My Favorite Movies of 2016

Remember back in August or September when people were talking about how 2016 seemed like a down year for film? That seems kind of silly now. My top 10 list this year contains 14 movies and one Honorable Mention. I waited a little while to put it together and I am glad I did because I think the Oscars cast some of these films in a new light.

In any case there’s only so much you can say in an intro to a list like this so, as they say in the biz, let’s cut to the chase. Continue reading

Passengers: Deranged, Evil, Useful?

I like most of the movies I see.

This is not because most movies are good but I just know how to pick ‘em. Having spent most of my adulthood going to the theater at least once a week I have developed a pretty keen sense of what I will like and what I will not like. Because I do not participate in the narcissistic practice of “hate watching”, I can honestly say that most of the movies I have seen I have basically enjoyed on their merits. Continue reading

Hail, Caesar! The Big Picture

Early in the Coen Brother’s latest farce Hail, Caesar! the perpetually busy but never shaken studio executive/celebrity-problem solver Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) takes a brief respite to review the dailies of Capital Pictures’ latest sword-and-sandles prestige picture, also titled Hail, Caesar! At the time of Mannix’s viewing, the special effects – such as they were in the 1950s – had not yet been committed to celluloid so in place of the fictional film’s Jesus is instead a title card bluntly reading “DIVINE PRESENCE TO BE SHOT.” The Coens spend the rest of the film doing exactly that. Continue reading

The Revenant: The Most Movie

There’s an old awards season adage – the best way to predict who or what will win an Oscar is to simply replace the word “Best” with the word “Most”. This method explains a lot. For instance, when you replace “Best Costume Design” with “Most Costume Design” it is quite obvious why the winner is almost always the most well-regarded period drama of the year. “Best Editing” becomes “Most Editing” and now we know why Star Wars: The Force Awakens got nominated this year when it had doubtlessly some of the worst editing put to screen in some time. “Best Original Screenplay” is actually “Most Original Screenplay” which is to say the most writing, so look for the movie with an surplusage of clever lines and turns of phrase. Continue reading

Seriously, You Haven’t Seen That?

There are so many movies I haven’t seen. It happens nearly everyday that I read or hear about some film that sounds fantastic that I have not  seen, sometimes that I’ve never even heard of. To understand any art form you need to understand where you’ve been in addition to where you are. Simply watching the “best” movies that come out each is insufficient if you want to nurture a complete and rich film vocabulary. This year I endeavor to work toward fixing the deficiencies in my own film vocabulary.

This is the first in, what I plan to be, a series of posts. I have selected two movies per month that I have never seen before. I plan to watch them over the course of the coming year, one every two weeks or so, and write about my thoughts and reactions. Some are famous, some are not, some old, some new, some domestic, some foreign. My purpose in posting this is two-fold (beyond simply the pleasure of watching movies). First, like Odysseus at the mast, I hope that by binding myself in the present to actions in the future I will be more inclined to follow through with my plan.  Secondly, I hope that this will provide an opportunity for me to improve my writing.

I encourage anyone reading this to respond (perhaps with encouragement or (more likely) astonishment that I’ve never bothered to see “Inception”) both to this post and upcoming  entries. The first selection is Billy Wilder’s Hollywood classic, and often referenced, “Sunset Boulevard”.

The complete list is below. Continue reading