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Top 10 Best Films of 2021

10. West Side Story (2021)

I didn’t think we needed a remake of “West Side Story.” Turns out we needed Steven Spielberg’s remake! I’ll admit, at the start of the film I was thinking “What is happening?” I didn’t appreciate what the choreography was saying right away. But about 15 minutes into the movie, I was hooked. Spielberg created a beautiful musical with a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale that’s sadly still relevant.

9. Pig

“Pig” is the sleeper hit that has stayed with me since viewing it earlier this year. The film follows a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness, but must return to Portland in search of his beloved, stolen, truffle pig. I didn’t know much going into this movie, but I was quickly reminded of what a talented actor Nicolas Cage is. Even though he’s had some questionable roles, “Pig” solidifies him as one of the greats. I love the simplicity of the story, and the power behind all the performances; especially, Alex Wolff, who plays opposite Cage. You’d expect this film to go full on “John Wick”, but instead it’s more of a subtle human, drama of a man living with regret and grief.  

8. A Hero

Over the years, director Asghar Farhadi has tried to create empathy between audiences and the characters he writes. In his newest film, “A Hero”, we follow Rahim (Amir Jadidi) – A man who was in prison for unpaid debt. During his two-day leave he tries to end his prison time, but things get a little out of hand. “A Hero” is another fantastic piece of work by Farhadi. He continues to keep audiences on the edge of their seat as he constructs an intricate story that powerfully showcases manipulation through social media

7. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is another notch in the Marvel belt of quality superhero movies with fleshed out characters and heartfelt stories. In this film, Shang Chi has been secretly going by the name Shawn (Simu Liu), and spending most of his time with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina), as a valet in San Francisco. But when they are unexpectedly attacked by his father’s terrorist organization, the Ten Rings, he is forced to return to his old home, and confront the past he so desperately tried to run away from. The film provides a well-thought-out storyline with an emotional backstory. It stuns visually with its seamless choreography and electrifying special effects. It is also the Asian-inspired action flick audiences have been needing to see as Disney continues to successfully showcase diversity and inclusion in their productions.  

6. Don’t Look Up

When two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) discover a comet will soon destroy the Earth, they try everything they can to warn the world and prevent the destruction. But for some reason, people won’t take it seriously. What was intended to be a social commentary on climate change, happens to also relate to our current pandemic and how society chooses to deal with or ignore a global issue. Director/writer Adam McKay creates a hilarious script featuring an all-star, talented cast. The film is timely, terrifying, and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a comical cautionary tale everyone should watch. 

5. The Last Duel

I have no idea why this film didn’t get more award attention! Jodie Comer at the very least deserves a nomination. “The Last Duel” is based on a true story set in France during the 14th century. Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) accuses Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) of raping his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), and challenges him to a duel to the death. Damon and Ben Affleck reunite to write a gripping tale told from three different perspectives. With their words and Ridley Scott’s masterful vision, “The Last Duel” is a painful, but important reminder of the #MeToo survivors.

4. The Mitchells vs the Machines

“Mitchell’s vs the Machines was one of my early favorites of 2021. It follows Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), a teenager who has felt like an outcast most of her life and spends a lot of her time making funny videos. She’s lost the bond she once had with her father (Danny McBride), and is looking forward to going away for college. But, in an effort to rebuild their relationship, Katie’s dad plans a last-minute family road trip. Unfortunately, this bumpy ride finds the Mitchells in the middle of a robot apocalypse, and they become humanity’s last hope. “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is original, clever, funny, touching, and an absolute blast. This is a movie both kids and adults will connect with and enjoy.  Though Katie and her dad have had their arguments, the entire family has drifted apart by burying themselves in their electronics. Katie’s mom, Linda (Maya Rudolph), is obsessed with other families’ online personas; admiring a life she wished she had. And her brother is obsessed with everything dinosaurs. Rick is the only one in the family who hates technology and enjoys more of the outdoors. It’s enough to make you think twice before pulling out your phones when you’re spending time with your family.  

3. Our Friend

Before I gush about this film, I’m sure some of my colleagues are wondering why a movie that qualified for awards in 2020 is on my top 10 list for 2021. Well, I first saw “Our Friend” in January this year and if you check the official US theatrical release date (not TIFF or other festivals), it opened on January 22, 2021. Moving on! “Our Friend” is an incredibly moving, true story that still brings me to tears when I talk about it. Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) are a loving couple with two daughters; but when they discover Nicole has ovarian cancer, they struggle to keep their life together. When their best friend, Dane (Jason Segel) hears of the tragic news, he decides to put his own life on hold and be there for the whole family. As many times as I have seen a story about losing a loved one from cancer, I have never seen one told like this. Even though it seemed as though Dane was helping Matt and Nicole during a difficult time, in actuality, they were saving him. I think we can all relate to feeling as though a friend may not care as much as you do when you’re sick, or when you just want to feel valued. This is a beautiful portrayal of a mutually loving friendship, and the powerful affect it can have on your life.

2. Spider-Man: No Way Home

I can still remember how I felt when I first saw “Spider-Man” (2002) in theaters. I got chills, my jaw dropped a few times, and I could not stop thinking about what I had just seen. As time went on, we got more Spider-Man movies and different Spider-Man actors. I truly enjoyed them all, some more than others. But never did I think I would be treated to such a theatrical experience in 2021. I’m scared to share any details, because for those who have yet to watch, it’s best to know nothing about the plot. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” weaves together decades of characters we loved and hated to honor a true hero. Tom Holland gives his best performance to date. The film is a nostalgic gift to fans as it engages us in laughter, pulls at our heartstrings, revisits the past, and gives us hope for the future.  

1. King Richard

This probably comes as no surprise as I have raved about this movie since I first saw it. I’ve seen it 3 times, and each time I fall more in love with it. “King Richard” breaks the mold of a formulaic sports biopic. There’s a lot to learn from this film. Though it’s about the Williams sisters’ journey to greatness, it’s also a character study on a flawed man. Richard (Will Smith) is overbearing, selfish, and hard-headed. But he’s also humble, kind, and a loving father. Yes, he wants his daughters to go to Wimbledon, but his first priority for them is to do well in school and enjoy being kids. He also teaches them the importance of good sportsmanship and never forgetting where you came from.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Licorice Pizza

12. Cruella

13. Raya and the Last Dragon

14. The Lost Daughter

15. A Quiet Place Part II

16. Lady of the Manor

17. The Novice

18. House of Gucci

19. Mass

20. Language Lessons

Top 5 Worst Films of 2021

5. Without Remorse – Like a bad date with a good looking person.

4. Space Jam: A New Legacy – Do yourself a favor, just re-watch the original film and forget this exists.

3. Things Heard and Seen – What the actual hell?

2. The Comeback Trail – Luckily, for this all-star cast, most people didn’t know this ever came out.

1. Halloween Kills – An all around joke of a movie that wasn’t funny or fun.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. The Green Knight
9. Candyman
8. No Time to Die
7. The Suicide Squad
6. Don’t Look Up
5. King Richard
4. Pig
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
2. Bo Burnham: Inside
1. Our Friend

Movie Review: “Licorice Pizza” & “Hawkeye”

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in ‘Licorice Pizza’.

“Licorice Pizza” is Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest, lighthearted romance and “Hawkeye” is Marvel’s newest mini-series. I reviewed both! Find out if they should be on your “must watch” holiday list.

“Licorice Pizza” opens on December 25, 2021

“Hawkeye” is currently streaming on Disney Plus

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Movie Review: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is Marvel Studios’ newest gem. Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is a skilled Kung-Fu fighter, who’s forced to confront his past and return to the Ten Rings organization he ran away from. Find out my thoughts on the film in the video below.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” opens in theaters September 3, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Black Widow”

We have anxiously been waiting for the release of “Black Widow” and it’s finally here! The film is set after the events of “Civil War”. Natasha Romanoff unites with her former “family” and seeks vengeance on the man who turned her into a controlled assassin. Find out my thoughts on the film in video below.

“Black Widow” opens in theaters and is available on Disney + Premier Access on July 9, 2021.

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Movie Review: “A Quiet Place Part II” & “Cruella”

This week I review the highly anticipated sequel, “A Quiet Place Part 2” and Disney’s newest live action movie, “Cruella”. Followed by a preview of Universal Pictures’ “Spirit Untamed”. See which films are worth visiting the theaters.

“A Quiet Place Part 2” opens in theaters May 28, 2021

“Cruella” opens in theaters on Disney Plus Premier Access May 28, 2021

“Spirit Untamed” opens in theaters June 4, 2021

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Movie Review: “Raya and the Last Dragon”

“Raya and the Last Dragon” follows a warrior named Raya, whose on a mission to find the last dragon and save her world from the monsters that destroyed it. Watch the video below to see my full review of the movie.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in theaters March 5 and available on Disney Plus Premier Access.

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Interview: Writer Mike Jones talks “Soul”

“Soul” follows Joe (Jamie Foxx) , a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life. I chatted with writer Mike Jones to discuss the film, what little things he appreciates about life, the value in asking people questions, and much more.

“Soul” is available to stream on Disney+ December 25.

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SECOND ANNUAL “CRITICS CHOICE REAL TV AWARDS” NOMINATIONS

NETFLIX’S “CHEER” AND VH1’S “RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE” LEAD SECOND ANNUAL “CRITICS CHOICE REAL TV AWARDS” NOMINATIONS

NETFLIX LEADS NETWORKS WITH 31 POSSIBLE WINS

JEFF PROBST TO RECEIVE CRITICS CHOICE REAL TV IMPACT AWARD

Critics Choice Real TV Awards Winners to be Announced on Monday, June 29

Los Angeles (June 8, 2020) – The Critics Choice Association (CCA) and nonfiction producers’ organization NPACT unveiled today the nominees for the second annual Critics Choice Real TV Awards, which recognize excellence in nonfiction, unscripted and reality programming across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.  They also announced that “Survivor” host and executive producer Jeff Probst will receive this year’s Critics Choice Real TV Impact Award, for his ongoing contributions to the unscripted television industry.

All Critics Choice Real TV Awards winners will be celebrated via a special press release and announcement on Monday, June 29.  Winners in two categories – Female Star of the Year and Male Star of the Year – will be chosen by fan voting, which is now open at criticschoice.com.

Netflix’s “Cheer” and VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” lead this year’s field with five nominations each.  “Cheer” is nominated for Unstructured Series, Sports Show, Limited Documentary Series, Male Star of the Year, and Female Star of the Year, while “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is nominated for Competition Series, Ensemble Cast in an Unscripted Series, Female Star of The Year, Male Star of The Year, and Show Host. 

“Queer Eye” (Netflix) follows closely behind with four nominations, and “Couples Therapy” (Showtime) received three nominations. 

Many programs received two nominations, including “A Very Brady Renovation” (HGTV), “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” (HBO), “Chasing the Cure” (TNT), “Crikey! It’s the Irwins” (Animal Planet), “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” (Netflix), “Last Chance U” (Netflix), “Lego Masters” (Fox), “Making It” (NBC), “Making the Cut” (Amazon), “Nailed It!” (Netflix), “Shark Tank” (ABC), “Survivor” (CBS), “T-Pain’s School of Business” (Fuse), “Talking Dead” (AMC), “The Goop Lab” (Netflix), “The Last Dance” (ESPN), “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” (Netflix), “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” (Disney+), “Top Chef” (Bravo), “Trial by Media” (Netflix), and “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” (Bravo).

For the second year in a row, Netflix leads the network tally with 31 total nominations. 

“Our nominees for the 2020 Critics Choice Real TV Awards reflect the broad range of dynamic unscripted content available on all television platforms,” said CCA TV Branch President Ed Martin.  “We are once again honored to bring much deserved attention to the best of reality TV — a genre that continues to entertain and educate us all.”

“Each year of our joint awards program has presented a greater opportunity to highlight the breadth and excellence of nonfiction content, and its unique ability to reflect culture,” said NPACT Interim General Manager Michelle Van Kempen.  “We are proud to honor Jeff Probst for his important contributions to our industry, both in front of and behind the camera, and to celebrate the programming and the people who work tirelessly to entertain, inspire and spark important conversation.”

Jeff Probst is a four-time Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Reality Host. He has traveled the world serving as both host and executive producer for “Survivor”. He received an Emmy in 2001 when the show won the first-ever Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class) award. This year marked the 20th anniversary of “Survivor” and its 40th season.

Probst is a New York Times bestselling author of kid’s adventure series, Stranded, as well as a feature film director. In 2002 he wrote and directed “Finder’s Fee,” starring Ryan Reynolds, James Earl Jones, Robert Forster and Matthew Lillard. Most recently, he produced and directed the feature film “Kiss Me,” starring John Corbett, Sarah Bolger, Rita Wilson, Emily Osment, Missy Pyle and Jenna Fisher.

For the Critics Choice Real TV Awards, Bob Bain and Joey Berlin serve as Executive Producers.  Michelle Van Kempen is Executive Producer for NPACT.

About The Critics Choice Real TV Awards

The Critics Choice Real TV Awards were launched in 2019 when the CCA (then known as the Broadcast Television Journalists Association) and NPACT joined forces to create a large-scale awards platform dedicated to giving the robust, ever-evolving unscripted genre critical attention and support. The awards celebrate programming across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, and also recognize industry leaders with special awards highlighting career achievements.

Shows are eligible for nomination if at least three (3) episodes premiered between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020 to at least 50% of the total potential U.S. television market.

The Critics Choice Association monitors all awards submissions and selects the nominees in all competitive categories. NPACT leads the selection of non-competitive discretionary awards. A blue-ribbon nominating committee made up of CCA members with expertise in nonfiction, unscripted and reality programming determines the nominees. Winners are chosen by a vote of the CCA membership and will be announced to the world on June 29.

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters. It was organized last year with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

Disney’s FROZEN Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals

Tickets to Disney’s Frozen, The Hit Broadway Musical, Go On Sale Friday, March 6, 2020. The Spectacular New Musical Will Play an Exclusive Four-Week Engagement at the Music Hall at Fair Park June 17 – July 12, 2020

Dallas, TX (March 4, 2020)Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) and Broadway Across America (BAA) are pleased to announce tickets to Disney’s Frozen will go on sale Friday, March 6, 2020. From the producer of The Lion King and Aladdin, Frozen, the Tony®-nominated Best Musical, will play an exclusive four-week premiere engagement at the Music Hall at Fair Park beginning Wednesday, June 17, 2020, with performances playing through Sunday, July 12, 2020. Opening night is set for Thursday, June 18 at 7:30pm.  

Single tickets for Disney’s Frozen start at $20 (pricing subject to change) and are available at DallasSummerMusicals.org or by phone at 800-982-2787. They can also be purchased in person at the Music Hall at Fair Park Box Office Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (214) 426-4768 or emailing Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org.

About Frozen

Frozen has joined Disney Theatrical hits The Lion King and Aladdin on tour across North America, and the critics agree, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Heralded by The New Yorker as “thrilling” and “genuinely moving,” Frozen has emerged as the biggest hit musical of the last two Broadway seasons, breaking four house records at the legendary St. James Theatre, its New York home where it is currently celebrating its second smash year.

“Disney’s struck gold! Sumptuous sets, gorgeous costumes, and plenty of special effects to wow the audience!” raves the New York Post. “With the magic, the dancing, and all those iconic tunes, Frozen was born to be a stage musical!” exclaims the Evening Standard, and The Telegraph declares, “Frozen will burn up Broadway for years to come!”

In addition to the North American tour and Broadway companies, Frozen’s global footprint will soon expand to include London, Australia, Japan, and Hamburg.

A mysterious secret. A family torn apart. As one sister struggles with being an outsider and harnessing her powers within, the other sets out on a thrilling adventure to bring her family together once again. Both are searching for love, but they’ll learn that to find it they’ll have to look inside themselves first.

Frozen is melting hearts on Broadway and across the country in an all-new production created for the stage by an award-winning team. It features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. Joining them on a creative team that has won a cumulative 16 Tony Awards are Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (book), Tony and Olivier Award winner Michael Grandage (director), and Tony winner Rob Ashford (choreographer).

The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by two-time Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram, lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by seven-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski, video design by Tony winner Finn Ross, puppet design by Michael Curry, hair design by David Brian Brown, makeup design by Anne Ford-Coates, and special effects design by Jeremy Chernick.

Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus is music supervisor and creates vocal, incidental and dance arrangements. He is joined on the music team by Tony nominee Dave Metzger (orchestrations), Chris Montan (executive music producer), David Chase (additional dance arrangements), and Faith Seetoo (music director).

An unforgettable theatrical experience filled with sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances, Frozen is everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

For information or to register for advance ticket access notifications, visit FrozenTheMusical.com/Tour, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Movie Review/Interview: Set Designer Carlos Felipe Leon talks “Onward”

“Onward” is the first MUST-SEE movie of 2020. The film follows two teenage elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who are on a quest to finish a spell that will allow them to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

I sat down with set designer, Carlos Felipe Leon, to discuss the bonds with our siblings, which film’s setting/world he’d like to spend 24 hours in and more about the movie! Check out the interview w/ Carlos AND my full ICTN review of the film below!

“Onward” opens in theaters March 6.

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