Why do I do my Top 10 lists of the year so late into the following year? Simple. I’m not a film critic that gets free tickets to sneak peaks or special DVDs to preview before the end of the year. So that means I’m limited to making my picks until months into the new year.
It took awhile because I had a lot of catching up to do in terms of movie watching. Boy did I have a lot to watch and boy was it hard to rank the Top 10 of the year. There were a lot of films I liked and it’s hard to rank them 1st to 10th. But it’s needed if you want to make a Top 10 list.
So without further ado, here are my Top 10 Films Of 2016:
- La La Land
- Manchester By The Sea
- Hidden Figures
- Hell Or High Water
- Kubo And The Two Strings
- The Salesman
- Hacksaw Ridge
And there you have it. My Top 10 films of 2016. For my past lists, just click on the links below:
The MTV Movie Awards have been a source of intrigue of mine for many years. Sure, I have an interest in the Oscar race and the Golden Globes but I like the MTVs as they would deliver surprising results. Even if I was disgusted with what won what category, it would still capture my intrigue.
This year is a new chapter in the awards. After 25 years, they are no longer giving awards to movies only. This time they are making their awards a mix of both movies and television. It’s a question of why. Some would say it’s because the Movie Awards in past years have been sagging in the ratings. Some would argue these are an awards that’s just there, without any legitimate relevance. Others would say that MTV having an awards for TV are long overdue. I admit I too thought there should be an MTV television awards many years ago consisting of categories of MTV shows and shows from other networks.
This year, there is a change in the way of doing things. For the first time, television shows and performances are included in an MTV awards show. However the awards are part of the movie awards; kind of like the Golden Globes. Unlike the Golden Globes which has all their movie and television categories separate, the MTVs have a mix of movie-only categories, TV-only categories and categories where movie and TV performances are mixed together. Those would be categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Hero and Best Comedic Performance. However some categories from the movie awards days had to be taken away like the Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Fight and Best WTF Moment. As for nominations, Get Out is the most-nominated film and Stranger Things is the most-nominated show.
Anyways here are the nominees for this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards. Categories where movie performances and TV performances are mixed together are marked with an asterisk:
MOVIE OF THE YEAR
- Beauty and the Beast
- Get Out
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- The Edge of Seventeen
BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE
- Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
- Emma Watson – Beauty and the Beast
- Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
- Hugh Jackman – Logan
- James McAvoy – Split
- Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
SHOW OF THE YEAR
- Game of Thrones
- Pretty Little Liars
- Stranger Things
- This Is Us
BEST ACTOR IN A SHOW
- Donald Glover – Atlanta
- Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
- Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
- Mandy Moore – This Is Us
- Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
- Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome – Moonlight
- Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling – La La Land
- Emma Watson and Dan Stevens – Beauty and the Beast
- Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard – Empire
- Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick – Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
- Allison Williams – Get Out
- Demogorgon – Stranger Things
- Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
- Wes Bentley – American Horror Story
- Ellen DeGeneres – The Ellen DeGeneres Show
- John Oliver – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
- RuPaul – RuPaul’s Drag Race
- Samantha Bee – Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
- Trevor Noah – The Daily Show
- I Am Not Your Negro
- O.J.: Made in America
- This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
- TIME: The Kalief Browder Story
BEST REALITY COMPETITION
- America’s Got Talent
- MasterChef Junior
- RuPaul’s Drag Race
- The Bachelor
- The Voice
BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE*
- Adam Devine – Workaholics
- Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson – Broad City
- Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
- Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy
- Seth Rogen – Sausage Party
- Will Arnett – The LEGO Batman Movie
- Felicity Jones – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Grant Gustin – The Flash
- Mike Colter – Luke Cage
- Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
- Stephen Amell – Arrow
- Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
- Game of Thrones – Hodor’s (Kristian Nairn) Death
- Grey’s Anatomy – Meredith tells her children about Derek’s death (Ellen Pompeo)
- Me Before You – Will (Sam Claflin) tells Louisa (Emilia Clarke) he can’t stay with her
- Moonlight – Paula (Naomie Harris) tells Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) that she loves him
- This Is Us – Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) at karate
- Chrissy Metz
- Daniel Kaluuya
- Issa Rae
- Riz Ahmed
- Yara Shahidi
- Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – The Voice
- Daniel Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
- Brian Tyree Henry and Lakeith Stanfield – Atlanta
- Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen – Logan
- Josh Gad and Luke Evans – Beauty and the Beast
- Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg – Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party
BEST AMERICAN STORY*
- Fresh Off the Boat
- Jane the Virgin
BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM*
- Get Out
- Hidden Figures
- Luke Cage
- Mr. Robot
Show will be held at the Shrine Auditorium on May 7th and hosted by Adam deVine who starred in two hit movies from last year. Remember this year is a trial year for this new format. It’s interesting to see how this will work out. It’s even possible MTV may add categories for other media forms in future years, like for video games or online movies or videos. We’ll have to wait and see.
I know I’ve done individual reviews of Best Picture nominees in the past. This year I thought I’d try something new. I thought I’d do summaries of the nominees. Three blogs analyzing three of the nominees. It’s something new this year and I hope you like it. For my first summary, I’ll be reviewing the first three Best Picture nominees I saw: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge and Moonlight.
When you learn Arrival is about aliens, I’m sure you have an idea of what you’d anticipate what a movie about aliens would be about. However, you’re in for a big surprise.
This is probably the first movie about aliens to earn a Best Picture nomination. The film appears to set up for a story that would most likely lead to big-time action sequences. Instead we get a film that’s very intellectual in dealing with aliens. Don’t forget Louise is a linguistics professor who was hired for this duty because of her language expertise. In this film, the focus is on communication. Louise has a way to communicate with the aliens and earn their trust even while those around her grow more hostile to the beings. Louise’s gift for communication goes beyond the aliens and she’s able to say to General Shang the words his late wife said to her. It’s like she has a sense for this.
Even with all this, the film is not just about aliens and preventing a human-alien war. The film is about Louise trying to heal after her daughter’s death. Her marriage is no more as well and she’s looking for her purpose. It’s even about Louise and her ability to foresee the future and the possibilities they can unfold. Louise is the central protagonist whom the whole story revolves around. She finds her true gifts at a time she least expects it and she’s able to find her life again. It’s almost like this alien invasion is like a godsend to her life. Right after her daughter dies, she learns of her purpose to the world and to others.
Denis Villeneuve did a top job of directing this film. He already has a reputation for films like Maelstrom, Incendies and Sicario. He’s also been hired to do the Blade Runner sequel. This film he directs is very tricky but he does all the right work for it. The script by Eric Heisserer is very smart and very deep. It does a very good job of getting the right moments of action and the right moments of drama pieced out.
The story also rested on the performance of Amy Adams. She knew the story was primarily about Louise and she had to make it work. Although the role didn’t have too much in terms of character development, her performance was solid and it held the story together. The supporting performers may not have had as big of roles but they still did well with their performances. Jeremy Renner definitely could have had more depth in his role. The music from Johann Johannson and Max Richter fit the movie perfectly. The visual effects were also excellent and just what the movie needed.
Arrival is a very intelligent movie. It’s an alien movie not like one you’d anticipate at first but you will leave the theatre pleased.
Mel Gibson is back. This time he has Hacksaw Ridge. It’s a war drama that’s about more than just the war.
This film makes for an interesting topic: conscientious objection. I know all about it. For years I went to a Protestant church where the people were known for their anti-war beliefs. Conscientious objection is something that’s bound to make one question their morals and even act out of hostility. I know that we have conservative pundits who insist that fighting in a war is the definition of patriotism and will even use scriptures to justify why was is the right thing. Upon release of this film, I was anticipating a conservative backlash against it. So far no ‘Diss The Doss’ movement has happened. No movement to have his Medal Of Honor posthumously revoked. Nothing. It’s a good thing because the film does make one reconsider what defines a ‘patriot.’ I’m glad this story was told.
One of the biggest complaints from conservatives in the last 40 years has been either the negative depictions of religion or lack of positive depictions of religion in movies. True, this is not the Hollywood where the Hays Code calls the shots. For those that read my review of Of Gods And Men, I have a quote from Barbara Nicolosi about why that’s the problem. That explains why it’s hard to get a pro-religion movie to compete for Best Picture nowadays. There’s a fine line of showing a film with a positive depiction of Christianity without it being schmaltzy, hokey or overly sentimental. Plus with all the ‘game changers’ in the last few decades, writing a winning script or creating a winning film is just that much of a challenge.
I feel they did a very good job in Hacksaw Ridge. It was a very good story of the persecution Desmond Doss had to face for his beliefs. It was a very gritty story of the war and all the damage it caused. Some say the graphicness was comparable to Saving Private Ryan. It was an honest portrayal about someone’s faith. However there was one point when I felt it was borderlining on hokey during the scenes of: “Please, Lord. Help me find one more.” I know that was something Doss said in real life but I’m just wondering if it could have been done better.
This film is the first film directed by Mel Gibson in a decade. I know he had to take a break as he had a very public meltdown with the things he said about others and problems with alcohol. You could rightfully call this film the redemption of Mel Gibson. He directs an excellent film that took a lot of effort to make. 14 years to be exact even while Doss himself was still alive going from one writer to the next until finally they had the right script and right story thanks to Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. Gibson and the writers did an excellent job with the film with the story and the depiction of war.
In addition, the story was made thanks to the performance of Andrew Garfield. This was more than just a war story. This was a story of a person’s heart and soul. Garfield knew he had to personify Doss in his convictions in order to make this story work. He did it excellently. It’s hard to pick out any supporting players who stood out. None of the roles of the supporting actors were as developed. However Teresa Palmer did a very good job as Dorothy Doss and portraying the concerned fiancee, as is Hugo Weaving as the father Tom Doss and Vince Vaughn as the hard Sargent Howell. The visual effects and the sound mixing were top notch, as it should be in a film like this. The score from Rupert Gregson-Williams fit the film excellently.
Hacksaw Ridge is a surprising film. Who would’ve thought that the best war movie in years would be about a man that didn’t fire a single bullet? Definitely a story worth telling.
At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.
This year’s surprise critical success is Moonlight. It’s a very unique film like no other seen this year.
The film is unique as it sets itself around three key periods in the life of Chiron. There’s his childhood where he’s known as Little, there’s his teenagehood where he’s simply known as Chiron and there’s his adulthood where he’s known as Black. The film does tell a story of a man who you think would die young. He has all the ingredients: gay, living in inner city Miami, a verbally-abusive mother addicted to crack, arrested at a young age and a future of being a pusher himself. Somehow he finds the will to survive. He’s able to withstand the bullying he faces for being gay, he’s able to decide his life to the best of his abilities without his mother. Often it’s not the best choices he makes in his life but he finds the ability to survive. You wonder how does he do that? Was it from that brief time with Juan and his mentoring? Was it the love from Kevin he always knew was there? I remember that scene of Little in the school dancing classes dancing like he was in 7th heaven: his escape from the bullying. Was it a spark within Chiron himself? Whatever the situation, it results in beauty at the end.
The film is not just about Chiron. As one can see, it showcases the lives of many different African-American people living in the inner city. It may show some of the more negative depictions like drug dealers, poverty and drug addicts but it also shows positive images too like in the case of Juan and his girlfriend or even in music being played. It showcases some surprising things as well as how Juan the pusher can be a very smart man. It even dispels some myths we have of inner city people. Like how Juan was good at handling Chiron’s homosexuality and gave him words of comfort while Paula acted out in hostility. Usually you’d expect ‘gangstas’ to have a homophobic attitude. It showcases what it’s like to be black and gay in the inner city. It also showcases people’s insecurities. It is overall one man’s attempt to find himself in the harsh world that he lives in. Yet despite all its harshness, it becomes something beautiful in the end.
The film is a triumph for Barry Jenkins. This is actually his second feature as a director. His first film, 2008’s Medicine For Melancholy, won a lot of attention and even earned him many directorial debut awards. Moonlight is only his second feature. This film which he adapts a script from a drama school project from Tarell McCraney is a masterpiece in both the story and its direction. The script is also excellent that there is not too much dialogue but is able to say lots even in the silent parts. Another quality of the film; it says a lot while saying very little. Overall the film is a real delight to watch and leaves one wondering what Jenkins will have next.
The three actors who portrayed Chiron– Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes- all did a very good job with the role and portraying him at the right ages. Mahershala Ali was excellent as Juan: the pusher who becomes a mentor to little Chiron for that brief period of time. Ali had to bring the right charisma and character for a role like Juan to work not just in his scenes but to have an influence throughout the whole film. He did a stellar job. Also excellent was Naomie Harris. Possibly the one actor or actress to be a part of all three scenes, Harris was excellent as the drug-addicted mother Paula. She had to go through three stages with her role from a simple crack user to a crack addict to recovering in rehab. Each time she had to give her role dimension and inner depth to keep it from being cardboard. She did excellent too. There were additional supporting roles that were also good like Janelle Monae as Teresa and Andre Holland as the adult Kevin.
The technical bits were also excellent. The film was edited very well, the cinematography from James Laxton was possibly the best of the year. The score from Nicholas Britell was excellent but the inclusion of track music from classical to Latin to funk to hip-hop to Aretha Franklin to Motown really added to the feel of the movie. Almost feels like an anthology. In fact that scene when Kevin sees Chiron (as Black) after so many years and plays the classic Hello Stranger is one of the best scenes of the film.
Moonlight is a story of a young black man coming of age in the big city but it’s a lot more too. Those who’ve seen it will know why this film is a masterpiece.
And there’s the first of my Best Picture summaries for this year. Next one coming up in a few days.