The 80’s had some spectacular movies. As I sit here writing this post, I look back on my life with a love for cinema, but now my news feed is our current political climate. I think what happened to the love of our neighbors. We live in a constant state of apology and open bigotry. We march, we complain, we are given participation awards and have never been more divided.
Don’t worry…this is not a political rant or a cry for us to unite. As a matter of fact, this is a distraction from these very issues. Having now been around for nearly 4 decades, I’ve built quite the love for the cinema. I studied cinematography in college, I’ve produced shorts, I’ve worked on 200 million dollar mega budget films and I’ve even tried my hand in documentary production. During all of this time, I’ve found that the film arts are my salvation. With that being said I figured I would give a subjective look at my 10 favorite films of each decade: The 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.
These lists are meant to be my personal favorites that I watch often, or they’re movies that changed the landscape of the industry through storytelling, production, acting, etc. I hope you enjoy!
The 80’s…As Tim Dirks of FilmSite.org eloquently says, “The decade of the 1980s tended to consolidate the gains made in the seventies rather than to initiate any new trends equal to the large number of disaster movies, buddy movies, or ‘rogue cop’ movies that characterized the previous decade. Designed and packaged for mass audience appeal, few 80’s films became what could be called ‘classics’. The era was characterized by the introduction of ‘high-concept’ films – with cinematic plots that could be easily characterized by one or two sentences (25 words or less) – and therefore easily marketable and understandable.”
With this mentality we were introduced to a slew of teen angst films, sequels galore and the birth of the modern day “Hollywood Blockbuster.” Here are my personal favorites.
“It’s funny. You were so scary at night.”
There are some movies that make you question where you stand on Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory – Green Room is one of them, and I don’t think I’d survive.
With white power slogans subtly displayed throughout the film’s central location, a neo-Nazi skinhead bar in the desolate Oregon backwoods (led by Sir Patrick Stewart!?), the timing of the film’s release is a eerily relevant in the era of a Trump America. Green Room creates a raw, gut-wrenching survival experience that had me white-knuckled throughout the entire movie.
Even Sir Patrick Stewart (Darcy) 30 pages deep into reading the script, stopped reading to immediately set his home security alarms and open a bottle of scotch before finishing the script.
“Remember, it’s not a party,” Darcy tells his followers on stage in the microphone. “It’s a movement.” You’re damn right.
The 74th annual Golden Globes were last night, and they were hosted by a surprisingly nervous Jimmy Fallon.
The last twelve months have been tremendous accomplishment for independent films, and they dominated the Globes. Sadly, some of my favorites got snubbed, and La La Land swept through the awards winning all seven it was nominated for (the most wins for one film in Globes history).
Outside of the glaring losses, there were also a handful of hilarious flubs, awkward cuts and tremendous speeches.
Check out my favorite moments of the 2017 Golden Globes.
“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”
La La Land’s ode to old Hollywood has re-ignited our love affair with musicals and the magic seldom seen on screen, but while this movie reminds me why I love classics of yesteryear, it’s respectful homage is also a reminder that it will never match those classics it honors.
Bogart and Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn. Stone and Gosling? I can’t quite stomach the idea of the latter couple on the same pedestal as the power couples of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, but La La Land desperately wants you to believe that Stone and Gosling are the 21st century golden couple.
With a massive 12 nominations from the Critics Choice Awards, La La Land is proving to be the movie to beat this year as critics hail it “the years best” and “an instant classic,” but Ryan Gosling tap dancing around a light pole at dusk doesn’t make him Gene Kelly.
Robin over at Write Out of LA is hosting a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar series throughout December highlighting one holiday film per day. My contribution to the series is the 80s-inspired modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Scrooged.
Scrooged is undoubtedly my favorite Christmas movie of all time – it’s a tale as old as time without the gimmicks or seriousness. It’s got one hell of a cast with the most memorable Scrooge himself, Frank Cross, played by the legendary Bill Murray. The film was actually a resurgence for Murray who had taken an imposed four-year exile from Hollywood and what a joyous return!
Murray was an A-list movie star by the time Scrooged hit theaters, but up until that point he had always been part of an ensemble cast (Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters). This was his first opportunity to shine solo on screen. Director Richard Donner admit this little gem about shooting the final scene of the movie: “On the last take I saw something happen to Billy. I saw Billy Murray become an actor.”
Here are my five favorite things about the movie.
“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
If E.T.’s landed on Earth tomorrow, what would you do? If you had the option to change the course of your life, would you do it?
Arrival is the most cerebral experience of 2016, and the intimate nature of the film has everything to do with that.
The film is not entirely original; it takes the age-old science fiction premise of aliens landing on Earth with the panicked world asking: “Why are they here?” But this sci-fi addition has all the right ingredients from it’s cast to director to score to script that produces some serious thought-provoking material. The exploration of this archaic, hypothetical reality leaves me wondering when this inevitable future will occur off-screen. I’m. Not. Ready.
Welcome to 7 more gloriously under-looked excuses to have a good old moan. This time the ladies. The years and years of the Academy’s illustrious history in rewarding great work in cinema has generally been very kind. But boy do they forget about a lot of terrific performances. And I am talking every single year. Below are 7 performances I am particularly fond of, and I know I am not alone here. These are not necessarily my all-time favorites, but they are certainly plucked from the very best that missed out on Oscar nominations. I know, three of the actresses derive from France – what can I say, I am something of a French cinema fanboy. It could easily have been all 7. Hell, 100. For now, get acquainted with these Oscars-neglected, but extremely talented women. Enchanté.
As we hurtle towards the film industry’s awards season beyond the festival circuit, I tend to fall deep into the heartbreak of those that don’t make it to the Oscar nominations. I know, the Academy Awards are miles away, but those in the field of reporting and predicting the Oscars are already talking about it. Not all can make the final cut of course amidst the politics of preferences, and I am never short of choices that didn’t receive AMPAS recognition. It’s impossible to choose set favorites, but I picked 7 actresses and 7 actors from the array of many that the Oscars seem to have forgot. Let’s save the dominant of the species til last and start with the men.
“At some point you’ve got to decide for yourself who you gonna be. And let nobody make that decision.”
Moonlight brings the internal struggle of being a gay black man in America out of the shadows by shining a light on the concept of masculinity within the context of personal identity.
“What’s a faggot?” asks young Chiron, mercilessly bullied by classmates each day, because they consider him different.
Moonlight unfolds in three chapters of one man’s life, from childhood to young adulthood, as he discovers who he is as a black, homosexual man in the Miami projects. With themes including race, homophobia, identity and black masculinity, it’s a miracle that a film of this nature was made. It’s going to be the answer to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite.
The film is based on the unproduced play by gay black playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. “Black men loving each other is a radical idea,” McCraney admit. It certainly isn’t a conventional story, but it’s one that desperately needs to be told.
Being poor, black and struggling with sexual identity are things I know absolutely nothing about. What I can relate to in Moonlight is identity and how society can negatively affect personal development in crucial stages of life. It’s bold exploration of personal adversity is exactly what the world needs to see right now.