Even as the general box office continues to decline, the overall quality of films continued to impress in 2017. It was a great year for genre filmmaking in particular, with several comedies and horror films surfacing as a cut above the rest. This will be mostly [spoiler-free], with a few spoilers marked appropriately. Of the 53 films I saw in 2017, here were my favorites:
2017 has been over for nearly a month now, and as is tradition I’m still putting together my Top Ten list for the year. I have a lot of thoughts on they year in cinema, and I’d like to share some of my favorite movie elements and moments for 2017. This should be fairly [spoiler-free], with only a few light spoilers that will be marked appropriately.
2016 was a movie year with interesting dichotomies. On the one hand, many studio films and sequels fell flat (particularly over the summer). On the other hand, it was a fantastic year for independent cinema, surprise original genre hits, and social/political documentaries. For me personally, it was the first year I attended the Sundance Film Festival, and managed to see a personal best 75 films released this year. Of those films, here were my favorites (presented here as [spoiler-free] unless otherwise noted).
2016 has come and gone. As many films have only just recently become available for the average viewer, I’m still putting the final touches on my “Top Ten” list. However, I have once again put together a compilation of some of the best moments and elements in the year in film. This will be mostly [spoiler-free], unless otherwise noted. Here are some of my favorite film things from 2016:
2016’s blockbuster season has been panned by many as one of the worst in recent memory. It seems like week after week, the big new release was both critically reviled and completely bombed at the box office. Despite the low lows, there were several bright spots that kept people headed to the cinema this summer. Here’re my [spoiler-free] thoughts on both the best and worst films of the summer. (more…)
Captain Fantastic is a heart-warming film that forces the viewer to consider the faults of modern society and the benefits to living an alternative lifestyle. Written and directed by Matt Ross, the film was a hit at Sundance this year, and rightly so. While it is frequently damning to American culture, it also has a lot to say about the value of compromise, discourse, and self-reflection. Most impressively, it is a movie that revels in the existence of the morally gray, a trait that is rare for a two-hour long feature film. Captain Fantastic really impressed me, and it’s a film that is best discussed from start to finish, so full [spoilers] ahead.
Pete’s Dragon (2016) is a magical live-action Disney adventure that harkens back to family films of decades past. It is a children’s film that treats its audience with respect, and is very mature in its exploration of magic and wonder. Recently I had the pleasure of attending the premiere at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, courtesy of The View and Fantasy Movie League. The experience was delightful, and I have many thoughts about the film itself. I am going to keep this post mostly [spoiler-free], keeping the conversation to my thoughts about characters, pacing, and tone. (more…)
Swiss Army Man was perhaps the most polarizing film of Sundance. There are stories of how people walked out of its premiere screening, and it’s easy to see why. Depending on expectations, this film could be a kinetic masterpiece or an extended fart joke. Personally, I think the film is the former. This movie is completely insane, and I believe that “The Daniels” (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) are the next Neveldine and Taylor, but with a stronger eye for the cinematic. My opinion is that this movie is best if you go into it completely fresh, but unfortunately the trailer gives away a number of surprises. If you haven’t seen anything, I recommend stopping here and just seeing the film; however, I’ll do my best to keep spoilers to what’s in the trailer for the first portion of this review. (more…)
“Wiener-Dog tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading a certain kind of comfort and joy.” This is the description given to Wiener-Dog when it played Sundance, and while technically true, anyone familiar with Todd Solondz’s work will suspect something a bit more cynical is afoot. The film does not disappoint, presenting a pitch-black dark comedy comprised of four disparate tales about the human condition loosely connected by one displaced dachshund. This movie is not for everyone. It’s cynical and mean-spirited, and it features animal abuse, which can be particularly hard to stomach. However, I found the movie hilarious and want to talk about each of the four sections, including the ending. [Spoilers] ahead. (more…)
Unlike most films of its genre, ‘The Witch’ gets its scares from being quietly unsettling rather than relying on jump scares and surprises for its audience. The movie is marketed as a horror film, and rightly so; many of the images and situations are deeply disturbing. Surprisingly though, the film is also one of the most realistic period pieces I’ve seen in years. I’ll be diving into later plot details of ‘The Witch,’ so [spoilers] ahead. (more…)