Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★

"What is this, CSI: KFC?" ~ Ransom Drysdale

Although I had hoped to be blown away by this comedic mystery thriller from director Rian Johnson, I was still pleasantly surprised to find it was lesser-known actress Ana de Armas as the caregiver Marta Cabrera who held my attention most amid an A-list ensemble including six award-level actors/actresses. We've got Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer as the "victim," famous mystery writer Harlan Thrombey, along with Golden Globe nominee Daniel Craig as noted freelance detective Benoit Blanc. Then there are Harlan's three adult children: two-time Globe-winner Jamie Lee Curtis as the eldest, Linda, who's married to cheater Richard Drysdale (GG-winner Don Johnson) and mother of bad apple Ransom (Chris Evans); two-time Oscar-nominee Michael Shannon as the spineless youngest child, Walt, married to Donna (Riki Lindhome) and father to teenage neo-Nazi Jacob (Jaeden Martell); and free-spirited middle child Joni played by Oscar-nominee Toni Collette, single mom to leftist college student Meg (Katherine Langford).

Almost everyone in this dysfunctional family could be suspected of murdering Harlan, who was found by the housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) the morning after his 85th birthday celebration. He was in the process of cutting them out of his will... an estate valued at well over $60 million plus intellectual property rights and company ownership. Massachusetts State Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) has been assigned to the investigation along with local Police Detective Lieutenant Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield). Also in the cast is Frank Oz playing Harlan's lawyer Alan Stevens and K Callan as Harlan's aged and seemingly senile mother Wanetta "Great Nana" Thrombey.

Everything here builds to a great ending that I will not give away, but there is just enough indirection to throw the audience off the track of the truly guilty party, and all of the characters are well developed, so we can see each of them as capable of some very real skulduggery. The film earned three Golden Globe nominations for a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Best Actress (de Armas), Best Actor (Craig), and Best Motion Picture. The AFI Awards named it Movie of the Year, and it won the Satellite Special Achievement Award for Best Ensemble, Motion Picture. You really must see it before it leaves the theaters -- one of this year's best, for sure.

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