Category Archives: Movies

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2016

Here’s my own damn list of favorites for 2016…

Best Pictures of 2016

  1. Hell or High Water (Best Picture, Best Screenplay)
  2. Arrival (Best Sound)
  3. Moonlight (Best Director)
  4. Moana
  5. The Handmaiden
  6. Manchester by the Sea
  7. Rogue One (Best Visuals)
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. Swiss Army Man
  10. The Nice Guys

Notable others include Silence, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, The Edge of Seventeen, Don’t Breathe, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Witch, Nocturnal Animals, and Midnight Special.

Best Actresses of 2016

  1. Amy Adams – Arrival
  2. Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
  3. Kim Tae-Ri – The Handmaiden
  4. Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  5. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  6. Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch
  7. Kim Min-Hee – The Handmaiden
  8. Viola Davis – Fences

Best Actors of 2016

  1. Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
  2. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
  3. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  4. Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
  5. Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys
  6. Andrew Garfield – Silence
  7. Paul Dano – Swiss Army Man
  8. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals

Lots of great flicks this year. I honestly had a hard time getting the list under twenty. Some, though, were incredibly easy to push to the top. Let’s quickly go through some of the best.

The Handmaiden is just this wonderful puzzle box where every 20 minutes after you open a new part, it changes in positively surprising ways. A complex tale, for sure, but laid out in a most entertaining way. Sometimes gross, but always beautiful, it’s a must-see.

Moana starts somewhat procedurally and with typical archetypes, but then flips the script entirely. Everything about this movie makes me giddy. The story, the music, and the visual feast that Disney serves you, along with one mighty girl as the centerpiece, combine to make one of their best animated outtings of all time.

Considering the silence of Moonlight and the subtlety of its main character, Chiron, everything about this film is absolutely deafening. It’s lyrical, as if you’re watching a song. Directed so deliberately, there is just no way to ignore any moment. You will, without a doubt, walk away from the end with hope, smiling ear to ear, and soaked in its generous humanity.

Arrival is a very small, poignant, and touching story told on a very large stage. It’s also an outstanding movie. More importantly, though, it about finding common ground and embracing benevolence while rejecting fear. Sounds like lessons I’d hope we’d all love to master.

Just amazing stories all around, but one did shine brighter than the rest.

Hell or High Water is a contemporary Western, through and through. The horses are cars, the settings are desperate, and the cowboys are dying. Parallels are easily drawn between the past when the white man ripped away the Comanche’s homeland and the present with banks taking away farms, stores, and homes. It is truly a story of the 99 and the 1 and what happens when you put someone in the corner of a tight cage. Those someones, brothers who are wholly portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, are you anti-heroes and even with all of their flaws, you easily fall in love with them. This is a perfect screenplay about moral complexity, family, and survival. Entirely rich with detail and masterfully implemented, Hell or High Water is the best movie of 2016.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2015

Another year, another list of my favorites…

10 Best Pictures of 2015

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Best Picture, Best Sound)
  2. Ex Machina (Best Screenplay)
  3. The Revenant (Best Director, Best Visuals)
  4. Straight Outta Compton
  5. Sicario
  6. Slow West
  7. Brooklyn
  8. It Follows
  9. The Lobster
  10. Mad Max: Fury Road

Notable others include The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Creed, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, Dope, Room, White God, The Big Short, and Carol.

Best Actress

  1. Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  2. Brie Larson – Room
  3. Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
  4. Emily Blunt – Sicario
  5. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  6. Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. Rachel Weisz – The Lobster
  8. Rooney Mara – Carol

Best Actor

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  2. Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
  3. Colin Farrell – The Lobster
  4. Corey Hawkins – Straight Outta Compton
  5. Domhnall Gleeson – Ex Machina
  6. Michael B. Jordan – Creed
  7. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
  8. Michael Fassbender – Slow West

I thought Ex Machina was the movie to beat for a while, but there were a fair amount of flicks that caught me off guard in 2015. Dope was dope. Creed surprised. The Hateful Eight were a likable bunch. The good kind of strange could be found in The Lobster. Straight Outta Compton was a vital watch that’s full of substance. And every frame of The Revenant was shockingly breathtaking. Only one could come out on top, though.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be an obvious choice for anyone who knows me, but that shouldn’t take any weight away from this flick. Movies like this are why I go to the theater. Films are not an escape for me. I watch these to gain a clearer, more focus understanding of reality. They help me explore emotions and trigger thoughts that I might have forgotten about. I can watch movies and relive a joyful moment or reflect on something more critical. The Force Awakens lets me walk in an adult and walk out a child, infused with The Force, and boasting the biggest smile on my face. That’s worth something.

In a greater sense, the story of Star Wars is bigger than any one movie. It’s an event or a celebration. It’s a universe that bridges so many generations and together, now possibly with my own kid, we can explore that galaxy all over again. From my perspective, if a movie is able to do that, it’s a pretty damn good movie.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2014

Another year, another list of my favorites…

10 Best Pictures of 2014

  1. Nightcrawler (Best Picture, Best Screenplay)Nightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Snowpiercer
  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Best Director)
  4. Joe
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  6. Whiplash
  7. The LEGO Movie
  8. Interstellar (Best Visual, Best Sound)
  9. The One I Love
  10. Babadook

Notable others include American SniperThe DoubleEdge of TomorrowEnemyGone GirlGuardians of the GalaxyThe Imitation Game, Inherent ViceLocke, A Most Violet YearObvious ChildSelmaThe Theory of Everything, and Under the Skin.

Best Actress

  1. Rosamund Pike – Gone GirlNightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Elisabeth Moss – The One I Love
  3. Essie Davis – Babadook
  4. Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
  5. Jessica Chastain – Interstellar & A Most Violet Year
  6. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
  7. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
  8. Jenny Slate – Obvious Child

Best Actor

  1. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler & EnemyNightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Nicholas Cage – Joe
  3. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
  4. Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
  6. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
  7. Christ Evans – Snowpiercer
  8. Oscar Isaac – A Most Violet Year

Early 2014 brought some great movies like Joe and The LEGO Movie. I was certain Snowpiercer was going to be the flick to beat. Blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Edge of Tomorrow surprised me how good they could be. Smaller films were out in force again with The Double, Enemy, and The One I Love, which was just such a treat. For me, though, one did stand above them all.

Nightcrawler immerses you into a dark and thrilling Los Angeles nightscape that’s threatening, yet hard to leave. Gyllenhaal’s transformative performance guides you through the shadowy and dangerous alleyways, proving again why he’s the most under appreciated actor today. It’s neo-noir that, unlike most modern noir, you watch for more than just the styling. Although lightless, it’s never dreary or grueling, and when it’s done, Nightcrawler is a world you’ll want to revisit again and again.

Boyhood

Universal acclaim, this movie got. I’m wondering if I just watched the same thing everyone else did. I mean it wasn’t bad, but hearing about the concept was far more interesting than what you actually see on screen. Maybe I’ll try it out again in a couple of months.

Robin Williams

He was the uncle that just wouldn’t stop talking. You’d get annoyed after a while, but knew you still loved him and would always make you laugh again. As funny as he was, it’s his more dramatic roles that are etched in my memory. Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, Dead Poets Society, and even One Hour Photo. But, hell, who doesn’t love a little Good Morning Vietnam? Robin Williams is one of those people you don’t know how much you’ll miss until he’s gone. RIP

What have you done, Joe?

joeI was wrong. After every horrible thing I’ve said about him for over two decades, I’ve been put in my place. All that merciless bashing of his on-screen abilities just to have it thrown back into my face. Thinking his only positive contribution to the silver screen was going to be Raising Arizona and now I have to eat crow. I just finished watching Joe and I was wrong. Nicolas Cage is a good actor. Clearly, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year and, doubtlessly, the strongest performance as well.

Please Mr. Cage, don’t do another Ghost Rider movie or go losing your shit again. It’s now acutely obvious that you’re better than that.