Asif Kapadia’s Amy played in theaters this summer to favorable notices and has since gone on to win the majority of this year’s critics’ awards for Best Documentary. I decided to catch up with it this week, and I’m very glad I did: the film is a devastating portrait of the late Amy Winehouse, the British jazz and R&B vocalist who recorded two hit albums and won four Grammys before dying of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of twenty-seven.
Perhaps only Sofia Coppola could have convinced Bill Murray to star in an hour-long Christmas special—a throwback to television classics like The Judy Garland Christmas Show—let alone one that opens with Murray crooning “Christmas Blues” while wearing plastic reindeer antlers. It’s lucky that she has, though, because he makes a consummate host. Self-deprecating and crusty though he may be, he’s not above making himself look silly at times; he’s up for anything. Like its star, A Very Murray Christmas cloaks its soft heart in a veneer of gentle irony. It plays a cool game, but it’s warm and sweet underneath.
As the year draws to a close, I’ve been catching up with some of this year’s films that I missed the first time around. Here are two that I screened this week.