Monday, December 30, 2019

Film review: "Little Women" (2019)

After all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays, I was able to catch a matinee screening of Little Women yesterday. I'm familiar with the story and had seen the 1994 version. Of course I've been keeping up on what critics were saying leading up to its release, so I knew going in it probably wasn't going to be a big pile of crap. That can also be problematic, as it opens the possibility of expectations being too high and ultimately being left disappointed. I definitely was not.

We all pretty much know the story to Louisa May Alcott's beloved book by this point: the four March sisters come of age in post-Civil War Massachusetts. In director Greta Gerwig's new adaptation, the cast is led by Saoirse Ronan as the formidable protagonist, Jo. She is joined by Emma Watson (Meg), Eliza Scanlen (Beth), and Florence Pugh (Amy). Unlike in other adaptations, Gerwig (who also wrote the screenplay) weaves scenes from present and past to show the ladies' journeys, motivations, and relationships. I've seen a couple reviews describe the going back and forth as disjointed, but I completely disagree. This is of course a credit to Gerwig, as I found the scenes flowed very seamlessly between character and settings.

The performances were absolutely outstanding. Ronan certainly stands out, but Pugh was probably my favorite among the sisters. She had the biggest transformation to make from young to older Amy, and she did a great job showing that growth in the spunky character. Timothée Chalamet was delightful as Laurie, and did a great job particularly with Ronan in the pair's sort of buddy-to-love interest dynamic. Meryl was a gem as usual, and while not a large role, Aunt March always stood out in her scenes. She cracked me up with her cantankerous machinations. Chris Cooper had a few touching moments as Laurie's grandfather as well.

The cinematography and set designs were spectacular. I commented after the movie at how beautiful every single shot was, from intimate interior scenes to grand landscape views of New England's gorgeous foliage in autumn. But the best part about the movie was probably how Gerwig managed to make it seem so contemporary. She had such a nuanced approach at showing how the women in the film lacked their own agency to follow the lives they wished--how utterly dependent they had to be on men to sustain themselves, and how marriage was just as much an economic proposition as it was one of love. I think I posted the below video before, but it's worth showing again, as it sums up what I'm attempting to describe. It's also in the movie because Gerwig got the idea for it from Meryl.


Little Women is in theaters nationwide. Go see it!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

"Little Women" opens to big box office in first weekend

According to Box Office Mojo Little Women has greatly exceeded Sony's five-day opening expectations. Hauling $29 million against a $40 million budget, the studio was anticipating a meager $16-17 million over the time period. The film was released in the U.K. this weekend as well, with several additional international markets joining in January.

Great to see the film surpassing expectations this early. That, coupled with it's overwhelmingly positive critical response, may bode well for its chances at getting some love when both BAFTA and Oscar nominations are announced in the next two weeks.

I actually just got back from seeing the movie, so I'll be posting review within a day or two when I have more time. Suffice it to say, it was an absolutely exquisite film.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

New pics of Streep on the set of "The Prom"

Meryl was spotted again this week on the set of Ryan Murphy's upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Prom.  

I'm diggin' the red wig. She's dressed like a powerful media mogul (with the exception of the Liza Minnelli-ish sequined blue getup). And may I say also looking quite trim?

It seems pretty obvious that the first round of photos I posted a couple weeks ago show her costumed for a role within a role (the Eleanor Roosevelt musical that bombs).

Hard to believe the Golden Globes are only two weeks from today!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Will Meryl star in a 2019 Blacklist script?

Each December, I like to scour the latest Hollywood Blacklist of best unproduced screenplays. The number of projects (based on their taglines at least) that would involve women "of a certain age" in a leading role, tend to be slim. Of course we all know that Streep ended up getting her 21st Oscar nomination for 2017's The Post, which was also a Blacklist Script (still holding out for Nyad).

From this year's list, I spotted two potential scripts that could feasibly attract Meryl's eye. The first, entitled Pod, was written by Nabil Chowdhary. The tagline reads:

"After a mission to destroy a black hole that endangers mankind goes wrong, an astronaut awakens in her escape pod to find that decades have passed seemingly in a moment. Now, with an old body and fragile mind, she battles against the elements of space and time to complete her mission."

"Old body" is perhaps not the most flattering term, but it also suggests that it would be a role for someone over sixty. Also, it would maybe be an opportunity for sci-fi?  Yes, The Giver likely landed close to that category, but that movie also sucked. 

The second, entitled Grandma Wants to Die and written by Patrick Cadigan, reads:

"When Ben is left footing the bill for his own wedding just weeks before the big day, he’s forced to make a deal with his estranged grandmother Minnie. She’ll give him the money if he signs the papers for her assisted suicide. Ben gladly agrees, only to unearth Minnie’s final agenda before she departs... destroy the wedding from the inside and seemingly ruin Ben’s life."

While Meryl is over seventy now, this may be a bit too old for her. And maybe not...(see Aunt March in this year's Little Women).  Sounds like this role could actually be a complex, interesting character, and maybe even a bit of a psychological thriller?

With The Prom currently filming, we know of no other new projects that Meryl is scheduled to film in 2020. Will The Nix ever happen? Maybe some other limited series? A third season of Big Little Lies?  

Always fun to speculate! Regardless of what happens, next year should be another interesting one. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

No 'individual' SAG nom for Meryl

The Screen Actors Guild announced it nominations this morning for the best in TV and film for 2019. Sadly, Meryl was left off the list for individual work. Big Little Lies was recognized with an Ensemble nomination in the Drama Series category. Other than that the show was SHUT OUT.

I keep forgetting that SAG doesn't do supporting categories for television, only film. It's pretty understandable how Streep wouldn't get in for her supporting role in Big Little Lies, when more borderline performances like Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown) and Patricia Arquette (The Act) are out there. Both happened to receive nominations, while up to this point, and no doubt at the Emmys next summer, they've been nominated in supporting. But not even Nicole Kidman?! Regardless, I'm optimistic for Meryl's chances for a supporting nom at the Emmys.

Speaking of shut out, that was also the case for Little Women. No ensemble, no Saoirse Ronan, no Florence Pugh. I have to say that if I were told one of these two projects would be shout out at SAG, I would've expected BLL to get something before Little Women. This doesn't bode well for Academy Award chances, but there's still the BAFTA noms the first week of January, where I think Little Women will fare better--at least in the acting categories. If it does not, it's probably game over with the Oscars.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

First look at Streep on set of "The Prom"

The filming of Ryan Murphy's Netflix adaptation of the Broadway musical The Prom is underway in Los Angeles, and there are a few captures of Meryl in costume:

She's like a thinner, more colorful version of Florence Foster Jenkins. We know that the story takes place in present time, however, so I'm guessing this is her costume for when her character, Dee Dee, takes part in a panned Eleanor Roosevelt musical.

More photos, including some of Meryl's co-star James Corden, can be found at Just Jared

Monday, December 9, 2019

Streep receives record 32nd Golden Globe nomination

The Hollywood Press Association announced their nominations for film and television this morning. Meryl was among the lucky nominees, breaking her own previously-held record with her 32nd nomination for her supporting work in Big Little Lies. The show also received nominations for Best Drama Series, and for Nicole Kidman's lead performance. I was surprised not to see any of the the other ladies from the show nominated, particularly Laura Dern. But the show was very heavily rewarded after the first season two years ago, and it's a crowded field.

Little Women didn't fare as well as I'm sure many hoped. No nomination for Drama Film or Director, Greta Gerwig. The only nominations it received were for Lead Actress in a Drama (Saoirse Ronan) and Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat). Again, it's a crowded field this year, so I'm not sure what I was necessarily expecting. Maybe at least a supporting nom for Florence Pugh?

There's always the SAG noms Wed morning.

Congrats, Meryl!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Streep nominated for Critics' Choice Award

Let the season begin...

Nominations have been announced by the Critics' Choice Association for achievement in film and television. Streep has been recognized for her work in HBO's Big Little Lies, with a nomination in the Supporting Actress category. Meryl is joined by her co-star Laura Dern, while Nicole Kidman was nominated in the Lead Actress category.

On the film side, Greta Gerwig's Little Women adaptation came up pretty big as well, with nominations for Best Picture, Director (Gerwig), Lead Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Adapted Screenplay (Gerwig), Production Design (Jess Gonchor), Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran), Best Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Best Acting Ensemble, for a whopping total of nine nominations!

After the sort of quick fall The Laundromat took in regard to award recognition, it's nice to see Meryl involved in two projects that are getting some attention this awards season. The next few days will be even more telling for both Big Little Lies and Little Women, as Golden Globe nomination will be revealed tomorrow morning, with the Screen Actors Guild noms two days later on Wednesday morning. Fingers crossed for Meryl's chances!

The full list of Critics' Choice Award nominees can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Clip of Streep and Ronan from "Little Women"

A new extended clip from Little Women of Meryl in a scene with Saoirse Ronan was released earlier today:

There's a fun little back-and-forth of generational wills in the scene. The elderly Aunt March insisting that Jo will only survive if she marries well, while Jo expresses her intention to make her own way. It's hard to imagine how FEW options women had for independence even 50 years ago, much less 150 years ago!

Little Women opens nationwide in three weeks.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Critics raving "Little Women"

Since the review embargo was lifted earlier this week, critics have been overwhelmingly praising director Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently holds the film at 98% "fresh" based on 43 reviews, while Metacritic's weighted rating, based on 23 reviews, is at 89, representing "universal acclaim."

As the follow up to her extremely well-received directorial debut in 2017, Lady Bird, Gerwig has possibly established herself as something of a fledgling auteur. The majority of Little Women's reviews praise the directing, acting (particularly Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Timothée Chalamet), and the fresh take on the story's enduring themes of family and womanhood.

I'm so pleased that this film is striking a chord with viewers. Hopefully its quality and Christmas release bode well for its box-office performance. How great would it be if Gerwig eventually did something with Meryl in lead?!