Archive

Posts Tagged ‘top ten’

My Ranked Films of 2016

April 23, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m actually pretty excited about this being a new tradition. Given that I just can’t bear to whittle my views of the year in film down to a simple top ten list, I see it necessary to let you how I felt about every last thing that I took the time to see. Here you’ll find all 83 features which I viewed ranked from top to bottom, along with some tidbits of unabashed critique.

Alas, 2016 in a nutshell:

__________

83. “Independence Day: Resurgence” – I’m not sure why I held out any shred of hope that this could have any redeeming qualities, but somehow, it was worse beyond my darkest fears. A huge chunk of my childhood nostalgia died with this film.

82. “Knight of Cups” – Terrence Malick’s integrity as a auteur director, in my mind, is currently held together with duct tape and bailing wire. Just a meandering, aimless mess, devoid of any tangible passion. It’s been a long time since “The Thin Red Line”.

81. “London Has Fallen” – I really can’t even give a decent reason why I gave this film the time of day, except boredom on a Sunday morning. The original was at least watchable. The sequel is merely laughable.

__________

80. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” – Speaking of directors losing their credibility, I can’t believe this is the same hand that created “Brokeback Mountain” and The Ice Storm”. I’m not sure what exactly they were trying to accomplish here, but the result is sloppy on all accounts.

79. “Phenom” – I would give credence to the low budget qualifications if it wasn’t that I’ve worked on student shorts with better production values. Outside of half decent performances from Giamatti and Hawke, this is a total dud.

78. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” – The notion that this film was necessary at all after Nolan already perfected both the character and really the whole genre with his trilogy is a mystery. This might have been forgiven had “BvS” shown some redeeming qualities, but that was too much to ask for.

77. “Mascots” – It’s not that this topic isn’t creative, interesting or unique enough to deserve the Christopher Guest spin, it’s just that any semblance of humor falls completely flat. Without that, we’re just left with unfunny people dressing up like mascots.

76. “Triple 9” – Might be the year’s most disappointing fare, in my opinion. I had pretty high hopes given the stellar director, fantastic ensemble and overall edge the film seemed to exude. Not a single one of those facets paid off.

75. “Swiss Army Man” – Some will grant points for it’s originality. For me, there is a line to be drawn between boundless creativity and banal stupidity. This weighs heavily in one direction.

74. “Live by Night” – It was ultimately a matter of time before Ben Affleck’s streak took a nose dive. This is a film with intentions so unclear, I felt that the characters had no idea what they were doing there most of the time. Ben also needs to stop starring in his own films, if there’s any way he can help it.

73. “The Shallows” – “Jaws” it certainly ain’t. It can look impressive at times, and the shark looks decent enough, but the plot is lost in its own absurdity by ten minutes in.

72. “De Palma” – Maybe some might want to listen to the title individual talk about his career, from fairly decent to hell in a handcart, and how he thinks he has anywhere near the talent of guys like Spielberg, Scorsese and Coppola, for nearly TWO HOURS, but that’s not my cup of tea.

71. “Ghostbusters” – This highly disappointing reboot kills its intentions and overshadows its phenomenal cast with mostly flat humor and maddeningly over-the-top visual effects.

__________

70. “Passengers” – On the topic of disappointment, I remember first reading the logline for this film a couple of Christmas’ ago and was enthralled. That strong concept was in the finished film somewhere, muddled by extravagance and a need to satisfy the “Hunger Games” demographic.

69. “Hail, Caesar!” – Despite some fantastic design qualities and a performance to get one excited about Alden Ehrenreich’s future, this is one of the most uninteresting films the Coens have ever produced.

68. “Jane Got a Gun” – Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s no wonder why this film sat in production hell for a few years. The remaining cast looks as though they wished they’d quit with the rest of their colleagues when they still had the chance.

67. “Florence Foster Jenkins” – Not quite as soft around the edges as I had originally dreaded, but still just an exercise in mediocrity. Believe it or not, Hugh Grant was actually the film’s high point for me.

66. “The Girl on the Train” – Don’t get me wrong. Emily Blunt carries this movie as best she can with a powerhouse performance, but the story itself is a whodunnit that isn’t worth even figuring it out by the halfway point.

65. Miles Ahead” – It is fairly invigorating watching Don Cheadle tear into this role. However, at times the film itself is as standoffish as its subject, while the flashbacks are boring and cliched.

64. “The Accountant” – I suppose, in the end, this is an action movie, and one really shouldn’t expect much more. I made the mistake of doing so and was left with a half-baked plot that verges on ridiculous at times.

63. “Suicide Squad” – Practically high art when compared to the its counterpart DC heroes entry, previously discussed. On the whole, it’s still a pretty mind-numbing experience, despite the best efforts of its ensemble. Personally, I think the this universe has more to offer than that of Marvel, so it’s a wonder why they can’t seem to get their sh*t together.

62. “The Secret Life of Pets” – The first 5-10 minutes of the film are fantastic. Past that point, it delves into a more generic kids movie plot line filtered through vision of what animated films would be like if directed by Michael Bay.

61. “X-Men: Apocalypse” – Oscar Isaac isn’t a terrible villain as the title character, and it still manages to fit in a spectacular Quicksilver scene. However, sum of its parts do not come close to equaling its exemplary predecessor, “Days of Future’s Past,” probably the best X-Men film to date.

__________

60. “Sully” – The crash is harrowing enough, I suppose, for a disaster scene featuring no stakes or consequences. There just really isn’t a lot to get excited about in this film. And despite trying to create pure filler out of some unproductive flashbacks of the protagonists entire career, there’s barely enough movie here to fill 45 minutes, let along 90.

59. “The Birth of a Nation” – There were a number of decent to flawless African American themed films in 2016. This is not one of them. Despite the raucous Sundance reception I found this to be a bit of an exercise in self-indulgence and a rehash of much better freedom-oriented movies, such as “Glory” and “Braveheart.”

58. “Deadpool” – I’ll give it credit for some good entertainment value and a fresh take on the superhero persona, but the execution itself is rotten, and it’s honestly kind of offensive in its immaturity.

57. “Cafe Society” – No one pushes movies out like Woody Allen. However, despite the occasional gems scattered in, you’re usually left with recycled mediocrity. It’s actually a decent enough story, with echoes of “Broadway Danny Rose”, but really nothing standing out to remember.

56. “Allied” – I ultimately had this film pegged as having only a couple of predictable ways to end, and was pleasantly surprised by the direction it took. Unfortunately, the body of the film was formulaic enough to pretty much cancel out the climax.

55. “Raiders!” – Nostalgia is great and all, and this must have an exciting childhood adventure. But the film doesn’t do the best job of convincing its audience that the endeavors of these individuals isn’t beyond the point of absurdity.

54. “Deepwater Horizon” – Leave it to Peter Berg to take the worst ecological disaster in history caused by a greedy and careless U.S. conglomerate into a film about how much “America Rocks!” Great sound design, though.

53. “The Jungle Book” – Is it too late to petition Disney to stop with these live action remakes? Too late? Got it. In all seriousness, this film is decent enough. Though, the majority of time is spent judging whether each scene is going to butcher each scene we remember. Not to mention, you spend two hours watching a kid in front of a green screen.

52. “Finding Dory” – A bad Pixar movie is hard to come by, and I wouldn’t categorize “Dory” as such. It is a big step down from last year’s masterpiece. The new characters are fun, but something I’ve always enjoyed about Pixar is that they maintain creativity without escaping a certain level of realism and not verging on absurdity. A fish and an octopus co-driving a box truck about does it for me.

51. “Lion” – Dev Patel holds his own in an unusually mature role for him and the musical score is noticeably impressive. However, it’s predictably structured and ridiculously over-edited and choppy. Definitely the most underwhelming of this year’s Oscar slate.

__________

50. “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” – Seems to accomplish what’s advertised with wit and intrigue. For some reason, though, I was hoping and expecting for more from this film, especially from the mind of such comedy gems as “I Love You Philip Morris” and “Crazy/Stupid/Love”.

49. “Miss Sloane” – I echo the sentiment that this movie ultimately feels as though it were meant to network TV. It has its moments, but nothing feels overly impressive, despite sporting a lot of great talent, both new and old.

48. “Hidden Figures” – What’s going on here could be best described as “Racism, Disney-Style”. Essentially the safest, most toned down vision of discrimination in the 60s to satisfy every American family of four. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I find the message is better served by not sugar-coating it.

47. “Weiner” – A crazy story, for sure, that’s more than worth documenting. I only find it a bit lazy that everything happened to unfold as it did and covering it all was really a matter of luck rather than talent. Really not a lot of actual filmmaking seemed to occur.

46. “Demolition” – Mildly worth seeing, if only to see Jake Gyllenhaal’s quirky interactions with the supporting characters. It’s a fairly original take on the grieving process, but the overall message gets lost in the shuffle.

45. “The Wave” – This is a creative concept for a thriller as it presents a scenario that’s devoid of general disaster-flick cliche. Yet, as original as the concept, the execution really runs a bit boring past the point where the waters recede.

44. “The B.F.G.” – A good amount of fun, dependent on a thankless motion capture performance by Mark Rylance. However, in essence, this is a children’s movie, through and through. I certainly can’t help waiting for more relevant and enduring films by this master of the art form.

43. “Blair Witch” – I firmly believe that the original is a landmark achievement and a staple in both horror and found footage genres. That being said, I find it incredible how much this film both excels and expands on what the former achieved, while also defacing its legacy in practically equal measures. The sound design effectively disturbing and it maintains the subjective feel creatively. But when the original confirmed that less is more, when this film goes over the top it just can’t it’s way back down again.

42. “Indignation” – A film that’s difficult to explain why you’re not a fan as all the elements are there: a strong central performance by Lerman, a great sense of time and place and fantastic sub-surface tension. The movie suffers from just having a story without much interesting to tell.

41. “Life, Animated” – This is a movie that really shoots for high inspiration. At that, it truly succeeds, probably more than I give it credit for on this list. Autism is being much more widely discussed in the present climate, and this film was still enlightening on several aspects. And yet, much of it still felt staged and propped up. I didn’t feel as though we were being presented with the whole story.

__________

40. “A Bigger Splash” – The tongue in cheek banter and deep contemplation can both hit or miss in this film, but it really tends to shine through the performances of Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes, who gives his best performance since “Schindler’s List”.

39. “10 Cloverfield Lane” – This is some really impressive Hitchcockian material, highlighted by a comically disturbing John Goodman. However, when a movie builds its entire tension from fear of what might be outside, revealing what’s beyond the door can make or break a film’s credibility. For this film, it SHATTERS it.

38. “Other People” – An enlightening (if not emotionally exhausting) trip through every family’s nightmare with career performances (thus far) by Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons. Overall, the film lacks a bit in fleshing out its supporting characters in terms intentions and motive.

37. “A Monster Calls” – Like the previous entry, it is far from possible to make it through this movie with dry eyes. The special effects are fantastic, but unnecessary to achieve its emotional wallop. The repetition really drags it down, though. Also, please don’t let Sigourney Weaver ever attempt a British accent again.

36. “Snowden” – We’re all still awaiting a true return to form from Oliver Stone. Personally, I haven’t felt fulfilled by one of this former auteur’s efforts since “JFK”. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting. Yet, this is still watchable fare, mostly due to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s commitment.

35. “The Conjuring 2” – As far as sequels go, this one surely passes the test, and will definitely deliver a fair share of scares. For some reason, it just doesn’t feature the same old school, satisfying level of entertainment that the original achieved.

34. “The Lobster” – Anybody who doesn’t call this one of the most original films to be released in 2016 is fooling themselves. Hats off to this kind of experimental mainstream storytelling. If only it was a bit less heavy-handed in its execution.

33. “Fences” – Many successful films have been generated from stage plays. Meanwhile, some films feel so stagey that you can’t even tell the difference from the play. Ultimately this film is nothing more than a showcase for its performances. Why does it rank so high on this list? My lord, the performances…

32. “Eye in the Sky” – The problem with making a film about a moral dilemma that’s difficult to argue either side is an inherent lack of closure for the story itself. Still, a well=paced and articulated thriller. Aaron Paul shines in, for once, not a type-casted role.

31. “Hacksaw Ridge” – Stereotypical, basic and shamelessly self-righteous. Yet the battle scenes are so well orchestrated and assembled that many of its shortcomings can be forgiven.

__________

30. “Gleason” – Similar to another documentary previously mentioned, this film sheds a lot of light on a dreadful human affliction. However, more so than the former, it delves much more into the day to day personal heartache its subjects endure and in a much more unscripted sense.

29. “Zootopia” – Much more pleasantly surprised by the this film than I thought I would be. While the story itself and character portrayals still feel beholding to the kids movie at heart, the themes and motifs that it digs into are admirably mature and relevant.

28. “Christine” – A difficult film to produce, as the first 95% is really just a means to the ending, which is really the only aspect that anyone is familiar with. But “Christine” handles the title character’s story well, subtly outlining the dangers of undiagnosed mental illness, while the climax is as disturbing as it should be.

27. “Sausage Party” – A pretty brilliant concept for animated fare, given that the idea was most likely conceived playing with animal crackers or gummy bears while devouring them in haze if intoxication. Like “Zootopia”, the film exhibits strong social issues, though being heavy-handed with them is an understatement.

26. “The Light Between Oceans” – Derek Cianfrance has talent pouring out of his ears, though it seems his talents are better suited to contemporary fare. Still, a lot of good happening here. The film is wrought with melodrama, though sappiness is kept in check. The trio of lead performances hold their own, particularly the indelible Michael Fassbender.

25. “Nocturnal Animals” – The crime caper that unfolds in the film is as powerful and taut as cinema can get. Yet, it is as fictitious in the film as it is to its viewer, which really lowers the stakes of the movie as a whole. Michael Shannon and Jake Gyllenhaal are both at the top of their game, which is a sight woth seeing.

24. “The Nice Guys” – Once in a while, I will try to experience a film based strictly on its entertainment value. Based on this notion, “Nice Guys” succeeds admirably. The endgame resolution for the film is a bit murky and unsatisfying, but the journey is highly enjoyable.

23. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – I really wasn’t sure if any of the new Star Wars films would leave me anything but beaming, but that would ultimately be too much to ask for. It’s a bit rushed and the story is a bit of a stretch (even for Star Wars). However, the character portrayals are well fleshed out and the action scenes are some of the best directed yet in an entry. A good film, but I hope for more from future stand-alones.

22. “Newtown” – Whatever your position on gun control may be, this film will pretty much wreck you, emotionally. Yet, given the subject matter and that this even really should have been the lynchpin in the most inane and disturbing issue still plaguing our country, I feel that it deserved a bit stronger of a political stance.

21. “La La Land” – Given that this film is an homage to an era of filmmaking style that I really detest, and that I have a pretty strict manifesto for movie musicals to follow, I had a pretty strong disposition against La La Land before seeing it. However, I was pleasantly surprised by a number of aspects. While the majority of the musical numbers are forced and unentertaining, the primary songs are quite memorable. And while the film’s love story seemed to be on a hopeless trajectory to make me gag, the “Roman Holiday”-esque climax is very redeeming. Might still be the most overrated film of the year, but what’s to love definitely outweighs what to hate.

__________

20. “Green Room” – Director Jeremy Saulnier’s debut feature, “Blue Ruin,” was an indie gem. In keeping with the same brutally violent content and uncompromising style, “Green Room” is a fantastic sophomore effort. The film is fully engaging in every minute of its runtime. For sure, this is a talent who deserves a lot of attention and some larger budgets.

19. “20th Century Women” – Another filmmaker with fresh voice who continues to offer insightful drama with decent entertainment value. Mills has yet to hit it out of the park, but this is a big step in the right direction. Annette Bening definitely gives her best performance since “American Beauty”, though it’s Greta Gerwig (who I have never had any love for before here) that really shines.

18. “Sing Street” – Sometimes I fear that John Carney will run out of great ideas for amusing psuedo-musicals, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully, it never will. There’s a lot of great coming-of-age films this year, but this one rates pretty highly. Meanwhile, the music is not only catchy, creative and complex, it manages to encompass a full generation’s worth of ideals through song. One of the overall most enjoyable experiences you’ll have at the movies just year, and not just because most of what’s better isn’t exactly lighthearted fare.

17. “Midnight Special” – It almost seems that young writer/director (gearing towards auteur) can do know wrong, as his entire catalog for me, thus far, has ranged from good to fantastic. Here, he does a fine job of genre-bending, showing that campy science fiction can be successfully blended with a very grounded adult drama. The ending may be a bit over-the-top, but the journey is packed with great, understated acting and pounding suspense.

16. “Captain Fantastic” – A really surprisingly enjoyable experience. Some will complain that the quirkiness is overdone and that the film veers a bit towards sentimentality in the third act, but it’s mostly all acceptable in service to a story of incredibly interesting people. Viggo Mortensen was hands-down born to play the title role and it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else driving that van. He knocks it out of the park.

15. “Krisha” – Gems don’t come much smaller in scale and budget than this film. Boy, was I glad I was put on to this film. Certain scenes in this film could easily be taught in film schools to highlight the beauty of telling the story with the camera as opposed to exposition. The only reason this did not crack my top ten is that the ending is far too abrupt and seems to cut about 20-30 min off the third act. However, for a debut film with virtually no resources, “Krisha” has heralded the arrival of a vibrant young director to keep an eye on.

14. “Cameraperson” – This documentary feels very little like a fully composed film at all, and yet that’s really the beauty of it. What would seem to be random montage of footage is really a meticulously assembled tableau of footage taken from around the globe. There is no narration or retrospective guiding the movie along, just the footage itself, which once you start to see and feel for what it is, carries the film for everything it needs. If you want to gain a healthy dose of human perspective, this is worth seeing.

13. “Hell or High Water” – One of the year’s best examples of old school filmmaking at its best. We’re presented with a rarity of sorts with a modern day western, featuring a plotline, characters and themes that could fit a 150 year old gunslinger tale, while reflecting the signs of the modern times. Writer Taylor Sheridan has proven that “Sicario” was no fluke, while the trio of leads deliver equal levels of entertaining testosterone, though each is a fully fleshed out character.

12. “Loving” – What a year for Jeff Nichols, with a second high quality film to add to his repertoire. Meanwhile, it couldn’t be much more of a departure from his comfort zone. A beautifully crafted film outlining the simplicity of love and common sense. As quietly and subtly told a story as its characters lives were. Ruth Negga shines in a breakout performance, but it’s Joel Edgerton who is the standout, in a more revealing emotional role than anything he’s tackled previously.

11. “Everybody Wants Some” – Truly heartbreaking that this just missed my top ten. Richard Linklater’s follow-up to his masterpiece “Boyhood” is a breath of comedic fresh air. A psuedo-sequel to his breakout hit “Dazed and Confused”, the college version is actually superior in many ways, mostly due to the injection of philosophical reverence within everyday life that Linklater has honed through the years. To boot, it is by far the funniest film you’ll see this year.

__________

10. “Silence”

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese

Not often does a film come along that Martin Scorsese has been working on for nearly thirty years. Could the finished product possibly live up to those expectations? Well, no, but that would have been a lot to ask for. It has its flaws, but this is still a master at work. Garfield and Driver put forth fantastic performances, however, it’s the supporting cast of Japanese actors like Tadanobu Asano and Issei Ogata that really make the film worth its running time. What I admire most from the film is that for a film about faith, its intentions do not subscribe to any in particular, if any at all. Mel Gibson could really take a page out of Mr. Scorsese’s book.

__________

9. “Tower”

Written and Directed by
Keith Maitland

There is no particular reason why animation should fit so well with the content of this documentary, or why it should enhance its impact. Regardless, it does exactly that, to the point that it’s a wonder why more non-fiction films don’t go the same route. What we are left with is a film as enlightening as it is harrowing. It explores the true fear and chaos of a terrorist event, as well as the decisions that lead to acts of incredible bravery. The film, more than any other this year, that makes you question yourself and just what kind of person you are or have the potential to embody.

__________

8. “Paterson”

Written and Directed by
Jim Jarmusch

Jarmusch has a long and celebrated catalog, most of which I have not seen, nor really felt the desire to. Therefore, I’m not sure what it was that drew me to this movie, but I’m glad it did. Like no other film this year, it celebrates the beauty in the mundane what to celebrate in the life’s little details. It’s not a showy performance by Adam Driver, but as restrained as the character’s inner drive. In some cases, “Paterson” breaks my golden rule of filmmaking, given that it’s absent of substantial conflict. However, I feel the true conflict is for the viewer to embrace and appreciate the characters’ lives and take them for the pure inspiration that they can be.

__________

7. “13th”

Directed by Ava DuVernay
Written by Ava DuVernay and Spencer Averick

 It’s no mystery that the topic of race relations is a hot topic in today’s society, to the point where many would wonder what more this documentary could have to tell us. The answer, quite simply, is a lot. Acting as both an educational history lesson and a searing expose of current events, Ava Duvernay’s follow-up to the heralded (and overrated, in my opinion) “Selma” is essential viewing. It’s crucial to know everything that brought us to this point and the film does a fantastic job of showing us just how little has changed. Meanwhile, the ending, originally meant as a cautionary tale is now even more important as a disturbing reality. The best documentary of the year.

__________

6. “Manchester by the Sea”

Written and Directed by
Kenneth Lonergan

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what makes this film as remarkable as it is, so this will likely be the vaguest blurb on the list. As plainly as can be, it’s life and the movie’s depiction of it and its ups and downs. The most common thing heard of the “Manchester” is of its devastatingly emotional impact, but the melancholy is balanced extremely well with humor and enjoyment. It’s poignant, wrenching and all the while, thoroughly entertaining. Bottom-line, it would worth the price of admission, regardless, for the force of nature that is Casey Affleck. He makes what he does here look easy, but it is not, folks.

__________

5. “The Witch”

Written and Directed by
Robert Eggers

Outside of “The Cabin in the Woods” (which is tough to even peg into this genre), it has been nearly 20 years since a horror film made my top ten list. However, like the former film mentioned, to categorize “The Witch” in such a way would also be a disservice. This is one of the most visceral films I’ve seen in a long time. The mis en scene created through the costumes, production design and stark cinematography carry us deep into this nightmare. Meanwhile, the performances are fantastic all around, including the astonishingly good youth. Finally, Robert Eggers is the graceful hand pulling the strings, giving us some of the most disturbing set-pieces you’ll likely ever see in a period piece, including a possession scene that overcomes cliche and exaggeration and remains in your mind long after it unfolds.

__________

4. “American Honey”

Written and Directed by
Andrea Arnold

Earlier this year, when I looked at the pedigree for this film, I had nearly written it off before giving it a try. Boy, was I off the mark. Sure it has no plot and yes it meanders more than Terrence Malick’s brain, and yet, none of that seems to matter. This is one of the most detailed and fulfilling tapestries of American youth to come along this century. Featuring a cast of mostly unknowns whose improvisations and antics make every one of these 163 minutes thoroughly engrossing. Shia LaBoeuf reminds us of the kind of promise he had pre-“Transformers” and Riley Keough nails her character with trashy brilliance. An indelible exploration of the American Dream, as well as the glory and futility of being young, poor and with no f***s given.

__________

3. “Jackie”

Directed by Pablo Larrain
Written by Noah Oppenheim

For every year’s slew of biopics, whether portraying someone from last decade or last millennium, overcoming the impediment of pure banality is always crucial. It’s safe to say that “Jackie” clears that hurdle with room to spare. There are plenty of ways this film could have been shot and it’s story told, though not many ways to improve on that’s been done here. The tight-framing and grainy appearance bring on a atmosphere of stark realism. The costumes are vibrant and the writing is crisp and insightful. The most iconic and version of this story you likely ever see. Oh, and Natalie Portman gives the best performance of the year. Period.

__________

2. “Arrival”

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Eric Heisserer

It’s almost not worth beating a dead horse, as my opinion on this was made quite clear in my rankings last year, but there is no director in Hollywood quite on the same level as Denis Villeneuve. He has fast-becoming an artist for the ages with a visual and storytelling style that is practically unparalleled. Each effort he puts forth is better than the last, and with “Arrival,” he’ll be hard-pressed to top himself. The film is shot with a cold and bleak type of beauty and Johann Johannsson delivers yet another haunting score. Beyond visual splendor and foreboding tone, there is a heartfelt, emotional story that has the potential to absolutely wreck you, carried with ease by Amy Adams. This was a very close call for my number one spot, but regardless, this movie will stand the test of time as a sci fi genre masterpiece.

__________

1. “Moonlight”

Directed by Barry Jenkins
Written by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

The first time I partook in this film, I was fascinated and impressed. By the second time, I was in absolute awe. If you’re looking for a film that is groundbreaking, fearless and absolutely a milestone of the moment, there’s almost no point going any further. Showing a strong influence from “Boyhood”, but using a wholly original story, “Moonlight” is a triptych collage of one boy’s life. Every performance of the film enhances the story, in particular the incomparable Mahershala Ali, whose drug dealer with a heart of gold is the strong moral influence that echoes through the film’s acts. This film has been branded as strong depiction of black and homosexual culture, which it is. But more than anything, it is a movie about identity, how the decisions we make and the people who impact us shape who we are and what it takes to find happiness, as elusive as it can seem. This is a timeless film that’s beauty and significance will be honored for generations.

__________

Well, there you have it. I feel as though compiling this list was as arduous as seeing the 83 films. I’ll be posting the winners of the Edgy Awards soon, but I’m about ready to bring on 2017.

Advertisements

My 2012 Top Ten List

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

It seems ironic and more than a little redeeming that around this same time last year, I ran my mouth off about 2011 being one of the worst quality years for filmmaking in some time. Well, the gods of cinema seem to have answered my prayers, for I don’t think I could have asked for a more diverse and memorable year. Just working on this list is a treat, and I hope so will reading it.

Without further adieu, let’s start with this year’s runners-up:

_____________

dark_knight_rises_top_ten“The Dark Knight Rises”

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan

While living up to its predecessor was a bit too much to ask for, Nolan’s final chapter is still a head above any other comic book film in this year, or really any other. The new characters are sharp, the villains are brutal and the epic tale’s message is as poignant as ever.

 

 

Read more…

The Shape of Things and Those to Come

January 22, 2011 8 comments

We’re now down to just over a month left until cinema’s biggest night, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, and only three days left till the nominations are released. It’s a very exciting time for movies and an equally exciting time for The Edge of the Frame. I’ve got a lot of great stuff planned for the coming weeks.

First off, now that all of the guild nominations are complete, I will try to be as prompt as possible at announcing the winners as they are awarded. First off will be the Producers Guild which is holding its ceremony tonight. Many believe that, with the DGA and WGA all but locked up, the Producers are the last big hurdle that “The Social Network” needs to vanquish before it can be considered a virtual lock for the Best Picture Oscar. Or, put another way, if “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” or even “Toy Story 3” wants to put up any kind of a fight, this should be their last stand. I mean these are producers we’re talking about, so massive box office success may be taken into account here. And all of the above-mentioned films have much more exciting box office turn-ins than the frontrunner (not that “TSN” fared badly, bringing in just shy of $100 million off of a $40 million dollar budget). As far as money goes, my own is still squarely behind David Fincher’s masterpiece. It doesn’t help having one of Hollywood’s most loved and successful producers behind the curtain, in the form of Scott Rudin.

On top of the guilds, I’m going to attempt to not wait until the last possible moment to announce my predictions for this year’s Academy Awards. I’m hoping that by tomorrow evening, I will be ready for my final guess. While, it’s true, there’s virtually nothing between today and Tuesday morning that could change what’s in the envelopes (especially since the AMPAS’ polls closed over a week ago). However, it’s all about the vibe, and for that, I have to take my time.

Along with continuing awards coverage, I am also drafting a few feature articles. I’m currently in progress on my next addition to The Lists series, focusing on the greatest addicts in movie history. Meanwhile, I’m also planning two articles in support of “The Social Network.” One, countering arguments that the film is overrated due to its historic inaccuracies and possibly another that defends Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as one of the year’s best, if not the best of the best.

You know, I take a lot of guff from people who say that I have a huge bias for the Facebook film; that this site is simply all “Social Network” all day long. Well, let’s face it folks. This awards season, let alone the year in cinema has been all “Social Network” all day. As the tagline states, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Well, you don’t get to win 30 out of 33 awards for Best Picture of the Year without being a pretty goddamn good movie, so I really don’t think I’m alone on this one.

Finally, as the 2010 film season comes to a close, it’s about time I conclude my critical coverage of the season. Soon, I will be rolling out my “Best of the Year” series. There are still four more films that I absolutely must see before I feel comfortable posting a valid list. David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom” is in my Blu ray player waiting for me when I get home from work, today. I’ve scheduled a screening of Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” tomorrow afternoon. I should have some time to check out Peter Weir’s “The Way Back later this week, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful” opens in Chicago on the 28th. On that time table, I should be able to assemble my Top Ten List by February 1st. I may just have time to sneak “Repo Men,” “Mother and Child,” “The Virginity Hit” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” into consideration, pending on how fast I can work my way through my Netflix DVD queue.

Shortly after I post my Top Ten of the Year, I will begin preparing the nominations for the Conroy Film Awards, or “The Connies” for a certain few who have chosen to refer to them that way. These are my own personal Academy Awards. I believe I have a set of them for every year going back to 1940. They’re tailored with the same nominees as the AMPAS, along with a few other fun categories, including Best Ensemble Cast, Best Heros/Villains, and Best Ending (with no spoilers included, of course).

All in all, it should be a good time. So keep reading, folks, cause the fun is about to begin.

Quentin Tarantino’s Top Ten List

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, it’s true that Quentin Tarantino is not a true film critic from any type of publication. However, it’s no mystery that he has a vast and intensive knowledge of cinema and sees quite a few movies. I mean the man used to work in a video store, and it’s old wives tale that he saw every single film within the building’s walls. Therefore, I don’t have much of a problem with posting his Top Ten favorite films.

They are:

1. “Toy Story 3”

2. “The Social Network”

3. “Animal Kingdom”

4. “I Am Love”

5. “Tangled”

6. “True Grit”

7. “The Town”

8. “Greenberg”

9. “Cyrus”

10. “Enter the Void”

Not at bad list, at least not the top two slots. That’s about all that I have to say on the subject. Stay tuned for the National Society of Film Critics Awards which should be out within the next day or two.

My Top Ten Trailers of 2010

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

So, it’s been a while since I’ve made my last list, aside from the unveiling of the Mitchell List. My last compilation was the Top Ten Movie Monsters of all time, which was a reasonable hit for the site. Now, it’s time for the second edition: The Top Ten Trailers of 2010.

I love movie trailers. I know that some people can’t stand them and even refuse to watch them, but I believe that they can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to the movies, as long as their made well. It’s always, actually, been a semi-dream job of mine to edit trailers, because there’s really nothing more fun.

In order to be phenomenal, a trailer must have many of the same qualifications of a great film. It has to have stellar pacing, it must give proper introduction to the film’s character’s and plot. However, unlike a film, it cannot give too much away of the plot and has to leave something exciting for the ticket price. It usually doesn’t hurt to have a decent choice of music, too.

The following are a selection of my favorite trailers that encompass all of these aspects. This includes trailers only for films released during the 2010 year, or else “Battle: Los Angeles” would most certainly be here. Without, further ado, here are the five runners-up:

Read more…

Roger Ebert’s Top Ten List

December 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times, arguably the most famous movie critic in history, has released his Top Ten of the year. While it’s not that close to my own choices, it’s far more interesting then Peter Travers, which was released a bit earlier this month. The lists do, however, share the same choice as Best Film of the Year.

Not hard to guess what it is.

1. The Social Network
2. The King’s Speech
3. Black Swan
4. I Am Love
5. Winter’s Bone
6. Inception
7. The Secret in Their Eyes
8. The American
9. The Kids Are All Right
10. The Ghost Writer

Here is what he had to say about his number 1 choice:

1. “The Social Network” Here is a film about how people relate to their corporate roles and demographic groups rather than to each other as human beings. That’s the fascination for me; not the rise of social networks but the lives of those who are socially networked. Mark Zuckerberg, who made billions from Facebook and plans to give most of it away, isn’t driven by greed or the lust for power. He’s driven by obsession with an abstract system. He could as well be a chessmaster like Bobby Fischer. He finds satisfaction in manipulating systems.

The tension in the film is between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins, who may well have invented Facebook for all I know, but are traditional analog humans motivated by pride and possessiveness. If Zuckerberg took their idea and ran with it, it was because he saw it as a logical insight rather than intellectual property. Some films observe fundamental shifts in human nature, and this is one of them.

David Fincher’s direction, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and the acting by Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and the others all harmoniously create not only a story but a world view, showing how Zuckerberg is hopeless at personal relationships but instinctively projects himself into a virtual world and brings 500 million others behind him. “The Social Network” clarifies a process that some believe (and others fear) is creating a new mind-set.

Read more about Ebert’s other choices for best films of the year over at his blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal.

AFI Top Ten List

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Quite a boring list, but they’re still AFI, so I guess I have to report this. Unordered, so we don’t know what their favorite is. I’ll just assume that it’s “The Social Network.” : )

AFI TOP TEN LIST

Black Swan

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

127 Hours

The Social Network

The Town

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter’s Bone