Sunday, February 26, 2017

2016 Top Ten Films.... Lofgie Time!

The Lofgies are a special award I give to my ten favorite films of the year. These are the films that moved me and stuck with me. They expanded my world and gave me something to chew on. (Please note, I've listed them in alphabetical order).


10 Cloverfield Lane


10 Cloverfield Lane took me by surprise. It was getting great buzz, so I gave it a chance and ended up enjoying it far more than anticipated. What helped was an excellent performance by John Goodman, who can go from terrifying to endearing before my heart has a chance to slow down. The movie takes a twisty path, but the turns are based on real, human psychology and not cheap shocks or scares. The tension is real and, though I know some found them to be a point of contention, the sci-fi elements worked for me.


Arrival


These are exciting times for film buffs who love science fiction. We're getting so many different flavors and angles, it almost makes me excited for the actual future. Arrival won me over based on the nerdy, process-based approach it took to its central dilemma. The emotion in the film is affecting, but what makes everything work is the satisfying process of unwinding the puzzle, as well as the excellent cinematography and acting. Though I left the film with one big disappointment (no spoilers), I was still moved and excited by everything I'd witnessed.


Don't Think Twice


Performing artists in their 30s will identify with much of this film. I certainly did, finding much that was familiar, much that hurt and much that made me laugh. The cast has great chemistry, creating an interesting group dynamic, and the film's style is light, natural and engrossing. Since Don't Think Twice is set in the world of improvisational comedy, I expected the laughs to come quicker and cheaper, but instead they were wry, thoughtful and inescapably human.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople


There's a touch of Anne of Green Gables in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, where a foster kid with a  talent for rebellion slowly forges a bond with the displeased older man who finds himself in the role of caretaker, a bigger task than anyone could have imagined. It's a funny and thoughtful film, with plenty of adventure and beautiful shots of the New Zealand bush. Rhys Darby also makes an appearance, which pushes the overall hilarity up several notches.


Kubo and the Two Strings


Laika, the production company behind Kubo and the Two Strings, is developing quite the reputation for gorgeous and challenging children's movies. This film is no different. Kubo and the Two Strings is filled with action and adventure, but at the heart of the plot is the bond between family. It's beautiful and funny, but one of the movie's strongest points is its assertion that victories are won not through strength, but because of courage, love and artistry.


The Lobster


The Lobster is very strange. This must be acknowledged before anything else is acknowledged. This is a strange movie and you will not always understand what is happening or why it is happening. Though, you might laugh and occasionally cringe. Ultimately, The Lobster is an exploration of how we are shaped by social norms and rules, how our actual physical presence on this earth gets battered down to fit into the correct size hole, especially in regards to romantic relationships. Highly recommended if normal Hollywood fare is getting a little too predictable for you.


Moonlight


Moonlight is a beautifully shot and scored ode to the troubled process of growing up when you never quite fit into your world or feel comfortable in your skin. It follows Chiron, an awkward and quiet kid, through three different stages of his life. In each stage, he navigates the expectations of who he's supposed to be, the dangers of who he really is and the relentless hunger for validation and love. It's a film that is gentle and harsh, quiet and angry, but ultimately hopeful.


Paterson


Paterson is consumed with patterns. It shows us the world from its main character's point of view, a man named Paterson who drives busses in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. He makes connection after connection between moments and themes, processing everything and writing it down in a private notebook. It seems a simple film, until you attempt to write a simple review that reflects the humility of it and realize how many lovely little moments of truth and beauty it contains.


Sing Street


This one's for all the rebels and the nerds, as well as anyone who has dreamed of starting a rock band and becoming awesome. Sing Street is set in the Dublin of the 80s, where the big dreams of its young misfits are set against a world that doesn't give them much reason to hope. The movie's pulse is in its music, which fits perfectly with the ambitions of the characters. Its strength is in its message: Don't hold back.


Train to Busan


Train to Busan boasts a straightforward formula: train + zombies = wow. It does it with flair. The zombies are hardcore, the effects are dazzling, the characters are sympathetic, and the overall effect is something that will make you hold tight to your chair. As with the best zombie movies, Train to Busan is also a study of how people choose to react in the worst of situations and whether fear drives them to take their places with the monsters, or rise above their circumstances.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Everybody Wants Some!!
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land 
  • Manchester By The Sea 
  • Silence


At the time of this entry I haven't seen: A Bigger Splash, Elle, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, The Witch 

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