Available now on Netflix Instant is director Jesse Moss‘ moving documentary The Overnighters. The doc premiered at Sundance 2014 where Moss was awarded a Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking and eventually made it into the final 15 films in the running for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nod. The film, presented largely in vérité style, isn’t recommended if you demand conclusions be outfitted with all of the answers. It is, however, a thoughtful doc that is filled to the brim with fascinating themes of righteousness, compassion, reinvention, community, and the American Dream.
The Overnighters is set in Williston, North Dakota against the backdrop of the town’s booming oil industry. The good news is that Williston has a high number of well paying jobs available due to the hydraulic fracturing industry tapping into its vast natural resources. The bad news (or, at least, the bad news that Moss’ film explores) is that the small town’s housing market can’t support the thousands of people who migrate there in search of work leaving it riddled with homeless migrants. In response, Lutheran pastor Jay Reinke makes it part of his ministry to reach these “overnighters” by allowing them to sleep inside his church, in his church parking lot, and some even in his own home. This seemingly good deed is the catalyst for the doc’s drama as Reinke’s ministry is met with overwhelming response from migrants and often strong opposition from his church congregation, local government, and Williston natives. What pours out of this drama is a powerful, layered portrait of a man of religious authority struggling with extreme internal and external conflict; a lost, broken man leading lost, broken men.
Recommendation in hand, let’s get to this week’s Top 5:
1. 2015 Oscars: Predictions and How the Best Picture Voting System Works
Each year we spend a good portion of the calendar speculating and debating the results of one award show: The Oscars. With the 87th Academy Awards being held this Sunday, Adam (our resident Oscar guru) has graced the site with his final predictions (click here for Part 1: Screenplay, Sound, and Music, click here for Part 2: Visual Effects, Cinematography, Editing, Shorts, and More, and click here for Part 3: Best Picture and More ) as well as a look at how the Best Picture voting system actually works. If you’re in need of an ego boost, you can also check out my own picks here so you can determine exactly how much more you know about the Oscars than yours truly.
2. Neill Blomkamp’s ALIEN Movie Will Be His Next Film
From interesting concept art to “yep, this is my next film” in the course of about six weeks. That’s gotta be some kind of record, right? Neill Blomkamp is an exceptionally talented dude and one of the brightest sci-fi filmmakers working today so I guess if anyone could will themselves into directing the next Alien film it shouldn’t surprise us that it’s him.
3. First Look at Jason Momoa as Aquaman in BATMAN V SUPERMAN
Earlier this week we got our first look at Jason Momoa as Aquaman courtesy of director Zack Snyder’s Twitter account. I’ll leave the debate over the look of the character to those far more versed in Aquaman than I am. Instead I’ll use this space to reiterate how concerned I am about seeing Snyder co-writing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As someone who respects and enjoys Snyder’s visual style, the Sucker Punch screenplay was a mess and I fear the same for Dawn of Justice. Let’s hope this concern is unfounded because I would love to love this film.
4. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 Interviews and Review
I found 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine to be a ridiculous, over-the-top, but ultimately enjoyable comedy. I had hoped the sequel would provide something in a similar vein but early reports aren’t promising. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 reviews have been primarily negative thus far and our own Patrick Cooper calls it “unfunny” and “vapid” in his review. In spite of the film’s reaction to date, I think you could do a lot worse as far as interviews go than Gillian Jacobs discussing Community Season 6 and Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Adam Scott, and Clark Duke sitting around while Corddry does his best Clark Duke and Dracula imitations.
5. Toy Fair 2015 Coverage
If you’re a toy collector/fan who isn’t a part of the trade in some fashion, then I imagine Perri’s coverage from Toy Fair 2015 in New York City the past week has been a sight for sore eyes. Spend some time sifting through the content in the above link and I’m confident you’ll find something that catches your attention. We all have our tastes, but for my money it’s tough to beat the Furbacca (i.e. Chewbacca in Furby form).