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Best Heroes & Villains of 2016

THE SHALLOWS, THE WITCH, ZOOTOPIA, and more...

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Entries in Year in Review (195)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Halfway Mark: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (So Far)

Mainstream cinema is having a rough summer, qualitatively... but let's honor what mainstream cinema often does best, for this episode of the Halfway Mark Review. Which is to say the broad strokes of Good vs Evil.

Not that mainstream movies always ace this low bar, mind you: Marvel remains mostly terrible at crafting villains, Batman v Superman was so inept that it didn't even understand that you need heroes in superhero movies. X-Men Apocalypse was a crowded repetitive mess on either side of the good/bad divide. But enough about stinkers - happy thoughts:  BESTS! 

Heroes of the Year

• The Avengers (Chris Evans, Cast & FX Team) in Captain America: Civil War
Can't they all just get along? While it'd be silly to say that Civil War doesn't tell you which team to be on (Hint: it's in the title) it does offer up enough sympathetic furrowed brow angst when looking at Team Iron Man that it's easy to understand both sides of this argument. That's half the battle in the selling the film. The other half is staging the battles so that everyone survives but looks deeply affected by the blows, which it also does well. Black Panther and Spider-Man are wonderful new additions, and Black Widow again demonstrates that she's the swiftest, most asskicking, and consistently double sided tape that arguably holds these movies together. If only Captain America, Marvel's most successful comic-to-film translation, weren't having to fight for so much attention in his own damn franchise; Iron Man never had to that. 

Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in Gods of Egypt
What's that you say? 'Gods of Egypt is a terrible movie!' Why yes, Yes it is. But that doesn't mean I can't honor Nikolaj's well shaped silly/serious turn as a blinded God. He's one of only two actors who knows what kind of movie he's in (the other is Geoffrey Rush, even better with the heightened camp) and he's fun to watch, helping to make this a sort of enjoyable terrible movie insteaad of just a terrible movie.  

Zootopia, Warcraft, The Conjuring 2 and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun272016

Halfway Mark: Best Actors of 2016 (Thus Far)

Halfway Mark Festivities begin now! It's never too early to start thinking about year-end lists. If you keep a list all year long, you make better choices at year's end. Unlike The Academy we don't believe that the film year begins in October. So let's name the best male performances and achievements from the first half of the year.

Disclaimer: Notable films I missed that might have factored in to these categories but that I'll have to catch up with on DVD include 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Nice Guys.

NOTABLE MALE PERFORMANCES 
(January through June, 2016 - U.S. Theatrical Releases)

Best Leading Actor


  • Alfredo Castro as "Armando" in From Afar
    One of world cinema's most dependably unnerving actors but his performances are never copies. (He's also great in the predatory priests drama The Club also released this year)
  • Colin Farrell as "David" in The Lobster
    This underpraised actor continues to push himself when similarly famous stars would have long ago started coasting. Just wonderful as this lovelorn but surprisingly amoral sadsack
  • Jake Gyllenhaal as "Davis" in Demolition
    Can someone please start giving him films that can keep up with him? He's been on such a tear. Get him while he's at his peak!
  • Daniel Radcliffe as "Manny" in Swiss Army Man
    Though it's not much of a high-bar to proclaim this Harry Potter's best performance, that doesn't negate the compliment. Radcliffe does wonders with the weird constrictions of the role, never over or underplaying this corpse that talks, marvels, and learns and yearns for love
  • Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as "Cosmo" in Sing Street
    He's a major find, superbly charting Cosmo's growing confidence and musical passion.

Four more categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May282016

Best of May ICYMI

It's that time again to look back on the month that was. We're doing a little early to pretend that May is already over. T'was a difficult month for your host with writer's block that wouldn't quit (which is not a common malady at TFE HQ) but we thank you for your enthusiasms about all we do here. Here's a look back on key posts this month in case you missed any...

6 Personal Favs
Buster Crabbe's Loincloth on Tarzan the Fearless (1933)
Podcast: Truth or Dare a seminal text on celebrity culture. And...
Interview Jose's chat with the dancers from that same Madonna doc
Thelma & Louise relay revisit of one of the all time best flicks
10 Bad Girl Oscar Winners  -Kieran's list from Marylee Hadley to Nurse Ratched
Maddening Matte Painting - Daniel on Black Narcissus (1947) 

7 That Sparked Most Conversation
Best Actress an overdue narrative or fresh blood this year? 
The Tony Nominations Hamilton + Other Stuff
1994 Favorites Pulp Fiction, Three Colors: Red, Interview with a Vampire, and more
First Teaser Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 
First Teaser Beauty & The Beast 
Q&A Everybody Wants Some Drop Dead Gorgeous Editing
Cannes Actress - Sonia Braga & Kristen Stewart are buzzing 

Best of Nathaniel's Random Screenings, any type (with post links)
Best New Movie: Sing Street (2016)
Best Miniature Thing: "The Trolley Song"
Best Cameo: Spider-Man in Civil War
Sexiest: (tie) A Bigger Splash and Queen Margot
Funniest: Bobby's family in Café Society
Spookiest: Ryan Murphy's Feud could go so wrong

Congratulations are in Order!
Glenn has a new book about Cannes available to purchase - so do that. And Manuel completed his year long HBO LGBT series documenting all the ways that HBO has dramatized the LGBT lives, loves, and civil rights battles over the past few decades. He also got married this month!  

How was your May?

Coming in June:  New Movies: Finding Dory, The Fits, The Neon Demon, Genius, Swiss Army Man, Warcraft, and The Conjuring 2. Plus the Tony Awards and Emmy Award FYCs; Anniversaries to celebrate: Olivia de Havilland is about to turn 100, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 50, and The Devil Wears Prada 10 years old.

Any requests?  

Saturday
Apr302016

Best of April Watching ICYMI

We're mixing up the month-end ICYMI post to hopefully make it more enticing/interesting with random awards and different categories like so...

5 Most Discussed Posts
Current Stars Who Deserve an Oscar Nod - they've earned momentum
Q&A -Animals & late 80s/early 90s films
Posterized: Tom Hiddleston - where to post-Loki?
Posterized: Melissa McCarthy - she's having quite a career
Pfeiffer & Aronofsky - yup, they'll be working together 

5 Favorite Posts
Bob's Burgers & The Birds - Hitchcock references for the win 
The Furniture: The Force Awakens - that myth-making forest! 
Witness - So pleasurable to revisit this for the Best Shot roundup
Please Switch Off Your Phone - the actresses are actressing, for chrissakes 
April Showers Blue Valentine - oh I need to see this again

Best of Nathaniel's Random April Watching
Best Old Thing: Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (1957)
Best New Thing: The Fits (2016)
Best Actor: Ben Whishaw in The Crucible on Broadway
Best Actress: Geraldine Page in The Beguiled (1971)
Best Supporting Actor: Idris Elba in The Jungle Book 
Best Supporting Actress: Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2
Best Miniature Thing: Katya Zamolodchikova's I'm Not A Doctor
Best TV Episode: Drag Race S8.E8 "RuPaul Book Ball" (with Untucked)
Best Cameo: Scott Gill's penis in John Barrowman's live chat 
Cutest: Keanu in all the commercials for Keanu
Sexiest: Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise (runner up: Tyler Hoechlin, Everybody Wants Some !!)
Funniest: Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2
Spookiest: Lady Asaji Washizu and The Silent Chamber in Throne of Blood

Congratulations are in Order!
Jose was quoted in the ads for the fashion documentary The First Monday in May after his interview here! How about that?

 

Getting your first big pull quote on your birthday week = priceless #criticslife #thefirstmondayinmay #annawintour

A photo posted by Jose Solis (@josesolismayen) on Apr 13, 2016 at 4:31pm PDT

 

Ongoing conversations
Tribeca - Manuel & Jason celebrated the highs / warned us of the lows
Actor Month -Viggo, Willem, Matthias, Andrew, and many more
April Showers - Gone Girl, Sicario, Margaret, Law of Desire, Carrie, Pee Wee's Big Holiday

April Downers
If we hadn't lost Chus Lampreave, and Ronit Elkabetz and had to say Farewell to Prince it would have been much much better month. But sometimes it snows in April. (Runners Up: The steep steep quality decline for "The Flash" of late which is so much mopier and with the slowest storyline --Zoom & Earth 2-- imaginable for a show about super-speedsters. And, of course, that Snatch Game episode of RPDR.)

How was your April?

P.S. Yes, yes, I'm finishing up the April Foolish charts today. Only the acting categories remain.

Wednesday
Mar302016

March Highlights. April Sneak Peek.

The month began with final thoughts on last year's Oscars (yes, those were the 2015 Oscars no matter what search engines, IMDb, and the web say!) and the final podcast of the season. And then we bravely tried to forge ahead unmoored to any one topic, though we immediately lost our more fairweather readers. Damn you random people who aren't reading this!  Ah, well. They'll be back next season. 

MARCH HIGHLIGHTS
get caught up if you missed anything! 


Random March Highlights!
HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS and KRISHA acting showcases for older women 
GODS OF EGYPT and BATMAN v SUPERMAN bad movies: enjoyable & not
2016 CALENDAR a tentative list
MCCAMBRIDGE CENTENNIAL we had fun writing these!

Returning Series
POSTERIZED checked in w/ Sally Field & Saoirse Ronan. How familiar are you?
BEST SHOT hit Atonement (2007), and Daredevil (2016)
STAGE DOOR attended Broadway revivals The Color Purple & The King and I
TUES TOP TEN celebrated Zootopia and the Best Acting of this Decade 
Q & A returned with thoughts on superhero acting and the best of Australian cinema 

New Series!
THE FURNITURE a production design series launched w/ The Exorcist and Brooklyn
DOC CORNER new work celebrating Nora Ephron, and investigating abortion politics
READER'S CHOICE as you commanded: Gattaca and Cruel Intentions

COMING IN APRIL


APRIL FOOLISH OSCAR PREDICTIONS as we do
ACTOR MONTH A special detour to celebrate men (who get short shrift here, we know)
BEST SHOT SCHEDULE the more the merrier - join us!
APRIL SHOWERS shower scenes
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL coverage from Nathaniel, Manuel and Jason
NEW FILMS The Boss, Jungle Book, Demolition, Huntsman: Winter's War, Sing Street
REVISITS Crimes and Misdemeanors, Roman Holiday, Witness, Throne of Blood
AND MORE... to be announced

Thursday
Mar032016

That's a Wrap on the 88th. Post Index

We did it y'all. We made it through another film year. And with this we close the book on 2015 and join the now of 2016 already in progress. Here's the complete Oscar coverage in case you missed anything...

Arrivals Live Blog The Red Carpet (Nathaniel)
Oscar Night Live Blog the 88th Academy Awards (Nathaniel)
Shockeroos. The Big Surprises at the 88th (Chris)
Chris Rock's Hosting. The White Elephant in the Room (Kieran)
The Mad Six. Five Big Non-Best Picture Winning Films Including Fury Road (Glenn)
Biggest Losers. And Classics That Shared Their Fate (David)
Kohl's Commercials. What Oscar Speech Would You Lipsynch To? (Chris)
Great Photos From the Big Night: Todd & Muses, Brie & Man, Etcetera (Nathaniel)
Those Sound Montages. Well done, Producers (Daniel)
Musical Performances Review: The Weeknd, Gaga, Smith (Denny)
Neglected Song Nominees. We Make Times for Them (Chris)
How Jenny Beavan Won the Oscars. Rock on Costume Queen (Tim)
In Praise of Ex-Machina's Win. Visual Effects Goes Supporting! (Manuel)
Doll Sets. Every Lead & Supporting Actress Gown This Decade (Nathaniel)
The New Actor Hierarchy. Leo Joins the Top Twenty-Five (Nathaniel)
Oscar Ratings. Eight Year Low (Laurence)
Sexual Assault Survivors. Oscar's Unexpected Theme (Deborah)
Fashion Review. Top Ten Best Dressed (Jose)
Nerdy Oscar Trivia Pt 1 Acting/Directing (Nathaniel)
Nerdy Oscar Trivia Pt 2 Below the Line Wonders (Nathaniel)
What's Next For Our Oscar Winners? Brie, Alicia, Mark, and Leo Act On! (Josh)

We neglected to write about the Girl Scout Cookies, so here is a bundle for you to enjoy. To redeem your bundle visit The Film Experience daily in 2016, share it frequently on all social media platforms, become a monthly subscriber, comment on every post. Etcetera Do these bundles come in all Thin Mints sets because that's the best cookie. No arguments to the contrary will be heard.

Finally...
Now that Oscar is behind us, a gentle reminder that we passed out our own annual medals, too. Check out Nathaniel's gold silver and bronze medals in 40+ categories  if you missed it during the mad gold rush.

On to 2016! 

Saturday
Feb272016

Film Bitch Awards - Best Scenes of Multiple Kinds

We're nearly finished* with 2015 Film Bitch Awards, our own annual year in review yearbook/party and of imaginary Oscar ballot (well, half of it is that). Today the remainder of our Best Scene categories with six final scene categories. This group hands more nominations to films from the top ten list of course but for highlights to point out here on the blog before you click over, we're using films outside the top ten list. 

Obviously this page (and post) of awards contains mild spoilers so if you haven't seen the films and wish to stay pure, these are not the awards categories you're looking for. Here is one nominee I felt the need to gab about (maybe you will too?) from each category...

BEST KISS
While Creed was mostly ignored by the Academy, chances are its big box office (which significantly outgrossed Stallone's last two attempts are reigniting the franchise) will insure a big career for Michael B Jordan. Can Tessa Thompson hope for the same (it's always trickier for actresses of color)? They're wonderful together. Especially endearing is the scene in her apartment where Adonis makes up a godawful wrap and they end up collapsed on the floor, caught up in the moment. It's an upside down shot from above and they're something beautifully innocent and pure but also sexy about this kiss. (Later they'll bring the heat in a proper sex scene at Rocky's house. "but what about your Uncle?" / "He old!" Ha!)

SEX SCENE
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort By the Sea was mercilessly trashed upon arrival but this was always going to be its fate. The Jolie-Pitts are extremely mainstream-famous. And household name blockbuster stars that the public has longed to see paired again onscreen aren't supposed to reunite for an indulgent overly serious tribute to Euro art cinema of the 1970s. That's for the other kind of movie star, like the Julianne Moores and the Ryan Goslings of the world, whose filmographies are built on eclectic sensibilities and crisscrossing between the ittybitty and the giant. But By the Sea isn't without its moments. The best scene, repeated in different forms like a musical riff, is when the couple sits on the floor in their hotel room and shyly watches another younger couple (Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud) make love in the next room through a peephole. It's beautifully sympathetic and tragicomic, an estranged couple tiptoeing back to intimacy through surrogates.


OPENING SCENE
David O. Russell's Joy is an easy movie to quibble with. It often feels like five different movies that haven't reconciled themselves. This problem (?) is embedded right in its prologue which jumps from inside a stylized soap opera, to Diane Ladd's wonderfully expressive fable-like narration, and back to the soap opera but this time "outside" of it through a TV set, and into little Joy's bedroom where she makes a castle and theorizes about her possible superpower (maybe she doesn't need a Prince?). Ladd's Grandma guides us through this collision of styles and ideas with an expertly dropped line about Joy's creativity that doubles as a guide to how to watch and make ambitious movies.

The patience to figure it out."

Will Joy grow on us with time? Perhaps it might. Perhaps we quibbled too much. Perhaps Russell didn't have the patience to truly figure this one out but there's a lot to figure therein.

ENDING
Spotlight may have the most mellow finale we've ever nominated in this category but there's something about its sober work ethic and the core ensemble wide shot, with Walter "Robby" Robinson centered, that really lands emotionally and elevates the film. His phone rings and they all just return to work. Where they've always been.

Spotlight..."

CREDIT SEQUENCE
I've been disappointed these last few years that it's more and more common for films to have virtually no credits at the beginning and double up at the ending. So shout out to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which has great opening and closing credits. The opening credits would be spoiler-alert central if they didn't come at you so aggressively with machine-gun montage speed. The ending credits are even more stylish --both an homage to the TV show and film appropriate -- with action frames from the film outlined by the wicks of time bombs; this movie is a blast.

[Read more about these two sequences at The Art of the Title.] 

MISCELLANIA - A DOZEN FAVORITE SCENES
When writing about the Film Bitch Awards I often revisit a whole bunch of movies in clip forms, particularly the earlier releases that are blurry int he memory. Here we are at the end of the prize-giving and here comes Diary of a Teenage Girl and it suddenly looks just as good as everyone claimed it to be (I was previously in the admired but only admired camp). It was easy to turn certain movies off after checking the scene in question but I kept getting sucked into this film, as if it were the first time. One of the best moments is an animated interlude "The Making of Harlot" where a 'Beautiful Junior,' getting it on with Minnie, remarks upon her aggressive sexuality with something like judgment in his voice (though he's benefitting). Giant Minnie, holding him in her King Kong paw, turns away, with a single teardrop and casts him aside. True movie magic.

THE COMPLETE "BEST SCENES" CHART

* Only three categories left to announce (Limited Roles x2 & Line Readings). Can you believe we're actually going to finish this year before the Oscars**?! Wheeee. We'll announce those three categories plus all the Gold Silver and Bronze medals at some point in the next 24, ya dig?

** Okay technically I won't have finished, damnit. I never named the Animated Feature nominees (we only go 3-wide here) because I was trying to see Boy and The World before voting. So we'll be finished with everything but that category.