"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world." - Jean-Luc Godard
Best of Netflix December 2020
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): We’re all familiar with E.T. and what it brings to the table as far as being a classic family film that can be enjoyed by all ages. Say it’s Christmastime and you’re tired of all the Christmas songs on the radio or the blowup Santa Claus lawn decorations but you have family over and you need a way to keep everyone entertained. Turn on E.T. and you’ll escape the holiday noise for at least a couple of hours. Also it’s one of the most iconic films of all time, so if you’re one of the few people that haven’t seen it it’s time to rectify that.
Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997): Jurassic Park is a magical adventure film with groundbreaking practical effects that still hold up to this day. The sequel has its issues, and no one would argue that it’s as good as the first but it has a great cast (Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughan) and some fun action set pieces despite a completely unnecessary third act. The third film, Jurassic Park III, is also available to watch if you’re craving some more dinosaur action but it’s a complete mess of a story that nearly ruins the world set up in the first two films, and while the characters of the first two shine and help us realize the possibility of bringing dinosaurs back to life the characters in the third film are annoying and utterly forgettable.
Mank (2020): December 4th sees the release of David Fincher’s first film since Gone Girl in 2014. Mank tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his writing of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. The film stars Gary Oldman in the lead role with Amanda Seyfried and Lily Collins supporting. Early critic reactions have been overwhelmingly positive and this film should be a juggernaut during this year's delayed Oscar season. This is one I’ve been eagerly anticipating and if you’ve yet to see Citizen Kane then watching it before you see Mank is probably a good idea.
Nocturnal Animals (2016): I remember during the winter of 2016 when I first saw this film: I was doing a double feature at a local theater and I had just walked out of a showing of Manchester by the Sea. I met up with a friend and the two of us went in to watch Nocturnal Animals. The next two hours were disturbing and unsettling but featured some impressive performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I distinctly remember my reaction at the end: I turned to my friend and said “I think that’s my favorite movie I’ve seen this year.” Looking back on it perhaps I was a little carried away given some of the other great films from that year, but Nocturnal Animals is a well made thriller from Tom Ford which makes him 2/2 in his directorial career (the other being A Single Man which I strongly recommend). The film is on Netflix on the 16th.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020): The final film role of the late, great Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson and centers on blues musicians in Chicago in 1927. Early reviews have praised the performances of Boseman and Viola Davis who plays Ma Rainey the “Mother of Blues” who battles with her white producers for control of her music. The film could earn Boseman a posthumous Oscar and should be an awards contender come April. Released on Netflix on the 18th.