Best Movie Scenes of 2016

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The Oscars were not that long ago, so I guess I better run down the best scenes of 2016.

A lot of great food scenes: dinners in Elle and 20th Century Women, plus the frobscottle feast in The BFG. Also, The Neon Demon stopped by a bar, but I don’t think they ate much.

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Best Movies of 2016

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

This ranking was originally posted on News Cult in December 2016.

Yes, it’s another best movies of the year list, which you are reading perhaps because you know me personally. Or maybe you don’t know me in the flesh, but you follow my writing and want to keep up with my opinions regardless of how much you agree or disagree with them. Or it could be that you have stumbled upon this article by sheer happenstance. In that case, I shall do best to steer you straight.

Is this list more “right” than any other critic’s? It is certainly correct in the sense that it has come from a place of honesty. I feel enthusiastic about these films, and so I have decided to say to the world, “This is my interpretation. Perhaps you will feel the same.”

Enjoy!

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane
An anthology-style cinematic universe grows into itself in its second chapter. Mary Elizabeth Winstead finds herself in a bunker under the iron fist of John Goodman, giving the performance of his career. A drum of acid is even scarier than the monsters supposedly outside. Our pulses adapt to the rhythm of the thrills.

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This Is a Movie Review: La La Land

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This review was originally published on News Cult in December 2016.

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Director: Damien Chazelle

Running Time: 128 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Doing Once That Thing You Can Get Away With in a PG-13 Movie If You Only Do It Once

Release Date: December 9, 2016 (Limited)

Is it the sign of a successful musical if it leaves you humming one of its tunes as you walk out of the theater? It certainly helps if it has a head start by featuring a certain set of notes so prominently in its trailer and if that phrase is meant to be whistled so steady and easy. But to directly answer the question: yes, a musical is successful if it leaves you humming. All the other trappings – story, acting, set design, pretty colors, whatever – may have their purpose, but who cares, if that one defining feature does not do its job? So what’s the verdict on La La Land? It’s a wistful, eternally romantic tingle that has imprinted on me, perhaps forever.

This may very well be that same old story of showbiz doing showbiz: struggling actress Mia (Emma Stone) toils at auditions and coffee shops, sparks fly when she meets jazz pianist Seb (Ryan Gosling) – the type who is so single-mindedly focused on keeping the old school alive, and the feelings may are powerful enough to literally lift them into the air. This is not tiresome, because there are still, and probably always will be, so many Mia’s and Seb’s making their way in the real La La Land. The film is deeply inspired by tradition, but it is not beholden to it. It is wide-eyed enough for the romance to be worth investing in, but it is clear-eyed enough to know that practicality, honesty, and confidence are essential for making those romantic dreams come true.

For most of its running time, La La Land is perfectly diverting, but not much more. But then it becomes revolutionary at the end when it redefines its entire story, and what is possible in this style of storytelling. I would not dare to spoil this turn, as its impact hit me a great deal via its surprise. But let me just say that it has to do with its organization of the four seasons as chapters. Winter and henceforth are not pointed out for the sake of a convenient format, but to set you up for a treat that only cinema can inflict.

La La Land is Recommended If You Like: Any Musical, as a Rule

Grade: 4.5 out of 5 Leg Raises