The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now – The New York Times

“The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a bonus, we link to 50 more great movies on Netflix within many of our writeups below. (Note: Streaming services sometimes remove titles or change starting dates without giving notice.)”

Here are our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video and the best of everything on Disney Plus.

Harriet movie historical accuracy: What’s fact and what’s fiction in the Harriet Tubman biopic.

What caused Harriet Tubman’s “spells”? Were there really black slave-catchers? We break down the new biopic.

Diptych of Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, in a still from the movie, and Harriet Tubman in a historical photo.
Cynthia Erivo and Harriet Tubman.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Focus Features and Horatio Seymour Squyer/Wikipedia.

“The fact that Harriet is the first feature-length film to tell the story of one of the most famous women in American history may sound improbable, but it’s no less improbable than many of the facts of her life. The new biopic is mostly true to what we know of the real Harriet Tubman, though writer-director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) and co-writer Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the TitansAli) take some considerable liberties with both the timeline of events and the creation of several characters. We consulted biographies, articles, primary sources, and a few contemporary historians so we could break down what’s historical record and what’s artistic license.

Tubman’s Early Life as Araminta “Minty” Ross

Just as in the movie, Tubman (played here by Cynthia Erivo) grew up on a farm in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she was born Araminta “Minty” Ross. Though the movie may leave the impression that she only took on the name Harriet Tubman when she reached freedom, she seems to have taken it when she was married, taking Harriet from her mother, Harriet Ross, and Tubman from her husband, a free black man named John Tubman. Despite that, her owners still called her by the name they gave her, as evidenced by the Oct. 3, 1849, advertisement for the return of “Minty” taken out by Tubman’s mistress Eliza Brodess when she eventually escaped.”

Source: Harriet movie historical accuracy: What’s fact and what’s fiction in the Harriet Tubman biopic.

Harriet (2019) – Rotten Tomatoes

HARRIET  Critics Consensus   Harriet serves as a sincere tribute to a pivotal figure in American history — albeit one undermined by its frustratingly formulaic approach. 74%TOMATOMETERTotal Count: 190 97% AUDIENCE SCORE    Verified Ratings: 11,593  MORE INFO

Source: Harriet (2019) – Rotten Tomatoes

Harriet | by Richard Brody – The New Yorker

We saw Harriet the other night, and we loved it. It was criticized on Rotten Tomatoes for not being very violent, and being somewhat a traditional adventure story. That’s our kind of film. The score at Rotten Tomatoes was a 74, but the audience reviews were at 97!  Metacritic is similar, with a score of 66, but the New Yorker was assigned a 90.

Here is the New Yorker review:

 

“The intensity and the lyrical fervor of Kasi Lemmons’s direction lend this historical drama, about Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her work with the Underground Railroad, the exalted energy of secular scripture. The action begins in Maryland, in 1849, where the enslaved Araminta Ross (Cynthia Erivo) is granted permission to marry the freeman John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). When she is denied the freedom that she’d been promised, she risks her life to flee to Philadelphia. Taking her mother’s name, Harriet, she returns covertly—and armed—to guide her relatives to freedom, and is pursued by her former master and his posse. Then, after the Fugitive Slave Act is passed, in 1850, Northern cities no longer insure safety. The movie, written by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard, presents a gripping and wide-ranging view of her activity—including her work with a daring black clergyman (Vondie Curtis-Hall) and the black abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who devotedly records the stories of the formerly enslaved—and her inner life, featuring depictions of the virtually prophetic visions that guide her in her mission.— Richard Brody”

Source: Harriet | The New Yorker

Oscars 2019 verdict: lovely surprises can’t compensate for shock horrors | Peter Bradshaw – Film | The Guardian

David Lindsay: I was delighted that Green Book won. Here is a very different, condescending view, suggesting it was sentimental and slick.

“Oscars 2019 verdict: lovely surprises can’t compensate for shock horrors
The Academy voters got it right with gongs for Olivia Colman and Alfonso Cuarón, but Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody have been sorely overrated

Peter Bradshaw

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Mon 25 Feb 2019 01.31 EST Last modified on Mon 25 Feb 2019 09.43 EST
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Must-see moments from the Oscars 2019: Spike Lee, Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman – video
In the end, there was enough good news – or news that made a certain sort of sense – for this not to be simply another exasperating Academy Awards pageant of mysteriously over-promoted nonsense. Olivia Colman already had the title of queen of all our hearts, and, just when it looked as if Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite was going to go home with nothing at all, Colman added the Academy Award to her bulging silverware cabinet – and of course gave a speech of great charm and grace.

Her prize acceptance game this year has been off the chart: stylish, polished and with just enough pinch-me-I’m-dreaming astonishment to rival Helen Mirren’s triumphal awards season tour of 2007, when she was winning everything for her own queenly performance. Colman (Anne), Mirren (Elizabeth II), Dench (Elizabeth I) … Brits in crowns generally do it for the Academy.

Oscars save shocks for last with big wins for Green Book and Olivia Colman
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And there was justice in seeing Alfonso Cuarón picking up the best director, best cinematography and best foreign language Oscars for his magnificent artwork Roma. I have no problem with Spike Lee and his co-writers David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott picking up the award for best adapted screenplay for their fierce satire BlacKkKlansman. (Although I think I might have preferred to see Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty get it for Can You Ever Forgive Me?) The 2019 Oscar prize list was speckled with honourable wins.

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Olivia Colman’s Oscars speech: ‘this is genuinely quite stressful!’ – video
But best picture for Green Book? (Best original screenplay, too, over The Favourite and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed.) The news of that win lands like a dead weight on Oscar night, increasing the inevitable disappointment and tristesse that settles on any awards ceremony in its closing minutes, as the unacknowledged frustration of the losers’ 80% silent majority seeps into the atmosphere. A friend of mine said that by the time this awards season was over, this film should have the word “REALLY?” added to its title. Green Book REALLY? becomes this year’s technical winner of the “best picture” accolade and surely now is added to the list that includes Crash, Chicago and Argo in the What Were They Thinking? categories.

Source: Oscars 2019 verdict: lovely surprises can’t compensate for shock horrors | Film | The Guardian

Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter | Benjamin Lee | Film | The Guardian

Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter
Benjamin Lee
Benjamin Lee
The comedian-actor has been chosen to take charge of next year’s awards ceremony but a history of hateful remarks suggest he’s not the man for the job

@benfraserlee
Wed 5 Dec 2018 16.52 EST Last modified on Thu 27 Dec 2018 09.26 EST
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Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host?
Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host? Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
At first glance, the Academy picking the ebullient and experienced comedian-actor Kevin Hart to host the 2019 Oscars seems like a smart pick.

The 39-year-old star of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ride Along has quipped his way to becoming one of the most dependable box office stars working today with his films totalling over $3.5bn worldwide. His social media presence has also been a major key to his success with 34 million followers on Twitter and over 65 million on Instagram and with ratings for the ceremony continuing to spiral down, the Academy clearly hopes he’ll help draw viewers back in.

After two years of straight white host Jimmy Kimmel’s rather dull shtick and after an increased push to improve the diversity of voters, choosing an African American host is also a much-needed leap forward on stage.

But there’s one small catch.

Hart has a rather vile history of documented homophobia, ranging from offensive standup clangers to dumb interview statements to puerile tweets to a whole embarrassing film filled with it. In 2010 during his Seriously Funny standup special, Hart delivered an extended joke based on a fear of his three-year-old son Hendrix turning out gay.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/dec/05/oscars-host-kevin-hart-homophobia-is-no-laughing-matter

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One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will. Now with that being said, I don’t know if I handled my son’s first gay moment correctly. Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud!

Source: Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter | Benjamin Lee | Film | The Guardian

Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Mick LaSalle – Datebook – San Francisco Chronicle

David Lindsay: I have good news about the State of Our Union. Kathleen and I today celebrate our 5th year anniversary of relationship.
Also, we decided to skip Trump’s state of his union speech last night, and instead we went to see “On the Basis of Sex,” the fabulous and inspiring docudrama of how the Ginsbergs stole Christmas from the reactionary, keep the women in their place crowd, back in 1972, represented in the film by Sam Waterson. Furthermore, if you are near New Haven CT, the film will be at the Criterion New Haven for another week. Metacritic.com gave this film an aggregate 60, which was a crime. But their numbers are always suspect, since they are not generated by the critic, but by a reader at Metacritic. Scott of the NYT gave the film a rave review in my mind, and the reader scored the review as a 60! What is wrong with Metacritic.
There was a good piece in the NYT today about Trump’s lies last night, which I decided not to post. You don’t need to read it, but for reference, it is:
State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong
President Trump appeared in front of a joint session of Congress for the annual address. Here is how his remarks stacked up against the facts.
https://www.nytimes.com/…/fact-check-state-of-the-union.htm…

Mick LaSalle 

Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, the movie about her life, “On the Basis of Sex,” sneaks up slowly, growing steadily in estimation, until a point is reached, not at the end but well into the proceedings, that it’s all downright inspiring. Here’s the story of a woman who not only shaped the journey of women in the second half of the 20th century, but whose life embodied that journey.That life translates well into the movie medium, in that Ginsburg’s story from her days at Harvard Law School through her appointment to the Supreme Court has the built-in narrative structure of a dramatic film. As in a rags-to-riches tale, Ginsburg starts off underestimated. She’s quiet, she’s little, and she’s female, and few will recognize her brilliance. She’s constantly blocked and put down and experiences doubts and disappointment, but she eventually emerges as a figure of fame and permanent importance.“On the Basis of Sex” makes you feel the cost it took to build this life, the years and years of work, in the face of almost monolithic resistance. Interestingly, and this feels intrinsically true, the movie shows that the obstacles Ginsburg faced often came from her closest male allies, who, after all, were steeped in the very same culture as her political foes. Ginsburg was at a disadvantage with these men, not only because she was a woman, but also because she was mild of temperament, not someone who could easily put herself forward. However, she did have the most significant advantage in her favor: She was smarter than everybody else.She had the further benefit of a supportive, understanding husband, whose outgoing personality complemented her watchful reserve. The old line that behind every great man is a great woman sometimes goes the other way, and so “On the Basis of Sex” is also the saga of an exceptional marital partnership.

Source: Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Datebook

11 Great Titles Expiring From Netflix in December – NYT Watching

waWatching is The New York Times’s TV and film recommendation website. Sign up for our thrice-weekly newsletter here.

Every month, as various licenses expire, streaming services lose movies and TV series from their catalogs. Here are 11 great movies and TV shows leaving Netflix in December.

Gene Wilder and, on the table as the monster, Peter Boyle in “Young Frankenstein.”20th Century Fox, via Getty Images
‘Young Frankenstein’
Leaving Netflix: Dec. 1
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Arguably Mel Brooks’s finest and funniest film (and released, shockingly enough, in the same calendar year as “Blazing Saddles,” his other contender for that title), this 1974 gem finds the master of broad satire taking on the Universal horror pictures of the 1930s, particularly James Whale’s “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein.” Co-writer Gene Wilder is sublimely manic as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein — pronounced “Fronk-en-steen,” he insists — grandson of the famed corpse re-animator Victor, who returns to his grandfather’s estate and laboratory to claim his inheritance and finds himself drawn into the family business. Brooks and Wilder’s Oscar-nominated script is a hit parade of comedy classics, from the candlestick bit to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” to the monster’s dinner with a blind hermit (an unlisted Gene Hackman). But most surprising is its narrative discipline (relative to the rest of the Brooks filmography), which generates genuine pathos and charm.

Morgan Spurlock in ”Super Size Me.”Avi Gerver/Roadside Attractions — Samuel Goldwyn Films
‘Super Size Me’
Leaving Netflix: Dec. 1
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This ingenious (and often uproarious) Oscar-nominated documentary from Morgan Spurlock begins with a clever gimmick: If you ate nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days, how much damage would you do to your body? Quite a lot, it turns out. Spurlock is not only the project’s director but its guinea pig, subjecting himself to a month’s worth of Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, and supersized fries while using the experiment as an opportunity to explore the dominance of the fast-food industry, the deceptiveness of its marketing and the shifting goal posts of public health.

via 11 Great Titles Expiring From Netflix in December – NYT Watching

DL: I watch mostly news, and pbs ducumentary specials, but in another life, I might sample some of the above, after I get through the second half of Ken Burn’s  depressing current 10 piece documentary on the Vietnam War.

The Versatile and Resilient Amy Adams – The New York Times

“IN 2009, AFTER Amy Adams had been discovered and rediscovered, after she had been nominated for two Academy Awards and starred in an international hit, a very important paper self-importantly judged her a “late bloomer.”

amy-adams-slide-YD0Y-master1050

“Cool,” Adams said recently. “At least I bloomed.” She laughed. How could she not? Being a movie star can be absurd. More than most roles, it can define a performer and brutally undermine her, affecting how she’s categorized, whether she’s forgiven or forgotten. If Adams has evaded the churn of celebrity culture, it’s partly because stardom came as it did. When “Enchanted” opened in 2007 she was 33, middle age in Hollywood years (especially for women). Wide-eyed and radiant, she looked like an ingénue, but in truth had been honing her craft and overcoming rejection for years. Stardom wasn’t a benediction, but something she had earned role by role.”

The piece ends:

“It’s important to talk about inequality,” Adams said. “But for me, where I feel most empowered is in educating myself and being, hopefully, a mentor for younger women. That’s more important. I offer any young actress I work with my phone number. I’ll tell them on set, ‘You don’t have to do that. You can say no.’ ” It seems like a modest gesture, but less so when you consider that the movie industry has long profited from female submission, from women acquiescing because their only choice is exploitation or unemployment. This is what makes women saying no powerful, and why it’s heartening that many are speaking up. Adams speaks up when she wants, how she wants, and she is saying yes — and no — on her own terms. These days, instead of telling her daughter “Don’t be bossy,” Adams asks her little girl who she is the boss of. “And she says, ‘Me.’ And I say, ‘That’s right. And you get to choose who you are.’ ”

David Lindsay: The first movie I saw Amy Adams in was Arrival, which was haunting, challenging and excellent.  I thought she deserved the Oscar for Best Actress that year over Emma Stone in La La Land.

I didn’t even recognize Amy Adams in American Hustle, or was that before. The point is that there were two different women. This is a good interview, if it gets me to want to see Enchanted, which was primarily for 11 year old girls.

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Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES — Hollywood had a horrible summer.Between the first weekend in May and Labor Day, a sequel-stuffed period that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual ticket sales, box office revenue in North America totaled $3.8 billion, a 15 percent decline from the same span last year. To find a slower summer, you would have to go back 20 years. Business has been so bad that America’s three biggest theater chains have lost roughly $4 billion in market value since May.
Ready for the truly alarming part? Hollywood is blaming a website: Rotten Tomatoes.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

I am a huge fan of the website Metacritic.com. It is extraordinary.
Since I abhor excessive violence and torture, I research new films carefully.
I saw Zero Dark Thrity after researching Metacritc, and am glad I saw the film. It was homework.
I look forward to an in depth analysis or comparison of Metacritc to Rotten Tomatoes.
This article is interesting, and it raises many questions, which are brought up by angry commenters. Ticket and popcorn prices are too high, intermissions too infrequent. Volumes are too high.The violence has gotten out of control. When I saw Dunkirk in Cincinnati, the day Inconvenient Sequel came out and was sold out, the theater showed a preview of a horror film about killing young women, called something like the Snowman Head murdering monster. It was grotesque, and I was deeply offended, that I was exposed to such images. I complained to the manager. There are plenty of reasons why I go carefully and infrequently to the movie theaters. Add to the list, excessive, gratuitous violence in the review trailers.
I posted on my blog, InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com, a favorable review of Dunkirk. I agree with the NYT metacric score of 80. I did not enjoy the film, but found it gripping, and extremely useful history and homework. What an amazing historical drama. For those of us who love small yachts, it is a exhilarating story on more than one level.