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Cinema Chat: Golden Globes Wrap-Up, '1917,' 'Just Mercy,' And More

State Theatre
Brandon C

The Golden Globes were handed out this past weekend, and that's just the beginning for what's going on in the movie world.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins for a conversation about the latest movie news and the latest flicks landing on the big screen this weekend.


This year’s Golden Globeswill have less impact than usual on the Oscar race – Academy voters are already voting: their ballots were due Tuesday.  Both DGA and PGA nominations are announced.  The Globes spread the love among several movies expected to win awards in the coming weeks before Oscar night 2020 — February 9 — including “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with three wins, “Joker” and “1917” with two, and “Marriage Story” and “The Farewell” with one.

Opening today at the State Theater is “1917.”  It was the surprise winner for Best Motion Picture Drama as well as Best Director.  Writer-director Sam Mendes paid heartfelt homage to Martin Scorsese during his acceptance speech.  Many Oscar voters have yet to watch “1917” in this shortened award season. This is a movie to be seen in theaters, as Mendes said in his speech: “This is huge thing for this movie,” said Mendes.  “I hope people will turn up and see it on the big screen for which it was intended.”  Backstage, he added, “It’s up to filmmakers to make movies that need to be seen on the big screen and make the audience feel if they don’t see it on the big screen they’ll miss out…It’s important that filmmakers are ambitious and use the tools of cinema make stories for the big screen.”

Oscar frontrunner “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” took home both Best Comedy and Best Screenplay for nine-time nominee Quentin Tarantino, winning his third screenplay Globe.  Brad Pitt, as expected, won his second Globe after seven nods as stuntman Cliff Booth — and basked in a standing ovation. (So did his Supporting Actor rival, Cecil B. DeMille winner Tom Hanks.)  The affection for Pitt in the Beverly Hilton ballroom was palpable.  And he will continue to win at SAG and the Oscars. “I wouldn’t be here without you, man,” he said to his beaming “all-star,” Leonardo DiCaprio, before thanking Sony chairman Tom Rothman for having the “big balls” to take on the film.  Sony nabbed the most motion picture Globes for any studio, with three.

Beating DiCaprio, surprisingly, was first-time nominee Taron Egerton as Best Actor, Musical or Comedy, for his flamboyant role as Elton John in “Rocketman.”  Egerton remains a longshot even for a nomination in this crowded Oscars Best Actor field.

The movie also won Best Song, for Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”  “This is really sweet.  This is not just about a movie,” said Taupin, “but a movie which deals with our relationship, which doesn’t happen much in this town.  It’s a 52-year-old marriage.”  “We never won anything together except for this,” added John.

Vying for a Best Actress Oscar slot is “The Farewell” star Awkwafina, who won Best Actress Comedy or Musical, as expected. She’s the first Asian-American actress to win in this category.  “If I fall upon hard times I can sell this,” she said. “I’ve never been to the Golden Globes, but I am here now and it’s great.”

Winning two Globes was “Joker,” including Best Actor in a Drama Joaquin Phoenix, who beat Adam Driver of “Marriage Story.”  Phoenix not only thanked the HFPA for going vegan — Sunday marked the first time he ate food at the event — but director Todd Phillips for putting up with him.  Phoenix denied that there was a competition with his fellow actors. “It’s a thing to create advertising,” he said.  “I’m inspired by you, I’m your f***ing student.”  Phoenix is sure to go up against DiCaprio and Driver for the Oscar.

Not a surprise was the Original Score Globe going to Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir for “Joker,” winning her first Globe after 20 years composing. She also composed the score for “Chernobyl."  “It’s been a long time coming,” she said.  “It’s a beautiful year, to have both opportunities at the same time.”  The industry opened up to trusting women on bigger projects, she said.  “I benefited a lot from that — people are a bit more open to trusting women.”

And Renee Zellweger collected her Globe for Best Actress, Drama for “Judy,” 17 years after she won for Roxy Hart in “Chicago.”  “Thanks to the HFPA for inviting me back to the family reunion,” she said.  “It’s the journey that matters and the work that matters.”  Playing icon Judy Garland reminded her that “the choices we make matter, what we make matters, and how we choose to honor each other in our lifetimes can matter down the road.” Zellweger has a strong comeback narrative going into SAG and the Oscars.

While Netflix dominated the Golden Globe nominations with 36 total across television and film, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” was shut out, and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” landed just one win, for Supporting Actress Laura Dern.  The Globes took the high road, opting not to go for glitzy favorite Jennifer Lopez, star of “Hustlers,” in favor of Hollywood royalty Dern, who is on the way to a likely Oscar win.  Dern reminded that she was 14 years old the first time she won an award from the HFPA, “Miss Golden Globe.” “

One of the shocking wins of the night was the animation winner, stop-motion film “Missing Link” (Annapurna), whose director Chris Butler was “genuinely shocked,” he said. “450 human beings made this movie possible.” Possibly, it was the entry unlike the others — an original, not a sequel.  But this win suggests, along with its underwhelming Annie Award nominations, that “Toy Story 4” is not necessarily the Oscar frontrunner.

Steady as he goes is Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho, who took home the expected win for Best Foreign-Language Film for Neon’s indie box-office juggernaut “Parasite,” which could get to $30 million or more with some awards behind it. “Unbelievable,” he said.  “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Bong admitted backstage that he was not surprised the movie played so well in America after winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes.  “The film is about the rich and poor,” he said.  “It’s about capitalism, and the United States is the heart of capitalism, so I thought it was natural to win such an explosive response.”  Expect the movie to score multiple Oscar nominations and a few more wins.


The Gershwins’ modern American masterpiece has its first Met performances in almost three decades, starring bass-baritone Eric Owens and soprano Angel Blue in the title roles.  Director James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row, a setting vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants.

Presented in association with the University of Michigan’s Gershwin Initiative: The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance has entered into a long-term partnership with the Gershwin family to undertake a two-part initiative that will bring the music of George and Ira Gershwin to students, scholars, performers and audiences across campus and worldwide.



Nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), and Best Original Score – Winner for Best Picture and Best Director!  In this film, at the height of WWI, two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield (played by "Captain Fantastic’s" George Mackay) and Lance Corporal Blake (played by "Game of Thrones’" Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission.  In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers, Blake’s own brother among them.


This film traces Merce Cunningham’s artistic evolution over three decades of risk and discovery, from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers.  This film weaves together Cunnigham’s philosophies and stories, creating a visceral journey into his innovative work.  An explosion of dance, music, and never-before-seen archival material, this is a timely tribute to one of the world’s greatest modern dance artists. 


"The Princess Bride"

This film plays Friday, January 10 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of our Late-Night Film Series.  Audiences are encouraged to quote-along and interact with the film!  “Inconceivable!”  Based on the William Goldman novel "The Princess Bride," which earned its own loyal following, this is a fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman (played by Robin Wright) and her one true love (played byCary Elwes). He must find her after a long separation and save her.  They must battle the evils of the mythical kingdom of Florin to be reunited with each other.

Late-Night– Fridays at 9:30 PM grab some popcorn and come watch our favorite late-night movies.


This event will be broadcast live Saturday, January 11 at 12:55 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Met Live in HD film series presented by Fathom Events and the Metropolitan Opera.  After wowing audiences with his astounding production of Lulu in 2015, South African artist William Kentridge now focuses his extraordinary visual imagination on Berg’s other operatic masterpiece, set in an apocalyptic pre–World War I environment.  Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is on the podium for this important event, with baritone Peter Mattei making his highly anticipated role debut as the title character.  Soprano Elza van den Heever is Wozzeck’s unfaithful mate, and the commanding cast also includes tenor Christopher Ventris as the Drum-Major, bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as the Doctor, and tenor Gerhard Siegel as the Captain.

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"

This film plays Sunday, January 12 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of theToyota Family-Friendly film seriesco-sponsored by Gretchen’s House – FREE for kids 12 & under!  Gene Wilder stars in this magical, musical fantasy for the young, and the young at heart.  The mysterious candy maker extraordinaire Willy Wonka hides a Golden Ticket inside five of his famous candy bars.  The kids who find them are invited on a grand tour of the wondrous, wacky Wonka factory, and a chance for an even grander prize – if they can resist temptation.

"The Greatest Showman Sing-Along"

This film plays Monday, January 13 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan with onscreen lyrics!  Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum and with music composed by Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, who also graduated from U of M!  This is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.  Sing along to the 2019 Grammy-winning soundtrack!  Stars Hugh Jackman,Zac Efron, and Zendaya.

"The Bit Player"

This film plays Tuesday, January 14 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of Science on Screen an initiative of The Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Sponsored by University of Michigan Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and Arbor Research Collaborative for Health.  A film by Mark A. Levinson, director of the award-winning film "Particle Fever."  In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a “bit” and laid the foundation for the information age.  His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics.  But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past.  Claude Shannon, the film’s protagonist, is a U-M alumnus (BSE Electrical Engineering 1936. BSE Mathematics 1936) and has been called the Father of Information Theory.  The film will be followed by a Q&A panel with Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty, Profs. Alfred Hero,David Neuhoff, and Chris Peikert.


This film plays Wednesday, January 15 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Whodunnit Wednesdays film series featuring a special Whodunnit Murder Mystery presentation before the film.  From Director Jonathan Lynn with a screenplay co-written by John Landis ("The Blues Brothers," "Coming to America"), this is the 1985 cult comedy classic adapted from the popular Hasbro board game, starring an all-star cast featuring Tim Curry, Michael McKean, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, and more!

Whodunnit Wednesdays – Wednesdays at 7:30 PM with special Whodunnit Murder Mystery presentations! 

"Weathering With You"

This film plays Thursday, January 16 at 8:00 PM at the Michigan sponsored by Slurping Turtle.  The summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits.  The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future.  He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine.  Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner.  This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.  This screening will also feature an exclusive interview live on screen with the director of the film!


"Little Women"

At the Michigan: Writer-director Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott and unfolds as the author's alter ego, Jo March, reflects and forth on her fictional life.  In Gerwig's take, the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on her own terms -- is both timeless and timely.  Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film starsSaoirse RonanEmma WatsonFlorence PughEliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalametas their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.

"A Hidden Life"

Based on real events, from visionary writer-director Terrence Malick, this is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II.  When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keeps his spirit alive.  The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won two awards and was nominated for Palme d'Or! 

"Knives Out"

Golden Globe® nominated for three awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Craig), and Best Actress (Ana de Armas)!  Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson ("Brick," "Looper," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi") pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in this film.  When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) is enlisted to investigate.  From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.  Also stars Chris EvansAna de ArmasJamie Lee CurtisToni ColletteDon JohnsonMichael ShannonLaKeith StanfieldKatherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell.

"Fantastic Fungi"

This film,directed by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Brie Larson, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.  Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael PollanEugenia BoneAndrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.  

"Uncut Gems"

At the State: From acclaimed filmmakersJoshand Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (played by Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score.  When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win. 

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

This film is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams.  It will be the last installment of the Star Wars saga, which began in 1977.  A year after the events of "The Last Jedi," the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil.  Meanwhile, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its climax, altogether bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end.

"Jojo Rabbit"

Golden Globe® nominated for two awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Roman Griffin Davis)!  Writer-director Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople") brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.  Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. 


Golden Globe® nominated for two awards, including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director (Bong Joon-ho) and Best Screenplay (Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won)!  Winner of the Palme D’or Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival!  Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale.  Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth.  And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else.  Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity.  Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. 


"Just Mercy"

A powerful and thought-provoking true story, the film follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice.  After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation.  One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence.  In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian's life.  Also stars Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx.

"Like a Boss"

Best friends Mia and Mel (played by Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are living their best lives running their own cosmetics company they've built from the ground up.  Unfortunately, they're in over their heads financially, and the prospect of a big buyout offer from a notorious titan of the cosmetics industry Claire Luna proves too tempting to pass up, putting Mel and Mia's lifelong friendship in jeopardy.  The beauty business is about to get ugly.


Directed by William Eubank("Love," "The Signal"), a crew of underwater researchers must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory.  This a science-fiction horror film stars Kristen Stewart.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

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