Three Must See Movies Before Awards Season Begins

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s take on three Must See Movies in theaters now:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Phantom Thread; Molly’s Game

Spoiler-Free Movie Reviewmust see movies molly's game

Quick! Before the broadcasts of the Golden Globes on Sunday, Jan. 7, on and the Critics Choice Awards on Thursday, January 11, you need to hasten to your local cineplex and catch what I consider to be the must see movies of the season (assuming you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

They are, in order of preference:


Spoiler-Free Movie ReviewWith six Critics Choice nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress – Frances McDormand; Best Supporting Actor – Sam Rockwell; Best Acting Ensemble; Best Director – Martin McDonagh; Best Original Screenplay –Martin McDonagh you can bet I’ll be voting for this must see movie in each category. This startling take on betrayal and redemption is my favorite little film of the year.

Over a year has passed since the murder of the teenage daughter of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand. giving one of the most powerful performances ever), and no one has come close to being arrested for the heinous crime. Mildred’s decision to post three billboards bemoaning that fact leads to a series of events that are alternately horrifying, humorous, heart wrenching and heroic.

Career best performances from Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Woody Harrelson strengthen this utterly transfixing film from director/screenwriter Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).


Nominated for four Critics Choice Awards: Best Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis; Best Production Design – Mark Tildesley, Veronique Melery, Best Costume Design – Mark Bridges, Best Score – Jonny Greenwood, I firmly believe this Must See Movie would have received more nods if more members seen it before our nomination deadline. Look for Phantom Thread to be a dark horse Oscar favorite.

Day Lewis says this film, directed Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, will be his last, and what a way to go. The work is beautiful, intense and profound.

It takes place in the world of British haute couture in the late 1950’s, and centers on a quirky but brilliant designer who needs to be dealt with. It’s the kind of quiet film you should just sit back and let envelope you. Surprises on every level abound.


must see movies molly's gameAlthough it only received two Critics Choice Awards nominations: Best Actress – Jessica Chastain; and Best Adapted Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin, this Must See Movie could be the most accessible and popular of the three.

Since it’s written and directed by Sorkin,  you know it will at least have snappy dialogue, but this film has so much more than that. Chastain stars as the real life Molly Bloom, a former Olympic-class skier who ran an exclusive high-stakes poker game with a buy-in as high as $250,000. It included Hollywood royalty, sports super stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob.

The story of how she built it, and how it came crashing down, is fascinating.

See how many Critics Choice Awards these films take home by watching the star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala on Thursday, January 11.  It will be broadcast on the CW Network from 8:00 – 10:00pm ET (delayed PT)

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s take on three Must See Movies in theaters now:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Phantom Thread; Molly’s Game

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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