The Good Place Finale

Major spoilers for The Good Place follow.

Imagine pitching a half-hour sitcom like so: our main character wakes up dead. She’s in heaven. But here’s the thing: she’s a real piece of crap. 

Of course, there’s so much more to Michael Schur’s The Good Place, the NBC comedy that ended its four-season run last night. It’s a universe- and century-spanning epic of cosmic proportions, told in fifty brightly colored, bizarrely conceived, half-hour increments. It’s the story of a love that survives the relentless advance of time, a Miltonesque battle between good and evil, a celestial examination of where humanity stands in the measureless universe, and a covert lesson in moral philosophy. And, not for nothing, it’s also very, very funny.

But above all it’s two simple questions: what do we owe each other? And can we be better?

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The 10 Best Teen Movies of the Decade

best teen movies of the decade

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

Ahh, the teen movie. The high school story. The hormonal homage. It’s a genre that has lived in my heart since long before I became a teenager, and will remain there when I am straight-up elderly. The awkwardness and misfitting, the fashion and feelings — there are few other times in our lives when everything is turned up to high-def in just such a way as when we are teenagers.

The 2010s were a terrific time for teen movies. Poignant, funny, raunchy, insightful, it was a decade where everything stopped being about the cookie-cutter popular kids and started being about real teens. And these are, I feel most ardently, the ten best teen movies of the past ten years.

Presented in chronological order…

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The 10 Best Romantic Comedies of the Decade

Best Romantic Comedies of the Decade

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

In some ways, the past decade was a bit of a desert when it comes to romantic comedies. The rom-com’s mainstream heyday was over with the onset of our current millennium, which brought about dreck like Gigli and The Hottie and the Nottie. But with the dearth of quality mainstream rom-coms came the birth of the indie and the subversive rom-com – and that’s when things got interesting. 

So let’s talk about the ten best romantic comedies of the past ten years – with a couple of disclaimers. 1) I have a whole other list coming for the best teen movies of the decade, so if you’re furious that you don’t see Easy A or To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on here, stay tuned. And 2) many of the best romantic comedies of the past ten years have actually lived on television. I could do an entire list of nothing but rom-com TV series: You’re The Worst, Catastrophe, Please Like Me, Lovesick, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, The Mindy Project, Chewing Gum, Younger, New Girl – well, would you look at that? I did it! 

But this list – this list is about the ten best romantic comedy FILMS of the past decade. And boy, aren’t they romantic? Presented in chronological order…

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Blood Quantum Review

Blood Quantum, the second feature film from Rhymes for Young GhoulsJeff Barnaby, opens with an intense ancient settler’s proverb that reads, in part: “Take heed to thyself, make no treaty with the inhabitants of the land you are entering,” lest a lot of really heinous things happen, apparently.

It’s an ominous and telling start to a film that follows the Mi’gmaq community of Red Crow and their police chief Traylor (a great Michael Greyeyes) just before, during and six months after a zombie outbreak. Soon, the undead apocalypse has decimated the rest of the earth’s population, but the Red Crow are immune to the zombie virus, and they must decide amongst their population whether to allow into the reserve the non-Indigenous people arriving to take shelter from the hordes of undead.

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The Platform Review

“Hunger unleashes the madman in us. It’s better to eat than be eaten.”

Goreng (Iván Massagué) has volunteered to enter The Pit for six months in order to earn his associate’s degree, have some quiet time to finally read Don Quixote and kick his smoking habit. But what The Administration hasn’t told him is that The Pit is a vertically stacked prison leaving its inmates to starve or cannibalize each other, in Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s sci-fi dystopian horror The Platform.

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Saint Maud Review

Have there been studies linking trauma and piety? How many born-again converts came to their faith through suffering, damage and pain? First time feature filmmaker Rose Glass examines just that, following newly devout nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark) and her relationship with her patient, Jennifer Ehle’s Amanda. Maud most recently worked at a public hospital, but after a mysterious tragedy concerning her last patient, she’s now a private nurse for Amanda, a celebrated dancer dying from lymphoma of the spine. Amanda’s iconoclasm and Maud’s sanctimoniousness make for a dangerous combination, one that Glass takes in fascinating and deeply unexpected places.

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Harriet Review

Awards and festival-season biopics generally follow a pretty strict pattern, and Kasi LemmonsHarriet doesn’t digress too far from that path. But the filmmaker (who debuted her feature film Eve’s Bayou at TIFF twenty-two years ago) went ahead and assured herself a success by casting Cynthia Erivo as abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, and Civil War hero Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross).

Cynthia Erivo sang her way onto our collective radar with an astonishing performance in last year’s Bad Times at El Royale (followed by a smaller but hardly less striking role in Steve McQueen’s Widows), and if she wasn’t already, she’s now guaranteed a forever place in our cultural consciousness with Harriet. This is an incredible turn, and while the film it’s in doesn’t quite match it, Erivo alone would be enough to make Harriet mandatory viewing.

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Bad Education Review

After the candy-colored bite of his feature debut Thoroughbreds, director Cory Finley handily earned audiences’ attention for whatever he did next. And he was gifted with a riveting story in a 2002 NY Mag article detailing a shocking Long Island public school embezzlement scandal. Yet while Bad Education makes for an interesting watch, it’s a little bit of a bummer that it’s missing the unique style and tone of Finley’s first film.

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The Goldfinch Review

How do you make a movie out of The Goldfinch? It’s the question book lovers have been asking themselves since John Crowley’s adaptation was announced last year. And it’s true that Donna Tartt’s thoughtful, decades-spanning, continent-hopping story of a boy and a painting doesn’t really lend itself to an action-packed feature film, but if you’re in the bag for a 150-minute meditation on grief, guilt and the power of beauty, then hey, The Goldfinch is for you.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Review

After the beautiful documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor slayed hearts and flooded tear ducts last year, I admit to thinking, “Do we really need a fictionalized version of Fred Rogers’ story?” And then I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and got my answer: we can never have too much Mister Rogers. Especially now.

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