Welcome to this special edition of the newsletter, our 50th. An Édition Spéciale 🥖.
This edition recaps the best five movies featured in our 50-week history. At the end, there is a new movie recommendation on Netflix — in case you’ve already watched all of these.
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Best of the first ten: Pride
What to Watch #3
It’s 1984 and miners in England are on strike against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s plans to close pits. Their cause has unlikely appeal for a human rights activists who decides to take a group of people who had joined an early Gay Pride parade in London to rural England to show support for the (often socially-conservative) miners.
You can see how things might go wrong, but in this case they didn’t. This heartwarming movie from 2014 is based on a true story. An easy, funny, and relevant movie about the bond that oppression brings to the oppressed. Super earnest, too.
📺 on Amazon Prime; 🍅 rating: 91%
Eleven to twenty: First Reformed
What to Watch #19
The film centers around a reverend of a church in New York who is trying to help a couple with marital issues (deciding the fate of a pregnancy). Instead, he uncovers a deeper story and becomes unexpectedly involved.
Religion intersects with ethical questions on activism, abortion, and environmental issues. I know that sounds like a lot, but First Reformed delivers on everything. The writing by Paul Schrader is delicate yet ensures that the movie keeps a gripping pace.
📺 On Amazon Prime; 🍅 rating: 93%
Twenty-one to thirty: Winter’s Bone
What to Watch #26
I’ve already committed to spelling all numbers, no point in stopping now.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Jennifer Lawrence, what’s up with that?”. This stuff man, this movie. Winter’s Bone was her star-making moment, much earlier than other non-demanding performances like The Hunger Games.
She plays a young girl from rural Missouri who has to care for her siblings and ill mother after her meth-cooking father disappears. Their family home is threatened unless she can find out what happened to her father.
📺 On Netflix U.S. and select other geographies; 🍅 rating: 94%
Thirty-one to forty: I, Daniel Blake
What to Watch #33
I, Daniel Blake is about a blue-collar worker navigating the welfare system in England. At a time where class and social mobility could not be more politically relevant, this film exposes the inaccessibility to social protections in the U.K.
At the forefront of this, is a heart-warming parable of paternal companionship between Daniel (played by Dave Johns) and a single mother – Katie – (played by Hayley Squires) who is wading through similar terrain.
📺 On Netflix U.S. and select other geographies; 🍅 rating: 92%
Forty-one to fifty: The Edge of Democracy
What to Watch #41
This is a gripping and incredibly well-made documentary about the demise of the last two Brazilian presidents, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva (2003-2011) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016). The first is now in prison, while the second was impeached.
The Edge of Democracy is narrated in English by the filmmaker, Petra Costa, a renown Brazilian director. Costa intertwines her family history with Brazil’s, as her parents were activists who were sent to jail in the ‘70s (her mother was held in the same facility as ex-president Rousseff).
📺 On Netflix everywhere; 🍅 rating: 96%
New: The 100 Years Show
This is a half-hour documentary about Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera. She is one of the oldest artists working today, close to being 100 years old.
The drawing she is holding is a bikini.
Her story is fascinating because she only became successful in her 80s, although she never stopped working her whole life. There are many reasons as to why her work went unnoticed for so long and they’re all examined here. But the best thing about this movie is Herrera’s outlook on life and what drives her every day.
📺 On Netflix everywhere; 🍅 rating: not available
P.S. I thought of the most purr-fect list (litter-ally) of claw-ver cat puns, but it’s un-fur-tunate that we opted for a best-of e-mail. I am paw-sitive there will be another chance to use them.
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Bilal and the agoodmovietowatch team