At Raleigh City Sports we pride ourselves in bringing “a new brand of sports coverage”, but sometimes we like to bring you our takes on other facets of entertainment. Or you just bother Fitz enough times that he allows you space to publish your thoughts. Either way, I’m going to take a break from NCFC and Diego Costa to reveal some of my thoughts on this year in film.
Some quick notes:
-Not screened: Silence, O.J. : Made In America (it’s a movie, jerks), The Handmaiden, Jackie, Toni Erdmann, Fences.
-Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Midnight Special, The Lobster, Arrival, Certain Women, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, American Honey, The Witch, Green Room.
5. Sing Street
Set in Dublin in the 1980s, Sing Street follows a young student, Conor, as he starts a band with some of his classmates to impress a local girl. It’s a pretty simple set up, but if you are able to walk away from this film without a smile and one of the songs stuck in your head, then you are probably a robot.
Favorite scene: The sequence of the band filming their first single, “Riddle of the Model”, a reminder of how awesome music videos used to be before MTV killed them off a couple years ago.
4. The Nice Guys
The release of The Nice Guys is the perfect example of why we can’t have nice things, or why Hollywood produces only remakes, sequels, or comic book movies. On an estimated budget of $50M, Warner Brothers took a chance and released an original story in May. The Nice Guys ended up not doing so well and was considered somewhat of a bomb. But this film is an absolute gem: hilarious and inventive at every turn with amazing performances by a game Russell Crowe and an even better Ryan Gosling.
Favorite scene: It probably has to be a quick scene at the beginning where Gosling’s character tries to break into a bar (sorry for the crappy subtitles).
3. Everybody Wants Some!!
Most of Richard Linklater’s films are focused on specific period of time: Dazed and Confused with the last day of school in 1976, Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight on specific days in a couple’s life, Boyhood capturing snapshots through twelve years of a boy’s life. In Everybody Wants Some!! he focuses on a Texas college baseball team in the three days before classes start. The guys live in the bubble that college grants before real life starts to intrude, and Linklater lets the audience inhabit that space without getting too caught up on plot. It is shocking how many of the characters are similar to people that I encountered in college – decades after this film is set.
2. La La Land
The story of aspiring artists that fall in love is not new (see Sing Street above). Neither is a musical set in Los Angeles. But somehow Damian Chazelle brings fresh life and originality into a film that still nods to many of old films that shaped its existence. Emma Stone (most likely going to win an Oscar) and Ryan Gosling (good, but better in The Nice Guys) keep the film grounded in reality when it wants to go to off the rails in fantasy. Even if you are not too keen on musicals themselves, La La Land delivers.
Favorite scene: A sequence that would spoil the movie but essentially is an upgrade on the famous “Expectations vs Reality” sequence in (500) Days of Summer. So for now let’s say Ryan Gosling playing a keytar.
The best way I can describe Moonlight is to use a quote from Roger Ebert, “The movies are like a machine that generates empathy”. I saw it back in October and there is rarely a day that I do not think about a scene from it. It’s an astonishing feat for a little movie with no recognizable actors. Go see it.
Favorite scene: A scene at a dinner table in the first act. You’ll know when you see it.
If you have another pick or want to shout at me for my picks, please comment below or find me on Twitter at @jp_rcs.
Header Photo by Van Redin – © 2015 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.