Man, what an eclectic week of movie watching I’ve had. From Best Picture winners to favorites of the past to the best of 2018, I’ve seen it all. I even managed to see two foreign language contenders and my last “normie” Oscar contender, thanks to Cold War, Shoplifters, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll get the chance to review these films, so I’ll do my best to give a summary now, and start by saying you should absolutely see all three of these movies. Cold War is an electric, bleak love epic by the future-legendary director Pawel Pawlikowski. Shoplifters is a blunt, humanist portrayal of family, poverty, and the government, and it is one of the best modern day Palme d’Or winners out of Cannes. And The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is Peak Coen Brother, encapsulating decades of themes with a stark, funny critique of every genre of Western, and studying what it means to be human. Watch all of them, as soon as possible.
I also managed to go to the theater to see the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts, which, as always, was a depressing affair. Three were about dead children, one was about a kid shooting his father, and the happiest one was about a dying woman coming out to her nurse. What a fun way to spend my Saturday. On Monday, I ended up watching The Nice Guys with a friend for the first time since it made my 2016 Top Ten list, and man, that movie is fun. I forgot how great Ryan Gosling is in that movie (as well as the fantastic line, “I don’t think I can die. I think I’m immortal!”). It was definitely the old-school highlight of my week. That being said, I did enjoy the two Best Picture winners I viewed, Marty and My Fair Lady. Marty had the feel of a modern day indie film, and I respected its low-budget panache. Meanwhile, My Fair Lady is a gorgeously staged classic musical, and perhaps the greatest example of the model. That being said, I wish the dancing had been a little more grandiose, and as good as Rex Harrison is in the film, he a) should not have beaten Peter Sellers for Best Actor, and b) absolutely should not have won over Eliza Doolittle in the end. Stick with Freddy, Eliza – he can actually sing. To round out my Worst of the Year list, I watched The Cloverfield Paradox, which, while dumb, had too many good parts to qualify as a true “worst of the year.” Oh, and I managed to catch a few minutes of Spotlight on cable. It’s easy to forget how deceptively great that movie is, and in particular Liev Schreiber, who is low-key doing amazing work in that film.
On television, I finally finished Russian Doll, and all I can say is wow. It took a minute to get into Natasha Lyonne’s bizarre reflective comedy (note: it took me exactly 12 seconds to get onboard with her performance), but once I did, I was treated to a modern cross between Groundhog Day and All That Jazz (note: you can do worse than a cross between Groundhog Day and All That Jazz). I also watched some Prestige television, in the hopes of staying up to date on 2018’s television year. This includes I Am The Night, the Patty Jenkins show that’s underwhelming me quite a bit, Black Monday, which is the epitome of “that’s fine,” and Miracle Workers, whose pilot I rather enjoyed, although I question how long the premise can sustain. In terms of my favorite shows on TV, I watched You’re the Worst, which I’ll admit let me down a bit this week (except for Nock Nock) and that Making a Murderer spoof on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which had…a lot of ideas, not all of which I think landed, but damn if I didn’t have a series of solid belly laughs. To finish off my Actors’ Best Performance list that I do every year, I watched the first episode of Mr. Robot, which was pretty good (I’m not going to be obsessed with it or anything), but I am curious about the fact that Rami Malek plays Asperger’s the same way he plays Freddie Mercury as gay, which is…a choice. On Wednesday, I watched The Masked Singer, and have reached a point where I know everyone on the show except for Monster, which will keep me around a few more weeks. And on Saturday, I watched Saturday Night Live, and all I can say is this: please have Don Cheadle back to host again. He has Tim Meadows level timing, and it works really well.
That does it for this week’s What I Watched, What You Watched! This Sunday are the Oscars, which means you only have a little more time to finish off all those nominees sitting in your On Demand queue. In the meantime, let me know in the comments what you think about the movies and shows I watched this week, as well as what you’ve been watching. See you all next week!