Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24th, is one of my personal holidays. Oscar nomination announcement day! And while I’m late, I’m just under the wire before those announcements to give you my personal list of my top Hollywood films of 2016. Apologies for getting to this later in January than I’d hoped. My father was in the hospital for almost two full weeks. Fortunately, he’s doing better, and I’m glad to be thinking of movies again instead of ICU and breathing tubes.
A major caveat is that I have not been able to see some of the films of 2016 that came out very late in the year for Oscar season. Especially with my father’s illness, I have not seen Silence, Jackie, or Fences yet, just to name a few.
1. La La Land
Did you have any doubt after this rapturous review describing my tears of joy, that La La Land would be my favorite film of the entire year? I live and breathe movie musicals, and Damien Chazelle reviving the genre in Hollywood is my dream come true. My love of musicals are why I love Indian Cinema so much (I’ll be posting a separate top list for Indian Cinema). La La Land garnered a record number of Golden Globes with seven, and could make history tomorrow with a shattering 15 Oscar nominations. With a musical, you add in song, score, etc. to all the traditional categories. The previous record number of nominations would be 14 (All About Eve and Titanic). Could it sweep? Maybe….
Moonlight is a movie that has really stayed with me. I have been frankly amazed at how well this film has done. I’m not sure it will resonate with the average Academy member (white, male and over 65), but it really did with me. I’m crossing my fingers that it gets lots of nominations, especially for director Barry Jenkins and that Mahershala Ali wins Supporting Actor. He was amazing.
3. Manchester By The Sea
I was privileged to attend the premiere of Kenneth Lonnergan’s Manchester By The Sea at Sundance last January. I didn’t know what I was about to see, just that I had to see the latest film by the man who made You Can Count On Me. I didn’t know that Casey Affleck was going to rip my heart out with his devastating performance. Viewers now know that this is a sad film, but it has wonderful moments of comedy, especially with Affleck’s relationship with his nephew, played by Lucas Hedges, who I hope will get an Oscar nod tomorrow morning.
4. Captain Fantastic
Captain Fantastic may be a career best performance for Viggo Mortenson, as the father of six children, determined to home school them completely off the grid in the wilderness of the Northwest. I hope and pray that Viggo gets recognition tomorrow with an Oscar nomination. The film has kind of fallen of the radar, except that Viggo’s performance cannot be denied. I strongly urge you to give this film a chance. It’s available for rental on Amazon, Youtube, etc. It was one of my favorites from Sundance last year.
5. The Lobster
I loved every absurd moment of The Lobster. Colin Farrell was amazing. Highly recommend, and it’s now included with Amazon Prime.
Oh, my goodness, I did not realize how stale the superhero movie genre had become until the fresh air of Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds was made for this role, and aren’t we all so glad he fought so hard to win this role and get the movie made. Second favorite thing about the movie is the snarling teenage girl X-men. Love her!! It’s a great film to rewatch as there is just so many little nuggets of goodness to catch.
7. Hunt For the Wilderpeople
You MUST see Hunt For the Wilderpeople. Taika Waititi, the writer director has created a comic masterpiece about a young Maori foster kid and the ultimate curmudgeon, Sam Neill. I feel so much better about the upcoming Thor movie, because Taika Waititi is a comic genius. It’s included with a Hulu subscription right now, and also available to rent online. You’ll thank me.
8. Hell or High Water
Such a fantastic script for Hell or High Water. Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges were particularly good.
9. Ali and Nino
I saw this sweeping historical love story epic, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy), at Sundance. It only got a limited release, but it’s available to rent on demand. It has a script by screenwriter Christopher Hampton who wrote Atonement. I could eat this movie with a spoon, it’s just so wonderful. Ali and Nino tells the story of a Muslim prince of Afghanistan who falls in love with a Christian young woman (her father is played by Mandy Patinkin). It’s set in the time of World War I, and I had no idea that Afghanistan was almost at democracy. The movie was filmed just across the border in Turkey and the scenery is just stunning.
Choosing a last film of a top ten feels very arbitrary because there were a couple of films that were all about equal for me. This could also easily be Zootopia, which I really enjoyed. But I’m picking Arrival for Amy Adams’ wonderful performance. This is the kind of Sci-fi movie I enjoy, one that makes you think. Amy Adams sells you on this movie, and hip hip hurray, it was so much her movie. Jeremy Renner was very much the supporting actor. Linguist Amy Adams led the team who tried to communicate with the aliens, although my brother pointed out that you didn’t really see her lead her team in an active way. I hope Amy gets an Oscar nomination for this wonderful film tomorrow morning.