Awards season plus January weather equals a great opportunity to hole up and watch movies. This month we’ve included a review of 1917, which was nominated for 10 awards at the upcoming Oscars, as well as a few other things we’ve enjoyed lately.
My colleague Christina introduced me to Cheer, a Netflix documentary series that follows a Texas junior college cheerleading team through their 2018–19 season. My knowledge of cheerleading consists entirely of the 2000 film Bring It On, so I wasn’t sure what to expect—but it took all of five minutes to completely suck me in. The six-episode series is a joyful yet visceral look into a thriving American sport subculture that goes far beyond waving pom-poms at football games. The athleticism of the cheerleaders is breathtaking; they’re tossing each other through the air and tumbling across a thin mat on a hardwood floor. They’re building a human pyramid with so many moving parts that despite watching it come together throughout the season, I still couldn’t keep track of everything going on.
But what really sells the series is how well it’s put together; there is ample character development of the coach and several teammates whom
you truly come to adore and root for despite their complexities:
Gabi, a “cheer-lebrity” who is a household name for millions of people but still questions her abilities. Jerry, a personification of love and support for his teammates who struggles to “get on mat” (i.e., make the team that will compete at the NCA College Nationals). La’Darius, a flamboyant and insanely talented athlete with a troubled past and an attitude problem. And despite the lack of a script, the narrative unfolds beautifully, thanks to fantastic editing and production. It’s truly special to watch, and I’m convinced it will be one of the best of 2020.
Cuz I Love You, Lizzo
While not traveling long distance might be the most climate-friendly choice, for those of us with wanderlust there are ways to minimize our carbon footprint. I found this New York Times guide really helpful. Some of its recommendations you’ll have heard before (reduce plastic use, eat a vegetarian or vegan diet), but it also provides some resources to help us all be more responsible tourists—and world citizens.
1917 is inventive, unique, and possibly the most technically shot film to date. It seamlessly follows the journey of two young British soldiers during World War I as they navigate hell on earth in one continuous take through harrowing yet fantastic scenery. The world explored through Sam Mendes’s directing and Roger Deakins’s cinematography is detailed, immersive, and quite unnerving. The score and pacing match the intensity of war, and while viewers have a chance to settle in at moments, there is always a sense of unease in their journey.
My score: 4/5
Go to Justin’s pick
Go to Rachel’s pick
I subscribe to a few of the New York Times newsletters, but my favorite might be this one on parenting. Each week focuses on a different theme, with recent newsletters exploring mom guilt, the range of emotions felt after pregnancy loss, how disgusting (and important) kids’ stuffed animals are, and why bosses should take full parental leave. The author, Jessica Grose, is nonjudgmental, honest, engaging, and so freaking relatable. She once described parents’ exhaustion as feeling like you’re “a fistful of crushed-up car seat Cheerios.” So, yeah, she gets it.
Records on the turntable this month:
OK Computer, Radiohead
Go to Annie’s pick
Go to Brittany’s pick