Best Musical Movie Moments of 2019

Since the dawn of film, music has always been an essential component. A director’s use of a particular song can become synonymous with a scene and bring an added layer of emotion. The use of music in 2019 was no exception and it was hard narrowing this list down to just ten. The movies here used music, either as needle drops or performed, to give audiences insight into the narrative or their character.

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Best Supporting Characters of 2019

You know that famous quote about how there are no small parts? As we barrel deeper into Oscar season, it’s getting even easier to let the truly sublime minor characters from 2019 slip our minds. The goal of this list is to highlight the performances from the past year that sailed completely under the radar, the characters who had just an incredibly small amount of screentime but deserve recognition. As with most “Best Of” lists, this is subjective, so if anything it should inspire you to look at the movies you loved last year and the small performances that deserve a warm embrace.

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The Greatest Female Characters of the Decade

Best Female Characters of the Decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

There are so many amazing female characters who have burrowed their way into our hearts over the last decade that to come up with a list of just a few is painful. Cobbling together this list was a chronic process of killing one’s darlings and I want to reiterate this is by no means a definitive list. There are so many features throughout so many different countries. Essentially, this is a list of just ten of the best female characters of the decade (And apologies – it’s highly American.) Use this as a jumping off point to discover more of the phenomenal women who cinematically shaped us over the last ten years. 

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Being a Film Critic With a Disability

Earlier this year, I made the life-altering decision to move from my sleepy hometown of Sacramento and finally live in Los Angeles. Being disabled has always been a challenge I’ve navigated throughout my life and my assumption was that moving to Los Angeles would have little difference. But in the nearly 12 months that I’ve lived and worked in film criticism here, it’s opened my eyes to not just how others see disability in the entertainment industry, but how I see myself. And I’m not talking about disabled representation on-screen, which has been a problem since motion pictures were made. I’m talking about the limits of being someone who wants to be in this industry whether that’s as a performer, cinematographer or, yes, a film critic. 

I often get emails from disabled people who want to enter film criticism, asking how they can get in, and they’re not necessarily asking how to get a job. They’re specifically asking how to navigate the landscape with a disability. My responses are positive, but realistic. This piece only touches on a few things specific to my situation and location, but they speak to larger issues with regards to how we treat the disabled in the world. Navigating the world of film criticism with a disability leaves me to wonder if true representation for those with disabilities behind the camera can be achieved.

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Charlie's Angels and Sexuality

With the arrival of a new millennium, Hollywood believed they had to go further with their filmmaking. Gone was the simplicity of ‘90s filmmaking and in their place stood films that epitomized the nature of the word “extreme,” flash and whizbang with messages that were going to get inside your head even if they had to be beaten in. 

Or maybe that was just the experience of watching McG’s Charlie’s Angels. In 2000, audiences got a new take on a trio of beautiful women backed by an anonymous millionaire who solved crimes. The Charlie’s Angels of the 2000’s was loud and fiery and also took a ton of flack for its presentation on women. It’s sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2003 received a similar response. So when director Elizabeth Banks decided to tackle the property with last week’s Charlie’s Angels, it was meant to be a rebirth for a franchise often perceived as misogynistic.

And yet, the Charlie’s Angels universe is one that, at least to me, has always felt subversive and unique. McG, a man so associated with masculinity his last name sounds like a high school nickname, unwittingly crafted a film series so audacious in its presentation of relationships, sexuality, and, in some cases, kink, that it becomes a positive for women.

This post contains spoilers for the new Charlie’s Angels movie.

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doctor sleep rebecca ferguson

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

Because Doctor Sleep is a sequel to Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation, it’s easy to say those are the only sources of inspiration. But while watching what director Mike Flanagan has conjured up with his newest film, there are other movies from which he draws on, both overt and subtle. One can talk about the movie and not need to bring up The Shining

In going down the Doctor Sleep rabbit hole, one thing became apparent: though set in 2019, the movie feels pulled from our current nostalgic love for the ‘80s, specifically the features of 1987. I’m not sure why the comparisons to 1987 come through the clearest, maybe it was because that was the year the ‘80s as an aesthetic was defined (Gordon Gecko would declare “Greed is good” in Wall Street that year). Either way let’s use this installment of Classically Contemporary to revisit 1987, The Overlook Hotel, and Doctor Sleep

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House on Haunted Hill Comparison

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

In 1959 director William Castle, horror huckster and impresario, released House on Haunted Hill. A throwback to the old dark house thrillers of the 1930s with a devilish performance by ‘50s horror icon, Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill is the gold standard when it comes to Castle’s work. Forty years later, Hollywood came calling to redo Castle’s films. Dark Castle Entertainment was a studio initially created to solely remake Castle’s films and they started with his best. The 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill boasted an impressive cast and a liberal use of late-’90s CGI. So how do both hold up 60 and 20 years later, respectively? Let’s dive into a dueling edition of Classically Contemporary. 

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Ready or Not Influences

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie whose classic film influences were so prominent and varied (the last one would probably be A Simple Favor). That’s not to say there haven’t been other columns in this category that homage specific features, but Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not seems to be directly speaking to a world of filmmaking that is obvious and multilayered. So let’s dive into just a few of the classic film homages you can find within Ready or Not.

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Toy Story 4 and Classic Horror

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

It’s hard to believe we’re still talking about Toy Story movies in 2019 and yet we are. The latest installment, Toy Story 4, charts the (presumably) final pairing between the heroes that started this series: cowboy doll Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and space ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). Toy Story 4 follows Woody as he tries to Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), the new favorite toy of owner Bonnie, back to the family RV. Along the way Woody stumbles upon an old friend, Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) and new villains.

The Toy Story features have all possessed random bits of classic film references, but Toy Story 4 discusses topics steeped in the history of classic cinema, particularly horror. So let’s dive into the classic world to better understand Toy Story 4!

Spoilers for Toy Story 4 ahead.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

With our current nostalgia boom in full swing, there’s certainly a fair amount of fatigue invading our daily viewing. This could explain why we’re seeing a bevy of films sidestepping certain eras and evoking specific genres. In a recent column, I looked at how Serenity was steeped in the world of ‘40s noir and ‘90s neo-noir and this seems to be happening a lot with weird trash cinema. Maybe because there’s little risk for high reward, but movies with lower expectations are jumping into specific film genres with abandon. Such is the case with the Octavia Spencer-starring thriller, Ma.

Ma stars Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann, a lonely vet tech still suffering the psychological scars from high school. When a group of teens ask her to buy booze for them, Sue Ann sees it as a way to relive her youth. But the desire to rewrite the past soon becomes an obsession.

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