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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Not sure what to see? Get started with our pick of the best movies and TV shows of 2021.


Amna NawazAS: As the year draws to a close, we know that many of you have asked the same question about the pandemic: What should we watch now?

Jeffrey Brown spoke to the film and TV critic who shared their recommendations for the holidays and more.

This is part of our Canvas art and culture series.

Jeffrey Brown: There are a lot of new viewing options this year.

I was joined in the studio by Anne Hornaday, a Washington Post film critic and author of Talking Pictures: How To Watch Movies, and from Los Angeles, Lorraine Ali, a television critic for The Los Angeles Times.

Nice to see you both again.

Lorraine Ali, why don’t you start with a couple of your favorite TV films?

Lorraine Ali, The Los Angeles Times: Okay, well, one of my favorites is Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building. And it’s a comedy, but also a murder detective starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, a strange trio.

But together they play amateur detectives living in the same apartment building in New York. They become podcasters of the crime podcast, but they also become part of the crime. And it’s just hysterical. This is a great combination.

I also love Impeachment: An American Crime Story, which is a reenactment of the story of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, what you want to call it, a fiasco, a scandal. And this is fantastic. And it kind of takes the lewd aspects of that era, but adds really depth and gives you the backstory of all these characters. It’s just fantastic.

Jeffrey Brown: Okay Ann, would you like to give us a couple of films?

Ann Hornaday, film critic, The Washington Post: Certainly.

I mean, I’ll start with what we saw earlier this year, which was one of the most enthusiastic theatrical experiences I’ve had that is still rare.

Jeffrey Brown: Yes.

Ann Hornaday: And here is the documentary “Summer of the Soul (… or When the Revolution could not be shown on TV)” – this is Questlove’s directorial debut.

Jeffrey Brown: I know that very well. I have to talk to him.

Anne HornadayA: Oh, lucky, lucky.

Geoffrey Brown: Yes, great movie.

Ann HornadayA: So you know what an ecstatic experience it was.

And it’s a great movie, because not only does it capture the wonderful moment that the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival was, which featured so many fantastic performances, but Questlove’s layers of commentary, contemporary commentary, and people’s memories that were there.

Ann Hornaday: To create a truly marvelous layered work of art.

Geoffrey Brown: How about another one?

Ann Hornaday: “Parallel Mothers” by the great Pedro Almodovar.

He’s so good, and he’s so consistently good, that I think we’re almost at risk of taking it for granted. This is another fantastic circus melodrama in which Penelope Cruz, Almodovar’s muse, plays one of two mothers who gave birth on the same day. And then the drama begins.

And he manages to get those ominous, gorgeous production values ​​that we’ve come to expect from him and weave them together with much deeper themes of memory, personal history, political history that are very similar to our time right now, when people they had their time. think about your own past.

Jeffrey Brown: So when I asked both of you to think about the themes for the year ahead of time, Lorraine, you said that one theme that caught your eye was the series you’ve seen with strong women.

What do you think about?

Lorraine Ali: Incredibly ferocious woman is more like it.

Jeffrey Brown: Ferocious woman.

Lorraine Ali: Fierce women, yes.

The first TV series that comes to mind is HBO Max’s Hacks. And it’s a half-hour comedy again starring Gene Smart as an aging Vegas comedian who seems to be driving around Vegas, popular but not nearly as funny as she used to be.

She’s paired up with a Gen Z comedy writer who was cast because she’s so rude and rude in her comedy, and the two of them are trying to resurrect her career, essentially.

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But it’s kind of a generational view of how women are treated in the world of comedy, in the world of entertainment. It’s really fantastic, it has some depth and some ideas about feminism then and now.

I think the Yellow Vests will be my second choice. And it happened later this year. It’s right here at the end of the year. And it’s on Showtime. I like to call him Lord of the Flies with teenage girls.

This is a 90s era football team that is crashing in the desert and needs to survive. And it’s basically how these girls’ personalities manifest and what they need to do to survive. And it’s just a thriller. It’s a mystery, but it’s also a generational view of how incredibly strong these women were and the price they paid to be so strong. And I just love it.

Jeffrey BrownA: One thing that caught your eye, Ann, is the musicals this year.

Ann Hornaday: They are back.

Geoffrey Brown: They are back.

Ann Hornaday: Who knew? Musicals.

If you had asked me two years ago what would be hot in 2021, I probably wouldn’t have named musicals. But my two favorite films of the year turned out to be musicals. And this is West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of the classic 1957 Broadway play / 1961 film.

It’s absolutely gorgeous, it just explodes with color, movement and modern resonance that feels completely organic rather than forced, stunning performance across the board.

And another one coming our way is Cyrano, an adaptation of Joe Wright’s classic novel. It stars Peter Dinklage. And he’s got so much soul, and the production is just so full of passion, vision and poignancy that you have one kind of classic American musical and then another that kind of takes him in a different direction, which I thought boded well. for the form.

Jeffrey Brown: I can’t help asking both of you.

I always love to just ask if there is any hidden gem that you loved in the past year that has not been given the attention it deserves.

Lorraine Ali, let me start with you. What was that?

Lorraine AliA: My favorite hidden gem is We Are Lady Parts, which was on Peacock, which is also kind of a hidden gem of streamers.

This is a limited edition from the UK. And it’s about a female Muslim punk rock band. It is basically a game with tropes about rock and roll and punk rock. And at the same time breaks stereotypes about Muslims. And the album came out too. And the lyrics on this album are just … they are hysterical and funny.

And they seem to violate these taboos against women, Muslim women, women who hide behind. And the image is fantastic.

Jeffrey Brown: Ann Hornaday, the hidden gem?

Ann Hornaday: Well, one of them I would like to bring up as a movie called CODA, which became a big hit on Sundance.

Directed by Sian Heder. And this is about a young woman, a high school student, who looks to the future and wants to escape from her small town and her family. In this case, she is the only hearing member of the deaf family.

It’s kind of a throwback to that healthy growing up movie that many of us probably grew up with and worry that Hollywood isn’t making that much anymore. And for me it proves once again that this genre is strong and can be strong if it gets the support it deserves.

Jeffrey Brown: Okay, some of the best TV series and movies of 2021.

Lorraine Ali, Anne Hornaday, thank you very much.

Ann Hornaday: Thank you.

Lorraine Ali: Thank you.

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