For those of us transforming our living rooms into our personal movie theaters these days, Richard Roeper is here to guide us. I recently caught up with the famed Chicago Sun-Times Columnist and Film Critic.
In our exchange, he shed light on the effects the pandemic is having on the film industry, his current film recommendations, and his favorite Jewish-themed movies of all time.
Q. What are the biggest effects that the pandemic is having on films due out in the next year?
A. Many of the films that would have been released in 2020 have been pushed back to 2021. Many films that would be in production right now are on hold. The effects will be felt in Hollywood for years to come.
Are filmmakers finding creative ways to start production/shooting for new projects or are most on hold?
It's a little of both. Some projects have resumed filming, with cast and crew observing social distance and "bubble" guidelines. We're also starting to see some projects that are about the pandemic, e.g., the September HBO movie Coastal Elites, featuring five characters telling their stories via Zoom.
What are your top five movie picks that people should cozy up with coming out in the next couple of months?
Trial of the Chicago 7
Let Him Go
No Time to Die
Do you already have any films that you think will be shoo-ins for the Oscars?
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
, the movie version of the iconic play. Viola Davis stars opposite the late Chadwick Boseman, in his final role.
Do you see any enticing Jewish-themed movies coming down the pike?
I'm hesitant to talk about what's coming up because the release schedule is in such flux now. But
[a biopic about Jewish screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz's battles with Orson Welles over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane] for sure. One movie from this year that kind of flew under the radar but is available on home video:
, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Jewish aspiring actor who joins the French Resistance to fight the Nazis.
What's your favorite Jewish-themed movie of all time?
In addition to the obvious contenders such as
(all classics), I'd like to mention two personal favorites:
(1990). While the latter might not be explicitly "Jewish-themed," it's a brilliant, funny, and moving portrayal of a Russian-Jewish extended family.