Tag Archives: Awkwafina

My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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The Farewell Movie Review

The best stories are universal. Regardless of the time it is set in, the place it is set in or the culture that it is set in, these stories are timeless and speak to all of us.

Writer/director Lulu Wang’s new semi-autobiographical film, The Farewell, is set in China and New York City. Billi (Awkwafina) was born in China and raised in New York City. When her beloved grandmother, known as Nai Nai, is diagnosed with cancer with only months to live, the family decides to keep it from her. Under the pretense of a fake wedding, the family comes together in China.

But Billi is troubled by the lie. She must decide if she will be the one to spill the beans or go along with the scheme.

This movie is one of the best films of 2019. Up to this point, Awkwafina has built her career on comedic roles in films such as Ocean’s Eight and Crazy Rich Asians. In this film, she plays a young woman who is dealing with an emotionally tough decision. The humor comes from the narrative, not from broad jokes or an outrageous character. In playing this toned down character, Awkwafina proves that her acting abilities go way beyond comedy.

The thing that stood out to me about The Farewell is that anyone can relate to these characters and their story. At some point, our parents and grandparents reach that point in their lives when their health is not what it was. It is then up to the younger generations to make decisions, which are frequently never easy and rife with challenges.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Farewell is presently in theaters.

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Crazy Rich Asians Movie Review

One of the most common tropes of the romantic comedy genre is the objection to one half of the lead couple by their well-meaning family and/or friends. The question is, is this common narrative used wisely or is it an easy way out by the writer or writers?

In the new movie Crazy Rich Asians (based upon the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan), Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is a Chinese American college professor living and working in New York City. She has been dating Nick Young (Henry Golding) for a year when he invites her to join him at a family wedding in Singapore. Nick hasn’t exactly been forthcoming  with Rachel about who his family is in the social hierarchy of Singaporean society. When they get to Singapore, Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) isn’t exactly pleased with her son’s choice of a partner.

But Rachel is not without allies. Her college roommate, Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) is from Singapore and has been begging Rachel to come visit for while. Rachel also becomes close friends with Nick’s cousin, Astrid Young Teo (Gemma Chan), whose life is not as perfect as it seems. Will Rachel and Nick live out their happily ever after or will his family get in the way?

While Crazy Rich Asians falls squarely within the romantic comedy genre (with the standard character tropes and narrative), it is not the same old, dry predictable romantic comedy. Aside from a cast of Asian and Asian-American actors (which is a long time coming), the movie is funny, charming, romantic and heaves much needed life into a genre that for many died a long time ago.

I absolutely recommend it.

Crazy Rich Asians is presently in theaters. 

 

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Ocean’s 8 Movie Review

Heist films are nearly as old as Hollywood itself. The question, is, does the film standout within the genre or is it just too unbelievable?

Ocean’s 8 is the next chapter in the Ocean’s movie series.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the protagonist of the previous Ocean’s films. When she gets out of jail, she gathers a crew together to steal a necklace worth millions of dollars at the Met Gala.

The crew includes Lou (Cate Blanchett), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Constance (Awkwafina), Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter). The necklace is to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Ball in New York City.

I loved this film. While it helps that the main cast is made up of a group of diverse female performers, it is the narrative that makes the film enjoyable. It is funny, well written, thrilling and worth a trip to the movie theater.

I recommend it.

Ocean’s 8 is presently in theaters. 

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