[What Did Jaci Think? Early December]

I caught Widows a second time and dug it much more now that I knew it wasn’t ever going to be a “super fun time getting the team together look at how we’re all experts in something esoteric” sort of heist movie, and instead was a “what would it take to get some nice but also unknowingly badass ladies to do some crime” sort of movie that was also super interested in municipal government. Not everyone’s jam, but definitely mine, though it has such a deep bench of actors that you can’t help but feel folks like Adepero Oduye and Carrie Coon were wasted in it. And consider this a formal request for more Cynthia Erivo in everything in 2019, please.

I loved The Favourite. I loved that it was completely centered on three complex women, that everyone was scheming and the women more than the men, that the men were ridiculous, that it was funny and dirty and sharp. I loved that even in a heterosexual encounter the camera stayed on the woman, the man literally out of focus. Sandy Powell deserves an Oscar for Rachel Weisz’s shooting outfit, Olivia Colman deserves one too if only for how she described Emma Stone’s character in bed, and Rachel Weisz can throw me up against anything any time anywhere. (PS Shout-out to the true hero of the picture: Horatio, the fastest duck in London.)

We were blessed to see Roma at Cinerama, not on 70mm (yet, but a girl can dream) but still. It’s an immersive film that requires attention and rewards that attention with a story told with deep love where – and I honestly can’t get over this – a man de-centers his lived experience and elevates that of a woman. It’s of course available on Netflix, but if it comes near you in a cinema, please take the opportunity to experience it that way: the sound design and the long, wide takes require it. An epic telling of a time in the life of an ordinary (and yet, of course, extraordinary) woman, what a gift.

At Eternity’s Gate was visually frustrating. An overuse of hand-held shaky-cam plus a frequent blurring of the entire bottom half of the screen was distracting at best, headache inducing at worst. Which is too bad because there are so many lovely things in it, including one of the most beautiful scenes of masculine tenderness I’ve seen on film: Theo’s first appearance when, without hesitation, he cradles Vincent in bed at the hospital. Willem Dafoe is a terrific van Gogh, instantly making me forget he was too old for the role. And it is a beautiful film, when it’s not blurred or shaking.

Burning is the story of a guy who meets a girl who he may or may not have gone to school with, who asks him to care for a cat that may or may not exist. She returns from a trip with a guy who may or may not be a serial killer and who the original guy may or may not be attracted to. (The questions are all answered.) Suffice it to say, this was extremely my jam, despite (because?) it’s one of the few films this year that made me peel off all of my nail polish. The performances are all terrific, including an utterly hypnotic debut from Jong-seo Jun. And is there anything more perfect than Jong-su’s longing for Ben’s life of “listening to music while cooking pasta”? As the kids say, relatable.

Finally, not only was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a blast, but it also was groundbreaking, pushing forward both who can be the hero behind the mask and also what feature animation can look like. It’s the first 2D film possibly ever that I came out of wishing I had seen it in 3D. I bet it was stunning. I’m so happy for all those kids who get Miles Morales – a Spider-Man who looks like them! – for their first Spidey, and I can’t wait for the lady villain they set up for the sequel.

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