The 2020 Village Voice Voice Poll, Reconstructed

John Magaro in First Cow (Photo courtesy of A24/Allyson Riggs)

Even when a global pandemic hasn't upended everything, year-end lists and surveys often strike a faintly apologetic tone, acknowledging up front that there's something inherently frivolous about ranking films in preferential order (whether individually or collectively). "This is kinda dumb, but enjoy!" How, then, should I further diminish a poll conducted in the name of a publication that effectively no longer exists, conducted at the conclusion of a film year that can barely be said to have happened? Movie theaters in many major cities have been dormant since last March, and the Village Voice, which established the original freewheeling critics' poll back in 1999, went dark three years ago (though it was recently purchased by the same guy who transformed…  Read more


10 Months in 10 Movies: My 2020 in Film

The Warwick Drive-in, August 2020 (photo by Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli)

2020 was going to be my year of festival-enabled travel. Instead, I went home, the last place I’ve ever wanted to be. This is my year in selected viewing, which begins when my 2020 really did; nothing before March is as vivid or urgent. March A friend generously offers a ride from True/False to Chicago, site of my inadvertently final vacation week; we set out at 7:30 am, breaking for lunch just across the Missouri-Illinois state line at a Steak ’n Shake (good patty melt!). The drive takes slightly over six hours and the conversation will be one of my last intensive IRL one-on-ones for months. Upon arrival, I go to the Music Box Theatre to watch Last Action Hero in 70mm;…  Read more


“There’s So Much Darkness, So Much Room to Dream”: David Lynch on Lost Highway

Lost Highway

The following interview with David Lynch appeared in Filmmaker's Winter, 1997 issue, and is being posted online today, David Lynch's birthday, for the first time. An audacious return to feature filmmaking after his underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway is pure Lynch. Alternately seductive, mysterious, and terrifying, the film's narrative unfolds with the chaos of a waking nightmare. Bill Pullman plays an avant-jazz musician whose fear of intimacy with his wife, Patricia Arquette, propels him into a series of schizophrenic states. Or perhaps not. Lost Highway can be read as a discombobulated film noir, study of mental illness, or frightening ghost story. Indeed, Lynch loads the film with the boldest second act plot twist in recent memory, demanding that…  Read more


“An Ode to the Viruses of Our Day: Watch Nicholas D’Agostino’s Animated Short, Despot


Previously at Filmmaker, animator Nicholas D'Agostino wrote about masks, animation and the power of myth. Now, on the last day of the Trump presidency, he premieres a new short, Despot, that he describes as an "ode to the viruses of the day." Watch the short above and read D'Agostino's statement about the film below. On the eve of what many hope is a new chapter, for themselves, for their country, for the world, it feels only right to reflect on what has been wrought during these recent years. A reckoning that has culminated in the horrors of 2020. It was with a heavy heart that I undertook this project. The topic was one I very consciously avoided talking about in my work. Even…  Read more


“Black Life Has Always Been Better Than Black Cinema”: Documentary Makers Speak at Full Frame’s “Black Frame: New Voices of Documentary” A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

One of the few upsides to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s necessary pivot to digital was the smart decision to take its A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy discussions online with the rest of the fest - and one step further. Now these always inspiring panels have been expanded to year-round, free virtual events. While the palpable camaraderie at this southernly hospitable fest unfortunately can’t be replicated through Zoom, the insight from the many brilliant doc-making minds Full Frame consistently brings together still shines through. And the most recent edition “Black Frame: New Voices of Documentary,” which took place January 13, proved to be a gem. (A video of the event will be posted on the site shortly.) The panel was deftly moderated…  Read more


Back to One, Episode 138: Nicole Beharie

Some actors go through a transformation to the point where the word “performance” feels inadequate. “Embodiment” is more apt. Nicole Beharie transforms into Turquoise Jones in Channing Godfrey People’s film Miss Juneteenth. It’s a wonder to behold. On this episode, she talks about the immersive preparation work that went into her Gotham Award-winning performance, how the opportunity to take her time and “own the space” affected her work in a deep way, and the substitutions necessary to create the motherly bond so central to the film. Plus we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of unanswered questions in a performance, and how simply loving people and life actually helps the work. Back To One can be found wherever you get your…  Read more


A Process of Subtraction: Sean Durkin on His Disquieting Family Drama, The Nest

The Nest

A man in a quiet suburban home makes a phone call. He stands by the window and holds the phone to his ear. The light on his face, the reflections from the window…. It’s morning. No one else is up. This seemingly innocuous moment could lead to any number of things, but, in Sean Durkin’s The Nest, an early-dawn overseas call prompts a life-changing shift for Rory, played to the hilt by a frightfully self-possessed and seemingly effortless Jude Law, his wife Allison (a remarkably calculated Carrie Coon), and their two children, the adolescent Sam and prepubescent Benjamin, (Oona Roche and Charlie Shotwell respectively). On the morning in question, Rory, coffee cup in hand, wakes his wife with news: It’s time…  Read more


How to Cut a Trailer Redux: The Styles and Trends Reshaping the Art of Film Advertising

Kyle MacLachlan and Ethan Hawke in Tesla (courtesy of IFC Films)

The following article was originally published in Filmmaker's Fall, 2020 print edition. We’re drowning in entertainment. Dozens of streamers, from mainstream catnip like Netflix and Disney+ to niche platforms like the Criterion Channel, each offer hundreds of feature films, limited series and TV shows. National theater chains like AMC and arthouse cinemas like the Alamo Drafthouse—at least before and hopefully after the pandemic—serve up fresh options every week on more than 40,000 screens. And legacy networks on basic cable, from NBC to TBS, continue to deliver a firehose of prerecorded content and live broadcasts every day. How to choose? Simple: Watch the trailer. And by that, I mean trailer, teaser, TV spot, Instagram ad, YouTube preroll, you name it. These bite-sized free samples…  Read more



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