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.
It was another stellar year at the cinema, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. While some are crying shouts that the cinema is dead the art form is doing all it can to prove otherwise, and it's easy to see how the industry is doing. Below are my Top 10 Films of 2016, but it could just have easily have been 10 completely different movies on this list. The impressive list of honorable mentions (found at the end) should give some credence to that. These are the 10 films, though, that moved me most of all, the films with which I most engaged, the films I believe the cinema community will be talking about for many years, beyond 2016.
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.
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.
There are film festivals, and then there is Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. The time of year die-hard film fans liken to Christmas is once again upon us, and we’re only moments away from this year’s batch of cinematic craziness and insane experiences being unleashed. If the last couple of years are any indication, 2016 is going to be a virtual madhouse in Austin thanks in large part to that special brand of madness only the Alamo Drafthouse can deliver. The movies are just the beginning, too, as the programming during the week of Fantastic Fest always seems bigger and better than the previous year. Movies and TV premieres; a Satanic escape room; a special, horror VR experience; and countless hours of additional insanity are just a few of the items that have piqued our interest for this year so far. And it’s only getting started.
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.
The mountains are a truly magical place. For the past nine years in a row, I've made a pilgrimage up to the beautiful mountain town of Telluride in Colorado for the Telluride Film Festival. It only lasts for one weekend and it's over way too quickly, but it's still one of my favorite weekends every year. At the 2016 version of the film festival, I was able to catch 11 films and many of them were wonderful. A few of them are guaranteed to end up my Top 10 this year, and that's usually the case with Telluride. I come to this festival year after year to fall in love with films again, to see some of the best that cinema has to offer, and I'm rarely disappointed. Plus over the four days the festivals lasts, I get catch up with old friends and make new ones.
It's nice to be back. Up in the mountains, ready to see more films and see what many talented filmmakers have in store for us. I have returned to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for my 9th year in a row, covering this festival with just as much enthusiasm as the first time I went (back in 2008). This film festival takes place an altitude of 8,750 ft (2,667 m), in a tiny little charming town nestled deep inside the San Juan mountains. It's such a beautiful location, the kind where you can see the stars, where everyone around you is always saying "isn't it so beautiful?", where it's easy to get a breath of fresh air, and where you must truly appreciate the place you at. I'm glad to be back, and I'm ready to start watching films. Let's begin the show.
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).
Last week, Star Trek Beyond star Chris Pine was interviewed in SFX magazine promoting the latest space adventure in the sci-fi series. When asked why the most recent films in the Star Trek franchise have been more action-oriented than thought-provoking – something the series has been traditionally known for ever since its inception in 1966 – he responded: "You can't make a cerebral Star Trek in 2016”. Well, I'm here to say you can. Let's take a look at why that's still possible. Pine's intriguing quote encouraged me to write some of my own thoughts about the Star Trek franchise and how it can still be intelligent today.