Reel Dad awards the 2019 round of The Schumies
Yes, there are Oscars and Golden Globes, SAG “Actor” and critics’ honors. But there’s only one “Schumie” and, as the awards roll in for the movies of 2019, the Reel Dad honors the achievements of the movie year.
Baked to Perfection: Marriage Story
Without hesitation, Noah Baumbach dissects the layers that intense relationships create, from joy to bitterness, elation to anger. While many movies fill the screen with every possible visual, this moviemaker reminds us that, when a film tells the story from the inside, studying the dynamics between people can create all the fireworks that any movie needs.
Brimming With Flavor: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
The vivid imagination of Quentin Tarantino recreates a Hollywood that never was in a wildly entertaining fantasy. In one breathtaking sequence after another, the inventive storyteller celebrates real times in history just as he dares to rewrite moments forever planted in our memories. The movie looks and sounds like something we may never see again.
Piece de Resistance: The Irishman
As this masterpiece tells an epic story worthy of the big screen, it captures the essence of what makes Martin Scorcese so magical. As he has with many films, Scorcese again uses his camera to explore the conflicts people experience as they debate right and wrong. This is the ultimate Scorcese look at an underworld that has fascinated his lens for almost 50 years.
Hearty Helping: Parasite
This devastating look at the devotion and commitment people share may not paint a conventional portrait of family life but beautifully celebrates the layers of love that can thrive inside a home. While director Bong Joon-ho brilliantly lets us into the joke, the film’s genius is not how it tells its story, it’s how Joon-ho lets us decide how we want that story to end.
Food for Thought: Jojo Rabbit
As humorous as World War II was not, filmmaker Taika Waititi finds the punch line in a biting satire that examines why people hate. Using historical references as his anchors, the director takes us on a boy’s journey through the emotional landmines of wonder, loss, disappointment and love, reminding us that any war ultimately hurts innocent people trapped by agendas.
Piece of Cake: Joker
Leave it to director Todd Phillips and, especially, actor Joaquin Phoenix to make us savor every moment in one more story about this curious character from the “Batman” franchise. Refusing to suggest anyone else’s interpretation - including the Oscar-winning take by the late Heath Ledger - Phoenix creates an unforgettable look at how illness can be a personal poison.
Cream of the Crop: Judy
While Renée Zellweger’s dares to use her own voice to recreate the vocals, the film wisely focuses on one chapter near the end of Judy Garland’s life, when all the choices she made finally caught up. Without making excuses for Garland’s behavior, or exaggerating the performer’s impact, Zellweger helps us see this legendary woman in a new way.
Walking on Eggshells: Little Women
Without letting the conventions of Louise May Alcott’s original novel dictate the approach, director Greta Gerwig chooses to rethink how to tell this story - in short segments that skip around in time - with mixed results. While her approach is highly creative, Gerwig ultimately undermines how the characters develop their love for each other and the family they share.
Leaves You Wanting More: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
The ads suggest a story of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the long-running television program. But this film shares little about Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood because the story focuses on the conflicts of a fictional investigative reporter assigned to write about the star. While the film offers some glimpses into Roger’s magic, it leaves me wanting to know oh so much more.
Savory Side Dish: Diane
She fills her days by doing things for others, defining herself by how she gives. In this lovely film from Kent Jones, Diane becomes a thoughtful, layered woman who may use how she cares for others to substitute how she should care for herself. When “Diane” ends, we feel lucky to have spent time with a remarkable woman who simply needs to learn how to say “no.”
Tart and Tangy: The Farewell
Lulu Wang’s lovely film celebrates the special bond that can thrive between granddaughter and grandmother. With the gentleness of a light rain, she creates a special world for this most engaging family. While the film examines real issues, Lang handles it all with such lightness that the film emerges as a most delightful look at the eccentricities of family relationships.