Even before I knew I wanted to become a writer, I fancied myself a Jo March, the self-decided spinster and Louisa May Alcott stand-in from Little Women. Growing up, I was obsessed with Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 adaptation, and with Winona Ryder specifically, and the way she blew off Christian Bale’s Laurie will always be both heartbreaking and… relatable. (Bale’s puny stache in the latter half of the film makes it just a little bit easier to get over him, though.)
Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize that I’m probably more of a Meg March than I’d like to admit (many others are having the shattering reality check that they’re Amys pretending to be Jos). These realizations come on the heels of the new Little Women in theaters now, envisioned by Greta Gerwig, and while in my opinion Armstrong’s version still reigns supreme, Gerwig’s does have some undeniably lovely moments, like a joyous waltz scene birthed from rehearsals set to more modern musical cues, like The Cure and David Bowie.
I also can’t get over Timothée Chalamet’s furrowed, lovelorn brows and disheveled hair, his delicate blouse billowing in the hillside breeze, as he (Laurie) desperately tries to convince Jo (Saoirse Ronan) they should be together. Thankfully Timo doesn’t get patchy facial hair in the later years, but I almost was like “Timo WHO?” when Louis Garrel appeared as the hot prof that catches adult Jo’s eyes. There’s a scene where Professor Bhaer rips apart Jo’s writing and can I just say… Louis Garrel can criticize my writing ANY TIME.
No New Year’s Plans? Watch a NYE Movie to Match Your Mood
Anyone else have anxiety about going out on New Year’s? For me, finding affordable—let alone functioning—transportation back home on a cold night poses too many risks. Join me in staying home and putting on something through which you can celebrate vicariously. Here are some suggestions for whatever mood you may find yourself in…
If you’re in the mood to get pretty scared: Black Christmas director Sophia Takal has a New Year’s-themed horror movie called New Year, New You on Hulu as part of the horror studio Blumhouse’s “Into the Dark” series. This one is of the so-bad-it’s-kinda-fun variety, incorporating the dark side of social media (#relatable). Watch it if your new year’s resolution is to decrease time wasted on Instagram or you’re trying to leave behind bad-vibe friends in 2019 (as you should!).
If you’re in the mood for a cult fashion film, go for one that I wish was more widely available: 200 Cigarettes. It’s a New York City-set indie comedy about different groups of friends out and about on New Year’s Eve, and the cast alone is pretty bonkers: Paul Rudd, Courtney Love, Kate Hudson, Dave Chappelle, Gaby Hoffman, the Afflecks, and more.
If you’re angry in a do-we-really-still-live-in-a-capitalist-society??? kind of way, hop aboard Bong Joon-ho’s train with Snowpiercer, an even more dystopian class warfare thriller than the director’s newest, Parasite, featuring New Year’s scenes you wouldn’t want to attend. (A happy coincidence: Film and Lincoln Center is doing an extensive retrospective of Bong’s films in January, including a selection of favorite films Bong programmed himself.)
For something on the lighter, more romantic side, you can never go wrong with a wintertime rewatch of Bridget Jones’s Diary (maybe you too are looking for “a nice, sensible boyfriend to go out with”) or Phantom Thread, with a more poisonous take on love (I went long on why it’s a perfect holiday movie over at Metrograph).
Bling Ring Is Coming to Netflix and So Are Some Other Top-Notch Petty Dramas
If I learned anything this year it’s that grifter season is evergreen (can you believe the Elizabeth Holmes doc came out in 2019–I know, long year). Then there was Hustlers, about a posse of swindling strippers. But before that there was a band of teens who wanted to robbbbb. Yes, ring in the new year with The Bling Ring (coming to Netflix on January 18), or, uh, The Lord of the Rings movies, also coming to Netflix in January, also about a bitch who wants to robbbbb (Sauron).
Lately I’ve been in the mood for petty teen drama, which might explain my recent rewatches of Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl. My sudden Gossip Girl kick has blended seamlessly with the second season of You dropping on Netflix (is Penn Badgley now typecast as the pining stalker?). But I digress. Two of my high school staples are coming to Netflix next month: 1) A Cinderella Story, the Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray vehicle that’s not just an update on the fairy tale but also kind of a teen version You’ve Got Mail, and 2) New York Minute, the Olsen twins movie in which the “tomboy” one (Mary-Kate, duh) is obsessed with Simple Plan (I was too—welcome to my life). Confession: I rewatched this pretty recently and it’s quite problematic, but the nostalgia flooded back and I couldn’t stop it.
Way Too Cold Where You Are? These Movies Feel Like Vacation
The cold winter is best for hibernating and escaping as a cinematic voyeur, imo. One of the best vacation movies, which also happened to turn 20 this Christmas, is coming to Netflix: The Talented Mr. Ripley. That movie is a masterclass in blazers as well as a study in effortless resort style (I recently wrote about its fashion for i-D). Jude Law, with his golden spiral of hair, is a sight to behold, while Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett romp around the film’s coastal town of Italy looking impossibly chic.
Though nothing like Anthony Minghella’s Ripley, there’s another Italian fashion film worth seeing that came out this year. The Disappearance of My Mother, directed by Beniamino Barrese, is about the filmmaker’s mother, the iconic fashion model Benedetta Barzini (the first to graze the cover of Vogue Italia), who, since her ’60s modeling days, has become a bit of a camera recluse. As the title suggests, she wants to disappear—from the spotlight. A stubborn, strong-willed feminist educator, Barzini disagrees with the way still images “freeze” reality, and the way they become commodified; her aversion to being photographed makes this documentary about her—in which her son often dangles a camera in front of her—strange, contradictory, and confrontational. Fascinating watch.
Take your getaway to the interstellar extreme by watching a ton of space movies. This year has seen quite a few (High Life, Ad Astra, Apollo 11, and now the new Star Wars), and I might kick off the new decade with a few more, including John Carpenter’s satirical Dark Star, coming to the Criterion Channel early January. Criterion has also gathered seminal ’70s sci-fi classics that shaped New Hollywood—classics like George Miller’s Mad Max and George Lucas’s THX 1138 included but also so many personal blind spots I’m eager to cross off, like Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, about an alienesque cult leader, and David Cronenberg’s parasitic Shivers.
Finally: Let us Disappear Into J.Lo’s Fur Coat
Arguably the best place to hibernate is the inside of J.Lo’s fur coat, the one she invites Constance Wu to climb into in Hustlers. I’ve been dreaming about that scene ever since I saw it. The Oscar-deserving actress is getting a retrospective at Nitehawk in January (the Prospect Park location is just showing Selena). J.Lo January is henceforth a very important, month-long holiday. If you can’t make it out, there are many ways to stream them. Before “Jenny From the Block,” J.Lo had her breakout playing another Latina pop star, the mononymous Selena, and watching the 1997 biopic now is especially interesting in how it chronicles both singers’ legacies.
Nitehawk is showing her rom-com classics like The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan, but if you want smoldering, screen-steaming, sizzling cinema, Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight will leave you HOT, even in this cold. Lopez plays a Federal Marshal whose professional pursuit of an ex-con who broke out of jail (George Clooney) turns into a more, umm, personal pursuit. Name a sexier movie—I’ll wait.
Featured photos courtesy of Sony Pictures.