What a year! The highs, the lows, the crippling fear of what 2017 will bring. That’s what movies exist for, to escape the dread of the outside world no matter how damaging that can be. I started listening to more political podcasts so really doing my part. Still there’s nothing more fun than looking back on the year that was and if you’re keeping track, I went from two female directors on my Best Of list last year down to none and I put that on Hollywood!
The South Korean popcorn zombie movie that you might have missed is the best incarnation of the genre since Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. Adding some flavor to your commute, Busan is undead Snowpiercer mixing it up with some new zombie rules and a lively cast of travelers/victims.
Pennsylvania represent! Fencesis amazing if you’ve never seen Fences. August Wilson’s writing is masterful making a tightly contained family drama so gripping. Even if it’s not the most cinematic, Washington adapting the play for the screen makes it accessible to those unable to catch a live production (we can’t all live in New York, dad). Viola Davis gives the most natural, grounded performance, outshining giving us the best phrase of 2016 “Out Denzeling Denzel”.
This experimental musical is Sweeney Todd meets My Favorite Murder meets The Office and that’s all I want from every movie. Catchy songs recounting gruesome murders is my jam and plus it’s funny. Also there’s one scene with Tom Hardy which of course isn’t enough to fill the Tom Hardy size whole in my life but I’ll take what I can get of that big weirdo.
It’s the year of the Gosling and who would have thought his perfect counterpart would be Russell Crowe. 1970’s Los Angeles never looked so good. Once again more murder mystery which I’m on board with set on the familiar vintage streets of my neighborhood. Leave to Shane Black to make an amazing slapstick neo-noir and it doesn’t even have to be Christmas themed!
Just thinking about this movie I can feel that Texas heat and dust rising as the two bandit brothers speed away from a bank robbery. The film balances social commentary with heist all with gorgeous cinematography by Files Nuttegens. Who knew it’s hopeless sensibilities would ring so true as we start 2017.
If Sam Neill’s greatest achievement is playing opposite of dinosaurs (twice!), his second would be his role as foster dad on the lamb with the most idiotic runaway in all of New Zealand. Taika Watiti has proved to be one of the greatest comedic directors out there right now, so much so that I’ll watch his Thor movie because Wilderpeople is so good. I hope to see more of young Julian Dennison as well either as an actor or a rap star.
Pablo Larraín’s portrait of a grieving widow in the highest position in the United States has lingered with me ever since viewing it and not because I can’t stop doing impressions of Portman’s outrageous affectations. I don’t love the performance but I’m completely enamored with the operatic beauty and tragedy of the 1960’s expressed with all its flaws in this film. It single-handedly makes smoking cigarettes and the musical Camelot really cool.
Did I mention I love murder? I initially scoffed at the idea of sitting in a theater for an 8-hour documentary yet once I started watching the ESPN series, I couldn’t help but binge it, much to my boyfriend’s chagrin. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s a fascinating piece about the history of racial tension in Los Angeles and America as a whole and the final chapter is one of the most surreal true life stories I’ve ever seen.
I am completely sold on Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as America’s Sweetheart. Why La La Land made it so high on my list is not because of the songs or the choreography, it’s because I fell in love along with them. I felt like I was sitting in the Rialto watching Rebel Without A Cause waiting for that first kiss. Their chemistry is so believable which is what made the ending so heartbreaking. As much as I don’t want my movie going experience to end in a gut punch, it was so well executed that I’m willing to take that abuse with the many rewatches to come.
This movie has managed to stick with me since April as one of the most visceral theater experiences I’ve ever had. Rarely have I found myself holding my breath in hopes that characters will get out of the dire situations they find themselves, and trapped in a Nazi punk bar is the pits. The unpredictability of who would make it out alive and who would succumb to gnarly, unthinkable deaths has kept Green Room present in my mind throughout 2016. It’s a cinematic thriller and a perfectly made splatter fest. RIP Yelchin.
Best Use of A State Nobody Likes: Moonlight
Best Messy, Bizzare Passion Project: Rules Don’t Apply
Best Use of 80’s Music/Aesthetic: Sing Street
Best Inspirational Film Even Though Our Country Is Still Super Racist: Hidden Figures
Best Death By Fire Movie: Manchester By The Sea
Best Kate McKinnon Movie: Ghostbusters
Best White Girl Movie: Edge of Seventeen
And don’t worry my most anticipated movie of 2016, wasn’t that bad. Happy 2017!