An Open Letter to the New York Film Festival Selection Committee – Rania Richardson

Dear NYFF Selection Committee,

It was a surprise to many last Thursday, when Ava DuVernay was not on the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Director despite her widely hailed work on “Selma.” Then again, Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 Oscar win for “The Hurt Locker” didn’t exactly usher in a new dawn for female filmmakers.

It’s a boy’s club, this movie world. You know it is. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan. 19-25: CAKE

Opening Jan. 23, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Cake, the new drama from writer-director Daniel Barnz (Beastly, Won’t Back Down) which has been garnering huge critical buzz for Jennifer Aniston’s central performance. Am actress known for her comedy prowess, Aniston puts in a dark, dramatic turn as Claire Bennett, a woman caught in the throws of a very personal tragedy who becomes obsessed with the suicide of a young woman (Anna Kendrick) from her local pain support group with whom she converses with in hallucinatory sequences. Read on…

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AMERICAN SNIPER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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My first thought was: “This isn’t a movie. It’s a eulogy.” I meant it, in my head, metaphorically: American Sniper felt like sitting through a story told at a funeral during which the poor sap of a cousin who got roped into the job is trying to dance around the fact that the deceased was kind of jerk by deploying a bunch of clichéd claptrap about warm cozy mundane things that no one could possibly be crass enough to object to, not at a funeral, fer cripes’ sake. “He liked a good beer.” “His pickup truck was his pride and joy.” “Umm, wife and babies!” (Not actual quotes from the movie, but certainly symbolic ones.) Read more>>

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NIAGARA — Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

In the fifth installment of Noir City Chicago, the programmers decided to take a risk: they devoted an entire day to Technicolor noir. For most people, it’s not noir without the black shadows and knives of white light that pierce the dark doings of society’s underbelly in a black-and-white film. Eddie Muller, president of the Film Noir Foundation and opening-weekend host of Noir City Chicago, says that he considers noir to be a state of mind, a place of psychological pathology, and therefore, the candy-colored films of the day’s line-up earn their place on a film noir program. While I can’t agree that all of the films, even Leave Her to Heaven (1943) and its deranged central character played by Gene Tierney, were anything but an approximate fit, one was noir in spades: Niagara. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan. 12-16: PADDINGTON

Opening Jan. 16, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Paddington, the live action adaptation of the beloved children’s stories by Michael Bond. Written and directed by Paul King (TV’s The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull), the film combines his irreverent sense of humour with the books’ inherent charm to entirely wonderful effect. Read on…

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SELMA – Review by Lisa Rosman

The only man from the twentieth century who has an American federal holiday named after him, Martin Luther King Jr. is almost inarguably our country’s most influential civil rights leader to date. Yet, as improbable as it may seem, “Selma” is the first feature-length film ever made about him. Wisely, DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb don’t compensate by covering the entire arc of King’s life. Instead, they pick up right where a more traditional King biopic might have ended: when awards have already been bestowed but important work is left to be done. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan. 5-9: TAKEN 3

Opening Jan. 9, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Taken 3, the third – and apparently final – outing for ex-spy Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who this time must call upon his particular set of professional skills after he is wrongly accused of a brutal murder. Read on…

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2014 AWFJ EDA Awards Nominees

With sincerest appreciation of all the great work that’s been done in film this year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists is pleased to announce the nominees for the Eighth Annual AWFJ EDA Awards. Find out which films are thought by AWFJ members to be the best of 2014, and which directors, and who gave the best performances. And who deserves recognition for baring it all in the most appropriately provocative way? Or is being considered for the most coveted award of Actress Most in Need of a New Agent? Or qualifies to be named AWFJ’s Female Icon of the Year for outstanding contributions to cinema and life in general? To get in the know, read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 29-Jan. 4: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Opening Jan. 2, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is A Most Violent Year, the latest work from writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost). It takes place in New York City in 1981, the most crime-ridden year in the history of the Big Apple, and stars Oscar Isaac as immigrant and heating oil company boss Abel Morales. Along with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), Abel works hard to make his business a success, but is beset by challenges including hijackers who steal the oil from from his trucks and a vindictive district attorney (David Oyelowo) seemingly hell bent on destroying the company. And so, as the city erupts into violence behind him, Abel embarks on a mission to turn his luck around. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 22-28: BIG EYES

Opening Dec. 25, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Big Eyes, the latest film from director Tim Burton (Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie). Here, he shifts his focus from the fantastical and otherworldy to real life 1950s housewife-turned-artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), who enjoyed huge success during the period with her paintings depicting spellbinding big-eyed children. The caveat, however, was that her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took credit for the work, arguing that paintings would sell better with a male signature attached. While Margaret first accepted his thieving of her talent, the pair would later enter into a vicious lawsuit. Read on…

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