ENJOY THE SHOW
Another year, another Sundance. There's no place I'd rather be. I'm so so happy to be back again. This is my 12th year in a row returning to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, and I'm totally ready to jump in and start watching films. I've written so many of these introductory posts over the years, and I'm well aware that I usually just keep saying the same things over and over. But really, it's how things are at the start. It's all fresh - we have no idea what we're about to see, we don't really know which films will be good or bad, we don't know what we'll discover, we don't know what we'll end up loving (or hating) by the end. It's exciting to be here, nervously waiting for the doors to open and the projectors to fire up. Let's go watch some films.
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 110+ films showing at the 2018 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 2018 (I just want to go see everything). There are new films from great filmmakers like Desiree Akhavan and Reed Morano, and docs about Robin Williams and Fred Rogers, and many other films. You never know what will good or bad, but here's my first few picks for 2018.
Looking for a bit of inspiration about how to make a timeless action scene? Watch this stellar shot-by-shot breakdown video of the "Desert Chase" scene from Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, made by Greek editor / filmmaker Antonios Papantoniou. Papantoniou makes many of these shot-by-shot breakdowns, but this is one of the best videos for a truly iconic action scene. The chase occurs in Raiders roughly halfway through when the Nazis try to take off with the Ark, and Indy (Harrison Ford) goes after them. This is a very intense, detailed breakdown discussing literally every last aspect - the shots, lenses, movements, everything. Dang, after this video, I just want to watch all the Indiana Jones films in a back-to-back marathon. Classics.
"If you only knew how little I really know about the things that matter…" It was a year of masterpieces, another outstanding year of films big and small, funny and serious, that I fell madly in love with. It's time to present my personal list of my Top 10 Favorite Films of 2017. 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. So I just have to go with what I feel in my gut. This year, my #1 film is one that could not be topped for the entire year - I first saw it at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and it remained my #1 for the next 11 months. As for the rest of my picks, I've included two documentaries because they both made me unabashedly happy.
Are you ready to kick off 2018?! For a quick preview of the year ahead, check out this movie trailer mashup video made by JoBlo's Nick Bosworth, the same editor behind the Final Cut mashup retrospective year-end videos. There have only been a handful of trailers released for movies in 2018 so far, but there's quite a few exciting ones releasing in the summer that have already been teased - including Avengers: Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Sicario 2: Soldado, and Alita: Battle Angel. We haven't seen any footage from Solo, Ant-Man, or The Predator yet - but hopefully sometime soon. If you're not yet excited about this year, this video should get you in the right mood for some big screen entertainment coming your way soon.
Get a load of this, movie fans. Whether you are happy with the movie or not, there's no denying that Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most visually astounding movies of this year. Part of this is thanks to master cinematographer Roger Deakins and the entire crew who designed and developed the movie, building giant practical sets along with massive, complex lighting rigs. The other part of the visual experience comes from the extraordinary, seamless visual effects (aka VFX) that make the world complete. VFX studio Rodeo FX, based mostly out of Montreal, has released a breakdown video showing off their work on the movie. It also gives a behind-the-scenes look at how big all the sets were, and how much VFX work went on top of them to make it all seem so real. I love watching these kind of videos. Sit back, relax & enjoy.
With the year coming to an end, it's time to look back at the movies that defined the year in cinema. One of our favorite websites, No Film School, has put together a superb video to highlight & discuss their picks for the Best Cinematography of 2017. Not only is the video mesmerizing to watch with all of this lovely cinematography, but they completely nailed the selection - picking out, really, all the best cinematography, including from excellent documentaries like Chasing Coral (one of my favorites), Casting JonBenét, and Kedi. (The only big film missing, to me, is Call Me By Your Name…) Of course they feature Blade Runner 2049 (go, Roger Deakins, go!) and Dunkirk, along with Mudbound, Wonder Wheel, Good Time, The Florida Project, and Columbus. Yep, all the best films right there. This year end movie recap video is a must watch.
Looking ahead at 2018, it's going to be another exciting, spectacular year for the science fiction genre. With a few weeks to go until the New Year, Looper put out a video previewing some of the most anticipated sci-fi movies opening in 2018. They call the video "Sci Fi Movies That Will Completely Blow You Away In 2018," though that's some epic hype. I'm just happy to see this much sci-fi, it means the genre is truly in a new era of brilliance with so many boundary-pushing films on the horizon. The video profiles most of the major sci-fi movies coming out in 2018, like The Predator, Ready Player One, Annihilation, and A Wrinkle in Time, but misses one big one - the Cloverfield movie, currently set for February 2nd though that might change. This is a good video to watch to get you in the mood for some awesome movies to anticipate in 2018.
It's here! Time to start figuring out which films are the best of the year, so get watching. 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 2017, and it always makes me want to watch each one of these (even the ones I've seen already). Ehrlich pretty much nailed it this year - Call Me By Your Name is my #1 as well, and his Top 10 is almost perfect. Dive in.
What's up next on the film festival tour? My next stop is at IDFA in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in full known as International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. This is another film festival I've heard about for years, and I'm finally attending it for the first time. IDFA is known around the world as one of the premiere film festivals for documentaries. They only show and host documentaries at the festival (with a few exceptions) but that means it's all about truth and non-fiction and cinema as an important tool for telling stories from the real world. I'm very excited to be here, I love Amsterdam, and I'm happy to start watching more documentaries. I wasn't always a big fan of docs before, to be honest, but I am a big fan now.
"Sometimes you need luck as a director. We always think it's all about control and it is a lot about control when you direct a movie, but it's also about things that you can't foresee." There's a film now playing in theaters titled The Divine Order, from Swiss writer/director Petra Volpe. The film is Switzerland's entry in the Oscars this year and it's obvious why when you see it. This very entertaining, exciting, engaging film tells the story of a woman in a mountain town in Switzerland who rallies other women to join in the fight for the right to vote. Swiss women only passed a law in 1971. I had a chance to talk with writer & director Petra Volpe and I'm so happy I did - she's a joy to talk with and had much to say about making empowering films.
"For millennia, we'd never seen anything like film cuts. How do we process them so easily?" When you watch a movie nowadays, unless you're trained in the art of editing or filmmaking, you probably don't even notice most of the cuts. If the movie's editing is top notch, the cuts are designed to work in a way where you don't really sense them, so that you can still easily follow the action and dialogue in a scene. This video essay from Adam D'Arpino attempts to explain, scientifically, how our brains have adapted to film cuts so quickly. The full title of the video is - Strange Continuity: Why Our Brains Don't Explode at Film Cuts. It's a fascinating visual examination for movie nerds and science nerds alike, getting into the technical aspects of filmmaking that help our eyes, as well as the anthropological details that make it all work harmoniously.