Sunday, January 15, 2017

MY LEAST FAVORITE FILMS OF 2016

In life, you gotta take the good with the bad. That is equally true with cinema. While I saw many films that I thoroughly enjoyed, there were a few that really disappointed or just annoyed me to no end. Here is my list of the films that left me less than entertained:

"GHOSTBUSTERS"

I had such high hopes for "Ghostbusters", a reboot of the 1984 supernatural comedy, that now features an all-female gang who hunts down some bothersome and nasty ghosts. There was plenty of ugly, unfair and sexist criticism hurled long before the movie was even released, so I really wanted this to be a hilariously fun box-office hit to prove all those haters wrong. Sadly, that did not come to pass. It appeared to be a slam-dunk with Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids", "Spy") behind the camera and the amazing comedic talents of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones plus the eye candy of Chris Hemsworth all on board. A bad script, poor pacing and cheesy visual effects didn't do the film any favors. But I think the biggest problem was that these funny ladies were not allowed to do their own thing. They seemed unable to really cut loose to create their own vision, forcing them to stick too closely to the original.

"HIGH RISE"

Out of all of the films I saw in 2016, I think "High Rise" was probably my most unpleasant movie-going experience. I found this very unfunny dark comedy incredibly pretentious and a complete bore. Based on a novel by J.G. Ballard, Tom Hiddelston plays a doctor living in a luxury building tower in 1970's London. While the wealthy occupy the top floors, the middle-class live in the far less stellar lower floors. Life is good, for some, and soon everyone begins to lose the desire to leave the comforts of their home. It doesn't take long for a breakdown in social behavior with the occupants descending in to violence and splitting in to groups to defend their areas of the building. Despite an impressive cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elizabeth Moss, "High Rise" falls completely flat.



"THE LEGEND OF TARZAN"

Tarzan, the Edgar Rice Burroughs character of the infant son of British aristocrats who is orphaned in the African jungle and raised by a tribe of apes, has been around for over one hundred years. It didn't take long for Hollywood to take notice with a silent film made in 1918 and starred Elmo Lincoln as the first screen Tarzan. There have been many, many other versions ever since, so the idea to reintroduce the Ape Man to a new generation was a good one. However, "The Legend of Tarzan" is not good. At all. Alexander SkarsgÄrd was an inspired choice to play Tarzan but the rest of the film is stale and moldy. This story begins years after Tarzan has left Africa and returned to London as Lord Greystoke with his American bride, Jane (Margot Robbie). He's invited to visit the Congo to see new development by the Belgium government. With an American envoy (Samuel L. Jackson) in tow, Tarzan and Jane return to Africa but this turns out to be a not-so-friendly visit with a sinister plan set up by a Belgian envoy (Christoph Waltz). The lackluster action sequences and sluggish pacing ruins any potential fun. No animals were harmed during the making of this film (due to then all being digitally created) but that certainly can't be said about any of the humans who sat through watching "The Legend of Tarzan".

"THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY"

When Sacha Baron Cohen introduced us to his Borat character with his hit 2006 mockumentary feature, this shocking comedy was fresh and a laugh riot. Now ten years later with his latest comedy he has written, "The Brothers Grimsby", Cohen's act has grown tiresome and uninspired. This time Cohen plays Nobby Butcher who was separated from his younger brother as children after they were orphaned. Nobby is now a drunk with an oversexed wife (Rebel Wilson) and eleven children. His brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong) has become a top secret agent. Not much of a surprise to reveal that this mismatched pair are reunited with Nobby getting himself involved in one of Sebastian's dangerous cases. Cohen clearly thinks that creating another half-wit with several objects managing to accidentally (and one time on purpose) find a way in to his anus or him having sex with overweight women is enough to deliver plenty of hilarity. But he is sadly mistaken. This film is just lazy, incompetent and a poor excuse for a comedy.



"THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR"

"The Huntsman: Winter's War",  a follow-up to the awful, "Snow White and The Huntsman", is a sequel nobody asked for and one that is actually worse than the original. With Snow White out of the picture (mostly due to a messy behind-the-scenes scandal), the focus is on Chris Hemsworth's the Huntsman (whose name is Eric, in case you were seriously wondering). Why? Good question. This is an origin story of this bland man of the woods and a continuation from the first film. The evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, still the best thing here) had a sweet, younger sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) and due to tragic events becomes the slightly-less-evil, the Snow Queen. She steals the children of people of the surrounding village and trains them to become part of her army which includes Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain). There's more involving the magic mirror, a few other broken hearts and an epic battle between the sisters but I'm sure you've heard enough. The only other thing I will add is please do not waste your time with this wreck of a film.

"KEANU"

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele certainly know how to bring the funny as we've seen from their hit sketch-comedy series, "Key & Peele". The comedy team put together their first feature, "Keanu" but it isn't much of a laughing matter. A recently dumped Rell (Peele) is cheered up after he finds a cute, stray kitten. He names him "Keanu" but this cat actually has an owner; a pair of ruthless assassins (also played by Key and Peele) who took ownership from a Mexican drug cartel after wiping them all out. After coming home to discover his place ransacked and Keanu missing, Rell, with his nerdy cousin, Clarence (Key) by his side, goes out on a desperate search to find his cat. This leads to them impersonating the assassins, getting mixed-up with a street gang, being forced to sell a new potent drug and killing actress, Anna Farris (you really don't want to know). With a plot that is way too convoluted, jokes that land with a thud and an excessive amount of violence that feels completely out-of-place, "Keanu" is one of the most surprising misfires of the year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2016

It's hard to believe another year has come and gone. So that also means it's time to look back at the year in cinema and reflect on which films had strongly made a lasting impression upon me. I came to realize there were quite of few extraordinary films that I saw in 2016 which made the selection process a little challenging (which is actually a good thing). Here are my favorites of the past year, in no particular order, that left me in a thrilling state of pleasure, desolation and amusement:

"MOONLIGHT"

Barry Jenkins wrote and directed "Medicine for Melancholy", a lovely, very low-budget romantic drama involving an African-American couple back in 2008. It was a revelation and one of my favorites of that year. I couldn't wait to see what he would do next. Well, it took a ridiculously long eight years but Mr. Jenkins is finally back and his latest drama manages to be even more impressive. "Moonlight" tells the story of Chiron, quiet, troubled and possibly gay, beginning when he was boy, then through his teens and up until he is a young man. With him being bullied relentlessly at school and his mother (Naomie Harris) falling deeper in to crack addiction, Chiron (played seamlessly by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) finds guidance and solace from an unlikely source; a local drug dealer (an excellent Mahershala Ali) who teaches him the way of the world with kindness and generosity. Poignant and unpredictable, "Moonlight" is a remarkable coming-of-age story handled with insightful artistry.

"MANCHESTER BY THE SEA"

Despite Sam L. Jackson's snap judgement to dismiss this drama as simply "award fodder", "Manchester By The Sea" really is an exceptionally well-made and moving film. The unexpected death of his brother (Kyle Chandler) brings Lee (Casey Affleck) back to Boston to deal with his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) who has been left in his care. He had departed from his hometown to escape a tragic past and this visit forces these long-buried painful memories to the surface. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has spent much of his time writing for the stage largely due to the difficult time he had with his second feature as a director "Margaret". Let's hope the rapturous praise for this outstanding film will allow him to make another very soon.

"THE LOBSTER"

I saw "The Lobster", the delightfully weird romantic-comedy from Yorgos Lanthimos ("Dogtooth"), at the AFI Fest back in 2015. But it wasn't released in the U.S. until 2016 otherwise it would have certainly found a place on this list that year. With being single a crime, David (Colin Farrell) is sent to the Hotel where he has only has 45 days to find a new partner otherwise he will be turned in to an animal of his choice. After deciding upon a lobster, he sets out to find someone yet many strange people and situations stand in his way.  Then there's the "loners" who hide out in the woods where guests at the Hotel can hunt down with a tranquilizing gun, earning them an extra day in their search. "The Lobster" is one movie that works much better to simply experience than try to get too caught up in the details.

"INDIGNATION"

Most people probably have not even heard of "Indignation" let alone actually seen this powerful film but they really should. James Schamus, the long-time screenwriter and producer ("The Ice Storm", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Brokeback Mountain") and one-time head of Focus Features, made his debut behind the camera with a 2008 Phillip Roth novel and has crafted an exceptionally captivating and deeply moving drama focusing on class, religion and sexual repression. Set in the 1950's during the early part of the Korean War, Marcus Messner (brilliantly played by Logan Lerman), a Jewish, middle-class young man begins college in Ohio, in part to put some distance between him and his overbearing parents (stage vets, Danny Burstein and Linda Emond) in New Jersey. He becomes enchanted with a beautiful and wealthy blonde student (Sarah Gadon) but her highly unorthodox behavior throws him while he clashes with the school's dean (Tracy Letts) over the emphasis of religion in academic life. A tragic and complicated story beautifully translated by a first-class film maker.



"LA LA LAND"

Damien Chazelle's romantic musical fantasia, "La La Land" is a wonderful valentine to that city of desires, dreams and heartbreak; Los Angeles. Mia (Emma Stone) is a struggling actress looking for a break. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianst who dreams of opening his own club. After a slightly hostile first encounter, they warm to each other and fall in love. But their challenging careers create tension in the relationship. With original music and lyrics from Justin Hurwitz, Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, Chazelle has paid loving tribute to the classic Hollywood musical but has brought his own modern and colorfully unique spin on the genre. Stone and Gosling have a marvelous chemistry and make a perfectly imperfect song and dance team.


"THE 13TH", "I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO"

These two fascinating documentaries compliment each other with insightful and thought-provoking observations in to the current state of race relations in America. African-Americans and the U.S. criminal justice system is the focus of Ava DuVernay's disturbing "The 13th". After slavery was abolished with the signing of the 13th Amendment, there was an exception made for a punishment for a crime. This doc reveals how systematically over time the "war on drugs" has been used to incarcerate a growing number of African-Americans while keeping them locked up for an excessive period of time.

"I Am Not Your Negro" uses James Baldwin's uncompleted novel about his close relationships with fellow influential figures of the civil rights era, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as a starting point. Then director Raoul Peck takes the eloquent and astute writer's words (with an effective voice over by Samuel L. Jackson) and archival television footage to examine his views on the complicated social and political issues regarding race in this country. It also looks at how, in many different ways, there's has still been very little progress made on this subject to this day.



"THE HANDMAIDEN"

Park Chan-wook, the South Korean film maker best known for his ultra-violent action thrillers laced with black humor like "Old Boy" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", has softened his approach (somewhat) with his latest, "The Handmaiden". Inspired by the Victorian era novel, "Fingersmith", the director has reset his story to Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930's and told in three parts from different perspectives. A wealthy heiress (Kim Min-hee) is the mark for a con man (Ha Jung-woo) and his young accomplice (Kim Tae-ri). However, nothing is what it appears to be with unexpected twists, shocking turns, some steamy bedroom antics and a brief moment of gruesomeness makes this one of the most intriguing and well-written romantic dramas of the year.



"THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN"

"The Edge of Seventeen", the razor-sharp and hilariously funny teen comedy from writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig, fits perfectly next to other classic coming-of-age comedies like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "The Breakfast Club" and "Mean Girls". Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a highly dramatic senior who rushes to her high school teacher (Woody Harrelson) to proclaim she's going to kill herself. Then she proceeds to tell him all of the entangled and embarrassing events that has lead to this moment. Some of this includes her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) begins dating her older brother (Blake Jenner), her difficult relationship with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and she has a big crush on a fellow student (Alexander Calvert) who doesn't know she's alive while another classmate (Hayden Szeto) has his own secret crush on her. This little film surprises with plenty of charm and wit.



"20TH CENTURY WOMEN"

Much like his last film, "Beginners", writer/director, Mike Mills finds inspiration from his family with "20th Century Women" which the lead character is loosely based upon his mother. Set in 1979, Santa Barbara, California, Dorothea (Annette Benning), a divorced, chain-smoking, radical mother feels she can't properly guide her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in to manhood on her own. She decides to ask for help and that comes from two other modern-thinking women; Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a fuchsia-haired, punk-loving photographer and Julie (Elle Fanning), a young, sexually-liberated, free-spirited friend of her son. And there is a male figure in the home, William (Billy Crudup), Dorothea's handyman and occasional lover but Jamie doesn't really connect with him. This film thrills with it's eccentric sense of drama, romance and humor.

Honorable Mention: "10 Cloverfield Lane", "Arrival" (and this would have made My Favorite list except for my trouble with the ending), "City of Gold", "Jackie", "Lion", "Louder Than Bombs", "Loving", "Midnight Special" (I had the same problem with the ending of this film), "Paterson", "Weiner Dog", "The Witch", "Zootopia"








Friday, January 6, 2017

58 MOVIES IN 2017 YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT


2016 is barely over yet there is already high interest in what is on the cinematic horizon for 2017. Vulture has compiled a list of fifty-eight movies they are excited about due to be released over the next twelve months. I know there's quite a few I'm interested in like the sequels to "Guardians of The Galaxy" and "Blade Runner", the still untitled Paul Thomas Anderson/Daniel Day-Lewis fashion project, the star-studded remake of "Murder On The Orient Express", the latest from Yorgos Lanthimos ("The Lobster") with "The Killing of a Sacred Deer", Sofia Coppola's remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie, "The Beguiled", "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", a dark comedy with an interesting title which also give Frances McDormand an overdue lead film role and the long-awaited big screen debut of "Wonder Woman". And there are fifty more on the list to check out and consider.

Click below to read the article:

58 Movies in 2017 You Should See

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016)

Written & Directed by Tom Ford


Where & When: Sundance Sunset Cinema, West Hollywood, CA.  December 20, 2016  2:00 PM


When it was announced that Tom Ford, the renowned creator of sleek, colorful and extremely sexy clothing who first came to fame after reviving the Gucci brand in the '90's before later launching his own eponymous line, was directing a feature film, the news was met a little curiosity and a lot of skepticism. But that 2009 film, "A Single Man", based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, received rapturous praise for it's polished look, skillful direction and remarkable performances, particularly from lead Colin Firth who went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. This haunting film was one of my favorites that year and I couldn't wait to see what Mr Ford would do next.

It took some time because of the time-consuming demands of his day-job but Mr Ford has finally returned with his follow-up feature, "Nocturnal Animals". This stylish story-within-a-story takes us on a dark journey of a privileged yet dissatisfied woman whose life is disrupted by the arrival of a just completed novel written by a man from her past with it's disturbing contents rattling her in more ways than one. "Nocturnal Animals" is another visual stunner with plenty of thrilling twists and turns in addition to featuring some excellent work from all of the actors involved yet the emotional pulse of the film is far too icy and detached to fully draw you in.

Images of nude, obese women dancing provocatively opens the film, clearly designed to elicit shock and outrage to viewers. This turns out to be part of a successful art exhibit, curated by Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), a Los Angeles gallery owner. A striking woman of wealth and prestige, from her flaming red hair to severe make-up to her high-fashion clothing, she should be elated. But Susan appears troubled and unhappy. The relationship with her husband and business partner (Armie Hammer) has grown more strained and distant due to him constantly leaving town for work-related matters. Yet something even deeper is bothering her.

After receiving a manuscript from her former husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) with a note wanting her opinion of his new work, Susan is taken aback. This is because she hasn't spoken to him in almost twenty years despite many attempts to contact him. The book, called "Nocturnal Animals", is dedicated to Susan with the title sharing a nickname Edward had given her during their marriage.

As Susan begins to read, the story unfolds on screen. A family consisting of Tony Hastings (also played by Mr. Gyllenhaal), his wife Laura, (Isla Fisher) and India (Ellie Bamber) their teenage daughter travel down a long stretch of highway through West Texas. A car driving recklessly passes by with India flipping them the bird. The occupants of the vehicle want them to pull over but Tony refuses. A dangerous chase ensues until the Hastings are run off the road. The trio of foul, imposing men, with the leader appearing to be Ray, (played with searing menace by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) begin to harass and torment the family. Tony, a decent man paralyzed with fear and panic, watches helplessly as two of the men take his wife and child off in their car while he is dumped in the middle of nowhere by the other.

It should be of little surprise about the tragic outcome, leaving Tony racked with guilt and despair. Detective Andes (Michael Shannon) had been working on the case with no leads until a year later when a possible suspect is apprehended. Tony identifies him as one of the men involved and with the other killed during a robbery attempt, there's only Ray left to capture. It doesn't take long for an arrest but due to only circumstantial evidence, Ray is set free. Andes, soon to retire from the force, suggests they take justice in to their own hands.

Painful loss, deep regret and a hunger for revenge are a large part of the book. These feelings begin to trigger in Susan memories of her marriage to Edward and looks back at that time through a series of flashbacks. One key scene has Laura Linney making a brief appearance as Susan's mother. With a helmet of lacquered hair, a power suit and martini in hand, she warns her daughter not to marry Edward, feeling he's too weak to handle her needs. With a defiant desire to prove her wrong, Susan marries him. But her mother was correct and causes him unnecessary anguish and betrayal. By the time Susan finishes the book, she realizes she has become a literary inspiration.

Much like his work in fashion, Mr Ford has a strong, dramatic eye and a clear concept of how he wants his vision to come across. His influences lean more towards iconic auteurs like Hitchcock and Kubrick with their distinctive way of storytelling before filtering it through to create his own memorable imagery. Oscar nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, who worked on “Atonement” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, helped create the different looks of each story with vividly rich color in the real world and a murky grime for the fictional story. Based on the novel, "Tony and Susan" by Austin Wright, Mr. Ford has given each story layered meanings yet neither narrative is effectively well-textured and the characters are far from complex.

"Nocturnal Animals" may not be as emotionally impactful as Mr. Ford's previous work in cinema but he still displays a vibrant dramatic flair and expert direction of his performers that makes this moody thriller a compelling view.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

AWARD SEASON NEWS ROUND-UP

As several critic groups announce their picks for the best of the year, it appears that "Moonlight" and "Manchester By The Sea" continue to dominate the field in award recognition. These films have not only won top spots from varied critics organizations across the country for the performances and technical achievements but received nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Golden Globes and both were selected by the American Film Institute as one of the ten best films of the year.

I just realized that I have never mentioned the Golden Globes or their nominations in this blog. I guess because I don't fully take them seriously as honoring the best in cinema ever since giving Pia Zadora the prize for "New Star of the Year" back in 1981. This year their nominations managed to be inspired ("Best Actor" nominee, Colin Farrell for "The Lobster", "Best Actress", Hailee Steinfeld in “The Edge of Seventeen” and a "Best Director" nod for Tom Ford) and head-scratching (acting noms for Lily Collins, Jonah Hill and Ryan Reynolds for "Deadpool"?).

Here is a listing of winners and nominations:

2016 AFI Films of the Year:

"Arrival"
"Fences"
"Hacksaw Ridge"
"Hell or High Water"
"La La Land"
"Manchester by the Sea"
"Moonlight"
"Silence"
"Sully"
"Zootopia"

2016 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards:

Best Picture: "Moonlight"
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Adapted Sceenplay: Seo Kyung-Chung & Chan-wook Park. "The Handmaiden"
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Foreign Language Film: "The Handmaiden"
Best Documentary: "OJ: Made in America"
Best Animated Feature: "Kubo and the Two Strings"
Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, "La La Land"
Best Editing: Tom Cross, "La La Land"
Best Art Direction: Seong-hie Ryu, "The Handmaiden"
Best Original Score: Mica Levi, "Jackie"

2016 San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards:

Best Picture: "Moonlight"
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
Best Original Screenplay (tie):Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea" & Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, "Arrival"
Best Actor: Denzel Washington, "Fences"
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, "Fences"
Best Animated Feature: "The Red Turtle"
Best Foreign-Language Picture: "The Handmaiden"
Best Documentary: "I Am Not Your Negro"
Best Cinematography: James Laxton, "Moonlight"
Best Original Score: Mica Levi, "Jackie"
Best Film Editing (tie): Joe Walker, "Arrival" & Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, "Moonlight"

2016 Boston Online Film Critics Association Awards:

Best Picture: "Moonlight"
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Best Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Ensemble: "Moonlight"
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea"
Best Foreign Language Film: "The Handmaiden"
Best Documentary: "Cameraperson"
Best Animated Film: "Kubo and the Two Strings"
Best Cinematography: Natasha Braier, "The Neon Demon"
Best Editing: Nels Bangerter, "Cameraperson"
Best Original Score: Mica Levi, "Jackie"

2016 SAG Awards Nominations (film):

Cast in a Motion Picture:

“Captain Fantastic”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Female Actor in a Leading Role:

Amy Adams, “Arrival”
Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Male Actor in a Leading Role:

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”

Outstanding Stunt Ensemble in a Movie:

“Captain America: Civil War”
“Dr. Strange”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Jason Bourne”
“Nocturnal Animals”

2016 Golden Globe Award Nominations (Film):

Best Motion Picture (Drama):

“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy):

“20th Century Women”
“Deadpool”
“La La Land”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Sing Street”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama):

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Joel Edgerton, “Loving”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama):

Amy Adams, “Arrival”
Jessica Chastain, “Miss Sloane”
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy):

Colin Farrell, “The Lobster”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Jonah Hill, “War Dogs”
Ryan Reynolds, “Deadpool”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy):

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”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Simon Helberg, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director (Motion Picture):

Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Tom Ford, “Nocturnal Animals”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Screenplay:

Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Tom Ford, “Nocturnal Animals”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Taylor Sheridan, “Hell or High Water”

Best Motion Picture (Foreign Language):

“Divines” (France)
“Elle” (France)
“Neruda” (Chile)
“The Salesman” (Iran/France)
“Toni Erdmann” (Germany)

Best Motion Picture (Animated):

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“Sing”
“Zootopia”

Best Original Song (Motion Picture):

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls”
“City of Stars” – “La La Land”
“Faith” – “Sing”
“Gold” – “Gold”
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana”

Best Original Score (Motion Picture):

Nicholas Britell, “Moonlight”
Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”
Johann Johannsson, “Arrival”
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka, “Lion”
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch, “Hidden Figures”

Sunday, December 18, 2016

GREAT PERFORMANCES: L.A. NOIR



For this year's New York Times magazine Great Performances series, it turned to classic film noir for inspiration to photograph the sixteen outstanding actors selected.  The performers are Emma Stone ("La La Land"), Viola Davis and Denzel Washington ("Fences"), Don Cheadle ("Miles Ahead"), Taraji P. Henson ("Hidden Figures"), Royalty Hightower ("The Fits"), Natalie Portman ("Jackie"), Krisha Fairchild ("Krisha"), Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes ("Moonlight"),  Ruth Negga ("Loving"), Isabelle Huppert ("Elle", "Things To Come"), Sasha Lane ("American Honey"), Casey Affleck ("Manchester By the Sea") and Kristen Stewart ("Certain Women", "Cafe Society").


Photographer Jack Davison took some amazing period-like pictures while Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love & Basketball") directed nine black & white shorts using the actors in virtual reality which enables the viewer to actually feel like they're in the scene. Also Times film critics, A.O. Scott and Wesley Morris discuss the year in cinema, highlighting the exceptional performances from this distinguished group.

Click below to view the article:

Great Performances: L.A. Noir

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY

The female-buddy thriller, "Thelma & Louise",  Rob Reiner's comic fantasy,  "The Princess Bride",  Hitchcock's horror masterpiece, "The Birds", "Steamboat Bill, Jr.", the Buster Keaton silent, the '80's teen classic, "The Breakfast Club", Frank Capra's 1941 screwball comedy, "Ball of Fire", Barbra Streisand's film debut in the musical, "Funny Girl" and the animated films, "The Lion King" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" are just a few of the twenty-five films inducted in to this year's National Film Registry.  These widely varied films were selected because of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance and to showcase and preserve the diversity of the American film heritage.

Here is the complete list of the films selected to the 2016 National Film Registry. The films chosen must be at least ten years old and this now brings the total to 700 films in the registry:

"The Atomic Cafe" (1982)

"Ball of Fire" (1941)



"The Beau Brummels" (1928)

"The Birds" (1963)



"Blackboard Jungle" (1955)



"The Breakfast Club" (1982)

"The Decline of Western Civilization " (1981)



"East of Eden" (1955)



"Funny Girl" (1968)



"Life of an American Fireman" (1903)

"The Lion King" (1994)

"Lost Horizon" (1937)

"The Musketeers of a Pig Alley" (1912)

"Paris Is Burning" (1990)

"Point Blank" (1967)



"The Princess Bride" (1987)



"Putney Swope" (1969)



"Rushmore" (1998)



"Solomon Sir Jones" films (1924-28)

"Steamboat Bill, Jr." (1928)


"Suzanne, Suzanne" (1982)

"Thelma & Louise" (1991)

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1916)

"TA Walk in The Sun" (1945)

"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988)