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Oscar nominees on big screens; Afro-Cuban All Stars at the Dakota

ALSO: Minnesota Opera’s “Flight” at the Ordway; 2020 Winter Flower Show at Como Park; “Black Comedy” at Theatre in the Round; and more.

Little Women
Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and Eliza Scanlen in "Little Women."
Photo by Wilson Webb

Starting today, you have 12 days to see all the Oscar nominees for Best Film before the winner is announced. And depending on your schedule, you can squeeze in screenings of the live action, animation and documentary shorts.

If you’re thinking the Oscars are coming up quickly – didn’t we just see the Grammys? – you’re right. The awards date (Sunday, Feb. 9) is earlier than usual, which means there’s more of a time crunch between the nominations and the ceremony.

You’ll find the full-length films, live action and animated shorts at the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown starting Friday. For the documentary shorts, head to the Riverview, also starting Friday.

As part of the Landmark Theatres Best Picture Spotlight series, which will bring all the 2020 Academy Award Best Picture nominees to 10 Landmark theaters across the country, the Lagoon will screen “1917,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” and “Parasite.” Spotlight will start this Friday (Jan. 31) and continue through Oscars day (Sunday, Feb. 9). All tickets are $5 and you can reserve now.

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The live action and animation shorts will be shown from Friday, Jan. 31, through Thursday, Jan. 6. Films in both categories are from all over the world. We happen to have seen “Kitbull” (USA), an animated short from Pixar about an unlikely friendship between an abandoned kitten and a mistreated pit bull. It made us cry happy tears. Tickets for the shorts are the regular price.

The documentary shorts will begin at the Riverview on Friday, Jan. 31. Admission there is $7, $5 for students.

Since all we’ve seen so far is “Kitbull,” we can’t comment further. But critics are saying the live-action and documentary shorts lean toward dark and serious. Here’s a trailer for the shorts.

The picks

Now at Como Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory: 2020 Winter Flower Show. As winter drags on, the snow gets grayer and the streets more narrow, Como Park’s glass-enclosed conservatory is a breath of fresh, moist, flower-scented air. This year’s winter flower show blooms with red cyclamen, blue pansies, purple azaleas, maroon lilies and amaryllis. The hours are generous and the cost is free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

Thursday at Highpoint Center for Printmaking: Public conversation for the 2019 McKnight Printmaking Fellowship Exhibition. In 2018, as part of a larger expansion, the McKnight Artist Fellowships program grew to include printmakers, with Highpoint as its program partner. Jenny Schmid, a professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Art, and Justin Quinn, professor of art at St. Cloud State University, were the inaugural 2019 McKnight Printmaking Fellows. Each was given access to Highpoint’s state-of-the-art printmaking studio with technical support, studio visits with invited arts professionals and a $25,000 unrestricted award. Both will be at Highpoint on Thursday for a conversation with Faye Hirsch, senior editor for Art in America. 6-8 p.m. Free. Seating may be limited, so arrive early. The exhibition closes Feb. 22.

Thursday at the Dakota: Afro-Cuban All Stars. Led by Juan de Marcos, the Afro-Cuban All Stars became world famous in the late 1990s, thanks to a series of recordings and a film. In 1996, de Marcos and great musicians he knew recorded “A Toda Cuba le Gusta,” the Grammy-winning “Buena Vista Social Club” (produced by Ry Cooder) and “Introducing Rubén González.” Wim Wenders’ smoking documentary “Buena Vista Social Club” followed in 1999. Some older musicians have passed on and younger ones have moved in, but this is still an amazing band and thrilling to see live. 7 and 9:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35-50).

“The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes” by Back to Back Theatre, Thursday through Sunday at the Walker Art Center.
Photo by Jeff Busby
“The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes” by Back to Back Theatre, Thursday through Sunday at the Walker Art Center.
Thursday through Saturday at the Walker: Back to Back Theatre: “The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes.” The first two shows in the Walker’s annual antidote to January sold out. The final features the return of an Out There favorite. The actors of Back to Back Theatre, Australia’s leading independent theater company, have a range of perceived intellectual disabilities. In their latest major work, which premiered in 2019, five activists with intellectual disabilities hold a public meeting. One question they consider: “When artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence, how will people be treated?” Mature content. 8 p.m. all nights. FMI and tickets ($26/20.80 Walker members).

The cast of "Flight."
Photo by Dan Norman
The cast of "Flight."
Thursday through Sunday at the Ordway: Minnesota Opera’s “Flight.” Without papers, a refugee has been trapped in an airport for years, pursued by an immigration agent. As topical as it sounds, “Flight” was written more than 20 years ago and loosely based on the true story of an Iranian refugee who lived in the Charles De Gaulle airport from 1988 to 2006. Composer Jonathan Dove’s “Flight,” with libretto by April De Angelis, takes place in an airport over a single night when flights are grounded and passengers are stranded, forced to deal with each other and themselves. The role of the refugee is sung by countertenor Cortez Mitchell, a former Minnesota Opera Resident Artist who spent 13 years as part of the choral group Chanticleer. Three performances remain: Thursday (Jan. 30) at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-218).

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Friday through Sunday at Theatre in the Round: Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy.” Shaffer wrote more weighty plays, including “Equus” and “Amadeus,” but arguably none as fun as this. As struggling artist Brindsley Miller and his fiancé, Carol, prepare for an important party, the main fuse blows and the apartment goes dark. In the theater itself, the lights go up so we can clearly see the actors pretend to stumble around in pitch blackness, bumping into each other and the furniture. It’s a farce with a lot of physical comedy, performed by an ensemble of eight actors. The show runs about 90 min. with no intermission, and this is the closing weekend. FMI and reservations ($22; pay at the door).