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Cinema Chat: Golden Globe Nominations, 'Blithe Spirit,' 'Nomadland,' And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

After a week apart, WEMU's top movie-loving duo is back together.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins discuss the latest movie news and all of the new films available both downtown in Ann Arbor at through the Michigan Theater's Virtual Movie Palace.


The 78th Golden Globe Awards are scheduled for Feb. 28 and will be shown on NBC.  Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will return to host the ceremony, which they last led in 2015.  The Golden Globes typically take place in January.  The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gives out the awards, pushed the ceremony to February this year, citing the coronavirus pandemic.  Streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon, dominated the list of nominees, both with their own films — like “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami,” which wouldn’t have relied on open movie theaters to find eyeballs even during a standard year — and with movies that the streaming companies purchased from traditional studios, including Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”  We’ll talk about actors, directors, and other Golden Globe nomination next week.

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Best Motion Picture, Animated

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language


Safety Odds Better At State & Michigan Theaters Than Family & Friends @Home or Grocery Shopping

The Michigan and State theater’s management is confident that safety protocols implemented when the theaters were briefly reopened in October makes customers as safe as possible when they are in these lovely historic theaters.



Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.  The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, this film features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.


Nominated for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at the 2021 Golden Globes!

If you liked the indie hit “The Farewell” (starring Awkwafina), you will like this film.  A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, the film follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.  The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother.  Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really builds a home and family.  Starring Steven Yeun ("Burning") and Yeri Han ("Champion").


Starring Judi Dench and based on the delightful and record-setting Noel Coward play (nearly 2000 performances in its 1941 Wed End theatrical premiere), this is a farcical story of best-selling crime novelist Charles (Dan Stevens) suffers from terrible writer’s block and is struggling to finish his first screenplay.  His picture-perfect new wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) is doing her best to keep him focused so they can fulfill her dream of leaving London for Hollywood.  Charles’ quest for inspiration leads him to invite the eccentric mystic Madame Acarti (Judi Dench) to perform a séance in his home.  He gets more than he bargained for when Madame Acarti inadvertently summons the spirit of his first wife: the brilliant and fiery Elvira (Leslie Mann).  Ready to pick up her life right where she left off, Elvira is shocked to discover the prim and proper Ruth is now married to her husband and running her household.  Charles finds himself stuck between his two wives and their increasingly over-the-top attempts to outdo one another in this lethally hilarious comedy.

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" -- PLAYS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 AT 7:30 AT THE MICHIGAN

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis).  Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music.  As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious cornet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.

"One Night in Miami..."-- SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Nominated for 3 Golden Globes! Regina King for Best Director, Leslie Odom, Jr for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Original Song
On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.  When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

Direct from Sundance: "A Glitch in the Matrix"

We have a virtual take on our popular Direct from Sundance event with the opening of a documentary which asks, “What if this is all just a simulation?”

"Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities"

In this collection of six shorts, filmmakers gaze at themselves and their world, attempting to make sense of what they see reflected back.  From gripping drama to heart-warming comedy, this series features timely stories from Black artists that take us outside of the ordinary.

  1. "Love in Submission" by Antu Yacob & Lande Yoosuf;
  2. "A Hollywood Party" by Toryn Seabrooks;
  3. "Pandemic Chronicles" by Ya’ke Smith;
  4. "Auntie Zariyah" by Zora Bikangaga;
  5. "The Black Banshee" by Kyla Sylvers;
  6. "Nowhere" by Lin Que Ayoung.

This series is the collaboratively created by Full Spectrum FeaturesNorthwest Film ForumLuminal Theater, and Circle Collective, as a means of putting tools of filmmaking directly into the hands of Black filmmakers, creating pathways towards independent distribution, and co-creating mentorship opportunities to help build the careers of emerging filmmakers.

"Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words"

The film tells the improbable story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who couldn’t get a job despite tying first in her graduating law class and making Law Review at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  It also reveals both the public and private sides of a resilient, resourceful woman who has survived the hostility of the profoundly male universe of government and law to become a revered Justice and advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. 

How did Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work as a litigator for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project; as a professor; and as an appellate judge make a difference?  Most importantly how did her trailblazing work in the 1970’s arguing landmark gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court become a turning point for her and the everyday lives of men and women?  And how does Justice Ginsburg’s pioneering work on behalf of gender equality continue to resonate through her opinions and work during her 27 years on the Supreme Court? 

With these questions at the heart of RUTH, the film dramatizes a confluence of factors – personal, psychological, social and political that impacted the course of her work and life.  The film is designed as an immersive experience through the direct words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a professor, advocate, Judge and Justice; the use of evocative animation and intimate illustrations to visualize complex constitutional cases; by the insights of colleagues who have directly worked with or have been impacted by her forty years as a legal icon; and by using a rich original score by a Grammy-winning composer.


Let’s talk Oscars.  Early in January, we launched a virtual series showcasing a new international feature every week that’s been officially selected to represent its home nation at the 2021 Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film.

"Blizzard of Souls"- Latvia’s Official Submission

After losing his mother and his home, Arturs finds some consolation in joining the army.  However, war is nothing like he imagined. this is the highest grossing Latvian film in decades and the first narrative feature from documentary director Dzintars Dreibergs.  Based on the novel by Aleksandrs Grīns describing his experience as a rifleman in World War I, and later in the Latvian War of Independence, it’s a film that tells the expected “war is hell” narrative but expands beyond that to explore a story of growth, both in its protagonist and in the greater Latvian people. 

"Another Round" - Denmark’s Official Submission

Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.

"Collective"- Romania’s Official Submission

This film is a gripping, real-time docu-thriller that follows a heroic team of journalists as they expose shocking corruption in the Romanian national health-care system.

"My Little Sister"- Switzerland’s Official Submission

Lisa has bid goodbye to her ambitions as a playwright and the Berlin arts scene and now lives in Switzerland with her husband, who runs an international school.  When her twin brother falls ill, she returns to Berlin.

"You Will Die at Twenty" - Sudan’s Official Submission

Shortly after Muzamil was born, the village’s holy man predicts that he will die at age 20.  Muzamil’s father can’t stand the curse and leaves home.  Sakina raises her son as a single mother, overly protective.  One day, Muzamil turns 19.

"True Mothers" - Japan’s Official Submission

A woman with an adopted child is contacted unexpectedly by the child’s birth mother.

"Two of Us (Deux)" - France’s Official Submission

Starring legendary German actress Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallieras two retired women who have been secretly in love for decades.

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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

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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