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The Quick Take for January 17, 2014

Streaming Picks

Catch up on a couple of award-nominated films on Netflix: Frances Ha, the story of an ambitious young dancer in New York (Brett McCracken's review), and The Act of Killing, a highly-acclaimed documentary about the military overthrow of the Indonesian government in 1965 (named on Nick Olson's 2013 picks list). If you're looking for a family classic, seasons three through six of the television series Leave it to Beaver are available. And if you're in the mood for a musical, try West Side Story.

Critics Roundup

Everyone is comparing the Golden Globe winners with the Oscar nominees, which were announced yesterday. Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply said in the New York Times that "some awards analysts marveled that [Golden Globe] voters actually seemed to nominate the year's most worthy films and performances." But they perceptively note that the Globe winners "do not predict much" about the Academy Awards.

And indeed, after the Oscar nominees were announced, headlines calling out the Academy's "snubs" abound. Kyle Buchanan writes for Vulture that Saving Mr. Banks and Inside Llewyn Davis were "virtually shut out": "neither one of these once-expected nominees made it into the Best Picture Race." (You can read Kenneth Morefield's review of Saving Mr. Bankshere and Alissa Wilkinson's review of Llewyn Davishere.) Richard Brody, in his film blog for the New Yorker, agrees with Buchanan, saying Oscar Isaac's performance in Llewyn Davis was "the birth of a major actor," suggesting Isaac deserved a Best Actor nomination. Another film we reviewed, Short Term 12, was excluded, leading Brody to observe, "Academy members allow themselves to be swayed by promotional campaigns and the vagaries of release schedules. Of the Best Picture nominees, none was released earlier than October." Whatever their outcome, Brody says "The pleasure of the Oscars . . . is the rooting interest of seeing worthy artists enjoy practical success that bodes well for an increase in their pace and scope of work – for their increased power." And not everyone is interested in the Oscars: on his blog, Jeffrey Overstreet encouraged viewers not to "bow down" and perpetuate the madness.

There was one notable—and, to many critics, head-scratching—nominee in the list: the film Alone Yet Not Alone, which flew under most radars, garnered a nomination for Best Original Song. What made the nomination so surprising is that Alone Yet Not Alone is a film made by and marketed to evangelical audiences. You can read more here.

Movie News

In addition to the Golden Globe awards and Oscar nominations, the Sundance Film Festival started yesterday. Check out Indiewire's "30 Most Anticipated Films" here.

Fans of BBC's Downton Abbey might be happy to know that Dan Steven's British rom-com Summer in February will be playing in theaters starting today. The film was released in England last June. (Stevens played Matthew Crawley on the show.) Visit the website here and find out what people are saying about it here.

This week Walt Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger announced that Frozen, the Golden Globe winner for Best Animated Feature and Academy Award nominee, is headed for Broadway. Read about it in Fortune magazine here and the A.V. Club here.

Heather Cate is a spring intern with Christianity Today Movies and a student at The King's College in New York City.

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The Quick Take for January 17, 2014