There are films besides droll “Oscar contender” in the vein of The English Patient, Atonement, and Green Book to get excited about.
Those films are made with Oscars in mind rather than crafting a heartfelt story. The consideration is not the audience but what the “audience who votes” desire to see, oftentimes formulaic drivel.
*cue Kat Williams #GreenBookWasn’tGood in “Astronomy Club”. If you haven’t seen it, “Astronomy Club”, go watch it on Netflix.
The films that often win Oscars and other awards are disconnected from those who truly consume the cinematic medium. The films are either a typical ode to whiteness and all the aspects that whiteness can be (quirky, romantic, heroic, futuristic, etc), films where whiteness reminisce about the good ol’ days, or films that deal with Black people or POC existing with trauma through a white lens. The ones outside of this are rare. It is possible to make a film where the focus is not solely on how whiteness treats us or how we navigate it at large. There are moments in our lives where we are not code-switching and there is nary a ghostly Bob or Becky in sight.
Because of the current climate and saturation of specific types of films, it takes a lot for a trailer to pique my interest, let alone fire me up, especially if they are part of the above categories. Here’s a breakdown of films, based on their trailers, to look for in 2020.
The Turning(Release Date: January 24th, 2020) Genre: Horror
My weakness is horror films. If that horror film is adapted from a book I’ve read the chance you’ll have me at hello increases.
Based on “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James the trailer is atmospheric, eerie and foggy — another weakness!
This is not the first adaptation of Henry James book, there was a film in 1961 starring Deborah Kerr as the governess titled, The Innocents that scared me, though not as much as The Haunting from 1963. One scene in that movie gave me nightmares.
If you’re not familiar with the book, it is about a governess who is sent to care for two children at an estate that comes to believe the grounds are not only haunted but that her two charges are possessed by the spirits of previous employees. I’m curious to see whether the film will have the same ambiguity rampant in the book.
The cast, particularly Finn Wolfhard coming off season 3 of Stranger Things and both “It” films could be at home in this character and is creepy af. Mackenzie Davis is a recognizable face despite the fact that I can’t remember the film I saw her in; however, I do remember that I liked her comedic acting, in whatever it was I saw, so I’m interested in seeing how she handles a film that is possibly both horror and psychological.
The director, Floria Sigismondi’s — shoutout to female directors — credits are primarily music videos for Bjork, David Bowie, Christina Aguilera and countless others, a couple of short films, a feature and a few television episode directing credits from shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “American Gods”.
My only concern with horror these days is the over reliance on both CGI and jump scares, which effectively take me out of the moment. If you can only scare your audience through loud, screeching sounds and bass combined with a jump scare, you need to study up on a time before James Wan popularized it.
That’s why films like The Invisible Man and Grudge are of little interest. The Invisible Man gave flashbacks of Julia Roberts Sleeping with the Enemy. I half expected the classical piece that played whenever Julia Roberts abusive, pos husband wanted to bone to play in The Invisible Man trailer.
Neither can I get behind the Grudge coming out. I keep thinking of Sidney Prescott from Scream saying, “You forgot the first rule of remakes Jill. Don’t fuck with the original”, so bye.
Promising Young Woman(Release Date: April 17, 2020) Genre: Drama/Mystery
As stated, given the racial climate, especially seeing so many white women missteps either ignore treatment women experience when it doesn’t solely fall under the “sexist” umbrella, such as misogynoir or sexism combined with ableism or transphobic misogynoir and so on; therefore the start of the trailer did not inspire excitement. It gave the “this again” vibe.
But the twist — if you saw the trailer you know the twist — when the woman, inert and intoxicated is about to be raped in a bedroom, sits up and soberly repeats the question “what are you doing” that she had mumbled a moment earlier, you joyously realize this man may be in for something scarring.
Britney Spears “Toxic” violen instrumental plays as we see not only how many men she’s done this to, but how many cycle through the same responses of being “a good guy” that just made a mistake because they “thought [they] had a connection” with their potential victim you really want to see something bad happen to them. Her parries to each one, denotes the creators awareness of the doltish responses exhaustively employed from social media to trials to showcase these predators as men who just made a ‘poor choice’ that of course, they should be given a chance to make right.
The coloring could work for the film as it inspires comparisons to both Suicide Squad’s and Birds of Prey’s Harley Quinn, who was considered to be the only highlight of the tonally mishmashed Suicide Squad.
Another female director helms this one, Emerald Fennell with her first feature. As she also wrote it and has experience writing for shows such as “Killing Eve” and acting in shows like “The Crown” she may bring something more to the film through these hats she’s worn.
Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby) and Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”) will bring this story to life.
Time will tell as we near the release date and receive the first reviews, though I’m looking forward to reviews from specific demographics on the films on this list.
In The Heights(Release Date: June 26, 2020) Genre: Musical
There are genres I love. There are genres I love to see in theaters. Then there are genres I prefer to see at home.
Musicals are the latter, a genre I prefer to watch in the comfort of my home, repeatedly…when the urge arises, so I do not subject others to my mewling histrionics.
But this film may be the first that pushes me to vacate my bed, my well worn fleece bottoms and slippers and brave possibly crippling early summer heatwaves to freeze (theaters are cold, especially when you have little on and no sweater or cardigan) and smile, laugh and cry in a collective environment. The music, the spirit of the trailer hooked me immediately.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a musical genius — though I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing his plays on stage — and his name combined with the fact that this is based on his play should be enough to send audience seekers salsa-ing to the theaters in droves.
While not a favorite, I did enjoy Crazy Rich Asians which clearly had an over the top musical vibe without its lead characters bursting into song and dance, so it’s going to be exciting to see how Jon M. Chu handles an actual musical. You can see the colorful, uplifting quality in the trailer reminiscent of Crazy Rich Asians.
The cast incites confidence since, besides Lin-Manuel Miranda there is Anthony Ramos (“She’s Gotta Have It”, A Star Is Born), Dascha Polanco (“Orange is the New Black”), Jimmy Smits a legend of fim and television (“How To Get Away With Murder”, “NYPD Blue”), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, “The Walking Dead”), Stephanie Beatriz (“Brookly Nine-Nine”) and Marc Anthony, singer and actor (Man on Fire, “Hawthorne”). With this ensemble it seems impossible to fail and I’m more than happy about that.
The trailer is so inspirational and soulful that it’s on repeat.
Films that celebrate us are needed, especially now so I look forward to my own hip’s twists, turns and sways as I make my way into the theater.