Final Oscar Predictions 2016

Another year, another Oscars. The 88th Academy Awards are just a day away and it’s a wide open race this spring for Best Picture. The guild awards have spoken… and they all disagree. With the PGAs going to The Big Short, the DGAs to The Revenant, and the SAGs to Spotlight, there’s a good chance many prognosticators this…

“The Witch” Review: A Creeping Tale of Terrorism

In what circumstances is evil created? It’s a question many terrorism films attempt to answer, but few horror stories work to understand the underpinnings of malevolence as much as they often merely present it as fact. Not so in “The Witch,” Robert Eggers’ absorbing new horror thriller that is indeed also a terrorism story –…

“The Revenant” and Traumatic Brain Injury

The question of male violence is at an impasse in the United States right now. With the growing prevalence of technology and social media, images of police brutality are now immediately accessible in a way that mounts the almost 25-year-old Rodney King video as sadly par for the course. Ruby Ridge-wannabe militants can hold an…

Recipe: Heath Bar Pudding Cake with Butterscotch Filling

My boyfriend’s favorite candy in the world is the Heath Bar, a delightfully crunchy slab of toffee covered in creamy milk chocolate, a combination that forms a truly satisfying experience of texture and flavor. During the second year of our relationship, I surprised him on his birthday with what quickly became his favorite dessert: a…

“Mustang” Review: Compels, but Doesn’t Go Far Enough

The crime of summer horseplay is enough to imprison the five Turkish sisters at the heart of Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s captivating but tepid “Mustang,” France’s current Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film In a small, provincial village where women sheath themselves head-to-toe in colorless drapery and keep a watchful gaze on the behavior…

Spanx Spanx Revolution

Last May I found myself in what many women would consider a living nightmare: I forgot to bring Spanx. TO MY COLLEGE REUNION. Look, we all know Spanx are a joke writer’s dream. They’re stretchy, they make the wearer look like Mrs. Doubtfire in her underwear, and they seem to encapsulate every single insecurity that’s ever…

Why “Maleficent” is the Rape Revenge Film That We Need

Reposted from an article I wrote for Indiewire in June 2014.  Not since I Spit on Your Grave have I seen such an intrepid and compelling rape-revenge film. I am talking, of course, about Disney’s Maleficent, the latest in a long line of revisionist fairy-tale epics to hit theaters in the last few years, though this might…

My Year of Miniseries: Wives and Daughters

I came to love the style of English Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell last June after completing Cranford, a seven-part BBC dramedy based on three of her novellas. As previously stated, I’m a sucker for any female-oriented costume piece set in the 19th century, and Cranford‘s sweeping tale of an intimate, gossipy 1850s country village in…

My Year of Miniseries: An Introduction

The cast and crew of Olive Kitteridge accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series. I love the concept of the miniseries for two important reasons: 1. They’re compact. Most tell a complete story  within more or less six hours, finding the perfect balance between film (short form) and television (long form). When you don’t have…

“The Magicians” Review: Dark and Dazzling

What if Harry Potter were a twenty-something tongue-tied twerp still nursing a childhood obsession with the Narnia books when suddenly thrust into the magical world via grad school? That’s the packed premise of Syfy’s “The Magicians,” an engrossing and inventive television adaptation of the popular Lev Grossman novels. Despite its familiar cultural markers, don’t let…