MoviefiedNYC’s Top 10 movies of 2016

John David West’s Top 10 Films of 2016

10. Hacksaw Ridge

hacksaw-ridge-1Mel Gibson (yep Mad Mel is back) and Hacksaw Ridge proves to be a better venture than his previous outings. The film is sometimes a little schmaltzy with the typical Hollywood, man against all odds, American glory, and pious, good-versus-evil sentimentality, but in actuality it’s kind of refreshing. This is the true story of Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) in one of his best performances to date. Doss is a Seventh-day Adventist, who—as a conscientious objector—joined the military and refused to carry a gun into battle.  Doss’s refusal to participate in violence starkly contrasts the war-torn images Gibson’s puts on the screen. They are brutally violent, limbs are blown apart before our eyes and rats feast on dead soldiers. Is it too much? Perhaps not. War is far more brutal than anything we can watch on the big screen in the safety of our cozy seats. At this point, I am quite weary of the “based on a true story” marketing that seems to give so many films a certain level of cachet, but in the case of Hacksaw Ridge, the true story of Desmond Doss’s selflessness is rather refreshing to see a unique World War II story.

9. O.J.: Made in America

o-j-made-in-america-1This gargantuan documentary by Ezra Edelman runs a staggering 464 minutes—well over seven hours. Its length—and the fact that it never becomes dull or tedious despite it—solidifies that the O.J Simpson story may best represent America’s obsession with celebrity, media, violence, the criminal justice system, and our complex, ongoing issues with race relations.

8. Fences

fences-1August Wilsons’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play features career high performances by Viola Davis and Denzel Washington. This play to screen adaptation may disappoint audiences who crave action and more locations than simply a backyard and living room, but it’s the simple set that doesn’t interfere with Wilson’s beautiful linguistic music along with Washington and Davis’ passion.

7. Tony Erdmann

tony-erdmann-1Another film that brings some much-needed originality to this year’s batch of movies. A German comedy that doesn’t try too hard to be funny – it’s comical when it needs to be and touching when the time is right. What’s most satisfying about Toni Erdman is how surprisingly gratifying of a film it is – just wait for the birthday brunch that becomes absurdly funny and oddly relatable. It’s a clever comment on the ridiculousness of corporate conformity and a need to perform well for the team.

6. 13th

13thNot only is Ava DuVernay’s documentary about the U.S. prison system a sobering essay on institutionalized racism in the U.S, but is also a study – through the 13th Amendment of the Constitution – of how it was allowed to thrive. The films success lies in its accessiblity whilst never being preachy. This is with out a doubt a movie that everyone should see.

5. Arrival

Amy Adams, Arrival
Amy Adams, Arrival

Adapted from the book, Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, Arrival ponders some tough questions, in the words of its director Denis Villeneuve: “What would happen if you knew how and when you will die? What will your relationship with life and love, your family, and friends, and with your society be?  By being more in relationship with death, in an intimate way with the nature of life and its subtleties, it would bring us more humility.” We all need that human humility today, more than ever. As one of the smarter films of 2016, and with an intelligent performance by Amy Adams, Arrival is one last year’s films that deserves a second viewing.

4. The Salesman

the-salesman1Asghar Farhadi‘s realistic thriller The Salesman opens like a disaster film as an apartment building appears to collapse as its residents are forced to flee. After this disruptive event the films settles into Farhadi’s typical exploration of domestic life as the film’s central characters, a married couple, played brilliantly by Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti are forced to find an alternative apartment to live in. The Salesman is ultimately about more intimate matters than a physical disaster as their lives are dramatically changed by a violent event in their new apartment. Farhadi carefully and quietly spins the domestic drama into naturalistic revenge thriller that takes you for the ride inside the heads of its lead characters.

3. The Lobster

lobsterThe Lobster is one of the most unique films of 2016. Set in the near future, it takes an absurdist angle to explore what it means to be single. In this gray futuristic story, the uncoupled are arrested and transferred to The Hotel, where they must find a mate and fall in love within 45 days or they will be forever transformed into an animal of their choosing. Written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who brought us the Oscar nominated Dogtooth (2011). This is his first English language film, and he’s just as compelling and disturbing in English as he is in Greek. This time he has a few big screen names from Hollywood’s John C. Reilly, to across the Atlantic with England’s Rachel Weisz, France’s Léa Seydoux and middle-aged, pudgy Irish Colin Farrell in a very strong yet understated performance. These actors are all doing great ensemble work in a movie whose title begs the most important question – “what animal would you choose?”

2. Moonlight

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Moonlight is quite possibly a perfect acting movie – its ensemble of actors don’t miss a beat. While Mahershala Ali is getting all the—well deserved—attention for his performance as the neighborhood drug dealer who provides a young boy a home away from his abusive home—a stable life, if you will.  But the critically-overshadowed performance of Ashton Sanders as the bullied and questioning teenage Chiron is one of the most moving of the film.  Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as Chiron’s crack addict mother is one of the year’s most compelling performances. With the film’s visually delightful cinematography and a beautiful script, Moonlight does not miss a step under the brilliant direction of Barry Jenkins. 

1. Manchester by the Sea

manchester-seaFew directors are able to make a film that successfully blurs the line between tragedy and comedy, while also maintaining a tone that is unquestionably dramatic. It helps that the film is set during an overcast snowy New England winter; that its set in a working class environment; and has an score that features some heavy pieces, including Albinoni’s classic funeral hit, “Adagio in G Minor.” Director and writer Kenneth Lonergan has seamlessly blended the dramatic with the comic,  through his direction of his well-crafted script. You don’t walk away confused about you just watched—it’s a definitely a drama, a devastating drama, with many moments that capture the clumsiness that bring humor to daily life. Affleck is the conflicted center of this film and gives a career-high performance that is a case study of quiet restraint, and subtle emotional depth. This is an honest performance that is successful for it’s nuanced and controlled quality, yet it’s not dull or boring—it’s authentic. Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife delivers one of her most powerful performances in years. Manchester by the Sea, with its strong cast, mature writing, masterful direction, and a score that—despite coming dangerously close to overpowering the film—effectively enhances the over all tone. Manchester By The Sea is one of 2016’s best films and my number one.

 A few more:  

singstreet2
Sing Street (Dir. John Carney)

Sing Street

Elle

Lion

Loving

The Handmaiden 

Paterson

LaLa Land

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2017 Golden Globe Nominations Announced!

globes

Welcome back, my award season enthusiasts!  The 2017 Award Season officially commenced this morning at 8:15 am with the announcement of the Golden Globe Award Nominations.  While these awards are decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press, whose members do not overlap with any Oscar voting body, they are always a good indication of what movies we need to see in order to make an informed statement at our local bar on Oscar night.

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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land

Damien Chazelle’s modern-day musical La La Land was the most nominated film this year with a total of seven nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, Best Actress, Musical or Comedy (Emma Stone), Best Actor, Musical or Comedy (Ryan Gosling), and Best Director (Chazelle).  This was a big weekend for Land, as last night it won Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards.  Keep your eye on this one, kids.  Something tells me this is going to be the one to beat this year.  (I may or may not be listening to the soundtrack as I write this article.)

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Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight

The indie film Moonlight made an impressive showing by picking up six nominations.  The coming of age story of a young man trying to find his place in the world while navigating the rough streets of Miami garnered nominations for Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Mahershala Ali), and Best Director (Barry Jenkins).

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Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences

Several other films we were all expecting to hear announced, and did not disappoint, were Manchester by the Sea, Lion, and FencesManchester was nominated for five Globes including, Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Actor, Drama (Casey Affleck), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Michelle Williams), and Best Director (Kenneth Lonergan).  Dev Patel’s performance in Lion has long been touted as one of the best of the year.  The hype seems to be accurate, considering Patel was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.  The film itself was also nominated for Best Picture, Drama, and Nicole Kidman picked up her 11th Globe nomination in the supporting actress category.  Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences gave him a nomination for Best Actor, Drama, and Viola Davis a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.  These same actors won Tony’s for playing the same roles on Broadway in 2010.

this-is-us
This is Us

On the Television side of things, new shows Westworld and This is Us both were nominated for three awards each.  The shows were both nominated as well as actresses Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton for Westworld, and Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz for This is Us. 

A few tried and true shows were also nominated, including Game of Thrones, Veep, Transparent, and BlackishThrones, Veep, and Transparent all received two nominations, while Blackish picked up three nominations.

people-v-oj
Sarah Paulsen and Sterling K. Hayden in The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

However, the most interesting categories on the television side of the awards are for made-for-TV movies or mini-series ones.  The very compelling and brilliantly acted The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story received five nominations, making it the most nominated program in the television categories.  Simpson was nominated for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Actor (Courtney B. Vance), Best Actress (Sarah Paulson), and Best Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta).

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John Turturro and Riz Ahmed in The Night Of

I personally feel the need to mention the nominations that were received for the criminally underrated The Night Of.  The mini-series picked up nominations for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and two nominations in the Best Actor category: one for Riz Ahmed’s performance as a wrongfully-accused (or was he?) murderer, and one for John Turturro as Ahmed’s psoriasis affected, sleazy attorney.

The Golden Globes, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, will be announced on January 8, 2017 on NBC.

-Ariadne Ansbro

Full list of nominees below:

hacksaw-ridge
Hacksaw Ridge

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

affleck-manchester
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

portman-jackie
Natalie Portman in Jackie

Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie

sing-street
Sing Street

Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

reynolds-deadpool
Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

bening-20th-century-women
Annette Bening in 20th Century Women

Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

patel-lion
Dev Patel in Lion

Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

spencer-hidden-figures
Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Best Performance by Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

nocturnal-animals
Nocturnal Animals

Best Director, Motion Picture
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

hell-or-high-water
Hell or High Water

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
La La Land
Nocturnal Animals
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water

arrival
Arrival

Original Score, Motion Picture
Moonlight
La La Land
Arrival
Lion
Hidden Figures

sing
Sing

Best Motion Picture, Animated
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing
Zootopia

moana
Moana

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“Faith,” Sing
“Gold,” Gold
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

elle
Elle

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Divines
Elle
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

stranger-things
Stranger Things

Best Television Series, Drama
The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This Is Us
Westworld

foy-the-crown
Claire Foy in The Crown

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, Drama
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

rhys-the-americans
Matthew Rhys in The Americans

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath

veep
Veep

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy
Atlanta
Blackish
Mozart in the Jungle
Transparent
Veep

bloom-crazy-ex
Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Best Performance By an Actress in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish

glover-atlanta
Donald Glover in Atlanta

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy
Anthony Anderson, Blackish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

night-manager
The Night Manager

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story

 

washington-confirmation

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation

cranston-all-the-way
Bryan Cranston in All the Way

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
John Turturro, The Night Of

slater-mr-robot
Christian Slater in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story

newton-westworld
Thandie Newton in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld