Dinner & A Movie
By Teri Bayus
1) The Shape of Water — The Shape of Water is my favorite picture of the year for its imagination, heart, clever story and a perfect script and characters. Now and then a work of cinema arrives in theaters that completely challenges one’s conception of what a film can be.
A ground-breaking technical and thematic masterpiece, director Guillermo del Toro accomplishes something that on paper seems impossible; what is essentially a comedic-Cold War-body-horror-musical-romance between a mute woman and a mermaid.
It is perfectly executed and did not step the line into a mush romcom or become too much of a fantasy. The characters are fully flushed and it is so well acted, it’s breathtaking.
Set in the 1960s, a secret government facility is holding many secrets that they hope to weaponize. A deaf maid (Sally Hawkins) stumbles upon a secret, and the story unfolds.
The malevolent guys are pure evil, and the comic sidekick (Octavia Spencer) is everything you want her to be. The ending is a flawless piece of storytelling. Everything about this move is perfect.
2) Get Out — I avoid horror films like I do McDonald’s. Can’t and won’t do them. But now and then one comes along that has a buzz so deep and compelling, I open a bottle of wine, put on my big girl panties and dive in with eyes ready to hide behind fingers.
Get Out was a film with an important message and a good sidekick for comedy relief. Written and directed by genius comedy star and pen rogue, Jordan Peele. He takes a “guess-who’s-coming-to-dinner” approach to the horror genre.
But unlike sweet Spencer Tracy, the parents are the thing of revulsion and a compelling, and thoughtful critique of white power. Let’s clear the air about this film. It’s not a horror film. And it’s not a comedy. What it is, is a suspenseful thriller of the highest level, worthy to be compared to Hitchcock caliber.
The humor is there, along with a few horror scenes, but not enough to overshadow the central theme of the story. The film hits all cylinders with almost no misfires.
3) Coco — Sometimes only an animated movie can bring you to shed real tears into your popcorn. Coco is vibrant and a brilliant look at the Mexican cultural beliefs of the afterlife.
It is an eye candy film with a worthy champion on a hero’s journey to find out why he is so different from the generations that came before him.
Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events.
Along the way, he meets a charming trickster, Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
The toe-tapping and beautiful songs were a top request from Alexa for days after watching the film.
This is the movie I wanted Pixar to make. A movie about what family means and a film about the choices we make, and the roads not taken. Coco is a stunning work of art.
4) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — This movie rocked my world. Despite the tragedy behind the premise, it was near perfect.
Frances McDormand as Mildred, the stronger-than-nails woman that drives this fantastic movie is stupendous. Sam Rockwell’s performance was a work of art and Woody Harrelson has never been better.
For a script (this is written and directed by Martin McDough) to take this many twists and turns and have you feel so much, it is pure magic. There were no defined good guys or bad guys as the script deftly took you to loathe a character one moment and then cheer for them the next.
Three Billboards is a dark, but also funny and heartfelt story about one woman’s quest to get justice for her daughter’s rape and murder. After Mildred buys three billboards with words written on them accusing the town’s well-liked sheriff of having not found her daughter’s killer, it sets a series of events that turns the citizens and the cops against her.
The thing I can say about Three Billboards without going into spoilers is that it is wildly unpredictable. One moment you think things are going one direction as expected, and then it takes a hard left turn that only adds to the dynamic between the characters.
5) The Big Sick — Understated and brilliant, The Big Sick takes us on a roller coaster ride that would terrify anyone out of ever going on a date again. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), in the middle of becoming a stand-up comedian, meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) and they start to date.
A sudden illness sets in, forcing Emily to be put into a medically induced coma. Kumail must navigate being a comedian, dealing with tragic illness, and her parents.
Meanwhile, Kumail must placate his family’s desire to fix him up with a spouse, while contemplating and figuring out who he is and what he truly believes.
The Big Sick has romance, cultural conflict, betrayal, compassion, and redemption. All neatly wrapped within the context of a comedic memoir.
6) Baby Driver — This strange plot is about a sweet underdog with seeming superpowers, getting into trouble with the wrong guys. Here is a film that painstakingly syncs each scene with each appropriate needle drop song to make it look like the most audacious musical ever.
Shameless glee of earnest romance, over-the-top car chases, and effective gun-to-gun thrillers of decades past. It’s a top-down genre mix taping, courtesy of an inspired and precise auteur of Edgar Wright who did the same idea with video games.
With little to no CGI or green screen used to film the car chase sequences, the driving is all practically done, and you can tell, it’s breathtaking.
7) Wonder Woman — It is about time that a stunning, incredible female superhero appears before us in the endless parade of comics turning into movies that it was also directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins) makes it one of my favorites. The plot is a pure hero’s journey, but this time our hero is a girl.
When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny. With a beautiful script and amazing special effects, with a nod to where a woman should be (saving the world) and not fighting the misogynistic reality of today. Watch this and show your girls!
8) Mother — It’s beyond disturbing, but when they finally got to the point of it all. It was one of the most poignant films on creativity. It’s no secret that the director, Darren Aronofsky, is a freak and a genius.
When it was finally revealed in the last 3 minutes of the film and hiding my eyes from the most disturbing images ever presented in a horror film, it was brilliant.
To me, this was a movie about a writer’s journey. An agent killing character, editors changing your direction, mentors directing the flow of the narrative, and the always ubiquitous muse, the mother of creation.
It was a film about the ebb and flow of a writers mind, while he creates this new world. I’ve never seen anybody illustrated so disturbingly or so accurately.
I knew from the beginning it was going to be special because of the talent that was the four leads — all Academy Award winners, with a twisted sense of drama — namely Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Lawrence make it worthy to hang in there with what feels like the world’s longest movie.
9) The Disaster Artist — The Disaster Artist brings the real-life story of how the 2003 cult movie “The Room” was made. Ed Wood was Stanley Kubrick compared to Tommy Wiseau, but James Franco treats him with such loving care that we can connect with his humanity without letting his eccentricities pull us away from him.
That, I think, was the most moving aspect of this outrageous true-life tale. James Franco is spectacular keeping it real, in a character that lent itself for caricature. Seth Rogen is also perfect as the one who knows that they’re in for a major disaster and yet sees the whole thing to the bitter end.
The movie prevails in being an underdog story about one of the most mysterious underdogs in all of cinema history, but he got it made, and that is something.
10) Lady Bird — I just want to go on record to say, I hate teenagers. But I survived a bunch of them and to see a teen movie and like it this much was a surprise.
This beautiful movie shows us that some things that are supposed to be great do not always turn out to be boundless. Writer and Director, Greta Gerwig, managed to show all of the natural elements of a young girl and her dreams in a simple, light, nice and comedic way.
Following a young woman as she awkwardly makes her way through her senior year of high school, Lady Bird explores popularity, family issues, jealousy, and numerous other issues that teenagers face on a daily basis, so if you go into this film having already experienced those years of your life, I guarantee there will be a section of this movie that you can relate to.
Teri Bayus is the Host of Taste Buds, shown on Charter Cable Ch. 10 and on Central Coast Now TV. Teri’s culinary erotic book, “Consumed,” is available at: www.amazon.com/Consumed-Teri-Bayus-ebook/dp/B016DW85PA. Dinner and a Movie is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.