The New York Film Critics Circle recently gave their award for best actress to Regina Hall for her performance in a film called Supporting the Girls, and the response among many was “hunh”? Like many indie films, it opened, received a smattering of reviews and disappeared before most were aware it existed.
One of the benefits of the various streaming services is that frequently these films have a chance to reach their audience on them, if you are aware that they are there. The New York Film Critics gave their best actor award to Ethan Hawke in First Reformed. Hawke is also a likely Oscar nominee. First Reformed is currently on Amazon Prime and Kanopy. Another well-regarded indie, Eighth Grade is also on Amazon Prime.
Support the Girls, written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, is on Hulu and very much worth a look. Hall plays Lisa, the manager of a local Texas knock-off of Hooters called Double Whammies. She is constantly faced with having to choose between toeing the line professionally for a boss who is a massive jerk and trying to protect and defend her employees and friends. It doesn’t take long to realize that she’s what’s keeping this shabby place functioning — a place whose business model is having attractive young women in skimpy clothes serve beer to men benumbed by dead-end jobs. In some sense, she’s helping prop up a culture that is damaging her. And she knows it. But she has loyalties and responsibilities, even if sometimes the people she risks her neck for probably aren’t worth the effort. It’s a small-scale movie, but it’s one of the best-realized pictures of the year. It would be great on a bill with last year’s The Florida Project, which also featured a manager (Willem Dafoe) torn between the job and human sympathies. The Florida Project is available on Amazon Prime.