2017 Ten Best Movies

twinpeaksreturn

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks: The Return

For 2017, I have an annotated list at Seattle Weekly, and a list that includes a Ten Worst at the Herald.

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch)
  2. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  3. Get Out (Jordan Peele)
  4. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  5. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies)
  6. The Lovers (Azazel Jacobs)
  7. Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow)
  8. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
  9. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
  10. Logan (James Mangold)
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Ten Lion Elle (This Week’s Movies)

 

elle

Isabelle Huppert: Elle

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Elle. “It’s provocative, and Huppert is indeed fantastic, but I’m not convinced.”

Lion. “A generic feel.”

And a Top Ten for 2016. The Weekly link is here; the Herald link includes ten worst, if that’s your idea of fun.

The shorthand version, as of today:

  1. Aquarius
  2. Our Little Sister
  3. The Fits
  4. Cemetery of Splendor
  5. Things to Come
  6. Everybody Wants Some!!
  7. Sully
  8. Paterson
  9. Green Room
  10. Aferim!

Hateful Home Carol-ing (This Week’s Movies)

hateful

Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Hateful Eight. “A slyly anti-romantic Western by a filmmaker who loves Westerns.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly link here.)

Carol. “The twist on Brief Encounter is that these characters do not have to be martyred on the altar of propriety.” (Weekly link here.)

Concussion. “Respectable to the point of stuffiness.” (Weekly link here.)

Daddy’s Home. “Ferrell hasn’t exhausted the comedy of emasculation just yet.” (Weekly link here.)

And a Weekly list of Ten Best for 2015; slightly longer version appears in the Herald.

Here’s the list, in short:

  1. 45 Years
  2. Son of Saul
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. Experimenter
  5. It Follows
  6. Clouds of Sils Maria
  7. Ex Machina
  8. The Assassin
  9. Spotlight
  10. The Duke of Burgundy

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I find four essential things to note about Star Wars: The Force Awakens; listen here.

2014 Ten Best Movies (and etc.)

L'Air de Panache: Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

L’Air de Panache: Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Winter Sleep. “How small incidents can open up an entire world.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly version here.)

Rocks in My Pockets. “It’s a rare movie that makes you want to check in on how the filmmaker is doing since completing the project.” (Weekly version here.)

And a top-ten list for 2014, for Seattle Weekly. For the Herald, there’s also a ten worst. Click on the links for details, but here’s the ten:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

2. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

3. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

4. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

6. Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier) and The Rover (David Michôd)

8. Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund)

9. The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones)

10. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)

There’s more Top Ten excavation at the 2014 Critics Wrap, where the discussion involves Jim Emerson, Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and me. It has one more broadcast on the Seattle Channel on Saturday January 3 at 9 p.m., and is watchable online here.

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I talk about The Interview, does have some laughs and some political satire, layered in amid the raunch. Listen here.

I dropped by KIRO radio’s “Mark Rahner Show” again last week, where we talked about The Gambler and Into the Woods and other stuff. Listen here.

Selfish Ride (Weekly Links)

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, Ride Along

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, Ride Along

Links to reviews I wrote this week for the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Ride Along. “Mostly you get the impression that Hart was allowed to improvise through each scene on whatever subject was at hand.”

The Nut Job. “Animation’s rebuke to Atlas Shrugged.”

The Selfish Giant. “Whether she’s honoring those thick accents, finding the proper pitch for the boys’ tussling friendship, or pausing for eerie shots of the town’s nuclear towers shrouded in fog, Barnard rarely sets a foot wrong.”

Don’t forget to catch the 2013 Critics Wrap, available at the Seattle Channel website. Perhaps some of our observations will seem newly piquant in the wake of the Oscar nominations.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association held their Critics Choice awards last night; Gravity got seven wins, American Hustle took four, and 12 Years a Slave had three, including Best Picture. Hey, I voted for Inside Llewyn Davis – but poor Llewyn is never going to be a winner. And hey, Blue is the Warmest Color got Best Foreign Film – take that, Oscars. The results are here.

Movie Diary 1/2/2014

The 2013 Critics Wrap, held at the Frye Art Museum, is about to debut on the Seattle Channel. This might’ve been the best Critics Wrap we’ve had, so do please give it a look. Thanks to the Frye, to Shannon Gee and everybody at Seattle Channel, and to panelists Kathleen Murphy, Jim Emerson, and Andrew Wright for a great evening.

The local broadcast debuts tonight (Thursday Jan. 2) at 8:30 p.m., and repeats a buncha times for the next 10 days. Here’s the schedule. Seattle Channel is frequently found on channel 21 hereabouts, but you never know about these things.

Or you can just watch it the old-fashioned way, online. Go here and do that.

 

 

Her Wolf Secret (Weekly Links)

Joaquin Phoenix, enjoying a day at the beach with Her.

Joaquin Phoenix, enjoying a day at the beach with Her.

Links to reviews I wrote this week for the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Wolf of Wall Street. (Dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

Back before we rewarded people for being corrupt buccaneers of Wall Street, there lived a man named Jordan Belfort. He did some naughty things with his investing habits back in the 1990s, made millions, and lived the life of a rock star.

He went to jail for this. How quaint, right? Jailing someone for rigging Wall Street. Belfort obviously paid the price for being ahead of his time. This creep is now the subject of a sprawling, hyperactive movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Wolf of Wall Street,” based on Belfort’s memoir, is so juiced-up it’s understandably being compared to Scorsese’s “GoodFellas,” another saga of an illicit American Dream soaring and crashing.

The violence and imminent danger of a gangster movie is somewhat replaced here by the audacity of modern stockbrokers. Their amoral world is equally appalling for being out in the open.

This is nowhere better expressed than in the film’s first ten minutes, as young Belfort shares lunch with his boss (Matthew McConaughey) on his first day as an assistant at a brokerage firm. It’s one of the few quiet moments in the movie, and McConaughey’s suave explanation of just how much contempt his business has for the suckers who invest with him is a lucid explanation of how the system is arranged.

From there, Belfort’s meteoric rise attracts debauchery like a magnet: cocaine, prostitutes, his own yacht. Of course he trades in his wife for a sleeker model (Margot Robbie), and his offices and staff keep getting bigger and bigger. The movie itself escalates in a similar way. At times it’s brilliant, pausing for looney-tunes conversations between Belfort and his associates (Jonah Hill is quite funny as his business partner), or stopping to appreciate how Belfort just barely avoids offering a bribe to a federal agent (Kyle Chandler) while basking on his yacht. There’s also a tour-de-force sequence in which Belfort, already hooked on Quaaludes, takes a few too many of the tranquilizers just at the moment a major threat to his empire arrives. DiCaprio’s drooling attempts at setting the ship right are uproarious, as is the revelation that his confident narration of the sequence has been just as deluded as he is.

As you can see, “Wolf of Wall Street” is played as comedy, a stranger-than-fiction roller coaster. Individual scenes pop, in part because of great actors doing exquisite work in small roles, like Joanna Lumley and Jean Dujardin (the Oscar-winner for “The Artist”).

I’d love to acclaim this movie the masterpiece it aims to be. As a tale of ambition unchecked by conscience, it’s timely, of course, and the movie is alive with its own roiling energy. Either the movie is missing a layer or I’m not seeing it, because somehow all this sound and fury falls short, despite the wild entertainment it generates.

One thing it nails: a world in which the purpose of life is selling. (As someone employed by Hollywood, Scorsese must feel this in his bones.) In this case, what’s being sold is actually non-existent—just phantoms. Its characters are happy to be phantoms, too.

Her. “This is a movie of breathtaking design and conventional ideas.”

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. “You can feel the movie straining to be something special.”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. “The self-imposed tip-toeing required in the Great Man school of moviemaking.”

Grudge Match. “Doesn’t offend, although it rarely comes to life, either.”

Oh, and it’s Ten Best time, isn’t it? Here’s that article, with best and worst included. Here’s the non-annotated list:

  1. Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
  2. All Is Lost (J.C. Chandor)
  3. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)
  4. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechice)
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen)
  6. The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt)
  7. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  8. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
  9. Amour (Michael Haneke)
  10. “Like a Rolling Stone” video