For Your Consideration, Part 1 – Recommendation List

As 2016 winds down, the race for the 2017 Oscars begins. That means new advertisements for movies you may have forgotten, re-releases in theaters, and even the occasional discount VOD access. Exposure is key to win nominations because if voters don’t know about you, you’ve lost before you’ve begun. While we at EOM are still busy compiling our short-list of favorites from 2016, we thought we’d shine a light on a few films from 2016 that you might have missed.

For Your Consideration, we give you our thoughts on: Don’t Think Twice, I Am Not Your Negro (documentary), Captain Fantastic, Café Society, and Sausage Party.


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Don’t Think Twice

Summary

Written/Directed by Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk With Me), Don’t Think Twice focuses on New York Improv group The Commune as they reach a massive crossroads personally and professionally. The theater they’ve honed their craft in is being sold and one of their members leaves the group for hit live comedy show, Weekend Live. Between losing their home and coming to terms with one of their own reaching their collective dream of stardom, all of them begin to question what the comedic life means to them and what their willing to sacrifice.

Thoughts

Though heavily introspective, Don’t Think Twice is much lighter than the main concept seems and a must-see for comedy lovers. Birbiglia crafted a story that deeply honest, moving, and hilarious in the way that life is in the unexpected moments. Or the planned moments, the hopeful moments, and the heart-wrenching moments. The best thing about Don’t Think Twice – next to the brilliant casting – is the focus on improvisational comedy. It requires performers to react and react honestly to their situation, meaning that they have to be in the moment experiencing it. You can’t shy away from the moment or hide, but dive head first and see where it leads. Gratefully, Don’t Think Twice is the type of dramedy with challenging characters and a realistic (happy) ending. Very much worth the watch.

Seeking Nominations For:

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Birbiglia

Best Supporting Actress

Gillian Jacobs

Kate Micucci

Tami Sagher

Best Supporting Actor

Mike Birbiglia

Chris Gethard

Keegan-Michael Key

Best Ensemble Cast

Mike Birbiglia

Chris Gethard

Gillian Jacobs

Keegan-Michael Key

Kate Micucci

Tami Sagher


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I Am Not Your Negro (documentary)

Summary

Director Raoul Peck (Fatal Assistance) tackles influential writer James Baldwin’s final, unfinished book by turning it into a documentary with Baldwin’s words performed by esteemed actor Samuel L. Jackson. Drawing from Baldwin’s work, as well as his experience with Civil Rights Movement legends Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, Peck juxtaposes Baldwin’s words against images from the past and present to examine the continued struggle for racial equality in the United States.

Thoughts

I Am Not Your Negro is a powerful reminder of the continued struggle within the United States that so many have assumed to be concluded. Though Civil Rights Leaders are not as prolific as they once were, the need to recognize that, as citizens, we’re moving sideways – not forward – in equality. What makes for the greatest impact in the documentary is seeing how Hollywood’s representation of Black America has greatly contributed to the normalization of racism, even when trying to encourage the deconstruction of segregation. With Neo-Nazi/Alt-Right/White Supremacists ideology becoming more comfortable in daylight, it seems more important than ever to remember our past so we can better prevent it.

Where To Find It

I Am Not Your Negro begins an awards qualifying run for one week beginning December 9th, 2016. Look for it in New York at the Maysles Cinema and Metrograph or in Los Angeles at Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills.

Nationwide theatrical run begins February 3, 2017.


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Captain Fantastic

Summary

In an effort to simplify their lives, Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and Leslie (Trin Miller) move into the isolating woods of the Pacific Northwest. There, they raise their children without cell phones or television as distractions, so that they can focus on rational thought and physical strength in an effort to train their minds and bodies for adulthood. When Leslie succumbs to an illness,  Ben takes the children on a multi-state drive to attend the funeral, forcing him to examine what this ascetic lifestyle denies his children.

Thoughts

Parenthood presents challenges that are utterly unknowable. You plan for one thing, and thirty other improbable possibilities emerge to take its place. At the heart of Captain Fantastic is this search, this quest for solving the unknowable. At the helm is Viggo Mortensen, who displays immense range in a performance primarily composed of quiet stillness. With six children to care for, Mortensen’s Ben must be caretaker and disciplinarian, so to see him be perfectly certain in one moment and shaken to his core in another, it requires a delicate nuance that Mortensen excels in. It’s easy to dismiss Captain Fantastic as a road movie with family issues because of it’s indie soul and that would be the greatest tragedy because it is so much more.

Some of the Nominations Sought:

Best Director

Mass Ross

Best Actor

Viggo Mortensen

Best Supporting Actor

Frank Langella

Steve Zahn

George MacKay

Nicholas Hamilton

Charlie Shotwell

Best Supporting Actress

Kathryn Hahn

Samantha Isler

Annalise Basso

Shree Crooks

Trin Miller

Erin Moriarty

Missi Pyle

Ann Dowd

Best Original Score

Alex Somers

Best Costume Design

Courtney Hoffman

Best Original Screenplay

Matt Ross

Best Film Editing

Joseph Krings


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Cafe Society

Summary

Woody Allen’s latest is a tale of two coasts in the 1930s. Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) moves to Hollywood from New York in his attempt to strike it big. Doing what, he doesn’t know, but his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) is a big shot in the studio system and finds a spot for him running errands and other lowkey jobs. Soon Bobby finds himself, unknowingly, caught in a love triangle whose resolution sends him back to New York in pieces. Luckily, Bobby’s no-goodnik brother Ben (Corey Stoll) needs help running his club and Bobby has become just the man to do it. With a focus on high society, glamour, and fame – with a love story for spice – Cafè Society is Allen’s take on a classic period romance.

Thoughts

From the roster alone, Allen has brought together a cast of gifted actors and comedians to tell his bi-coastal romance. Eisenberg often comes across as a bit of a stereotype (standard Allen), yet he manages to elevate Bobby into a character audiences feel and root for. Similarly, Kristen Stewart as Vonnie, Bobby’s love interest, serves as a wise choice not only for her immense talents as an actress, but because of how natural the chemistry is between the two actors. (Some of their best work is when they share the screen.) Additionally, the cinematography, set design, and costuming are impeccable in their ability to recreate the 1930s, down to a slight haze that permeates the film. It all feels like the golden ages of cinema. Unfortunately, where Cafe Society falters is the story itself due to its lack of focus or pay off. It’s as though it can’t decide what kind of story it wants to be while simultaneously indifferent to the outcome. By the end, it felt purposeless and unnecessary.

Some of the Nominations Sought:

Best Picture

Letty Aronson p.g.a., Stephen Tenenbaum p.g.a., and Edward Walson p.g.a.

Best Actor In A Leading Role

Jesse Eisenberg

Best Actress In A Leading Role

Kristen Stewart

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Blake Lively

Best Cinematography

Vittorio Storaro, AIC, ASC

Best Film Editing

Alisa Lepselter, ACE


sausage-party

Sausage Party

Summary

Life for the products in the grocery store is simple: each day they wait with desperate eagerness to find out if they will be selected for The Great Beyond or the trash heap. When a can of mustard returns from The Great Beyond an emotional wreck, those around him ignore his pleas of warning – all except for a lone hot dog named Frank (Seth Rogen). Unsure of what to believe, Frank begins a quest to find out the truth, even if it means losing the hot dog bun of his dreams, Brenda (Kristen Wiig).

Thoughts

From the outset, the concept of Sausage Party seems like a child’s cartoon: anthropomorphic food goes on a quest of self-identification and liberation. What makes it inappropriate for children is also what makes it genuinely funny and psychologically disturbing, the reality that food exists merely for consumption by giants. Every day for us, sure, but a horrific realization for inhabitants of the local grocery store. Along for the ride are themes of religion, race, gender identification, and sex, which, at first, seem absolutely ridiculous, yet somehow make complete sense within the framework of this reality. Be forewarned that the ingenious hilarity is frequently undercut by Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg’s penchant for overindulgence of adolescent humor, effectively taking visual gags to the point of disgust. Overall, though, Sausage Party surprises with an impressive balance of heart and merriment that the grotesque can be forgiven.

Seeking Nominations For:

Best Animated Feature

Produced by: Megan Ellison, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, & Conrad Vernon

Directed by: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

Best Original Song: “The Great Beyond”

Music by: Alan Menken

Lyrics by: Glenn Slater, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg

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