Ralph Breaks the Internet

Wreck-It Ralph is easily one of my favorite animated movies. At the time of its release, back in 2012, I was a 16-year-old that tore tickets, cleaned theaters, and filled concessions at AMC. On the day it premiered, I remember cleaning theaters and waiting for children, teens, and adults alike to exit the screening. I could hear everyone’s reactions as they strolled out -- It immediately piqued my interest. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have checked it out if it hadn’t been for everyone and their mother saying how much they loved it, and I’m SO glad that I did! 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The mystical world of Harry Potter is one that I’ve grown up admiring and adoring. I remember getting the first movie on VHS and watching it over and over again until the cassette wound up breaking. Man, that's an old sentence. Every couple of years, we’d get a sequel that would feel even more exciting than the last. When it all came to a close, I was satisfied -- until Fantastic Beasts came around and immersed us into a whole new aspect of the wizarding world. 

When Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was first announced, I was skeptical as to how much more they could really add into this universe. It was a movie that dared to be different and introduced us to a character that, if you're a Potterhead, you may be familiar with from the Harry Potter books. If you don't know, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was a standard textbook written by Newt Scamander, a magizoologist, that Harry was required to purchase upon his arrival at Hogwarts. The book is actually available for all of us muggles to check out as well! Newt was a small part of Harry’s universe, but an intriguing one to explore. His story brought us further into the magical world that J.K. Rowling created.

Overlord

J.J. Abrams, zombies, and killin’ Nazis. Heck yeah. Overlord.

That's all, that's the review... KIDDING.

Let's talk a little more about zombies, shall we? They're a dependable horror trope that’s used quite often in movies, books, and television shows. Nazi zombies, in particular, are another widely used horror theme -- especially recently if you’ve played Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies. This isn't an ad for Call of Duty either, that's just a perfect example. See? Always dependable. I wasn’t crazy about this flick upon the first viewing of its trailer. Nothing about it really blew me out of the water. The excitement began to set in once I started hearing numerous good things about it after its premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. A lot of people were expecting it to be a sequel to the sci-fi/horror hit Cloverfield, but Abrams was quick to shut down that rumor. He made it clear that Overlord is its own thing, and after seeing it I can honestly say that this J.J. Abrams-produced Nazi zombie gore-fest is actually a ton of fun! 

Boy Erased

Recently, in an interview with CNN, writer-director-actor Joel Edgerton opened up about his new picture Boy Erased. One comment, in particular, struck me while reading it. He said: "as much as you want a movie to be relevant, we all hoped that the movie was irrelevant.” This perfectly summed up my thoughts as I was walking out of the theater. This is the second film I’ve seen this year about gay conversion therapy, the first being Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and it breaks my heart that stories like these are still relevant. Even though they're told from vastly different perspectives, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased are equally important and need to be shared in this day and age. 

Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard is no stranger to crafting delightful meta-stories. His directorial debut Cabin in the Woods was a fantastic horror comedy that embraced the scary movie tropes we’re all-too-familiar with and shocked us with its originality and self-awareness. He’ll make you believe you’re watching one thing, then strap you in for a metaphorical rollercoaster through sub-genres that will have you leaving the theater feeling surprised at how much you actually enjoyed it. It definitely leaves you eager to see what he makes next.

First Man

Damien Chazelle has proved to cinephiles all around the world that he isn’t confined to one genre. From his first jazzy movie musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench in 2009 to the intense drama Whiplash in 2014 to the colorful and wondrous musical La La Land that swept us all off our feet in 2016, he seems to transition flawlessly - always keeping a little bit of jazz in his back pocket to sprinkle into his stories.  

Now, we’re escaping the city of stars and heading up into a galaxy of stars.  

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut was the fourth retelling of the classic story A Star is Born. It was also Lady Gaga’s first starring role on the big screen. Let me tell you, her transition from stage-to-screen appeared seemingly EFFORTLESS. I walked out of the theater smiling from ear-to-ear and wiping a few tears away as well. 

A Star is Born is, in the words of Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Potts, a tale as old as time. The original was released in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It was actually a drama about an aspiring Hollywood actress and didn’t have the musical aspect. The melodious wonder was added in the first remake in 1954, a period of cinema FILLED with musicals, and starred James Mason and Minnesota’s own Judy Garland. Yes, I am proud to say that Garland hailed from Minnesota – it’s an awesome fun fact. Then we went on to have the Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand version in 1976, now we're gifted with Cooper's vision. Each is slightly different from the last, but the story remains the same. 

A Simple Favor

Paul Feig has a dark side! The Bridesmaids director diverted from his usual path of comedy and decided to dip his toes into the thriller genre. This film piqued many people’s interest - myself included - when Blake Lively unfollowed everyone she knew on Instagram and started following women named “Emily Nelson” with a new bio reading, “What happened to Emily?” It was a brilliant PR stunt… and it worked. I had to learn more about Emily. 

Nelly

I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of Nelly Arcan. When I read the logline for this film, I was instantly intrigued! 

“Nelly” is directed by Montreal-based Canadian director and screenwriter Anne Émond. It's based on the life of high-end prostitute turned international best selling author, Nelly Arcan. Our story follows Isabelle Fortier who goes by “Nelly Arcan” later in life – a pen name of her choosing. She was a top-line escort that later adopted the pseudonym “Nelly Arcan” while writing her first novel, Putain (Whore), which contained elements that pertained to her own life at the time. The book shot her into superstardom and became an international best-seller, winning two of France’s most prestigious literary awards: The Prix Médicis and the Prix Fémina. As time went on, she struggled to match the success of her debut novel. She became doubtful of her skills and spiraled downward into drug usage, alcoholism, and crippling depression. She ended up committing suicide in 2009. 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Of the 122 feature films that premiered at Sundance, 37% were directed by women. Desiree Akhavan was one of those women and her film, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”, went on to win the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic competition. It’s based on the book by Emily M. Danforth, and all of the positive chatter around it is SO well earned. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

I’m a big fan of romantic comedies and a definite hopeless romantic. These kinds of movies have always held a very special place in my heart, especially when I was a teenager. I loved envisioning Heath Ledger singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” while dancing across the football stadium bleachers for me (and I know I’m not the only one who dreamt of that!) Alas, that didn’t happen, but that scene from “10 Things I Hate About You” remains one of my favorites and still brings a smile to my face every time I watch it. It has a lasting effect, and THAT is a sign of a good rom-com. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” tugs at those same heartstrings. 

Blindspotting

My first introduction to Daveed Diggs’ wide array of talent was in Hamilton when he sang and danced his heart out as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. He blew me away! I mean, who could resist that smiling face singing “What’d I Miss”? And when I heard at Sundance that he had written a movie, I was sold. 

Blindspotting tells the story of two young men. Collin (Daveed Diggs) and his troublesome best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), are movers that watch closely as the neighborhoods of Oakland, California, are gentrified to a trendy, hipster-esque, crowd. Collin is on his last few days of probation. One night he witnesses a young black man get shot by a white police officer, causing him to miss his curfew. After this event, Collin and Miles struggle to keep their friendship afloat as this evolving Oakland uncovers the differences that the two of them face.