The Fall is here and that means a lot of premeditated releases by every studio is about to hit between now and the end of the year, films that they think will have award, specifically, Oscar appeal.
When it comes to movies typically award-talk is often a nebulous affair until the final quarter of the year, not just because it’s too premature earlier in the year but mostly because of this unofficial Oscar season slate of release and, to a lesser extent, people tend to forget films later in the year that were released in the first few months going into the Summer. An example last year was Ex Machina which had at least a couple of Oscar-level performances and still has me feeling it was one of the 3-4 best movies from last year. Alicia Vikander won just about every award for her performance in the film sans the Oscar, which went to Brie Larson (who gave a wonderful performance that was first seen in the U.S. in October).
Another example that comes to mind is that even as early as last year people have been talking about Birth of a Nation and the performance of Nate Parker as almost a shoe-in Oscar nominee (comes out later this year) until the controversy occurred regarding Parker AND, which is kind of going under reported, the word seems to be that the film itself is actually not that great, just kind of alright – so you can see how these things tend to get lined up barring something crazy happening.
With this in mind, and since I’m hyped about some recent movie news at Sony, I wanted to put down my top 10 movies pre-award season before all the movies we saw the first 9 months of the year give way to films coming out soon that most people haven’t heard of yet like Manchester By The Sea, LA LA Land, Loving, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Fences, and Silence, most of which will be ignored by the actual populace because Star Wars: Rogue One is going to be so badass, so why bother.
I know a lot of people will precursor their lists in no order and I kind of want to say the same but consider mine is in a loose order.
1. Sing Street
I am not a a fan of musicals. In fact if you tell me we are going to go see a musical you have to be extra levels of fine not to be going by yourself. I’m also not one of these people trying to unearth small film gems and I typically get irritated by the Oscars for avoiding blockbusters. Sing Street is just that charming, is just that fresh-faced, is just that well executed, and it’s just the best time at a theater.
- Amazing movie and the original music and the performances of them is fantastic.
2. The Nice Guys
I’m baffled that this movie didn’t make more money. Shane Black written and directed, and starring Gosling and Crowe in a dark comedy? Angourie Rice is somebody we are going to look out for now in films, a real breakout young actress, and Gosling showing a side I haven’t seen before in him with wonderful comedic timing, to go along with obvious, if unexpected, chemistry with Crowe.
These are the types of movies that I feel like many of us lament don’t get made anymore, and the reason is because they just don’t perform but I will be damned if The Nice Guys isn’t the quintessential Shane Black film and we are talking the guy who wrote Lethal Weapon 1 & 2 and wrote and directed the incredibly underrated Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang.
Remember when I mentioned we forget films from early on in the year? Yeah, feels like forever ago, but it was this year Deadpool took over the world, made a major studio rearrange their entire slate and is the reason why we are getting a Rated R Wolverine movie.
Ryan Reynolds is in the role he was born to play and put his money where his merc with a mouth was, and bet on himself and this team and damn did it pay off as Deadpool is the biggest R Rated film of all time and the biggest X-Men related film ever. Deadpool is a thing now.
4. Hell or High Water
This is another one of those movies that people lament we don’t have enough of anymore. Written by the guy who wrote Sicario and directed by Dave Mackenzie, we get this movie that feels like it came out of nowhere and kind of rekindled the idea that Chris Pine might still become a movie star outside of the United Federation of Planets, even while he is in a film being overshadowed by both Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster. It’s that good.
5. Only Yesterday
Okay so Only Yesterday came out in 1991 in Japan and FINALLY made it over to the U.S. this February. Any list has biases but this one is warranted. When Studio Ghibli releases a film it’s one of the top 10 movies of the year almost all the time.
Only Yesterday was not directed by the animation master/god Miyazaki, but instead was only directed Isao Takahata, and all he’s done is directed Pom Poko, Grave of the Fireflies, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Three or 4 four of those are among the top 50 animated films of all time and two of them could find themselves in the Top 15.
This is perhaps the best of the Ghibli movies when it comes to adult and female drama, it’s an absolute masterwork of a film. I can’t speak on the English dub, I don’t need it but wanted to give a heads up that a Studio Ghibli masterpiece hit the U.S. this year. That said, for Star Wars Force Awakens fans, Daisy Ridley voices the main character.
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Again, another early of the year film that Bad Robot pushed out masterfully on the fly as a cryptic Cloverfield related film, directed by Dan Trachtenberg who I just want to direct all of my favorite movies from now on if Denis Villeneuve and Alex Garland are busy. Also, guy was one hell of a podcaster.
Goodman had one of the earliest memorable performances of the year in 10 Cloverfield Lane and Winstead is everything.
7. Captain America: Civil War
Let’s stop sleeping, Cap 3 is one of the few Summer blockbusters that delivered this year. Spider-Man, the Sony-controlled Marvel crown jewel character (from a $ standpoint still bigger than both Batman and Superman combined if you follow licensing and overall $) is back and brand new at the same time. Black Panther was introduced and was boss af and Marvel somehow stays making the best series of action movies that still has zero stakes somehow.
As far as other, or at least intended, blockbusters go I also really liked Star Trek Beyond too. I don’t get this base, they don’t like awesome.
8. Kubo and the Two Strings
Man. Laika keeps putting out great films and out of all of the movies of the year, this and the aforementioned The Nice Guys are the movies I don’t understand why underperformed so much.
This is a BEAUTIFUL movie with nice solid story that’s different from anything out yet still is a classic story. It’s on the same level as Zootopia and Finding Dory to me, and if you believe in the sanctity of this list, I guess Kubo is even better.
Should be a Blu-ray or digi buy for every family with children. Instant classic even with questionable voicing choices.
Pixar are the gods but Disney Animation has been kicking ass lately which I guess is the ideal for Disney as a whole. I just rewatched Zootopia, totally holds up, slides in the social conscious with a fun and entertaining story and you can see another one coming out, so Disney and fans win. Movies like this are why our kids will be better than us.
Big animation year for big D with Zootopia, Finding Dory, and still has Moana on deck.
10. Horror Movies
The Witch, Don’t Breathe, Light’s Out, The Conjuring 2, have made this year feel like the year horror has come back. I’m typically not a fan of horror, I can name the ones that I think are excellent in a very short amount of time, and they include movies like The Shining, The Orphanage, Let the Right One In, The Descent, Scream, and if you accept Pan’s Labyrinth, Shaun of the Dead, and Alien as horror films, those as well. With that in mind, when I can come out of a year with 3 or 4 horror movies that, while not on the level of the list above, are horror films that… well I’ know we have all had this experience, but don’t feel like those movies that you have to not give your honest opinion about when you meet a girl that’s a horror fan
It also feels like horror is the last bastion of genre pockets where we can get lower budgeted films that perform multiples of its budget, and because of that we find some interesting directors from it (along with animation regarding unique voices and talent, though they usually have a good budget) that you’d expect to see get calls for larger projects. Fertile proving grounds. Hell, James Wan went to make the fastest (at the time) movie to garner a billion dollars box office number. If you look at the top grossing movies in regards to the box office this year and remove sequels, you will see a list dominated by animation and horror.
I haven’t seen it but I kind of fully expect Arrival would have made this list if I waited. Based on a story from one of the best collections of science fiction stories ever, The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, everything I’ve seen of the film looks amazing. That and Rogue One I can’t wait for, and you can throw in Passengers too.
Also, I wanted to be able to fit Lobster on here but just ran out of space on the list. An interesting film for sure and a reminder that Colin Farrell is actually pretty good at this acting thing and I think will age well into a nice career phase.