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Castro Theatre considers Oscar favorites

by David Lamble

Emma Stone in director Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite." Photo: Fox Searchlight
Emma Stone in director Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite." Photo: Fox Searchlight  

February is Oscar month, therefore a very special time at the Castro Theatre. The theatre launches the month with a selection of this award season's most-talked-about films. A great way to complete your 2019 Oscar dance card.
"The Favourite" In early 18th-century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. (2/4-5)

"Bohemian Rhapsody" In a year with a small tidal wave of LGBTQ-themed features, this outstanding bio-doc on the openly gay British rocker Freddie Mercury, lead singer for Queen, headed my picks for Best Films of 2018. We follow young Freddie (sublime Rami Malek), born in Zanzibar to Pakistani parents, as he attempts to carve out a career for himself in the volatile early-70s world of UK bands known for flamboyant dress and hairstyles. The film is unusual for its mix of pop music history, an upbeat immigrant story, a high-wire coming out tale, and the 1985 Live Aid concert, where Queen was a huge hit.

An early scene between Freddie, his bandmates and a scornful producer captures the bond between the band and its fans. John Reid: "So tell me: What makes Queen any different from all the other wannabe rock stars I meet?" Freddie Mercury: "We're four misfits who don't belong together, we're playing for the other misfits. They're the outcasts, right at the back of the room. We're pretty sure they don't belong either. We belong to them." (2/6-8)

"Bohemian Rhapsody Sing-Along" The same great film with
sing-along subtitles and higher ticket prices. (2/8-10)

"Walt Disney's Fantasia" (1940) This magical combination of high culture (classical music) with pop culture (the Disney Studio's pioneering animation, including Walt's biggest star, Mickey Mouse) remains fresh. The classical compositions include "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Mickey as the master of ceremonies), "The Dance of the Hours" (dancing hippos and alligators), "Rite of Spring" (dinosaurs) and "A Night on Bald Mountain." (2/9-10)

"Detour" (1945) Director Edgar G. Ulmer took less than a week to film this still-thrilling noir. A young man (Tom Neal) catches a wild ride with a dangerous young woman (Ann Savage).

"The Hitch-Hiker" (1953) A special treat for fans of bold female directors is this Ida Lupino treatment of a male hunting trip that goes dangerously awry when a homicidal fugitive steals their car. With Edmund O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Tallman and Jose Tovay. (both 2/14)

"Roma" Fans of the Mexican gay-themed teen road-comedy-romance "Y Tu Mama Tambien" should be thrilled that its creator, Alfonso Cuaron, is back with a melancholy film memoir. A Mexico City clan, unsettled by a cheating dad, is nurtured by an angelic servant, all against the backdrop of a bloody political uprising. A genius at weaving tales where hopes for love and freedom are thwarted by a bleak, chaotic landscape, Cuaron here provides a love letter to the country of his youth. (2/15-18)

"If Beale Street Could Talk" (2018) Director Barry Jenkins follows his sensitive coming-of-age tale "Moonlight" with an evocative African American romance adapted from the book by openly gay novelist James Baldwin. (2/19)

Peaches Christ Productions Presents "Mean Gays" The San Francisco producer offers a live stage show send-up of the 2004 film. (2/23)

"Moana Sing-Along" Charming full-length animation from the Disney Studio. (2/24)

"All About Eve" (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz's satire on the battle between an aging stage star (Bette Davis) and her aggressive young rival (Anne Baxter). This six-Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor: George Sanders) comes with a to-die-for ensemble: Davis, Baxter, Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Ritter, Hugh Marlowe and Gregory Ratoff. (plus co-feature, 2/24)

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