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Cinema Chat: Independent Spirit Awards Noms, 'Green Book,' 'Ralph Breaks The Internet,' And Go Blue!

Nov 21, 2018

The State Theatre
Credit ColorBlindRain / flickr.com

Let's give thanks this week for food, family, friends, flicks, and football!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new and returning films you can check out on the big screen this Thanksgiving weekend.  Plus, they give their prediction for Saturday's Michigan-Ohio State game. 


2019 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees: ‘Eighth Grade’ & ‘We the Animals’ Lead

The best indies of the year will go head to head on February 23.

The nominations for the 34th Independent Spirit Awards were yesterday, setting the stage for the awards season with a decidedly indie bent.  The always-idiosyncratic nominations committees steer toward low-budget indie American movies (there’s supposedly a $20-million budget cap), which explains why ineligible titles include too-expensive “Vice,” Belgian-directed “Beautiful Boy,” French-directed “The Sisters Brothers,” and British movie “Mary Queen of Scots,” among others, and how Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” wound up in the stellar international film category, which also includes likely Oscar-contenders “Burning,” “The Favourite,” and Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters.”  In terms of acting award the Indie Spirit awards are key indicator in which films and performances could end up with the Oscar (Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell from last year).

Favorites like “Eighth Grade” and “First Reformed” dominated the Independent Spirit nominations, with each film earning four nominations, including Best Feature for both, Best Actress for “Eighth Grade” lead Elsie Fisher, and Best Actor for “First Reformed” star Ethan Hawke. “We the Animals” led the entire field with five total noms. A number of other films also pulled out multiple nods, including “Leave No Trace,” “You Were Never Really Here,” “The Tale,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and “Private Life.”

Best Feature

EIGHTH GRADE

FIRST REFORMED

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Coming January)

LEAVE NO TRACE

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Director

Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE

Barry Jenkins, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Lynne Ramsay, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Paul Schrader, FIRST REFORMED

Best First Feature

HEREDITARY

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

THE TALE

WE THE ANIMALS

WILDLIFE

Best Female Lead

Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Toni Collette, HEREDITARY

Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS

Helena Howard, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE

Best Male Lead

John Cho, SEARCHING

Daveed Diggs, BLINDSPOTTING

Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED

Christian Malheiros, SÓCRATES

Joaquin Phoenix, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Supporting Female

Kayli Carter, PRIVATE LIFE

Tyne Daly, A BREAD FACTORY

Regina King, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE

J. Smith-Cameron, NANCY

Best Supporting Male

Raúl Castillo, WE THE ANIMALS

Adam Driver, BLACKKKLANSMAN

Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Josh Hamilton, EIGHTH GRADE

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Green Book"

At the Michigan: In this film, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.  Confronted with racism, danger-as well as unexpected humanity and humor-they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime. 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

Warner Brothers Cartoons

The cartoons play Friday, November 23 at 11:30 AM at the Michigan Theater.  Enjoy a laugh with friends and family as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and all of the Looney Tunes gang take over the silver screen of the historic main theater.  A selection of Warner Brothers Cartoons will be shown for all ages and offer the perfect pit-stop during the start of the busy holiday shopping season.

"White Christmas"

This film plays Friday, November 23 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater with on-screen lyrics, interactive props, and more!  Also join us for caroling before the screening with the Barton organ from 7 – 7:30 PM.  Singers Bob Wallace (played by Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (played by Danny Kaye) join sister act Betty (played by Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (played by Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont.  There, they run into Gen. Waverly (played by Dean Jagger), the boys' commander in World War II, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing.  So what's the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that's sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!

"The Polar Express"

The Holiday Classic Film Series kicks off this week with this film, which plays Sunday, November 25 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Free and open to the public!  Tom Hanks and Director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump;" "Cast Away") reunite for an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg.  When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

"Vibrancy of Silence"

This film plays Sunday, November 25 at 4:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of the CEW+, DAAS & ASC 2018-19 African Women Film Series.  All screenings will be followed by a film discussion.  In this documentary, Marthe Djilo Kamga takes us along as she engages in fruitful conversations with four other Cameroonian female artists who, like her, know exile as well as how necessary it is to transmit to younger generations what they have learned as their multiple identities have evolved and fused.  The original score that accompanies the voices of these three generations of women is an active part of the adventure, a witness for the future.

"Persona"

This film plays Tuesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM at the State as the series finale of the Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: A Centennial Retrospective.  Famed stage stress Elisabeth Vogler (played by Liv Ullmann) suffers a moment of blankness during a performance and the next day lapses into total silence.  Advised by her doctor to take time off to recover from what appears to be an emotional breakdown, Elisabeth goes to a beach house on the Baltic Sea with only Anna (played by Bibi Andersson), a nurse, as company.  Over the next several weeks, as Anna struggles to reach her mute patient, the two women find themselves experiencing a strange emotional convergence.

"The House that Jack Built"

This film plays Wednesday, November 28 at 8:45 PM at the State.  Boundary-pushing cinematic visionary Lars von Trier ("Antichrist") returns with one of his most daring, masterfully provocative works yet.  Failed architect and arch-sociopath Jack (played by Matt Dillon) recounts the elaborately orchestrated murders-each, as he views them, a towering work of art-that define his “career” as a serial killer.  One night only to see the unrated director’s cut of this controversial film!

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Wildlife"

At the Michigan: In this film, fourteen-year-old Joe (played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould) is the only child of Jeanette (played by Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in a small town in 1960s Montana.  Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and Jerry decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.  Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother's struggle as she tries to keep her head above water.  This film is also adapted from Richard Ford's novel of the same name. 

"Tea with the Dames"

In this film, viewers are invited to see happens when four legends of British stage and screen get together.  Dame Maggie SmithDame Judi DenchDame Eileen Atkins, and Dame Joan Plowright are among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and BAFTAs between them.  They are also longtime friends who hereby invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another and reminisce.

"Beautiful Boy"

Moving from the Michigan to the State: Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, this film chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all -- good grades, editor of the school newspaper, actor, artist and athlete.  When Nic's addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his desperate father does whatever he can to save his son and his family.  Starring Steve CarellTimothée ChalametMaura Tierney, and Amy Ryan.

"Boy Erased"

At the State: This film tells the story of Jared (played by Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19.  Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program - or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.  This is the true story of one young man's struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity. 

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

Based on a true story, this film stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder, and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.  When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (played by Richard E. Grant). 

"Free Solo"

From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes this National Geographic Documentary Film, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park... without a rope.

"A Star is Born"

Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers--and falls in love with--struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga).  She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer... until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight.  But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"Ralph Breaks the Internet"

Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak's arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush.  Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet--the Netizens--to help navigate their way.  Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site "BuzzzTube," and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces--so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he's ever had.

"Creed II"

The eighth installment in the “Rocky” film series.  Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed.  Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life.  Facing an opponent with ties to his family's past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring.  Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what's worth fighting for, and discover that nothing's more important than family.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu