Friday, December 30, 2016

10 Best Films 2016

1. Moonlight

Directed by Barry Jenkins, this is the tender, heartbreaking story of a young man with his dysfunctional home and the struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality. The story deals with life and comes of age in Miami during the "War on Drugs" era. This film is beautiful and sublime, I loved it!

2. Manchester By The Sea

A film by Kenneth Lonergan. Is the story of a depressed handyman is forced to face the tragedy in his past after his brother dies and leaves him the sole guardian of his nephew.  Manchester by the Sea is a study of family dysfunction and the worse loss imaginable, Casey Affleck’s withdrawn lead proves he can be one of the best actors of his generation.  His abrupt reposts clearly signpost that this is someone clearly scarred for life. There’s an exchange with Williams in the final act that never moves past the initial stages because Lee can’t manage much more than grunts. 

3. Nocturnal Animals

Director Tom Ford’s second film, based on the book Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, follows a Los Angeles gallery owner who is shaken by the arrival of a novel by her ex that imagines a couple who come to a violent end. It has a fairly wild way to open a film, and what follows is no less surprising, as we flit between a glossy LA high-life and a gritty Texan murder mystery, the lines of fiction and reality blurred. Nocturnal Animals looks extraordinary, but its real power lies beyond the visual.

4. La La Land

Directed by Damien Chazelle. La La Land is an ambitious musical that is not in a classic musical genre, the dance number are great but not unbelievably spectacular, which I think that works great for this film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Everything is on the edge of make-belief; especially in the hazy superficial LA where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. The film skips and taps out of reality completely, with the world itself becoming a kind of perfectly Technicolor decorated film set through which our two loversexist, as if they can’t believe life could be so picture-perfect.

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Directed by Gareth Edwards (V). It is the first of the new standalone Star Wars movies. Darker, grittier and bolder than any saga film to date. Rogue One maintains the essential elements of the saga: drama between parents and children, a totalitarian force to be destroyed, and outlaws (in appearance) who become heroes.

Visually it is a spectacular film not only by the special effects but also by the vast scenes that we find in other planets. In addition it has endearing characters and good performances, although Diego Luna has a little duty, is not all bad but is not a character that generates as much affection and admiration as others on the film. In its narrative, Rogue One is exciting for its action scenes and political intrigues, and achieves several touching moments, full of heroism and redemption, that invite us to see episode IV at the earliest, and wait with much anxiety the next to next year.

6. Julieta

Pedro Almodóvar directs and adapts a group of stories by Alice Munro into an emotionally restrained melodrama about a woman staring tragedy in the face without blinking. Julieta, who lives in Madrid, discovers that her estranged daughter Antía is living in Switzerland with her three children. She thinks back over how the pair became separated. The piece is a more tone down version of a typical Almodóvar film without being lame at all.  Julieta is overtly serious in its concern with loss and the mature retrospective contemplation of life’s complexity, its visual energy contrasting strongly with its emotional severity and the almost total absence of either comedy or manifest narrative playfulness.
Almodóvar’s unflinching direction that gives “Julieta” its power.

7. Arrival

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film it offered a stirring riposte, but done the right way.  Arrival certainly isn’t lacking in Hollywood dazzle: there’s scale and bluster; there’s incredible special effects; there’s pace and tension. But it is also an intensely cerebral piece of work, transforming Ted Chiang’s short story into an atmospheric wrong-footing puzzle which plays with narrative conventions and linguistic head-scratchers. 

8. Jackie

Director Pablo Larrain casted Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and when the actress first steps on screen, her hair cropped into that signature bouffant, her  voice is a reasonable approximation of the Jackie O’s affected prep school accent, however her mannerism come across a little studied, a little practiced.  The question then is, whether this movie is really about Jackie or some new reality of her. Her on screen expressions are what make the movie interesting, not a whole lot of dialogue, but I would say that the musical score is a very important character of this film, without it the movie will be different, the music sort of melts with the main character’s emotions.

9. A Bigger Splash

Directed by Luca Guadagnino same director as “I Am Love.” The film is an intense melodrama-Thriller taking place in a rocky and dry Italian Landscape. A weird love triangle with tremendous performances by Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton. 

10. High-Rise

Ben Wheatley directs a ferocious adaptation of JG Ballard’s clinical sci-fi masterpiece. The film divided critics and audiences right down the middle. This dystopian tale, questions the role of architecture, specifically mega-scale high rises as a world of their own with no apparent connection to the city. Tom Hiddleston is awesomely cool and collected as Dr Robert Laing, who moves into a new Estuary tower block just as it begins to descend into complete social anarchy.