Best of 2016

The Top 10 Movies of 2016

by Alan Rapp on January 5, 2017

in Top Tens & Lists

the-best-movies-of-2016

2016 may have lacked the one knockout film to top my list, but as a whole the year produced a number of quality movies adding a depth that made it difficult to cut down the list to a meager ten. Honorable mentions include animated features Kubo and the Two Strings and Finding Dory, Mel Gibson‘s divisive Hacksaw Ridge, and the bizarrely fascinating indie gems The Eyes of My Mother, Swiss Army Man, and The Neon Demon. Enough of what didn’t make the list, on to the Best Movies of 2016!

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Lion

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Lion
  • IMDb: link

LionOnly two films in 2016 offered a profound emotional reaction that forced me to tears. The first was a sobering documentary of an athlete struggling with the onset of an incurable and debilitating disease. Like Gleason, Lion has its basis in fact as director Garth Davis‘ film dramatizes the truth story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) and his long journey to find home.

Offering us two films for the price of one, Davis expertly balances two threads set in different locales with completely different casts. This is no easy task, yet the film weaves both together into a compelling narrative about a sense of self, home, and place in the world.

Starting in the country outside of Calcutta, we meet a young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) and his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate). Separated in the city from Guddu, Sarro narrowly escapes a terrible fate on the streets. Even with the help of authorities, the five-year-old can’t find his way back home and is eventually adopted by an Australian couple (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman) to be raised thousands of miles from his home.

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Gleason

by Alan Rapp on December 14, 2016

in Home Video

  • Title: Gleason
  • IMDb: link

Gleason DVD reviewOriginally intended as a video diary for Steve Gleason‘s unborn son, director Clay Tweel takes audiences along for the ride on the heart-wrenching journey of Gleason’s slow decline after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Going from a local football hero who helped rejuvenate the New Orleans Saints football team in the season following Hurricane Katrina to a man fighting to speak, move, and even breathe on his own is often difficult to watch. Refusing to give in, Gleason and his wife Michel continue to fight the incurable degenerative disease every step of the way including forming their own foundation to support others in need.

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Nocturnal Animals

by Alan Rapp on December 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Nocturnal Animals
  • IMDb: link

Nocturnal AnimalsFrom the unconventional opening credits to the crushing final scene, Nocturnal Animals is a tour-de-force you won’t be able to take you eyes off of. Using a story within a story to reveal the truth about his characters, writer/director Tom Ford delivers a taut psychological thriller involving art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) whose blasé hoity-toity life is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Shown in three interlocking tales, we are witness to Susan’s current timeline and marriage to husband number two (Armie Hammer), flashbacks of her marriage to Edward (Gyllenhaal), and the fictional tale which unfolds in brighter tones and more visceral glee than anything in her current life, rocking Susan to her core.

Of the three, it’s Edward’s manuscript which turns out to be the most impressive on film. Also casting Gyllenhaal as a husband and father whose family (Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber) is harassed and attacked late one night on a empty stretch of road in west Texas by a group of hoodlums (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo), we’re given a front-row seat to the tragic consequences of that night.

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Manchester by the Sea

by Alan Rapp on December 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Manchester by the Sea
  • IMDb: link

Manchester by the SeaWritten and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea is a simple story that provides surprising depth. Following the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), the less-reliable Lee (Casey Affleck) is given custody of his Joe’s teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) forcing him to leave his dreary life in Boston and return to the home he abandoned in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts years before.

Affleck and Lonergan thread a difficult needle here as Lee comes off as immediately unlikable, unreliable, and by all accounts the worst choice to be his nephew’s guardian, while still leaving the door open for our opinion to change as we learn more about his troubled past. It’s a good role for Affleck who knows just how to play the moody loneliness of the character while foreshadowing that there’s something far more complex going on with Lee under the surface. A stark contrast to his mopey uncle, Hedges is is a charismatic lightning bolt everyone seems to gravitate to (such as his multiple girlfriends who include Kara Hayward and Anna Baryshnikov). More together than Lee, most of the time it’s a little unclear who is taking care of who following his father’s death.

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