Category: 5 Favorites

5 Favorites #156: Thanksgiving Releases

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

While it wasn’t always the case that Thanksgiving was a big box office holiday, the trend has persisted for the last few decades meaning a lot of films have gotten their release on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Going back as far as I’m able with finite resources and a lack of easily searchable release dates, I want to take a look at the best films released on Thanksgiving on or the day after. Films that want to be popular, including animated features, often find a lot of space in the frame, but that also means there are fewer non-family films to examine. I settled on a list that has a wide array of styles and productions to give this list a bit of flavor.

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5 Favorites #155: Carey Mulligan

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Some actors come out of the gate strong and stay that way while others eventually fade after a strong early run. Carey Mulligan has successfully managed to stay solid after a stellar debut. In a span of 20 films before this week’s She Said, Mulligan has managed to turn in a raft of indelible performances, enough to not only fill a 5 favorites article, but to have a couple of films to spare. Those two films, Pride & Prejudice (her film debut) and Never Let Me Go, would have fit well within this list, but I found five even better films to highlight this week, so let’s get into this.

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5 Favorites #154: Ruth E. Carter

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

For more than three decades, Ruth E. Carter has been a key costume designer in Hollywood, working with the likes of Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, John Singleton, and Ava DuVernay. She has to date received three Oscar nominations for costume design, two of which were for films on my list this week. She won the Oscar on her third nomination for Black Panther becoming the first Black artist to win that category’s award. While she is best known for her work in Lee’s films, Black Panther has brought her renewed attention not just on a small scale, but on a global one where her designs evoked a sense of place unlike any in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It isn’t often that I tackle someone other than an actor or a director, but with this weekend’s release of the Black Panther sequel, I thought it was a perfect time to look back at some of the best films she’s worked on. I’ll admit that I have several holes in her filmography, I think the five films I’ve selected are not just among her best designs she’s done, but three of them are masterworks that will be taught in film schools of varying stripes to future generations while one of them could be a part of a Spielberg-centric college class. Let’s get on to my five favorite films for which Carter designed the costumes.

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5 Favorites #153: Hayao Miyazaki Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

With the wide release of another anime film hoping to top the box office, I thought I’d look at anime, but since I’m not a huge fan, I went with the most obvious solution. I will look at the master of Japanese animation himself, Hayao Miyazaki. I first came to Miyazaki with his 1997 masterpiece Princess Mononoke and subsequently his 2001 Oscar winner Spirited Away. From there, I consumed everything he did and am now short only a couple of features in toto. This week, I look at my five favorite films directed by Miyazaki. Please note that several of these films have been released multiple times and with different dubbings. The first couple had Japanese versions and then two sets of English versions, which makes it difficult to highlight which actor one’s heard, though coming late to Miyazaki, most of the ones I saw were with the Disney re-dubbed versions.

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5 Favorites #152: Horror Films That Aren’t For Everyone

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

The title of this week’s chapter is a bit strange when you think about how niche horror films already are. There are cerebral ones, crazy ones, predictable ones, and more. What I tried to do with this list was create a selection of horror films that aren’t quite as popular as they should be or aren’t what some people would think of as horror films in general. A lot of these were either semi-popular or quickly forgotten. Like the list from two weeks ago, I also focused in on five films that I haven’t featured before in my 5 favorites article. This list is in celebration of the upcoming Halloween holiday, which is when all sorts of ghosts and ghouls descend on neighborhoods throughout the world. Now, let’s look at my five favorite horror films that aren’t for everyone.

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5 Favorites #151: George Clooney & Julia Roberts

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Although the top box office film this weekend will be Black Adam, it’s George Clooney and Julia Roberts who I want to tackle in this week’s 5 Favorites post. Both actors got their start in the 1980s, Clooney starting out on The Facts of Life on television and Roberts getting her big break in the film Mystic Pizza. Roberts would rise to stardom as the decade faded in her one-two punch of Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman and Clooney would become a sensation with his co-starring role on the NBC medical drama ER. This week, they both return to the romantic comedy genre in Ticket to Paradise where they play warring exes coming together to protect their daughter from a questionable nuptial engagement. Tackling both, I was able to isolate each’s absolute best roles. Roberts’ came at the beginning of her lengthy career while Clooney’s came two decades later.

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5 Favorites #150: More Favorite Horror Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

One of the genres I’m most attuned to are horror films, thus it’s one of the genres I’ve most tackled in these 5 favorites articles. Rather than hit many of the same titles over again, this week, in honor of the release of Halloween Ends, I’m going to list five favorite horror films that I haven’t mentioned before. While going through my (long) list of seen films, I managed to come up with a theme for another list, but I’ll save that for closer to Halloween since this list is more in line with Halloween Ends as the inspiration. The most interesting thing about this list is that they each fell into one of two categories: anthology horror films or horror comedies. So, here’s my next 5 favorites.

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5 Favorites #149: Live-Action Kids Movies

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile makes its cinematic debut. Adapted from a children’s book of the same name, the musical features a New York City crocodile living his best life. In celebration of the latest partially-live action animated movie, I thought I’d look back at my favorite live-action kids movies. There are quite a few with a mixture of animation and live action that I could have listed, like Pete’s Dragon (the original) or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but I haven’t seen enough of them to populate a whole list, so I went with the broader live-action mantle. And with such a large number of great live-action kids movies, I found it difficult to narrow. In addition to the two mentioned before, another live-action/animation cross-over that didn’t ultimately make my list, but came close, is Bedknobs & Broomsticks.

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5 Favorites #148: Queer Love Stories

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

With the release of Bros, romantic comedies are about to get a lot gayer. There are very few wide releasing gay comedies and that’s a shame, but now we have a chance to acknowledge and celebrate queer love stories in cinema. Once again, there aren’t a lot of them and I’ve certainly not seen all of the ones that exist, but these five films are my favorites so far. Special mention to some films that I didn’t ultimately select: Jeffrey, The Favourite, and Call Me by Your Name. Please keep in mind that these are my favorites, not the best as Call Me by Your Name and The Favourite would likely shift into the top five.

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5 Favorites #147: Layne, Pine, Pugh, Wilde, Wilde

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Olivia Wilde’s festival entry Don’t Worry, Darling didn’t do as well with critics as expected, but after Booksmart, I’m willing to give it a go. The film stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine in a 60s-set drama whose mystery isn’t exactly revealed in the trailer. Wilde also co-stars in the film, as does KiKi Layne. Since Harry Styles hasn’t done much at all yet, I’m going to do something unique with this go around. Olivia Wild gets the mention not once, but twice. I’m going to tackle Pugh, Pine, Layne, and Wilde as actors and then Wilde again as a director, which should already tell you one of the five titles on this week’s list.

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5 Favorites #146: Saoirse Ronan

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week, a period Knives Out knock-off arrives at theaters with Saoirse Ronan as a rookie detective helping to solve a murder. It may not be a knock-off and might in fact be closer in spirit to films like Murder by Death and Clue, but coming in the wake of the exceedingly popular Knives Out, with its lackluster murder mystery, it’s a safe bet that Rian Johnson’s film is the reason for this renewed attempt to revive the comedy-mystery genre, which seldom gets its due. Ronan was on a list of my 5 favorite young actors that I put out in December of 2020 and now she gets her own entire article looking at an array of tremendous work she’s done. While some actors I struggle to find five to highlight, with Ronan, I struggled to narrow the list to five. So, while this might be my current batch of 5 favorites, that list is sure to be updated and revised over time.

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5 Favorites #145: Foster, Galligan, Long, Malick, Mann

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Another week with a lackluster array of potential featured actors. Not that Ben Foster or Wendie Malick deserve the designation lackluster, because both are wonderful actors, but the remaining three, Zach Galligan, Justin Long, and Thomas Mann certainly fit that description. I’m choosing a single film from each of five actors’ filmographies. For Long, Malick, and Mann, their films aren’t noted for their presence. This week, Ben Foster stars in one of the week’s wide releases, Medieval; Zach Galligan stars in Bad Candy, a minor release; Justin Long appears in two films, one wide and the other limited, Barbarian and House of Darkness, respectively; and Wendie Malick and Thomas Mann both appear in About Fate, which features Mann as the romantic lead opposite Emma Roberts.

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5 Favorites #144: Belushi, Ladd, Ozon, Smith

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

With an array of new releases that are easy to forget exist, I had to pull a number of figures out from them to highlight this week, picking one film from three individuals and two films from a fourth, one of which is going to be a strange selection since I didn’t find it to be a very good movie overall thanks to its uneven tone, but it bears mentioning because it’s stuck with me more than any of his other films recently. The four individuals we’re looking at are Jim Belushi and Diane Ladd, who both appear in Gigi & Nate; Francois Ozon, who directs Peter von Kant; and Kevin Smith, whose Clerks III is releasing this weekend, several years after the prior entry was in theaters.

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5 Favorites #143: Tilda Swinton

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

The director who brought you Mad Max and Babe: Pig in the City unifies those bleak and fantastical styles into his latest cinematic offering: Three Thousand Years of Longing. Idris Elba plays a Djinn who offers a lonely woman (Tilda Swinton) three wishes if she will free him. While I haven’t seen enough of Idris Elba to form his own list and have tackled his movies in a couple of group lists, I have seen enough of Tilda Swinton to have a challenging time choosing five. Sometimes, she’s in a great film briefly, which made things a bit more difficult. These are the five I ultimately settled on.

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5 Favorites #142: Creature Features

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week, Idris Elba protects his family from a savage predator in the African savannah. Unlike most lions, this one hunts its prey not with the intent of eating it, but seemingly because it enjoys killing. Cinema is filled with creature features were seemingly normal animals go berserk. My main criteria for this week’s list was to avoid aliens. There are some great creature features that include aliens, but I wanted to stay with a terrestrial origin. I gave myself some leeway by allowing for creatures that didn’t co-exist with modern man, but that’s the extent of my leniency. Here are five films with terrifying beasts as the enemy.

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