Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

45 Years

Going into the Academy Awards, Charlotte Rampling had a very good chance of winning a Best Actress statue — for a while. But her ill-conceived remarks about the diversity problems of the Academy could easily cost her a well-deserved prize for her role in 45 Years. In this quiet drama she plays a Kate, just a week away from her 45th wedding anniversary when she suddenly finds the underpinnings of her marriage in question, as a letter arrives to let her husband Geoff know that the perfectly preserved corpse of his true love Katya has been found, 50+ years after she disappeared into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps while on a hiking trip with him.

Oscar Nominees — Short Film [Live Action]

The Short Film category is where new filmmakers get to shine. Several of this year’s directors show a lot of promise, both in terms of directing actors and in creating a gripping story. I wonder how many of them get offers for features after the exposure the nomination gives them. And again, I really wish there were more of these being shown in theaters before the features. It seems a waste that they make the rounds at festivals, but the majority of movie lovers rarely have a chance to see them. If I had a theater!

And the nominees are…

Oscar Nominees — Documentary [Feature]

I’ve seen all of the nominees this year, thanks to attending the AFI DOCS and Full Frame festivals and Netflix. If you’re filling out your Oscar ballot, here are my somewhat edited down reviews of the nominees. It was a great year for docs, though I think they missed a few, but I’m sure they had a hard time whittling down the field. And the nominees are…

Trailers for all the films are at the end of this post.

Oscar Nominees — Animated Short Film

I always love seeing all the shorts before the Oscars. And I always lament that we don’t get to see one of them before a feature, as we should. Sure, it would cut into theater owners profits by taking time away from the barrage of ads we are forced to sit through, but wouldn’t it be fun!

This years animated shorts were pretty spectacular. They all have different strengths. Some are great story. Some are great animation. All are worth viewing!


Italian writer/director Paolo Sorrentino was responsible for one of my favorite foreign films of the last few years, The Great Beauty aka La grande bellezza. That film dealt with a Roman writer’s shifting view of his life following his 65th birthday bash. In Sorrentino’s newest film Youth, he again looks at men of a certain age, coming to terms with their place in the world. This one is in English and stars Michael Caine as Fred and Harvey Keitel as Mick, two long time friends who are vacationing in a luxurious alpine spa.


The film Carol is gorgeous.The clothes, the sets, the cinematography. And the actresses – Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – are both fabulous in this 1950s era forbidden love drama directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) and adapted from a Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) novel. It is a lesbian love story told more through furtive, adoring glances and unspoken understandings than big dramatic moments. It is languid storytelling, but somehow it is effective.


Brooklyn is a beautifully crafted old-fashioned story about a young Irish immigrant coming to America in the 50s. Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel) plays Eilis who is struggling to find her place in Ireland and jumps at the chance to emigrate when Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) offers to set her up with a job and a place to live in Brooklyn. The excellent script by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, An Education) adapted from Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel deftly mixes comedy, tragedy, and romance, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


There’s a whole lot of buzz around this one. The characters are interesting, to be sure. And the way it was shot on iPhones is pretty cool, too. But I’m not going to go so far as to say it deserves Oscar consideration, as some have. The film is a day in the life of couple of BFFs who happen to be transgender prostitutes on the streets of Los Angeles. It’s Christmas eve and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) just got out of jail. Alexandra (Mya Taylor) is there for her, and she’s also trying to scare up an audience for her singing debut later in the evening. But when Sin-Dee mentions her boyfriend, Alexandra hints that he hasn’t exactly been faithful while she was away. And that kicks the film into gear as Sin-Dee goes on a rampage to find the “other woman” and show her who’s boss.


Trumbo is set in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s during the Red Scare, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was convinced that there were Commie spies planting propaganda in movies, and a lot of once bright careers were destroyed as a blacklist kept them from getting any work. The film centers on Dalton Trumbo, one of the highest paid screenwriters in town who begins the film at the height of his career. But after refusing to testify in front of the HUAC, he’s sent to jail and once released has to find creative ways to continue his craft. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays Trumbo, and his Oscar-worthy performance elevates a less than exciting script.


This one has Oscar written all over it. It features a fabulous ensemble cast in a compelling docudrama based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that still reverberates. Spotlight is the name of an investigative reporting unit at the Boston Globe that exposed the Boston Archdiocese pedophilia cover-up in 2001. The film begins as the team is sniffing around for their next story, which can frequently take them some time. But when the paper brings in a new editor-in-chief (Liev Schreiber), rather than letting them choose their own, he hands them an assignment that would become a bomb-shell in a city with deep Catholic roots. What begins as a cursory look at an old story of a single pedophile priest grows larger and reaches higher, and the team does what the best of journalism does, they follow their leads no matter what. And it is devastating.