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“All About Nina” is one of the year’s best films

There’s a movie opening this week that you should be paying more attention to. It’s one of 2018’s very best, features an Oscar worthy lead performance, and announces a brilliant female filmmaker as someone to really watch out for. The movie in question? All About Nina, which I’ve been raving about since the Tribeca Film Festival. This weekend marks the time where it finally hits theaters. The performance in question belongs to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who will blow you mind. The filmmaker in question is Eva Vives, who should be at the top of ever executive’s list when looking for an exciting director to meet with. It all adds up to something that’s among the five best things I’ve seen all year. The flick is phenomenal from start to finish.

Once again, for those of you who forgot, the film is a pitch black comedy with a harder edge than you might expect. Here is the IMDb synopsis, which does a solid enough job of setting things up: “Nina Geld (Winstead) is a bracingly funny and blisteringly provocative stand-up comedian whose career is taking off, but whose personal life is a near-complete disaster. To escape a difficult ex and to prepare for a prospectively life-changing audition, Nina flees to Los Angeles where she meets Rafe (Common), who challenges almost every preconception she has — including those around her own deeply troubled past.” Nina has an unsustainably tough existence in New York, one that includes violence on the part of her ex Joe (Chace Crawford). Another of those encounters leads her to head west, where better opportunities might reside. As her career continues to soar, the introduction of Rafe suggests that perhaps her personal life could be looking up too. Of course, a dark part of her past isn’t just going to go away, and when it fully reveals itself, you’ll be shocked. Vives writes and directs, while the supporting cast includes Beau Bridges, Nicole Byer, Angelique Cabral, Kate del Castillo, Melonie Diaz, Clea DuVall, Todd Louiso, Camryn Manheim, Elizabeth Masucci, Jay Mohr, Pam Murphy, Mindy Sterling, and more. Thomas Scott Stanton is behind the camera, while the score comes from John Dragonetti.

Again, this movie is brilliant. Winstead gives the performance of the year, regardless of gender. Her work is staggeringly good, to the point where it’s almost beyond being worthy of an Academy Award. She’s not just Oscar worthy, but turns in work that will stand the test of time. Vives deserves a ton of credit for creating this role, one that Winstead knocks out of the park. It’s hardly just an acting showcase (Common is the best he’s ever been as well), as Vives’ screenplay is terrific, with one gem after another. It’s often hilarious, but with an undercurrent of darkness and sadness. The film really goes there, so don’t underestimate how dark it can get. The standout scene, where Winstead delivers a blistering monologue, is stunning. Everyone involved could care less about playing it safe, and that’s what makes this flick so damn perfect.

In a perfect world, All About Nina would be a serious Academy Award contender, not just a fringe possibility. The Orchard should push this one hard though, fighting for citations in Best Picture, Best Director (for Vives), Best Actress (for Winstead), Best Supporting Actor (for Common), and Best Original Screenplay (also for Vives). Winstead in Actress and Vives in Original Screenplay especially should get a full court press. The Independent Spirit Awards may be where this one lives or dies, but Oscar is where it honestly should be. Anyone who sees this and doesn’t want to throw awards at Vives and Winstead just isn’t paying attention.

This week, you can finally see what I’ve been making such a fuss about when All About Nina opens. Take the film seriously, since this is hardly some indie rom com just looking to show you a good time. It’s a balls to the wall character study, with a bitter edge that it has no problem rubbing your face in. It’s bold work from Vives and Winstead, guaranteed to stay with you long after the credits roll. The movie is assured of ending the year on my top ten list, so this isn’t the last you’ll be seeing of it. Make it your business to seek the film out. It’s as good as anything to hit screens all year long…

Be sure to check out All About Nina, in theaters starting on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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