War is hell but it sometimes provides the backdrop for great movies. The recent Blu-ray release of 1917, followed by the 50th anniversary, this week, of the Oscar-winning Patton, starring George C. Scott, is as good an excuse as any for cinephiles to hunker down in the trenches of an impromptu war movie marathon (especially if you’re stuck at home right now due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic).
With that in mind, here’s a mission for you, soldier: work your way through this chronological list of the best war movies of the last fifty years. “Best” is ultra-subjective, of course, but when you’re Alamo-ed up in a fort of pillows in your living room and there’s nothing good on television, few of these movies should disappoint.
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Snowpiercer. A History of Violence. Oldboy. Road to Perdition. There are any number of top-notch comic book movies that don’t revolve around costumed superheroes. One of the best of these is Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, a film that pushed the genre forward fifteen years ago with trailblazing black-and-white visuals ripped straight from the comics.
On April 1, 2005, Sin City ushered theatergoers into a world unlike anything they had ever seen before on the big screen. Lurid yet literate, with voiceovers like thought bubbles, the film was something new and remarkable: neo-noir with a heap of violence and the look of a live-action motion comic. With cinemas now closed and most people’s travel plans on pause due to the global coronavirus pandemic, it’s as good a time as any for pulp-lovers who are stuck at home to take a trip back to Sin City.
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“Fighting for your life makes every other thing you ever did before seem extremely dull.”
This line is spoken by Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) in the penultimate episode of Ozark’s third season, which hit Netflix on Friday. It’s a line that cuts to the core of what makes Wendy, her husband Marty (Jason Bateman), and the show around them tick. In its first season, Ozark plunged viewers into the world of the Byrdes and their Missouri money-laundering operation. From the moment a Mexican drug lord knelt Marty down and put a gun to his head in the pilot episode, we’ve been watching him talk and scheme his way out of certain death.
Subsequent episodes and seasons have seen Wendy take on an increasingly prominent role within the criminal enterprise that is keeping her and Marty and their two kids alive (for now). Ozark lost some momentum in its second season as its pace slowed, but the show is back with a vengeance now, doing what it does best: namely, putting the Byrdes at the center of a volatile situation where things keep spiraling further out of control. This season, the dark drama pops with bigger emotional fireworks, thanks in no small part to the arrival of Wendy’s bipolar brother, Ben (Tom Pelphrey), who adds an unexpectedly moving human element to a show where characters regularly display an inhuman lack of empathy. Ben is the Fredo Corleone in this equation, ready to break his sibling’s heart and that of the viewer.
If you’re all caught up with your weekend Ozark binge, then let’s dive into the Lake of the Ozarks with spoilers.
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With the airing of last night’s action-packed finale, HBO has delivered a gripping climax to its ten-episode Stephen King adaptation, The Outsider. Focusing on a community rocked by a gruesome child murder, the show, like the book, was something of a genre-buster, tipping from police procedural in its first half into full-blown supernatural horror in its second half. Given its steady ratings climb and the finale’s post-credits scene, it’s possible that HBO will go The Leftovers route with The Outsider and continue the series with new stories beyond the scope of King’s novel. The mythology at play in the narrative might even allow the network to anthologize it, adopting a new cast and setting in its second season, as AMC did last year with its Dan Simmons adaptation, The Terror.
For now, however, the dust is left to settle around a stellar first season with a top-of-the-line ensemble cast led by Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo. Developed by Richard Price — the author/co-screenwriter of Clockers and co-creator of The Night Of miniseries, among other things — the show adhered to many aspects of the book while also deviating from the source material in some notable ways. Price penned the majority of episodes, with executive producer Jessie Nickson-Lopez and novelist Dennis Lehane also picking up writing credits. Here, we’ll look back on the season as a whole and examine some of the changes they made in order to bring King’s vision to television.
Major spoilers lie ahead, of course.
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The 92nd Academy Awards have come and gone and while Jordan Peele’s sophomore film Us went unrecognized — even in the Best Actress category, where Lupita Nyong’o’s versatile dual role surely deserved a nomination — horror aficionados know the real score regarding the best films of last year. So does Janelle Monae, whose opening musical number featured back-up dancers in red Us jumpsuits and white Midsommer dresses, with Monae herself being crowned the flowery May Queen and other notable snubs like Dolemite Is My Name and Queen & Slim adding to the costume flair.
Two years ago, when Peele was on the awards trail for his first feature, Get Out, he participated in a THR writers roundtable where he was asked to name one screenplay that had particularly influenced him. He gave an appropriately doppelgänger answer, citing not one, but two films based on Ira Levin novels: The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby. The 1975 film adaptation of The Stepford Wives hit theaters forty-five years ago today, and at first glance, its influence on Get Out (another improbably good February movie) is more immediate. However, Peele has identified Rosemary’s Baby as his favorite film and, like the Tethered in Us, it’s easy to see movements mirrored between his two modern horror gems and both those classic Levin adaptations.
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The 92nd Academy Awards are almost upon us, and if there’s one certainty going into Oscar night, it’s that some worthy talent in some category will be overlooked in favor of a lesser talent. No nominee or winner is undeserving of recognition, but snubs are also an essential part of Oscar history and directors are not immune to them. In fact, some of the greatest directors of all time have gone their whole career without receiving a proper Best Director Oscar.
Film is fundamentally a collaborative medium, and we’re only a little over a month removed from a decade where the movie industry shifted to a more producer-controlled landscape in which IP-friendly tentpoles seemed to occupy all the best real estate. Yet the best directors, the ones with the most singular voice or vision, do tend to bolster the case for auteur theory, whereby a director can be considered a film’s primary author. With that in mind, here’s a roughly chronological look at ten great film authors eluded by the golden statuette for Best Director. With each name on this list, we’ll be seeking to answer three questions: who did they lose to (if they were ever nominated), what film or films should they have won for, and why, oh, why didn’t they ever win?
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You don’t have to be a childless millennial at Disney World to be afraid of kids. There’s a whole time-honored sub-genre of horror that plays upon pedophobia, the fear of children. It’s yielded ghost girls aplenty and more than one son of Satan.
Writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala ventured into pedophobic territory with their 2014 Austrian film, Goodnight Mommy. It’s been a long road to the release of their new feature, The Lodge, which premiered at Sundance last year and earned some rave reviews, only to see its release date pushed back until after this year’s festival. Now, the wait is finally over and The Lodge is almost here. It hits theaters on Friday and this film has some elements that will poke at the child-fearing part of the brain.
In honor of that, we’re diving back through the last 60 years of film history, taking a reverse-chronological look at the 10 scariest movie children. Of course, there are any number of horror films where precocious youngsters say or do things that contribute to the overall creepy atmosphere. (“I see dead people,” “They’re heeere,” etc.) However, with this list, we’ll be focusing mainly on the kids who are straight-up evil or possessed and whose desire to harm others plays an integral role in the plot. You’re about to wade into a playroom where the tykes are all finger-painting with the blood of adults.
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If you’ve been paying attention to the news, then you may have heard about the outbreak of a new coronavirus that’s been spreading outward from Wuhan, China since December of last year. As of Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the virus “a public health emergency of international concern.” It’s been making top headlines on the CNN homepage over the last week as Chinese cities with a total population of almost 60 million have gone into lockdown. The outbreak has unfortunately dovetailed with the Chinese New Year, a busy travel season when a lot of people would normally be coming and going from China to celebrate the holiday and spend time with their families.
Even if you live in a stateside movie vacuum, you may have noticed how Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion mysteriously started trending on the iTunes movie store along with newer awards season releases like Parasite and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As we reported on Wednesday, Soderbergh’s film cracked the top ten on the rental chart, despite it being an old release that came out nearly a decade ago. This isn’t just a fluke. There are several eerie parallels between Contagion’s plot and the real-world story playing out on the news right now. Here are the ways the movie drew on past viral outbreaks and augured the present crisis of the 2019 and 2020 “novel coronavirus,” officially known as 2019-nCoV.
Spoilers for Contagion follow.
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One of the most high-profile filmmakers associated with the streaming service Apple TV+ since its launch last November has been M. Night Shyamalan. Promotional images for Servant, which released its tense season finale on Friday, prominently featured the words, “From M. Night Shyamalan” over the title. Shyamalan directed the show’s pilot and serves as one of its executive producers, much like he did with Fox’s Wayward Pines.
The plot of Servant revolves around a suspicious nanny who enters the life of a Philadelphia couple. Here, as with Wayward Pines, Shyamalan has taken a step back from writing duties. Showrunner Tony Basgallop wrote all ten episodes of Servant’s first season. Yet there are aspects of the show that feel very much of a piece with Shyamalan’s overall body of work as a writer-director. It’s another atmospheric dip into psychological horror where the choice of setting, the familiar preoccupation with belief and delusion, a newer tendency toward exploitation tactics, and less salubrious aspects like accusations of plagiarism (Servant is now the subject of a lawsuit) all draw a line to previous moments in his career.
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Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition has drawn millions of visitors around the globe, touring Canada and cities outside North America like Paris, London, and Sydney. Now, it’s finishing its run in Tokyo, where fans have turned out in droves for the last five months to explore a literal warehouse full of props and models, authentic costumes worn by the movie actors (including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew, and many more), and original concept art by the likes of Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston.
In among the geeky goodies and pieces of production history from the Lucasfilm Archives, there were some fascinating nuggets of behind-the-scenes lore, related mostly to the original Star Wars trilogy. Having been on the inside of this movie-artifact goldmine — the ultimate Star Wars museum experience — we’ve come away with 40 photos for you, along with ten of the most interesting tidbits of lesser-known information. Even for diehard fans, there might be some neat trivia factoids to be learned from this … and hey, it doesn’t get much cooler than seeing the legit Han Solo in carbonite prop. After the mixed flavors of The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, who’s ready for an old-school Star Wars palate cleanser?
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