ENJOY THE SHOW
More often than not a good soundtrack in a movie can be just as captivating as the visuals in which it accompanies. We live within the world of that film as we experience watching it, but a good soundtrack – composed score or curated list of songs – can allow us to reengage with the film on a purely auditory level sometimes even offering up an entirely new perspective. It's why this list is always such a joy to put together at the end of any year (review my previous soundtrack picks for the Best of 2014 and Best of 2013). Listed below are my Top 10 Soundtracks/Scores of 2016, and, as always, it's a fun list to put together. These are the scores and song lists I will surely be listening to in the coming months, the soundtracks that are every bit as memorable as the films themselves. (You can also find my Top 10 Films of 2016 here.) Enjoy!
At the climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman has literally fallen into the arms of his love, Lois Lane. The ending is far from romantic, however, as Batman and Wonder Woman stand beside the slain hero, heads bowed mournfully. Who knew this downer of an ending would signify more than just defeated heroes, it also acts as an analogy for the entire trajectory of DC Comics on film. By the time Suicide Squad rolled around, you could argue the DC Extended Universe had been put on suicide watch. For Ben Affleck, what started as a co-starring role has morphed into possibly being the DCEU's only saving grace.
Perfectly timed with release of latest religious epic directed by Martin Scorsese, titled Silence, which is slowly expanding to more theaters this month, is a video essay on religious themes in Scorsese's films. Titled "God's Point of View", the video proposes the simple question: "Is God watching in all Marty's films?" There is no narration, instead the video uses footage from almost every single Scorsese film to present the possibility that Scorsese always includes scenes in his film from the point-of-view of God. But how? And why? His focus is on the choice to shoot some scenes looking straight down at characters in times of their greatest struggle, accompanied by the music of Max Richter. A must watch for fans of Scorsese and cinema.
Jim Jarmusch's new film about a poet in Paterson, New Jersey is one of my favorite films of 2016. I saw it twice at the Cannes Film Festival, wrote a glowing review (calling it "the rare perfect film"), and caught it again in Berlin a few weeks ago. As expected with pretty much every film that premieres to rave reviews at a festival, there will be a backlash. One of the most vocal complaints I've been hearing about Paterson has to do with the lead woman in the film, the wife of Adam Driver's bus driver character. She is played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani and has a major role in the story, as he wakes up with her every day and she encourages him to publish the poems he is writing in his notebook. I believe she is the perfect character, in a way that is off-putting perhaps (she's "too" perfect), but it still works for this particular film. Let me explain.
The list of nominations for the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards (of 2017), the yearly precursor to the Academy Awards, have just been announced today - you can find all the film nominees below. The infamous Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees this morning from The Beverly Hilton. The selection this year is impressive, but as always it's full of some wacky and eye-brow-raising picks, and a few snubs (of course - like Michael Shannon from, well, anything). The top nominees are Damien Chazelle's La La Land (with 7 noms), Barry Jenkins' Moonlight and Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea; with a surprise appearance from Deadpool. Another fascinating year of picks but not that surprising for the HFPA.
"City of stars, there's so much that I can't see…" It's here! One of the annual must-see best of the year lists is actually a video countdown made by my colleague David Ehrlich (follow him @davidehrlich). He counts down his 25 best films of the year in a video edited together with footage and music from each of the films. This is such an entertaining way to count down the best cinema of 2016, and it always makes me want to watch each one of these (even the ones I've seen before). There's so many great films on Ehrlich's list this year - from Jackie to La La Land to The Fits to Moonlight, and yes, even Swiss Army Man is superb. Enjoy.
It's that time again! With the end of the year approaching, everyone begins revealing their own Top 10 best of the year lists. One of our favorite lists that kicks off this time is from filmmaker John Waters' - his Top 10 favorite films from this year. For 2016, Waters has chosen yet another (expected) eclectic mix of films, including Paul Verhoven's controversial Elle, Todd Solondz's divisive Wiener-Dog, as well as David Farrier & Dylan Reeve's outstandingly creepy documentary Tickled, among some other oddball picks. A few years back his top film was Spring Breakers, and last year it was a film titled Helmut Berger, Actor. I always like hearing about Waters' favorites because he has such unique taste and his quick comments are fun to read.
DC's biggest heroes have been facing an adversary even bigger than Doomsday or Kryponite as of late: their own studio, Warner Bros. It was last month when it was revealed that director Rick Famuyiwa dropped out of directing The Flash, citing creative differences. This was a sizable loss for the film, as Famuyiwa's hiring was considered a major coup. His departure hints at trouble for DC on film, who has stumbled out of the gate when their films should be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. Along with countless mixed to negative critical reactions to their last two offerings, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it's become clear Warner Bros is struggling to bring DC's finest to the big screen. But why?
When you think of auteur filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, you probably think of Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan. However, when I think of Darren Aronofsky, I can't help but gravitate toward what I think is his most underrated film: The Fountain, released in 2006. The science fiction love story, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz playing essentially the same characters over three timelines, was released ten years ago today with little fanfare. The film was blasted by critics and made very little at the box office. However, I fell in love with the film from the moment I gazed my eyes on the first frame ten years ago. Let's explore why I think the film is an underrated masterpiece and one of Aronofsky's best in his filmography.
The journey for Star Trek on the big screen hasn't always been going at warp speed. For the most part, the films have had a difficult time appealing to both the general audience and to the hardcore faithful (known as Trekkies). That changed, however, in 2009 when J.J. Abrams rebooted the film series with the simply titled Star Trek. For the first time in a while, Star Trek was accessible to both mainstream audiences and hardcore Trekkies alike. However, as the series progressed with Star Trek Into Darkness, some Trek fans started to dismiss the new films as being too action-oriented, as well as missing the philosophical essence that made Star Trek the groundbreaking success it was when it first aired on this day 50 years ago. So as Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary today, let's explore why I believe that all changed with the latest installment, Star Trek Beyond, and why I believe it is the best Star Trek movie in nearly two decades.
With the 2016 summer movie season all but officially over, plenty of movie bloggers/journalists have been quick to say this past summer has been rather lackluster for film. I would argue otherwise – while some of the blockbusters have crashed and burned at the box office, this past weekend Suicide Squad and Sausage Party still performed strong at the box office. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War and Disney's Pete's Dragon were highlights of the summer as well. So why all the “doom & gloom”? That's likely because most audiences never really gave some of the best films of summer 2016 a chance. There were quite a few hidden gems out there waiting to be seen, if you were brave enough to give them your time (and money).
"Be bold. Be brave. Be epic." That's one of the taglines for this movie, but it could also easily be the motto of Laika, the animation studio that created this excellent animated adventure. Kubo and the Two Strings is now playing in theaters and it's a must see. Please, go see this movie in theaters while you can, and enjoy the heck out of it. Please go see it because stop-motion animation needs all the love and support it can get nowadays, especially in the form of tickets purchased to see this beautiful work of art in theaters. It's all hand-made, animated and painted and created by hand (in Portland, Oregon), and it's wonderful. I really can't recommend it enough and I'm very happy to go out of my way to write an entire post about seeing this.