By Norah Bradford
Welcome to the season which brings a wide array of movies and talent, all competing for recognition. The most anticipated, of course, is the Oscars with glitz and glamour and celebrities strutting the red carpet. But before you tune in on Sunday, February 9th here’s a primer on the hot contenders attracting attention from those in the know.
A movie about a desperate mission in the depths of the First World War. This film is shot as a single take following soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) trying to prevent a catastrophe amid the trenches, directed by James Bond Skyfall’s Sam Mendes. Also starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth. Info: 1917movie.com.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
Based on the Esquire article “Can You Say...Hero?” by Tom Junod, the film stars Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper. Rhys, who plays a journalist, is assigned to profile the beloved TV icon Fred Rogers (Hanks). Marielle Heller directs the film with a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Info: abeautifulday.movie.
Sex. Power. Corporate corruption. The movie tells the tale of the role men and women played as both victim and aggressor in the halls of the Fox News. The film is based on the accounts of several women at Fox News—Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie)—who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. Info: bombshell.movie.
A dramatization of the life of Harriet Tubman, the fearless woman who escaped from slavery and who played a significant role in the Underground Railroad to help slaves to escape to freedom. Starring Cynthia Erivo (who played Celie in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple), Leslie Odom Jr. and directed by Kasi Lemmons. Info: focusfeatures.com.
Judy is a British-American biographical drama film about the life of American actress and singer Judy Garland in 1969, as she arrives in London for a run of sell-out concerts at the Talk of the Town. Directed by Rupert Goold, it is an adaptation of the Olivier and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. The film stars Renée Zellweger as Garland, with Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, and Michael Gambon in supporting roles. Info: judythefilm.com.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Just Mercy is an American legal drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, and Brie Larson. It tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson appeals his murder conviction. Info: justmercy.eji.org.
A potential magnum-opus from director Martin Scorsese, The Irishman stars Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, the film follows Frank Sheeran (DeNiro). The film describes his life as a truck driver as he becomes a hitman involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family, including his time working for the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Info: netflix.com.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s homage to the late 1960s golden age of Hollywood is a comedy-drama following the lives of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as they navigate the changing world of movie-making alongside events culminating in the real-life murder of Sharon Tate. Info: sonypictures.com.
A foreign language movie from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho tells the tale of two families, one rich and wealthy and the other in a position to make their lives easier. All is well in their symbiotic relationship until someone new enters the picture jeopardizing the social and economic equilibrium. Info: parasite-movie.com.
The Two Popes
Telling the tale of the accession of Pope Francis and the extraordinary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI at a time when the Catholic Church is undergoing a struggle between the forces of progress and tradition. Inspired by actual events, the movie centers around Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the soon-to-be elected Pope Francis, and the aging Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins). Their ideological and temperamental differences, and the theological debates that spring from them, drive the movie’s action as the leaders spar over the future of 21st-century organized religion. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten. Info: netflix.com.