The Official Review Thread of 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:20 pm

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Isla Fisher, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, Robert Aramayo, Andrea Riseborough, Ellie Bamber, Jena Malone.
Dir: Tom Ford.

A woman receives a manuscript of a novel written by her ex-husband. As she reads it, we find out it's about a man who loses his family and goes on to seek revenge. I've always wanted to see this film because of the reaction towards. For every person that thinks it's a masterpiece, there's someone who thinks this is a heaping pile of garbage. To be honest, I can sort of see the argument for both which lands me somewhere in the middle with this. It is a well-made, well-acted and intriguing neo-noir with melodramatic elements. It's as if a Douglas Sirk script mashed together with a Tarantino script. However, its rampant cynicism and largely two-dimensional characters do leave a bad taste in one's mouth. No wonder Michael Shannon got the nomination. He feels like the only fully human character in the film. You kind of wish it was about him.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:58 am

LION
Cast: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham.
Dir: Garth Davis.

Based on a true story of Saroo Brierly, who as a boy in India is separated from his older brother, gets lost and placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian couple. As a young adult, he uses Google Earth to try and locate his Indian family. Okay, at the hands of a lesser filmmaker this would've been just a plain formulaic "inspiring" true story. However, by spending almost half the film's running time on the early life of little Saroo and the scary experience of being lost, the film actually earns its emotional heft. The sequences in India truly makes this film quite special and better than you'd expect it to be. Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and newcomer Sunny Pawar all give beautiful performances. It's not quite a masterpiece but it's lovely, heartfelt film that can move even the most hardened cynic.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:02 am

WHY HIM?
Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric the Entertainer, Griffin Gluck.
Dir: John Hamburg.

A straight-laced middle-aged man is horrified to learn that his daughter's foul-mouthed internet millionaire boyfriend is about to propose to her. There was nothing else in the theater I was aching to see so I just saw this as a time killer. I came in with low expectations. Surprisingly, I did find myself laughing in a few parts and I was reasonably entertained. This is thanks to the good cast who actually did their best to sell the material the best way they can. Still, this is far from a great comedy. It's overall it's just okay at best. There was definitely potential there but the film is way too long and needed tightening.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:36 pm

JACKIE
Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, John Carroll Lynch, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Caspar Philippson.
Dir: Pablo Larrain.

This is a film that chronicles First Lady Jackie Kennedy as come to grips with the assassination of her husband. There have been numerous films and dramatizations of the Kennedys and the assassination of JFK. What makes this any different? Well, this film zeroes in on that first week or so after the assassination in how Jackie comes to terms with her grief and her trauma. This film does not feel like a traditional historical biopic at all (I could go so far as to say that i's an anti-biopic). Instead, it feels more like a character study about a woman whose husband got violently taken away from her and the fact that she has to go through this in the public eye. Natalie Portman gives one of her career best performances in this. I almost forget she's not Jackie at times. A fine piece of work from Chilean director Pablo Larrain.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:54 pm

The weakest thing about Toni Erdmann is the overriding theme -- it kind of amounts to "parents should teach their kids to enjoy life rather than strive for material success", with a side order of "we don't appreciate life enough as it's passing by" (articulated by Winfried in a late speech eerily close to Emily's in Act Three of Our Town).

The beauty of the film is, Maren Ade's field of vision is so vast and idiosyncratic, and offers so much nuance, that this reductive summary of the theme doesn't begin to give an idea of what the movie's about. The film's narrative trajectory is constantly surprising -- introducing more and more characters, taking us unexpected places (culminating in the hilarious brunch scene). And it gives us a compelling, complex, contradictory central character in Ines, who loves her father, and obviously, on some level, wants to be the free spirit he pushes her to be -- but who, in the final shot, appears to be unable to make the leaps of faith he'd like her to make.

This is probably a discussion for the Foreign Language Film thread when it appears, but I have some doubt this film will waltz off with the Oscar. I know the trend of late has been for the critically endorsed big bopper to win, rather than the sentimental efforts that had won in the previous decade or two. But don't think The Great Beauty or Son of Saul were quite the challenge to voters that Toni Erdmann will be -- the petits fours scene alone will alienate some significant portion of oldsters. They might prefer to honor The Salesman, as tribute to Farhadi's anti-Trump boycott...

...or they might go for A Man Called Ove. This film is based on an apparent big best-seller, and it FEELS like a best-seller, of the sort Wally Lamb turns out. It's a brisk enough watch, with a few juicy incidents and colorful characters. But none of it feels like it means very much -- the events are inventive enough, but random: I don't feel like they add up to defining the central character in an interesting way. However, the film gives much more of a warm hug to its audience, and it might just appeal to those who can't make sense of Ade's oddball universe.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:55 pm

FENCES
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby, Saniyya Sidney.
Dir: Denzel Washington.

A working class African American man who was once a rising baseball star from the 1950's tries to raise a family while butting heads with his teenage son and wife. Based on the play by August Wilson, this film has been criticized for feeling a bit too...stagey. And it is. It does indeed feel like a filmed play at times in both the way it's shot and acted which prevents this for being a completely successful stage to screen adaptation. But, daaaamn, the acting that is in it is superb. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis truly shine and worthy of all the accolades that come their way. And though stage-y the original August Wilson text doesn't lose much of its quality and power.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:11 am

dws1982 wrote:A Monster Calls

I know it's gone from theaters now, but I loved this. It deals with some thorny issues, and I love that it never really shies away from the messiness of the whole situation. It doesn't pretend that there are any easy fixes, it draws some characters--the ones played by Toby Kebbel and Sigourney Weaver--with a lot more depth than a lesser film would have. The fantasy sequences--particularly the animated stories--are truly excellent. And just think--Focus essentially dumped this in favor of Nocturnal Animals, which got a lone Supporting Actor nomination. At a minimum, Supporting Actress and Score could've been easy gets, along with a few tech nominations (I'd give it Sound Editing, easy), and maybe even Best Picture. I feel like if Hugo or Beasts of the Southern Wild could get Best Picture nominations, there's no reason why this one couldn't have.


Agreed. I think it should have been released a lot earlier to build momentum. Some films need that, particularly difficult art house or genre pictures.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:51 pm

I think A Monster Calls was easily one of the best films of the year. I'm also disappointed that it was ignored.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:10 pm

A Monster Calls

I know it's gone from theaters now, but I loved this. It deals with some thorny issues, and I love that it never really shies away from the messiness of the whole situation. It doesn't pretend that there are any easy fixes, it draws some characters--the ones played by Toby Kebbel and Sigourney Weaver--with a lot more depth than a lesser film would have. The fantasy sequences--particularly the animated stories--are truly excellent. And just think--Focus essentially dumped this in favor of Nocturnal Animals, which got a lone Supporting Actor nomination. At a minimum, Supporting Actress and Score could've been easy gets, along with a few tech nominations (I'd give it Sound Editing, easy), and maybe even Best Picture. I feel like if Hugo or Beasts of the Southern Wild could get Best Picture nominations, there's no reason why this one couldn't have.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:23 pm

MOONLIGHT
Cast: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Jaden Piner.
Dir: Barry Jenkins.

Divided into three distinct sections, this film chronicles the life of Chiron, a young African-American growing up gay in a poor, rough neighborhood in Miami. It depicts events from his childhood, his adolescence and his young adulthood. Oh, my God. This is a beautiful, emotional gut-punch of a film. It's almost like three films in one since every segment takes on a somewhat different tone, each one unique yet it builds up beautifully to the conclusion thanks to the great script and superb direction. The ensemble cast is uniformly amazing. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris both are deservedly getting attention but everyone in the cast, especially the three Chiron's shine. I'm gonna be thinking about this film for a while. Truly one of the best films of 2016.

Oscar Prospects: All of it.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:23 pm

I wanted to post this in the 2017 sub-forum and start the Official Review Thread of 2017 but okay.

SPLIT
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula.
Dir: M. Night Shyamalan.

Three young women are kidnapped and held captive by a man who suffers from a multiple personality disorder. This is coming from M. Night Shyamalan. I thought I've completely given up on him after the shit show that was After Earth but he did rebound quite a bit with The Visit which was a solid thriller. He continues his redemption arc with this film. Though it's far from a masterpiece, it gets points for being a nifty, high-concept thriller featuring a fun scenery-chewing performance from James McAvoy who takes the role of a man with 23 personalities and just runs with it. The third act verged on being silly but the final revelation in the last scene of this film totally redeems it and makes me excited to see M. Night Shyamalan movies again. He should really do these small-scale thrillers rather than the ambitious "big" films that he did for a time.

Oscar Prospects: You know, if they released it sooner, I think James McAvoy could have made a play for Best Actor.

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:30 am

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC SPOILERS

I'm definitely going to revise my Oscar predictions after seeing Captain Fantastic because I can't allow myself to think that this screenplay is getting nominated. This is a powerfully confused film with a well-meaning, imminently-endorsable one inside that required a philosophical counterbalance to writer/director Matt Ross. That philosophy has nothing to do with Noam Chomsky and everything to do with this guy belonging in jail. His mission is to educate these kids for the real world and somewhere along the way this film decided that all they need is each other. How did that train of thought go off the rails? Clearly, Ross fell in love with this character and decided to lionize him.

Also from a writing perspective, there are some maddening context ambiguities that annoyed me w/r/t how little these kids know about society, how off the grid are they, for how long, etc. I can roll with some believability issues, but there are just too many kids for me to buy it. Often times, I'll rewrite a movie I'm watching in my head but why couldn't there be a community up there or something that he's a part of? Does it have to be just them? Can't there be a tribe up there or some shit?
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:47 pm

LITTLE MEN
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina Garcia, Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri, Talia Balsam, Alfred Molina
Dir: Ira Sachs.

Two 13 year old boys who have become close friends have their friendship tested when their respective parents enter a dispute over the lease of a dress hop. This film sounds rather slight and inconsequential and it is a rather quiet understated drama but that's where its strength lies. Though the film is deceptively small, the emotions underneath are large due to the predicament these two families and in particular, these two boys find themselves in. The cast is strong but the film would not have worked as well if it didn't have the strong performances of the two boys who are the beating hearts of this film and the reason you find yourself invested in it. In a way, it's such a beautifully human story about friendship and growing up.

Oscar Prospects: Flashier competition has overshadowed it but Original Screenplay would not be undeserved.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:54 am

dws1982 wrote:Little Men
I don't know. I like a lot of things about it, particularly the two younger actors. There's a lot of truth in the way it shows how the friendship between two kids can be affected by things that have nothing to do with anything they do. And like I said, the two young actors are both very good, totally winning, great together. But my goodness, Paulina Garcia's character is a totally nasty human being isn't she? You can sympathize with her situation, but once the conflict between her and Greg Kinnear gets started, everything she says and does is truly hateful--and not just coming from someone who's lashing out in her anger and frustration; she's being hateful just for the sake of being hateful, trying to rub salt in the wounds of a man who just lost his father. I guess I liked what it was trying to do more than I liked what it did.

I found Garcia's character more stubborn than hateful, but it was the kids that made the movie.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:54 pm

Little Men
I don't know. I like a lot of things about it, particularly the two younger actors. There's a lot of truth in the way it shows how the friendship between two kids can be affected by things that have nothing to do with anything they do. And like I said, the two young actors are both very good, totally winning, great together. But my goodness, Paulina Garcia's character is a totally nasty human being isn't she? You can sympathize with her situation, but once the conflict between her and Greg Kinnear gets started, everything she says and does is truly hateful--and not just coming from someone who's lashing out in her anger and frustration; she's being hateful just for the sake of being hateful, trying to rub salt in the wounds of a man who just lost his father. I guess I liked what it was trying to do more than I liked what it did.


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