So what did I love in 2016?
Below are the films that resonated with me. That touched me. That I have watched over and over again.
"A Monster Calls"
Don’t dismiss this magnificent film as a kid’s film. It’s not. It’s a fantastical story about grief and how 10-year-old Connor (newcomer Lewis McDougall) deals with it. I have watched it three times and have cried at the end every time.
"Batman v Superman"
This film has problems as long as Superman’s cape. “Man of Steel” is a better film for Superman. The reasons they start and stop fighting are flimsy. There are huge holes in the script. But I watch this film over and over. And for that reason it is on my list.
"Captain America: Civil War"
What could have been a crap show with all of The Avengers and the introduction of Black Panther and Spider-man is anything but. It’s an edge-of-your seat action pic with heart and an interesting Marvel villain not named Loki.
Earlier this month, I found myself defending this beautiful film to an African American gentleman at an X-mas party. He didn’t want to see a film that promoted gay Black men. I tried to explain that “Moonlight” is not important because it depicts homosexuality. It’s not important because the leads are Black. It transcends color. “Moonlight” is important because it is a film, comprised of three short films, which looks at friendship, intimacy and self-acceptance. I think it's the Best Picture of the Year.
"La La Land"
This could have easily been my number one film of the year and in so many ways it is. But it’s more than the dreamy musical numbers that harken back to the Astaire/Rogers' days that get you. This film spoke to me because it is about what one has to do to chase their dreams. And it asks the question, “When is it time to give up those dreams?” I love this film. Going to go sing “City of Stars!”
"Hell or Highwater"
Audiences will rave about Jeff Bridges’ performance as a ready-to-retire marshal. But it's Chris Pine and Ben Foster’s portrayal of brothers Toby and Tanner that really elevates, and makes this modern-day western something special. As the stakes grow larger, the performances get more and more refined...which is what ultimately makes this film stick.
Watch Denzel Washington masterfully roll from one conversation to the next during its first hour covering everything from weekly pay to pig’s feet. All set in his backyard! Viola Davis’ Rose is as classic a female character as Stella or Sophie. It’s a powerful, real performance. The film is about dashed dreams and the grief and anger that come with them.
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
I went back and forth between “Kubo” and “Zootopia.” This animated gem from Laika (the same studio that gave us “Coraline” and “Paranorman”), won out because of its animation. It’s an extremely dark, thrilling adventure about a village misfit who sets off on a daunting mission. Poignant and entertaining and not to be missed.
Chilean director, Pablo Larrain reinvents the biopic giving us three distinct looks at Jacqueline Kennedy. There is the public version as seen in the CBS special visit to the White House. Then there is the frightened Jackie, who is trying to plan the best funeral for her murdered husband while still in shock and grieving. Then there is the powerful Jackie who is being interviewed by Billy Crudup, shortly after the funeral. Natalie Portman’s best performance to date. I am rooting for her to win Best Actress.
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
No the film is not perfect. But what film is? The first act is a tad messy. And yes, it’s another “Star Wars” film with the Death Star as its focal point. But it’s a great war movie! We finally get a peek into the SW universe that does not revolve around a Jedi. I am with the force and the force is with me.