We posted another episode (#5) of my podcast on documentaries – The Fog of Truth (available on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher) – today. This latest features a discussion of the six-part Grateful Dead documentary series Long Strange Strip, and an interview with director Ellen Goldfarb about her documentary Dare to Be Different, which tells the story of WLIR, an influential radio station on Long Island. Enjoy!
On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, Linda DeLibero – Director, Film and Media Studies, Johns Hopkins University – and Christopher Llewellyn Reed (that’s me) – Chair and Professor, Department of Film & Moving Image, Stevenson University – joined Dan Rodricks on his Baltimore Sun podcast, “Roughly Speaking,” to discuss the Oscar nominations announced earlier that day. Here is the link to the show. Enjoy!
Then, the next day, my podcast on documentaries – The Fog of Truth – released its fourth episode (also available on iTunes and Stitcher). This latest was on Theo Anthony’s Rat Film and Erik Ljung’s The Blood Is at the Doorstep. Hope you enjoy this one, as well!
Welcome to the second episode of the 2017-2018 season of Dragon Digital Media‘s Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed. My guest this time was Leslie Combemale, film critic at Cinema Siren. We reviewed two recent films – The Post and Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and compared our respective 2017 “best of” lists (here’s mine). If you want to watch the first episode of the season, from November (we skipped September this year), it is very much still available for viewing.
In Howard County, Maryland, you can watch the show on Channel 41 (if you’re a Verizon customer) or Channel 96 (if you’re a Comcast customer), and you can watch it online from anywhere. You can also still catch all six episodes from last year (first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth), plus all six from the previous year (first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth), as well as the six episodes from my first season with Reel Talk (Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6). Enjoy!
The fantastic Dragon Digital Media team did their usual superlative job putting this together, especially producer Karen Vadnais and director Danielle Maloney, as well as floor manager Anthony Hoos. We’ll be back at the start of March with another episode, so stay tuned. Until then, have fun at the movies!
In the past week, Film Festival Today ran one review of mine – Phantom Thread – and Hammer to Nail ran four: The Final Year, Jane, Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story and Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 The Lodger. Here are links to all 5 pieces:
- Criterion’s Blu-ray of The Lodger review
- The Final Year review
- Jane review
- Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story review
- Phantom Thread review
I just started a new podcast with two other people, Summre Garber and Bart Weiss (read our biographies for more info), entitled The Fog of Truth, devoted to documentary films. Our first episode went live on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Today, our third episode went up on the site. In it, we look at the rise of drone usage in documentaries and have an in-depth discussion of Strad Style, a film about a charming rural eccentric who makes replicas of historical violins. We also have an interview with Luke Korem, director of Dealt. Our first season will contain a total of 6 episodes (one a week), after which we will take a break until March, 2018, when we will kick off season 2 with a live event recorded at the SXSW Festival, in Austin, TX. Stay tuned, and be sure to listen to the episodes as they drop (there are instructions on our site about how to subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher).
Just last week, Hammer to Nail ran three reviews of mine – Big Time (seen at DOC NYC), Faces Places and Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (also seen at DOC NYC) – and Film Festival Today ran one: I, Tonya. Here are links to all 4 pieces:
- Big Time review
- Faces Places review
- I, Tonya review
- Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood review
On December 31, 2017, I published my list of best (and worst) films of the year, and then on Friday, January 5, 2018, my list of best actors. Now it’s time to post about the (often) unsung artists and craftspeople who are essential to the filmmaking process: the writers, cinematographers, editors, production designers, visual-effects artists, and music composers. As with my other lists, the hyperlinked movie title will take you to my review, if one exists (or the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page, if one does not). In addition, I also hyperlink the artists’ names (mostly to IMDb, but sometimes to their own personal websites), so you can see what other work they have produced over their careers. In the case of the music list, I link to the movie’s actual soundtrack, as well.
In each category, I have chosen only five (however hard that may be – and it is hard), in alphabetical order. These are the films where I thought that the work in that particular area truly enhanced the quality of the movie. If a film is not on this list, I may still really like the work within it, but not as much as my top five. Enjoy, and feel free to leave comments after you look it over!
Best Screenplay (adapted and original, combined):
- Easy Living: Adam Keleman
- Get Out: Jordan Peele
- Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig
- The Post: Liz Hannah & Josh Singer
- Their Finest: Gaby Chiappe
- Barbecue: Matthew Salleh
- Beach Rats: Hélène Louvart
- Kedi: Alp Korfali & Charlie Wuppermann
- Mudbound: Rachel Morrison
- The Shape of Water: Dan Laustsen
[*2 of these are documentaries – Barbecue and Rat Film – which feature beautiful shots that rival any narrative feature.]
- Baby Driver: Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss
- Barbecue: Matthew Salleh & Rose Tucker
- Lady Bird: Nick Houy
- Motherland: Leah Marino
- Rat Film: Theo Anthony
[**3 of these are documentaries – Barbecue, Motherland and Rat Film – which are among the hardest kinds of films to edit, given the huge amount of material to work with, from which one must, somehow, extract a coherent story.]
Best Production Design:
- Blade Runner 2049: Dennis Gassner
- The Florida Project: Stephonik Youth
- Most Beautiful Island: Almitra Corey
- The Shape of Water: Paul D. Austerberry
- Sylvio: Peter Davis
I also want to mention the stellar production-design work in one of my least favorite films of the year – The Book of Henry – by Kalina Ivanov (whom I know, in the interest of full disclosure). Though the movie failed for me completely, her intricate Rube Goldberg-like devices within it were objects of extraordinary beauty.
Best Visual Effects:
- Blade Runner 2049: (IMDb crew page)
- Okja: (IMDb crew page)
- The Shape of Water: (IMDb crew page)
- Thor: Ragnarok: (IMDb crew page)
- War for the Planet of the Apes: (IMDb crew page)
[Too many people to mention all, so I have simply hyperlinked, next to the title, to the movie’s crew page on IMDb page, where you can look at the multitude of people involved in the many visual-effects teams.]
Best Original Score:
On December 31, 2017, I published my list of best (and worst) films of the year, and most actors in most of the narrative (fiction) films on my list turned in admirable performances, at the very least, which makes it hard to select a limited number of them as standouts. As I write every year, I see no need to publish a separate “best directors” list since, if the film is good, I credit the director for much of that quality. A few actors and actresses in films which I did not put among my highest choices still made it onto the list, below, since they were so magnetic (to me), even if the film they were in was less so.
If someone is not on this list, it does not mean that I did not like them; I just liked others even more. What counts the most is how different I imagined the film would be without them. Therefore, the actors and actresses listed below are those whose work most stands out within the context of the film they’re in. All movie titles are hyperlinked to my review (if such a review exists) or to the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page. While last year I listed only 5 actors per category, this year I do 10, since I liked so many performances. For Best Actress, I list 12, since I could not cut it down any more without heartbreak. In alphabetical order, by last name within each category, I give you:
- Gemma Arterton, Their Finest
- Ana Asensio, Most Beautiful Island
- Olivia Cooke, Katie Says Goodbye
- Caroline Dhavernas, Easy Living
- Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
- Lola Kirke, AWOL
- Marie Leuenberger, The Divine Order
- Danielle Macdonald, Patti Cake$
- Haley Lu Richardson, Columbus
- Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
- Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
- Rebecca Spence, Princess Cyd
- Claes Bang, The Square
- Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
- Harris Dickinson, Beach Rats [link points to my review of films at the 2017 Maryland Film Festival; scroll down past the capsule reviews of documentaries to the #1 fiction film]
- James Franco, The Disaster Artist*
- Brett Gelman, Lemon
*Note from 1/9/18 – recent allegations about Franco’s sexual misbehavior now complicate such a nomination. It’s still a great performance, however compromised the actor.
- Hugh Jackman, Logan
- Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
- Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
- Eric Ruffin, The Transfiguration
- Adrian Titieni, Graduation
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
- Lucy Davis, Wonder Woman
- Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049
- Bridget Everett, Patti Cake$
- Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
- Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
- Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
- Elisabeth Moss, The Square
- Tessa Thompson, Thor: Ragnarok
- Madeline Weinstein, Beach Rats [link points to my review of films at the 2017 Maryland Film Festival; scroll down past the capsule reviews of documentaries to the #1 fiction film]
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Mamoudou Athie, Patti Cake$
- John Cho, Columbus
- Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
- Graham Greene, Wind River
- Lucas Hedges, Lady Bird