ENJOY THE SHOW
"Without love, what reason is there for anything?" What a year. Admittedly, it's always a challenge for me to put together a Top 10 list, just because there's never enough time to watch (and rewatch) everything. That said, I fell head-over-heels in love with a number of movies in 2016 and it was easy to put them on this list. I learned so much from my Favorite Films of 2016. Paterson taught me to love poetry (and write some of my own). La La Land reminded me that dancing is the key to life, and jazz is awesome. Captain Fantastic taught me to always seek the truth. Pete's Dragon reminded me that sometimes we must believe in magic. I'm invigorated by how much movies often affect me, and the more emotional I get, the more I love them.
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 120+ films showing at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, I've chosen 10 that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There are so many films playing at the fest, and so many I'll end up seeing (30+), that this is a quick list to get everyone acquainted with some of the work premiering in 2017 (and why I'm so excited for these). From docs about free speech and doping, to features about life after death. Nothing like watching movies in the mountains.
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.
"Who's with me on this?" Another new retrospective video to watch just before we wrap up 2016. This one is from fellow movie blog We Got This Covered, and features footage from most of the big Hollywood movies in 2016. Titled "Movie Rewind 2016", edited by "Whiplash Dynamo", this takes a look back at the year in movies, and some of the important moments from them. More then anything, these video retrospectives are a good way to remind you how many great movies (and not so great) there were. And it's a reminder to catch up on a few of them you still haven't seen yet, or to go back and rewatch the ones you love the most. Enjoy!
"I wanted the movie to be a love letter to not just dreams, but to the kinds of dreams that society often mocks." He's only 31 years old, but has already made two of my favorite movies. Damien Chazelle is the writer/director of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Whiplash (from 2014) and this year's La La Land, an exuberant and exciting musical that is my #1 movie of the year. La La Land premiered to rave reviews at the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto Film Festivals this fall and is now playing in theaters nationwide. I was lucky enough to catch up with Chazelle at the Telluride Film Festival and sit down to talk about making La La Land. I was still on a high from the movie, and was very excited to chat with him about everything - from Ryan Gosling's piano playing, to capturing Los Angeles, to making sure this success doesn't go to his head.
"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.
"I feel very excited as of late for what's to come, whether it works or not." I can't say enough how much I adore Damien Chazelle's musical La La Land. It's an exhilarating cinematic experience, full of so much joy and happiness, along with superb dancing and exuberant singing and beautiful sets and gorgeous sunsets. Aside from Ryan Gosling, the other co-star of La La Land is Emma Stone. Her first big break out role was playing Jules in Superbad back in 2007, and over the nearly 10 years since she's earned an Academy Award nomination (for Birdman) and worked with some of the best filmmakers around. I was lucky to spend 15 minutes chatting with Emma about her career and her work on La La Land and it was an absolute delight.
Want to geek out with Adam Savage and Peter Jackson? A video from Adam Savage's website Tested has debuted that involves Savage stepping inside of Peter Jackson's prop warehouse. Guillermo del Toro's massive collection has been in the news the most recently with his exhibition at LACMA, but Jackson has a collection of props and movie items that might rival that one. Savage and Jackson spend most of their time in this video examining the HAL 9000 faceplate from 2001, but there's other cool things hidden around. You can see one of the Ray Harryhausen skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts, and a Vogon from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, too. Jackson says he collects things from films that inspired him as a kid.
Even though we have another month left, cinephiles are already releasing 2016 recap videos. Chris Santana has launched the very first 2016 - A Year in Film recap, which includes footage from almost every (major) movie released in 2016. The only one missing is Martin Scorsese's Silence, only because they still haven't released a trailer for it yet. I'm very happy to see smaller films like Jackie, Moonlight, Lion and Manchester by the Sea featured in this, especially because they're an important part of 2016 in film. And it's especially important to include La La Land, most likely because it has the best chance at winning Best Picture. Dive in.
"We want tons of good ideas! And we've got, you know, 80 minutes here to knock everybody out." This is a fantastic new video essay examining the animated movies and storytelling techniques of filmmaker Brad Bird, who is currently working on making The Incredibles 2 at Pixar. Created by veteran editor Kees van Dijkhuizen Jr. (who retired in 2012, but is seemingly back now with more work) the video features audio clips of Brad Bird discussing his ideas and mentality, spliced with clips from his movies showing exactly what he's talking about. The opening quote is from the documentary about the making of The Iron Giant, released on the new Blu-ray this year. I've watched this video at least 5 times already, it's that good. Enjoy.
"The Science is Clear. The Future is Not." Good news, documentary fans! National Geographic has released the full-length version of the documentary Before the Flood (watch the trailer), produced by and starring Leonardo DiCpario, online on YouTube for free. Completely free! In fact, if you mention the hashtag #BeforeTheFlood online, they'll even donate money to different wildlife conservation organizations. It also features a fantastic score composed by Mogwai, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, + Gustavo Santaolalla (you can buy the album here). I had the chance to watch this recently and I thought it was a superb doc, inspiring and encouraging. I've seen pretty much every single recent doc about climate change and the environment, and this is one of the best. Really. Not only is DiCaprio honest and entertaining, he's hopeful about our future - as long as we all come together and recognize we need to change. Just watch! Link below.
We've all heard the quote before. Jean-Luc Godard once said: "It's not where you take things from — it's where you take them to." Filmmakers are often inspired and influenced by other art, whether it be music or paintings or photography or other films. Sometimes it's easy to spot in films, other times the influence is deeper and more nuanced. There's a series of videos created by editor Vugar Efendi called "Film Meets Art" that highlight various examples of cinema borrowing exact shots or poses or color or composition or clothing (or all of the above) from paintings and other classic art. It is actually an impressive examination of creative influence and how it plays directly into cinema. I wanted to feature both of the videos, with Part II out this week, because there's so much to admire in each of them. I love the shot from There Will Be Blood.