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Movies and Oscars 2021: What to Watch, Trailers, Winners Too

April 26, 2021


What to watch on movie night? 

My friend Ron Wells loves films and music and he enjoys writing about what he’s seen and heard. I often share his reviews here on Art Predator. But in 2020, no one went to the movies much or to see live music, and as we all know, everything was done over ZOOM or through subscription services, and that can get expensive. Ron still wrote and emailed to his friends some movie reviews, but I didn’t publish much from him; honestly, I found it depressing. I wanted to GO TO THE MOVIES not watch them from home.

While some people had all of the time in the world to watch films, others were working like crazy. (I was somewhere in the middle — still plenty of wine to write about; travel, however, not so much. I managed to publish over 150 posts on Wine Predator and some 300k words!) 

Regardless, Ron was asked by some friends for a “best of” list this year as usual. As he didn’t see many films, and only one in a theater, his list is shorter than usual but he went ahead and made a list anyway.

“I’m not really into blockbuster films,” he says, “so you won’t find any here, and there were a LOT of movies I wanted to see but couldn’t because I didn’t have access to them through various apps, etc. that were necessary.” 

We do have most of the apps and serves etc but my family is more blockbuster than “small” film oriented and my kid would rather play video games than watch films with mom and dad anyway these days.

Lots of great films with the trailers below for the next time we wonder what we should watch!

Best Films of 2020

1. Nomadland (read Ron’s review here)
Winner, Best Director: Chloe Zhao
Winner, Best Picture Producers: Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Chloé Zhao,
Winner, Best Actress: Frances McDormand

Ron Wells: I love writer/director Chloe Zhao. She has a wonderful style and a great voice, especially when peering into the lives of those living outside mainstream America.

This film is NOT for everyone, as there is little or no action, but it is a slow penetrating look into the life of a woman who is discovering who she is. Frances McDormand is brilliant. Like I said, not for everyone, but this film captivated me.

AP: I loved it, and plan to write about my #Vanlife experiences….

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7

RW: Aaron Sorkin is my favorite living screenwriter. I was in college when this trial took place and it brought back all the turmoil surrounding Vietnam during that time. Great cast, and Sacha Baron Cohen is pitch perfect as Abbie Hoffman.

AP: Loved it!

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Oscar Winner– Makeup and Hairstyling Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Oscar, Costume Design Ann Roth

RW: Viola Davis owns the screen in this film, and we now really understand what a tragedy it was when Chadwick Boseman died; just heartbreaking. The film is from the stage play by August Wilson. A difficult, searing and penetrating look into the lives of African Americans.

AP: Loved it!


4. Mank
Winner, Oscar for Cinematography Erik Messerschmidt
Winner, Production Design Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

RW: I loved this movie, while other people I know didn’t think much of it. I certainly like the fact that a screenwriter is getting a movie made about his life. Did Herman Mankwiewicz really have more to do with Citizen Kane than Orson Welles? Who knows, but I loved this retelling of how that movie may have come into being. Gary Oldman is wonderful as Mank.

AP: Haven’t seen it yet– or Citizen Kane! The trailer really makes me curious but maybe Citizen Kane should come first. When my spouse has said he wanted to see it, I’ve put him off because I really think this is a movie lovers movie.


5. My Octopus Teacher (Documentary)
Winner, Documentary Feature: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster

RW: This documentary covers the 300+ days in which the narrator, Craig Foster, finds an octopus off the tip of Africa and begins an odyssey in which Foster, who is going through a difficult period in his life, becomes obsessed with following this one octopus  and learning how it lives and survives and what it can teach him about his own life. What one comes away with is the intelligence of the octopus, until Foster begins to see it as this “giant underwater brain.” Through all of the drama, humor, and beauty Foster slowly begins to see his own life change as the octopus teaches him about gentleness, trust, creativity and how he, Foster, is interconnected to animals, people, and the world he lives in. This is a nature documentary that is revealing and beautiful, though not always easy to watch, but which ultimatley rewards the viewer on many different levels.
AP: Haven’t seen it even though so many of my friends have recommended it and the trailer looks intriguing. However, I just bought octopus from the fish market so I probably won’t be watching it tonight…

6. First Cow

RW: First Cow, directed and co-written by Kelly Reichardt, is another small gem of a film by the director who has previously made films in which those at the bottom of the social scale dream big, while struggling against long odds to find success. This film is no different. Here we have a Chinese immigrant, “King-Lu,” who happens upon a cook, “Cookie,” who has been working with trappers in the early days of the Oregon territory. They form an unlikely friendship as they attempt to make their American dreams come true. This is the type of film that you will discuss with friends afterwords, as you delve into the narrative as well as the larger themes being hinted at here. Yes, it moves slowly. Yes, you will have to think about it. But for those who like small, independent filmmaking, rather than mainstream blockbusters, you will be rewarded by this uniquely fascinating movie.

AP: I really really want to see this.

7. Crip Camp (Documentary)

AP: Wow, just wow. Haven’t seen it but will soon.

8. Time (Documentary)

AP: Be sure to have the tissue box nearby–that’s just watching the trailer! Have yet to see the film but Wow.

9. The Dig

AP: Loved it. Well done. Doesn’t always go where you expect. 

10. Minari (Foreign; Subtitled)
Oscar Winner: Actress in a Supporting Role Yuh-Jung Youn

RW: Everyone I know really liked this movie. I had some trouble with it, though I did like it somewhat. If I were you, I would trust my friends on this one. Sometimes I get it wrong….this may be one of those times.

AP: My friends love it also. My family has a hard time with subtitles but I am looking forward to watching it. 

11. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Animation)

AP: Not high on my priorities list but the teen wants to watch it so you never know…

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday

RW: Andra Day, who was a singer who had never acted previously, is fantastic as Billie Holiday. The movie itself is not so good. A bio-pic that is sometimes powerful and sometimes doesn’t work.

AP: On my list!

13. Other Music (Documentary)

AP: My spouse is really into music so if he wants to watch it well, I probably will too. 

14. White Tiger (Some subtitles)

AP: Holy shit. Seriously. High on my to watch list after seeing the trailer. I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about this one.

15. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (Documentary)

RW: Once Were Brothers is the story of The Band as seen from Robbie Robertson’s perspective; make of that what you will. Robbie gives himself a lot of credit. The Band was a great band though.

AP: I’m surprised we haven’t watched this one yet…

16. The Mole Agent (Documentary)

AP: This looks HILARIOUS!! CHECK THE TRAILER OUT! I’m looking forward to watching this!

17. Pieces of a Woman 

RW: Beware! The opening 5-10 minutes are grueling, and then the movie spins off into a disturbing study of grief and its consequences. The last third feels improbable and the ending seems tacked on so as to offer redemption. Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn are quite good, but not reason enough to watch. Only for the most hardcore of movie goers. 

AP: Another film I really want to see.

Movies Ron has not seen yet but plans to include:

Judas and the Black Messiah:
Oscar to Daniel Kaluuya wins Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Oscar for Music (Original Song)
“Fight For You” Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas 

AP: We want to see this too! What a great line: “You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder a revolution.”

Animated Feature Film–Pete Docter and Dana Murray
Music (Original Score)– Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

AP: My son and I watched this and he wrote a couple of papers about it for high school. Great film overall, but not without its complications. 

One Night in Miami

AP: GREAT FILM. The “facts” are a bit conflated– this is not a documentary– but overall, the intent is there.


Promising Young Woman:
Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay to Emerald Fennel, first woman since JUNO

AP: I want to see this one also.

Sound of Metal
Academy Award winner for Sound, Film Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen

AP: GREAT FILM! Watch this one. It’s another picture of #VanLife.  And music. And teaching. And more. 

The Father:
Winner, Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins

AP: The titular father of this film was born Oct. 31, 1937. When I first saw this trailer months ago, I realized this character was born a few weeks after my father. My father died a few weeks ago. Not sure I am ready to watch this film yet.

The Man Who Sold His Skin 

AP: Yes, yes yes the Art Predator will be watching this film!

News of The World

AP: This is a beautiful film. We loved it. Tom Hanks does the Tom Hanks thing and his young co-star is excellent. The message is important, and as a journalist, I hope people recognize that we need the news.

Thanks Ron for turning us on to these films! 

Here’s a bonus

Winner, International Feature Film
Another Round

AP: Some teachers discuss a study that says humans are deficit a small amount of alcohol int their blood and we perform better so why not try and maintain the blood alcohol level and see how it goes? As a wine writer, this is a bit scary! But after watching the trailer and seeing that it won as best international film, it’s on my list.

Also this winner:

Which one will you watch first? 




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