New films feature likely Oscar winners

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With the Oscars roughly five months from now, movie studios are set to start releasing some of their contenders. Several of the most anticipated movies of the year released this month rose to the occasion, while others disappointed. 



Marvel’s Eternals was one of the most anticipated movies of 2021. Among the reasons was… it was a Marvel movie. Another reason was the star-studded cast consisting of Angelina Jolie, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, and many other stars. Oh, and by the way, it was directed by the recent Oscar-winning director, Cholé Zhao. So the expectations for this movie were very high. 

Marvel’s Eternals is about Earth’s god-like protectors, who were created by another “higher” being called Celestials; it takes place in the aftermath of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. A lot is happening in this movie. With a runtime, full of Marvel myth, of two hours and 37 minutes, it can be hard to digest the information as it figuratively (and literally) flies at you. Although this film has been reviewed as one of the worst Marvel movies, I disagree. Although the movie isn’t one of the best Marvel movies, it doesn’t mean it is one of the worst. 

There is plenty to like about this movie. One thing, it introduces a lot of interesting characters that will surely be further explored in other Marvel properties. Another benefit of the movie is the dynamic that it introduces between characters, as rivals, love interests, or long-lost friends. Yet despite the positives, the movie attempts to do so much in one movie that its benefits are quickly eclipsed by the next plot event. 

If you have fully embraced the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then odds are you don’t need a review to see this movie; you are going to see it anyway. For those who are not Marvel fans, you can probably skip this one. 

Marvels’ Eternals is available to watch in theaters. 


The Harder They Fall

From one great cast to another, The Harder They Fall is led by an all-star cast of Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz. Based on real people, not real events, the movie depicts “Black cowboys” in America during the late nineteenth century. The movie’s plot is based on the classic Western trope of an outlaw (Nat Love, played by Jonathan Major), who is seeking revenge. 

Of course “white cowboys” have predominantly been represented in Westerns throughout cinematic history, with audiences trained to see Clint Eastwood’s face when the term “Western” is mentioned. The Harder They Fall attempts to give justice to those who haven’t been seen on screen. If you are a fan of Westerns, then this is the movie for you with plenty of shootouts, gunfights, and a train robbery. The interesting thematic scheme of the movie is the intent to have a “Neo-Western.” While still set in the “Old West,” the role of women and tired Western tropes such as gun draws are given a “modern” twist. These changes certainly are to the benefit of the film,  giving a familiar, yet new feeling to those who are used to the genre. The story itself is relatively basic, which is my main criticism of the movie. 

Jonathan Majors continues his excellence in performances, as he is asked to carry the emotional weight of the movie while remaining the cool, collected cowboy. In a month where numerous actors are receiving a lot of praise for their roles, Jonathan Majors doesn’t receive enough praise for his performance. 

I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Westerns, and anyone who is a fan of Jonathan Majors (which should be everyone). The Harder They Fall is available to stream on Netflix. 


Tick Tick…Boom

Tick Tick…Boom is a musical. I am not a fan of musicals. Yet, I liked this movie. The film is based on the life of Jonathan Larson, the writer of the Broadway sensation Rent, as he attempts to finally get  his “big break.” Directed by Lin-Manual Miranda, the movie captures the feeling of a broadway musical in its grandiose sets and exciting performances. Starring in the role of Larson is Andrew Garfield, who gives one of, if not the best, performances of the year. 

 A movie about a man who wrote one of the most successful musicals of all time, with a cast full of Broadway stars, directed by someone who created one of the other most successful musicals of all time, doesn’t scream “For non-musical fans!” To its credit, the movie does a good job of balancing the songs with the story, which is very difficult to ask from a musical. Unsurprisingly, I connected with the “real movie” more than the broadway numbers; yet towards the end, the songs were very elegantly placed to evoke the emotion that the movie wants to convey. 

Andrew Garfield gives a hall of fame-worthy performance. Garfield, who will certainly be nominated for an Oscar performance, will have an upper hand on his competitors because he doesn’t just act, but he also sings and dances. If that were not enough, he is in every single scene. Garfield, whom you might get to see again in theaters this December in Spider-Man: No Way Home, cements his storied career with one of his best performances, which might be an award-winning one.

Tick Tick…Boom is worthy of watching simply for the Garfield performance, but the movie itself provides a solid storyline. If you are a fan of musicals, specifically Rent then this movie is made for you. Even if you are not a lover of musicals, the movie can serve as a solid balancing act of singing and acting that does not diminish the viewing experience. Tick Tick…Boom is available to stream on Netflix. 


House of Gucci

Questionable Italian accents? Jared Leto in a fat suit? The nearly three-hour runtime?  Starring Lady Gaga (Patrizia Reggiani) and Adam Driver (Maurizio Gucci)?  Based on the real-life story of the Gucci family and their business? Directed by Ridley Scott, (Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator)?  Entitled, greedy, and narcissistic characters?

House of Gucci has divided critics and fans alike on whether or not the movie should be viewed favorably. If the rhetorical questions in the first sentence of the review didn’t already give away my stance, House of Gucci is not good. The movie intends to cover roughly 25 years, detail the “health” of the Gucci brand, and also have time to develop the character of the entire family of Gucci.  That explains the runtime of 2 hours and 38 minutes, but many scenes seem completely unnecessary. Like Marvel’s Eternals, the movie attempts to do too much. 

The performances are intentionally overdrawn, yet the movie doesn’t balance the emotion with the absurdity of the plot. There are scenes of Al Pacino and Jared Leto yelling to each other about where they parked the car (best part of the movie) inter-cut with the troubles of the Patrizia and Maurizio marriage. 

The character of Patrizia operates as the audience’s way to build an understanding of the Gucci family. Yet, once Patrizia enters the Gucci family, the “window” closes and the audience’s connection with the family disappears. This leads to a confusing mismatch of intent and motivation of characters that the audience doesn’t feel connected to.

House of Gucci is available to watch now in theaters. 


King Richard

King Richard is a biopic about Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams. For those unaware of the tennis world, you might be wondering “Why is the movie about the father?” Richard Williams stepped into the public spotlight in the 90s as his two daughters (Venus first) started to gain fandom. He was quickly portrayed as an overbearing, and intense father who cared more about his reputation than his daughters. Yet, this movie shows a different version of the man who crafted a game plan to give his daughters their best chance for future success. 

In all biopics, the most important part is the performance of the actor portraying the character. Tick Tick…Boom works because of the performance of Andrew Garfield, King Richard works because of Will Smith. Smith gives another Oscar-worthy performance, that helps elevate the movie to a much more enjoyable level. He isn’t given that many opportunities to go “full-actor” like his likely counterpart for the Oscars, Andrew Garfield, yet it is his subtle acting that sells the performances. The nuances of dealing with the pressures of balancing the well-being of his daughters and pushing them to their highest potential are executed to perfection. 

For those who want to watch a “sports” movie, this might leave them wanting more. The movie is called King Richard, which means that all of the dramatic tennis action is told through the point of view of the father, not either of his daughters. The movie does have tennis, but I would consider putting the movie under the “parenting” genre rather than the “sports” genre. As someone familiar with the Williams sisters’ tennis story, the movie offers new insight into the dynamic between Serena and Venus Williams. If you are not familiar with the story, the movie is still worth watching because the sports in the movie are used as a backdrop to the story.  

Like Tick Tick…Boom the movie is worth watching solely for the performance of the main actor, Will Smith. Besides Smith’s performance, the movie is perfect for those interested in tennis, parenting stories, or simply an underdog story.

King Richard is available on HBO Max and in theaters. 

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