Friday, February 23, 2018

Oscar Project 2018: The Breadwinner

Movie: The Breadwinner

This animated feature (based on a children's book) is the story of a young girl in Afghanistan who pretends to be a boy in order to help support her family after her father is arrested by the Taliban. It's a lovely film, both heartbreaking and life-affirming. It does a very good job of illustrating life under the Taliban in a way that's appropriate for children but doesn't sugarcoat things.

Availability: In a few theaters, and available for digital purchase.

Nominated In:
Animated Feature Film: Yes - it's a beautiful rendition of a moving, important story.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.

Oscar Project 2018: Knife Skills

Movie: Knife Skills

This documentary short is about the founding of a restaurant in Cleveland that aspires to be a world-class French restaurant - and is also staffed almost entirely by people recently out of prison. It's an interesting, worthwhile project, and the film does a pretty good job of showcasing the good it does while not ignoring the problems and trainees who didn't work out. And it's certainly fun to watch (some of the) people with no cooking experience discover that they love restaurant life. The deadline of the restaurant opening gives this nice momentum.

Availability: Available for rental or purchase. Find out how to see all the shorts here.

Nominated In:
Documentary (Short Subject): Sure.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.

Morning Coffee (2/23/18)

OKAY, time for some happy Friday links.

ICYMI, yesterday's Oscar Project posts: Heroin(e), Strong Island, On Body and Soul

Oh yay! Olympic commentators Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir to host Closing Ceremony for NBC

PERFECT: Jesus Christ Superstar Live: Power's Brandon Victor Dixon Cast as Judas (I love how hilariously on the nose it is to cast Aaron Burr as Judas.)

Cool: Penguin Is Opening Up a Women Author-Only Pop-Up Shop

Ha! Queen and Anna Wintour in London Fashion Week front row

!! Oreo hopes to see ‘Pokemon Go’ success in its own scavenger hunt AR game

This is fun: See What It Actually Looks Like Inside the Olympic Village

These Canadians got a visit from an Olympics-loving moose

Beach House releases a very good, very Beach House song

Lucky Charms is adding unicorn marshmallows!

Haha, this cheese site I read is starting a feature about hot people who make cheese called Hunks of Cheese.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Afternoon Tea (2/22/18)

A Literary Road Trip Into the Heart of Russia

At The Winter Olympics, Robots Are Here To Help. But Don't Assume They Work All Hours

Fascinating: Pakistan's white-picket fences

I'm not sure I want my tea disrupted: Tea-Brewing Hasn’t Changed In 100 Years. These Tea Crystals Could Change That

I love Ellie Marney's books and now I'm very excited for the next one: I left my childhood cult behind, but not the cynicism it instilled in me

Oscar Project 2018: On Body and Soul

Movie: On Body and Soul

This Hungarian film is an unconventional romance about misfit coworkers at a slaughterhouse who realize they are sharing dreams in which they are deer. It's both disturbing and enchanting; I was skeptical based on the description but wound up being totally drawn in. It's bloody and WEIRD and funny and sort of heartwarming, all at once; the characters are very distinctive and allowed to just be themselves without too much explanation.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix.

Nominated In:
Foreign Language Film: Sure. This was fascinating.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.

Oscar Project 2018: Strong Island

Movie: Strong Island

In this documentary, filmmaker Yance Ford investigates her brother's murder and why the judicial system let his killer go free, as well as examining the role of race and showing the lasting effects the murder had on their family. The details of the case were a bit confusing at times - I wished I had a thorough article about the case as background reading - but what Ford did wonderfully was just letting her own grief and that of her family show through. It was uncomfortable to watch and would have seemed exploitative if it weren't her own story, but since it was her story it was the perfect way to make the audience confront the aftermath of the crime.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix.

Nominated In:
Documentary (Feature): Sure. It was an interesting way of approaching the material.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.

Oscar Project 2018: Heroin(e)

Movie: Heroin(e)

Heroin(e) is a fascinating, important short documentary about three women fighting the opioid epidemic in Huntingdon, West Virginia, where the overdose rate is ten times the national average. It follows a fire department deputy chief, a drug court judge, and a volunteer who works with prostitutes as they use a mix of normal and unconventional methods to try to help addicts. It's grim, obviously, but also extremely hopeful, and these women are doing amazing work.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix. Find out how to see all the shorts here.

Nominated In:
Documentary (Short Subject): Absolutely. This is my pick this year.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.

Morning Coffee (2/22/18)

ICYMI, yesterday's Oscar Project posts: Edith+Eddie, Last Men in Aleppo, Loving Vincent

The Assad regime just launched the bloodiest attack in Syria in the past 3 years

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Year in Hate is always worth a read, and notable this year: for the first time they've added male supremacist groups.

This is great: More Than Twice As Many Women Are Running For Congress In 2018 Compared With 2016

After Florida School Shooting, Russian ‘Bot’ Army Pounced

Donald Trump Jr.’s tour through India is staggeringly corrupt

100s of USA swimmers were sexually abused for decades and the people in charge knew and ignored it, investigation finds

Welp: Women better represented in Victorian novels than modern, finds study

You're on notice after the last one, Disney: Disney Planning Another 'Muppets' Reboot for Its Streaming Service

The Russian Train Stop That Serves One Schoolgirl

Kepler Astronomers Discover Treasure Trove of New Exoplanets

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Afternoon Tea (2/21/18)

A chilling, important piece by a friend of Kim Wall: The Final, Terrible Voyage of the Nautilus

And a heartbreaking story about grief and the Olympics: "I Haven't Moved On"

Okay, something cheerful! Mallory Ortberg Asks Author Jasmine Guillory a Bunch of Questions

HEAR, HEAR: The Case Against Open Kitchens

Thank These Master Alchemists for the Magic of Alcohol

Oscar Project 2018: Loving Vincent

Movie: Loving Vincent

This is a sort of animated documentary about the son of Van Gogh's friend who tries to deliver a letter from Van Gogh to his brother after both of them have died and then gets pulled into trying to figure out what happened in the last few weeks of the artist's life. (The accuracy of his conclusions is pretty debatable, but that's not really the point.) I was pretty skeptical of a documentary done in animation mimicking Van Gogh's style, but it was gorgeous and I was completely drawn in. The great voice cast didn't hurt, either. This is a charming meditation on life and love and art and death and the limits of our understanding of other people.

Availability: Available to rent or buy.

Nominated In:
Animated Feature Film: Yep! This was gorgeous and inventive.

Catch up on all my Oscar Project posts.