Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Year End Film Festival 2016

Manchester by the Sea

The YEFF has begun! The outbreak of watchable movies that heralds the coming of the new year. Since 1995, somebody or other has compiled a tally of critic Top Ten lists for the preceding year. From 1995-2000, the DIY era of the internet, a guy named Alex Fung did it (all praise and honour to you, Alex, whoever and wherever you are); in 2001 and 2002, I did it on a very limited basis; then Movie City News started in 2003, and as they trailed off the past few years Metacritic took up the torch. The following list comes from them, though I recalculated it to align their scoring system with previous years and so more films would be included. In brackets, the film's score according to the revised point system, followed by the position on the actual Metacritic chart. After the brackets, a place where the film can be viewed by Vancouverites: IV = International Village, 5Ave = Fifth Avenue, SC = SilverCity, VC = VanCity (often one screening only). You could sure make a couple days of it at the VanCity, Dec 29 and Dec 31!

I've boldfaced films that show up on my own 2016 Faves list, which I'll include at the bottom of the post. Silence is highlighted in red, a film I've been looking forward to for literally decades - Martin Scorsese's film treatment of Shusaku Endo's classic novel about Jesuits in 17th century Japan.

Hell or High Water

Metacritic Best of 2016: Film Critic Top Ten Lists
(recalculated Dec 27))

1. Moonlight (1638.5, 1) IV
2. Manchester by the Sea (1146, 3) 5Ave, IV
3. La La Land (1130, 2) Park, SC, Scotiabank
4. Hell or High Water (660, 5) VC Dec 29 8:00, iTunes 5.99
5. Arrival (635.5, 6) Scotiabank
6. Toni Erdmann (594.5, 4) opens Jan 27, no iTunes/Netflix
7. O.J.: Made in America (532, 7) Black Dog? no iTunes/Netflix
8. The Handmaiden (508.5, 8)
9. Paterson (466, 11) opens Feb 3, no iTunes/Netflix
10. Jackie (447.5, 10) 5Ave, Rialto

11. Elle (439.5, 9) gone, no iTunes/Netflix
12. American Honey (280.5, 13) iTunes 5.99
13. The Lobster (274, 12) iTunes 5.99
14. Silence (270, 13) opens Jan 6
15. Cameraperson (241, 15) VC Jan 1 8:20, iTunes pre-order
16. Everyboday Wants Some!! (238.5, 16) VC Dec 29 1:45, iTunes 6.99
17. Love & Friendship (237.5, 21) iTunes 5.99
18. The Witch (235.5, 17) iTunes 5.99
19. I Am Not Your Negro (229.5, 17) no iTunes/Netflix
20. Loving (211.5, 21) opens Dec 30 at Rialto

21. Green Room (208.5) iTunes 0.99
21. Sing Street (209, 20) iTunes 5.99
23. Certain Women (185.5, 21) no iTunes
24. 13th (171.5) no iTunes
25. Fences (171) IV
26. The Fits (168.5, 21) VC Dec 29 4:00, iTunes 5.99
27. Krisha (167) iTunes 5.99
28. Zootopia (157) iTunes 4.99
29. Weiner (149) no iTunes
30. Nocturnal Animals (147.5) 5Ave

31. 20th Century Women (146.5, 17) opens Jan 6, iTunes pre-order
32. Things to Come (145) VC Dec 31 5:00, no iTunes
33. Sully (143.5) iTunes 5.99
34. The Edge of Seventeen (137.5)
35. I, Daniel Blake (127) no iTunes
35. Kubo and the Two Strings (120.5)
37. A Bigger Splash (109.5) iTunes.99
38. Embrace of the Serpent (109) iTunes 5.99
39. Hail, Caesar! (107) iTunes 9.99 buy
40. Aquarius (104.5) VC Dec 30 7:00

41. Midnight Special (103)
42. The Nice Guys (102)
43. Knight of Cups (96)
44. Deadpool (94)
45. Fire at Sea (93.5)
46. Hacksaw Ridge (90) Hollywood 3 Pitt Meadows
47. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (86) VC Dec31 1:00, iTunes 5.99
48. Son of Saul (85.5)
49. Tower (85)
50. Julieta (84)

Neither Heaven Nor Earth

Ron's Favourites (So Far)

1. Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan. His first film, You Can Count On Me, was superb: human scaled, true, and featuring the first performances I'd seen by either Laura Linney or Mark Ruffalo - wow. I also liked the fact that, while it wasn't a film about Christian faith, the church was matter-of-factly just a part of the characters' lives. Kind of like the real world. His troubled second film, Margaret, (Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon) reached further and fell shorter: on my first viewing I considered it a masterpiece, on second viewing I saw why many critics thought it a failure. It's probably neither, but when it's working, it is phenomenal. Manchester by the Sea (Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams) is perfect. A friend called it "a Pacific Theatre movie," which I take to be a) high praise indeed for Pacific Theatre, and b) perfectly accurate.

2. Neither Heaven Nor Earth
Earlier in the fall, the VanCity/VIFF screened this French film about the Afghan war and I was mesmerized, stirred. It evoked in me the fear of God - not a common emotion in our safe North American Christianity, not something we're comfortable considering. God is all grace and reassurance, right? I wonder. Worth noting that a friend despised it, finding it pretentious and nonsensical. Consider yourselves warned.

3. Everybody Wants Some!!
Richard Linklater drops us in the middle of another world: college baseball, frosh weekend, 1980. Glorious fun, terrific ensemble acting, sharp portrayals of so many fascinating characters. Somehow I found the end-of-high-school hijinks depressing in Dazed and Confused; why I bought in to the start-of-college shenanigans and had a blast in this film, I couldn't say.

4. Hell or High Water
I love genre pictures where the characters stay human. Here, a bank robbing crime spree pic is also a convincing film about two brothers whose lives have gone different directions - as well as an indictment of a financial system where banks are the ones robbing ordinary citizens. Suggest why gangsters were Depression-era heroes.

5. Hail, Caesar!
Probably a minor entry in the Coen Brothers oeuvre, but I got a huge kick out of it - and saw, beneath the shaggy-dog tale of a mid-century studio producer, something about vocation and calling. Like O Brother Where Art Thou!, this Coen film has Sullivan's Travels as its touchstone.

6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Such imagination, and so much fun!

7. The Confessions
Outstanding Italy/France VIFF entry about a modern Father Brown in the midst of the world's financial and political elite.

The Lobster