Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

January is usually the time of year where I catch up on the prior year’s films, because there are a lot of really good films that expand into theaters during this time. And let’s face it… January is dumping ground for new studio releases. Instead of being down in the dumps, and complaining about the dull and unimaginative new YA movie release, this site would be better off looking at some of the potentially great new movies we have coming this year.

Now, let’s whip out the calendar and look at films that are worth screaming in anticipation for…

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

10.) Captain America: Civil War (May 6)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Age of Ultron is over, and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe is at Civil War. This film has Captain America, Iron Man, the rest of the current Avengers crew, Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man, two villains, and a couple government staff. Talk about capacity overload. Even so, it looks like a story of a family divided that’s anchored on the Steve-Bucky p̶a̶r̶t̶n̶e̶r̶s̶h̶i̶p̶ love. I adore how Writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely brought Captain America into modern day with a film about post-war adjustment and soldiers returning home, so I can’t wait to see how they approach Civil War. Plus, they’re reteaming with Directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who look like they’re tackling full-on superhero for this one, so this may end up as the event film to kick-start the Summer season.

09.) Moana (November 23)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Disney can keep Zootopia, and even Finding Dory, because Moana looks like the animation treasure of the year. Disney has been making improvements in diversity during their recent resurgence, with films like The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, and Big Hero 6. Those films are such substantial standouts in the recent animation pool, so there’s nothing hindering me from thinking Moana will end up the same. Ron Clements and John Musker (of The Princess and the Frog) are directing and writing this film, with Taika Waititi also writing. This is a film with a female lead from the South Pacific and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Polynesian demi-god. It sounds incredibly fun and like a total rebound from Lava last year.

08.) Assassin’s Creed (December 21)

20th Century Fox
This may be the first time in a while that an Assassin’s Creed product has appeared on a Most Anticipated list, but for good reason. Last year’s Macbeth was made totally watchable by Kurzel’s directing, and Fassbender and Cotillard’s performances. This film looks to be a Macbeth 2, in the sense that all of the highlights of that film are returning. Cotillard is a grace to every screen she is on, Fassbender is brilliant at playing captivating, villain-like characters, and Kurzel knows how to portray bloody, brutal imagery. The film will most likely have an easy time locking in to the Assassin’s Creed atmosphere, while also taking the franchise somewhere new.

07.) The Jungle Book (April 15)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 
Admittedly, Disney is 1 for 3 when it comes to their live-action remakes of their animated films, but last year’s Cinderella really showed me the beauty of revisiting and modernizing these properties. I trust Director Jon Favreau enough with the technology to deliver a beautiful, vibrant, and character-driven adventure film, much like I remember the original animation to be.  Even the voice cast is summing up to be great, with talents such as Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Giancarlo Esposito comprising the cast. There’s only a slight chance I won’t be in tears, singing along, when Murray starts singing “The Bare Necessities”.

06.) Suicide Squad (August 5)

Warner Bros. Pictures
Turns out waiting for that second trailer was worth putting off this list for. This looks like the most insane and most visually interesting comic book film we’ve gotten in a while. I feel like Director David Ayer is a good match to this film and DC’s overall aesthetic, because he can confidently tune in to punk and irreverent, as well as otherworldly realism without letting the “dark and seriousness” consume the film’s characters or narrative. The characters look weird. The action sequences look insane. And more importantly, the film looks fun.  With a film titled Suicide Squad, that’s all I could ever want.

05.) Midnight Special (March 18)

Warner Bros. Pictures
Writer/Director Jeff Nichols solidified himself as a filmmaker to look out for with his coming-of-age film about love, Mud. That film really hit with me, and I had no idea what I to expect. Now, we arrive at his next film, a sci-fi thriller that resembles the dark sci-fi films of the past. It sounds right up my alley. The film stars Joel Edgerton, the always compelling Adam Driver, and Michael Shannon as the protective father, which I find very interesting. This will probably end up being something special.

04.) Hail, Caesar! (February 5)

Universal Studios
The first and only Coen Brothers directed film I’ve seen is Inside Llewyn Davis, and that film is enough to get Hail, Caesar! in my top 10 most anticipated films of the year. The film itself, as depicted by the trailer, gets it in to the top four. The film looks like a stylish and hilarious romp through 1950s Hollywood, with a silly kidnapping plot as an added bonus. Also, George Clooney as a movie star playing a Roman, Scarlett Johansson as an actress playing a mermaid, and a Channing Tatum dance number as three more added bonuses. Even with the unlikely chance this film disappoints, I’d still pretty much give it credit for getting me to start on that Coen Brothers filmography.

03.) Everybody Wants Some (April 15)

Paramount Pictures
“Goodbye 70s… Hello 80s!” should be the tagline of Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. And coming off Before Midnight and Boyhood, there’s no way I’m not excited for the new Linklater. I just love the way he captures time and meaning with his loose narratives. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just check out Dazed and Confused and Boyhood. With the former being the more recommended one, because this film looks like an 80s version of that film. It looks like a joy to watch and a film I can’t wait to experience.

02.) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Force awakened, made money, and is now moving on to a spin-off film. Rogue One takes my number two spot not because it’s a Star Wars film, but because it’s a Gareth Edwards film. In case you missed it, Edwards hit some Spielberg-level high with the ending of his first feature film, Monsters, and he also made the best modern monster film with his Godzilla film back in 2014, so obviously, you give that guy a Star Wars film about rebels stealing the Death Star plans. Rogue One is going to be insane. Not only is that diverse cast exactly how I want an intergalactic operation to be portrayed, but they’re incredibly talented as well. I’m pretty intrigued to see some actual footage from the film, considering they have people from sci-fi films like Edge of Tomorrow and Jupiter Ascending, and war films like Zero Dark Thirty, Saving Private Ryan, and Black Hawk Down working on production. This is the Star Wars film to get down and dirty into the actual war part. Surprise me, Edwards.
01.)  The Nice Guys (May 20)

Warner Bros. Pictures
If you follow Audiences Everywhere (which you should), you’ll already know my most anticipated film of 2016 is Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. I’ve been looking forward to this after Black announced he’d be doing more movies after Iron Man 3. In some way, I’ve been programmed to look forward to this after I saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black is known for the two previously mentioned films, as well as Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Goodnight, and Last Boy Scout. This will be his third directorial feature, and hopefully, my next Christmas tradition. The film pairs the problematic duo of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling to solve a bigger-than-expected crime, as is the Shane Black way. The film looks wacky and insane, aka the Christmas gift I can’t wait to open.

All these films look like gifts I can’t wait to open. It’s months of waiting, but once I’m watching the films, I’ll be in total bliss delving into them.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My List of the Top 10 Films of 2015

This past year, I broke my record of the number of times I’ve watched a single movie in the cinema (which was previously three times). I’ve watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens five times in theaters. In its first 10 days of release, in fact. I’ve watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens five times in theaters and it isn’t even in my top 10 films of the year.

It could be a testament to how much of a really good year it was in film, or it could be a testament to #brand loyalty. I definitely see The Force Awakens as the former, but seeing that it came out in the last month of the year, I also choose to see it as a summation of the year in film. The Force Awakens, and a couple other films this year, excelled at picking up from where they left off in their filmography, and progressing further with something new. A few of the films in this list share that same attribute and so do a few other films not on this list. It’s exciting to think that in a few years, we’ll be looking back at 2015, and remembering it as a monumental year in film.

The Top 10 Films of 2015

Paramount Pictures
Director/Writer Christopher McQuarrie took Mission: Impossible to new heights with his continuously decreasing action sequence structure. It’s just amazing how the film starts off with its biggest action set piece then progresses with each action sequence getting smaller and smaller, with the momentum of the film never faltering. It’s an intricate blockbuster and an incredibly fun ride that makes for a really good double feature with Ghost Protocol, because of how different the two installments are.

20th Century Fox
This past year, I was thankful Ridley Scott took a break from dour films like Prometheus and Exodus: Gods & Kings to give us a bright and hopeful sci-fi film about human survival. The Martian is funny, gorgeous, and a completely satisfying movie-going experience. The film is supported wonderfully by its cast and even more so by its director, who delivers on his first great big-budgeted film in a while.

08.) The Mend

For a film about a deadbeat, The Mend has a lot of life. Director John Magary’s debut feature film is hilarious, sad, angry, dynamic, and ultimately about brothers and truth. Follow the incredible Josh Lucas and Stephen Plunkett on a film that’s like a rollercoaster, but with no slow build-ups, just a lot of impressionable downs. The editing of this film is majestic. There’s no way I’m not going to give myself time off to watch this again.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Pixar went back to basics to awaken the child in me. After years of teaching kids how to deal with emotions and life through animals, inanimate objects, and other non-human characters, they actually went and made a film that features emotions as the main characters that teach the audience how to handle emotions. The result is pretty spectacular. Characters that could’ve easily been one-note all took on so much life and meaning. They built a cute and vibrant world around the characters in a clever way. And the film completely nailed its silent, emotional gut-punches. The scene where Joy accepts sadness at the bottom of the Memory Dump was pretty much when I knew the movie would be at my Top 10 at the end of the year.

06.) Crimson Peak

Universal Pictures
Director Guillermo Del Toro has proven himself a creative genius willing to break the boundaries of genre filmmaking. Del Toro confidently challenges the horror genre with a dark romance that is atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful. It doesn’t have a shocking twist, it doesn’t follow the “build up, scare” structure, the story simply unfolds as it follows Del Toro’s vision. The set pieces take on a life of their own (sometimes literally) and the actors completely fade into the pageantry of the piece. It’s Del Toro channeling classic and foreign horror techniques, and with his firm handling of cinema in the director’s position, it’s a stand out horror film that should be remembered for quite some time.

05.) Clouds of Sils Maria

IFC Films
This is my Birdman. Clouds of Sils Maria is a perfect marriage between text and subtext, and boasts one of the most intelligent and thought-provoking screenplays presented this year. It completely succeeds at being a film about coping with age and the overtaking of the new generation, and all of its meta commentary, with the excellent use of perspective – both from the two main characters and the audience. It also has two stunning performances from Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, and even a really good performance from Chloe Grace Moretz. It definitely has loads to unpack on its first viewing, but further viewings and analysis has proven this one of the best films that 2015 had to offer.

04.) Room

A24 Films
Room is a bold, emotional exploration of the mother-son bond and the world a parent creates for their child. Writer of the film and the novel on which it was based on, Emma Donoghue crafts a sometimes tearful, but mostly uplifting coming-of-age drama that is accented beautifully by Lenny Abrahamson’s nuanced direction. The film also features two of the best performances of the year in Brie Larson, who is an absolute cinematic treasure, and Jacob Tremblay, a nine year old actor who has the perfect balance and command over his role that most adult actors dream of having. It’s set on a small scale, but it’s definitely one of the most breathtaking cinematic experiences I’ve had in 2015.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Most people think I’m joking when I say Magic Mike XXL is in my top five movies of 2015. I’m most certainly not. Magic Mike XXL is the definition of a “pleasure movie”, but where it differs from the likes of a Star Wars: The Force Awakens or a Kingsman: The Secret Service (films that aim to pleasure fans or audiences craving for a hyperviolent escape in cinema) is that it aims to serve the female audience. And that’s a film I can thoroughly get behind. Producer Steven Soderbergh and director Gregory Jacobs perfectly and intentionally deliver a no-conflict, road trip film that’s all about having fun. And the drivers never take their foot off 11, as the film is complete with spot-on comedic timing, insane dance numbers, and one of the best single scenes in movie this year. There’s nothing fundamentally different between this film and the other inventive and entertaining blockbusters I’ve put on this list, other than the dudes being healers instead of fighters.

02.) Creed

MGM Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
All I wanted to do was chant “Creed! Creed!” multiple times after watching this film. Director Ryan Coogler brings back the Rocky series after a nine-year resting period with a film that passes on the torch from Rocky Balboa to Adonis Creed. It solidifies itself as *the* boxing movie of the 2010s, as it incorporates the familiar “underdog” story utilized a lot in sports movies with the fresh perspective and unique sensibilities brought by Coogler. Also, this one of the films I mentioned earlier that shows respect for the legacy left behind by the old generation, while also showing willingness to progress further with new and relevant stories. That frame right there with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (who are both phenomenal in the film) perfectly captures that. I’ve never watched a single Rocky film, but I can’t help but feel that the way I feel for this film is how audiences felt for Rocky back in 1976.

Warner Bros. Pictures
The 80s had Die Hard. The 90s had Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The 2010s? Well, if you ask me, I’m going to say Mad Max: Fury Road. Director George Miller resurrected his 80s Austrailian, dystopian action series with a jolt of adrenaline mixed with gussoline, and I don’t think the action genre shall ever go back to the way it was (at least, from my point of view). Fury Road’s true genius lies not in its simplicity, but its ability to tell a complex, multi-layered story mostly through action and visuals. I’m always astounded that a blockbuster film in 2015 was able to tell a convincing romance story, a villain-turned-hero story, and a story about a man and a woman forming a genuine camaraderie to overthrow the patriarchy, all with only brief moments of exposition. It’s the type of filmmaking that makes me fall in love with the craft all over again. Plus, the gorgeous cinematography and color pallete, Miller’s use of practical effects, and Charlize Theron’s absolutely amazing performance as Furiosa make the film endlessly rewatchable. There was not one film in 2015 I deemed perfect… except for Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a perfect film. Witness.

That was my 2015. It was a pretty good year, and I can’t wait to see where I am when I look back at it with more age and new knowledge. It was a monumental year, one that will hopefully be remembered for ages to come.