Thursday, March 9, 2017

10 Best Films of 2016

This a couple of months late, but I like to be thorough and see everything I think I need to.  So, here they are: The 10 Best Films of 2016.

So in descending order (as all lists should be) here are the top ten films of 2016.

10) Don't Breathe (Fede Alvarez)

09) Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)

08) Loving (Jeff Nichols)

07) Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)

06) The Greasy Strangler (Jim Hosking)

05) Sing Street (John Carney)

04) Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)

03) Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)

02) Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)

01) Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

And, of course, there are always a few honorable mentions.

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)

Deadpool (Tim Miller)

Lion (Garth Davis)

Tarzan (David Yates)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (David Yates)

Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi)

And now all my white friends can yell at me as much as they want for what I'm about to say: La La Land doesn't even come near the list, the honorable mentions, or anywhere close to a movie I will ever watch again.  

It was intolerable.

I hated this movie.

If you want to see a truly high musical, go and find "Sing Street."

Get Out by Jordan Peele - 2017

Comic Jordan Peele seems to have been hiding his talent for writing and directing with intensity and true horror while retaining a good deal of his smart-ass humor.

Aside from working solely as a work of entertainment, "Get Out" is arguably one of the most political horror films since George Romero's original "Dead" trilogy.

The first scene opens very like many others. In your slasher film, you'll find the first victim about to walk down a dank alley or open the door to a dilapidated, 'haunted' house' or down a dark hallway of an abandoned insane asylum all the teenage kids have decided to spend the night in.

Only this first victim is a black guy walking down a seemingly safe, residential, suburban street.  And before the audience can yell, "Hey don't go down there!" it's too late.

"Get Out" is the story of Chris, the black boyfriend and Rose, the white girlfriend who is taking her man to go meet her parents. Chris is nervous about how her family is going to react to him as their daughter's beau, considering he's black.

At first, Rose's family seems harmless enough, if condescending. Rose's dad even takes Chris aside to tell him how much he wanted to vote for Obama for a third term.  

Then small things pop up that just don't seem right and start to unsettle Chris.

When he's finally put in 'the sunken place,' he knows that something is rotten in Denmark and things go south from there. 

That's all I'm going to say about the plot.  I don't want to spoil anyone.  But the story is only part of the reason this film is so exceptional.

The film is really about the separation of races, not just geographically, but in points of view and how different races see America.

This is important at a time when our government is actively doing everything they can to separate us even further. This is a time when the HUD Secretary has said that the slaves who came to America in the bottom of slave ships were excited about opportunities in the new world, just like all immigrants.

But the film speaks to more than the politics of the day. Peele's running theme is that things between the races haven't been acceptable for a long damn time. It's not okay that people only claim they're not racist because they feel like they'll be shamed if their real beliefs surface. That's simply not good enough.

The truth is that white America has the notion that we fixed what was broken back during the civil rights era. And that just isn't so. Laws were changed and rights were grudgingly handed out, but that didn't really change the hearts of white America.
Now, I'm half German, a quarter Swedish and a quarter Norwegian, so I could not be any whiter. 

And I've been the only white face plenty of times at clubs, shows, movies and even a Black Literature class in college. And my family has lived in a neighborhood where we were the only white folk for a mile radius. So you'd think I'd be able to relate to what it feels like to be a minority, right? I mean, these experiences should tell me vividly how black people feel in a white environment, yes?  


White America, I'm talking to you now. We have no idea what it's like to really be a minority, especially a historically despised people like the Black Community.

There is no way we can fathom how that feels. We have no idea what it would be like to walk a mile in their shoes and nothing can change that. We'll never see the world through the eyes of a black man.

I've believed this for a long time, but after seeing "Get Out," I don't just believe it. I see it as an absolute, irrefutable truth. I'm adding it to the filter that is my worldview.

It's amazing how much Peele accomplishes with this film. He's telling us that rights and laws are fantastic, but until perception is changed, across the board, we're not assimilated yet.

And as a bonus, his warning comes in the form of one of the best crafted horror films in years. Peele is an artist who works on many levels and I am actually holding my breath to see what he does next.