surprised by that given all the buzz, esp De Niro since his two co-stars (Pesci and Pacino) are nominated, but not exactly up in arms as I’m not the biggest fan of either of them.


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST unveils 2019 lineup! 100+ Premieres + Critically-acclaimed award season favorites

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, TCFF pulls out all the stops in presenting a phenomenal lineup this year. I have been covering TCFF since its inception year and so to me, every year is truly special, but I have to say that this year’s lineup is absolutely phenomenal!!!

Featuring 100+ premieres and award season favorites (many of TCFF spotlight/opening night films went on to win Oscars!), it’s no hyperbole to say this is going to be the best TCFF year yet!!

OPENING NIGHT TO CELEBRATE LAUDED TORONTO WINNER JOJO RABBIT & ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE TALIA SHIRE

More than 60 percent of 2019 program driven by female filmmakers; other top festival darlings set to debut in Minnesota include Marriage Story, Waves, Honey Boy, Motherless Brooklyn, Just Mercy, A Hidden Life, The Aeronauts, Premature and Saint Frances


Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 19, 2019) — Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) announces its full schedule for their 2019 festival, set to take place October 16-26 at the Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theatres at The Shops at West End. Coming off an electrifying September gala that celebrated filmmaker and Minnesota native Jim Burke, the producer behind Green Book which took home both this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture and last year’s top festival prize, TCFF 2019 marks the organization’s 10th anniversary and arrives with a special focus on both female filmmakers and films that advance this year’s social justice cause: environmental sustainability.

Taika Waititi in JOJO RABBIT

Among the top awards contenders from the festival circuit set to land at TCFF next month are Taika Waititi’s Holocaust dramedy Jojo Rabbit (Oct. 16) which last weekend took home the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival — often considered an early harbinger of what could contend for Best Picture in the winter — as well as Noah Baumbach’s marital drama Marriage Story, headlined by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and recognized as this year’s TCFF Breakthrough Vision (Oct. 19), and Trey Edward Shults’s lauded family drama Waves, starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Lucas Hedges and honored as this year’s Virtuoso Selection (Oct. 26).

Other notable studio entries include the new Eddie Redmayne-Felicity Jones hot air balloon adventure The Aeronauts (Oct. 17); Terrence Malick’s war epic A Hidden Life (Oct. 20); the star-studded Edward Norton-directed crime drama Motherless Brooklyn (Oct. 24); and the stunning Shia LaBeouf-penned biopic Honey Boy with Director Alma Har’el in attendance (Oct. 21).

This year’s kickoff double feature on Oct. 16 will spotlight both the lauded Jojo Rabbit and Robert Jury’s Working Man, the official 2019 Opening Night Selection. A humble and heartfelt independent feature about a Rust Belt town coping with the closure of its last factory and the emergence of an unlikely hero who partners with his neighbors to break his way back into the shuttered shop, the film stars Peter Gerety from The Wire and two-time Academy Award nominee Talia Shire (The Godfather: Part II and Rocky), who will both be in attendance.

TCFF’s 2019 Centerpiece is Inside the Rain, Aaron Fisher’s autobiographical directing debut about a bipolar college student facing expulsion over conduct violations who hatches a madcap scheme to prove his innocence. The film co-stars Rosie Perez and Eric Roberts. Both Roberts and Fisher will be in attendance Oct. 18.

The festival closes Oct. 26 with Premature, Rashaad Ernesto Green’s electrifying coming-of-age drama about a teenager in New York City navigating her last summer — and an unexpected romance — before heading to college.  The film has earned rave reviews on the festival circuit, particularly for its vulnerable and hypnotic lead performance from Zora Howard; the Hollywood Reporter hailed the film as “a stirring coming-of-ager with a knockout lead turn.”

A still from ‘Premature’

Howard will be present for the closing night festivities, marking the culmination of a program that has prioritized projects made by female filmmakers. More than 60 percent of this year’s TCFF selections were directed or produced by women, continuing the organization’s push to create a home for works from a more diverse range of artists.

“When I founded this festival, I said it would be a home for all visions, all audiences and all artists — and to see us cross the mark in our tenth year, of having the majority of our selections created by female filmmakers, is to see our original mission fulfilled,” said Jatin Setia, TCFF’s Executive Director. “What’s even more powerful, and what has kept us going through the decade, is hearing how our big tent of filmmakers has inspired and motivated the next generation of Minnesota artists, who tell us that they thought a film career might be impossible. To now see those high schoolers come of age, and to see them return to our festival as debut directors…it’s everything an arts organization can hope for. It fills my soul.”

Special 35th anniversary celebration of Purple Rain to headline festival on Wednesday, Oct. 23

October 23 will feature Purple Rain night at the festival, with a special free 35th anniversary screening of the Prince rock musical at 6:45 p.m. and a Prince-themed afterparty to follow. Albert Magnoli, the director of the 1984 hit, will be making a rare appearance after the screening to discuss the film. Although the screening is free, tickets are still required for the reserved seats and can be obtained at ShowplaceIcon.com.

Every year Twin Cities Film Fest identifies a Social Justice Cause and programs a special series of films to call attention to a specific social issue. This year’s cause is “environmental responsibility” and the film series kicks off Oct. 17 with Roger Sorkin’s documentary Current Revolution, which envisions the next generation of America’s aging electrical grid. The series continues with Juice: How Electricity Explains the World (Oct. 18); Youth Unstoppable (Oct. 19); Food Coop (Oct. 19); Salvage (Oct. 23); and Sustainable Nation (Oct. 23).  TCFF Changemaker Partner for 2019 is the St. Louis Park Non Profit, Matter.

A still from ‘International Falls’

Among this year’s slate of “Minnesota-connected” premieres are International Falls (Oct. 19), a look at the fragile life of a touring comic and his chance connection with a hotel worker in a dead-end marriage. The film was shot in northern Minnesota and stars comedienne Rachel Harris (Natural SelectionSuits). On the lighter side, Raising Buchanan (Oct. 25) is a caper-driven comedy about two working women trying to profit from stealing the dead body of President Buchanan, played by notable character actor Rene Auberjonois (Star TrekMadame Secretary). Rounding out the 18 titles in this year’s Minnesota-connected program is The Truth About Marriage (Oct. 18), the latest thought-provoking documentary from director Roger Nygard (Trekkies).


I’ll post the complete schedule later with some of my most-anticipated selections!

Tickets will be on-sale September 21, 2019 for TCFF Members and Pass holders and to the public beginning September 27, 2019.

Ticket prices are $13 for General Admission & $20 for Spotlight Films. Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $55 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $90 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $130 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Spotlight Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Spotlight Film).

The passes are such an incredible deal!! Get it soon so you can order your tickets right away. Trust me, it’s SO worth it!!

PLUS… All tickets guarantee admission to that evening’s afterparty in the TCFF Lounge located onsite at The Shops at West End.


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org


So yeah, TCFF 2019. BRING. IT ON!