Movie Review: The movie The Assistant, the movie Soul, and the movie I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Zachary Hess Award Nominations Cont.
a patiently paced story of the many unsung heroes in the film industry
The second film on my list places Julia Garner into the life of an assistant to a power film executive. The Assistant tackles the difficult topic of workplace abuses and misconduct widely discussed following the #METOO movement. A heart-sinking slow burn that leaves you in a bought of angst, The Assistant is one of the best films of the 2020 year. Kitty Green’s fiction feature debut is a beautifully paced look at a day’s work as one of the most underappreciated jobs in the film industry. From before dawn till after dusk our every girl protagonist, Jane, sends emails, checks schedules, files paperwork, and preps meetings. In the hands of worse filmmakers, The Assistant would crash and burn, but thanks to the sum of its parts this film is riveting. Distributed by Bleecker Street on Hulu The Assistant is an uneasy 90-minute stream away from appearing on your best of the year list.
Next comes a remarkable animated film that is safely locked onto the Best Animated Feature Oscar, but I would argue more deserving of the Grand Prize recognition. Pete Doctor’s Inside Out follow-up Soul. The animated adventure attempts to answer one of the most important questions in life, what’s it all for? What makes life worth living. Doctor’s fourth feature film Soul finds the innate beauty in all things. The simple musicality of life. It will make you cry, but it’s a testament to how successful the film is. It’s hard to summarize much of the plot without outright spoiling the narrative, so I’m going to just say go watch Soul it’s on Disney + for no extra charge.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Out of all the films on my list, Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is probably the least accessible. The hard to follow narrative is an easy turn off for many. The film follows a couple in a “meeting the parents” scenario. Quickly the narrative devolves into something far more abstract and headier. Topics of loneliness, artistic expression, intellectualism, and appreciation vs criticism are present in this snowstorm web of a film. Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons play the couple at the heart of the story. For viewers familiar with Charlie Kaufman’s work, I’m Thinking of Ending Things will feel right at home in his filmography. The director previously wrote the award-winning films, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. If this is your introduction to the filmmaker, be prepared for a fun thought-provoking time. Kaufman adapted the film from Iain Reid’s novel of the same name. The film is likely to be competing for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is available on Netflix.
Watch The Assistant on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWEXqJgw5Xo
Editor: Zachary Hess
Note: These coming reviews will be a series created by Zachary Hess on his predictions of the 2020 Academy Awards. Check in, on (Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) to look over more of his predicted nominations.
Movie Review: Sound of Metal
2020 Academy Awards (and what I would nominate for the Best Picture)
It is safe to say that 2020 was a different year. The COVID-19 pandemic led to global societal changes and unrest. The film industry was not immune to the economic pause that the pandemic caused. According to AARP, Hollywood lost more than 110,000 jobs during 2020. When theaters closed, hundreds of movie releases were delayed, and most productions were put on a pause. This challenged companies to answer the question: what to do about the movies ready to be released?
Many small budget indies that would have gotten limited distribution runs went straight to Video-On-Demand (VOD). Larger studios either delayed their films or opted for Premium VOD, a luxury rental model that made for a pricey at-home viewing experience. The few companies that seemed exempt from the distribution pains were the streaming services: Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu. The controversies came when Disney and Warner Bros opted to turn towards their new streaming services to premiere some of their high-budget movies like Mulan (2020) and Wonder Woman 1984. Film festivals also went digital allowing for more people to experience the formerly exclusive film premieres.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts responded to the pandemic by postponing their Awards ceremony from February 2021 to April 25th. This extended the eligibility window for films from December 31st, 2020 to February 28th, 2021. The nominations will not be announced until March 15th. The dearth of theatrical releases has led to many arguing for the outright cancellation of the 2020 Academy Awards Ceremony. This opinion fails to acknowledge the high number of fantastic films released in the COVID-19 year. Here I aim to argue my personal account of the best films of 2020. My list is not numbered as each of these films are great and worthy of your attention.
Sound of Metal
a beautifully intimate study in recovery
Even though my list is not numbered, I want to point out that Darius Marder’s big-budget directorial debut Sound of Metal is my favorite film of 2020. A breathtaking drama about the struggle and recovery of a heavy-metal drummer, Rubin, who suddenly experiences severe hearing loss. British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed as Rubin demands your attention in every scene. The isolating sound design place the audience in the protagonist’s head. This decision only heightens the shocking contrast between Rubin’s reality and that of his girlfriend, played by Olivia Cooke. Character actor Paul Raci puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as the leader of a community of deaf adults readjusting to life without sound. Sound of Metal is a stark portrayal of trauma, addiction, and recovery. There are very few films that scratch the itch Sound of Metal does. Stellar performances, thematically resonate, and technically perfect. Aside from the actors, the sound designers make themselves the stars through the film’s affecting sound mixing. From Amazon Studios the film would be a dark horse nominee for anything other than the Sound mixing award. Despite the low prospects for rewards recognition, it marks the top of my list. Sound of Metal is available on Amazon Prime.
Editor: Zachary Hess