In the movies, if not so much in life, 2016 has turned out to be a very good year for the ladies. While the Best Actor race is suffering from a dearth of truly exciting performances in 2016, the Best Actress race is stacked. You could fill the Best Actress category twice before you come across five male performances that have the fire and finesse displayed by the women this year. The clear frontrunners are Natalie Portman in Jackie and Emma Stone in La La Land, with Annette Bening’s work in 20th Century Women also expected to pick up a nod. That leaves two slots open to a wide swath of women, from Amy Adams in Arrival to Ruth Negga in Loving — both deserving, though perhaps not showy enough to stand out this year.
She remembers how hot the sun was in Dallas, and the crowds — greater and wilder than the crowds in Mexico or in Vienna. The sun was blinding, streaming down; yet she could not put on sunglasses for she had to wave to the crowd.
And up ahead she remembers seeing a tunnel around a turn and thinking that there would be a moment of coolness under the tunnel. There was the sound of motorcycles, as always in a parade, and the occasional backfire of a motorcycle. The sound of the shot came, at that moment, like the sound of a backfire, and she remembers Connally saying, “No, no, no, no, no…”
Since no studio executive can see into the future, it is impossible to to know if the right date has been selected to launch a film. Sure, 4th of July weekend was a pretty savvy time to release Independence Day back in 1996, and you can consider that a safe bet, but there are moments when news headlines trump Hollywood offerings that no one sees coming. The high school-set dark comedy Election had the misfortune of being released days after the Columbine massacre shocked the nation; just this year, The Birth Of A Nation was sunk by bad press surrounding Nate Parker’s rape allegations. (Because if there’s one thing Americans won’t stand for, it’s letting influential men get away with sexual assault… right?) The Birth Of A Nation might have been a massive hit if released last winter, on the heels of its Sundance breakout buzz, or maybe even this weekend, when a story of black Americans rioting against cruel and bigoted white oppressors might resonate. But that’s not how it happened.
The “coming out” film has been the cornerstone of queer cinema for at least a couple of decades. For all the progress the LGB… (sorry, I’ve lost track of how many letters are supposed to be attached to that alphabet soup) movement has made in shifting from the niche to the mainstream in that time, movies about these people haven’t changed much.
Forgive me. I know it seems much too early to talk about the Oscars, but we’re getting into that time of year now. So far, 2016 has been all but entirely barren of buzzworthy performances. I have a small handful of favorites, but only one or two that are certain to make the cut on my “Not Oscars” list next year.
The new film Indignation is one of those “wait and see” films, released in spring or summer or early fall, which most people agree has some noteworthy work, but no one’s quite willing to bet on it yet. After all, we know there are bigger, flashier things in the pipeline — Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Casey Affleck, Denzel Washington, and other familiar faces are attracting plenty of early chatter about their awards chances in forthcoming releases. Nothing in Indignation is quite striking enough to challenge them, but you never quite know how things will pan out. The film has made over $2 million in a smallish release and is playing well with critics and audiences. It’s the kind of film that just might have staying power.
We’re living in a wacky movie world these days. The third highest grossing film of this year so far is also one of the biggest disappointments — Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice plummeted in its second and third weekends, so even though the film will gross over $300 million, it’s a domestic disappointment. (Its production budget is $250 million, and who knows how much Warner Bros. spent on marketing that monstrosity.)
Batman V Superman‘s worldwide receipts will likely brand it as a hit of sorts, but whatever. Alongside that superhero misfire is the year’s biggest hit, Deadpool, and two animated family films, Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3. Ride Along 2 rounds out the top five highest grossing films this year. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies.
Yes, it’s only April. But what do the studios have in store for us for the rest of 2016? You guessed it: more superheroes, more talking animals, and more lame-o c0medies, mostly. That’s why it’s extra-refreshing when an itty-bitty hit like Hello, My Name Is Doris shuffles along.
If you’re a cute white girl from Ireland, at least.