Joe’s Top Films of 2016: 11-20

By Josiah Wampfler

20. OJ: Made in America

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OJ: Made in America was the last edition to my list. It is a five-part, nearly 8 hour long documentary that aired on ESPN, so as you may imagine, there was plenty of debate around whether or not it qualifies as a film or TV series. In the end though, ESPN put it into the theaters to qualify for the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has named it an Oscar nominated film, so I figured it was safe to put it on the list.

Directed by Ezra Edelman, OJ: Made in America is one of the most meticulously researched and complex documentaries ever made. It covers not only the famous trial of OJ Simpson, but also his rise to fame, the racial climate in which he came to stardom, and how that climate ended up impacting the trial itself, American culture and OJ’s life after the trial. And like some of the other films on this list, even though it is a film about a different time and place, it is an extremely prescient work that speaks to many of the same issues we are facing today. OJ: Made in America is long, but it is engaging, fascinating and extremely worth that time.

19. I Am Not Your Negro

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“The story of the negro in America, is the story of America… It is not a pretty story.”

If there is a quote that perfectly sums up what Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro it is this one. Based on an unfinished manuscript by prolific writer James Baldwin entitled “Remember This House,” I Am Not Your Negro is a powerfully personal documentary. Throughout its runtime, Peck uses only Baldwin’s own words, both from the manuscript and from his other works as he reflects on the lives of three Civil Rights leaders (Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.), discusses the root causes of racism in his time, considers the effects of racism on the oppressed and even engages in a bit of film criticism relating  to therepresentation of African-Americans on screen.

I Am Not Your Negro, narrated beautifully by an unrecognizable Samuel L. Jackson, is a film that is supposed to make you uncomfortable, like Baldwin did in his own time. Yet, what makes it all the more uncomfortable is how true Baldwin’s words still ring today. And Peck highlights this as he uses both archival footage from Baldwin’s time and images from recent incidents of police violence against African-Americans and the protests that resulted. It is as if Baldwin is speaking directly to this new generation in 2017.

But, what makes I Am Not Your Negro truly powerful is that, in Baldwin’s reflection on these three Civil Rights leaders who had very different strategies and styles, he never hails one as the correct one. I Am Not Your Negro is not about what African-Americans can do better in their messaging or anything like that. As the title suggests, the film is speaking directly to America as a whole and the white population specifically. Toward the end of the film, Baldwin crystallizes this thesis in a statement, calling for the white population to ask itself “Why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place.” He continues, “Because I’m not a nigger. I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nigger, then you need it. And you have to find out why.” Baldwin’s words, though meant for an earlier audience ring far too true today as he calls for a moment of national self-reflection I think we still clearly need.

18. Don’t Breathe

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I have a whole review for Don’t Breathe that you can check out here, so I’ll keep this brief.

Don’t Breathe is one of the most intense theatrical experiences I’ve ever had. My heart was racing the whole way through and was still going miles away from the theater as I raced home. It is a tightly constructed thriller that knows the meaning of planting and payoff. It has a stellar villain played by Stephen Lang and a great pair of actors in the leads. And, the cinematography is simply stunning. If you are down for an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride, then check out Don’t Breathe.

17. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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From the very first frame of 10 Cloverfield Lane I knew I was in for something spectacular. The film starts completely wordless, Bear McCreary’s dread-inducing score underneath as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle races around her apartment packing her things and driving away. Then, suddenly, the car crash with the film’s credits inter-cut within the deafening carnage. This is the moment I was introduced to the confidence of director Dan Tracthenberg.

10 Cloverfield Lane is like a masterclass for how to make a thriller. Throughout the film, Trachtenberg plays the audience’s expectations and emotions like a fiddle. From his terrifying introduction, we are never totally sure of John Goodman’s Howard, and that is completely by design. Just as Michelle, and Emmett (John Gallgher Jr.) to some degree, we are trying to read Howard’s true intentions and whether he is telling the truth. And even if you know of the Cloverfield alien connection, you still aren’t entirely sure. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire film.

Combine that with incredible performances by the cast (Goodman’s is downright Oscar-worthy), an insanely good score (see our top scores of 2016!), wonderfully inventive cinematography in a tight space and an insane final act and you have yourself an incredible thriller. If this is how all the new Clover-verse films are going to be, please take my money now!

16. Loving

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Loving is one of the most beautiful films of the year. Its cinematography is not overly impressive, its score is subtle, but it is the characters and how the film treats those characters that is so beautiful. The story of the couple behind one of the most well-known Supreme Court cases in the United States is told not through a procedural courtroom drama, but as a humanistic tale of love, family and struggle. Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving are given their full humanity in this film.  The court case to end the miscegenation laws to which they were subjected takes a back seat to the true focus of the film: their love.

The film is completely carried by the performances of Edgerton and Negga and excels because of their quiet chemistry. Richard is a man of few words, yet Edgerton gives him a full emotional arc throughout the film by taking advantage of every look and gesture. Mildred is also quite reserved, but Negga gives her an incredible strength and a positive outlook that is simply infectious. Watching these two simply lay together on a couch is a pure delight, which is also what makes every injustice they face all the more heartbreaking and terrible.

Under Jeff Nichols direction, Loving is able to take incredible performances and give them a deserved home. Though the film is very different from his previous work in many ways, there is the same sense of anxiety hanging over his characters as they disobey the law of the land just by loving each other. And, growing up in the same type of southern town the film is set, Nichols has a very interesting perspective on racism that lends itself to the film. This is not a black and white journey of heroes and villains, but a complex tale about a simple couple just trying to love each other the best they could. It is this combination of simplicity and complexity that makes Loving such a joy to witness.

 

Jake’s Top Films of 2016: 11-20

By Jacob Wampfler

20. Morris from America

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Some film critics might wonder if we really need more “coming of age” films.  I’ve wondered the same thing myself.  If new “coming of age” films achieve the originality of Morris from America, however, the sub-genre will be vibrant and full of life for years to come.

Director Chad Hartigan deftly handles touchy subjects in this refreshing tale of the “only two brothers in Heidelberg.”  Racial identity, racism, young sexuality, and father/son relationships are all carefully balanced amid the flow of seriously great rap tunes.  The music, itself, is a character in the film.  Morris (Markees Christmas) wants to be a rapper, an OG, but his father reminds him that originality only comes from the heart.  Curtis (in a career-best performance from Craig Robinson) explains to Morris that you can’t rap about what you haven’t done.  It’s a universal message for all of us to hear, and it makes Morris from America a heartfelt and poignant film for anyone to watch and love.

19. The Lobster

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No amount of words can explain the complexity and absurdity of The Lobster.  It’s a sci-fi film with no special effects and no aliens.  It’s a love story by way of a scathing critique of human relationships and commitment.  It’s also a vehicle for two of the most interesting performances I have ever seen from both Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as David and the shortsighted woman he loves from afar.  They are deadpan, monotone, and clueless, and they illustrate the film’s themes beautifully.  Yorgos Lanthimos and his script-writing partner also deserve recognition for creating the detailed world in which this film takes place.  Make no mistake, The Lobster is set in a dystopian future where singleness is outlawed.  It’s a brutal reminder of how societal norms can create outcasts, and it stands as one of the most unique film experiences of last year.   

18. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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10 Cloverfield Lane set the bar high in staggering fashion for all thrillers that followed in 2016.  Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut finds him already a deft talent as he brings a fresh voice to this well-worn genre.  John Goodman is scary good as the man-in-the-bunker, Howard.  The viewer is always set on edge due to his ambiguous portrayal of either a very well-prepared Navy vet or a raging sociopath.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is given her biggest role to date in this film, and she does not disappoint.  I’ve seen her in multiple indie films, and I am supremely glad that she’s finally broken into the mainstream.  10 Cloverfield Lane is tense, chilling, and surprisingly thoughtful.  As such, it’s one of the best thrillers of last year.

17. Captain Fantastic

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Captain Fantastic is one of the most unique entries of cinema from 2016.  It functions on a variety of levels – part family drama, part social commentary, part comedy – it’s hard to pin down precisely where this film fits.  It’s for these reasons that Captain Fantastic astonished me to no end and left a lasting impression on me when recalling the great films of last year.

The ensemble cast alone stands as a perfect testament to this film’s strength, anchored by a deeply committed performance from Viggo Mortensen as the family patriarch, Ben Cash.  He’s a fanatic and a recluse, and he raises his family as such.  However, Mortensen never plays this as a caricature.  There is striking nuance in this film, with the entire Cash clan.  At times you truly see things from their perspective.  At other times, you think they all might be more than just a little crazy.  Director Matt Ross delivered a great film with Captain Fantastic and I eagerly await his future projects.

16. La La Land

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Last year was the year that shattered what I thought I knew about myself and film.  Animation and musicals are not what I would call  fun movie experiences in many respects.  Musicals especially are loathsome affairs for me, and it was no secret that I wasn’t giddy with joy to see La La Land.  As I watched, however, I was blown away.  Had I been wrong about musicals all along?

What drew me into to La La Land was it’s attention to filmmaking detail.  I loved Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, and his second outing sees him honing his craft further.  The one shots, the sweeping landscapes, and the dazzling colors all drew me in.  I even learned what a “whip pan” camera shot was after seeing this film! Chazelle is a director who clearly loves to create.  He wants to take the filmgoer on a journey, and he achieves that vision with precision and excellence.  Add some pretty great music on top of all that and you’ve got a film that will win some awards at the end of February.

Sam’s Top 20 Films of 2016: 11-20

By Sam Wampfler

20. Silence

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Silence is the crowning achievement of Martin Scorsese’s impressive career. It is a visual masterpiece and every scene of this film is breathtaking. Andrew Garfield is also at the top of his game as the main Jesuit priest, Rodrigues. His struggles throughout the film with pride are heartbreaking.

One of the most inspired choices in the film is the almost complete lack of a score. It adds to the already tense mood and elevates the incredible dialogue, the best of which coming from Issei Ogata as the Inquisitor and Tadanobu Adani as the Interpreter. The way they both work to manipulate Garfield’s Rodrigues is hard to watch at times, but so entrancing. This is not a film I will probably ever watch again, but is an experience that I think everyone should have.

19. Southside With You

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The presidential election was depressing and I definitely needed something to get my mind off of the results: Enter Southside With You. This film was delightful. It is a wonderful look into the first date of the Obamas that was so much more entertaining than I was expecting. It is particularly interesting because it shows the events of their date but also delves into their early political ideals and work in community planning. Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyer do an excellent job of portraying the future presidential couple. The way they transformed their voices was impressive and completely spot-on. This film may not be anything super innovative, but every second of it is lovely and supremely entertaining.

18. Kubo and the Two Strings

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The first thing I noticed about Kubo and the Two Strings was it’s beautiful animation. Every strand of hair and every drop of water is animated so precisely; a truly impressive feat. The story is interesting and very unique and the voice actors do a wonderful job of expressing a vast array of emotion. Some of the voice actors, specifically Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron, transform their voices so well that I didn’t know until the credits that they were the ones portraying their characters. Art Parkinson as Kubo is extremely impressive for such a young voice actor. I always find it impressive when young actors portray such complex characters with only the use of their voice. Overall, this was a wonderful film that brought a surprisingly rich and beautiful world to life.

17. Jackie

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Jackie is a stunning and beautiful film. The cinematography in this film is simply a wonder to behold. One of my favorite scenes, which seems so simple, is a scene of Jackie walking through the White House trying on different dresses and looking through different rooms. Through interesting camera angles and some intense close-ups of Jackie this scene becomes a work of art and also benefits from the filmmaker’s choice of music. They perfectly pair it with music from the musical Camelot which not only enhances the scene, but also reflects the overall themes of the film.

Natalie Portman gives the best performance of her career as the titular Jackie. She completely embodies the character down to the way she carries herself and her flawless recreation of the first lady’s accent. Her performance truly elevates this film to a new level.

16. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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I am so glad we continue to get great Star Wars films. Rogue One, while not as high on my list as The Force Awakens, is still an amazing addition to a film series that I have always loved. It has one of the best ensemble casts of the franchise, with the obvious standout performance of Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso.  She continues the new Star Wars trend of strong female leads, which I think brings new direction and character to an already great franchise.

The special effects and cinematography in this film are simply stunning. There are shots in this film of the Death Star and other Empire ships that are awe-inspiring. The battle scenes, both on land and in space, are well thought out and perfectly executed.

 

Top Five Film Scores of 2016

Music is one of the last things added to a film during the post production process. Everything else needs to be in place in order for the composer to line up their score with the visuals and other sounds. In this way, it kind of appears to be the cherry on top, and in many films (*cough* Marvel *cough*) the score is pretty negligible. It simply does its job. But great scores do much more than that. They are both the cherry and the chocolate syrup, both adding their own things as a bonus to the film but also making the rest of the film better.

Last year was another great year in film scoring as composers strove to push the possibilities forward by subverting expectations of their genres and using new and innovative techniques in their music. Continuing our look back at the best aspects of 2016, here are the Cinema Bros Top Five Film Scores of last year:


5.   Deadpool

Original Music By: Tom Holkenborg AKA Junkie XL

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— Zach Fisher —

Junkie XL turns some 80’s synth into extreme gold, and I have to say it’s wonderful. The score connects you to what is happening on screen so brilliantly, that you may actually forget it is playing in the background. Yet at the same time, it gives you the exact amount of sound to feel something with it going on. It’s also nice to see a use of full orchestra for some of the scenes with the bold Colossus, and the ever so angsty Negasonic Teenage Warhead, giving them the full range of the epicness of the X-men films while still remaining within the realm of Deadpool’s ridiculousness. I absolutely love the insanity that mixes with intense joy and emotion throughout this entire film’s beautiful score.

4.   Doctor Strange

Original Music By: Michael Giacchino

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— A.J. Hakari —

Anything combining harpsichords and sitars earns an instant place in my heart. Just as Marvel’s latest production was their most mystical and arguably riskiest (in terms of story and world-building) to date, so did Michael Giacchino’s store complement its trippy vibe. The scores for Marvel’s blockbusters have been widely criticized as being forgettable, but this isn’t the case with Doctor Strange, whose musical accompaniment (led by a spiffy main theme) is appropriately adventurous, odd, and memorable as can be.

3.   10 Cloverfield Lane

Original Music By: Bear McCreary

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— Sam —

The score of 10 Cloverfield Lane is basically one the first stars of the film. The entire first scene is shot with almost no dialogue. Throughout this scene the score becomes its own character, letting us know exactly what the main character, Michelle, is going through and helping to layout the overall tone of the film.

One of the main highlights of this score is its use of strings. I didn’t realize how creepy all octaves of strings can be until I re-watched this film. The high-pitched frantic ring of the violin is perfectly paired with the more fast paced and heart-wrenching scenes while the lower guttural reverberations of the cello and bass are used to further the ominous tones of more low-key and slower burning scenes that still seem to deliver the same amount of abject horror.

This score is one of the best that I have ever heard attached to a horror movie. It escalates at the best moments. It accompanies the character’s speech perfectly. When a character is in the middle of a long rant you can hear the score slowly escalate with them throughout. And it parallels the dialogue so well that it seems like the composer, Bear McCreary, was writing his score as they were writing the script for the film. It is just as intense and fulfilling as the movie it accompanies.

2.   Moonlight

Original Music By: Nicholas Britell

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— Joe —

Though there were many incredible scores in 2016, Nicholas Britell’s score for Moonlight may be the most poetic and innovative. The choice to set this beautiful story of a black boy growing up in difficult circumstances against an equally beautiful classical-type score was inspired. The choice to then apply the same “chopped and screwed” techniques that have been used in southern hip hop was simply brilliant.

Chopped and screwed refers to a technique in which hip hop beats and songs are slowed and pitched down. Not only does Moonlight contain a chopped and screwed version of a hip hop song, but Nicholas Britell did it with his own score. Since the film tells of three different points in the main character’s life, he needed a distinctive theme for each version of the boy. The first version, “Little’s Theme” is a wonderful classical piece with a sluggish piano and a soft violin that mournfully echoes the piano. But then, when we move to “Chiron’s Theme” this same composition has been chopped and screwed to create a slightly haunting version of the first theme (Britell even slows and pitches it down more during a particularly dark moment in the film). And finally, when we get to the third part of the film, “Black’s Theme” is another variation on “Little’s Theme,” but this time we get an all cello version that is again chopped and screwed. This one is one of the darkest and most full-bodied, perfectly echoing both the mental and physical state of Chiron at this stage in his life.

It is choices like these that make this score pure poetry and it is one of the few films that I can truly say would be worse with any other score. It perfectly captures the feelings of the film, while also not trying to completely force the emotions of every scene on the audience. And, another thing I love in a score, it both completely supports the film itself, yet also works on its own as an album. Because of this, it is a score I will be listening to for a long time.

1.   Arrival

Original Music By: Jóhann Jóhansson

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— Jake —

Jóhann Jóhansson is quickly becoming a master at composing film scores.  His previous work on Prisoners and Sicario (both with director Denis Villeneuve) showed a superlative grasp on how to build suspense with music.  String-laden and ominous, his work becomes an essential component in any of the films in which it is featured and Arrival is no exception.

Throughout Arrival, the viewer (and listener) is taken on a journey wholly aided by Jóhansson’s deft use of bombastic highs and near-silent lows.  When the score swells to massive levels, the viewer is left stunned by what they are witnessing on-screen.  An example of this is “First Encounter” in which Louise Banks (Amy Adams) sees the extra-terrestrial visitors for the first time.  When the score falls to a whisper, the viewer waits in eager anticipation for what will happen next.

Jóhansson also excels at incorporating human voices throughout the film.  After reading the script, the composer acknowledged that the “human voice would play a big part in the score.”  As such, sections of the score that include vocal arrangements hint at discovery and human intellect.

Finally, Arrival is a masterclass in tension.  Both Villeneuve and Jóhansson together have crafted one of the finest exercises in slow and meticulous revelation I have ever beheld.  Throughout one of the most astounding plot discoveries in recent memory, Jóhansson’s “One of Twelve” builds in the background until it becomes it’s own entity.  This score is brilliant, and I cannot wait to hear more of Jóhann Jóhansson’s transcendent work.

Best Dialogue of 2016

Dialogue is probably one of the most important parts of a film. You can have incredible cinematography, great music, wonderful acting and a great story, but if the things that your characters are saying don’t seem believable or don’t make sense, it doesn’t matter. Good films have dialogue that seems like something a real person may say (or at least makes you suspend your disbelief). Great films have dialogue that you remember, whether because it is funny, moving or profound.

Below, is the Cinema Bros’ top 12 bits of dialogue in 2016 films. Last year was a great year in screenwriting, so hear is our ode to the best bits of that:


12.   Hail Caesar!

Screenwriters: Joel & Ethan Cohen

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— Jake —

The Coen brothers are gifted screenwriters and Hail Caesar! showcases them at the top of their game. This exchange is only the beginning of a masterfully written scene in which Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), studio head for Capitol Pictures, seeks to bend the ears of four holy men on the portrayal of Jesus Christ in an upcoming biblical epic. Its wry humor and colloquial tone (“Does the depiction of Christ Jesus cut the mustard?”) are a hallmark of Coen films and makes Hail Caesar! another wonderful entry into their impressive filmography.

11.   The Edge of Seventeen

Screenwriter: Kelly Fremon Craig

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— Sam —

This is the one line, fairly early in the film, that made me know that the movie I was watching was going to be immensely entertaining. The main character Nadine is reminiscing about her first meeting with her best friend, Krista. Nadine’s description of Krista as a “small old man” was perfect by itself but then she tacks on the fact that her breath smelled like Sweet Tarts. The fact that she remembered exactly how her friends breath smelled shows how much Krista means to her and also makes this line even more hilarious.

10.   Deadpool

Screenwriters: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

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— Sam —

The best part about this scene is the delivery by Ryan Reynolds. Deadpool is inside a wrecked vehicle and sticks his hands out in the air to “surrender” and the scene is played mostly through his hand gestures to a hilarious effect. Ryan Reynolds shows more character in his hands than some actors can show with their entire body. The best part about the dialogue is the “brown pants” bit. It’s basically just a subtle poop joke and the way that the villains don’t seem to understand it makes for an extremely funny scene.

9.   Jackie

Screenwriter: Noah Oppenheim

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— Joe —

The entire screenplay to Jackie is like a masterclass in writing for film, which is impressive considering it is only Oppenheim’s third screenplay. But, this line in particular is what sealed the deal on the film’s greatness for me. As Jackie (Natalie Portman) speaks to a priest about the traumatic events she just endured, this line comes as a perfect summation of what she has been trying to accomplish throughout the film in securing her husbands legacy, a sad realization that her life with John was never meant to last and a poignant expression of modern myth-making and celebrity. The complexities of this one exchange perfectly mirror the complexities of the film as a whole.

8.   The Nice Guys

Screenwriters: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi

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— Sam —

This hilarious bit of dialogue comes when the main character, Holland March (Ryan Gosling), takes his daughter and her friend to a bowling alley. Surrounded by screaming girls, he yells “Jesus Christ” and is promptly scolded for it by his daughter’s Christian friend. The exchange is hilarious due to the fact that it takes a common expression and completely subverts it. Holland’s response is completely unexpected on a first viewing. This is one of the best parts if this bit of dialogue and the script in general.

7.   Sing Street

Screenwriter: John Carney

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— Joe —

Even though the main thrust of Sing Street is a young man forming a band to impress a girl, another important aspect of the film is relationships between men. You have the relationship between the main character, Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and his band mates, the relationship with his father and the relationship with his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor). This last relationship is one of the most important relationships in the film and is largely comedic, but this bit of dialogue is the moment it takes a turn into the dramatic.

As Brendan realizes that his dreams have slipped away from him and his brother is grabbing those same dreams by the horns, he lets loose one of most heartbreaking monologues I heard last year. As a man with two older brothers, it made me think of the debts I owe both of them for allowing me to move in their “jet stream.” This, combined with the absolutely brilliant delivery by Jack Reynor made this one of the most emotional scenes I saw last year.

What are the best films of 2016? You Pick!

Listeners! For our upcoming “Top Ten Films of 2016” episode, we want to hear from you! First, it is easy to award films like “La La Land” or “Moonlight,” but there were several Blockbusters that came out last year that deserve some love. So please vote on which was the best below (Rogue One was excluded to avoid the obvious).

Then use the form below to tell us your favorite film from last year as well as your reasons for loving it. Your submissions will then be read during the episode. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing the films you submit!

Top 12 Movie Trailers of 2016

Continuing our look back at the best of film in 2016, we highlight another underappreciated art form: movie trailers. Editing together footage from an incomplete film to portray what that film will be and doing it without revealing too much information is quite the task. The best trailers not only get you excited for the end product, but are also entertaining and engaging in their own right. Many of the best have great musical choices, show off some of the best shots of the film and are cut together in an innovative and interesting way. Not all trailers are great, as they often are just mish-mashes of footage from the movie that are basically just screaming, “We know you’re going to give us your money, so here’s some of the film!” Below, are the trailers from 2016 that we felt went above and beyond to become more than just marketing tools, but real works of art in their own right.


12.   Barry

— Joe —

As with some of my other picks you will see, what makes this trailer great all starts with the music. Not only is “Soul’s On Fire” by Anthony Hamilton a great toe-tapping song for any trailer, but for this particular movie, it could not be more perfect. Barry is all about the college years of future President Barack Obama and the conflict he felt being both white, black and from many different places. At times in the film, he feels as though his soul is literally on fire and we see the conflict both within himself and around him during the course of this trailer. Add to that some absolutely gorgeous shots throughout, including an absolutely iconic ending shot of a young Obama silhouetted against a purple sky smoking a cigarette, and you have a great trailer.

11.   Hail Caesar!

— Sam —

The Coen Brothers’ filmography is quite varied. Out of all of their films my favorite is O Brother, Where Art Though and the trailer to Hail Caesar! completely reminded me of the vibe of that movie. This trailer does a lot of things right. Like many trailers it is a pretty rapid viewing of many scenes from the film with some pauses to linger on funny lines or other specifics from the film. The rapid fire sections of the trailer are perfectly paired with the song ”Rumble and Sway” by Jamie N Commons. This song not only drives these scenes along but it also sounds somewhat reminiscent of the music from the era that the movie is set. This trailer also makes sure to prominently show off the names of its ridiculously stacked cast which just gets the viewer even more excited for what is to come in this quirky film.

10.   Swiss Army Man

— Joe —

The trailer for this film sold so many people on checking it out including myself. It presents all the weird the film has to offer, backed by an incredibly uplifting song and absolutely stunning photography. They didn’t over-think the marketing on this one. It is the Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie, so they used the song from the film and showed us Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. And it was glorious and surprisingly heartwarming.

9.   The Nice Guys

— Sam —

The first thing that stuck out to me in the trailer for The Nice Guys was the choice of music and the usage of that music throughout. The soundtrack for the trailer, as with the finished movie, perfectly sets the tone for a wacky adventure in the late 70s. They also at times sync ends of notes or ends of phrases to punches and other action in the trailer which helps to accentuate those moments really well. This trailer also does a great job of setting out the personalities of its main characters without using up every funny line from the actual movie. Until I saw this trailer I never knew how much the world needed a Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe buddy cop movie.

8.   Jackie

— Joe —

This trailer is about as perfect as a trailer can get and it all starts with the music. The closing song of the musical Camelot accompanies the first part of the trailer as we see Jackie happy and enthralled by the wonders of being First Lady. Then with a push in shot on a cellist, we get the first notes of a much darker song that overwhelms the first as we see her life literally crumbling in front of our eyes. Combine all this with incredible shots that recreate actual footage from that time period and you have a trailer that has done its job in spades. After I saw it the first time, I was saying, “Please, take my money!”

7.   Deadpool

— Sam —

I love this trailer because it starts off looking like your normal run of the mill superhero movie. It tells us that Wade has cancer and is going to get treatment so that he can be with the woman he loves. Then as he’s being wheeled off to get the treatment that is supposed to turn him into a superhero he breaks the fourth wall and asks them not to make the super suit green. From this point on the trailer is jammed packed with all the best parts of Deadpool: Insane jumps, epic pistol and gun wielding, and of course snarky comments right in the midst of battle. We also get some great dialogue between Deadpool and the minor characters of Weasel and Blind Al. The last element that perfectly combines all these insane pieces is the use of the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” by DMX played throughout most of the trailer. What a great trailer to come out of the gate with and get fans pumped for the film!

Top 12 Movie Posters of 2016

Before we ever see a film, many times, we see its poster. The phrase tells us to not judge a book by its cover, but we certainly don’t always follow that rule. Posters are the book covers of films and they can either encourage our excitement to see the film, bore us with indifference or, at worst, cause us to reject a film. Movie posters are an extremely important aspect of filmmaking and marketing that certainly do not often times get their due. The best of them not only are good marketing tools, but are also good art. So, to honor the artists who excited our imaginations and helped sell the films they were tasked with presenting, here is the Cinema Bros’ top 12 movie posters of 2016:


12.   The Lobster

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— Jake —

The Lobster has been on my radar for over a year, but I have yet to see the film. However, I think this poster hooked me and articulates the message of the film at the same time. Per the trailer, The Lobster is a darkly satirical take on relationships, monogamy, and love.  Colin Farrell’s character embracing an invisible person with a blank stare on his face is minimal and brilliant and reminds me what drew me to this film in the first place.

11.   Sing Street

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— Sam —

This film, which is set in the 80’s, gets the 80’s portrayal it deserves in this poster. Everything about it is fabulously retro. Obviously the hairstyles and attire are spot on, but the overall color scheme seems very 80’s. It is almost garish in the way that it combines colors. They seem to clash but that’s what makes the whole thing pop. The slogan of the movie is a great addition and is expertly portrayed in the girl’s look of utter boredom. This is just a really fun poster for a phenomenally fun film.

10.   La La Land

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— Sam —

The colors of this poster are outstanding. The blue of the sky is so rich and deep and almost otherworldly. The brightness of Emma Stone’s dress splayed across that background is breathtaking. The lone lamppost works to add a bit of character to the scene but also stands as a reference to the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain. The symmetry of this point in the couple’s dance adds an overall elegance to the scene at large. This poster perfectly captures the magic of this wonderful film.

9.   In a Valley of Violence

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— Jake —

This poster coupled with Ti West as director made me want to see this film without even seeing a trailer. I love the old school, Tarantino-esque vibe that the poster throws out, and I also value the simplicity of color scheme and imagery.  I don’t expect much more than a fun, escapist experience from this film, and I think the poster conveys that quite nicely.

8.   The Witch

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— Jake —

This poster features, believe it or not, a main character of the film whose name it bears. The goat, Black Phillip, alludes to darkness and looming evil per New England folklore. I also have to admit, the goat on this poster and in the trailer for The Witch was one of the elements that made me most terrified to see this film. That terror was certainly warranted.

7.   Jackie

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— Joe —

Out of all the films in 2016, I think the marketing for Jackie has been some of the best. This poster is another example of that. Natalie Portman adorns this sheet in the blood red outfit that recalls Jackie Kennedy in the White House tour video. This part of the poster is quite simple and beautiful. Add the blood red backdrop though and the abundance of red gives off the feeling of danger and dread. Then add the name of the person and movie in the form of Jackie Kennedy’s signature and you have an elegant, simple, beautiful, foreboding poster.

Best Movie Experiences of 2016

Jake

Arrival

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I walked into Arrival with a purposely blank slate.  I had only seen the trailer for the film once, and I avoided reading reviews of the film as much as possible.  As with other films that have stunned and amazed me (i.e. Mad Max: Fury Road), this proved to be the ideal approach given the viewing experience that ensued when I saw Arrival for the very first time.

I watched this film at an upscale AMC theater in Leawood, Kansas (mere blocks away from the AMC national headquarters building).  I specifically chose to see Arrival in the Dolby Cinema format.  The partnership between AMC and Dolby Cinema has been rolling out around the country, and it provides a truly transcendent cinema experience unlike anything I have ever witnessed.  Dolby Cinema combines Dolby Vision projection with Dolby Atmos audio to create a combination of image and sound that rivals any of the best formats offered throughout the country (Marcus’ Ultrascreen and IMAX are the two other formats that come to mind).  Arrival is the best type of film to see in this new and exciting Dolby format.  A film with breathtaking visuals and a thunderous, pulsing score, this was one of the best viewing experiences in my admittedly young filmgoing life.  

A specific scene, wholly aided by the Dolby Cinema format, is when the viewer essentially makes “first contact” along with Amy Adams’ character in the film.  I stopped breathing, my mouth was agape, and I was gripping the armrests of my seat.  As I leaned forward slightly, I quickly glanced to my right and left.  Every single viewer in my row was doing the exact same thing as me.  Arrival is one of the very best films of this year, one of the best sci-fi films of the 2000’s, and Dolby Cinema was a fascinating way to make “first contact.”

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Traffic was worse than I anticipated, the lines at the ticket kiosk were long, and it was raining outside.  I immediately thought about ditching this Hunt for the Wilderpeople showtime at the theater in favor of two other films I had wanted to see…but something told me “no.”  I stayed in line, tapping my foot.  I got to the kiosk, raced through various payment screens to get my ticket.  I ran to my theater and sat down in the aisle seat of a surprisingly packed showing (how did anyone else know about this movie?!).  I was damp from the rain and my own sweat and I was in a somewhat foul mood.  However, everything that had led up to this viewing experience melted away once this enchanting film began.

There was nothing special about the way this film was presented.  However, I was astonished that what made this film  such an engrossing cinema treat for me was the audience.  If you know me at all, you know that I generally loathe audiences.  The coughing, talking, munching, and glaring of cell phone screens drives me nuts.  If I had a choice I would almost always prefer to see films in an empty theater like a lonely, old millionaire who built a giant theater in his mansion just because he could.  Alas, I am not a millionaire nor an old man…so I view films with everyone else.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is, at it’s core, a laugh riot.  Taika Waititi, who also directed and stars in What We do in the Shadows, knows how to craft hilarity better than most current comedic filmmakers.  As such, Wilderpeople is a treasure-trove of gut-busting references to haiku poetry, terrible funeral sermons, and Lord of the Rings (among MANY other pop-culture touch-points).  The audience that I was honored to view this film with responded in-kind.  They laughed with uproar at all the right times and they sighed with sadness when the film evoked such a response.  One man, sitting behind me, sticks out in my memory.  His deep, belly laughter at each joke was delightful, and he had the audience right alongside him each time.  When I go to see a movie, I truly wish I could call these folks up to watch with me.  Thanks Hunt for the Wilderpeople audience from last spring.  You were GREAT!


Sam

Moana

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One of my favorite movie experiences from 2016 was when I saw Moana for a second time. I saw it with my entire immediate family which automatically made it a better experience. Besides that though, I appreciated so much more of the movie the second time. The animation was so much more impressive and the songs were more inspirational. But, the most impressive thing about my second viewing was that the crowd, which was mostly children, was super well-behaved. There was basically no talking during the entire movie. Also, at the end of the movie one child said, “That was really good!” Those children were better behaved than some adult moviegoers.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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My second best movie experience came when I saw Rogue One for the second time. We saw it in IMAX and it was amazing. The first great thing we saw was a preview of the upcoming movie Dunkirk. This preview was incredible. It took up the entire IMAX screen and made me feel like I was within the clip it was depicting. The Rogue One experience was no less intense. Every scene was elevated. The battle scenes were so much more intense, But the best part of the entire experience was right at the end. This also happened after The Force Awakens. There was thunderous applause. This is the only franchise that I have ever experienced to always receive applause at the end. This sets Star Wars aside as a universally loved franchise that I am proud to support.  


Joe

Don’t Breathe

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I don’t think my heart has ever raced as fast as that night when I was driving away from the theater. I had just seen the horror/thriller Don’t Breathe and was just recovering from the experience. It began when I decided to go to a late show of the film and found myself as the only one in the theater when the movie began. From the very beginning, I sensed  that Don’t Breathe was going to be a “no-holds-barred adrenaline-fueled thrill-ride” and I was not disappointed.

Watching Don’t Breathe alone in the large, dark theater was one of the most thrilling movie experiences in my entire life. It’s been said before, but the title is not a mistake. I actually had to take a deep breath at the end of the film because for much of the film I literally was not breathing. The film was brilliantly constructed, wonderfully acted and it was one hell of a ride. Miles away from the theater, my heart was still trying to calm itself down and even months away from that experience, I can still feel the thrill of that night.

Moonlight

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It was election day. I got up, voted, went to the gym and then headed for the Twin Cities to see Moonlight. I walked into the Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis and was immediately impressed by the ornate decorations, the fact I could get a beer and just how beautiful the theater was. But then the film started and none of that mattered anymore as I was completely sucked into the experience. My surroundings completely melted away as the beginning music started and I knew I was about to embark on a uniquely remarkable journey.

Seeing Moonlight on that day was a transcendent experience. Not only was the film incredible, it was one of the most emotional experiences I have ever had at the cinema. As the credits began to roll, my eyes sufficiently full of tears and my heart so full of emotion, the spell finally subsided as I came out of the experience. The theater around me emerged out of the darkness. As I finally looked around as the credits continued, while others were leaving, myself and a man a couple of seats down from me sat, seemingly unable to move. The man, probably in his early 30s, was attempting to recollect himself as he wiped the tears from his eyes. He looked over at me, and I at him, and we nodded at each other in recognition of the experience we had just shared. It was a wonderful, simple human connection.

As I drove home that night, the sun setting behind me and one of the most beautifully pink skies ahead of me, I listened to the score and dwelled on the film and the experience. It was peaceful and it was perfect. And the enormous amount of peace, happiness and raw emotion I felt that day made what was to come that night even more difficult. It was a wonderful moment of tranquility before the inferno of craziness that came with the election that night.

CB Podcast Ep. 38 – “Ghostbusters” Review

“This week, the Bros are joined by special guest, Jay Johnston, as they discuss film news and bring you their review of the new Ghostbusters reboot from director Paul Fieg.”

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