2016 has come to a close and while a number of anticipated Summer blockbusters might have flopped, I think that this has still overall been an excellent year for movies. Smaller films like Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight have done well at the indie box office while Damien Chazelle’s La La Land appears to be on course to break some box office records and could easily dance its way to future glory. And while I hope to be able to get a Top 10 of 2016 list up as soon as I can, before the year ends here are the 50 films that I am most looking forward to for 2017. While I have my own particular sense of taste I hope that there are plenty of movies across a wide range of genres and sizes that everyone can look forward to for the coming year. Starting with number 50:
When my dad asked me a couple of weeks ago which I thought was better, La La Land or Singin’ in the Rain, I told him that I didn’t know cause I’d never seen Singin’ in the Rain before. We decided to watch it together and it helped me truly understand why the film is deemed by so many as not only one of the great movie musicals but one of the great movies to come out of Hollywood. I’ve let it stir in my mind a little and after watching a video last night that said that Justin Hurwitz, the composer for the music in La La Land had said music recorded on the same sound stage that was used for this movie, and the passing of its star Debbie Reynolds, I felt the need to put my thoughts on paper, so to speak. What’s so interesting is that while the two films are deeply connected through references, ideas, and structure, La La Land is truly full of original music while Singin’ in the Rain was formed from a number of older songs that MGM already owned and decided to bring back. The result was a film that came out in 1952 but was set in the late 1920s at the time when motion pictures were transitioning to sound.
Great news for fans of Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle, the two are set to reunite for a new film called First Man about Neil Armstrong and based off of a book of the same name by James Hansen. The film will be the pair’s second after this year’s wonderful musical La La Land which found both working at the top of their game. First Man is set to be written by Josh Singer, who co-wrote the award-winning script to last year’s Best Picture-winning film Spotlight along with Tom McCarthy. The film is being produced by Universal Pictures and will be begin shooting in early 2017, and little else is known. The book, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong was released in 2005 to warm critical reception for its detailed and insightful look into the mind of one of America’s most iconic 20th century heroes. This is definitely a film to look forward to and an interesting step forward for director Damien Chazelle. Find out more from Variety here.
As the year draws to a close we’re getting closer and closer to the Academy Awards nominations, which will be announced the morning of January 24th, 2017. So with that said I would like to finish up major Oscar predictions before then and also hopefully turn out a round of Golden Globe predictions prior to their ceremony on January 8th. Best Supporting Actor has been a tough category to predict so far this year with a lack of a coherent frontrunner until somewhat recently. It’ll be a bit easier to call this now thanks to the recent slew of Critic’s Circle awards being handed out for the past month and the Screen Actors Guild nominations that were released earlier this month. Those awards usually serve as a strong predictor of the Oscar category or at least someone who we can identify as a potential frontrunner for the time being. That being said I won’t have to discern between movies that have or are yet to be seen so that makes this post somewhat easier.
Just like with Moonlight, I saw this movie over a month ago but am only reviewing it now due to time constraints. Nonetheless, like Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea has remained in my memory not as much with the haunting imagery, beautiful music, and perfect composition of Moonlight, but thanks to equally-stellar acting, fully-drawn characters, and an excellent script by writer-director Kenneth Lonergan. Much like with Moonlight, I had never heard of the writer-director until this film jumped wholeheartedly into the spotlight after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Now having arrived in many local theaters after a November 18th limited release, I am fortunate enough to say that it is a grueling experience to watch but a wholly rewarding one that surprised me with its humor and its humanity.
Moonlight is adapted from a never-produced play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the chair of playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. Why the play wasn’t produced I am not sure, nor at this point do I care to know. All I can say is that I am glad that it wasn’t so that there is nothing I can compare it to in the way that people often do when a produced play is adapted for the screen like 2013’s August: Osage County. I am even more glad because what is put to screen is one of the most delicately crafted, well-made, and subtle works of film that I have seen all year, if not ever. Whatever material was left in the stage play I can say ought to be disregarded, as what’s left is as brilliant, as deep, and as purposeful as any work of stage or screen can hope to be.