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Cinema Chat: Golden Globes Recap, '17 Blocks,' 'My Salinger Year,' And More

Golden Globe
Wikipedia Media Commons

The 2021 Golden Globes have been handed out, which means Oscars season is approaching fast.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins about the latest film news and all of the new flicks coming to downtown Ann Arbor and the Michigan Theater's Virtual Movie Palace.


Viewership ratings for the 78th Golden Globe Awards indicated a 60 percent decline in viewership compared to the ratings for 2020’s Golden Globes.  Award show ratings have been steadily falling for years and the trend shows no signs of reversing, particularly as more film and television fans cut the cord in favor of streaming.  There might’ve been a virtual red carpet on Sunday, but awards shows sell themselves on their ability to gather large groups of celebrities in-person and create a festive and star-studded atmosphere, two things that the coronavirus pandemic have effectively put on hold.

Plus, the latest Golden Globe Awards ceremony also wasn’t aided by positive publicity.  The awards show and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organizes the annual event, were the subjects of a February Los Angeles Times report that HFPA members have engaged in self-dealing and created various ethical conflicts.  The report also noted that the HFPA, which does not have any Black members, had a history of overlooking acclaimed Black-led films for its top award.


Heading into the Oscar nomination voting March 5-10, several movies and their stars have a strong wind in their sails as a result of the Golden Globes (Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15.)

  • The late Chadwick Boseman is still the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actor for his career-best performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.


  • The surprise Best Actress Drama winner was Andra Day for Lee Daniels’ film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.”  Emerald Fennell’s dark crowd pleaser “Promising Young Woman” missed its expected win for Best Actress Carey Mulligan. Hooray for Andra Day playing Lady Day!


  • “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya took Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” beating favorite Leslie Odom Jr., who also was overlooked for his second possible award for “One Night in Miami.”


  • "Nomadland” took its expected win for Best Picture and Best Director.  Director Chloé Zhao could repeat at the Oscars.


  • Predictably, Aaron Sorkin’s entertaining ’60s recreation “The Trial of the Chicago 7” took Screenplay.


  • David Fincher’s slice of old Hollywood “Mank,” which led the field with six nominations went home empty-handed.


  • Netflix went in with 22 Globe nominations, and wound up with four gold statues, for Boseman and Sorkin as well as two shocking wins, for Rosamund Pike for Best Actress — Comedy/Musical (“I Care a Lot”) Pike was an unexpected winner, the favorite was Bulgarian discovery Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”).


  • No surprise on two wins for writer/actor Sacha Baron Cohen for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actor Musical or Comedy.  His work in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” boosts his subsequent prospects for an Oscar nod for Original Screenplay, as well as Supporting Actor for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”


  • Pixar’s ”Soul” won Animated Feature as well as Score, for composers Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste.


  • Best Foreign Language Film, as expected, went to “Minari.”  Director Lee Isaac Chung said, “It’s about a family learning to speak a language of its own, the language of the heart, this language of love to each other.  I hope we all learn this, especially this year.”


Tomorrow, State will allow increased capacities at restaurants and theaters

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.



New York in the 90s: After leaving graduate school to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, Joanna (Margaret Qualley) gets hired as an assistant to Margaret (Sigourney Weaver), the stoic and old-fashioned literary agent of J.D. Salinger.  Fluctuating between poverty and glamour, she spends her days in a plush, wood-panelled office -- where dictaphones and typewriters still reign and agents doze off after three-martini lunches.  By contrast her nights are spent in a sinkless Brooklyn apartment with her socialist boyfriend.  Joanna's main task is processing Salinger's voluminous fan mail, but as she reads the heart-wrenching letters from around the world, she becomes reluctant to send the agency's impersonal standard letter and impulsively begins personalizing the responses.  The results are both humorous and moving, as Joanna, while using the great writer's voice, begins to discover her own.

"Judas and the Black Messiah"-- OPENING SATURDAY, MARCH 6 AT THE MICHIGAN

FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).  A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons).  Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback).  Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. W ill he align with the forces of good?  Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) commands?

"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" -- OPENS MARCH 12

Released from prison for bringing shame to his country, Kazakh funnyman Borat risks life and limb when he returns to America with his 15-year-old daughter.  Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova.

"The Father"-- OPENS MARCH 12

Anthony (Academy Award Winner Anthony Hopkins) is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Academy Award and Golden Globe Winner Olivia Colman), encouragingly introduces.  Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can't make daily visits anymore, and Anthony's grip on reality is unraveling.  As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to?  How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her?  This filim warmly embraces real life, through loving reflection upon the vibrant human condition; a heart-breaking and uncompromisingly poignant movie that nestles in the truth of our own lives.

"The Courier" -- OPENS MARCH 19

This is a true-life spy thriller, the story of an unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history.  At the behest of the UK's MI-6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan), he forms a covert, dangerous partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"Six Minutes to Midnight" -- OPENS MARCH 26

In the summer of 1939, influential families in Nazi Germany have sent their daughters to a finishing school in an English seaside town to learn the language and be ambassadors for a future looking National Socialist Party.  A British schoolteacher there sees what is coming and is trying to raise the alarm. But the authorities believe he is the problem.  Director: Andy Goddard; Writer: Andy Goddard, Eddie Izzard, Celyn Jones. STARRING: Judi Dench, James D'Arcy, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Izzard.


"17 Blocks"

Don't miss our exclusive Q&A with 17 Blocks director and native Ann Arborite Davy Rothbart Friday, March 5 at 7 PM via Zoom.  Watch the movie in our Virtual Movie Palace and register for the event now!

In 1999, filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart (Community High graduate and Ann Arbor native) met Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his older brother, Smurf, during a pickup basketball game in Southeast Washington, D.C.  Davy began filming their lives, and soon the two brothers and other family members began to use the camera themselves.  Spanning 20 years, this story illuminates a national, ongoing crisis through one family’s raw, stirring and deeply personal saga.  Made from more than 1,000 hours of footage, it all starts on the street where they lived in 1999, 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol.



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.


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").

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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

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