By: Joseph Kathmann
Editor's Note: This article begins Enter the Movies recap of 2017 in film and takes the place of the "Biggest Controversies of the Year" post.
No controversy has engulfed the entertainment industry since I started this blog five years ago like the Harvey Weinstein scandal has. What started (at least in Hollywood) as a few brave women coming forward with a single story in the New York Times (who, let's not forget, has had its own issues with sexual harassment arise since) has turned into a nationwide movement of force and change, represented by the hashtags #MeToo and #TimesUp. I will admit: when I first saw that initial story on Weinstein in the NYT, I thought, "Wow, this is awful." But, unfortunately I didn't think much more of it. I, an oblivious white male, never thought this story was just the tip-of-the-iceberg for a much larger and widespread problem in both Hollywood and the rest of our culture. (Women, of course, knew it was) I was stupidly naive, and looking back I wish I had seen this problem for what it is far earlier than now. But, up until this point, I've remained largely silent on the issue. I am lucky enough to be a white male in America, so I feel I don't have much of any right to talk about something (or, mansplain it, I know) that women have been dealing with since society decided that, for some reason, men should be in charge of everything. But, every year on Enter the Movies I recap the biggest controversies of the previous year in Hollywood, and it just didn't feel right to give this story a little blurb at the top of some list and leave it at that. It's easily the biggest story, and the biggest force of change, I have ever seen in the entertainment industry since I started following it as a near-unhealthy obsession. At the very least it deserves a full essay, even though I, a white male, am the one writing it.
Anyway, if you don't want to read this because my opinion on sexual harassment doesn't mean much to you, here's the TL;DR version: the men that abused their power over women are monsters. Anyone who thinks otherwise is part of the problem. Personally, I will struggle to support any future film that stars or is produced by any of the men accused of harassing women, no matter gravitas of the accusations. (It will be impossible for me to separate the film from the man going forward.) To me, someone like Aziz Ansari is just as guilty of assaulting and harassing women as Harvey Weinstein, and I want no part in their attempted comeback stories. Their time is up.
So, now for the long version. I want to start this essay by quoting Jessica Chastain from a recent actress roundtable at The Hollywood Reporter, (link in the pick above-it's absolutely fascinating) because she sums up the current state of Hollywood better than I ever could. "I hope the entertainment industry will never be the same. You can look at Louis Mayer and "Fatty" Arbuckle and Jack Warner. [Early titans of the entertainment industry that allegedly traded jobs for sexual favors.] You read Shirley Temple's book and find out what happened to her as a child.... [Temple said in her autobiography that a producer pulled his penis out in front of her when she was only 12] there is a history of abuse against women in our industry. And, it's never been addressed. And.... I'm devastated by all the stories that have come out because it's heartbreaking, but at the same time I feel hopeful, because we're not ignoring it anymore. It's painful for change, but it's needed. It was needed many years ago.....[and] I think the industry will come extinct unless we show a more modern version of the world that we're presented with."
When I first read the Harvey Weinstein story, I was angry, but I (unfortunately) never imagined that this problem was as widespread as it was. The story surrounding Weinstein specifically has been a frustrating one-from him allegedly hiring ex-Mossad agents to silence actresses and track journalists to the fact that many, including (but not limited to) the board of the (now disgraced) Weinstein Company to directors like Quentin Tarantino knew that this was happening and just stood by and watched. (More on Tarantino later) The amount of sexual assault Weinstein was able to get away with is not just insulting to Hollywood, it's insulting to the entire male population. It's disgusting. It's humiliating to me. I mean, look at this picture below. That's just a PORTION of the women who have accused Weinstein of harassing/assaulting them, and that doesn't even include the anonymous ones. (Like the unnamed actresses that have accused him of rape)
Knowing that each of the women above (and many more) have had to deal with a traumatic experience that forever changed their lives makes me incredibly sad. But, Harvey Weinstein is just a fraction of the problem and the dozens of stories that have surfaced over the past few months prove that. Over a hundred men in power, both within the entertainment industry and outside it, have been accused of sexual harassment. (You can check out a handy running tally from the music site Consequence of Sound here) Weinstein was just the tip of the iceberg, as stories like Dustin Hoffman groping an actress on set, or Kevin Spacey being a monster and SOMEHOW thinking he'd be excused for it by coming out, (seriously-that may be the most disgusting response I have ever seen) or Louis C.K. thinking it's somehow OK to whip his penis out and masturbate in front of women became commonplace in the final months of 2017. It's so bad that now when I see yet another powerful man accused of sexual harassment, my friends and I just "add them to the list." We're getting desensitized to it, which is an incredibly depressing thought. This has to stop. What will it take, if not this, for women to finally be on equal footing as men? I want to get to the point where I don't even have to ask that question, because the equal footing is so ingrained in our society that we're not even thinking about it anymore. But, instead, we are left with seeing yet another powerful male being accused of sexual harassment. And those that have had allegations leveled their way are already planning their comeback stories. As long as they're "truly" sorry, right? Disgraceful.
I must admit I am getting angry just typing this article. (I can't even imagine how women must feel) It's hard not too - women like Julia Wolov and Dana Min Goodman have been traumatized by their experiences with Louis C.K. disgusting assaults, and they're just two of the many, MANY women that have been affected by sexual assault in the entertainment industry. And our society (aka the men of our society) allowed this culture to persist for decades! The men would just laugh it off, or WORSE, think a woman was "looking for her fifteen seconds of fame" by coming forward with stories of sexual harassment against a powerful bro. That excuse disgusts me now. I remember when that rationale was tossed around rather nonchalantly as the accusations against Bill Cosby emerged. Heck, just two years ago we elected Donald Trump president despite numerous accusations of sexual assault against him, and Hollywood itself found it OK to hand Casey Affleck a bunch of awards for Best Actor despite numerous accusations of sexual harassment. While we've come far over the course of 2017, it's important to remember we still have a long way to go.
(Fun fact: I thought giving Affleck the award for Best Actor was wrong in early 2017 too, especially when you consider Brie Larson, who won a lot of awards the year prior for playing a woman who was herself the subject of male abuse, had to hand him these awards. At least I thought that one was messed up.....)
I have an infinite amount of respect for the women that have come forward with charges of sexual harassment or assault against their powerful male counterparts. They have more courage than I could ever dream of, and, as former Olympian Rachael Denhollander pointed out in a recent op-ed, are willing to destroy their personal lives in order to do the right thing. I wish these women didn't have to put, well, anything on the line to say something. Why are their houses burned down for doing the right thing? Men: why do we have to be such stubborn pieces of crap? As Chastain said, "It's painful for change, but it is needed." Also, let's not forget: even now there are thousands, if not millions, of women that get up every day and go to work with someone that has harassed them in some way. While that thought is devastating, it's important for us, the bystanders, to remember that these women are just as brave as those that have spoken up against their accusers. I know I admire them and are envious of their courage every bit as much as those who have spoken up. I just hope the men in power realize that the time for change is NOW. Not five years from now, but NOW. They better be shaking in their boots.
Anyway, I'd like to take a brief moment to talk about my own personal journey as a male through the rise of #MeToo and #TimesUp. (So, all in all, this is a rather pointless sidenote.) I never could have imagined how widespread this problem was until the #MeToo hashtag was trending. Around mid-October of 2017, I saw at least a dozen of my female friends post the simple but powerful Facebook status "Me Too." This hit me so close to home, and opened my eyes to just how widespread the problem of sexual harassment in our culture was/is. It's easy to say this is just a problem in Hollywood, but it's not. It's happening all around us I ask myself frequently what I would do if I knew someone like my boss was abusing female co-workers. What would I do? The easy answer is: I'd speak up. But would I really? I don't know. It takes courage to speak up in a situation like that, but I hope I will look at the brave women (and men) that have spoken up in this new era to find the courage to speak out against the abuse myself.
As far as my personal stance on the industry going forward and the men accused of sexual harassment, I have come to this conclusion: I will do my best to never support any future projects that star or are produced by men accused of sexual assault. They do not deserve my money, nor do they deserve yours. This includes something produced by an entity like The Weinstein Company. As prestigious a company it once was, it used its immense power to cover up the accusations against its founders Harvey (and his brother Bob) Weinstein. It, like Fox News for covering up accusations against Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, are now dead to me, regardless of what they try and do in the future. However, I don't think it's fair to throw entire films that were made before these accusations came to light under the bus. A film like Baby Driver should not be discarded simply because Kevin Spacey is in it. That film was the work of a massive amount of men and women, and it shouldn't be cast aside and forgotten simply because of the actions of one man. So, going forward I will still celebrate overall films like Baby Driver or The Disaster Artist. (there have been several disgusting allegations leveled at James Franco in recent weeks, for those who were wondering why Denzel Washington was nominated for Best Actor over him) However, I will not celebrate the roles the men accused of sexual harassment played in those movies. They do not deserve it.
One final story about yet another woman dealing with sexual assault in the entertainment industry. The badass that is Uma Thurman just came forward to tell her personal story on the monster Harvey Weinstein, and it is heartbreaking. It goes to show just how widespread the problem with him was, not only with Weinstein, but with male power in Hollywood in general. The amount of complicity Thurman lays out, from director Quentin Tarantino to her freaking talent agency, Creative Artists Agency, is harrowing. Everyone was in on it. Every man in power knew Weinstein was a sexual predator, and yet they did NOTHING to stop him. The piece is gut-wrenching, but the highlight (if you want to call it that) I want to point out was a sequence from Kill Bill that Thurman was coerced into participating in. In this sequence, Thurman drives a shoddy convertible into a palm tree herself, no stuntwoman replacement, and is seriously injured in the process. She was forced into this sequence by the director, Quentin Tarantino. You can watch it below. Thurman says she spent fifteen years trying to get this video for her own personal closure on the incident, and just recently got it back. Let me warn you: it is painful to watch.
The level of coercion and harassment Uma Thurman faced could not be a more perfect summary of what needs to change in both the entertainment industry and our culture as whole. This goes beyond sexual harassment. When someone says no, it means NO. It doesn't mean "No, but...." it means NO. Too many times have women been told their "No" isn't good enough. It's unacceptable. It doesn't matter if it's "inconvenient" for you, the director, to have to find a stunt double to film a scene. If Uma Thurman doesn't want to do something, guess what? She doesn't have to do it! Why is this so difficult, guys? If a woman says "No" when Aziz Ansari asks if she wants to have sex, guess what? THAT MEANS NO. That doesn't mean you can try and "seduce" her with.....something that will (and somehow this part is shocking to a lot of men) make her feel uncomfortable. It means NO. I hope that men in power at least understand that now, in 2018, if they don't accept the "No" they are given, women have the platform to speak up and say something. And DEAR GOD if I ever find myself in a position of power, I hope I remember this movement as well, and understand and respect that NO MEANS FREAKING NO. A woman shouldn't even have to say no! If they look uncomfortable in a situation, maybe....just MAYBE, oh, I don't know.... they don't want to do something? Revolutionary, right??
This reckoning for the male power structure we've had for decades is LONG overdue. I hope we reach the point where we don't even have to think about this because it's so ingrained, but the fact that there's even a discussion over BASIC things like income inequality show just how far we have to go before we reach the point we SHOULD be at. But I hope that day comes quickly. Anyway, in a brief conclusion to this piece, I'd like to refer to a great quote from Salma Hayek in her emotional op-ed about Harvey Weinstein molesting her. It's a powerful line that sums up the changing tides 2017 brought within the entertainment industry, and our society as a whole, better than I ever could.
"Men sexually harassed because they could. Women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can."
Times up, guys.
Final Editor's Note: I couldn't figure out a way to integrate this into the piece, but check out Brit Marling's The Economics of Consent if you want another phenomenal piece on sexual harassment in Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein.
A really solid list with just a few faults
We are now in the height of the most wonderful time of the year, better known as Oscar season, and the Academy has finally released their much-anticipated list of nominees. While it is important to remember at the end of the day these don't matter, (the only thing that matters is Enter the Movies film awards, after all! Right? Guys?) and we just get hyped up about the Oscars for fun, I must admit: I'm pretty impressed with this year's nominees. While there are a few glaring snubs (more on those later) I think overall this is a well rounded, diverse group of nominees. Unlike with the Globes, there weren't any major categories that made me throw my arms up in the air and question everything I know about everything. (Oh ya, getting deep over here) The Shape of Water led the way with 13 nominations, which I am ok with. That film has continued to grow on me since I first saw it, and will find itself a deserving place well within my top ten best movies of 2017 list. It's a great film worthy of 13 nominees, and I hope this Oscar love boosts its sales in the process. I wasn't too thrilled that Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri received a bunch of nominations too, but I'm pretty confident that the momentum it has right now through the early part of awards season will wane as we get closer to Oscar Sunday. There have been some issues raised with this film's take on race, and for good reason. I wouldn't be too surprised if Sam freaking Rockwell wins Best Supporting Actor and that's it for the movie come Oscar Sunday. Anyway, let's talk about the winners, losers, and the more perplexing moments of this year's Oscar list!
For those that don't know, this post is just some immediate reactions to the list of nominees. Enter the Movies will continue its coverage of 2017 cinema with more film reviews in the upcoming weeks, as well as a comprehensive look back at the year for film. And look for my annual comprehensive guide to the 2018 Oscars to drop on February 25th, so stay tuned!
Big Winners: Lady Bird, Get out, Music, #MeToo
Let's start with my favorite thing about this entire list: Lady Bird. The little directorial debut from my spirit animal, Greta Gerwig, snagged five Oscar nominations, including Gerwig's (ironically) first ever Oscar nods in both directing and original screenplay. I loved this movie so much, and am beyond thrilled to see it receive some very deserving Oscar love. I'm not going to lie: I may (or may not) have let out a quick scream when I saw Gerwig's name in the Best Director category. Gerwig is an amazing individual, and she is the reason Lady Bird has been so successful. She came from some very humble beginnings in the mumblecore movement and has worked her tail off to get to where she is now, and I could not be more happy for her!
So how about Get Out, eh? While I wasn't as big a fan of it as others are, I'm still quite happy to see what's ultimately a slasher film run away with four Oscar nominations, including the undisputed surprise of the entire list for me: Daniel Kaluuya nominated for Best Actor. After the allegations against James Franco surfaced, I was quite happy to see Kaluuya receive a Best Actor nod over him. This is a great segue to the #MeToo movement showing up in this list of nominees.....I was quite worried that there would be a mistake somewhere in this list, whether it be the Best Director category being all men, or James Franco being nominated for Best Actor, but the Academy did an excellent job having an all-around diverse group of nominees, and removing (almost) all potential missteps within the individual categories. Hopefully that continues into the Oscar ceremony itself. Also, on this note, thank GOD Ridley Scott didn't receive a Best Director nod over someone like Greta Gerwig. I still scoff at his Golden Globes nomination over someone more deserving like her. Also, speaking of the Best Director category, we can now say "Oscar Nominated Jordan Peele" and I am VERY ok with that. I'm sure he's texting Keegan right now about it.
I also want to highlight the strong music categories this year. While The Greatest Showman's "This is Me" did receive its inevitable nomination for Original Song, (I will be sad if it wins, which it probably will because it's the most popular song on the list) I was thrilled to see Sufjan Stevens "Mystery of Love" from Call Me by Your Name make the list too. I haven't dropped the review of Call Me by Your Name yet, but this film is one of my favorites of the year and "Mystery of Love" was not just my favorite song in film from 2017, it was one of my favorite songs, period. It's a beautiful and touching song. At the very least I look forward to seeing it performed at the Oscars by Stevens! We'll also have performances from Miguel, Common, and Mary J. Blige to look forward to. Those should all be great. Also, I LOVE the Best Original Score category! About the only film with a great score they missed was Blade Runner 2049, but I am very ok with the Academy only giving Hans Zimmer one Oscar nomination. Hopefully that'll increase his chances of FINALLY snagging his first ever Oscar (somehow) for Dunkirk but if Phantom Thread or The Shape of Water get called instead I wouldn't be mad. They all feature mesmerizing scores, and highlight a very strong year for music in film.
Big Losers: Wonder Woman, Hostiles, The Best Actress Category, Ross Lynch
Hey, Academy. How's it going? I have a simple, innocent question for you: Where's Wonder Woman? Go ahead, I'll wait.....I am SHOCKED by the omission of this film that had almost as much audience buzz behind it as Get Out did. The fact that Wonder Woman did not receive a single nomination is easily the biggest loser for this year's Oscar nominees. For anything! C'mon, guys! You mean to tell me that Kong: Skull Island deserved a nomination over Wonder Woman? (More on that in a bit) I'm ok that Patty Jenkins didn't get a Best Director nomination. (Even though she contributed greatly to the film's success) Much as I would've loved to have seen her name in the category, there were just too many other great directors in 2017 for her to be on that list and not feel like there was a snub elsewhere. (Who do you remove for her? Jordan Peele? You couldn't possibly convince me Jenkins deserved to be on that list over Guillermo Del Toro or Christopher Nolan.) But between visual effects and costumes and even something like original score, (I think it's safe to say Wonder Woman's theme is pretty iconic) surely there was space for it somewhere! The Academy definitely needs to take superhero films at least a little bit more seriously.
There was another no-show I was surprised by in Hostiles, mostly because of how desperate that crew was to make it awards eligible for this year's Oscars, but I haven't seen that film yet so I can't really comment about it. But, given that it opened on about 2 screens right before December 31st to be eligible, I wouldn't be surprised if they just couldn't get the "for your consideration" screeners out to the Academy in time. But there was an easy opportunity to give a distinguished Native American actor in Wes Studi a Best Supporting Actor nomination over someone like Woody Harrelson. (Three Billboards did not deserve two supporting actor nominations)
Speaking of acting categories, let's talk about the Best Actress category. Why is Meryl Streep on this list? She's the most nominated person in history, does she really need another nomination she stands no chance of winning for a character that didn't even need to be in the movie it was in? Don't get me wrong: I love Meryl Streep. And she is Meryl Streep in The Post. She's as charismatic as ever. But Best Actress this year was stacked, and giving this final slot to someone like her took away the opportunity for far more deserving actresses to be in the category. This slot could've been given to Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman. This slot could've been given to Jessica Chastain for Molly's Game. But EASILY the biggest snub by Meryl Streep's inclusion is Vicky Krieps for her career-defining role in Phantom Thread. I'm honestly at a loss for words on this one. Krieps puts in a performance as good as Daniel Day-Lewis, who's likely the favorite to win Best Actor because it's Daniel Day-Lewis, but she doesn't even get a nomination? What's up with that? Her performance in Phantom Thread will be in my top five performances of the year, and Meryl Streep's won't even make the cut. Unfortunately though, once again, Hollywood's favorite poster child gets another head-scratching nomination instead.
Speaking of snubs, let's talk about Ross Lynch for a second. I hadn't heard a peep out of the My Friend Dahmer camp this awards season, so I'm honestly not surprised the former Disney star wasn't nominated for his haunting performance as the future serial killer Jeff Dahmer, but this performance has resonated with me as much as any other performance has in 2017, and I wish someone, ANYONE, would give him an award or two for the role. It was something to behold. Oh well.....
Perplexing Moments: Best Animated Feature Category, Best Visual Effect Category, Darkest Hour Snags Six nominations?
What's going on in the animation category? I haven't seen that many animated movies in 2017 (hardly any, actually) but I'm smart enough to know that The Boss Baby does not deserve to be on this list. I laughed about it at the Globes, and I will laugh about it again here. Was the world of animation just that bad this year? It's also voiced by Alec Baldwin, who's been getting himself into trouble recently for saying some pretty stupid things. (He took to his foundation's Twitter account to defend Woody Allen last week for some strange and likely disgusting reason) But The Boss Baby, with it's lovely 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Alec Baldwin leading the way, can now call itself "Oscar Nominated The Boss Baby." Yikes. At least Loving Vincent, the world's first fully painted feature film, got a nomination. Hopefully it can beat out the Disney/Pixar powerhouse that represents itself as Coco and take home the Oscar, too.
SPEAKING OF crazy categories that make no sense whatsoever, and films that have no right to call themselves Oscar nominated, the Visual Effects category! Ohhhhhh the visual effects category. Kong: Skull Island is the real head-scratcher here. Even when you remove the fact that it snubbed a potential nomination for Wonder Woman, its effects weren't anything special. Why is it on this list? And why is Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 on this list over Wonder Woman? I guess the Academy will take Marvel superhero movies seriously, but not DC ones. Also. And this makes even less sense to me. Where's Dunkirk and The Shape of Water? This is dumbfounding. Not only did I assume these two films would make the cut, I assumed they would be the front-runners to win the entire category! The Shape of Water received a whooping 13 nominations and its entire premise is built around Sally Hawkins falling in love with a visual effects-created amphibious creature, but it doesn't deserve a visual effects nomination? Even if it was just some guy in a suit that could light up, then it should be in the Costume Design category over something like Beauty and The Beast. What happened there? And Dunkirk's calling card was its visual effects. How was that not nominated? I guess I just don't know visual effects when I see them.
Finally, let's talk about Darkest Hour. I'm all for Gary Oldman getting his Best Actor nomination, as well as makeup team. Those were inevitable, and I suspect the makeup team will walk home with that Oscar, too. But I was SHOCKED to see this film snag six (SIX?) Oscar nominations. (Hey! That's the score I gave the film too! Coincidence? I think NOT!) Including one for Best Picture. Seriously? Overall, the Best Picture category was pretty good this year. It often has at least one or two head-scratchers since they expanded the field to ten, but this year I couldn't believe that Darkest Hour made the cut for the category while the VASTLY more deserving I, Tonya did not. Where's its six nominations? Oh well. The Academy can't get them all right, right?
Well, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed reading my initial reactions to this year's Oscar nominees. Thanks, as always, for reading and I will be back soon with a look back at 2017 and more Oscars coverage. Sayonara!
The Gaffe Heard Round the World
Well, as usual, the Oscars just concluded and I'm tired. But I wouldn't have it any other way writing this post. I love doing it in my current loopy and slightly depressed post-Oscar state. (Depressed because writing this post is like closure on the year for me, and I feel like I've come to the end of a long journey reviewing film for 2016. Not depressed because of who won or who didn't win because at the end of the day.....who cares, really.) Anyway, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way right off the bat: the moment everyone will remember for 2017's Oscars is when La La Land's name was erroneously called for Best Picture. I'm sure we'll hear plenty more about that as time goes on, so I will just address how much I appreciated the class of the La La Land crew for not only being willing to hand over their awards to Moonlight, but they were actually eager to. It felt like the moment Adele beat out Queen Bey at the Grammys a few weeks back. They showed no negativity to getting on the stage just to realize they were on there by mistake, and the look on Barry Jenkins face when he realized that his film actually won the award made me a little emotional. I love Barry Jenkins, and while you all know what took home my Best Film of 2016, I have no problem with the Academy handing their award to Moonlight. Any other year I would've been right there with them, and I know years down the road Moonlight will be the film that everyone remembers, so I'm totally content with that choice. To be fair, I've only agreed with the Academy's choice once over the past ten years, so there's that. And we ALL know between Enter the Movies and the Academy Awards which award is more coveted. Uhhhhhhhh Enter the Movies. Obviously.
Anyway, where I disagree with the Academy, however, is in some of the more technical categories. The fact that Suicide Squad can now say "Academy Award Winner Suicide Squad" is pretty hilarious. Also Hacksaw Ridge for Best Film Editing? Really? La La Land and Moonlight must've split that vote, but you thought Hacksaw Ridge was number three on that list? Over Arrival and Hell or High Water? C'mon man. The biggest controversy for me, though, is in the Best Actor category. Anyone who read my Biggest Controversies of 2016 list will know why, but for those who didn't.....Casey Affleck winning Best Actor shows us that, for all the progress we've made for diversity in Hollywood, there's still a long way to go. Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation was shunned by the Academy when allegations of rape surfaced against him, and yet when similar allegations rose against Affleck.....he wins Best Actor. Now please, tell me that those allegations don't go ignored by the Academy if Casey Affleck was black. Go on. I'll wait.
I know we should take the wins where we can get them. After all Denzel Washington is the white man's black person, so it isn't like there was some super glamorous replacement in the running for Best Actor. (Makes me wonder if the story would've been different had Dev Patel been in that category where he should have been instead of Best Supporting Actor) And I'd say the defeat of La La Land at the hands of Moonlight is a pretty terrific feat and ABSOLUTELY a result of the diversification of the Academy, so I'm very excited to see where this diversification leads us next year. And there were some terrific feel-good wins in the lesser categories, including The Salesman winning Best Foreign film and The White Helmets winning Documentary Short. Both films were directly impacted by the orange menace's travel ban, with director Asghar Farhadi from The Salesman boycotting the Oscars because of it and the cinematographer for The White Helmets, Khaled Khatib, actually being denied entry to the United States by, well, the United States.That second one in particular was an unscripted moment for the Academy-while Farhadi made his boycott of the Oscars known far in advance during the voting period, so voting for The Salesman was an easy protest vote to Twump by the group, Khatib's issues came just a day before the event itself, long after the votes were cast. Also touching was Mahershala Ali becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, and Viola Davis becoming the first African American actor to hit the acting trifecta-acting wins from the Tonys, Emmys, and Oscars.
Anyway, speaking of unscripted moments, let's talk about Jimmy Kimmel! The host of this year's Oscars was.....fine. On the one hand, he had a few good gags. His ongoing beef with Matt Damon continued to be hilarious, highlighted by my favorite moment of the entire night-playing Matt Damon off the stage as he was presenting an award. He also took a few good jabs at Donald Trump, and threw in bits from his late night show, like a "Mean Tweets: Oscars Edition" bit. In other words, he, like James Corden at the Grammys, was up there just to plug his own late night show, he just did it a bit more subtly than Corden did. He also had a few misses. His "food raining down from the sky" bits were humorous, but not particularly memorable. But his totally not staged gag with the tour bus? C'mon, man. That was easily the weakest moment of the night, as everyone knew that those people would've had to have been screened EXTENSIVELY before they strolled into the Dolby Theater. That moment was right there with Neil Patrick Harris's bit about "successfully" predicting the Oscar picks when he hosted. Chances are those "random people" were just members of the seat filler corps that make the house look full every year. Or they were people that had been sitting out in the crowd on the Red Carpet beforehand. All that is my way of saying.....Jimmy Kimmel was fine, but LAWD next year can we PLEASE not have a late night talk show personality host the Oscars? Please?
As for everything else, it was....fine. The Moana performance was the lowlight of the musical performances for me, (that Lin-Manuel intro felt very tacked on) but overall outside of Justin Timberlake all of the performances weren't particularly memorable. I already can't remember Sting's song, and La La Land's montage would've been significantly better had Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling joined John Legend at one point during it. Also the speeches were shockingly contained. This may be the biggest surprise of this year's Oscars. While it was a pretty good night for liberals outside of Casey Affleck's win, there was no Meryl Streep or David K. Harbour (Stranger Things) kind of moment. I really thought that someone was going to provide that soundbite that everyone would play for weeks and months to come, but the most "soundbite" political moment came when Jimmy Kimmel Tweeted at Donald Trump during the broadcast. The speech of the hour, in my opinion, belonged to Viola Davis, who delivered an emotional speech as she accepted her first Academy Award. Emma Stone was a close second, but that may only be because I am partial to Emma Stone. I was hoping for a better speech from Damien Chazelle (if the speeches from those who did win in technical categories for La La Land told me anything, it's that that crew REVERES Chazelle) but hey. Dude is still the youngest director to ever win an Oscar so that's pretty cool.
What else? I can't think of anything, so that's it! That's all I got. At the end of the day.....I think I liked 2016's Academy Awards more than this year's. While the picks for winners showed that the Academy is starting to step outside its comfort zone, I was still pretty infuriated by some of the choices, most notably Casey Affleck for Best Actor. And, while there were quite a few great moments, (I just glanced over it but that opening with Justin Timberlake was pretty awesome) there seemed to always be a frustrating moment to go along with it. That freaking tourist gag. Really? "Hey, we just parked this bus right outside and no one noticed the Red Carpet or anything!" But it was still an overall good night for the Academy. Even though it will be highlighted by the gaffe to end all gaffes, their pick of Moonlight for Best Picture is a pretty telling sign that the persona that the Academy is just a bunch of rich old white dudes may finally be coming to an end. No doubt their diversification efforts are paying off.
My Number: 7/10 Good
Well, that's it. That wraps up Enter the Movies coverage of 2016 for film. Overall? I'd say we had a good run, 2016. The year was certainly not as good as 2015 was, but we did see a couple of strong films come out of this year. Films like Arrival, Moonlight, and La La Land are why I love doing this, and walking into that theater giddy with high expectations then having those expectations met or even exceeded? That feeling will never get old. While the same post-Oscar depression is already sinking in as I slowly realize another year is done, I can't help but be uplifted by what 2017 has in store. With new films coming from the likes of Edgar Wright and Paul Thomas Anderson on the horizon, I can't help but be excited for what's in store. But all of that is for tomorrow. As for now....it's very, VERY late over here, and my pillow is desperately calling for me. I think it's time for me to answer the call. Thanks so much for reading, everyone! I love all of you, and I'll see you next time here on Enter the Movies. DEUCES!
Another year is done. Hard to believe this blog has been going for almost four years now. Each year it gets bigger and biggers, as 2016 saw me review almost 90 films, a personal best. Hopefully in 2017 I can go for 100, but that's later. Now, it's time to recap what I think are the best films of 2016. We all know what my number 1 is, but hopefully the rest of this list will be somewhat revelatory and insightful for you. So, without further ado, these are, in my opinion, the best films of 2016. Enjoy!
Honorable Mention: Jackie
Hard to believe that the very first film on this list is Jackie, but as you'll see the back-end of 2016 was very good in Hollywood. However, it was simply unjustifiable for me to leave this film off the list, because even though I wasn't fully sold on Natalie Portman's performance as the lead here, it was still an outstanding film featuring great costumes, great set design, a wonderful score, and a good cast, all set around a pretty unique way of telling a biopic in focusing on just two weeks of the character's life. Also, I should mention that that score is one of my favorites of the year, and it is certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination. While Jackie will likely not pull out any Oscars unless it upsets La La Land in the costume department, it is certainly deserving of a mention on this list.
Honorable Mention: The Purge: Election Year
When I wrote my review for this film, I really didn't think it was going to make this list. But then it turned into the best film of the summer, and arguably the best film of the year until the "important" films of Oscar season started rolling around, so I felt it deserved a spot on this list. This movie is absolutely awesome, and as much as I may still call this franchise a "guilty pleasure," they just keep getting better and better! This one had some great cinematography (and certainly the best for the year as far as action films are concerned) and they even added an established actress, Elizabeth Mitchell, to the mix. If you have even a slight soft spot for slasher flicks, The Purge: Election Year was by FAR the best one of 2016.
10) Hacksaw Ridge
The calling card of this film about a pacifist who refuses to touch a gun is exactly what you think it would be: the war sequences. The war sequences of Hacksaw Ridge are EASILY the best looking sequences since Saving Private Ryan, which is about as good a compliment as you can dish because Saving Private Ryan still is the standard-bearer for best war sequences ever put on film. However, there's no doubt that these sequences caught many off guard who went into this film, you know, expecting a story about pacifism. On top of these exhilarating war sequences you had a great performance from Andrew Garfield, the man who won the coveted (totally) "Feel-Good Comeback Story" award at the Third Annual Awesome Actors Awards on this blog. This performance also netted him an Oscar nomination, (though I think could've been better suited to receive that nomination for Silence) and the film also saw several more thanks to strong showings in the technical departments, highlighted by some great sound editing. Also, why were the visuals of this film not nominated for an Oscar? I mean, Deepwater Horizon? Really? Anyway, there are definitely things that keep this film at number 10, most notable the hilariously awful performance of Hugo Weaving and a rushed story-line, (since, you know, we had to get back to the war sequences) it is still an excellent movie, and if you're into WWII films this is definitely one that should not be missed.
This movie earns a spot on this list because it is quietly beautiful. The whole film is incredibly intimate and features two wonderful performances, one from Joel Edgerton and the other from the quiet Ruth Negga. While that's pretty much all this film is, I loved it as much as I did because....well because that's all it needed to be. The film slowly builds over the course of its runtime, and it does so in a way that you don't really realize that it's building. Then, suddenly, they win their case, and Negga's simple look just ruined me. That look alone is enough to warrant this film a place in my top 10. While there were some imperfections with this film, it's a hard one not to love, and is definitely worthy of your time if you like films about the silent heroes of the Civil Rights movement!
8) Hidden Figures
I really can't believe this film only made number 8 on the list. I absolutely loved this movie! It featured a strong ensemble cast, a great score from titans Hans Zimmer and Pharrell, and an amazing script. Ah! I can't get over Taraji P. Henson. She's so good in this film! And Janelle Monáe! And Octavia Spencer! And let's not forget Glen Powell is charismatic as heck as John Glenn! AH. While you are acutely aware that this film is plucking on your heart strings, I know at least I didn't care about that at all. It's just a fun, fun film. Easy to watch, easy to be inspired by it, and easy to adore it. The only thing really keeping it from being higher on this list is the standard execution of all the technical departments. They didn't need to be anything better than standard to make this one of the funnest movies of 2016, but those aspects do need to have a part to play in a film to be higher on this list. Either way, Hidden Figures is a great film that you will have a blast watching and dancing along to.
7) Love & Friendship
I guess you could say that it's time for a WILD CARD. YEEEEHAW. Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this film deserved a spot on this list. It's very rare for you to see a comedy turn into such a gut-wrenching drama on a dime, but that's exactly what happens here. One second I was laughing and having a good time, but then the next it was like OH CRAP I feel emotions! Where did those come from? Additionally this film honors it's period extremely well, with some awesome costumes, hairstyling, and a great set design. Finally, to top it all off, you have a wonderful performance from Kate Beckinsale that just narrowly missed my top 10 this year. Like it's right behind Natalie Portman's high-profile performance from Jackie kind of narrowly missed. Beckinsale carries this film, and I hope giving it a deserving place in my top 10 makes up for her not making my best performances of the year. If you like films set in Early Modern Britain, or comedies that have an emotional punch at the end, put Love & Friendship at the top of your list.
6) Hell Or High Water
There's a lot of good things happening in Hell or High Water. It's really hard to pinpoint a specific reason why it deserves a spot in the top 10, other than the fact that it's just an overall masterfully executed film. Director David Mackenzie did a terrific job here, and I'd say his achievement starts with the characters. All the main characters here are written beautifully and have terrific chemistry with each other. Despite the fact that he's devastatingly charismatic, Chris Pine manages to ground himself, and his counterpart Ben Foster is even better. On the flipside you have wonderful chemistry and a pretty unique storyline between Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham. But I think what really does it for me are the details. The set design, costumes, and cinematography all come together here to create a nitty, gritty, film. I mean, look at that picture! Look at the dirt on Pine's jeans. Who thought to put dirt on Chris Pine's jeans? Look at how rusted out those chairs are! That's what makes Hell or High Water as great as it was. Every detail was adhered to, and I really respect this film crew for taking the time to get everything right. If you like films about Texas, or a different way of looking at the 2008 financial crisis, check this one out.
So my top 5 films this year are in a world of their own. Obviously my number one towers above all of them, but these five films really were in a whole nother stratosphere. Kicking off the top 5 is Lion. A film that made me cry more than any other film in 2016, Lion features an emotionally devastating story, great performances from Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, and of course Nicole Kidman, who put in my second-best performance of 2016 in this film. I think one of the big reasons I love this film is because it doesn't hammer you over the head to feel, well, feelings. This film gets you with looks. Kidman's entire performance was second on my list primarily because of her eyes, and Sunny Pawar (Young Saroo) is asked to portray his feelings with just his face. On top of all this, you have a great score from composer Dustin O'Halloran, despite the similarity of its main theme to Ramin Djawadi's "Light of the Seven." I also really liked the mashup of Bollywood and Hollywood. You have actors and actresses that are on top of the world in Bollywood showing up here for some super minor roles, just because they wanted to be apart of this film and let the western audience see what they're capable of. All of this combines to make an awesome film, and given how emotional I got watching it, it's more than deserving of a top 5 spot. If you need a good cry, the buck stops at Lion.
4) 20th Century Women
I. Love. This. Film. I watched this film the day the orange menace was inaugurated, and it was the pick-me-up I needed then and there. It features three great performances from three wonderful women, (Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning) and it was (and still is) a beautiful remind of the power, strength, and influence women have in our lives. It features my second-favorite score of the year, and also has a STRONG soundtrack of musical selections outside just the score. Warner Brothers could really learn something from A24 when it comes to picking what songs should be in your film. Just saying. But I just absolutely adore this film. These women have so much depth to them, and they each have compelling story arcs. The rest of the film is beautiful in its simplicity, but you could still tell that every aspect of the set, costumes, and makeup were meticulously chosen. I'm really quite sad that this film didn't receive any more Oscar nominations than it did, because it did a better job in the technical departments than most films did in 2016. The film also has some great cinematography, even though I wasn't the biggest fan of the editing. That, and some of the more dubious voice-overs were the only things that kept this film from getting a perfect score. However, there's no doubt that this was the strongest 9 I handed out all year. It also happens to be, in my opinion, the best film A24 put out this year. That's saying something in a year of extremely strong films for the new king of Hollywood. If you're looking for the best pick-me-up film of 2016, check out 20th Century Women.
So, before we get into my top 3 favorite films, let's fly through a couple of genres and talk about what I felt were the best films to come out of each of them in 2016!
The Best Comedy Was.....
2016 was another bad year for comedy. However, we did get Central Intelligence, so it wasn't a total loss. One sentence is all you should need to be excited to see Central Intelligence: Dwayne Johnson wears a fanny pack. Do I really need to say anything more? I mean, don't get me wrong: Kevin Hart is one of the funniest people alive. And he's hilarious here. However, he ain't got nothin' on Dwayne. The Rock steals the show in this film, as he plays a character that actually struggles to be charismatic. And the entire time the film is almost winking at you because it's Dwayne Johnson! He walks into a room and his charisma has already been there for about 20 minutes. But he does things in this film, like wear a fanny pack, that makes his character absolutely hilarious, and of course he's a badass secret agent so he's also awesome. On top of that, there's actually an engaging story here! It's not just lightly edited improv. Amy Ryan is mysterious as the CIA agent and there's a cameo towards the end of the film that's out of this world. If you like to laugh, move this one to the top of your list.
The Best Summer Blockbuster Was....
Ok so 2016 was a terrible year for the summer blockbuster. There were really only two that made any sort of splash for me: The Purge (which you saw earlier) and Ghostbusters. I know a lot of people hated this film, but I think they hated it for the wrong reasons. They saw the terrible marketing campaign that proceeded it, and had their minds already made up about the film before they even saw it. But if you did try and see it with open eyes, you would've found yourself having a great time. I know the room I was in had a blast watching this film. Is it particularly meaningful? No. Do I wish they had actually incorporated the previous two Ghostbusters films rather than just try and pass this off as a new IP? Yes. But, all that aside, I laughed constantly. Even more than Central Intelligence. These two could've been swapped and no one would've blinked, but I always thought of Ghostbusters as more of a summer blockbuster than a comedy, so that's why it's here and Central Intelligence is in the comedy slot. But I laughed, had fun with the intentionally cheesy special effects, and even loved Chris Hemsworth. He had a performance very similar to The Rock's in Central Intelligence, and both of them were quite hilarious. Not to mention the four leads, all of which are fantastic. Heck Kate McKinnon won my (coveted, obviously) Best Actress of the Year award in part because of this film. I've watched it a couple times since it came out and I'm still having fun. Ultimately, that's what a summer blockbuster is about, right? You don't go into those films expecting some profound message or anything. You go in to find some A/C, turn the brain off, eat some popcorn, and have a good time. And if you went into Ghostbusters without any expectations, that's exactly what would've happened.
The Best Action Flick Outside the Top 10 Was....
So you knooooow it was a bad year for action flicks when the film I'm saying is the best of the year received a 5/10 on my blog. Yup. A FIVE. But ultimately I handed this award to Hardcore Henry because at least it tried to do something different. It may not have done this different thing in a super-effective manner, but the idea of a first-person action film shot entirely on GoPros is pretty cool. Not gonna lie. Hopefully in a few years we'll get a film that executes that idea better, but hey. This attempt is still better than any other crap we got out of this genre this year. (Outside of Hacksaw Ridge, obviously) Additionally, I did enjoy Sharlto Copley just being absolutely nuts in this movie. I mean he plays like 50 different characters, and is screen-hogging to no end, so that was pretty awesome. Oh! And Haley Bennett was good! And if you want guns and action sequences that's pretty much all this film is because the story is garbage. But, hey. In a year of crap action films, at least this one dared to be different, and I can respect that.
The Best Sci-Fi film Outside the top 10 was....
2016 was a pretty good year for the sci-fi genre, especially since some of the highest grossing films of the year were sci-fi films, so many may disagree with me when I call Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the sci-fi film of 2016 outside my top 10. But I did absolutely adore this film. It actually just narrowly missed being in the top 10 itself, which I'd say is a pretty strong statement. Heck if this list had been a top 15 it would've definitely found a place. But Fantastic Beasts, to me, recaptured the magic of one of my favorite series in Harry Potter. Sure there were problems, most notably the blatant and shameless sequel-baiting with Johnny Depp, but Eddie Redmayne to me was perfect for the role of Newt and Katherine Waterston showed off her diversity with her performance here. She's actually becoming one of the best character actresses in the business right now. Additionally, I just really enjoyed this premise. The lore as a whole here is really what did it for me. We got more world-building here than we did in any of the Harry Potter films, and this world-building was really quite cool. Additionally, this film had some of the best visual effects of 2016. (why it wasn't nominated for an Oscar in this category is beyond me. Deepwater Horizon.....c'mon....) So while many will probably pick Captain America: Civil War or Star Wars: Rogue One as their favorite sci-fi films of the year, I'm going with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Because we can all use a little more magic in our lives.
The Best Horror Film Was.....
My two big regrets from 2016 was not delivering reviews of 10 Cloverfield Lane (which I started, but never finished) and The Witch. Both of these films I loved, but life just got too busy at those times for me to deliver reviews when the stories were fresh in my mind. Someday I'll rewatch them and maybe then I'll finally write reviews of both of them. However, I will take a moment to highlight A24's The Witch, because it was ultimately the best horror film I saw in 2016. It tackled horror the way I want it to be tackled: with resonating scares versus simple jump scares. I mean I still get nightmares about that freaking goat, man. On top of that you have great dialogue from all these characters and a career-defining performance from the young Anya Taylor-Joy. Put all of this together on top of some absolutely haunting scares, and you have the best horror film of 2016. It's not It Follows levels of scary, but hey.... a masterful horror film only comes around once every couple of years, so I'm not too sad about that.
The Best Superhero Movie Was....
This one was easy. If there was any film that truly turned the powerhouse that is the superhero genre on its side more in 2016, it was Deadpool. The pet project years in the making from Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool finally showed the big studios that they could make an "R" rated superhero movie and sell loads of tickets. This concept is already being embraced by Fox (with Logan earning another hard "R" rating) and the DC cinematic universe, and I think sooner or later Marvel will throw out an "R" rated superhero movie as well. Maybe Black Panther? We'll see. It's definitely coming. But hey, on top of pushing the boundaries of the genre, Deadpool was also really, really funny. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew it was gonna find a place here it would've made a strong case for Best Comedy of the Year as well. And it films its action sequences right, which nowhere near enough movies managed to do in 2016. Put all of this together and sprinkle on some fun editing and fourth-wall-breaking, and you have the clear and obvious choice for Best Superhero Movie of 2016.
The Best Animated Film I Saw Was....
So I really didn't see many animated films in 2016. That's my buddy Peter Kosanovich's department. But of the ones that I did see, Finding Dory was my favorite. I think this definitely can be contributed to my love of the original film and Pixar successfully taping into that nostalgia factor, but I think it also has to do with some well-written characters from not just Dory herself but also the huge supporting cast of characters that help her along her journey. And of course, in true Pixar fashion, you get a good cry in before the end. It's a great film that's fun for the entire family, and it was certainly the best animated film I saw in 2016.
The Best Sequel We Weren't Expecting to Be Good Was.....
YES. I FINALLY get to talk about Ouija: Origin of Evil! The original Ouija from 2014 was, well, terrible. It was just another crappy horror film with nothing but lazy pop scares, so when they announced a sequel, everyone and their mother's was just like, "Oh boy. Not again." But holy CRAP did they turn this franchise around with the second installment, Ouija: Origin of Evil flew to the other side of the spectrum and was really the best horror film of 2016. Yes I took a cop-out by putting it here, but given the fact that the expectations were SO low, it was easily deserving of this spot as well. I mean, this is a film made by Hasbro Studios, for crying out loud! Champions of such classics as My Little Pony and Battleship. It's based off a freaking board game, for crying out loud! How can it be good? Well, it's not just good.... it's great. It's great because it focuses on being creepy versus trying to get a cheap pop scare in. Sequences like "Do you know what it feels like to be strangled?" which made my favorite movie moments of 2016, resonate with you, and are all told in ways that are trying to be innovative in the genre. There's good bits with the lighting, with the editing, and with the cinematography here that all add to the scares and the overall experience. Additionally, Lulu Wilson and Annalise Basso are excellent in this film and really hold everything together. Just.....man. If you're looking for something to scare the crap out of you from 2016, look no further than Ouija: Origin of Evil. I know a lot of people said "Hard pass," to this one because after all how could a sequel to the TERRIBLE Ouija be good, but trust me. It's not just good. It's fantastic. Move it to the top of your list with The Witch if you're into horror films.
The Best Film No One Saw Was....
Speaking of films no one saw, remember when I was really disappointed when The Nice Guys didn't reach nearly the level of publicity that it deserved and has failed to receive much recognition since? I mean, not a single nomination from the Academy. Really? Heck, outside of La La Land this film had, in my opinion, the best set design of 2016, and it didn't even get a nomination for it. This set has Wes Anderson-levels of attention to detail, and it was simply incredible to watch on screen. This film, to me, puts director Shane Black in the same realm as a Paul Thomas Anderson or a David O. Russell, and yet no one even blinked an eye at it. It featured great performances from Ryan Gosling and even Russell Crowe, and both of them were nearly outplayed by child-star Angourie Rice. It would've found itself in my top 10 if I didn't already know that I was going to call it "The Best Film No One Saw" for 2016. Sure, it made $50 million+, but for all that it didn't gain nearly the amount of traction it deserved. I guess Shane Black is just going to have to direct another great film to finally be held in the same regard as some of the greats, but I think when he inevitably does people will finally look back at The Nice Guys as his big breakout film. He had one hit in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang back in 2005, but he finally showed that he could follow it up with 2016's The Nice Guys.
Alright, so we're done with the genres and now it's time to hit my top 3 best films of the year! Nothing but 10s from here on out, too, so you know the competition is fierce!
Kicking off the top 3 is Arrival. The best sci-fi film since Ex Machina, Arrival features an engaging and actually realistic storyline for how the human race would respond to the idea of the discovery of alien life, and I thought its story was executed brilliantly. In the middle of all of it is Amy Adams, who put in a performance that landed in my top 10 this year and should've netted her an Oscar nomination. This film also features some of the best sound design of the year, from both an editing and mixing standpoint, as the crew had to create an alien language using only sounds for Adams to decipher and did so beautifully. I also really enjoyed the global tension this film had. Too many sci-fi films go for an intimate atmosphere or fall flat on its face when they address their issue on a global scale, but not here. Not with Arrival. This global tension adds to the story and makes for one of the best final acts in cinema in all of 2016 as the global politics come to a head. This film also had a unique score from Johann Johansson, and also great, Oscar-worthy editing from Joe Walker. (Were it not for La La Land) Finally, there's a twist at the end of this film that was certainly the "best twist" of 2016. All of these elements come together for a perfect film with perfect execution, and the only thing that prevented it from being higher on the list was that it wasn't as perfect as the next two. However, whether you are a fan of sci-fi or not, this one is more than worthy of your time.
Alright. So this entire time I've been struggling to figure out how I would address these final two films, because I know a lot of people are complaining about La La Land and its inevitable sweep at the Oscars beating out Moonlight in every category where the two are going head to head in. It really is a damn shame that these two films came out in the same year as one another, because any other year Moonlight would be the clear and obvious winner of every Oscar imaginable. This movie is a career-defining film for director Barry Jenkins, and it features career-defining performances from the soon-to-be Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and the equally fantastic, but sadly not soon-to-be Oscar winner (just nominated) Naomie Harris. Both of these performances received recognition by me in my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards. It also features the best story of 2016 hands-down, and if La La Land and Moonlight were going head-to-head in that category you better believe I'd be expecting Moonlight to win. This story is bold in its novelty as it tells the story of Chiron across three different actors. I really respect the challenge that brings to the director-each of these actors has to study each other and be able to play off each other so that the transition between them is flawless- and Barry Jenkins makes this look easy. This film also features the second-best cinematography of the year as a whole but does feature my single favorite moment for the cinematographer in 2016 at the very end of the film. The final exchange between Chiron and Kevin in the last moments of the film is shot better than anything else I saw all year, and it elicited an emotional response from yours truly simply because of the message the camera conveyed. Not to mention it had my third-favorite score of the year, this one from Nicholas Britell that did feature a wonderful theme for Chiron that changed keys each time we stepped into a new part of his life. This film will be studied at a molecular level for years to come, and will likely be studied and dissected far more than La La Land ever will. But more on that in a minute. Moonlight is a perfect film and is worthy of everyone's time. If it wasn't for La La Land, it would easily be my favorite movie of 2016.
1) La La Land
However La La Land happened, and so that hope for Moonlight is not the case. Never did a film take me through a roller coaster of emotion in 2016 like La La Land did. I hit every emotion throughout the film, culminating with an ugly cry courtesy of the single best moment of 2016 in the final moments. I think that, while this film isn't necessarily trying to make a grand statement about any specific issue, it's an inspiring film. It's not just dedicated to those trying to "make it" in Hollywood, it's dedicated to those pursuing a dream, whatever it may be. It may not feature the best story of 2016, but it does feature the best cinematography, editing, set design, costume design, lighting, musical score, and the performance of the year from Emma Stone. It's story was my second-favorite story of the year, and it also would land in my top 3 for sound design too. No other film is executed this brilliantly in every technical department, and it all falls into place thanks to director Damien Chazelle. He's already shown me that he can make a masterful film from a technical side with Whiplash, and in this film he's even better.
One of the smaller moments of this film is actually a really good example of why this is my top film of 2016. During the "Summer Montage" sequence, all of these technical departments come together to film a thrilling and brief 2-minute sequence. You have Gosling and Stone showcasing some wonderful choreography behind some great editing early on, and as the sequence goes on you have great lighting behind Gosling in a jazz club as he plays piano and Emma Stone dances off to the side. Not to mention there are some great pans between the two of them as Gosling gets a piano solo for a measure then the rest of the band comes in and we pan to Stone dancing just to pan back to Gosling getting another piano solo for a measure just to pan back to Stone dancing as the rest of the band plays just to do it all again! All behind a wonderful sequence from composer and soon-to-be Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz. And that little sequence would barely even crack the top 10 for best moments of this film. Then you add in incredible and masterfully choreographed and shot dance sequences during "Another Day in Sun," "Planetarium," "Someone in the Crowd," "A Lovely Night," and of course the exhilarating "Epilogue" sequence that combine every technical aspect of filmmaking to create the best moments in cinema in 2016. And I haven't even mentioned the "Audition" sequence which is more than enough to net Emma Stone an Oscar. And I STILL don't know how they pulled off the opening oner that is "Another Day in Sun." That 4-minute single take sequence shot on location on one of the most popular overpasses in LA is simply incredible, and the film just gets better after that.
While it may not feature a meaningful political statement on anything, it will still inevitably inspire thousands, if not millions of people to follow their dreams. So you can disagree with me all you want and say Moonlight is the best film of 2016, and that's fine. If you judge a film simply by the strength of its story, I'll agree with you. But here at Enter the Movies I do my best to respect every aspect of filmmaking, and if you look at these two films from these lens, it's pretty hard for Moonlight, or any other film in 2016 for that matter, to compete with La La Land. I said it when I first reviewed it and I will say it again: La La Land is the best film I have ever reviewed on Enter the Movies, and it is more than deserving of as many Oscars as the Academy can give it. La La Land is a perfect film and can be enjoyed by anyone who breathes air.
Well, there you have it: my best films of 2016! Thank you for joining me once more through another magical year here at Enter the Movies. I have had an absolute blast watching so many films in 2016, and I hope 2017 is even better. So, here's to the fools who dream, and here's to a wonderful 2017 for cinema! Thanks so much for reading, everyone. I love all of you! DEUCES!
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https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjM1MTkxNjg1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzUzNjc3OTE@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_.jpg (Hell or High Water)
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https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BM2NlYzQxMDktNDRmYS00ZTYzLTg3NDItMGI4NmZjMGI1ZmI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTI4MDA1MzI@._V1_.jpg (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTQ5NjQyOTQ0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDcwODUwOTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (Central Intelligence)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BZWNlNWMwOWUtMWZiZi00NmZiLTgyZjktZDUxN2Q3ZTA2MWJjL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTUzNjI@._V1_.jpg (The Witch)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjA3NTYwODk2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg5NjczMDI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,754_AL_.jpg (Ouija: Origin of Evil)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTc4MTY5NTMwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjcyODIyOTE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_.jpg (Finding Dory)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMzAwMTY5OTY3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk0NTA3ODE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (The Nice Guys)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNDc0NDQ2OWYtZDg4NS00ZWVjLTk3MGEtOTA0Y2Q0OGE1YmEwL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjk3NTUyOTc@._V1_.jpg (La La Land)
Welcome, everyone! To the Third Annual Awesome Actor's Awards here on Enter the Movies! Time to talk about the best performances of 2016! This year was particularly tough. The year was STACKED with great performances, but they were mostly in the actress category. Which is AWESOME. In fact, you may notice that not a single performance nominated for Best Actor makes this list. That's how good a year actresses had. And, even with actresses there are some big performances that just missed the list, most notably Isabelle Huppert and freaking Natalie Portman! Believe you me, I have 12 performances on this list and those two are 14 and 13, respectively. That was tough. So it was an excruciating process, but I finally came up with a list I can stand by. So, grab a beer and enjoy my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards!
Honorable Mention: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Kicking off the list is Mahershala Ali from Moonlight! While his role is not huge in this film, he definitely leaves his mark as the film progresses. His presence is felt long after his character is no longer on the screen, and that is tough to do. His character is very rough and raw, and his scene with Naomie Harris (also on this list) was one of the best moments of the entire film. He's a father figure to Chiron, and seeing the portrayal of a man struggling with the morality of raising the son of one of his customers from Ali was heartbreaking. It is easily deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination, (he's also the current favorite to win) and the fact that it's nothing more than an Honorable Mention on this list should go to show just how great a year we had for acting.
Honorable Mention: Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Next up is the man who holds this movie together, Colin Farrell. Lawd is he SO good in this! This movie succeeds because of his totally dead-pan performance of this character. This dead-pan performance leads to some of the funniest moments of this film as well, but then you add the fact that he actually had to display a wide range of emotions while being totally dead-pan? Not an easy thing to do. Given the fact that this performance made my list versus anything the Academy nominated for Best Actor should tell you what I think about the Academy's choices for that category this year. Because you better believe Colin Farrell was snubbed. One of these years Colin Farrell will at least have an Oscar nomination under his belt. He'll just have to get mauled by a bear first to get it....
10) Ruth Negga, Loving
Kicking off the top ten is a wonderful little performance from Ruth Negga. This actress cracks the list because of how intimate the performance was. Negga showed us that "Less can be more" with a performance that never had an over-the-top kind of moment that makes it "iconic," but still carried the emotional punch it needed to for the film. There's a scene at the end of the film where Negga discovers that the Supreme Court had ruled in her favor that just emotionally destroyed me, and all Negga is doing (basically) is staring off into the distance.That look and the emotional devastation that comes with it comes from quietly building this character from the beginning of the film and....setting the pins in place, so to say. Just to have the bowling ball that knocks them all down take you completely by surprise. It really is hard for me to describe why I enjoyed this performance as much as I did, but I knew it had to make this list. Less can be more, everyone.
9) Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
This is the first of two over-the-top-but-believable crazy performances on this list. Ben Foster is freaking nuts in this film. It's always so rewarding to see someone play a psycho and play them well, and when this happens that performance usually makes a lot of people's top 10s for the year. And boy does Foster play him well. This is one of those performances where the actor plays the character so well I can't help but think this must be what he's like in real life because the line between the movie world and the real world becomes so blurred. That's great acting. He also screen hogs during this film, but he screen hogs SO WELL. It's tough to get me to enjoy someone who's trying to eat up every bit of your attention when he's in front of you but when you go this all-in on being an absolute psycho? You can do it all day long. Because sooner or later you forget that's what's happening and you just get completely suckered in to the performance. Well don,e Ben Foster. I look forward to seeing what he has to offer next.
8) Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Next on the list is the counterpart to Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris. The drug-addicted mother of Chiron, Harris is asked to really dehumanize herself throughout this film, and she does so with an undeniable poise. There are several scenes involving her outside the big one with Ali that are devastating, most notably a scene where she asks Chiron for some money so she can go buy more drugs. It was a heartbreaking sequence. Then the film hammers her character home in the third act as Harris suddenly transforms into almost an entirely different character. All of this makes for an incredibly demanding role, but Harris plays it so well that you don't even notice it. Any other year this would be higher up on the list. Heck any other year this performance would win an Oscar. Unfortunately, though, this is not every other year.
7) John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
I bet I'm either being applauded or condemned for having John Goodman on this list, but this performance really resonated with me for almost the entire year. This film, the spiritual successor to one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time Cloverfield, came out of nowhere, and Goodman was such a dominant menace.....it was simply breathtaking. He's the calling card of the film and commanded the screen in a way that only he can, and he was absolutely terrifying. Poor Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Never stood a chance. Seriously, though, this is a great movie and John Goodman is easily the best part of it. There's a sequence with all three characters involving a certain bucket of chemicals that.....man. That sequence alone was enough to give Goodman a spot on this list. If you haven't seen 10 Cloverfield Lane yet.....you should change that. It's worth seeing for Goodman's performance alone.
6) Amy Adams, Arrival
For the record, I have no idea why Amy Adams was snubbed by the Academy for this role. Maybe it's because I'm kind of biased-though I try and keep my emotions and fandom in check when I put on the hat of "critic,"- but I have long had a soft spot for Amy Adams. Heck I've had a soft spot for her since 2002's Catch Me If You Can. However if there's ever example of why so many say she's one of the best actresses in Hollywood right now, this is it. Arrival is her film. From start to finish. It is impossible to imagine this movie, that has 8 Oscar nominations and received a perfect score on my blog, without Amy Adams. She's asked to carry this movie more than anyone else is in all of 2016. While there may have been more "obvious" acting performances like Portman in Jackie or Davis in Fences, Adams successfully is molded into the character she creates here. By the end of this film I really thought Amy Adams was a linguist who saved the world. It's very difficult for someone as recognizable as Adams to become a character unless they are playing a famous person in a biopic, but that's exactly what Amy Adams does. And that is exactly why she is more than deserving of a spot on this list.
5) Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
It was impossible for me to pick one of these three performances to be on this list and snub the other two in the process, so yes. Grouping them together is a cop-out on my part. But it really is a deserving one! All three of these actresses were outstanding in this film, and all three had an undeniable chemistry between them. Taraji P. Henson may be the obvious lead here, but I was also really impressed with Janelle Monae, who has gone from pop singer to talented actress seemingly overnight. I even considered giving her my coveted (lol) "Best Actress of the Year" award because she was also great in Moonlight, but I'm hoping her place here on the list is enough. But she was outstanding in both films and has solidified her place as a bonafide star in Hollywood. And, of course, not to be lost in the mix is the charming and charismatic Octavia Spencer, who has her fair share of badass scenes in this movie. Finally, the bread holding it all together is Taraji P. Henson. Another snub from the Academy in their Best Actress category, (Meryl Streep was really better than all of these? And I haven't even gotten to the biggest snub yet) Henson would carry this film on her own if it weren't for her co-stars right there sharing the load with her. Henson has more than a few badass sequences in this movie, and her "We wear glasses" monologue, which made my Favorite Movie Moments of 2016 list, made me stand up and cheer. Oh! What a total boss. Lawd do I love this movie, and a big, big reason for that is these three actresses.
4) ANNETTE BENING, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
You know, I really REALLY thought this performance was going to be nominated for an Oscar. In a year of great performances for Best Actress, I thought for sure this one would rise above the rest. Bening's performance here is just so touching. It's so grounded. She's so..... human, and yet has such a deep character. She also has some of the best mannerisms ever. I mean, just look at that picture! Look at how she's leaning on that table! That is Bening throughout the entire movie. She's so relatable and she's so lovable....her performance really brought me out of the dumps of a new world with an orange person leading the way. She holds this strong film together, and while she isn't the clear and obvious best part of 20th Century Women, she definitely had the best performance of the bunch. She made me laugh. She made me cry. And she made me feel everything in between. Should've been nominated for an Oscar, man.....no doubt this is the biggest snub of 2016. I loved this performance, and 20th Century Women is worth checking out just for Bening alone.
Alright! Now we take a break from counting down the best performances of the year to hand out some awards from yours truly. I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering who will win this year's Actor's Awards from Enter the Movies. Uhhhhh, right guys? So let's get rolling! Also I'm gonna pretend that I'm handing these awards to these actors myself because.....well, why not, really?
The Breakout Actor Award Goes To.....
Was there anyone else that had as breakout a year as you did, Tom Holland? One reason, and one reason only: Spider-Man. Finally, Spider-Man has its champion. Sorry, Andrew Garfield, but your snubbing for the Marvel revival of the character was more than worth it. From the moment alt-J's "Left Hand Free" played with the "Queens" title card in Captain America: Civil War, we knew Spider-Man was in the right hands. And when you appeared on-screen, visibly creeped out by Stark flirting with his aunt, we knew you were the hero we needed for one of our favorite superheros. There's no doubt that this high-profile performance will elevate you to the A-List just as Star Wars did for Boyega and Ridley, so there's no doubt that you were deserving of this award.
The Breakout Actress Award Goes To.....
There may be a lot of people saying, "Who?" seeing that picture. I don't blame them: this is more of a "deep cut" pick from me. But 2016 was a REALLY good year for Annalise Basso. First you shined in Captain Fantastic, where you were just as good as the great Viggo Mortensen, then you shined in the highly underrated Ouija: Origin of Evil. Seriously: when I saw you on screen in these films I thought Chloë Grace Moretz level of talent. Haven't thought that since, well, Chloë Grace Moretz. You don't have a whole lot planned right now, other than a film called Nostalgia that stars Nick Offerman and Jon Hamm, as well as yourself, but I think if we give it a little time that will change. You are an extraordinarily talented actress and you blew me away in your two roles in 2016, and it won't take long for you to truly catch fire in Hollywood.
The Feel-Good Comeback STory Award Goes To...
Bet you didn't see this one coming after I took a shot at Andrew Garfield earlier! Well, that is exactly why you're receiving this award. Andrew Garfield....had a rough couple of years in Hollywood. Despite a phenomenal performance in 2014's 99 Homes, you were shunned and criticized heavily for your extremely lackluster performance as Spider-Man in Sony's cashgra-I mean reboot of the franchise. It wasn't entirely your fault, but you certainly didn't do yourself any favors with your presentation then and afterwards either, as you had a couple of interviews where you said some very nasty things and got on many people's bad sides. Well, after taking 2015 off, you TURNED it around in 2016. Between Hacksaw Ridge and Silence, you put in two of the best performances by an actor in Hollywood this year. Your performance in Hacksaw Ridge is even listed as my "Who should win" in the Best Actor category of this year's Oscars. Though it's primarily because I thought your performance in Silence was even better. Both of those performances could've made my top 10, but I knew I'd give you this award as a cop-out. Ha. But there's no doubt you are a deserving winner of this award as well!
The Worst Actor of The Year Award Goes To.....
No. Affleck. My man. What are you doing. What a difference a few years make. After being mostly criticized throughout the early 2000s as being a man who never prepared for a role, and rode the coattails of his college roommate Matt Damon into Hollywood during the preparation for Good Will Hunting, you REALLY turned it around in the early 2010's. You killed it in The Town, a film which I absolutely loved, then won a few Oscars for 2012's Argo. But the cracks in your armor became apparent in 2014 with a lackluster performance in Gone Girl, and it's only gotten worse. I defended you when you were announced to play Batman, Ben. I thought that was a good decision on your part. But you know what wasn't a good decision? Your decision to partner with Warner Brothers. They're bringing you down, Ben! You had several high-profile BOMBS under Warner Brothers in 2016, including Batman v Superman, The Accountant, and finally Live By Night, which you also directed! All of those films were average, if not worse, and you were one of the worst things about them! It's as if you got your multi-movie contract with Warner Brothers and said "Alright! Pack it up! We're done here!" and are now just phoning it in. Apparently you already want out of Batman, and you're a mere two films into the role. I think if anyone epitomizes the negatives of multi-film contracts with distributors, it's you. I hope the same thing doesn't happen to Margot Robbie, who has also signed on to a multi-film contract with Warner Brothers. Because if that happens I'll be sad. I'm hopeful that you can turn it around, Ben. But if you don't soon.....you'll be right back in your dog days of the 2000s. Take this as a warning, Ben. And just remember I say it because I love you.
The Worst Actress of the Year Award Goes To...
Speaking of people that I love.....what are you DOING Shailene Woodley??? Look. This award is just focusing on your on-screen....antics. I LOVE what you're doing out in the real world. You're doing great work as an activist! But you have really failed to capture the spark that I thought you would capture a few years back when I gave you my first "Actress to Watch Out For" award. After excelling in films like The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now, you've really failed to break out of the mold that has been the sheer failure of the Divergent series. You tried this year in Oliver Stone's Snowden, but sadly you couldn't break out of the mold of the "girlfriend" role. As with Ben, I give you this award out of love. I know full well what you are capable of. After all you emotionally DESTROYED me in The Fault of Our Stars. At that time I thought you were the next Jennifer Lawrence. I really thought that was your destination. And I still do! You just got a little sidetracked is all. I'm hopeful you'll turn it around in 2017-Big Little Lies looks outstanding, and being cast alongside the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern always helps. But right now? I can't help but be saddened by what has become of you on-screen. But I know you can turn it around though, so let's go!
The Best ACtor of the Year Goes To.....
Cue the music. Hey, Donald Glover, are you even in the crowd who came to this awards show? I'm sure this one will take a lot of people, including you, by surprise, but I decided to categorize actor as "entertainer" this year, and if you do that there really isn't a better choice for this award. 2016 was an absolutely unreal year for Glover. You may not have been in a single film throughout the year, but you were cast to be in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as given the single greatest casting in the history of man to be Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo anthology film. Needless to say I'm excited about that. In addition to these castings, you dropped the TV series Atlanta, which you created, wrote several episodes of, and starred in. The series has won multiple awards already, including 2 Golden Globes for Glover as the star and the show as a whole, and will likely hear its name called multiple times at the 2017 Emmys. As if that wasn't enough, your music personality, Childish Gambino, dropped an album called Awaken! My Love that won a crap-ton of music industry awards. It was even in my top 10 Best Albums of 2016 on another blog I write for with my good buddy Derek, The Busted Amp, (it was in Derek's top 5) and Gambino's song "Redbone" was my top song of 2016. (and Derek's second-favorite pick) Oh, and did I mention the man also does stand-up? There really wasn't a more talented individual in 2016 than you, and it is great to finally see all your insanely hard work paid off with several great movie castings, a critically-acclaimed TV show, and an incredible, critically-acclaimed, music album. That is why you receive this award.
Also, sorry Billy Crudup. You were a close second, and if this award had only been for film, it would've been you. Just wanted to let the record show.
The Best Actress of The Year Goes To....
I bet this one also comes as a shock to many people, but again if we're defining actress as "entertainer," two words.....Hillary Clinton. Your portrayal as Hillary Clinton was the entertainment many of us, myself included, needed to get through the 2016 election season, and your soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," played just a few days after his death and after Clinton's devastating loss, was one of my most emotional moments in all of 2016. On top of that, you found herself in several big budget productions, including The Angry Birds Movie, Finding Dory, Office Christmas Party, and of course you stole our hearts in Ghostbusters. You found your niche in 2016, and have definitely cemented yourself as one of the business's funniest people. You have several films coming up, including a high-profile casting as Ms.Frizzle in The Magic School Bus. I can't wait to see what you have to offer next! I'm sure there will be more and more content from you as the years move on, but in time we'll look back to 2016 as the year your hard work turned into success.
But, if we could jump into a serious note real quick, one sentence really won you this award, Kate. One sentence which has made me tear up every time I've watched it.
"I'm not giving up, and neither should you."
The Actor to watch out for is....
You know, I will not hesitate to admit when something is kind of an out-of-left-field kind of pick for me, because there's really only one reason why Glen Powell made this list: Hidden Figures. Besides for The Expendables 3, you really haven't been in any high-profile roles, but your portrayal as John Glenn was one of the most charming and charismatic performances I've seen in years. Like.....Chris Evans as Captain America or Henry Cavill as Solo (from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) kind of charismatic. I think this film will prove to be a casting call for him, and before you know it he will be the next Chris Evans in Hollywood. While you only have one film, Sand Castle, on the slate for 2017, I really think by 2018 or 2019 you'll have some great performances upcoming. All it takes is you landing one big role and you will find yourself squarely on the A-list, and the casting agent that grabs you for that high profile role will definitely look to your oozingly charming and charismatic performance here in Hidden Figures in 2016 as their reasoning for the casting. Keep this name in the back of your heads, folks. It may not be 2017 that proves to be Powell's year, but it's definitely coming.
The Actress To Watch Out For is....
Elle Fanning really hit her groove in 2016. You had, for a while, struggled to recapture the magic of your performance in 2011's Super 8, doing the best you could do on sinking ships that was highlighted by 2014's mediocre Maleficent, and you failed to make a huge splash in 2015's Trumbo. Well, I'd say you found your niche in 2016 with A24's 20th Century Women. And you were easily the best part of Ben Affleck's lackluster Live by Night. Now you have a TON of films on your schedule, and you have certainly solidified yourself as one of the top child-actors in Hollywood right now. Keep your eyes peeled for How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which is another A24 film, by the way, as well as Mary Shelley, Sidney Hall, and The Beguiled. And that's just your 2017! I give your performances in 2016 a lot of credit for your rise in popularity, and hopefully things only get better for you in 2017!
Ok, now that those awards have been handed out, let's take a look at my top 3 performances for 2016!
3) Viola Davis, Fences
While this performance is at the top of many people's lists, it's only at number 3 for me because I was more emotionally moved by numbers 2 and 1. That's it. When it strictly comes to the word "acting," I think it's safe to say that Davis had the best moment of the year with the clip below. It was pretty much the only time in 2016 I thought, "Damn... now that's good quantifiable acting." Davis is the absurdly heavy favorite to win Best Supporting Actress at this year's Oscars, and she probably would've made a strong case for Best Actress too had Paramount (and Davis herself) decided to enter her for consideration there. It kind of is unfair to the rest of the Best Supporting Actress category that Davis is here, because c'mon. This is a lead role. Anyway, outside of that clip (which is below) she is also excellent overall, as she acts the crap out of this play on film. But that's also what holds this performance back from being number 1 for me: she was acting, and you knew she was acting. I know that may sound obvious but there was never a point where I wasn't thinking, "Man, is Viola Davis acting the crap out of this right now." Again, nothing wrong with that and it's deserving of an Oscar and deserving a spot in my top 3, but because I knew I was watching a play on film take place in front of me I was never emotionally moved as much as I was by the top 2 on this list. This is purely subjective, I know, but you came here wanting my opinion, right? So let's talk about my top 2!
2) Nicole Kidman, Lion
This performance devastated me. I cried more in Lion than I did in any other film all year, and the majority of those cries was because of Nicole Kidman. The only reason she's not number one on this list is because she didn't have as much screen-time as my top choice, but that I used more as just a simple tie-breaker between these two performances. In my opinion they are all but equal. The primary thing that Kidman did so well with was look. That's it. What she was able to do with her eyes was something else. There's a scene later on in the film where she's in a chair and talking to Dev Patel and she's been crying and this scene was just an emotional trainwreck for me, and it was 100% because of her eyes. I mean, look at this clip below! Look at that first moment Kidman lays eyes on Young Saroo. That look is just so natural. It's so real. It'll bring a tear to your eye. I mean I love David Wenham and don't get me wrong he's a talented actor and great in this film too, but you look at how Kidman looks at Saroo for the first time, then how Wenham looks at Saroo and it really shows that Kidman's performance is on a whole nother planet. Kidman blew me away in this film, and I've never seen someone blow me away so much with such an intimate performance. It is easily deserving of this spot.
Here's more evidence for why Kidman's looks and her eyes make this performance my second-best of 2016.
1) Emma Stone, La La Land
Yup! You better believe Emma Stone is my top performance of 2016. Look. Before you grab the pitchforks and call me just another guy who loves films about Hollywood, let's remember what Emma Stone is asked to do in this film. She's asked to play a young, aspiring actress trying to catch her break in show business. She's asked to do several auditions during this film, including the brutal close-up below. She's asked to display every single emotion throughout the film, and she does so with absolute brilliance. There weren't many roles that were more physically demanding than this one in 2016, but then you add the fact that she had to sing and dance throughout most of the film? Wow. I mean her "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" scene is one of the best scenes of 2016, and is certainly a scene comparable to Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" scene from 2012's Les Misérables. But then, unlike Hathaway who's only in that film for like 5 minutes, Stone is also the lead of this film! This whole performance culminates with a thrilling final dance number, "Epilogue," and afterwards in the final few moments of the film there's another look Emma Stone has that makes me ugly cry every. Single. Time. I've seen the film like 4 times at this point and I still just BALL at this look. Then let's not forget her great performance in "Someone in the Crowd" AND her great dance sequence alongside Ryan Gosling in the "A Lovely Night" sequence. Oh, and let's not forget the amazing chemistry she has with Gosling, because of course she does. While Kidman's performance may have struck at me emotionally more than Stone's, I was just blown away by Emma here in La La Land. It is a performance for the ages, more than worthy of an Oscar, and certainly my top pick for best performance of 2016. If the clip below doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. (And remember this clip is like the number 6 best clip for Emma Stone in La La Land. Just saying)
Well, there you have it! Can't believe I'm done with the Third Annual Awesome Actors Awards Show. Only one post left! My best films of 2016! I will see you lovely folks back here tomorrow for that one tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
(20th Century Women)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTUwMDIwNTc3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDkxMDU0MDI@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_.jpg (Mahershala Ali)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMmNkZGIyNGMtYTZhOS00ODFmLWEyMzEtZjY4MDhjMjVmMTNiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@._V1_.jpg (The Lobster)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjE4NTU0OTIwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjMxNTc3OTE@._V1_.jpg (Hell or High Water)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjQxNDE1NjQ4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzYyNTMyODE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (10 Cloverfield Lane)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNjljZTRkNjAtNWJkZS00YjIyLTliMjgtMWJmOTNlMDE2MjRhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_.jpg (20th Century Women)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTAyNzExNDY1NDNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDA1MTEzMzkx._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1497,1000_AL_.jpg (Hidden Figures)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjM5MTU4ODg1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM0MTc5OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_.jpg (La La Land)
Well. There's no way around this. Sooner or later I'm gonna have to confront what I think are the worst films of 2016, so we might as well get it over with, right? I didn't see some of the more obvious terrible films, like Dirty Grandpa or Zoolander No. 2 or Gods of Egypt, but rather than including them on this list anyway I went with only films I actually wrote reviews on, because for once I actually wrote about enough terrible movies to have a list full of them. Everything on this list scored a 3 or lower on my blog, and I will link the full reviews to the pictures if you wanna check them out. I'm sure there will be just as much yelling here as there is in those reviews. But that's enough procrastinating on my part. Let's get this over with! These are my worst films of 2016!
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Jason Bourne
Kicking off this list is the latest Jason Bourne film. While there are some series, like Mission Impossible and The Fast And Furious, that are getting better with age.....Jason Bourne is not one of them. This one really starts the list because it is one of the best summaries of everything wrong with cheap action films. Too many corners are cut in this movie too many times to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, the wonderful Alicia Vikander followed up her 2015, during which she won my coveted "Best Actress of the Year" award, with this. Here she's just an extremely generic FBI agent, in an extremely standard FBI agency. Which is pretty much this entire film. As standard as it gets. I hate when an action movie goes with the *bangs on keyboard to find someone* approach, and Jason Bourne does that a LOT. You might as well just have some crappy title card come up and say "We found them, then this happened." because it would be just as engaging as this BS. C'mon guys! I know what this series once was if you're gonna keep making more of these at least TRY and be like the first few films!
(Dis)Honorable Mention: The Shallows
Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The Shallows is a gnarly one brah. God bless Blake Lively's soul. I feel so bad for her. This is basically her film, but it's not her fault that it's bad. She goes into this film trying to turn it into a really good slasher film with a shark. A "Jaws of the 21st century," so to say. But you just know that as time goes on she realizes that all this is going to be is another Sharknado ripoff. Which is fine! This film isn't any higher on the list because it does ultimately embrace its ridiculousness and makes fun of itself, but STILL. Blake Lively deserves so much better! At least this film is in the "so bad it's good" category, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that it is "so bad it's good." But hey. Least it gave us the shark-Blake Lively love story we were all asking for.
10) BIlly Lynn's Long Halftime WAlk
So this film is the first on this list that I can say actually tried to be good. They just failed miserably. And there is a difference between trying and saying "screw it let's just finish this thing." which you will find out more about as this list progresses. But acclaimed director Ang Lee took a stab at this adopting this novel, and unfortunately he just fell flat on his face. The biggest problem with this film is the dialogue and the delivery of said dialogue. Now, there have been fun films in the past that have had bad dialogue-something like 2013's 2 Guns is a good example of this-but when you add a bad delivery to the dialogue you have a stinker. Then when you sprinkle on the fact that this film is using its bad dialogue to throw eight million ideas against the wall just to see what sticks.....and well? You have one of the worst films of 2016.
For the record I still have NO IDEA what the objective of this film is. Just saying.
9) Live By Night
Ah hello again, Live By Night! I really wanted to forget about this film. But obviously I cannot. So I kind of focused on it when I was talking about this film in my Biggest Disappointments of 2016 list, but the big problem with this film is that it, like Billy Lynn, tries to do too many things at once. There's no doubt that there is a visible amount of effort that went into this film. Visually....there's a lot going on. I can respect that. Buuuuuuuuut if your content is lackluster, it doesn't matter. And because of the sheer amount of ideas going on here, this film suffers greatly. To the point that it's frustrating, because there are a few ideas that stick! If they had built the film around these good ideas we'd have a very different story. But lo and behold they did not, and as a result you have a very disappointing and straight-up bad film. Also, I think Ben Affleck kind of realized that this wasn't a good film, because you could tell he basically stopped caring about it from an acting perspective. He's really not great in this film, and that's disappointing because he had really turned the corner in recent years. But now he may be going in the opposite direction again. Please no, Ben!
8) The Girl on the Train
Oh right! This movie happened. Real question time: why didn't this film call itself Gone Girl 1.5? It really should have because if someone asked me to try and name some of the finer points of these films.....well one I wouldn't be able to do it because neither are particularly good and I can't really remember anything that happens in either of them, but two IF I did remember something I'd probably mix them up. Because they are basically the exact same movie. And after the novelty of this idea wears off, you get to see first hand just how crappy it really is. The wonderful Emily Blunt is the only thing that saves this film from being any higher on the list, as she is clearly giving her absolute all here, but you can only do so much with a decent performance. This film is just.....lazy! It's corporate-directed filmmaking at its worst, and it really shows from start to finish. Not to mention it is EXTREMELY forgettable! Since, you know, I already can't remember most of it. Please do better, Emily Blunt. I know you can!
7) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Ahhhhhhh Pride and Prejudice and motherf***in' Zombies. We meet again. Well, let's talk about this film some more! I may have just featured it on my Biggest Disappointments of 2016, but it really does bear saying again: how did this film fall flat on its face? Well, my issues with this movie start with the cinematography. Who looked at the end-of-day screeners and said "Alright, looks good! We're done here." Because this film has some of the WORST cinematography I have ever seen. Why is it so hard to just give us wideshots during action sequences???? Why are we, the viewer, expected to just "believe" that someone struck a zombie? Or, why mention that there's this big debate in this zombie-riddled Victorian England about what martial arts school you trained in just to not really show us ANY martial arts being employed to beat down zombies? WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? I know I know. They don't want to show us wideshots because if they did they would actually have to pay people to employ martial arts in this film. Oh! And there's a lot of last-second saves. Because of course there are. Not to mention the cashing in from Lena Headey and Charles Dance. AND THERE'S NOT ENOUGH ZOMBIES. WHY YOU LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF ZOMBIES THERE ARE IN PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES?
Ok, self. Deep breath. We're only on number 7, self. Wait. WE'RE ONLY ON NUMBER 7???? Welllllllllllll. Looks like I need a distraction. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty.
6) Batman: The Killing Joke
God this movie! This movie makes the list primarily because of how disappointing it was. I thought about putting it on my Biggest Disappointments of 2016 list, but I decided against it because I didn't want too many comic book films on that list. But this one might as well be incorporated into the final collapse of the DC cinematic universe, because it was supposed to bring back the animated films for DC. I may not have been super "into" this world, but for years DC OWNED the animated feature film, and so a LOT of people lost their minds when this film was announced with Kevin Conroy and the great Mark Hamill coming back to reprise their iconic roles as Batman and The Joker. And we were finally supposed to get the back story we deserved for The Joker! People were so excited over that! But when this back story was revealed, was it even remotely deserving of a villain so legendary as The Joker? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. THIS BACK STORY SUCKED. It's lazy, uninteresting, and unimaginative. I mean it's just downright terrible! Now, I won't deny that the voice acting here is good. Man oh man is it great to hear Hamill playing The Joker once more. But good voice acting is not enough to save a film, especially in the animated sector. You have to have a good story, and the story here......good is about the last word I would use to describe it. Sadly, this is just another missed opportunity for DC.
5) War Dogs
Ahhhhhhh let's talk about the bro story that is War Dogs. Hey, remember when this movie was supposed to be good? I don't. Screw this movie. It put me in a real bad place with cinema in 2016. Coming off a lackluster summer blockbuster season, I was looking at just about anything to grasp on to as a decent film. War Dogs lured me in with Miles Teller and Jonah Hill being awesome and a pretty interesting premise about a field I knew very little about in Dick Cheney's America, so I was hoping for some early Oscar magic. But did I get it? NO. COURSE NOT. Where to begin with this one.....how about with its script? Or lack there of? This film has the unbreakable urge to be as on the nose as humanely freaking possible. Literally everything is explained to the viewer, which is both frustrating and detrimental to the pacing of the film. Or how about its crappy music selections? Because those were just as on the nose as everything else. How about Jonah Hill and Miles Teller being as bro-y as humanely possible? How about the fact that this film has NO IDEA what it is and cannot even convey a basic message in any way, shape, or form? GAH. This one should've been easy, guys! The premise is so freaking interesting! But no. We could NEVER risk trying to be original with something like this! We have to make sure the viewer knows EXACTLY what's going on at all times and we have to throw easy-to-identify pop songs underneath the whole thing. Because God forbid we try and let the viewer figure out what's happening or how to feel at any given moment! Geez!
Oh right! Then there's Morgan! I'm on a roll guys I'm just hitting all of these in stride. Let's talk about this sh**ty sci-fi movie, shall we? THIS MOVIE IS TERRIBLE. Unfortunately it's just another sci-fi movie that tries to tackle the idea of AI, but just fails miserably in the process. Look. If you're gonna have a movie about AI, but the viewer can't believe that the AI YOU created would actually do any of the things you have it do.....you done goof'd, son. That's the problem with the AI here, Morgan. (Aptly named, right?) She's just not believable. One second she's totally fine, then the next she's killing literally everyone around her. All because of one crappy psych eval. As if the AI wouldn't have realized that the person delivering the psych evaluation was trying to manipulate her. I mean....it isn't like artificial intelligence would be smart or anything, right? Ha. Hahaha. Then there's freaking Zoe Barnes-I mean Kate Mara. Her character is, well, hilariously terrible. Her motivations don't make no freaking sense, man, and yet she is really the centerpiece of this film. Not a good thing for a film to have a protagonist who's motivations are impossible to understand until the last few moments of the film. GAH. What I wanna know, is how. How does a film with a cast of this caliber produce a film that is this terrible. I don't know, man. There wasn't even an attempt to good too! Everyone besides Paul Giamatti is just in this one for the paycheck, and Giamatti isn't in this film long enough for his screen-hogging to even be worthwhile. It bombed at the box office, too. It needed its overseas revenue to make back its production budget, and even with that it just barely reached its budget. So how does someone look at this script and say, "Ya, I think this'll work." That's what I wanna know. Go on, tell me. I'll wait.
3) Assassins Creed
Ahhhhhhhhh and then there's Assassin's Creed. I'm not gonna lie-I've been looking forward to this one. Because I wanna rip this film a new one. The marketing behind this film was pretty sinister. We were led to believe that Michael Fassbender was really passionate about this project and took on a major role in its production. That made many people, myself included, somewhat hopeful that maybe, just MAYBE, this film would finally break the mold of crappy video game films. And the first trailer for the film made me think that maybe they were gonna do this series right-the initial trailer was absolutely bonkers, with some really awesome moments from the film in it too. Unfortunately, they were the ONLY AWESOME MOMENTS. NO. WHY DO YOU SHOWCASE THAT BIG BATTLE SEQUENCE JUST TO HAVE US FLY OVER IT AND GO TO SOMETHING ELSE THAT'S FAR LESS INTERESTING. The only good parts about this film were the choreographed battle sequences, and unfortunately the best moments of those were, you guessed it, in the trailer. Not only that, but ONCE AGAIN we had a crew, including Fassbender, making this film that didn't invest any more than 15 or 20 hours into playing the actual games to understand what works with them and what doesn't. Because we spend WAAAAAY too much time in the modern world versus the Spanish Inquisition. Which is a complaint we used to have in all the early Assassin's Creed games. And then what about the ridiculous cavalcade of stars in this film? I mean you have Marion Cotillard, the legendary Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams, and even Charlotte Rampling in this film alongside Fassbender. And outside of Cotillard, literally NONE of them were necessary. Why? We don't need recognizable actors in an Assassin's Creed movie, we need more badass and choreographed fight scenes! And what was with that haze that shrouded over most of the film? In other words, why did this film feel the need to filter half of itself? I don't freaking know. I saw this film on opening night (and right after seeing La La Land, by the way) and I was in a room of die-hard Assassin's Creed fans. And none of them enjoyed this. If you can't even make a film that appeals to the fans......what did I say before? Oh right. You done goof'd, son.
So this movie jettisoned to the top (or bottom) of this list because of two reasons. One is because it's terrible, but the second (and primary reason it's #2 on this list) is because of its marketing campaign. For 3+ months I saw the trailer for this stupid film before every single movie I saw, and when I finally got to the film I quickly realized it "forgot" to mention one MAJOR detail: HE WAKES HER UP. This film could not be more eager to move past this completely heinous act because "oh, they have to kiss and make up and everything will be great later!" obviously. And the film doesn't even TRY and hide his motivations. He's just alone on the spaceship, walks by her pod, and is like "Wow! She's hot! I should wake her up!" and then does it. Like, why was this film so eager to fly by this immoral and unethical decision? The entire film could have, and SHOULD have, been based around JUST this decision. Outside of one visually appealing sequence, and Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence being naturally charming and charismatic, this film has nothing going for it. The marketing team was so desperate to make this film look interesting that they marketed that Andy Garcia is in this film....when his only part to play in this film is to "open a door, look surprised." So yes, while this may not ACTUALLY be the second-worst film of 2016, I made it so because of the corporate cynicism behind this film. The executives of Sony must have sat down in a room after watching this film, and said, "Ok. We messed this up. How do we get butts in seats?" And created a marketing campaign around that. Honestly, this film wreaks of corporate greed and cynicism, as the story behind the creation of this film is quite fascinating and depressing. The making of this film is highlighted by the fact that it was actually a Keanu Reeves passion project for almost a decade, and when a major distributor finally bought the script, (Sony) they snubbed Reaves for the lead role in favor of Chris Pratt. From the sounds of it they also heavily altered the script as well, so we are simply left wondering what could have been with this film. Maybe the version from Keanu Reeves actually talked about the moral and ethical implications of waking someone else up early? Who knows. But there's no doubt that what we got here instead was absolutely terrible, and while it may not deserve the title of "Second Worst Film of 2016," the brutal display of corporate-mandated film making is at its most egregious here, as well as its deceptive marketing campaign, and thus shot this one to the bottom of the list.
Only one more! I can do this I can do this I can do this......
1) Independence Day: Resurgence
NOOOOOOOO I CAN'T DO IT. NO. NO NO NO NO NO. NOT INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. Ok, self. Deep breath............
Independence Day: Resurgence is the quintessential example of corporate-mandated film making. At its absolute worst. It is what happens when a group of talented people are forced to do something that they do not want to do, and create something that doesn't have an ounce of passion behind it. I never had any hope for this film. You could see its corporate mandates from a million miles away. It's sad, really. Because I know this crew, led by the great disaster film director Roland Emmerich, has the capability to make something like this fun and entertaining. Buuuuuut what the heck happened here? How are the effects in this film SO bad? Literally every corner possible was cut here, per corporate I'm sure, and as a result the effects, which are supposed to be the calling card in a big summer blockbuster, are hilariously terrible. The story is just a rehash, almost to a scene, of the first film, except the destruction is much bigger. Because of course, sequels have to be bigger, better, and more badass. Right? Regardless of how that affects the final product. On top of that, literally everyone here is terrible. I mean sure people like Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch don't care because they're good to go, but what about someone like Maika Monroe? Or Joey King? Or Jessie T. Usher? They have something to lose because of how terrible this film is. I really fear this may tank Monroe's career right after it was taking off with her performance in It Follows from 2015. Because being associated with this film is toxic. It is SO terrible, and people will not forget if you took a paycheck to be in this pile of dog crap. Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain: ID4 2 is terrible, and it is terrible because of crappy editing, horrendous special effects, and a rehash of the same story as its predecessor. It embodies the absolute worst of Hollywood, and thus deserves a spot at the bottom of this list. Shame on you, 20th Century Fox, for mandating the creation of this film. Shame. On. You.
Wow. I made it! Phew! I was cutting it close for a while there, but am ultimately emerging (relatively) unscathed. Nothing but smooth sailing from here on out! Stay tuned for my Third Annual Awesome Actors Awards tomorrow and my Best Films of 2016 list to finish it all out the day after that! Thanks for reading everyone! You guys are awesome!
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By: Peter Kosanovich
Looking at animation this year, there were some absolutely phenomenal films! Disney put out two original animated films in Zootopia and Moana; Laika LLC released another highly original stop-motion feature to add to their catalog of work, Kubo and the Two Strings; Studio Ghibli co-produced the beautiful and subtle La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) with the French-based studio Wild Bunch; and the French-Swiss company Gebeka Films released the small, charming, stop-motion feature Ma vie de Courgette (My Life as a Zucchini). And these were just the films that landed Academy Award nominations – Pixar released Finding Dory to much critical and financial success, after some US release issues Netflix landed the final distribution for The Little Prince, DreamWorks had a big year with Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls, Illumination Entertainment of Despicable Me fame came out swinging with the musical Sing and family comedy The Secret Life of Pets, Seth Rogen released his usual brand of crude and sophomoric humor in the R-rated Sausage Party, and Japan’s Makoto Shinkai is being hailed as “The New Miyazaki” with the release of Your Name (US release April 7, 2017). But, as always, only one can win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
What is so wonderful about this year in particular, is how refreshingly diverse the group of films is. That isn’t to say that previous years have made bad films – I previously reviewed the 2015 Academy Awards which featured the storybook-like Song of the Sea, stop-motion The Boxtrolls, The Tale of Princess Kaguya’s traditional Japanese watercolor style, DreamWorks stalwart franchise How to Train Your Dragon 2, and the Disney-Marvel collaboration Big Hero 6 (winner). It is incredibly reassuring, however, to see such continued diversity and stylistic inclusion from the animated categories. Both of Disney’s major releases this year featured strong, dynamic women as the leads, with Zootopia dealing specifically with diversity and Moana highlighting minority representation; two of the films nominated this year are done entirely through stop-motion, a clear break from the CGI-heavy industry; and the final film is an international joint effort showing a wonderful blending of styles and making a universally understood movie, further highlighted by its almost nonexistent use of dialogue. Now, it is unfortunate that the Academy is still reluctant to award non-Disney/Pixar films with the actual statuette – since the introduction of the category Pixar and Disney have won 10 of the 15 years (20 combined nominations), DreamWorks has only won twice from their 11 nominations (11 is the most nominations by a single company), and there have only been two non-CGI winners ever with Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and DreamWorks’ Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – but the recognition is definitely a good start! With that said, go see some of the other movies mentioned above, as this was truly a wonderful year for animation and the five nominated are only a small sampling of what is available!
Now, without further ado, here is this year’s breakdown of the animated film category as represented at the Academy Awards. Starting with the smallest, most out-of-left-field film, there is My Life as a Zucchini. Unfortunately, My Life as a Zucchini has yet to have its US release (February 24, 2017), which means I have not had the opportunity to see it, but because the Academy so rarely gives the win to the foreign film I do not actually see this winning. That being said, do go see it when it comes out, as the reviews so far have only been good! Next is The Red Turtle, co-produced by Studio Ghibli, which immediately gives the movie a little more clout than others. Interestingly though, to make the story universally understandable, the movie is almost entirely without dialogue, besides standard efforts, or reactionary sounds such as grunting or non-descript yelling. Because of this, despite the beauty of the film, the audience has been more limited, and I do not see The Red Turtle gaining enough momentum to persuade voters in its favor. It did, however, win the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature – Independent; the Annie Awards highlight accomplishments within the animation field specifically. Getting into the heavy-hitters is Moana, Disney’s effort to diversify its princess lineup. Focusing on the daughter of a Polynesian island chief, Moana follows the titular heroine as she embarks on a quest to save her island from being swallowed up by the ocean. The film tells a wonderful, well-constructed heroes journey featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, accompanied by the musical styling’s of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Personally, this was one of my favorite movies of the year, showcasing beautiful animation, wonderful music, a brief glimpse into Polynesian culture, and I wish it could win; somehow, as well as Moana has been received by both critics and audiences, it has mostly fallen off the radar during this award season. I’m not sure how a Disney Princess musical manages to be an underdog, but that’s what I see it as this year, as it really has not performed well at various other award shows and circuits.
Finally, the two frontrunners, Disney’s other major release, Zootopia, and Laika LLC’s Kubo and the Two Strings. Two drastically different films, Kubo tells the epic fantasy of a boy with magical powers going on a quest to defeat his grandfather, the evil Moon King, and all of this done through the most fluid and gorgeous stop-motion animation ever put to screen; Zootopia in contrast tells the culturally relevant story of prejudices relating to race and the police, but done in the most loving, Disney way possible, by placing a female bunny in a police department filled only with predators and then forcing her to work with a fox to solve the investigation that nobody wants. While Zootopia was incredibly charming, funny, and all-around enjoyable, its overall message came off as a little too present, almost like I was being bashed in the head by the message. That in no way means that I did not like the movie, in fact I very much enjoyed it and will definitely add it to the list of Disney movies I will rewatch on a regular basis, but the bluntness with which is presented itself just made the movie a little weaker than it could have been. Despite this minor complaint, Zootopia introduces one of Disney’s best, complex, and most well-rounded female characters ever created in the form of Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. So far this award season, Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings have managed to split wins pretty well, with Zootopia pulling away with the lead only more recently. As strong as Disney was this year, Kubo stands the best shot of pulling an upset. For everything else that it is – a massive fantasy epic about music and magic – Kubo and the Two Strings, at its core, is a film about family, a boy and his parents. This movie was incredibly beautiful, the meticulous detail that went into the stop-motion process is truly extraordinary, and it by far tells the most wonderful and unique story this year. As far as winning goes, I can see three scenarios: Zootopia wins outright, as it is currently the frontrunner; Kubo and the Two Strings manages to ride the success of its recent BAFTA win, and the Academy awards Laika LLC the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award since it has never won in this category; or Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings manage to split the vote and Moana wins from behind, the only way it stands a chance of winning. At long last, and after being only slightly long-winded, I see The Academy giving the statuette to Zootopia, but my personal pick for upset and film that should win is Kubo and the Two Strings.
Ughhhhhhhhhhh. I really don't want to revisit 2016 pre-September, but that's exactly what I have to do here. There were a lot of bad and disappointing films that came up earlier this year. Some, like Independence Day: Resurgence, had little chance of ever being good. Those films are not on this list. This list is for the films that I was holding out a sliver of hope that they would actually be better than average. But they, well, they disappointed me. These are my biggest letdowns for 2016! Hopefully I can make it through this in one piece.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Star Trek Beyond
Kicking off this list is Star Trek Beyond. Now look. This movie is fine. But that's exactly why it's on this list. After Star Trek Into Darkness, which I very much enjoyed, I was looking forward to seeing what this great cavalcade of stars had lined up next. After all, there's no doubt that this cast is fantastic, with people like Simon Pegg, John Cho, and the late Anton Yelchin holding it all together with Chris Pine being as charming and charismatic as humanely possible. I even liked how this film paired some unlikely duos together in the second act, headlined by the pairing of Spock/Bones, and the chemistry between Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban is undeniable. Even the addition of Sofia Boutella was good. Girl is one heck of a badass. But even still Star Trek Beyond's biggest problem is it feels.....soulless. To me this film felt very lifeless and everyone in their roles seemed rather bored. It also didn't help that the villain was very dull, which is a shame because the villain is played by the great Idris Elba, who can certainly pull off the menacing villain act. Only here he's unrecognizable, buried under prosthetics. Another film on this list makes this same mistake, and I really don't understand why anyone thought it would be a good idea. Hey! Let's hide our villain behind a mountain of makeup and prosthetics so you can't see his face! That'll make him more menacing, right? Well, ultimately I still had high hopes for this film-even though J.J. Abrams didn't direct it because Star Wars was too taxing, his replacement Justin Lin certainly has a great track record-I was definitely disappointed by its complete lack of energy and how it simply felt like everyone was going through the motions. The only part that really got me going was the sequence that made my favorite movie moments list. Granted, that's a great moment, but it's nowhere near enough to raise up this otherwise lackluster installment into the great Star Trek franchise.
5) Now You See Me 2
I'm sure a lot of you are wondering why this film even made my list. After all, how many people really liked the first one? Well, I am one of those people! To me, the original Now You See Me was the definition of a popcorn flick. While there's no doubt it is as shallow as shallow can be, it doesn't changed the fact that it knows what it is and has fun with itself. And, while they couldn't bring back Isla Fisher, they found a more than capable replacement in Lizzy Caplan, one of my favorite actresses in the business. Then you add Daniel Radcliffe to the mix? Count me in! Unfortunately, director Jon M. Chu and writers Ed Solomon and Peter Chiarelli failed to realize what made the original film so good, and as a result we have this dull and boring film that is trying way to hard to be something more than it is. It's also way too confusing, and by the end of the film you really don't care about "how they did it." Which doesn't even make sense, by the way. I honestly had to look back at my review to try and refresh my own memory because I barely remember anything that happened in this film. I just remember it being stupid and wanting it to end. Which was simply depressing given how I loved the original and enjoy everyone affiliated with this thing.
4) Live By Night
Ughhhhhhhhhh this movie. So this film is terrible. There's a good chance that it's gonna show up in my "Worst Movies of 2016" list as well, but it makes an appearance here because I was expecting so much more. This film is directed by Ben Affleck who, before this film, was on some kind of roll as a director. His previous three films he directed were the Oscar winner Argo, The Town, and Gone Baby Gone. Reasons to be excited, right? I also couldn't help but be excited (at least a little bit) when Warner Brothers marketed the CRAP out of this film. This was supposed to be their big Oscar flick, though sadly it did nothing more than cap off one of the most disappointing years ever for the distributor. Because it turns out even Ben Affleck the director can screw things up. This film is an absolute mess. It has no direction and is trying to be every mafia film at once. Which makes it play out exactly like every other mafia film you have ever seen. What's worse is that you have Elle Fanning in this film in a pretty interesting role. But is her character ever investigated? Of course not! Brendan Gleeson has a pretty interesting role in here, but is it developed at all? Heck no! There's just too much going on in this film, and as a result it was a major dud at the box office and during awards season. Hopefully Affleck can bring it back with his next film. Also, since I know he's reading this obviously, PLEASE get away from Warner Brothers, Ben! They are just bringing you down, man. Sprout some wings and go out on your own. I know you can do it!
3) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Hahaha.....hey! Remember when this film was a thing? Remember when it was actually terrible? I do. I also remember when I was actually excited for this thing. I wasn't expecting anything deep or anything, but c'mon. It's hard not to like the story behind the creation of this fan-fiction, then you put it on the screen and add the great Lily James as the lead? And throw in Game of Thrones greats Charles Dance and Lena Headey AND Boardwalk Empire alum Jack Huston AND Doctor Who alum Matt Smith for good measure? You better believe I was excited! But then.....what? What happened here? How do you screw this sure-fire premise up? Even after reading my review again I still don't really know. I'll talk about the finer points of this film in my "Worst Movies of 2016" list, because you better believe it will show up there, but man! I really thought this one was going to at least be a fun popcorn flick. But it wasn't even that. I really do think re-watching Pride and Prejudice and just imagining there are zombies running around would be more fun than watching this.
2) The DC Cinematic Universe
My Review of Batman V Superman
My Review of Suicide Squad
If you follow my blog regularly, you probably could've guessed this one and you can probably guess my number one too. But I decided to put this one number two instead of one because I really didn't think either of these films were going to be great. I was just hoping for decent. While we kiiiind of ended up with two average films, both of them left much to be desired, and I think 2016 will ultimately mark the end of us holding out hope for the DC Cinematic Universe because of them. Right? Right????? So let's talk about Zack Snyder. His dark style of film making may be perfect for something like Watchmen, but Suicide Squad? Or Batman V Superman? Noooooot so much. Let's be real, guys. It really doesn't take much to make a fun comic book film. We the audience eat those films up like cake, and as a result these filmmakers have let a lot of the aspects of these films slide. The Marvel films have their share of problems, and I'm always irked when someone says "Oh (insert comic book film here) should've been nominated for an Oscar," because there are far lesser-known films out there that try way harder to be noticed than any of these things, but I still enjoy the Marvel films because they recognize what they are. They have fun with themselves, and keep the audience laughing and having a good time throughout the film. DC films don't do that, and it really baffles me that they continue to go down the dark path that they're on with Snyder behind the wheel. Really-all they have to do to be on the same level as Marvel films is lighten their tone to the umpteenth degree and film their action sequences better. That's it! That really is all that separates these two worlds! Maybe Snyder will finally change course, but after another year of mediocre installments, there's no doubt I will look at future DC films with a lot of skepticism. It really won't take much to improve them, but since they've shown no signs of trying to change to this point they've given me no choice but to be skeptical. Even if we're in for another year of mediocre DC films, don't expect their names to show up on this list again. I've been fooled too many times.
1) X-Men: Apocalypse
Aaaaaaaaaaand here's your winner. Or loser, depending on how you look at it. I knew from the start this was going to be my most disappointing film of 2016, because it was the follow up to my single favorite comic book film not named The Dark Knight in Days of Future Past. And the trailers didn't really show that there were problems with this film so I went into it with pretty high hopes! And I was devastated with the result. The problems with this film start with the villain. As much as I was excited to see the great villain Apocalypse as the centerpiece here, he is soooooooooooo poorly written. Then, even though the fantastic Oscar Isaac is playing him and coming off a career-elevating performance in Star Wars, you put him in a bunch of prosthetics and makeup so he can't be himself! I mean what kind of decision is that???? Right! A terrible one. Then you sprinkle on the great Sophie Turner and market the crap out of her joining this franchise, but you make her character just as uninteresting as everything else. AND you give her character the ultimate cop-out in the world that I know pissed off nearly every X-Men fan imaginable with a decision that rivaled something stupid out of X-Men: The Last Stand. You know, the one X-Men film we try to forget happened. That and Deadpool in X-Men Origins. And that's another thing! How does this studio come off the breakout success of Deadpool with this??? With Bryan Singer, the mastermind behind this franchise no less! I'm hopeful that we are far from a collapse of this franchise with Logan already receiving high praise and Legion making waves in the TV world, but if that's the case that will really make this film stand out like a sore thumb in this franchise. In a summer of disappointing films, this devastated me more than anything else, and to this day I will still try and watch this again with the hope that it's in the realm of Days of Future Past and not in the realm of a DC cinematic film. How could you do this to us, Bryan Singer???
Phew! I made it! Well, that's it for my biggest disappointments of 2016. Stay tuned for a special post tomorrow from the wonderful Peter Kosanovich, who will take a look at how 2016 was for animated features. Then after that it's the big three to finish off the recap of the year. So I'll see you next time here on Enter the Movies!
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTQ3MjIyNDg2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTc1NDQ0OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1631,1000_AL_.jpg (Star Trek Beyond)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTk4NDc5ODkwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTQzNzcwOTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_.jpg (Now You See Me 2)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjIxNDczMjU2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA0NjU4MDI@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (Live By Night)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTY2NjQ5NTM2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODYyNDg4NzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_.jpg (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNzM5MjczODA1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUxNzA0OTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (Suicide Squad)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODUwNDkxNDQ3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzA1MTY0NzE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,937_AL_.jpg (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Well, it's about that time! Every year I always look forward to writing this list. I start it early on in the year and just add a scene whenever I see something I really like. This year, I started this list with twelve scenes that I had to narrow down to six. I had to cut the likes of Florence Foster Jenkins, Deadpool, Sausage Party, and others, which made me sad. But I have a list that I am ready to defend, so when you inevitably disagree with some of these all I can say is....come at me bro. THESE are my favorite movie moments of 2016!
Honorable Mention: Ghostbusters - You just got Holtzmann'd
Oh man. Do I love Kate McKinnon. She quickly became my favorite character in this year's Ghostbusters remake, but these scene solidified my love for her character. In this middle of this big battle sequence at the climax of the film, (which is a lot of CGI porn there's no doubt) she has this totally wicked slow-motion fight sequence where she takes on a bunch of baddies with her new toys. It's all set to the actual Ghostbusters theme, and was easily my favorite moment of this film. It actually gave me some goosebumps watching it and even re-watching it now, which is why it still held a spot on this list despite a lot of great moments in this heavily back-ended year for film. As you know by now I loved this film, and absolutely no one can deny that this was anything but a totally awesome moment for an actress who really hit the big time in 2016.
5) Ouija: Origin of Evil - Do you know what it's like to be strangled?
Ok. Don't be freaked out by the fact that this made my top five. But anyone who knows me knows that I love horror films. I even wrote an essay on the genre a while back. They can be exhausting to review, which is why I don't review them very often, but films like The Witch and Ouija were pretty much the only two real bright spots for the genre in 2016. I will say 2016 was better for the genre than 2015 was, especially if you incorporate thrillers into the conversation, but we still had to deal with crap like The Forest and The Other Side of the Door and Blair Witch and The freaking Shallows. So I included this scene here because THIS is what the horror genre can be. It doesn't have to be all pop scares, guys! Let's look at everything that happens in this scene. It starts with a scare that comes out of a good cut, then we go into a creepy monologue from the character we know is possessed by the demon, (Lulu Wilson) then as this monologue continues we slowly push in on Wilson during a 45 second one-shot, THEN we end with a very claustrophobic close-up of the guy (Parker Mack) for his reaction. Whhhhich is also terrifying because it builds up the suspense for the cut back to Wilson. Oh! Then we end the scene by Wilson saying, "Good night Romeo." Which is also creepy because that tells us that she could here what was going on upstairs. The scene scared me ALMOST as much as the creepiest sequences from 2014's It Follows, but it showcases exactly what the horror genre has the potential to be and is exactly why I will continue to stubbornly support the genre in sickness and in health. If you're a fan of horror and let Ouija slip you by, fix that. Scenes like this happen a LOT throughout this movie.
4) Star Trek: Beyond - Sabotage!
We all knew this was going to be on the list somewhere. Sure, the movie overall was not great, but this scene was absolutely fantastic. I remember when I was initially watching this film it was in a pretty full theater, and to this point in the movie they were pretty lifeless. (I wasn't the only one who was somewhat disappointed by the film) But when this scene came on, everyone lit up, You could feel the energy come rushing back into the room, and I cannot deny that that was pretty cool! Also the song is awesome, and I'm glad it's became connected to Star Trek right off that bat. So in addition to actually being applicable to the scene, everyone whom are fans of the series got an extra kick because of "Sabotage's" connection to it. There really isn't much else to say about this one-it's pretty much just a bunch of explosions set to "Sabotage"-but it made this list because of how quickly the feeling in the room changed when it came on. One second its quiet and almost dreary, and the next its rowdy and boisterous. That's the magic and power of cinema, folks.
3) Hidden Figures - We Wear Glasses
This scene is perfect. As soon as it happened in the film I cannot deny I let out a little squeak because DAYUMN is this the best burn of 2016! I mean it immediately starts out as gold-as soon as Mahershala Ali begins his condescending sentence he knows he done goof'd, but then Taraji P. Henson's response......is perfect. Get it gurl! I still get riled up re-watching that sequence! I also must say that I loved the decision to have the camera focus on Ali during the majority of Henson's beat-down monologue too, with just a couple quick cuts to Henson. Because his reaction is priceless. And then there's the perfect cut to Henson to finish the smackdown. Did I mention that this scene is perfect? I loved this film, and you better believe it's gonna pop up on my top ten films of 2016 list, and this scene was definitely the best moment from it. I can seriously just watch that sequence over and over.
2) Star Wars: Rogue One - Darth Vader
We also knew this one was going to be on the list somewhere. Might as well just move on. Can I though? I'm sure for just about everyone else on the planet this scene was their number one favorite movie moment of 2016. There's no doubt we will be talking about it for a long time to come. We can analyze it all day long, (though it's way too late at night for me to do any of that) but it makes the list for me because for years I have been dreaming of something exactly like this in a Star Wars film. After all I'm the guy that re-watches those Star Wars: The Old Republic cinematics from time to time just because they feature Jedi doing totally awesome things. But I think the other thing that made this sequence so awesome, for me at least, was how sudden it was. We all knew it was almost the end of the film, so I kind of figured the rebels were going to hand off the plans to Leia and be done with it. But.....let's just say I am quite glad that they didn't. Thanks for giving us this fan service, Lucasfilm.
1) La La Land - Literally Every Musical Number
You know, before I saw La La Land, I really didn't think that anything would top Star Wars. That moment was so awesome, and I still find myself trying to find clips of it on the Internet to check it out. Buuuuuuuut then La La Land happened. Look. I will just tell you now, straight up-this is my favorite movie of 2016. By far. At this point pretty much any moment of this film could be my number one favorite moment of 2016. From the incredible opening number that's somehow filmed in a single take, to the above clip between Gosling and Stone that's simply magical, to the beautifully choreographed "Someone in the Crowd" number. However, if I HAD to pick one moment from this film to be my favorite movie moment of 2016, I'd go with the epilogue sequence. I don't want to spoil it for any of you unfortunate souls whom have not seen this film yet, but the epilogue is an absolutely beautiful sequence that takes you on literally every emotion imaginable during its exhilarating seven minute sequence. Here its basically just another must-see moment in this film, but after you watch the film you'll see why this is my favorite moment, and why this is my favorite film of 2016. But, let's be real.....literally every musical number from this film is my favorite moment in film for the year. Now excuse me while I go watch La La Land for the eleventh time.
Well, there you have it! My favorite movie moments of 2016! Hope you enjoyed and I will see you tomorrow for my biggest disappointments of 2016!
By: Joseph Kathmann with a special contribution in animated features section from Peter Kosanovich
It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's Oscar season! 2016 was a tale of two season. The first half of the year was marred with disappointment, with films like X-Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence, and others proving to be lackluster. To say the least. But then in the second half the tides turned. We had great films like Hidden Figures, 20th Century Women, and Moonlight drop, and suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a pretty amazing Oscar season. However, one film stood above the rest, and it will become quickly apparent by who is favorited to make a legitimate run at the most Oscar wins ever what film that is. So buckle up, and let's me help you become an expert on everything you need to know about the upcoming Academy Awards!
The format is the same as it always has been. (Can't believe this is year four, by the way) I'll go in reverse alphabetical order through the nominations, and in each category I'll have my pick (who deserves it) for the academy as well as who's the favorite. My "who's the favorite" category is based off Vegas odds found at this site and it should be noted that over the last three years these guys have had a ridiculously high success rate. Soooooo they're probably right. Let's go!
Writing: Original Screenplay
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: Manchester by the Sea
Starting off this list is Best Original Screenplay. It's actually one of the tightest categories for the entire Academy Awards. Initially La La Land was the favorite to win the category, but then suddenly Manchester by the Sea won the BAFTA and AACTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and so now Vegas isn't so sure. Currently, Manchester by the Sea sits at 8/13, while La La Land is close behind at 6/5. While La La Land did win the Golden Globe for Screenplay, those BAFTA and AACTA awards make it anyone's game. However, to me La La Land is the clear best screenplay of 2016, with the second-best screenplay on the list this year being 20th Century Women, and The Lobster coming in a close third. Remember, I thought Manchester by the Sea was kind of overrated, so I'm definitely pulling for any one of those three to win over Manchester, but I am particularly pulling for La La Land because A) it was my favorite story of 2016 and B) it needs this award if it wants a chance at breaking the record for Oscars won by a film. So here's to hoping its name gets called!
Writing: Adapted Screenplay
Who deserves it: Moonlight
Who's the favorite: Moonlight
This one is about as easy as it gets. Much as I loved films like Arrival, Hidden Figures, and Lion, Moonlight's story is just too unique and too bold. Told from three points in the main character's life, Moonlight manages to not only string together 30 years worth of experiences in just a short amount of time, but also do so in a way that emotionally devastates the viewer. Oh! And it does all of this while painting a thought-provoking image of what it was like to be a young black man in the heart of the war on drugs era urban America. There's so much going on here and all of it sticks. It's a perfect film that will unfortunately lose many of its nominated Oscars to La La Land, but this is one category that it is primed to take. Vegas agrees, as right now Moonlight is going at 1/5 with the next closest being Hidden Figures at 8-1.
Who deserves it: Doctor Strange
Who's the favorite: The Jungle Book
Man if you want a case and point about how crappy this year was for the big summer blockbuster....look no further than the Best Visual Effects category. Wow! No nominations for films like Captain America, Ghostbusters, or Independence Day: Resurgence, or really any other big-budget summer blockbuster. Strong statement from the Academy. It also works as a double-edge sword as this category this year is pretty, well, hilarious. I mean Deepwater Horizon? Really? I actually thought the effects there were kind of.....bad. The Jungle Book and Rogue One were fine, but if I had to give it to one of these films I'd hand the award to Doctor Strange. More or less because of just how, well, mind-bending the effects were. I know I know I just used a marketing buzzword to describe them, but you get my point. The effects are pretty cool, and are definitely the calling card for Doctor Strange. However I really don't have any quarrel with any of these. Besides Deepwater Horizon. C'mon, guys.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
So this is one category I have tried to understand more as I've continued to review film. Sound mixing is more about the balance of what you hear versus just what you hear. (which is sound editing) As I've continued to develop as a "critic," I've become more adept at separating the two. So, this year, when it comes to sound MIXING, there is a clear winner in La La Land. The film has an incredible balance between music and other effects, and the other effects are mixed in a way that definitely adds to the overall experience. The mix here is crucial to painting a picture of this nostalgia-filled image of LA. No one else is really even close to La La Land according to our friends at Vegas as it's going at 1/8 with the next closest being Arrival at 6-1. Expect to hear La La Land's name called for this one.
Who deserves it: Hacksaw Ridge
Who's the favorite: Hacksaw Ridge
Aaaaaaand here's where the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is important. Sound editing is more about the selection of sounds, and when you look at just that aspect of the film, I do believe Hacksaw Ridge deserves it. Much as I want to see La La Land go for 12. However Vegas says this is one of the categories to watch this year (along with Best Original Screenplay) as Hacksaw Ridge is going around 1/2 while La La Land is close behind at 5/2. So keep an eye out for this one! Heck I'd say there's even a good shot at Arrival dark-horsing in the W. Which I wouldn't even be remotely upset about-it did create an entire alien language after all using only sounds.
Short Film, Live Action
Who deserves it: N/A
Who's the favorite: Ennemis Interieurs
I haven't seen any of these yet, unfortunately, so I won't add any commentary. I will just tell you right now Interieurs is going at 4/6 while Timecode is going at 5/2. These are the categories that are usually pretty up in the air in Vegas, but I'd say it will be one of those two that hears its name called at the Oscars.
Short Film, Animated
Who deserves it: N/A
Who's the favorite: Piper
Once again I haven't seen all of these yet so I'll refrain from commentary, but I will say I saw Piper and liked it a lot. The Disney/Pixar short is usually the favorite for this category, regardless of the quality of the short. So, when it delivers a good animated short? The rest of the shorts will need a Hail Mary to topple this one. Vegas seems pretty confident too: Piper is going at 1/5, while the next closest is Blind Vaysha at 9/2. Expect Piper to walk away with this one.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
Getting tired of seeing this poster pop up yet? Well, I hope not, because it has a lot more. This one is pretty much a done deal. It wasn't the best year for production design outside of La La Land, so it's going at 1/20 in Vegas with the next closest being Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them at 8-1. I think it's safe to assume that Fantastic Beasts will not be winning an Oscar, so it's safe to assume that La La Land's name will be called here. And absolutely no one can argue this one.
Who deserves it: "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" (La La Land)
Who's the favorite: "City of Stars" (La La Land)
See the trend that's developing? Well, on this one I am fairly certain there's no chance of La La Land splitting the vote and allowing for something like "How Far I'll Go" from Moana to sweep in and steal it, but I do like the "Audition" from La La Land more than "City of Stars." However, the Academy very much so disagrees with me, as Stars is going at 1/6 while everything else is going at 8-1 and higher. To be fair, "City of Stars" is pretty much the manifesto of this film, as well as Hollywood's love letter to itself, so I can see why the Academy would pick it over "Audition." Just don't expect to hear anyone's name over La La Land when this award comes up.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
Hey look. Another one. And not the last. This one is one of La La Land's more heavily favored categories, as it's going at 1/10 while the next closest, Moonlight, is going at 9-1. And once again I 100% agree-while I loved Moonlight's score, there is absolutely nothing like La La Land's music. It's definitely the best part of this masterpiece.
So I wanna take a moment and talk about soon-to-be Academy Award winner Justin Hurwitz. La La Land director Damien Chazelle gets all the publicity over the fact that La La Land is only his 3rd film he's directed, but Hurwitz is having the exact same success story. He's Chazelle's personal composer, and to this point has only composed three feature-length scores. As in Chazelle's three films. Pretty amazing for someone's third score to be as intricate, complex, and dazzlingly beautiful as La La Land's. While I was stoked to see the legendary Ennio Morricone win his first (and long overdue) Oscar last year, I will be equally stoked to see Hurwitz solidify his place among the Hollywood elite with his first this early in his career. Can't wait to see what he does next!
Makeup and Hairstyling
Who deserves it: Uhhhhhhhhhh...........monkey.
Who's the favorite: Star Trek Beyond
This category honestly makes less sense to me every year. First off, why are there only three nominees? Does every other film not have any makeup or hairstyling? Because I mean heck can we talk about the hair in Hidden Figures? Or the makeup in Lights Out? And there always seems to be an applicant from left field in this category. Like remember Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa can say it has an Oscar nomination because of this category. This time around though it's pretty much the entire category, as mediocre summer blockbuster duo Star Trek Beyond and FREAKING SUICIDE SQUAD join international film A Man Called Ove to round out this weird band of misfits. That's right. Suicide Squad can now call itself "Oscar nominated" Suicide Squad. Yikes. So, I will refrain from adding a "who deserves it" and instead will just focus on who's the favorite in Vegas. Right now it's Star Trek Beyond, going at 1/3, with A Man Called Ove and Suicide Squad both going at around 5-1. However, I think A Man Called Ove wins this, simply because the Academy couldn't possibly give Star Trek Beyond an award, right? Definitely not Suicide Squad. I'd be laughing for days if Suicide Squad's name was said. We shall see. But real talk, Academy: can you PLEASE fix this category???
Foreign Language Film
Who deserves it: N/A
Who's the favorite: Toni Erdmann
As usual, since I'm not paid to do this I haven't had the time to see the foreign language films for this year. I will say, though, that Erdmann has made quite the splash around town, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear its name called. Vegas has it at 8/11 with The Salesman close behind at 11/10. This one should be good!
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
They just keep coming for La La Land. This is another category where it's heavily favored-it's currently going at 1/8 while its next-closest competitor, Hacksaw Ridge, is going at 5-1. Not a chance Hacksaw Ridge beats out La La Land. Expect its name to be called and for Chazelle's personal editor, Tom Cross, to add another Oscar to his name. In all seriousness though, Chazelle is turning Hollywood on its side, and the editing is a major part of that. In fact, I would say that the editing is the largest reason for it. So expect Chazelle's films to continue to win this award until someone can do it better. Might take a while.
HaWho deserves it: N/A
Who's the favorite: Extremis
I haven't seen any of these, which is a shame because Extremis is available to watch on Netflix right now, but Vegas seems pretty confident that Extremis is gonna walk away with it. It's going at 1/2, while the next closest is Joe's Violin going at 11/4. Again I don't know anything about these, but when the gap's that wide in Vegas it means 9/10 the favorite is going to win. So expect to hear Extremis called on Oscar night!
Who deserves it: N/A
Who's the favorite: O.J.: Made in America
Once again I haven't seen all of these, but O.J.: Made in America has been RAKING in awards left and right, and it's going at 1/8 out in Vegas, so you can certainly expect its name to be called come Oscar night. Which is kind of a shame because there are great names on this list like 13th and I Am Not Your Negro that would win this award in any other year. But, O.J.: Made in America happened, so tough luck for everyone else.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
This category, along with Original Screenplay, are the two categories where La La Land faces the stiffest competition according to Vegas. In Costumes, La La Land is currently going at 4/6 while Jackie is making a strong case at 6/5. Well, as much as I did like Jackie's costumes, (they were pretty much my favorite part of the film) the costumes of La La Land were something else and really added to the film. When I think of clips from the film, I envision the characters wearing whatever costumes they were wearing. Whether it's the beautiful costumes of the "Someone in the Crowd" number, or all the magnificent outfits during the opening "Another Day in Sun," or the entire "Epilogue" sequence, the costumes were pivotal to La La Land, and they were another crucial part to this story. While I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Jackie win this one, because otherwise it probably won't win any Oscars, I really don't see how La La Land doesn't win this.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
This one is pretty clear-cut. La La Land is going at 1/7, and the next closest is Lion at 7-1. I was actually a big fan of Arrival's cinematography, but it looks like it doesn't stand much of a chance at winning this because La La Land, once again, was in an entire league of its own. Just like with the costumes, the cinematography was a crucial part of La La Land, and was just utterly fantastic. I mean "Another Day in Sun" alone is worthy of an Oscar win, and that's just the first few minutes of the film. Then sequences like "Someone in the Crowd" and "Summer Montage" and "Planetarium" solidify La La Land's grasp on this award. I cannot emphasize this enough: this is the best film I have ever reviewed on Enter the Movies, and had a perfect execution of every aspect of film-making. It may be years before another film like La La Land comes along.
Since I haven't seen one of these films so far, I'd like to bring on my good friend Peter Kosanovich to talk about this year's animated features!
Who deserves it: Kubo and the Two Strings
Who's the favorite: Zootopia
Looking at animation this year, there were some absolutely phenomenal films! Disney put out two original animated films in Zootopia and Moana; Laika LLC released another highly original stop-motion feature to add to their catalog of work, Kubo and the Two Strings; Studio Ghibli co-produced the beautiful and subtle La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) with the French-based studio Wild Bunch; and the French-Swiss company Gebeka Films released the small, charming, stop-motion feature Ma vie de Courgette (My Life as a Zucchini). Unfortunately My Life as a Zucchini has yet to have its US release (February 24, 2017), so I have not seen it, but do not expect it to win anyway. Similarly for The Red Turtle, which saw limited release, but being almost entirely without dialogue I do not see it pulling enough attention to win. This leaves our final three, the Disney stalwarts and the stop-motion marvel. Despite great reception, Moana has somehow managed to make itself an underdog this award season, not pulling in nearly as much attention as is often expected of a Disney Princess musical. As far as winning goes, I can see three options: Zootopia wins outright, as it is currently the frontrunner; Kubo and the Two Strings manages to ride the success of its recent BAFTA win, and the Academy awards Laika LLC the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award since it has never won in this category; or Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings split the vote and Moana wins from behind, the only way it stands a chance of winning. Ultimately, I see The Academy giving the statuette to Zootopia, but my personal pick for upset and film that should win is Kubo and the Two Strings.
Best Supporting Actress
Who deserves it: Nicole Kidman, Lion
Who's the favorite: Viola Davis, Fences
So this category is pretty much locked up for Viola Davis as she's going at 1/50 in Vegas. You heard that right. 1/50. Next closest is Michelle Williams, who's going at 14-1. Now let me just say that I LOVED Viola Davis's performance-it's one of the best of the year, and you can expect to see it on my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards at the end of this week. But you can also expect to see Kidman's name in front of Davis's. I absolutely adored this grounded and emotional performance from Kidman. She was able to emotionally destroy me with just a few looks, and to me she was the central foundation in what was one of my favorite movies of the year. As much as I know she doesn't really stand a chance to win this award, it doesn't change the fact that I absolutely loved this performance. Can't wait to gloat about it some more later this week! That said, Viola Davis is definitely my second-favorite name on this list, and certainly deserves her first Oscar win so I will not complain for a second when her name is called. She's definitely more in need of an Oscar than Nicole Kidman is right now.
Best Supporting Actor
Who deserves it: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Who's the favorite: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
While I may disagree on Supporting Actress, I EASILY agree on Supporting Actor. Mahershala Ali put in EASILY the best performance from an actor this year with his portrayal as the drug dealer Juan from Moonlight. His character and Naomie Harris have one of the most emotional moments in cinema this year between the two of them, and this sequence netted both of them Oscar nominations and pretty much sealed it for Ali. It is a jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching exchange, and it's one of several great moments Ali has throughout the early stages of this film. He is incredible, and certainly deserving of this award. Vegas seems to agree with me, as Ali is currently going at 1/7 while Dev Patel is next at a distant 6-1. Expect to hear Ali's name called next Sunday!
Who deserves it: Emma Stone, La La Land
Who's the favorite: Emma Stone, La La Land
You know, I initially thought this one was gonna be a toss-up between Emma Stone and Natalie Portman for her role in Jackie, but Stone has won nearly every acting award imaginable in the lead-up to the Oscars, so she's currently going at 1/6 in Vegas, with Portman way behind her at 5-1. You know, I've been a huge fan of Emma Stone since waaaaaay back in 2009 with Zombieland. She has definitely become the biggest young actress in Hollywood, and she will likely be walking away from the Academy Awards with her first well-deserved Oscar. To me, she deserves it just for the "Audition" sequence alone, which rivals, in my opinion, the iconic "I Dreamed a Dream" segment from 2013's Les Misérables. If Anne Hathaway deserved an Oscar because of that sequence and literally only that sequence, Stone deserves one here because she has that plus an entire rest of the film. I'm not going to lie-this is my favorite performance of 2016-so I will definitely be rooting for Emma Stone come Oscar night!
Who deserves it: Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Who's the favorite: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Is it sad that I want to give this award to Garfield primarily because he was so good in Silence and should've been nominated for that? This was not a great year for the Best Actor category-which is obvious given the totally out-of-left-field nomination of Viggo Mortensen-and while Affleck is the favorite at 4/7 with Denzel Washington just behind him at 11/8 (he flew into second on this when he won the SAGs award) I will not say Affleck is deserving because of his past and I really didn't think Washington was all that great. He was basically playing himself. I did like Ryan Gosling, and I think he actually has a pretty good shot at dark-horsing this because I think he and Affleck split the vote at the SAGs to let Washington win, but at the end of the day I will say Garfield deserves it simply because of how good a year he did had. But honestly? It's anyone's game. Who knows maybe Mortensen will win just because the Academy remembered it somehow hasn't handed this great actor an Oscar yet. This is easily the most interesting category of the Oscars this year, despite its lack of truly memorable performances, but I would expect it to be a toss-up between Affleck, Washington, and Gosling. Anyone but Casey Affleck, please.....
Who deserves it: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Who's the favorite: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Could it be any other way? I'm gonna stand and cheer when Chazelle's name is finally called at the end of the night for Best Director. His meteoric rise in Hollywood will be complete. It's an incredibly deserving win as well, as he, like his film, was EASILY the best thing to happen to Hollywood in 2016. Vegas agrees, as he's going at 1/25, with the next closest being Barry Jenkins (who's awesome, by the way) at 12-1. Much as I love Barry Jenkins, this one is definitely Chazelle's to lose. It would be the upset of the century if anyone's name is called by Chazelle's.
Who deserves it: La La Land
Who's the favorite: La La Land
If you've been reading all the way to this point, well...first off, thank you, but second off, does this surprise you? It shouldn't. This would give La La Land its 11th Oscar if the Academy votes strictly by my "who deserves it" category, which they totally do. Right? But hopefully by this point you see it has a real shot at 12, and I will be so excited if it's sitting at 11 after Chazelle wins Best Director. Because right now Vegas has La La Land at 1/10 to win, with the next-closest film (Moonlight) coming in at 7-1. While we may not be sure whether La La Land is actually gonna pull out the Oscar record, one thing can be said with about as much certainty as I can say it with: La La Land is walking away with a deserving Best Picture. It will mark just the second time in the last 10 years that my top film for the year actually wins Best Picture, (Argo was the other to do it) so I'm very excited about that. There are a lot of La La Land haters out there nowadays, but you have to admit it: if a film has a lot of "haters" that means it's great enough to get people to come out against it. There were several other great films to be released in 2016, but in my opinion one film rose above the rest in a truly spectacular fashion. And that film will walk away with Best Picture come Oscar Sunday.
Well, that does it! Thanks for joining me on this journey to preview this year's wonderful Oscars! My work is far from done: expect to see my Favorite Movie Moments coming up tomorrow, with Biggest Disappointments the day after that, as well as a special from my dear friend Peter Kosanovich taking a look at the best animated features had to offer throughout 2016. Then later this week I will be posting my Third Annual Awesome Actors Awards, and then will conclude the year with my Worst and Best Movies of 2016! I'll see ya next time!
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https://d35fkdjhhgt99.cloudfront.net/static/use-media-items/48/47382/full-1382x2048/587a5198/1.jpeg (La La Land)
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