Top 10 Movies of 2016

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The 2017 Academy Awards are finally upon us, and this year we can safely praise the industry for not imitating #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag heard round the world last year explained the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations, but not this year.

The Academy has nominated four Best Picture movies about people of color (Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion and Moonlight), seven acting nods for performances of color as well as nominations in categories such as directing, screenplay and cinematography.

This year it really comes down to two movies. One focuses on black America and personal diversity while the other is about following your dreams. Moonlight and La La Land are undoubtedly the two movies to beat.

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While I’m fearful that the overrated La La Land will sweep the Oscars, Trevor Dueck argues that “two white tarts dancing and singing in Hollywood might have come out a year too late.” I’m not so sure about that though.

As the director of Moonlight Barry Jenkins explains, “They could not be more different films. I don’t think a love for one has to be to the rejection of the other. I can only speak to the film I made, which was made in the service of shining a light on a character who is often marginalized. Where that falls in the context of the awards season, I can’t say. But I love that regardless of where we are right now, a year and a half ago, we sat down to make this thing, and that’s exactly how I felt and it’s how I feel now.”

Everyone knows my stance on the undeserving Goliath that is La La Land (see here), but this feel-good musical has earned a whopping 14 nominations, a record only shared with All About Eve and Titanic. WTF, right? Even the LA Times asks who will survive the onslaught of La La Land? After sweeping the Golden Globes, it’s proven to be an unbeatable force.

But there were more great movies this year than those two. Many of those movies were ignored by the Academy entirely but were some of my favorites of the year.

Here are my top 10 personal favorite movies of 2016!

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How Many Oscars Can La La Land Lose?

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Okay, so these are not predictions, not me trying to be clever…just merely an attempt to throw a huge “what if” out there regarding how many of the 14 Oscar nominations La La Land is going to come away with in two weeks. With the voting now live, and the question of “how many” seemingly everywhere, I thought I would get thoughts spinning, and tongues wagging, by attempting to put forward some basic arguments as to how La La Land could lose each category (not necessarily in the same reality) come Oscar night.

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5 Things I Learned from Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic cast4star-2“Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast.”

If you had the opportunity to be fully present for your children, could you do it?

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Writer/director Matt Ross was fully focused on parenthood while penning this script. He took questions that he asks himself as a father and translated them into the character of Ben (played by Viggo Mortensen). “My goal was to create a movie that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving.”via First Showing.

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I’m about seven months late to catching one of the most outstanding and underreported indies of last summer, so pardon the delay. Each year brings constant booms in technology and increased distractions for us millennials and non-millennials. Captain Fantastic delves into a territory I’d be most uncomfortable with – an existence void of the toxic influences of society. The horror! Right?

Here’s what I learned from Captain Fantastic…

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Review: Jackie

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Natalie Portman is Jackie Kennedy.

Dramatizing an event for film or television already heavily ingrained in history and culture presents challenges: actors may look different than their real-life counterparts, events could be changed or forgotten, the overall “feel” of the event (due to music, costumes or other production quirks) can be lost. Historical pieces are tricky, but when handled with ingenuity, these films stand as a crowning achievement in the world of cinema.

Typically portrayed for her style and elegance, Jackie gives us a rare glimpse of the First Lady as she gives a revealing look at her tenure at the White House and introduces the idea of Camelot following the JFK assassination for an article in Life magazine. The film gives us an opportunity to experience a side of Jackie seldom explored and how she cemented her husband’s legacy. Said Jackie in the interview: “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot.”

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The Revenant is Overrated

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“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe… keep breathing.”

God giveth, God taketh away. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu wants you to know that, and he’ll give you a 2.5 hour exploration of Leonardo Dicaprio’s endurance to prove it.

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While it’s undeniably beautiful to behold on screen, and the passion of the Leo is as unbearable to watch as it is to believe, The Revenant’s (its title referring to someone returning from the dead) uninspired script left me wanting something deeper than a hollow man vs. man and man vs. nature epic. There just isn’t enough meat to chew on here or at least enough for me to really care about.

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Top 10 Movies of 2014

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The 2015 Academy Awards have nominated some of the weakest films in recent history. Composing a top 10 of my personal favorite films of the year was partially a struggle with the lack of exceptional movies coupled with a vast majority of mediocre films. One of the most widely positively and negatively talked about films of the year, and the potential Oscar favorite to win, is Boyhood. While I reviewed the film as the most overrated movie of the year, it represents the year as a whole…good, but not great. The Academy appears to be resting on some of the safest films that can be considered important and groundbreaking cinema, but fall on the cusp of mediocrity. There were a lot of great films that got ignored this year that may or may not have made my list like Inherent Vice or Guardians of the Galaxy, but are some great movies that shouldn’t be overlooked by viewers.

This is my third year composing a top ten list, and while I’m satisfied with these 10 films, I’m disappointed in the year as a whole. These are what I consider my personal favorites (not a top 10 of what I consider to be the best in well-rounded cinema). Here’s hoping 2015 has more to offer with greater competition and greater risks in the filmmaking industry.

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