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2021 Nashville Film Festival Saved the Best for Last: Final Day Recap

The 2021 Nashville Film Festival has come and gone and the last day was one of the best! It was also one of the busiest; I sat down for four consecutive movies at the Belcourt. Here’s what I saw.

Spencer

Princess Diana is one of the most beloved figures in history. Of course, there have been countless documentaries, TV shows (there’s even a musical!) and books based on the Princess of Wales. Now, there’s another film being added to the list and this one is worth the buzz.

Pablo Larrain directed the 2016 biopic Jackie about first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The biopic was met with massive praise, including an Oscar nomination for Natalie Portman as Jackie. The big question was would he be able to recapture some of that magic with this larger-than-life character? I can finally answer that with an emphatic yes.

Steven Knight (writer) does this beautiful job of humanizing Diana. Viewers get to see the side of Diana we don’t normally see – the one where she curses and acts defiantly.

This movie is quite possibly an expression of how Diana may have wanted to live and that is beautiful.

Technically speaking, this is one of the best scores (Jonny Greenwood) I have heard in the last decade and it’s also one of the most beautiful (Claire Mathon) movies I’ve seen in my lifetime. They nailed the production design, costume design, and makeup, too.

When I saw The Eyes of Tammy Faye, I didn’t think I would see anyone top Jessica Chastain in the Best Actress race but I was wrong. With Tammy Faye, you never see Chastain because of the makeup. With Diana, you never see Kristen Stewart because she is consumed in the role. Not only does Stewart give the best performance I’ve seen this year, but she gives one of the best performances I’ve seen this decade.

Spencer is everything everyone had hyped it up to be — and more. Larrain outdoes himself with masterful work behind the lens. He invites us into the heart of Princess Diana.

The Humans

This plot seems simple. It’s a family getting together for Thanksgiving dinner and the horrible awkwardness that comes along with it. Or so that’s how it seems. This movie is able to take that “normal” situation and turn it into a remarkable thriller that constantly keeps you guessing.

The actors combined are able to make us truly care about what’s going on within them. Stephen Karam wrote and directed this breathtaking psychological thriller that leaves you gasping for air.

Special Screening: C’mon C’mon

In C’mon C’mon, Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself in his nephew, Jesse (Woody Norman), who is going through a lot. Jesse’s father is in and out of institutions and his mother struggles to balance helping his father and helping him. Because of this, we see an unlikely bond form between Johnny and Jesse. It helps them grow into better people and even changes their entire outlook on life.

This duo together is incredible. They have such great chemistry, making everything feel so genuine and sincere. That elevated the already well-written screenplay by Mike Mills. Mills takes all the best parts of a buddy comedy and infuses them with life, love, and laughter that truly makes C’mon C’mon one of the year’s best films.

Petite Maman

Director Céline Sciamma asked the question, “What would you have said if you had a chance to say goodbye?” We often don’t always get that opportunity.

When the opening credits started, this film captured an emotional level I wasn’t sure I was ready for. Then, sadly, Sciamma took the foot off the gas.

Sciamma’s follow-up to her critically adored Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a captivating look at loss, how we grieve that loss, and how nothing prepares us for it no matter the circumstances. I felt everything that Sciamma was trying to make us feel but she left me wanting more. Personally, I think we didn’t get that extra layer of emotion because our two main characters were children. Although they were great, I don’t think they could carry that next level of emotion I was yearning for.

Sciamma is a top-tier director whose work behind the camera is truly visionary. I really liked this movie a lot and I’d highly recommend checking it out when it comes out.

Flee

We often see some filmmakers take risks with their storytelling and they don’t pay off. But Jonas Poher Rasmussen takes a risk by carefully blending a moving story in a new way. That risk pays off.

Although the film is a documentary, he created the documentary’s main characters in animation. He then blends together footage of the eras of when this happened to show the story while the animated characters tell the story in the backdrop. It was such a cool way to watch a story unfold.

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