Movies - BUST Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:10:32 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (BUST ) 13 Women Directors Who Should Have Been Nominated For The Golden Globes  

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The Golden Globes released their nominations this morning, and surprise surprise, not a single woman director was nominated for the second year in a row (the last woman director to be nominated was Ava DuVernay for Selma in 2015). This is especially galling because several women-directed films are up for other awards — Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, got four nominations in other categories, and Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees, and Battle of the Sexes, directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, got two nominations each. The Golden Globes also failed to nominate Jordan Peele as Best Director, meaning that the Best Director nominees list is all white men with the exception of Guillermo del Toro.

In response, we’ve rounded up a list of women directors who could have been nominated. And to get in before the “but their movies just weren’t as goooood” argument, we’ll make sure that each film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86% or higher, which is what Steven Spielberg's the Post currently has, and which is the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score for a Best Director nominee’s movie (Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World doesn’t have one yet). (I know there are valid arguments against using Rotten Tomatoes ratings to judge a film, but it’s a good way to gauge overall critical consensus and I haven’t seen all of these movies.) (#nodisrespecttoStevenSpielberg, btw, the Postlooks interesting and I would like to see it).

1. Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
99% on Rotten Tomatoes

Greta Gerwig's (our current cover star, btw) directorial debut coming-of-age story about a high school senior (Saoirse Ronan) and her tumultuous relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf).


2. Dee Rees for Mudbound
97% on Rotten Tomatoes

Dee Rees directed this historic drama that premiered on Netflix. It’s about a white family and a black family in Mississippi after WWII and has a cast including Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, and Jason Mitchell.


3. Valerie Faris (and Jonathan Dayton) for Battle of the Sexes 
86% on Rotten Tomatoes

This comedy tells the story of Billie Jean King’s (Emma Stone) historic tennis match against Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).


4. Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman 
92% on Rotten Tomatoes

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movie, starring Gal Gadot, might be the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen and proved that yes, people will come to the box office to see (gasp!!!!) lady superheroes.


 5. Angela Robinson for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
87% on Rotten Tomatoes

In a very different kind of Wonder Woman movie, Angela Robinson tells the story behind the creator of Wonder Woman and his inspiration — the two women he was in a polyamorous relationship with.


6. Maggie Betts for Novitiate
87% on Rotten Tomatoes

Maggie Betts directed this historical drama about a group of nuns in the 1960s, during Vatican II.


7. Ceyda Torun for Kedi 
98% on Rotten Tomatoes

Kedi is a critically-acclaimed documentary about street cats in Istanbul. Sign us the fuck up.


8. Amber Tamblyn for Paint It Black
90% on Rotten Tomatoes

Amber Tamblyn's directorial debut stars Alia Shawkat as a young woman navigating an unsettling relationship with her boyfriend's mother after his sudden death.

9. Lone Scherfig for Their Finest
89% on Rotten Tomatoes

A different kind of WWII movie, Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest focuses on British propaganda.


10. Angelina Jolie for First They Killed My Father
88% on Rotten Tomatoes

Angelina Jolie directed this biopic about human rights activist Loung Ung.


11. Amanda Lipitz for Step
97% on Rotten Tomatoes

This documentary follows a Baltimore girls’ high school dance team.


12. Noël Wells for Mr. Roosevelt
100% on Rotten Tomatoes

This quirky comedy tells the story of a young woman who has to spend some quality time with her ex and his new girlfriend after their cat dies.


13. Agnés Varda (and J.R.) for Faces Places
100% on Rotten Tomatoes

French filmmaking legend Agnés Varda teamed up with street artist JR for this moving documentary about France's "faces and places" and Varda's own history.

Top photo: Greta Gerwig, photo by Nadya Wasylko for BUST

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]]> (Erika W. Smith) Movies Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:03:06 -0500
4 Old Hollywood Holiday Movies That You Need To Watch  

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It’s officially the run-up to Christmas, and you know what that means:


One problem though… you kind of have to save the It’s A Wonderful Life-style old movies until minimum Christmas Eve Eve.

So that means you’re stuck watching whatever new film Hallmark has crapped out this year, because the only old films available are the 1938 version of Christmas Carol, which is a total classic and all…but it’s also slow as f and it’s not this?



muppetsTruly the only adaptation of Victorian literature that matters

But suffer no longer! I’ve gathered 4 of the best old (we’re talking released before 1950!) films that you probably haven’t seen. All are fun and most importantly batshit enough to keep you entertained, no matter what level of turkey-based food coma you’re in.


Oh, and I’ve included where you can watch the films — you’re welcome. So crack open the wine and prepare to mock and love these films in equal measure!


shop f3e78Please don’t judge this film by the nightmare painting of Jimmy Stewart

Watch it because… truly nothing says Christmas like Jimmy Stewart in a suicidal Christmas film!

What’s it about? Set in Budapest, Hungary (as nifty a way for the film studio to seem Euro positive during WWII), the film follows a group of shopworkers. Specifically Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, who can’t stand each other…But *gasp* they are actually secretly falling in love with each other as anonymous pen pals!

What makes it so good? If you haven’t guessed yet, 1990s AOL classic You’ve Got Mail is based on this. BUT the original has 2 major bonuses over the remake:

1. The romance is waaaay off: Seriously, the romance here is less "I bet they have really good angry sex" and more "I bet they have a lot of angry sex followed by crying." Seriously, the hatred between these two is real! They should in no way be together and if it doesn’t end in divorce within a year, I’ll eat my Santa hat….and for some reason it’s that aspect which makes this version way more entertaining.

bookLike I dunno, I probably wouldn’t have shouted at you so much…probably

2. It’s festive AS F!! Set in snow-capped Hungary with a Christmas Eve kissing session thrown in for good measure, this film is all kinds of cosy! Plus it also stars Frank Morgan, AKA the Wizard of Oz!

ozLook at this guy, his face just screams cosy Christmas!

What’s the downside? Well *spoiler alert* er…The Wizard tries to kill himself…yeah bit of a festive bummer. You see, Frank Morgan plays the shop’s owner, who through the course of the film starts off fine, then suspects his wife of having an affair, has a breakdown, and attempts suicide. Merry Christmas!

ozYeeeeah…maybe not one for the kids

Don’t worry though, two days after his suicide attempt, the Wizard is back at the shop and everyone just kind of glosses over what happened…making this the ultimate Christmas film for everyone with a massively dysfunctional family.

Where can I watch it? It’s available to rent for not very much at all on Amazon (included in some Prime packages), YouTube and Google Play.



connecticut 7ba92The MOST acting ever captured on one film poster

Watch this because… this screwball comedy with a female lead somehow manages to both be WAY ahead of its time feminism-wise, and yet somehow really outdated…it’s quite an impressive feat!

What’s it about? Barbara Stynwyck plays a career girl writer whose homemaking column has transformed her into the '40s Martha Stewart. 

The only problem? She can’t even make toast! 

But when her boss forces her to host a (cute) military hero at her (imaginary) farm for Christmas, Barbara has no choice to make her homemaking fantasy life a reality. Cue much screwball comedy, fake babies, kitchen mishaps and a love triangle.

rumpThe film also contains some of the best/worst double entendres ever committed to film.

So what makes it so good? Well not to be this person…but Barbara’s wardrobe is pretty great. Plus *spoiler ahead* Barbara doesn’t magically become great at homemaking or ditch writing to become a wife. By the end,,,,,,,,,, she gets a promotion and gets off with the guy, who is totally fine with the fact she can’t cook, clean or change a baby (but he can!).

So what’s the downsides? Well the film is a bit all over the place…which it gets away with as it is a screwball comedy.

Still, I’d recommend tucking into some mulled wine and creating a Christmas in Connecticut drinking game to get you through the more nonsensical bits (try drinking every time they say "baby’" and "hunky dory" — you’ll be sloshed within 20 minutes!)

Where can I watch it? Available on Youtube, Amazon Prime and Google Play.



it happened on 5th ave poster 198c6

Watch it because... It’s the forgotten sibling of old holiday films. It Happened on 5th lost its director to It’s A Wonderful Life and was beaten to Oscar glory by Miracle on 34th Street. Basically, it had 0 luck! Now finally re-released after decades in 2008, this sweet (but barmy) movie looks set to make an iconic Christmas comeback! 

What’s it about? A rich businessman leaves his plush pad vacant while he is out of town over Christmas. Except it’s not empty…because a homeless man has broken in and set up a fancy temporary home there! He soon invites round his mates, including a a newly homeless war vet and a young female drifter…who turns out to be the home owner's daughter, who is just pretending to be homeless (Yeah…bit of a twat move). Soon the rich homeowner comes back (now also pretending to be a homeless man…) and learns that actually he shouldn’t be a massive prick to those worse off.

ithappened on 5th ave image 98092I can’t point out who here is actually homeless and who is a prick pretending to be.

What’s good? It’s basically a very socialist Christmas! Honestly: One of the storylines involves a group of homeless veterans trying to fund their plan to build mass affordable housing. The film couldn’t be more humanist and socialist if it tried! Which in such a consumer driven time… is actually really bloody lovely.

The downside? Good luck watching this if you live outside the USA. For real, there is literally no way to watch it legally and that’s super bloody frustrating!

Where can I watch it? Well if you're in the US, you can rent it for a pittance on YouTube, Amazon or Google Play. Not in the US…happy streaming!



STLOUIS 7d1bdPresenting the most camp and loud poster to ever grace the world.

Watch it because… nothing says Christmas quite like Judy motherfucking Garland. (And, though apparently this is on in America over Christmas all the bloody time…the same cannot be said for the UK, where it remains a hidden Christmas gem.)

What’s it about? The film spends a year following the Smith family, a middle class family at the turn of the century. From spring to winter, we watch as the family are torn apart, pull back together again, and generally learn all about family values and love, etc. etc.

Whats good? It’s generally a cracking musical. You have fun numbers, earworms a plenty and of course — Miss Judy Garland, AKA THE FUCKING BEST. On a festive note, the film contains the classic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," arguably one of the most underappreciated festive numbers around.

Now, for those who don’t know…"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the perfect mix of both melancholic and hopeful. During Meet Me In St. Louis, it’s sung right after this happens:


Why yes, that is an emotional little girl murdering a snowman with what looks like a gun. Yeah…not such an innocuous little ditty now huh!?!

Judy Garland's character sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to soothe her upset sister (following snowman decapitation gate). The songs lyrics remind us that no matter how bad things are right now, things will get better. But until then, if we band together with those we love, we can "muddle through somehow."



Where I can watch it? Again, Amazon, YouTube and Google Play have it for less than a cup of coffee. If you live in the UK, it is also on SkyCinema.

This post originally appeared on F Yeah History and is reprinted here with permission.

Top photo: The Shop Around The Corner

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]]> (F Yeah History) Movies Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:05:22 -0500
"I, Tonya" Tells Tonya Harding's Side Of The Story: BUST Review I TONYA still 1 3e01c

I, Tonya

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Out December 8

Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) takes us back to the infamous ’90s rivalry between figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. In case you’ve never been exposed to pop culture, in the weeks before the 1994 Olympics, an attacker hit Kerrigan in the leg with a baton at practice—an attack that was then blamed (rightly or wrongly) on Kerrigan’s competitor, Harding. Now, in this dark but ultimately sympathetic dramedy, Gillespie takes us through Harding’s side of the story. (Kerrigan hardly speaks a line beyond her memorable scream of “Why, why, why?”) 

Viewers begin watching Harding’s life as she joins a figure skating class at three years old. After two child actors give it their all, Margot Robbie—who also produced—takes her turn as Harding, playing her from age 15 through adulthood. Robbie portrays Harding as an awkward, melodramatic teen and young adult with braces, raging hormones, and incomparable talent. But she also makes us feel for her as we see how she’s abused by her mother (played by the incredible Allison Janney) and later by her boyfriend/husband/ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). A flash-forward to present-day Harding, Gillooly, and co-conspirator Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) puts a powerful, post-Monica-Lewinsky-TED-Talk spin on the concept of public shaming. 5/5 –Erika W. Smith

photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

This article originally appeared in the December/January 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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]]> (BUST Magazine) Movies Fri, 08 Dec 2017 11:41:15 -0500
"Fits And Starts" Is A Hilarious Interpretation Of Modern Artistry: BUST Review  

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Laura Terruso took to the stage at AFI Fest 2017 to introduce her directorial debut Fits and Starts. As she cautiously walked up the platform, Terruso motioned towards her feet, which were pocketed in long stemmed heels. According to Terruso, she wanted to look the part at her Hollywood premiere. As she grasped the railing with both hands and descended down the stairs, she left the audience laughing because despite looking the part, Terruso’s entrance was anything but Hollywood. But her entrance, whether it was her intention or not, ran parallel with her film.

Fits and Starts centers on two writers in New York City who happen to be married. Jennifer (Greta Lee), known in the literary world as J.M. Lee, is an acclaimed author who has managed to survive the dreaded sophomore slump with her latest book — while David (Wyatt Cynac), known to the public as J.M. Lee’s husband, has yet to finalize his first draft. Jennifer is confident that if David tried a little harder to fit into the literary mold, agents would be knocking each other down for a chance to represent him. When the two are invited to a salon in Connecticut, they have no idea that the coming evening will test both their marriage and craft.

At its core, the film begs the question of whether two artists can live under one roof. Movies like The Squid and the Whale (2005), La La Land (2016), and even His Girl Friday (1940) tell us it’s anything but easy. In the beginning, the answer is no. It’s clear that David is peeved by the notion that he’s unrecognizable without his wife standing next to him. But David’s problem is less about his wife’s success, or her gender, and more about her overall lack of interest or support. With book two out on shelves, Jennifer still hasn’t managed to find the time to give David’s draft a final readthrough despite his willingness to read each and every one of Jennifer’s drafts. According to Jennifer, reading David’s work, along with owning a cell phone, would interfere with her creative process, a process that appears to be relentlessly ongoing.

Tensions rise as the couple makes their way to Connecticut. After a run-in with the police, where the two are caught trying to reignite the flame on the side of the road, Jennifer finds out that David forgot the wine at home and they go in search of a liquor store. Their irritations get the best of them and soon their search separates them, leaving David to call the police, the same police that found them on the side of the road and who happen to be two of J.M. Lee’s biggest fans. But when the police tell him to go the salon as planned, the movie noticeably shifts. It’s no longer a story of one creative marriage, but rather David’s journey into the pretentious, self-absorbed, and ridiculous literary world.

That isn’t to say that the second half of the film is any better or worse than the first half, but for fans of Greta Lee, her presence is noticeably missing. David is entirely alone in what feels like another dimension. The salon is filled with caricatures of artists, like a live-action version of a Sylvain Chomet film. From a sculptor wondering aloud if working with deli meat is considered art, to a millennial white man reading an excerpt of his upcoming book about the only white slave during the Civil War, to a foreign opera singer whose lyrics, despite the crowds applause, are made up of insults towards them, David can’t understand why his work is less than the crap he witnesses throughout the night. It isn’t enough for David that these ridiculous people are earning the respect of their peers while he carries on as J.M. Lee’s husband, but as he walks from room to room, each one of them has an uninvited piece of advice: change your name, shave the beard, write something lighter, etc.

A brief history of David and Jennifer’s history is woven throughout the second half of the film. We learn how they met and how, despite David being a professor in Jennifer’s MFA program, she surpassed him in the literary world. When Jennifer sought him out to discuss their craft, David had recently had a piece of fiction published in The New Yorker, a story that he continues to cling to as proof that he is in fact a writer. What is refreshing about Terruso’s film is that throughout it, David never comes across as someone who wants to surpass his wife to reclaim his masculinity, because his masculinity isn’t something he feels he needs to claim or reclaim. His frustrations lie with the literary circle, its exclusivity and absurd rules, and that after X amount years, from the time he and Jennifer met to the present, he hasn’t managed to move forward with his own work.

Like Terruo’s introduction, looking the part and playing by rules doesn’t equate to success. Let the work speak for itself. Fits and Starts is a hilarious interpretation of modern artistry. While the film stumbles into the second half, its heartwarming take on two creatives living under one roof is well worth the watch. Not to mention the excellent performances by Greta Lee and Wyatt Cenac. 3/5

Fits and Starts is now available on digital and VOD.

Image: Fits and Starts

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]]> (Samantha Ladwig) Movies Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:02:34 -0500
"The Shape Of Water" Is One Of The Best Movies Of The Year: BUST Review  

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The Shape of Water
Co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro
Out December 8

In The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins gives a five-star performance as Elisa, a mute cleaning lady at an ominous government facility. Her only friends, whom she communicates with through sign language, are her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her closeted neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), until she discovers a living specimen from a classified Cold War experiment. This half-fish-half-man (Doug Jones) is tortured by his captor (Michael Shannon) and pursued by Soviet spies. But nonetheless, he’s able to develop a relationship with Elisa.

This film is a romance, a period piece, an homage to old Hollywood, and even a heist movie. The practical effects are outstanding, and Jones manages to bring a humanity to his character from under piles of makeup and latex. Everything from the 1960 period details to the symbolic movie marquee for The Story of Ruth is carefully chosen and perfectly executed. Bursting with themes from writer/director Guillermo del Toro’s oeuvre—including the horrors of war, the pain and loneliness of being an outsider, and the ambiguous nature of those we call monsters—this fantastical love story is one of the best movies of the year. It may also be the best release yet of del Toro’s storied career. 5/5 –Jenni Miller

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]]> (BUST Magazine) Movies Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:34:48 -0500
It's Time For Mel Gibson And Mark Wahlberg To Go Down  

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Over the past two months, we’ve witnessed a reckoning against harassers and abusers in the media, which has brought forth at best upsetting and at worst damning allegations against some of the most powerful and respected men in Hollywood, as well as larger society.

That’s why it’s shocking that as we finally begin to hold men to higher standards, Mel Gibson is essentially able to take back the career he derailed nearly a decade ago after being exposed for the racist and misogynist he clearly was and still is. In case you forgot, Gibson plead no contest to domestic violence charges in 2011, and has a long record of saying racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.

In what began with last year’s Oscar-nominated Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson’s Hollywood redemption continues as he not only currently stars in, but is also featured heavily in the marketing for Daddy’s Home 2, a film that’s not quite all-ages family friendly, but still portrays itself as an enjoyable holiday comedy. As someone who is to abusive men what Oprah Winfrey is to talk show hosts, Gibson has seemingly managed to pull off a second chance from Hollywood, and with the better than expected box office numbers for Daddy’s Home 2, society as well.

Remember 2014’s "McConaissance"? This is kinda like that, only instead of Matthew “Alright, Alright, Alright” McConaughey proving to us that he’s more than just a rom com leading man, it’s Mel Gibson somehow finding redemption and making his way back into the good graces of Hollywood and the larger American society. So, what is it that makes Gibson forgivable, so much so that people are willing to look past his abhorrent treatment of others? Are his movies that good (they’re not), or has the initial shock simply worn off after 10 years away from the spotlight? If we’re going to start holding all men accountable, we need to start with Gibson, and that means holding Hollywood studios accountable as well as ourselves with the art we choose to support with our wallets.

And while Gibson may hold the title of being most obvious abuser in a holiday comedy, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that his co-star Mark Wahlberg is also a celebrated actor with a past steeped in racism and abuse, including an incident in his youth where he attacked a Vietnamese immigrant with a wooden stick and another in which he threw rocks at black children.

Wahlberg is an Oscar-nominated A-lister known for his patriotic tough guy roles, and audiences have been pretty forgiving when it comes to all of the inexcusable behavior froam his past. Again, time seems to have played a role; it’s been 20 years since Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, so either time really does heal all wounds or we’re just too lazy to find another decently talented actor from Boston.

Interestingly, Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t the only film Wahlberg is set to star in this holiday season. In what can only be seen as a not-so-shocking twist of fate, Wahlberg will portray a CIA operative in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, the film that recently made headlines when it replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer five weeks before it was set to be released after allegations of sexual abuse were leveled at the former.

In the end, only time will tell whether Gibson, and Wahlberg for that matter, will be forgiven and their past transgressions merely a blip on their careers. And more importantly, is this what we can expect 10 years down the road for abusers like Harvey Weinstein or Spacey? Then again, a known sexual predator is currently sitting in our country’s highest office, so maybe we shouldn’t even be that shocked.

top photo: still from Daddy's Home 2

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]]> (Amelia Wedemeyer) Movies Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:32:58 -0500
BUST Celebrates "Lady Bird" on the Latest "Poptarts" Podcast!  

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Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

In our latest episode, Emily and Callie obsess over indie screen queen Greta Gerwig's daring directorial debut Lady Bird with help from fiery feminist film critic Jenni Miller!

Check out every episode on iTunes, and don't forget to rate and review!

This podcast was produced for BUST by Rachel Withers.


]]> (Emily Rems) Movies Thu, 30 Nov 2017 16:18:52 -0500
6 Cheesy Holiday Movies To Watch On Netflix Instead Of "A Christmas Prince" Christmas Prince e85cf

A Christmas Prince is the latest addition to Netflix's holiday lineup, and, look, it's fine. It has all the makings of a corny Christmas miracle (playboy prince with a heart of gold, rookie journalist sent to cover the royals of a non-existent European country where the inhabitants inexplicably speak English, sassy housekeeper), but the formulaic construction falls short of any real sparkle. Even as someone who recognizes that romantic clichés are the bread and butter of holiday movies, as hard as I tried, I couldn't fall in love with A Christmas Prince. It takes itself too seriously, rather than leaning right into the delightful holiday schmaltz that the perfect setting of a snow-capped castle provides. If you're going to make a joke of a movie, you need to at least make it funny, adorable, likeable, or just really, really terrible. A Christmas Prince is none of these things, so here's a list of some movies that are.

1. November Rule (2015)

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Sneaker entrepreneur (yes, really) Steve is the kind of jerk who breaks up with his girlfriend before every holiday season to prevent the relationship from getting too serious. Unsurprisingly, his inability to relate to women on an emotionally mature level results in him breaking up with Leah and immediately regretting it, because she is way out of his league and moves on to dating another guy. Will Steve get the girl back? Probably. Will she have to teach him how to talk about his feelings like a grown up? Also probably. 

2. Gremlins (1984)

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If you watched Gremlins as a kid and are wondering whether it will live up to your nostalgia-tinged memories, I am here to tell you the answer is a resounding yes. It's weird, kinda creepy and quintessentially '80s, reminiscent of a time when a movie about terrifying and possibly murderous pets was appropriate holiday viewing for children. If you haven't seen it, prepare for an absurd tale about why you should always follow the instructions on the box.

3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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Another cult classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is essential viewing for the Grinch's relatable one-liners as much as the heart-warming Christmas cheer. With quotes like, "Hate, hate, hate. Double hate. Loathe entirely!", "Am I just eating because I'm bored?" and "Help me... I'm FEELING!" the Grinch is all of us scrolling through our newsfeeds in 2017.

5. Christmas In The Smokies (2015)

Christmas In The Smokies INSP 11 dc262

It's a tale as old as time: A family has to pull together to save their berry farm. At Christmas. In the Smokies. Shelby is an "ambitious" businesswoman on a mission. Throw an obnoxious country music star ex and a banjo-heavy soundtrack into the mix, and we have all the makings of a ridiculous but endearing 90 minutes. I hate myself but I love this movie.

5. Christmas Crush (2012)

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Alternatively titled A Holiday High School Reunion and featuring that cute guy from Mean Girls (Jonathan Bennett), Christmas Crush is basically my nightmare set to jingle bells. Georgia Hunt returns to her hometown for her high school reunion and pretends to have a cool job to impress the popular girls. More importantly, she has to make the very difficult decision between the jerk she dated in high school or her best guy friend who has always been in love with her. Also, Georgia was in the Glee Club, and yes, they reunite and perform, so there's that. There is so much going on here, it's a glorious trainwreck.

6. My Santa

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My Santa is an absolute doozy. Jaded single mom Jen (Samaire Armstrong) hasn't believed in the magic of Christmas since her husband walked out on her, which seems completely reasonable. She is literally described by another character as the "humbug mommy." Luckily, she unknowingly falls in love with the son of actual Santa Claus. Chris is next in line to take over the family business, but Jen thinks he's delusional. (Again, completely reasonable.) Holiday charm ensues.

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]]> (Molly McLaughlin) Movies Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:51:55 -0500
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" Shows Why Frances McDormand Should Be In All The Things  

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Frances McDormand is won a well-deserved Oscar for Fargo in 1996, but though she's worked regularly, it’s been a long time since she’s starred in a movie that wasn’t directed by the Coen Brothers (one of whom, Joel, she's married to). In 2017, McDormand—now 60—is finally top-billed in a movie that lets her prove, once again, why she’s one of the best actors out there.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is billed as a “black comedy-drama,” but though there are some funny moments, it’s more of a drama than anything else. Written, produced, and directed Irish playwright and director Martin McDonagh (who has previously directed two films—In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths), the film has a small core cast of characters and a literary sensibility—it’s easy to imagine it as a play. McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a woman whose daughter was raped and murdered seven months before the film begins. While Mildred’s teenage son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) reacts to his sister’s death with depression, Mildred’s predominant emotion is rage. Fed up with her local law enforcement’s failure to find her daughter’s killer, Mildred decides to rent three billboards and emblazon them with a message to the police chief, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson): “Raped while dying,” “and still no arrests,” “How come, Chief Willoughby?”

The billboards are the catalyst that brings the town's underlying tensions to light. It’s an open secret that Chief Willoughby, who has a young wife (Abbie Cornish) and two young daughters, has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer—which means that few in the town are happy with Mildred’s billboards. Then, in an on-air interview, Mildred speaks out against the police’s reputation for using police brutality against the town’s black population, sparking resentment and hostility from the police. The film's major failing is that despite this plot point, the three black characters in the film only get a handful of lines each—we spend far more time on a redemption arc for the most racist cop in the police department (Sam Rockwell) than on any character development for them.

The billboards also cause turmoil in Mildred’s personal life. Her son resents the billboards, and her abusive ex-husband—now dating a ditzy 19-year-old—isn’t too happy with them, either. Mildred finds a supporter in a fellow bar regular, James (Peter Dinklage), but it’s Chief Willoughby himself who turns out to be her most surprising ally.

McDormand stands out in a sea of stellar performances—more than anything else, Three Billboards is a reminder that she should be starring in movies at least as regularly as Meryl Streep. It’s rare for a film to put a woman in her 60s at its center—let's hope Three Billboards encourages more directors to do so.

Top image: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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]]> (Erika W. Smith) Movies Tue, 28 Nov 2017 12:23:57 -0500
Noël Wells Tells A Coming-Of-Age Story About The Death Of A Cat In Her Directorial Debut “Mr. Roosevelt”: BUST Interview  MrRoosevelt PromoStill 1.1.4 copy b7add

Cat people won’t be the only ones who relate to Noël Wells’ directorial debut Mr. Roosevelt. In the movie—which Wells also wrote—Wells plays Emily, a broke aspiring comedian in LA who returns to her former home in Austin after the sudden death of her cat, the titular Mr. Roosevelt. Once there, she has to reconcile with the cat’s other “family,” Emily’s ex-boyfriend, Eric (Nick Thune) and his new live-in girlfriend, the apparently perfect Celeste (Britt Lower)—all while coming to terms with her own seemingly-stalled career and, well, life.

You likely know Noël Wells as Rachel on Master of None or as a former featured player on Saturday Night Live, but she’s been writing and directing for much longer. “I’ve been making my own projects for a long time; I wrote my own sketches, I’ve done my own videos, I’ve worked in animation, I’ve worked as an editor—I’ve been doing it for a long time, it’s just that people haven’t seen all the things i’ve been doing,” she tells BUST.

In fact, Wells began working on the story that eventually became Mr. Roosevelt in a college screenwriting class. She developed the character of Emily, and though the character initially had different adventures—returning home and moving in with her pregnant sister—her core was the same, “this lost, self-obsessed, millennial type,” Wells says. Wells, now 30, adds that she’s been writing the character on and off since she was 23—but eventually knew it was time to get Emily on film because “there was a point where I was like, ‘I really just need to make the movie because I want to make more movies, and if I don’t make this movie, how am I going to make all the other ones?’”

“The script was the hardest thing to get right,” Wells says. Though it kept the main character and the general theme of returning home when your life is a mess, Mr. Roosevelt is very different from Wells’ initial screenplays. It’s also based on Wells’ life experiences, though she’s quick to say that she is very different from Emily.

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Like Emily, Wells moved from Austin to LA, and left her cat—named Mr. Feeny after the Boy Meets World character—with her then-boyfriend, who she later broke up with. When her cat suddenly became ill, Wells returned to Austin and, like Emily, realized that the breakup had had a stronger effect on the ex than she anticipated. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, my cat’s going to die, and I emotionally killed this person who I truly loved and I had no idea—because he didn’t seem that upset, you know? It was the first time where I was like, ‘Oh, all these decisions I’m making are so self-centered.’ And [like Emily], I used all my savings to get the surgery my cat needed, and I had a friend who was like, ‘It’s just a fucking cat!’” (Unlike Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Feeny survived and is “living happily ever after” with another ex and current friend and writing partner, Wells says; in the film, Mr. Roosevelt played by a big, orange cat who belonged to a friend of the production coordinator.)

Also like Emily, Wells gained some unexpected fame after a goofy YouTube video went viral—Wells' was of her taking a shower with various foods while Britney Spears’ “Toxic” played. Emily’s is similar, but different—though I won’t reveal it, because Mr. Roosevelt teases out the video’s subject like a mystery. The biggest difference between them, Wells says, is, “I had more of a sense of humor about it, but Emily does not have a sense of humor about it at all!”

After the script was ready, Wells pitched it to indie production company Beachside, which funded the movie—though Wells decided to give up her fees so they could shoot on real film. Wells says she fell in love with film when, one summer in college, she traded her digital camera for film. The results “looked way better than anything I’d ever shot on a digital camera,” she says, “and because I wasn’t looking over my shoulder judging myself, I developed an intuition and started going by instinct. I started just shooting on film, so I feel very comfortable with the medium, and I always imagined I’d shoot my first film on film.” She also prefers the look of film, especially because most indies at a certain budget level are shot on the same digital cameras.

Similarly, she paid special attention to the colors of the costumes and filming locations; many of the actors incorporated their own wardrobe, and Wells is, in fact, wearing the same high-waisted denim shorts she wears in the film when I interview her. But while Wells pairs the shorts with black tights and a dark button-up, Emily wears hers with a yellow vintage tee and oversized jacket. “I wanted her to feel like a cartoon person,” Wells says.

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She also wanted Emily’s wardrobe to stand in stark contrast to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s. Celeste (Britt Lower) “is very elegant and wears hand-dyed pieces,” Wells says; at one point in the film, Emily compares her to a human Pinterest board. But though the film does show tension and even rivalry between the two women, it’s not your typical two-women-fighting-over-a-man plot. “I wanted to go down a path of familiarity and try to figure out a way to change it up,” Wells says. “I see a bunch of movies where I’m like, I like this movie, or I like the idea of this movie, but that character’s thin, or that’s a flat character, or that’s a villain, and why are we talking about women this way? And why does it always have to be a dying mother, why can’t it be a dying cat?”

Something else unusual in Mr. Roosevelt is that is has the most hilarious, un-sexy sex scenes you’ve ever seen. Wells says that they were mostly improvised—of one sex scene, she says, “There were three parts that were scripted: I was like, ‘Try to get my shorts and my tights off because it’s going to be complicated; kiss me down and bite my butt, so it’s like sexy, sexy, bite my butt; and then when you’re done, say, ‘That’s it!’” The improvised parts of the same scene include Emily explaining what a bralette is and some unusual, tooth-related compliments.

The film will make you want to see more from Wells—and you’re in luck, because along with acting and making music with her band The Marys, she’s currently writing her next feature film, which she hopes to shoot in 2018. It’s about “a different type of millennial,” which is not something she means derogatorily. “People talk about millennials, and they can be derisive, but we’re a group of people facing a very quickly changing world,” Wells says. “Society is falling apart, the economy is not sustainable, and we’re just facing a lot of problems that we don’t really have a good way to fix. When I say ‘millennial,’ I mean a character that’s in the middle of that.”

Mr. Roosevelt is in theaters now — find one here.

Images via Mr. Roosevelt

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]]> (Erika W. Smith) Movies Mon, 27 Nov 2017 11:56:54 -0500