By Sam Wampfler
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
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
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.
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
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.