The Way Back Review

The Way Back is more than your average sports film. Yes, it feels all too familiar but what really makes it stand out, is the integration of Coach Cunningham’s backstory and how it affected his outlook when coaching.

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) used to play basketball in high school. He was the all star player and was at the top of his game. After a series of poor decisions, that were made to spite his own father, Jack ended up being in a spot he never thought he’d be in. It’s true when people say that the child pays, for the sins of the father. It’s a vicious cycle and it takes one small change, to break the cycle.

Gavin O’Connor is a fantastic director and I really enjoy his style. The Way Back felt like a tight knit sports drama, while the observational style in the camerawork, felt like I was watching a documentary. The story was incredibly realistic and that’s why it pulled on the heartstrings. More importantly, O’Connor always manages to slowly peel back the layers of his characters, making the story progression more impactful. It’s a slow burn but it’s definitely effective.

Jack Cunningham is a very strong character. He’s subdued, most of his fighting is internal and his love of basketball makes him regain control of his life. This is also Ben Affleck’s best performance to date. It could be because the subject matter is close to him, so he could relate to Cunningham a bit more, but nonetheless, it’s incredibly moving. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play such a vulnerable character. It’s heartbreaking to watch because of how personal this film is to him. Affleck and O’Connor work very well together and this is their best collaboration yet.

Cunningham’s backstory, is more complex than the trailers lead on. As the story unfolds, his demons creep out and his past continues to haunt him because he represses his pain. Once he becomes a Coach and he’s around teenagers, with the same love for basketball, that he once had, he begins to reflect on his life. It’s an internal performance from Affleck but when he’s on the court with his team, that’s when the magic happens and I couldn’t have been happier to see him like that.

Affleck is the driving force of this film and it’s such a great sports film. The whole team was great and each of them had strong backstories. It’s all about being a role model to these kids and Cunningham did that without trying to be one. Sometimes you may feel small and think that your presence doesn’t affect anyone because that’s the darkness of doubt overpowering your mind. You may not think here are people who love and appreciate your existence, but there are.

It’s strong subject matter of alcoholism was executed quite well throughout. The way O’Connor showed the abuse of alcohol was unsettling but effective. No one had to say a word, but seeing any drink in Cunningham’s hand made me sad. It’s difficult to sit through because of how well they showed the alcoholism. Majority of the time the alcoholism is discussed but never shown and that’s why The Way Back is so well done.

I’m incredibly proud of Ben Affleck and how he chose this film to be a catharsis for his own suffering. The Way Back is one of his best, if not his BEST performance and he should be recognized for this. It’s hard to be vocal about your own pain and suffering and it’s a big step to openly discuss it with the world.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You Review

Dear Reader,

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a wonderful teen romance, that will leave you wanting another sequel. In this story, we have Lara Jean finally going on her first date with her jock boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. The first half of this film is filled with romantic gestures, cute dates and a blast from the past. Everything was going swimmingly in Lara Jean’s new relationship, until she received a response to her love letter from John Ambrose McClaren.

Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s relationship is definitely put to the test when John Ambrose starts working with LJ at the retirement home. A few missteps by the jock Kavinsky and some insecurities from LJ, land her in a questionable position with John Ambrose. Let’s face it, we all enjoy some love triangle drama and this sequel captures the best of it.

The good thing that this series does is modernize the teenage romantic drama. The beginning of this one brought me back to the time, when I watched Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles for the very first time. It’s a film all about LOVE and the many different ways you can love someone. Your soulmate could be your best friend, you could love two people at the same time for different reasons and crushes are more than okay. Love can be anything with anyone, it’s YOU who has to give meaning to the word, with your actions and words.

This film also made me cry. It had nothing to do with the love triangle or Kavinsky’s/Lara Jean’s relationship. Instead the part that got me the most was the friendship between Gen and Lara Jean. There’s a moment in the treehouse that made me shed actual tears and I’m still tearing up as I write this.

“There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.”

– Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You.

Friendships are powerful. You don’t realize how powerful they are until you lose someone because things change. This scene exchanged was such a pure moment between the two of them and it showed how deep connections can run, without either of you realizing it. Even if too much time has passed between friends and things go unsaid, the love and joy of friendship that was once very evident will linger and the wave hits all over again. You never really lose people because they shaped you into the person you are today. I’m just happy that they incorporated that scene, to show how friendships can change but still maintain a level of civility.

This is a very good sequel and Lana Condor was stunning as Lara Jean. They managed to capture her adorable essence and beauty in such a natural way. She owns this film and I could watch her in anything. Also, whether you are #TeamKavinsky or #TeamJohnAmbrose (If you’re not #TeamJohnAmbrose then you should do better) you’ll get the best of Noah Centineo and Jordan Fisher.

So this Valentine’s Day, cozy up with your other half, or your girl squad, or your bros, or your singles crew and argue over who Lara Jean deserves more.


Amanda Guarragi xo

The Gentlemen Review

I don’t even know where to start…

The Gentlemen is Guy Ritchie at his best. There is plenty of foul language, the dialogue is perfectly written for his cast and there are action scenes that are unique to Ritchie’s style.

The story is a bit hard to follow at first because of how disjointed the narrative is. There were too many players in this game and I wish their characters were developed a bit more, in order to understand who they were. The story needed a bit more work, I felt there wasn’t enough flow from scene to scene. I got lost in trying to figure out why a character was needed at certain moments throughout, rather than focusing on the scene unfolding in front of me. The action was great but it also wasn’t enough for a Ritchie film, so I was left unsatisfied in that department.

The best part of the the film was the dialogue for each character, the cast was excellent and really delivered particular lines quite well. The STAR of this film was definitely Hugh Grant. I’ve always been neutral towards him as an actor but after watching this, I’ve found a new appreciation for him because he was hilarious. Grant’s chemistry with Charlie Hunnam carried the first half of this film and they were both great.

Then when Colin Farrell came on screen, he OWNED it. Every scene he wasn’t in was a personal attack against me. I wish Henry Golding had a bit more to do, his character had potential and I wanted so much more for him. Lastly Jeremy Strong and Matthew McConaughey kind of flew under the radar, they had strong performances and their chemistry was solid but it wasn’t enough.

@ Guy Ritchie, we need ya for Sherlock Holmes 3 bruv… thanks.

Oscar Nominations 2020

Early this morning Issa Rae and John Cho announced the nominations list for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards. The show will be televised on Sunday, February 9th and there won’t be a host for the second time this year.

Here are the nominees and of course, my early predictions.

Best Picture
“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women”
“Marriage Story”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: I am shocked that Jojo Rabbit and Ford v Ferrari pulled through, so congratulations to both teams. I really want Once Upon A Time in Hollywood to win Best Picture because Tarantino is due for a win.

Best Supporting Actor
Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”
Al Pacino, “The Irishman
Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
Brad Pitt,“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Brad Pitt, done and done. Still upset that Shia LaBeouf didn’t make it for Honey Boy. 

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Florence Pugh, “Little Women”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Truly can’t believe that Scarlett Johansson has a double nomination this year. Her role in Jojo Rabbit was much better than her role in Marriage Story. However, Laura Dern is a lock for Marriage Story. Very happy that Florence Pugh got nominated over Jennifer Lopez.

Best Costume Design
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: I really want to see Jojo Rabbit win, even though Little Women had great costumes. Jojo Rabbit was really unique and I think it has a solid chance here.

Best Original Score
“Little Women”
“Marriage Story”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Hildur. Joker. Period.

Best Animated Short Film
“Dcera (Daughter)”
“Hair Love”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: There is so much love for Hair Love and the short is so lovely! I really hope it wins!

Best Live-Action Short Film
“Nefta Football Club”
“The Neighbors’ Window”
“A Sister”

*haven’t seen any of them yet*

Best Sound Editing
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: I would like to see Ford v Ferrari take this because it was well done but war movies tend to take this one so it’ll probably be 1917. 

Best Sound Mixing
“Ad Astra”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: So happy to see Ad Astra here, I thought the Sound Mixing was great in that film but as I stated above, they go hand in hand and it will most likely go to 1917. 

Best Film Editing
“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: THELMA SCHOONMAKER. THE IRISHMAN. Parasite was also great and I’m happy to see Ford v Ferrari there.

Best Actor
Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”
Leonardo DiCaprio,“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Antonio Banderas took Taron Egerton’s spot and Jonathan Pryce took Robert De Niro’s spot BUT none of it matters because our clown prince, Joaquin Phoenix has it on lock for Joker. 

Best Actress
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson,“Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger, “Judy”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Cynthia Erivo’s nomination is a token so people don’t get mad or else Lupita Nyong’o should have taken Scarlett Johansson’s spot for her performance in Us. Also doesn’t matter because Renee Zellweger is a lock for Judy.

Best Animated Feature
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
“I Lost My Body”
“Missing Link”
“Toy Story 4”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Extremely happy to see that Klaus got nominated! It’s on Netflix and the animation is quite different. However, I can see Missing Link stealing this. It’s also nice to see that there’s only ONE Disney property on the list.

Best Cinematography
“The Irishman”
“The Lighthouse”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: I’m very happy that The Lighthouse got nominated for this category! I know for a fact Roger Deakins is going to win again for 1917 but I don’t mind that win.

Best Director
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”
Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Sam Mendes, “1917”
Martin Scorsese,“The Irishman”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: No women…. again. I want Tarantino to win but he’s going to win Original Screenplay and that’s good enough for the Academy apparently. If Bong Joon Ho wins, it would be amazing but it’s definitely going to Sam Mendes for 1917. 

Best Documentary Feature
“American Factory”
“The Cave”
“The Edge of Democracy”
“For Sama”

*haven’t seen any of them yet*

Best Documentary Short
“In the Absence”
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”
“Life Overtakes Me”
“St. Louis Superman”
“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

*haven’t seen any of them yet*

Best International Feature
“Corpus Christi”
“Les Miserables”
“Pain and Glory”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Pain & Glory and Portrait of a Lady on Fire both got snubbed BUT it doesn’t matter because Parasite is on lock.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: I truly think Bombshell is going to win this.

Best Original Song
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,”
“Toy Story 4
“Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II”
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”
“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”
“Stand Up” from “Harriet”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman is definitely going to take this. I won’t have any other winner.

Best Production Design
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Parasite deserves this nomination but I think Jojo Rabbit might take it.

Best Visual Effects
“Avengers: Endgame”
“The Irishman”
“The Lion King”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: No Ad Astra or Alita: Battle Angel BUT The Lion King gets nominated…. Endgame’s VFX was not that great but I know it’s going to win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women”
“The Two Popes”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: Do I want Steven Zaillian to win for The Irishman? Yes. Does Greta Gerwig deserve it for Little Women? Also yes. So I hope she wins, since she got snubbed for Best Director.

Best Original Screenplay
“Knives Out”
“Marriage Story”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

EARLY PREDICTIONS: SO HAPPY FOR RIAN JOHNSON!! Tarantino has this win in the bag for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. However, it would be a nice surprise if Bong Joon Ho won for Parasite.


  • No Shia LaBeouf for Original Screenplay for Honey Boy 
  • No Adam Sandler nom for Best Actor for Uncut Gems
  • Alma Har’el not getting a nom for Best Director for Honey Boy 
  • Greta Gerwig not getting a nom for Best Director for Little Women 
  • The Farewell got shut out
  • No Awkwafina nom for Best Actress for The Farewell 
  • No Taron Egerton or Robert De Niro for Best Actor for Rocketman or The Irishman
  • No Jennifer Lopez for Best Supporting Actress for Hustlers 
  • No Rocketman or Dolemite Is My Name for Costume Design
  • No Frozen 2 for Best Animated Feature
  • No Lupita Nyong’o nom for Best Actress for Us