My Oscar Nom Predictions

Tomorrow morning at 8:24 a.m. East Coast time, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce their 89th Academy Awards nominations in all 24 Oscar categories at a special two-part live news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

 

Here are the my REEL BRIEF predictions:

Animated Feature Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

 

Cinematography

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

 

Costume Design

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

The Dressmaker

 

Documentary Feature

Cameraperson

I Am Not Your Negro

O.J.: Made in America

13th

Weiner

(more…)



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Movie Review – “The Founder”

“The Founder” is not a glaring 2-hour promotional commercial for McDonalds.  Aside from its business merits and trendsetting fast food branding, the tense relationships between Kroc and his wife (Laura Dern), the financiers, and the original McDonalds franchise owners are the best dishes served on the film’s menu.

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Sixty-three years ago, they owned the fast food hamburger market, outpacing even Burger King (Insta-Burger King at the time) nationally. Soon McDonalds offspring popped up along almost every U.S. main street nearly as fast and efficiently as their burgers, fries and milkshakes arrived at the front counter of each franchise restaurant. Now the burger giant serves 1% of the world’s population. Every day.

“The Founder” traces the chaotic mid- to late years of Ray Kroc, the Illinois salesman who sold milkshake makers–and just about everything else—back in 1954. Academy Award winner Michael Keaton nicely plays Kroc, the future head of The McDonalds Corp., as business plans and relationships form to develop the world’s model for fast food customer service.

(HO/AFP/Getty Images)

While this chronological true story feels documentary in style, it doesn’t usher many outward emotions from viewers, either good or bad.  Mostly informative in nature, only a few times during the movie are we given glimpses behind the golden arches into the unpleasantness of Kroc during his dramatic rise to Franchise King status.

The film’s interesting story parts boil down to the relationships in Kroc’s life at the time. Case in point: His discovery of the McDonalds brothers in San Bernardino, California…soaking up their revolutionary business model and floor plan ideas. Both ingredients key to an assembly line of burgers so fast, efficient, and successful it would make Japanese car manufacturers stand up and applaud with envy.

This movie is not, however, a glaring 2-hour promotional commercial for McDonalds.  Aside from its business merits and trendsetting fast food branding, the tense relationships between Kroc and his wife (Laura Dern), the financiers, and the original McDonalds franchise owners are the best dishes served on the film’s menu.  The less endearing picture painted of Kroc is underscored by his hijacking of the McDonalds trademark name and his ruthless negotiations that made it happen.

Viewers go from supporting Keaton’s earnest salesman character and chain-food vision as Kroc, to switching restaurant tables to watch his troubles get unwrapped from afar.

Unfortunately, “The Founder” storyline is slightly overcooked and drawn out.  Do not go see this movie on an empty stomach or without a caffeinated beverage in hand.  The reward is a historic look back to the beginning of the first widely successful fast food industry that decidedly paired down its meal options while streamlining its delivery method to customers.  Hidden inside this Happy Meal are relationship time bombs that prove both fascinating to understand but not necessarily enjoyable to see.

Grade: B-

“The Founder” is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.  Its running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.

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Movie Review – “Patriots Day”

“The real star of “Patriots Day” is the city of Boston.” 

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

No one, right now in Hollywood, is sharper at crafting heroic true-life stories onto the big-screen than Clint Eastwood or Peter Berg. Both directors have powerfully depicted ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of bravery.  Each visionary storyteller so keen at providing a deep history behind actual events that viewer blood pressure gets elevated as one’s overall fingernail length is nervously reduced. Eastwood’s tributes have shined bright with his “Letters from Iwo Jima”, “American Sniper” and “Sully” under his watchful eye. Whereas Berg’s game has been raised of late with his own heart-racing true tales: “Lone Survivor”, “Deepwater Horizon” and now “Patriots Day”. All chaotic films and, at times, funny—but each a rather large truth tablet for moviegoers to swallow in their willingness to learn more.

Based upon the book “Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy”, this film focuses on the 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist bombings and the ensuing massive federal, state and local inter-agency investigation. The real star of “Patriots Day” is the city of Boston. As evidenced by Mark Wahlberg’s role as a police sergeant molded into a compilation of nearly 20 Boston Police Department officers, his character the dedicated face of many—as well as the key thread woven into the film’s chilling manhunt fabric.

Roman philosopher Seneca once scribed that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Nothing demonstrates our post-9/11 world and lessons learned more graphically than Boston’s coordinated, fast-paced and lethal investigative response to an attack during their 117th annual race. To see that city’s first-responders and medical personnel react in the same manner as their New York City brothers and sisters in September of 2001, is both awe-inspiring and heartwarming.

“Patriots Day” with Kevin Bacon, Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman.

Capturing the numerous lives affected by those twin blasts near the finish line, “Patriots Day” leaves us with a better understanding of the dangerous world we live in and more thankful for the people charged with responding to those dangers.  From the fire, police and military racing towards the explosive epicenters, doctors and nurses making life and limb decisions at surrounding hospitals, and heads-up Bostonians reporting tidbits of information, “Patriots Day” underscores the city’s strength, readiness and resolve that brought swift justice to a pair of sinister culprits wearing a “black hat” and “white hat”.  Aside from the stellar job by Wahlberg representing Boston PD, “Patriot Day” shows off a collaborative team effort by law enforcement sleuths that use their combined expertise and skillsets in a successful manner that resembles a U.S. military special operations unit in its efficiency, order, and lethality.

Even knowing the eventual outcome to this true narrative, viewers will find the background stories on the real bombing victims, law enforcement officers and terrorists fascinating–yet heartbreaking–to watch unfold. But everyone should see “Patriots Day” because that will help keep America Strong.  And ready.

Grade: A

“Patriots Day” is rated R for violence, realistically graphic images of injury images, language throughout and some drug use.  Its running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

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Movie Review – “Manchester by the Sea”

Casey Affleck’s spectacular performance in this film earned him a Golden Globe on Sunday and should end any further speculation as to which Affleck brother has the best acting chops.  Sorry, Batman. Chatter from the Left Coast early last year told us film critics to expect a particularly stunning job from the younger Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea”.  More times than not, these humble-brags by studio execs only translates into hyperbole and unmet expectations in the end.  That’s not the case in this movie about grief and family relationships.

“Joining an irritable rash of late 2016 films like “Moonlight” and “Nocturnal Animals”, this northeast narrative sports an interesting beginning only to culminate in an unremarkable and bland ending.”

Carrying significant guilt and apprehensive upon his shoulders, Affleck’s divorced Lee Chandler character returns to his hometown of Manchester after the death of his brother, Joe. Complicating matters for the blue-collar repairman is Lee’s startling reintroduction to his now teenage nephew, Patrick, and his first contact in years with an ex-wife (played by Michelle Williams). 

“Manchester by the Sea” is a slow storyline reveal that works by tossing in timely flashbacks of a better time and life for Affleck’s handyman Lee. As guardianship issues for his nephew must be legally worked out, Uncle Lee’s uncomfortableness at returning to Manchester swings constantly between heartache and remorse.

Equally entertaining is the job Lucas Hedges does portraying the role of the now fatherless Patrick.  Together, Affleck and Hedges create a tension-filled relationship, as neither wants to have their life completely upended because of the sudden death of their loved one.

The movie does a lot of things right.  It somehow makes a slow plot reveal work without losing viewers…mostly due to its believable acting and a mysterious storytelling rollout. The film poignantly explains the extended family dynamics and its unimaginable past, delving deeper into Casey’s relationships with not only his nephew, but others. It even injects a grown-up Ferris Bueller, aka Matthew Broderick, into a small scene. 

This realistic and exceptionally well-acted endeavor, though, has a few glaring problems. Joining an irritable rash of late 2016 films like “Moonlight” and “Nocturnal Animals”, this northeast narrative sports an interesting beginning only to culminate in an unremarkable and bland ending.  When it’s all over and done, a memorable “Manchester by the Sea” journey by moviegoers never fully materializes.  Casey Affleck’s character lets down his brother, and, ultimately us with a timid, lackluster finale. 

With both Affleck and Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”) earning Golden Globe awards for Best Actor (in the Drama and Comedy/Musical categories, respectively), I’m keeping the crooner and pianist Gosling as the heavy Oscar favorite next month.

Grade: A-

“Manchester by the Sea” is rated R for language throughout and some sexual content. Its running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

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Golden Globe Predictions

Tonight (or later this afternoon for those on the Left coast), the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards air on NBC, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.  And the Golden Globe winners always provide movie lovers with good chum for the upcoming Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscar noms (Jan. 24).

Here are film Golden Globe nominations and my predicted winners:

Best Score

“Arrival”

“Hidden Figures”

“La La Land”

“Lion”

“Moonlight”

Predicted Winner:  “La La Land”. 

This one feels like a no-brainer.  If the popular musical can’t take the top prize in this category, they’re going to have a bad night.  A very bad night.

Best Song

“Can’t Stop The Feeling”, Trolls

“City of Stars”, La La Land

“Faith”, Sing

“Gold”, Gold

“How Far I’ll Go”, Moana

Predicted Winner: “City of Stars”, La La Land

Again, this should be an easy-peasy victory for the song and dance number from director Damien Chazelle. But from here on out, “La La Land” will have a serious fight on its hands in the acting, directing and top movie categories.

Animated Film

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

“Moana”

“My Life As A “Zucchini”

“Sing”

“Zootopia”

Predicted Winner:  “Zootopia” (pictured below)

  A funny and witty movie for all to enjoy!  Never one to underestimate “The Rock”, I would be surprised if “Moana” mounted a serious enough challenge to take this from “Zootopia”.  Seems like almost “a lock”.

Foreign Language Film

“Divines” (France)

“Elle” (France)

“Neruda” (Chile)

“The Saleman (Iran/France)

“Toni Erdmann” (Germany)

Predicted Winner: “Toni Erdmann” (Germany)

This Golden Globe could easy find its way into the creative hands of either “The Saleman” or “Toni Erdmann”.  But “Elle” and the powerful performance by Isabelle Huppert placed her, and rightfully so, in the Best Actress in a Drama category.  I’d expect Huppert to give her film a slight advantage over the other foreign competitors.  Is it enough?  Probably not.  “Toni Erdmann” for the win!

 

Best Actress in a Support Role

Viola Davis, “Fences”

Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”

Nicole Kidman, “Lion”

Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”

Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Predicted Winner: Naomie Harris, “Moonlight” (pictured above)

Despite not being enthralled with either “Moonlight” or “Manchester by the Sea”, both films provided exceptional performances from their talented casts.  My vote would easily go to Viola Davis in “Fences” because the overall film is better than “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea”.  “Lion” and “Hidden Figures” are the best movies on this 5-picture list, but Kidman or Spencer were outshined by other performances in their films.  And Williams?  Come on, she was barely in “Manchester by the Sea”.

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water” (pictured above)

Simon Helberg, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Dev Patel, “Lion”

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Nocturnal Animals”

Predicted Winner: Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”

If Bridges doesn’t walk out with the Globe in his hands, I’m gonna be unearthing some west Texas oil lands to find out who stole it!  Yes, Mahershala Ali did a fantastic job in “Moonlight”.  He’s the real competitor for Bridges–not Chris Pine’s character in HoHW.  Let me digress for a second…. I re-watched “Hell or High Water” last month.  And the scene near the end of the movie where Bridges takes a rancher’s rifle into his own hands is amazing.  It could be studied by film classes for years.  Watch and listen to Bridges completely nail this scene.  The swirl of emotions from grief to shock to elation and back to sadness again is truly a benchmark in acting over a 3 or 4 minute period.  Unbelievable.

Original Screenplay

“Hell or High Water”

“La La Land”

“Moonlight”

“Manchester by the Sea”

 “Nocturnal Animals”

Predicted Winner: “Hell or High Water”

It’s the best storyline.  Yes, a good argument can be made for “La La Land” to take this one.  But for overall movie enjoyment and plot twists, the modern day Western about bank robbers deserves the win.  “Manchester by the Sea”, “Moonlight” and “Nocturnal Animals” all had lousy endings in my book.

Best Actress (Comedy or Musical)

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”

Predicted Winner: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Should be an easy victory for Stone.  While “Florence Foster Jenkins” got more love from the Golden Globe nominations than most outlets, Meryl Streep’s only real path (slim) to victory would be from the Oscars next month.  However, this should be a clean kill for “La La Land” and Stone.

 

Best Actor (Comedy or Musical)

Colin Farrell, “The Lobster”

Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”

Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Jonah Hill, “War Dogs”

Ryan Reynolds, “Deadpool”

Predicted Winner: Ryan Gosling, “La La Land” (pictured below)

I’d love to see Reynolds take this for a sensational “Deadpool” but the Comedy category favors Gosling bigly. Hell, he did his own singing AND piano work!

 

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Tom Ford, “Nocturnal Animals”

Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”

Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”

Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

Predicted Winner: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

The Golden Globes love to stand-out and be unpredictable.  Here, they could go rogue.  Safe bet is “La La Land” with yawners “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” in close trail.  But could Mel Gibson make the dramatic comeback we all love to see?  Probably not. But you never know.

Jessica Chastain stars in “Miss Sloane”

 

Best Actress (Drama)

Amy Adams, “Arrival”

Jessica Chastain, “Miss Sloane”

Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Ruth Negga, “Loving”

Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, “Arrival”

The Golden Globe voters love Amy Adams.  And although I didn’t enjoy “Arrival”, that was through no fault of Ms. Adams’ performance.  Would love to see Chastain or Huppert take this one, but Adams’ stiffest competition comes from another slow, disjointed film…”Jackie” and Portman.

 

Best Actor (Drama)

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Joel Edgerton, “Loving”

Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”

Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea” (pictured above)

I’d expect more love given to out Washington by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences come Oscar Night.  While Edgerton did a great job in “Loving”, the storyline wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the movie trailer teased.  I think Affleck did amazing work in “Manchester by the Sea”, but if Gibson and “Hacksaw Ridge” catch fire tonight, look for Garfield to take this win.

 

Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)

“Deadpool”

“La La Land”

“Florence Foster Jenkins”

“Sing Street”

“20th Century Women”

Predicted Winner: “La La Land”

I like seeing “Sing Street”, “Deadpool” and “Florence Foster Jenkins” get nominated…all 3 of the movies (and “La La Land”) made my Top 10 of 2016 list.  But “La La Land” was the best comedy and musical in this group.

 

Best Picture (Drama)

“Hacksaw Ridge”

“Hell or High Water”

“Lion”

“Manchester by the Sea”

“Moonlight”

Predicted Winner: “Hell or High Water”

Hell or High Water – Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) ©2016 CBS Films

This is all personal now.  I think once “La La Land” is separated from this group and placed into the Comedy/Drama category, the winner gets narrowed down to “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hell or High Water” and “Lion”.  Since the Golden Globe Awards like to march to their own drumbeat, I’d expect them to let “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” potentially shine under the watchful eye of the more socially-conscious Academy Awards.  Thus, an edgier and more emotional film may rise up here to gain notice from viewers.  “Lion” is the most emotional film of 2016 and “Hacksaw Ridge” the most shocking on camera.  However, “Hell or High Water” gave us the best storyline and characters.

***



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2017!

This is such a great way to start off the new year!

Thank you, Victoria, for your 8+ years of friendship and support!

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Movie Review – “Collateral Beauty”

Dissecting the complexity of grief, the year’s most star-studded ensemble follows the life-changing circumstances and aftermath of one Howard Inlet (Will Smith).  This underrated film explores the role that death, love and time play in our daily lives and how they intertwine.  A fresh storyline and unusual plot lure viewers into this tightly-crafted, yet uplifting, journey. 

From the director of 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me” (2008), the movie quickly moves between emotions without missing a step.  The Hall of Fame cast consists of Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Michael Pena. While each character only has modest screen time, all of these top-shelf actors and actresses bring their “A-game”. 

Director David Frankel deserves praise for bringing up the difficult subject of grief and handling it in such a powerful and realistic manner.

Grade: A

“Collateral Beauty” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language.  Its running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.

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What the….. No. He’s not going to? Oh. My. Gawd.

A short, but horrific performance that will leave viewers shaking.  Poor lighting and sloppy cinematography can’t douse or even slow down the viral spread of this instant pigskin, ESPN highlight gem. This booger sack snack should meet most hungry Horror flick enthusiasts’ weird fetishes.

Watch this…watch this:

“Disgusting”. Yep.

 

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REEL BRIEF’S 2016 Awards

The 2016 REEL BRIEF Awards for the Best in Filmmaking

★★★★

Best Screenplay – Adaptation

“Fences”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

“Hidden Figures”

WINNER – “Lion”

“Sully”

 

Best Animation

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

“Moana”

“My Life as a Zucchini”

“The Red Turtle”

WINNER – “Zootopia” 

Best Cinematography

WINNER – “La La Land”

“Lion”

“Moonlight”

“Sully”

“The Jungle Book”

 

Best Visual Effects

“Captain America: Civil War”

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

“A Monster Calls”

“Star Trek Beyond”

WINNER – “The Jungle Book”

 

Best Original Score

“Arrival”

“Jackie”

WINNER – “La La Land”

“Lion”

“Moonlight”

 

Best Original Screenplay

WINNER – “Hell or High Water”

“La La Land”

“Loving”

“Manchester by the Sea”

“20th Century Women”

 

Best Supporting Actress

WINNER – Viola Davis, “Fences”

Greta Gerwig, “20th Century Women”

Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”

Molly Shannon, “Other People”

Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”

 

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

WINNER – Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”

Ben Foster, “Hell or High Water”

Simon Helberg, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

David Oyelowo, “Queen of Katwe”

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”

Jessica Chastain, “Miss Sloane”

Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

WINNER – Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”

WINNER – Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”

Tom Hanks, “Sully”

Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

Denzel Washington, “Fences”

 

Best Director

WINNER – Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Garth Davis, “Lion”

Clint Eastwood, “Sully”

Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”

David Mackenzie, “Hell or High Water”

 

Best Picture

“Captain Fantastic”

“Deadpool”

“Florence Foster Jenkins”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

WINNER – “Hell or High Water”

“La La Land”

“Lion”

“Hidden Figures”

“Sing Street”

“Sully” 

Congratulations!

★★★★★



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The Top 10 Films of 2016

Ten films that should be on everyone’s “Must-See List”.  Drum-roll please!

Here are the year’s best films in storytelling and performances:

10. Sing Street 

Director John Carney, who gave us the 2007 romantic music trifecta of guitar, piano and vocals in the Irish movie “Once”, returns to Dublin for a stellar encore performance involving a teenage boy dealing with the pressures of school while starting up a rock band to get closer to a girl. Carney knows how to bring music and romance together better than anyone else and we find a heartfelt story that feels both charming and real at the same time.  An above average cast and a 1980s soundtrack launch this movie into instant Classic status and into the Top 10 list for 2016.

9. Captain Fantastic

The vastly talented Viggo Mortensen (“Lord of the Rings”) stars as the earthy patriarch of the Cash family, living off-the-grid while raising his well-read children deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. A stirring drama on human interaction and one family’s attempt to cope with loss, individual beliefs, and real life. Every parent, at some point, wonders if they’re raising their child the best possible way? “Captain Fantastic” offers us one unmistakable, yet riveting, parenting route.

8. Hidden Figures

An extremely talented ensemble tells the true NASA story of three brilliant African-American women who played major roles in our nation’s space program during the 1960s.  The trio fight prejudice in the male-dominated workplace through their skillful persistence and smarts.  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner marvelously solve spacecraft launch and recovery math equations to earn the trust of viewers and astronaut John Glenn.  A feel-good history lesson that needs to be seen to believed. Houston, no problems here–these women have it all under control!

7. Florence Foster Jenkins

In her best performance in years, Meryl Streep stars as a legendary New York heiress and socialite obsessed with her dream of becoming a great singer.  An electrifying story of love, perseverance and imagination abounds in this true story. “Florence Foster Jenkins” dominates with splendid performances by Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.  An extraordinary romantic comedy for your eyes and ears, Grant plays the husband and manager to Streep’s character.  His greatest challenge, a 1944 public performance by his beloved Florence in Carnegie Hall, weighs as heavily on his heart and mind as it does moviegoers.

6. Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”) passionately presents the true story of Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Desmond Doss, who enlists in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. The most intense, shocking big-screen battle since “Saving Private Ryan”, this faith-based film compromises neither true events nor one’s religious spirit in telling its powerful story.  “Hacksaw Ridge” squarely highlights how one’s inner strength and personal courage challenged and changed others’ minds–later earning their admiration and this nation’s highest military honor. “Hacksaw Ridge” received a 10-minute standing ovation.  A well-deserved ten-minute honor for a man who saved many lives—without taking one.

5. Sully

Director Clint Eastwood masterfully retells the harrowing conclusion to the 2009 U.S. Airways flight that miraculously makes a water landing in Manhattan’s Hudson River. We see a vulnerable flight deck crew’s opinions and memories get tested against a faceless, but more powerful, adversary: cockpit voice & data recorders, computer animations and air traffic control tapes. “Sully” is a powerhouse film that aviation enthusiasts found deeply satisfying for getting the human factors in flying correct.  Eastwood’s clever technique used to tell this incredible story–in a variety of ways and perspectives–is sensational and the film’s best feature.

4. Deadpool

This film marks Marvel’s riskiest ride ever, using explicit adult themes and sexual tones to deliver a bold, edgy, and youthful action hero story. “Homeland’s” eye-catching Mrs. Brody (Morena Baccarin) plays Ryan Reynolds’ convincing love interest and bed warmer. Viewers looking for a safe, science fiction adventure were caught off-guard by the rogue ways of “Deadpool”. It’s cunning dialogue and violent delivery cast this film firmly into the deep end of the adult pool. By no means did “Deadpool” only take the superhero routine less traveled. It forged its own path with a simplistic but humorous jaunt, casting likeable street stars with hip, sassy tongues.

3. Lion

This year’s most heartwarming and touching movie experience, “Lion” is a fact-based movie that recounts the true story of a boy who gets lost at a train station in his home country of India at the age of 5. The movie packs a powerful punch as the exceptionally talented and charismatic Dev Patel (2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire”) delivered another on-screen gem, this time as Saroo after he’s been adopted by an Australian family.  But it’s the younger version of Saroo, portrayed by movie newcomer Sunny Pawar, that completely outshined everyone else in this tense, nail-biter. Its Top 3 final ranking in 2016 is cemented with a poignant final act. “Lion” is a movie not to be missed!

2. La La Land

Working together on their third movie, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone share an on-screen chemistry that only comes around once every ten years!  The Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture, “La La Land” is 2016’s most romantic love story.  Gosling and Stone shine as a formidable twosome that squares off using singing jujitsu and snickering one-liners in the City of Stars. Equal parts endearing, funny and quirky, Stone seals up her Oscar gold with this compelling and career performance. A charming musical dramedy that rises to iconic production value. The movie’s cinematography and soundtrack are the year’s best.

1. Hell or High Water

Jeff Bridges will take the Academy Award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role after his epic screen work as a long in the tooth Texas Ranger who seeks swift justice for a pair of bank bandits. This film may be promoted as two brothers robbing banks, however, it’s more about two give-and-take relationships. These dueling bonds consist of one representing the law with Bridges’ and his Texas Ranger sidekick, the other a brotherhood of outlaws raised in an abusive household.

Wielding a razor-sharp script, the film backs up to their getaway car with deeply satisfied moviegoers in close chase.

With remarkable cinematography brandishing vast lands and small town life, “Hell or High Water” has confidently ordered all other 2016 films to get down on the floor and not move.

***

 

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