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It’s movie awards season again, looking different because of the pandemic. Most of the films this year can be seen on television, either pay-per-view or on a streaming service.
I have a great passion for good movie storytelling, so I will don my tiara and let you know my favorites of the year —
- Hamilton (Disney +) Just in time for the lockdown came the vibrant life of a little-known Founding Father via Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography. Wow, from it’s dazzling choreography and camerawork, perfect color-blind casting, and many musical styles, you’ll feel you have the best seat in the house. Suggestion: turn the closed captions on because you don’t want to miss a word of the fast-paced music.
- One Night in Miami (Amazon) A wonderful enlargement on the Broadway play about an evening in 1964 when Jim Brown, Malcolm X, and Sam Cook celebrated the prize fight win of young Cassius Clay (later known as Mohamed Ali). Wonderfully acted. Directed by Regina King with assurance and an evocative color pallet. Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr in Hamilton) turns in a heart-breaking, nuanced performance as Sam Cooke.
- Greyhound (Apple +) Has Tom Hanks plowing the Atlantic as a first time captain of his mostly teen-aged crew. It’s 1942 and their task is protecting a convoy of 37 ships carrying thousands of soldiers and supplies around Nazi U-boats. Not a moment of this movie is wasted and the relationship that develops between beleaguered Hanks and his cook is an added bonus.
- The Prom (Netflix) is a musical as escapist and frothy as Hamilton is serious, with its glitz, hammy acting, and back-to-back-to-back divas. But by the end it had won me over. The young lovers Jo Ellen Pellman and Ariana DeBose and a charming turn as a high school teacher by Keegan-Michael Key keep us caring about what happens next. See this one in your local movie theater when you can, as I think it would be enhanced by a communal experience, like the Mama Mia movies are.
- Trial of the Chicago Seven (Netflix) Spellbinding courtroom drama in the capable hands of Aaron Sorkin who wrote and directed. Set in the aftermath of the riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention. You’ll find many unsettling parallels to current events. Strong performances by entire cast, but Sasha Baron Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman is a Sacred Clown for the ages.
- News of the World (Universal) Yeah, I’m a Tom Hanks fan. I also love a good Western and this is a great one, combining a fateful journey and Indian captivity plot with suspense galore. Tom’s an itinerant news reader entertainer charged with returning captive Helena Zengel to her relatives. Together they travel a Reconstruction Era Texas fraught with dangers and astonishing moments of grace. Pay attention to the musical score of this one—it’s a knock-out.
So there you have it, Eileen’s favorite movies of the year of the plague. I’m so glad
I had them to keep me company.
See you at the movies!