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Can Netflix’s ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ win Adam Sandler an Oscar?



Noah Baumbach has successfully usurped Woody Allen’s title as the greatest living director of New York comedies. He builds upon Allen’s legacy of neurotic, witty character studies set in that most cinematic of cities.

Baumbach’s latest love letter to New York comes in the form of The Merowitz Stories (New and Selected), about an artist patriarch played by Dustin Hoffman and his children. Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is an aging sculptor, largely overlooked in his time. His children, played respectively by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, are all semi-dysfunctional thanks to Harold’s over- or under-involved parenting. The film forces them to reconnect over a potentially devastating illness and parse out their feelings toward a father whom they all have complicated relationships with.

Let’s get this part out of the way, since it’s the element of the film that most people have been talking about and which they will likely continue talking about over the course of the next few months. Sandler stuns in this movie. It’s unclear why he doesn’t pursue this type of role more often.

Photo via Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Whether it’s because he’s mad at the public for failing to recognize his intermittent attempts at serious acting, or because he has more fun shooting on location with his friends than challenging himself, or simply because he likes getting paid a lot of money, it continues to be hard to understand why Sandler forfeits opportunities to be great. For a long time, the story has been that he’s trying to convince everybody he’s a serious actor, waylaid by the long list of terrible films he’s forced to act in to maintain his stardom. But if you compare the work he’s doing in The Meyerowitz Stories to any one of his Netflix exclusives, another narrative emerges. Perhaps Sandler has always been a great actor, who’s determined to prove that he can still be funny, despite the fact that he shines far brighter when given dramatic roles.

As Danny Meyerowitz, a failed musician who’s never held a real job in his life, he wears a kind of sadness that only people whose true talent never got a chance to blossom exude. And he’s funny too! It’s not that Sandler can no longer be funny, it seems, but rather that he can no longer be funny in the sophomoric comedies he built his brand on. Which makes sense, given that he’s 51 years old. Sandler’s career choices haven’t made it easy to like or appreciate him, but remember this: If he doesn’t get a best supporting actor nomination this year, then the Academy will have made a serious oversight. (When the film played at Cannes, the Oscar buzz began in earnest.)

Not for nothing, but Stiller is good here too. As Matthew, he received all the attention growing up that Danny so desperately craved from his father, and yet he resents Harold all the more for it. Stiller’s a funny guy, but he’s most convincing on-screen playing cynical hotheads who can’t seem to be content in life.

Hoffman also does some of his finest work in years, in a role which he fits like a glove. Harold Meyerowitz feels like a part which only he could play, and in a movie with a weaker supporting cast, his is the performance people would be talking about.

Photo via Netflix

As daughter Jean, Elizabeth Marvel gets short shrift among the cast, although she’s still terrific. Baumbach has done a great job writing women in films like Frances Ha and Mistress America. One wishes Marvel had a little bit more to do here. In the few scenes she does have, Marvel is lovable as a withdrawn loner who doesn’t know how to speak up for herself. A clumsy abuse storyline is trotted out later in the movie to give Jean more work, but it becomes an afterthought.

Grace Van Patten, who also appeared in the critically acclaimed but underseen Netflix film Tramps earlier this year, is a surprising delight as Danny’s daughter, Eliza. Their relationship is sweet and believable, and Pattern imbues Eliza with a strong mix of youthful intelligence and naivete.  

Emma Thompson gets lost in the shuffle as Harold’s wife, Maureen. Plenty other actors pop up in fun cameos throughout The Meyerowitz Stories.

Baumbach’s always been great with dialog, writing lines which are effortlessly droll and subtly heartbreaking. Yet his screenplay is more stilted than his usual work. As a filmmaker, however, he’s come of age.

Baumbach shot on digital to great effect with Frances Ha (still his best-looking work, and best film overall), but has moved back to film since, and while The Meyerowitz Stories is unlikely to earn Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan any awards, it looks great. The movie falls somewhere in between the freewheeling camera of Frances Ha and the more restrained work Baumbach did on something like While We’re Young. Toward the end, his stylistic choices get the best of him. He trolls the audience with fadeouts: There’s one particularly aggressive zoom at the end which seemingly has to be the end of the movie… and then it goes on for several more minutes.

The Meyerowitz Stories (forget about that pretentious subtitle) is still effective. He’s stepped into the ranks of the best filmmakers of the era. Netflix bet big on two auteurs at Cannes, and both of its gambits paid off with great films.

As The Meyerowitz Stories takes a dark turn in its second half, Baumbach gives us a thoughtful meditation on the challenge of letting the pain caused by a parent go, even when that parent is still alive. As a comedy, it certainly isn’t a laugh riot, but damned if it doesn’t leave an impression.

Still not sure what to watch on Netflix? Here are our guides for the absolute best movies on Netflix, must-see Netflix original series and movies, and the comedy specials guaranteed to make you laugh.

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‘Fortnite’ composer Pinar Toprak will score ‘Captain Marvel’



Image: Brian To/FilmMagic

“Turkish-American composer Pinar Toprak has been hired to compose the score for Captain Marvel, which will premiere in March of next year.

Even if you’re not a film score buff, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Toprak’s work. In addition to writing additional music for Justice League in 2017, she is responsible for some of the incredibly catchy music from Fortnite. Yes, the stuff that is stuck in your head all the time…….”

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‘Incredibles 2’ breaks box office records with a whopping $180 million



Image: disney pixar

“For every unmitigated disaster like Solo, there are multiple other box office hits for Disney. Incredibles 2 is the latest.

The 14-years-later sequel is on a pace to finish off its opening weekend with a $180 million box office haul in the United States. That’s the highest opening to date for any animated release, and for any PG-rated release as well. It’s also the eighth-largest domestic opening weekend ever, overall.

Incredibles 2 soars past another Pixar sequel, Finding Dory, the previous top animated opener. The Finding Nemo sequel launched in 2016 on the same June weekend as Incredibles 2, but it only (only!) managed to pull in $135.1 million in its first three days.

The new $180 million bar will be a tough one for future competitors to beat, though even that record is bound to eventually fall. Inflation and rising ticket prices all but ensure it.

Disney currently has three recent releases in the weekend box office top 10. Solo: A Star Wars Story comes in at #4 on this weekend’s chart, with an estimated $9.1 million. That brings its domestic total up to $192.8 million.

Solo will probably cross $200 million domestic in the next week or two, but it’s currently the lowest-earning live action Star Wars movie to date. There’s even some question at this point as to whether or not it will manage to beat The Empire Strikes Back. Not accounting for inflation, that second-ever Star Wars movie ended its box office run in 1980 with $209.4 million.

Disney’s lowest entrant on this weekend’s box office top 10 is Avengers: Infinity War, at #8. The April 2018 release is still kicking in its eight week after hitting theaters. It picked up an estimated $5.3 million this weekend…..”

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Apple and Oprah sign a multi-year partnership on original content



Apple announced today a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey to produce programs for the tech company’s upcoming video-streaming service. Apple didn’t provide any specific details as to what sort of projects Winfrey would be involved in, but there will be more than one it seems.

Apple shared the news of its deal with Winfrey in a brief statement on its website, which read:

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

The deal is a significant high-profile win for Apple, which has been busy filing out its lineup with an array of talent in recent months.

The streaming service also will include a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Storiesa Reese Witherspoon- and Jennifer Aniston-starring series set in the world of morning TVan adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, a thriller starring Octavia Spencer, a Kristen Wiig-led comedy, a Kevin Durant-inspired scripted basketball show, a series from “La La Land’s” director and several other shows.

Winfrey, however, is not just another showrunner or producer. She’s a media giant who has worked across film, network and cable TV, print and more as an actress, talk show host, creator and producer.

She’s also a notable philanthropist, having contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is continually discussed as a potential presidential candidate, though she said that’s not for her.

On television, Winfrey’s Harpo Productions developed daytime TV shows like “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Harpo Films produced several Academy Award-winning movies, including “Selma,” which featured Winfrey in a starring role. She’s also acted in a variety of productions over the years, like “The Color Purple,” which scored her an Oscar nom, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Winfrey also founded the cable network OWN in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications, and has exec produced series including “Queen Sugar,” “Oprah’s Master Class” and the Emmy-winning “Super Soul Sunday.”

The latter has a connection with Apple as it debuted as a podcast called “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations” and became a No. 1 program on Apple Podcasts.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with OWN through 2025, so it’s unclear how much time she’ll devote specifically toward her Apple projects.

Apple also didn’t say if Winfrey will star or guest in any of the programs themselves, but that’s always an option on the table with a deal like this. CNN, however, is reporting that Winfrey “is expected to have an on-screen role as a host and interviewer.”

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