As 2017 approaches its end
The time has come to re-recommend
Some movies that you might have missed.
So take a sec and scan this list.
If you've skipped any of these movies,
Too bad. They're worth their weight in rubies.
They still remain on screens near you
Weeks beyond their grand debut.
Take family, pals, acquaintances, fraternity,
'Cause nothing good will last eternally.
Because after the holidays you like a good angry-mom movie …
Line up a double feature because you're in luck.
Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" is more than the blossoming of her remarkable gifts as a screenwriter and director; it's an engaging character comedy with complicated emotional clout.
There is almost nonstop verbal sparring between Saoirse Ronan as the cool-nerd title character, who's eager to flee high school, California and everything else in her early life, and Laurie Metcalf as her strong-willed, deeply opinionated mom, a nurse working double shifts to keep the family afloat after her husband loses his job. To watch these imperfect, vexing, lovable women volley dialogue — "I want to go where culture is, like New York." "How in the world did I raise such a snob?" — is a rare delight.
Then find a seat where they're screening "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and buckle up for a bumpy, brilliant ride. Martin McDonagh's small-town noir is perverse and hilarious in equal doses. Frances McDormand brings a spine of steel to her role as a single mother on a furious quest to locate the killer of her daughter, or at least to punish the local police for failing to find any suspects. Mostly strong-willed, partly kindhearted, always fuming like a blistering blast furnace, she is one woman you do not want to butt heads with.
Because you need a good cry-laugh ...
Stories involving children and illness can be sugar-sweet and sentimental or manipulative sniffle-jerkers. None of that applies to Stephen Chbosky's "Wonder."
A kid-oriented family film, it gracefully navigates the chasm between adult drama with laughs, and young-adult fixations on mean kids, dating and popularity. As the parents of a 10-year-old boy with facial disfigurement, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson do wonderfully nuanced work, going light on pathos and developing grown-up characters who have personalities and foibles of their own.
Jacob Tremblay is fine as the boy taking his first step out of home schooling as the ultimate outsider among his new private school classmates. He's sensitive to the cruelties of his peers, but also science-prodigy smart, and a great friend to kids who don't wall him out.
He's also a total "Star Wars" nerd, which generates some funny fantasy-based appearances from a galaxy far, far away. So if you're not all franchised out after "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," there's that. I told you this wasn't a shameless weepie.
Because Minnesotans love local connections however inconsequential ...
"All the Money in the World" is an elegant thriller about the gruesome 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the 16-year-old grandson and namesake of the world's richest man. The oil tycoon was worth $2 billion — real money in those days — but refused to pay his grandson's ransom for five months until he could dicker the captors down to a tax-deductible $2 million.
For all its abduction-procedural surface, the focus of the film is the corrupting influence of money, with Christopher Plummer as the Getty, Michelle Williams as the boy's moneyless mother and Mark Wahlberg as the former CIA agent Getty dispatched to oversee the crisis.
Much of Ridley Scott's drama is fact-based — Getty truly did install a coin-operated pay phone in his English mansion for guests to use — but it omits one key fact: Getty grew up in Minneapolis, where his father conducted a successful insurance and corporate law practice. He was born there in 1892 and called it home until 1904 when his father moved his wife and son to Oklahoma to begin a new career in the booming early days of the oil business.
Because you just need a change of pace ...
"Coco" pushes Pixar films into several new territories, with a Mexican setting, Latino stars, a sprinkling of Spanish dialogue presented without subtitles, and a musical score filled with original songs.
Want the recipe for a delicious Guillermo del Toro sorbet? "The Shape of Water" puts love stories and the Creature From the Black Lagoon in a blender, adds a touch of song and dance, sex and spy thrillers, then tops it with a mesmerizing unspoken performance by Sally Hawkins that any silent screen star would envy.
How about a new take on a great old story? "Darkest Hour" returns us to the early days of World War II, when unstoppable German troops were flooding west across Europe and toward Britain. Gary Oldman is witty, humane and downright amazing as Winston Churchill, weaponizing the English language and using it to rally and unite the country. It's superb work, a career-best performance that is transformative in every way.
A heaping serving of new movies will begin inundating theaters next weekend. Meanwhile, enjoy these luscious leftovers.