San Francisco Film Critics Circle announces 2018 nominees; vote Sunday

ROMA_06495_006R
(Netflix) “Roma” received multiple nominations from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

Here are the San Francisco Film Critics Circle nominees in the top categories. Our group will start announcing the winners via twitter  around 12:15 this Sunday, Dec. 9. Learn first about the winners at our official SFFCC Twitter account @SFFCC

Later on Sunday, I’ll join my esteemed film critic colleagues Tim Sika and Peter Canavese when we’ll chat about the SFFCC and our picks on the Pat Thurston Show. Tune in from 6 to 7 p.m on KGO 810 AM.

Here are our nominees in each category:

           Best Actor
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
             Best Actress
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Toni Collette, “Hereditary”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
Regina Hall, “Support the Girls”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
          Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Michael B. Jordan, “Black Panther”
Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”
         Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Thomasin McKenzie, “Leave No Trace”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
        Best Screenplay, Original
Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”
        Best Screenplay, Adapted
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, “Black Panther”
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, “Leave No Trace”
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
        Best Cinematography
Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Robbie Ryan, “The Favourite”
Linus Sandgren, “First Man”
Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”

 
       Best Original Score
Terence Blanchard, “BlacKkKlansman”
Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Alexandre Desplat, “Isle of Dogs”
Ludwig Göransson, “Black Panther”
Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”

 
      Best Production Design
Hannah Beachler, “Black Panther”
Eugenio Caballero, “Roma”
Fiona Crombie, “The Favourite”
Nathan Crowley, “First Man”
Mark Friedberg, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Paul Harrod, Adam Stockhausen, “Isle of Dogs”

 
        Best Film Editing
Tom Cross, “First Man”
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, “The Favourite”
Eddie Hamilton, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Bob Murawski, Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind”
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough, “Roma”
       Best Animated Feature
“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

 
      Best Foreign Language Film
“Burning”
“Cold War”
“Let the Sunshine In”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”
         Best Documentary
“Free Solo”
“Minding the Gap”
“Shirkers”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

 
        Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

         Best Picture
“BlacKkKlansman”
“The Favourite”
“First Reformed”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Roma”

The Circle also announced the three finalists for their annual Special Citation Award for under appreciated independent films:

  • “Chained for Life,” Aaron Schimberg’s playfully penetrating satire about onscreen representations of disability
  • “The Endless,” a genre-bending story of emotionally estranged brothers starring and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • “Madeline’s Madeline,” Josephine Decker’s fluid collision of dream, reality and performance starring powerhouse newcomer Helena Howard

That winner will be announced on Sunday when the group will also announce its Marlon Riggs Award winner — given to a Bay Area filmmaker or individual who represents courage and innovation in the world of cinema.

 

Reviews of LGBTQ-themed releases ‘My Best Friend,’ ‘Mario,’ ‘Anchor & Hope’ and ‘My Big Gay Italian Wedding’

When it’s decision time about what to rent or stream over the Thanksgiving holiday, the choices are limitless. Unfortunately, some titles get overlooked.

With that in mind, here are short takes on a couple of recent LGBTQ-themed features released by Breaking Glass Pictures along with two gems available from Wolfe Releasing.

IMG_0999
(Breaking Glass) Lautaro Rodriguez and Angelo Mutti Spinetta star in the underrated “My Best Friend.”

“My Best Friend”: Essential in crafting a successful coming-of-age drama is the creation of  characters that are interesting and a storyline that is evocative, even provocative. Filmmaker Martin Deus and his talented young cast (Angelo Mutti Spinetta and Lautaro Rodriguez) have done just that with a poignant tale about unanticipated friendships and sexual discovery. When the troubled son (Rodriguez) of a family friend moves in, bookworm Lorenzo (Spinetta) finds his sheltered, lonely and well-organized life in a Patagonian town getting disrupted in important ways. Deus adopts a low-key approach, but still navigates his story into some tough territories. It’s always authentic and forever true to its characters. Watch it and you’ll see why it has a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. (Available to rent on Google Play)

PBLS (222)
(Breaking Glass Pictures) Cristiano Caccamo and Dino Abbrescia star as lovers getting married in a small Italian village. 

“My Big Gay Italian Wedding”: The title of director Alessandro Genovesi’s bubbly romantic comedy perfectly sums up the persuasive predictability of this breezy, if minor confection based on an Off-Broadway show. The nuptials of two Berlin-based lovers (Dino Abbrescia and Cristiano Caccamo) in a small Italian village where one grew up triggers introspection, unresolved relationships  and, of course, family drama. Undemanding in every way, it’s an upbeat crowd-pleaser. (Available for rent on Google Plus, iTunes, Vudu, Vimeo)

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 5.14.24 PM
(Wolfe Releasing) Natalia Tena, Oona Chaplin and David Verdaguer in “Anchor and Hope.”

 

“Anchor & Hope”: Two lovers (Oona Chaplin and Natalia Tena) who live unfettered by commitments on a wandering houseboat in London consider having a baby, a decision that leads to rough waters ahead. Carlos Marques-Marcet’s feature anchors itself around a group of fine performances, including one from Geraldine Chaplin. (Available on various platforms)

 

Mario_Web
(Wolfe Releasing) Rising star Max Hubacher (second from left) is sensational in “Mario.”

 

“Mario”: Two of soccer’s rising stars become roommates and lovers in Marcel Gisler’s sexy, realistic story that illustrates how athletes are urged to stay in the closet. Leads Max Hubacher and Aaron Altaras are sensational in a heartbreaking drama that’s exceptionally well-directed.  (Available on various platforms)

MVFF41: Sunday picks: ‘Boy Erased,’ ‘El Angel,’ ‘Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?’

BOY ERASED
(Focus Features) “Boy Erased”

The Mill Valley Film Festival winds up its first weekend today and there’s something to appeal to any cinematic appetite.

But let’s talk about yesterday first.

A slew of celebs swept Saturday through downtown Mill Valley and San Rafael, while the Mind the Gap Summit kicked off with a panel addressing “Conscious Inclusion in Film and Tech.”

As for the stars, Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, director Felix Groeningen and writers David and Nic Sheff appeared at a packed special presentation of “Beautiful Boy” at the Christopher Smith Rafael Film Center. Many scenes featured in this true story based on the memoirs about the struggles of a father and son as the son becomes addicted to meth were filmed in the Bay Area. 

Over at the Sequoia Theater in Mill Valley, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Denis O’Hare were stunning on the red carpet for the national premiere of their “The Parting Glass,” a personal story about the aftermath of suicide. O’Hare wrote it and Moyer directed it.

Today, the festival hosts numerous screenings and spotlights, including one focused on “The Hate U Give’s” Amandla Stenberg and another on “Boy Erased’s” Joel Edgerton. Can’t wait to see “The Hate U Give.”

Which movies should you see? Here are my recs of the ones I’ve watched. 

“Boy Erased”: Lucas Hedges again delivers a knockout performance, sensitively portraying a young man sent to a gay conversion camp after he announces to his religious parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) that he is gay. Edgerton wrote, costars and directs with an observant, perceptive eye, one that’s focused on the devastating effects and a family’s path to healing and understanding. Based on a true story. (Oct. 7, Oct. 9)

“El Angel”: The soulless evil that lurks behind the angelic looks of a teen gets plumbed in a disturbing portrait of a cold-hearted thief and killer. Set in the ‘70s in Argentina, director Luis Ortega’s journey benefits from strong performances and a striking view of the period. (Oct. 7, Oct. 8)

Another one not to miss is the world premiere of “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” Here’s a link to my take on this documentary with UC-Berkeley ties.

0L1020078cc_R_rgb
(Fox Searchlight) Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman star in “The Favourite.”

Finally, if you haven’t seen “The Favourite,” the latest from one of the most unique and exciting storytellers working today — Yorgos (“The Lobster”) Lanthimos — you have on more shot at the fest to be amazed by this twisted period piece about a tug-of-war for Queen Anne’s affections and time. Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman give a trio of Oscar-caliber performances, with Colman’s standing ever so tall. The mesmerizing film is Top 10 material by a long shot; it screens again Oct. 10.

 

MVFF Saturday must-sees: ‘Free Solo,’ ‘Little Woods,’ ’22 July,’ ‘All These Small Moments,’ ‘Pet Names’

LITTLE WOODS_Two Shot_Option 2

The Mill Valley Film Festival enters its first full weekend and there’s a tempting menu worth devouring.

Here are some of my must-see recommendations.

“Little Woods”: This sobering character-driven drama captures the claustrophobic plight of a North Dakota woman (Tessa Thompson) trying to remain legit after getting busted for dealing prescription drugs. A domino chain of no-win circumstances test her and her sister’s resolve in Nia DaCosta’s remarkable feature debut. WINNER of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Indie Narrative Feature in the Mind the Gap initiative. (Screens: Oct. 6 and 11)

“All These Small Moments”: Melissa Miller Costanzo presents Molly Ringwald with one of her juiciest roles in years in a perceptive coming-of-age story about a family grappling with marital issues while a teenaged son crushes hard on an enigmatic woman he meets on a bus.  “Small Moments” has a big payoffs. (Oct. 6 and Oct. 7)

“22 July”: The first 30 minutes of this unsettling docudrama are excruciatingly painful to watch, horrifically recreating the 2011 Norway massacre perpetrated by a lone extremist that left scores of teens and adults dead at a summer camp and, in a separate attack, others outside of the Prime Minister’s Office. Paul (“United 93”) Greengrass ventures into the aftermath,  showing us the unrepentant killer’s trial along wit  one young man’s struggle back from death. .It’s too long, but it is powerful. ( Oct. 6, Oct. 9)

For reviews of “Free Solo” and “Pet Names” visit:

 

 

 

Frameline 2018: Soccer-themed ‘Mario’ is one of the best LGBTQ films of the year

Mario_Web
(Courtesy of Frameline) “Max” is one of the best films in Frameline. 

 

Two films in this year’s Frameline film festival passionately address the issue of homophobia in sports and how athletes are encouraged to stay in the closet. One is a documentary, the other a narrative feature.

“Alone in the Game” is a slickly produced and well-made documentary that is filled with insightful interviews from LGBTQ athletes. Olympic medalist Gus Kenworthy and soccer player Robbie Rogers are just a few of the notable stars who talk candidly about the stifling culture and their decisions to come out. It screens June 23 at the Castro and airs June 28 on DirecTV

“Mario” (screening again June 23 at the Victoria), on the other hand, is not only one of the best international narrative features in the festival (it’s from Switzerland), but one of the best LGBTQ-themed films I’ve seen in 2018

Max Hubacher stars as the title character, a driven soccer player with an overly invested father and an unwavering ambition to hit the big time. Once Max becomes roommates with the confident and handsome new player Leon (Aaron Altaras), he finds himself becoming more and more attracted to his less tightly wound fellow player. Complications arise when gossip spreads about their ensuing relationship, a major concern to sponsors, agents and a few other players.

Marcel Gisler’s exquisite drama never hits a false note as it intensely and intimately captures  the internal pain and external pressures that both of these young lovers experience. It’s a moving feature about being an athlete and enduring influences that encourage leading a double, hollow life in order to achieve your dreams for playing a sport you love.

To order tickets to “Mario”

 

Don’t miss the noir thriller ‘Hunting Lands’ at Cinequest

Hunting-Lands-forrest1One of the pleasures of being a critic is discovering a filmmaker you not only admire but know will be a force in the years to come.

Such is the case with Zack Wilcox, director of the icy, intense and well-made  neo-noir “Hunting Lands.”

Wilcox takes his cues from the Coen Brothers and Hitchcock with this voyeuristic thriller about reclusive ex-war vet Frank Olsen (Santa Rosa’s Marshall Cook) stumbling upon the dumping of a woman’s body. Olsen succumbs to his old ways, observing and inviting into his lair the man who did the dirty deed. It’s a “Fargo”-like experience.

While “Lands” slips a bit in its final act, it is — for the most part — a mesmerizing, bracing feature set in the frozen, isolated upper area of Michigan. The first 15 minutes are wordless and wave a distinctive spell.

“Lands” plays tonight at Cinequest. It is one of the best films I’ve seen in the festival.

(Show sat 5:50 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 11

,627, 825 Middlefield Road,  Redwood City, and 6:15 p.m., March 5  at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 18, 627, 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City; 5 p.m., March 7, California Theatre San Jose 345 S 1st St, San Jose; 7:35 p.m., March 10 , 3 Below Theaters & Lounge, 288 S 2nd St., San Jose.)

For tickets, visit https://www.cinequest.org/tickets-passes

Randy Myers is a freelance film journalist and is the president of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

 

Golden Globes did it right: ‘Three Billboards’ IS the best film. But ‘Get Out’ is better than ‘Lady Bird’

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURIIf Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” makes you uncomfortable, it has entirely accomplished it’s job.

Beautifully written and observed, it’s a masterpiece. I don’t say that lightly. So many insults have been hurled at this film, and I ask those people to watch it again. There are no superheroes, no saviors…just realistic portrayals of flawed people with so much grey you would think that a storm front is blowing through. And let’s get real now. “Get Out” is so much better than “Lady Bird.” I mean, really?

Hope you do see this film. It will make you squirm. Make you uncomfortable. Above all, it will make you think long after you leave the theater.

Love this film. It’s ingenious. Just as his “In Bruges” was. Go see it. Support films that rattle us.

It is my No. 1 film of 2017.  My favorite films of 2017!