Movies Update: Sundance and More

Plus, A.O. Scott on how to fix the Oscars.

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By Stephanie Goodman

Film Editor

Hi, movie fans!

The Academy Awards aren’t until April 25, but Hollywood campaigns have been in full (virtual) swing for some time now. So our film writers dived into Oscar season in a special issue this week. Our awards expert Kyle Buchanan profiled Riz Ahmed, whose performance as a drummer facing addiction and hearing-loss issues has vaulted the British actor into serious contention. Regina King, the actress turned director of “One Night in Miami,” explained to Salamishah Tillet why that fact-based drama about an iconic civil-rights-era meeting is a companion piece to her series “Watchmen.” And the critic A.O. Scott took a hard look at the Academy Awards themselves, which seem to satisfy no one. His prescription: “It’s time to tear up the blueprints and start again.”

This week was quite busy in the film world. The first online edition of the Sundance Film Festival got underway on Thursday. A $15 ticket lets you watch from home, and we have a guide to help you get started. Or you can follow A.O. Scott’s progress via his diary entries. Speaking of festivals, Cannes acknowledged that an in-person edition in May might be difficult to pull off as the pandemic continues to take its toll; the event has now been delayed until July.

If you’re looking for new titles to watch, we have critic’s picks by directors making their feature debuts: “Saint Maud,” a psycho-horror tale from Rose Glass, and “Beginning,” the haunting work of Dea Kulumbegashvili.

Enjoy the movies!



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Nicola Goode/Warner Bros

‘The Little Things’ Review: Good Old-Fashioned Police Work

Denzel Washington and Rami Malek play detectives on the trail of a serial killer in John Lee Hancock’s vintage thriller.

By A.O. Scott

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Larry Horricks/Netflix

‘The Dig’ Review: Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes on a Treasure Hunt

A small team makes a groundbreaking discovery in this fictionalized account of an actual archaeological expedition close to home.

By Glenn Kenny

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Cameron Bloom/Netflix

‘Penguin Bloom’ Review: Relearning to Fly

In this sentimental Netflix film, Naomi Watts plays a woman who, after a life-changing accident, finds inspiration in a magpie.

By Jeannette Catsoulis

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Chris Moore/Netfilx

‘Finding Ohana’ Review: Treasure Hunting and Family Healing

The adventure narrative in this Hawaii-set Netflix film distracts from a deeper story about cultural heritage and family dynamics.

By Kyle Turner

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Samuel Goldwyn Films

‘Savage State’ Review: Escape to New York

French settlers flee the American Civil War in this heavily allegorical, yet strangely compelling drama.

By Jeannette Catsoulis

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Film Movement

‘True Mothers’ Review: Family Entanglements

Parents clash in this Japanese melodrama from Naomi Kawase.

By Ben Kenigsberg

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Icarus Films

‘Softie’ Review: Battling for Votes in Kenya

In this political documentary, the activist and photographer Boniface “Softie” Mwangi runs for office in a quixotic struggle against a corrupt system and a legacy of election violence.

By Nicolas Rapold

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Dark Star Pictures

‘The Reunited States’ Review: Hopeful Moments in a Political War

Directed by Ben Rekhi, this documentary profiles people who have made a mission of listening to the other side.

By Ben Kenigsberg



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Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Harvey Weinstein Accusers Agree to $17 Million Settlement

Some 40 women will participate in the bankruptcy court agreement, though others who have sued Mr. Weinstein and accused him of sexual abuse have objected to the terms and are considering an appeal.

By Melena Ryzik and Cara Buckley

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Bettmann, via Getty Images

Cloris Leachman, Oscar Winner and TV Comedy Star, Is Dead at 94

“The Last Picture Show” made her a star, but she may be best remembered for drawing laughs on “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Phyllis” and “Malcolm in the Middle.”

By Robert Berkvist

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Alberto Pizzoli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Cannes Film Festival Is Delayed Until July Because of Pandemic

The 2021 edition of the event, which was canceled last year, is now set to take place two months later than planned.

By Alex Marshall

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Bettman Archive/Getty Images

The First Oscar Ceremony Lasted 15 Minutes. What Happened?

There were no cameras or radio mics and just one speech. Even when it moved to TV, the show could be under two hours. When expectations set in, so did bloat.

By Jason Bailey

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Allyson Riggs/A24, via Associated Press

Here’s What We Would Nominate for Best Picture

It was a weird year for cinema, but there were plenty of great films. It would be an honor to see these get a nod.


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