Greta Gerwig

Film critics Carrie and Chris on who will – and who should – win the 90th Academy Awards

The 90th Academy Awards air this Sunday, March 4th on ABC at 5:00 pm PST (pre-show festivities start well before, if you want to weigh in on Oscar fashions). Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chris Piper share their predictions – and hopes – for the major categories, and discuss their reasoning for six of the biggest categories in the podcast below. Will there be another Moonlight/La La Land fiasco? Tune in on Sunday to find out – and to see how we – and you – do on the big night! 

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If you didn’t get out to the movies as much as you’d hoped in 2017, it’s not too late to catch up on these worthy titles!

Spinning Platters Film Editor Carrie Kahn shares her ten favorite films of 2017, presented in descending rank order. You can also check out her list from last year here

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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Spinning Platters wraps up its coverage of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, which ended last Thursday, May 5th, after showcasing nearly 200 films from over 40 countries. The Fest may be over, but many of its offerings will be released throughout the year, so be sure to use our eight spotlight posts as a guide for potential future viewing.

We conclude our coverage by looking at three final films and two special events.

The Bandit
(USA, 2016, 82 min, Closing Night Film)

Burt Reynolds (l.) and Hal Needham during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit.

Local filmmaker Jesse Moss, who found success two years ago with his intense, stunning, but somber documentary The Overnighters, told us at the Q&A after the closing night screening of his new film that after that emotionally wrenching experience, he wanted to go in an opposite direction and make a “fun car comedy” like the films he loved while growing up – films like the ’70s Burt Reynolds-helmed, car chase classic Smokey and the Bandit. Still a documentarian, though, Moss has thus made what he terms the first “action-comedy” documentary. Indeed, as a look at ’70s heartthrob action and comedy star Burt Reynolds and his lifelong friendship with Hal Needham, the Hollywood stuntman turned writer/director who made the iconic Smokey, Moss’s new film succeeds brilliantly at echoing the good ol’ boy charm of the best of Needham and Reynolds’s pictures. Featuring historical interviews with Needham (who passed away in 2013), as well as interviews with former Smokey co-stars, country music stars, friends, colleagues, family, and Reynolds himself, The Bandit is chock full of juicy behind-the-scenes insider stories and enough old TV and movie clips to please the most ardent pop culture fans. As a portrait of both a bygone era of movie-making and, more importantly, of a singular friendship that could shift between respect and rivalry, Moss’s picture mirrors the good natured southern charm of the Reynolds-Needham collaborations, while also examining more serious issues of fame, competition, and deep, enduring friendship. The Bandit took home the Audience Award at SXSW this year, and deservedly so; a genuine crowd pleaser, the picture is a must-see for students of ’70s cinema, and anyone who values engrossing, well-made documentary stories.


  • Currently playing the film festival circuit.

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Sundance 2016-2

Spinning Platters continues its coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which ended last Saturday, Jan. 30th with its evening awards presentation (all the winners can be found here).

We’re highlighting 18 of the nearly 200 films shown at the Fest, so you can know what to look for in the coming year – and what to avoid – as many of these titles are purchased and widely distributed.

As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly:

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Russell Brand and Helen Mirren in ARTHUR. Photo by Barry Wetcher – © 2011 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Nick Nolte, Luis Guzmán, Geraldine James

written by: Peter Baynham (screenplay), Steve Gordon (story)

directed by: Jason Winer

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references.

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