Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan tracks festival crowdpleasers and movies Film Twitter may have misunderstood at the 2022 SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
There’s something about watching a movie with a community that makes the experience extra special. One thing you can count on at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival is having an audience that engages with the material on screen (they’re college students, after all), which makes it even more fun.
On the other hand, digital audiences, like those on Twitter, can also affect a film-going experience, especially if you’ve read reactions to upcoming films. I was surprised by my responses to these SCAD Savannah Film Festival films, some of which should be watched with a group for the most enjoyable experience and others that should be given extra consideration.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
A film that so deeply and hilariously covers life, loss, and the importance of community in 90 minutes—with a one-inch shell as the protagonist? A lot of veteran directors could take a cue from Dean Fleischer-Camp. I know I’m a little late to the party, having missed its release this past spring, but I did not expect Marcel to be as moving as it is.
During a Q&A following the film, Fleischer-Camp discussed the painstaking care put into this project, including shooting it TWICE!
“I always compare it with how a CGI character might be done. You shoot the movie, and later in computers, you’re doing all the CG modeling and comping. Instead of that second phase being inside a computer, you have a second phase that’s another stop-motion shoot. It has to match the lighting and the camera movement, all the specifics of the live-action plates (what we call it) perfectly. Otherwise, Marcel and the other characters are not going to integrate perfectly.”
Bianca Cline’s cinematography is also stunningly beautiful, and the script is obviously VERY original, but I did not expect 60 Minutes to become a huge, hilarious plot point. Screw the Best Animated Film debacle (whether Marcel has enough animation to qualify)—I’m stumped why more people aren’t talking about Marcel the Shell with Shoes On for the Best Picture race! It’s one of the most moving films of the year in the same vein as past animated BP nominees like Up.
Empire of Light
Last year, I was blown away by Olivia Colman in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, and this year, the Queen didn’t disappoint in Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light. Somehow Colman creates female characters you can completely connect with and feel in your soul, and her Hilary is a new addition to this collection. Maybe it’s because I, too, have worked at a movie theater (although it wasn’t nearly as romantically exciting as her experience!).
You can’t help but fall in love with Empire’s setting and mood almost immediately, between Roger Deakins’ warm cinematography and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s melancholy score. Just as Hilary has hidden sides to her, the movie theater itself in the film is also a character with secret passages. There’s been Film Twitter criticism about the script and where it goes in the second half, but I liked that it kept me on my toes and ended up being a thoughtful tale of connection rather than romance.
Bones and All
The Lucas Theatre for the Arts always seems to show the more avant-garde films at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. At past festivals, I’ve seen Parasite and Spencer in this space, so it seems to cultivate more edgy genres. Suffice it to say, Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All, the coming-of-age cannibalism love story, is the perfect film to show here. And the audience, mostly filled with SCAD students, ate it up!
The film starts out mundane enough. Maren (Waves‘ Taylor Russell) is invited to a high school sleepover, but when she’s hanging out with her friends, she suddenly bites one of their fingers off! The audience went wild when this happened, and it totally set the tone for the warm reaction throughout the screening, including catcall whistles at the bloody and shirtless Timothee Chalamet.
If I had seen this film alone in a theater, I wonder what my reaction to it would have been (frankly, I’m still a little confused whether it’s a comedy or a drama). The audience roared with laughter throughout the film, especially when Mark Rylance’s Sully appears on screen. The film is shot beautifully, as expected from a Guadagnino film, but it has a B-movie quality that makes it both fun and shocking.
Back in 2019, I watched Knives Out at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and absolutely loved it, so naturally I had to see its sequel (or whatever they’re calling it) screening at this year’s fest. However, while Glass Onion is entertaining and full of surprises (and laughs!)—and also a great film to see with a big crowd—it’s a little undercooked compared to its predecessor.
We were all completely psyched about the cast stills trending on Twitter (Kathryn Hahn! Ethan Hawke! Oh, my!), but I don’t buy for one minute that this rag-tag group of self-proclaimed “disruptors” are friends. Knives Out relied so much on chemistry between the group, but in this one, it’s lacking, with Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr. criminally underused. On the other hand, Janelle Monae and Daniel Craig have excellent chemistry, and now I understand the TIFF buzz about Monae. As tech entrepreneur Andi, she flexes both comedic and dramatic muscles that we always knew she had but didn’t have the role for yet (thank you, Rian Johnson!). If she gets a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, it’s so well-deserved and frankly a long-time coming!