20th Century Women

20th_century_womanIt’s 1979, and Annette Bening (who should have been nominated for an Oscar for the depth & emotional complexity she brings to this character) plays a single mom to a teenage boy. She enlists her son’s best friend, exquisitely and heart-breakingly played by Elle Fanning, and her quirky boarder (played by quirky Greta Gerwig) to help teach her son how to be a man. Beautiful, poignant, funny drama ensues. Writer-Director Mike Mills is as successful here (telling a story inspired by his mother) as he was with Beginners (a story inspired by his father).

Box Office Bottom Line: I loved this film. Its quirky drama is entertaining and affecting. Highly recommended!

Hidden Figures

Movie posterHidden Figures tells the story of 3 remarkable NASA mathematicians in the 1960s, who, despite experiencing the crushing racism & sexism of the time, persevered. Each played a crucial role in keeping NASA ahead in the space race. This film lays bare our unforgivable racist past, but also shows how one supportive person can make a big difference in another’s life. America has come a long way since then, but we still have a ways to go to achieve true equality for all, especially in the sciences.

Box Office Bottom Line: This is an important film. We shouldn’t have to learn history from Hollywood, but I’m glad for this excellent film. See it!!!

Arrival

arrivalWhat does the world do when several identical spaceships land around the world simultaneously? You try to figure out what they want. Amy Adams plays a linguist, whom the military calls in to figure out how to communicate with the aliens and understand why they are here.

Box Office Bottom Line: I liked this take on alien arrivals – not to assume it’s war (even if some characters do). While I did find it a bit confusing at the end, overall, I enjoyed it and its message.

Lion

lion-movie-poster-dev-patelThis remarkable film is based on a true story. An impoverished 5 year old Indian boy falls asleep on a decommissioned train that takes him thousands of miles away from his family & home. He survives on the dangerous streets of Calcutta for months before being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, using Google Earth and scant memories, he figures out where he is from and goes back to find his family.

Box Office Bottom Line: I was riveted by this film. It’s a story of tragedy and luck,  devastating and heartwarming. Beautifully acted and well-balanced. Highly recommended!

La La Land

La La Land posterA mostly charming Hollywood musical about a struggling actress and struggling jazz musician and their struggling relationship. I wished there was more dancing and that Ryan Gosling’s singing was better.

Box Office Bottom Line: It was entertaining, although it fell apart at the end for me. I think it’s getting award season notice because Hollywood loves movies about itself.

Passengers

passengers

5000 passengers & over 200 crew are in hibernation on a 120 year voyage to populate a new planet. They are supposed to wake up 6 months before landing, but 2 wake up 80 years early. They have some serious ethical decisions to hash out, plus major problems to solve if everyone is to survive.

Box Office Bottom Line: I found it interesting enough, but I didn’t love it. However, it did prompt a lot of discussion among the group I saw it with. And, my 16 year old nephew loved it a lot.

Loving

Loving movie posterIn 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving married, but the State of Virginia, where they lived, arrested them because interracial marriage was illegal there. This quiet, understated film, beautifully depicts their love, and their desire to live a simple country life and raise a family. On the periphery,  we see the ACLU take their case all the way to the Supreme Court (taking nearly a decade), which, as we know, ruled in the couple’s favor. But, the focus of the film is on the couple and the anxiety they face just trying to lead a regular life.

Box Office Bottom Line: I loved this film. The understated tone of the film allows the emotional weight of the theme to shine without overdone melodrama. The acting and directing were perfect. See this film!!!