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Created Jan 18, 2016 03:01AM PST • Updated Jan 18, 2016 03:01AM PST

The Great, Really Great & Perfect new movies I’ve seen in `16: new movies I graded 4.0, 4.5 or 5 beams out of 5. Includes movies officially designated 2015 but not out wide till 2016.

Average

  • Really Great
  •  
  • 73 Points
Title Released Trust Weighted Summary Viewable
1st 13 Hours: The Se...
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

The 2012 Islamist militia attack on the two U.S. outposts in Benghazi Libya comes alive as a colossal and utterly predictable central-government failure in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Truth!

The amazing thing is that only four men died, even if one was Ambassador Chris Stevens, a great guy who everybody loved, even the Libyans. He was the first U.S. Ambassador killed under attack in 33 years.

Gut wrenching, yes, but it ends heroically, and goodness knows it could have ended worse, much worse. It didn’t due to half a dozen American heroes. These are real American hero…

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Added Jan 18, 2016 03:01AM PST • Updated Jan 18, 2016 03:01AM PST
2nd The Finest Hours
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Real romance precedes real heroism in The Finest Hours. A retro historical drama and Disnefied true-story of the greatest rescue in Coast Guard history, its tone is as extremely earnest as its story is death-defying.

The romance between Bernie & Miriam Webber defines almost the entire first reel, and a real romance it is: cute and sweet and genuine. Dates will love it, even if the rest of the movie rocks the boat with a perfect-storm disaster, notwithstanding a super happy ending.

The rescue is a doozy, told in parallel parts, that of the benighted ship’s crew fighting to extend the…

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Added Feb 05, 2016 07:27PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
3rd Hail, Caesar!
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Seriously funny and savagely smart, Hail, Caesar! represents another triumph for the Coen Brothers and their company of retro thespians. A satire of golden age Hollywood, it uses the Studio System as a canvas to mock targets across the political spectrum. Amazingly the Lefties take the worst of it, a turn of events that is positively radical coming from today’s Hollywood, even if projected upon yesterday’s Hollywood.

Josh Brolin & George Clooney spend little screen time together, yet handsomely carry the movie in resolutely deadpan style. With strong chins and deep voices like theirs,…

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Added Feb 08, 2016 10:37PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
4th Race
2016 Great 69 Points
_100

“Jesse Owens, American Hero” are four words that were imprinted in my mind from an early age. Jackie Robinson stands with him as an icon of African-American greatness, and therefore of American greatness, but Jesse Owens came first, by a lot. Plus he won not just one but four Gold Medals and did so in front of Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Fact: His was the first American victory over the Nazi regime.

Jesse Owens is therefore an American hero of the first order. His important story and those entwined with his get well and movingly told in Race. Sure, this diligent and evo…

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Added Feb 27, 2016 11:54PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
5th Deadpool
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Deadpool is a superhero for a new generation, the one that casually talks about a guy having a great ass. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is – however – a new thing, with Deadpool now a big thing.

Ryan Reynolds is ideal to play Mr. Pool, a wisecracking stud who describes himself as “pansexual.” Yes, there’s a new term to learn. Not surprisingly, the story takes places in strip clubs, amongst Johns & Jills.

Marvel never lets down. Its endless supply of killer storyboards includes a mercenary known as the “Merc with a Mouth”, introduced as one of the New Mutants in 1…

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Added Feb 28, 2016 09:43PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
6th London Has Fallen
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

London Has Fallen is a distinct improvement over Olympus Has Fallen, making it a 1st-rate action movie. The sequel improves the original by having a plausible villain, albeit amidst an equally implausible story. Throw in several well-earned laughs – amid the carnage – and you’ve got a helluva fun big-screen movie.

Speaking of the original, Olympus (aka the White House) looks all shiny and new early in Has Fallen II. They’ve rebuilt the White House, I thought. Now it’s London’s turn, teeing up a spectacular disaster movie. Basically, a terrorist Godzilla hits Big Ben, Westminster Ab…

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Added Mar 12, 2016 12:03AM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
7th Zootopia
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Zootopia is Pixar quality, meaning kids are optional, though there are no better movies to take kids to see. I chose a late show because late shows have the fewest kids, fewest but not none. Nowadays there’s always some parental units crazy enough to take their kids to a 10:40PM show. Those kids are gonna have issues.

The Pixar pedigree of this Disney Animation blockbuster is no surprise since it’s got John Lasseter as an Executive Producer, Pixar having taken over Disney Animation in a reverse acquisition some years ago.

Zootopia plays on utopia of course, the ideal of a perfect so…

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Added Mar 23, 2016 11:36PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
8th Hello, My Name I...
2015 Great 66 Points
_100

Baby Boomer date movies get no better than Hello, My Name Is Doris, about Sally Field’s senior-citizen foray into today’s millennial culture. Looking for love with a guy young enough to be her grandson, she charms and tickles in equal measure, reminding us that we like her, we really like her, now more than ever.

Playing the Doris of the title, Field navigates her way through a metrosexual culture full of dismissive whippersnappers at the office and shallow hipsters after hours. Much of the charm comes from how the too-cool-for-school Brooklynites eagerly accept her as a style seer, wi…

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Added Apr 09, 2016 03:03PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
9th Everybody Wants ...
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

An all-time great college comedy, EWS!! riffs on pre-PC male privilege in all its semi-decadent glory. It imagines a nationally-ranked baseball team at a third-tier Texas college – the Bad Habit Bears, basically.

As a guy who was a sophomore in 1980, when Richard Linklater’s movie is set, I had a great time laughing along. Post-PC prudes will feel differently. Victims – real and imagined – should stay away, far away.

Linklater calls Everybody Wants Some!! the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, his all-time gre…

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Added Apr 12, 2016 01:42AM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
10th Eye in the Sky
2015 Really Great 86 Points
_100

21st Century war gets personal in the heart-pounding Eye in the Sky, one of the best 21st Century war movies yet.1 Helen Mirren’s steely Colonel directs a global military response to Islamist Terror, adroitly coordinating activity in Kenya, Nevada, Hawaii, Bejing and Singapore from two rooms in England.

Bureaucracy is rarely so thrilling. Indeed, Churchill must be rolling over in his grave at all the namby-pamby intrusions into legitimate military operations that go on in Western defense operations right now. Nonetheless Eye in the Sky rigorously examines the cost of 21st century w…

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Added Apr 17, 2016 06:16PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
11th Barbershop: The ...
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Barbershop: The Next Cut should be a Best Picture contender, but won’t be. Not because it’s black. Because it’s a comedy. Comedies get no respect from the Academy. Can I get a witness? Somebody?

While LOL funny, Barbershop 3 is not your ordinary comedy. Instead, it bridges several paradoxes.

  • Intellectually honest, while being extremely arch
  • Serious as a Saturday-night-special, while being piss-your-pants hilarious
  • Occasionally sappy, while always keeping it real

Black lives matter, so black-on-black violence is naturally the central concern of the dozen or so 2016 Afric…

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Added Apr 21, 2016 02:05AM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
12th Born to Be Blue
2015 Great 66 Points
_100

Chet Baker was bodaciously gifted. The James Dean of Jazz had his own style of cool, West Coast Swing.

Plus, he was supermodel handsome. Ethan Hawke – the moviestar who plays Chet Baker – isn’t nearly as handsome as Baker was, even allowing for Hawke being in his 40s, playing a music idol in his 20s and 30s.

Baker was also a serious musician, a commercially successful one. Pity then that he was a heroin addict.

Junkies are so predictable. The fix is their goal above all else, leading Chet Baker into some spectacularly bad situations. In fact, bad choices were among his drugs of cho…

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Added Apr 24, 2016 08:40PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
13th Keanu
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Key & Peele come to the big screen in a big way in Keanu. As always, Black America is their subject: the contradictions, the testosterone, the taunting. Yet in a clever bit of misdirection, they focus on a tiny kitten.

Worked for me as a fellow owner of a gray tabby. Mine’s named Buddy, not Keanu, plus he’s fully grown and unlikely to fall into the hands of gangsta thugs. Nor would I commit felonies to get him back. But it makes a fine setup for a fine mess of a movie, which is what Key & Peele’s comedy Keanu is, a fine flick.

It’s jaws-b-dropping brazen, which is saying somethin…

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Added May 02, 2016 11:30PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
14th Sing Street
2016 Perfect 83 Points
_100

Sing Street is a perfect rock-n-roll movie, set around a band who defies authority, gets popular and wins The Girl. She’s played by Lucy Boynton, who makes an indelible first impression – ruby lips half-parted, cigarette hanging out one side. She turns out to have a tough situation herself, adding to the movie’s depth.

Writer-director John Carney based Sing Street on his experience at Dublin’s Synge Street Catholic high school, giving it a mix of authenticity and yearning. Speaking of Carney, I was lukewarm to Once, his first movie. But h…

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Added May 08, 2016 05:33PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
15th The Man Who Knew...
2015 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Harry Potter echoes throughout The Man Who Knew Infinity, the biopic of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a math wizard from humble circumstances who rose to prominence at an opulent and august English institution. Set in the ornate halls of 1910s-era Trinity College, it profiles an amazingly able – and real – outsider.

Ramanujan, a new name to me, is well known to my spell checker. So Apple knows of his importance. He would have been ideal in a Think Different ad, an Indian mathematician now ranked right behind Newton.

As a film, *The Man Who Knew…

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Added May 17, 2016 10:31PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
16th Captain America:...
2016 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Tony Stark has been the verbal superpower behind the Avengers, till now. Yet the motormouth of Robert Downey Jr. is MIA in Captain America: Civil War and the movie doesn’t suffer. His novel reticence in Civil War is in service to a well executed Civil War story, but it’s a risk nonetheless. For Marvel, it works.

Indeed, Marvel demonstrates how a Civil War story should be done, clearly showing-up the recent Batman v Superman. Sadly, BvS cemented DC’s inferiority to Marvel. And I like both Batman & Superman…

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Added May 20, 2016 10:58PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
17th Neighbors 2: Sor...
2016 Great 66 Points
_100

Half a dozen great starring performances make Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising a great deal of fun. Called Bad Neighbors 2 outside North America, it reprises the surprisingly good Neighbors laughfest from 2014.

Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne make up most of the older generation, a horrifying thought to them and me both.

Zac Efron & Chloë Grace Moritz lead the younger generation, backed up by Kersey Clemons & Dave Franco, stars all. Christopher Mintz-Plasse & Selena Gomez are in there also. College kids rule, to be sure.

LOLs are ple…

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Added May 27, 2016 11:09PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
18th The Nice Guys
2016 Really Great 83 Points
_100

The Nice Guys, a 21st century spoof of Seventies LA, delivers classic big-screen entertainment, led by big-time moviestars Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling. Shane Black, the Hollywood writer behind Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3 & 4, wrote and directed this change-up curve that hits the strike zone. Action-crime-comedies-r-him.

It’s got crazy comedic energy, full of sideways bon mots and surreal touches, some being dream scenes. Significant energy does get lost as the faux Chinatown pl…

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Added Jun 04, 2016 08:53PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
19th X-Men: Apocalypse
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Now this is what a marvelous blockbuster should be. No surprise, as Marvel Entertainment always delivers. And talk about a monumental origin story, one that also harks back to existing plots! Wow. Plus, given that all the X-Men come out to play – all of them – it’s also a sequel in a way. Double wow and fully marvelous.

X-Men: Apocalypse starts with an ancient Egyptian scene as great as the silver screen has ever delivered. (It makes the recent Gods of Egypt look like Ed Wood.) Then the rest is set in the 1980s, adroitly drawn.

The film is pl…

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Added Jun 11, 2016 03:04PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
20th Free State of Jones
2016 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Newton Knight is a newly essential Matthew McConaughey role that finally knights Newt Knight as a true American hero. Even more, Free State of Jones is an only-in-America story, so corny it could only be true. A deeply moral white man frees enslaved blacks and marries a black woman during the Civil War. Whaaat?

Knight was a 19th century Mississippi übermensch: physically, morally and martially superior to those around him. He was a burly 6’4" at a time when the average man was a skinny 5’8". A yeoman farmer who had no slaves, he depended on his own labor to feed his family, as did most…

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Added Jul 02, 2016 04:21PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
21st The Legend of Ta...
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

The Legend of Tarzan is a ton of fun, notwithstanding being leavened by some seriously nasty business. How much fun? Most everyone around me were laughing and cheering by the third reel. One girl took to throwing her arms in the air at each thrilling turn. In the end, the entire theater applauded … for a movie.

Ignore the professional naysayers, who damn this very contemporary production with misguided criticism, e.g., it traffics in trendy anti-colonialism. But Belgium’s colonization of the Congo is the low hanging fruit of anti-colonialism. The Belgians’ corrupt, incompetent and ge…

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Added Jul 04, 2016 10:28PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
22nd The Infiltrator
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Coke culture from its Eighties heyday comes alive in The Infiltrator, a biopic that profiles the Medellin Cartel’s apparent money launderer. This guy lived la vida loca in all its money grubbing, slimy glory.

Bryan Cranston is nails as real life U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur, who went deep undercover as Pablo Escobar’s banking liaison, the best job ever. Yes, it really happened, minus some Hollywood hyperbole.

Cranston’s acting tour-de-force ranks with those of Sean Penn, Michael Shannon or Russell Crowe in the pantheon of leading men. He’s impressively joined by John Leguizamo,…

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Added Jul 23, 2016 06:53PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
23rd Star Trek Beyond
2016 Perfect 83 Points
_100
Bestest. Star Trek. Ever.

Star Trek Beyond never loses touch with all that made Star Trek great from its earliest incarnation, yet uses 2016 movie magic to create an Enterprise and assorted 23rd century tech-gear better than ever before.

Plus it plays the iconic opening notes of the all-time-great Theme from Star Trek early on, and then the full theme late in this absolutely stellar episode. After declaring Star Trek Into Darkness the best Star Trek ever, I …

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Added Jul 29, 2016 11:57PM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
24th Blood Father
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

An awkward title is about the only thing wrong with Blood Father, a terrific piece of pulp fiction starring a never better Mel Gibson. Bad Dad would be a better title, what with Bad Moms all over the multiplexes right now. That said, this darkly funny thriller ain’t no comedy, notwithstanding regular LOLs. It’s more a Trailerpark Taken, with Gibson in the Liam Neeson role, albeit as an inked-up ex-con, biker badass.

Mad Mel anchors the movie, in a perfect Mel Gibson role, one of the …

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Added Aug 20, 2016 12:44AM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
25th In Order of Disa...
2014 Perfect 66 Points
_100

Ran in Europe during 2014, In Order of Disappearance premiered in American during September 2016.

Most everyone gets murdered in this crackerjack Scandinavian noir, making In Order of Disappearance – a long yet telling title for the most assured film of the year – serious as a headshot, yet o…

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Added Sep 11, 2016 12:01AM PST • Updated Sep 11, 2016 12:03AM PST
26th The Beatles: Eig...
2016 Perfect 66 Points
_100

Beatlemania boggles because of the Beatles and the mania around them, especially from ‘62 to ’66 when they exploded on the world and toured to rabid crowds of hormonal girls. Ron Howard’s fun and insightful doc about those halcyon days doesn’t stint on John, Paul, George & Ringo, or the mania they triggered.

The footage of girls gone wild is endlessly entertaining, their teenage passion off the hook and out the door. LOLs are frequent as crazed girls clutch their hair, shield their eyes and faint at the wonder of the Fab Four. Has there ever been a better Boy Band than the Beatles? A…

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Added Sep 17, 2016 01:14AM PST • Updated Sep 17, 2016 01:14AM PST
27th Sully
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Tom Hanks does Chesley Sullenberger proud as Sully in Sully, an ideal combo of star and subject.
Hanks is, of course, the Baby Boomer’s Jimmy Stewart, portrayer of self-effacing American heroes.

Clint Eastwood’s capable eye, sense and music bring the Miracle on the Hudson to life. Eastwood maintains his standard of directorial greatness with Sully, a level he’s mostly maintained for almost 40 pictures now.

Sully’s right-stuff heroism was the best story to play out in real life for the past decade at least. Or so it seems fr…

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Added Sep 17, 2016 05:46PM PST • Updated Sep 17, 2016 05:46PM PST
28th The Accountant
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

The Accountant provides a fresh and topical spin on familiar action movie tropes by making its hero an autistic. Ben Affleck stiffly and therefore ably plays the congenitally maladjusted number-cruncher / assassin of the title. Backed up by a strong supporting cast – Jon Bernthal is a particular highlight – Big Ben’s got himself a well deserved hit and the basis of a new series. Let’s hear it for the badass autistic hero!

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Added Oct 29, 2016 12:44PM PST • Updated Oct 29, 2016 12:44PM PST
29th Hacksaw Ridge
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Okinawa was once a byword for the savagery of war. Hacksaw Ridge plumbs the depths of that savagery and the grace that also attended it in the form of Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss. A conscientious objector, Doss was unsurpassed in bravery, personally rescuing 75 wounded men from the “typhoon of steel” that was the Battle of Okinawa. But first the movie explores Doss’s life leading up to his heroism.

In fact, the Hacksaw Ridge scenes of Hacksaw Ridge don’t occur until halfway into this long movie. Director Mel Gibson dedicates…

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Added Nov 10, 2016 11:26PM PST • Updated Nov 10, 2016 11:26PM PST
30th Doctor Strange
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Marvel has yet another big hit and series-starter in Doctor Strange, an often funny, visually dazzling and even profound superhero epic. While not a surprise, the studio’s run remains nothing less than marvelous.

The movie proves rewarding in several ways. First of all it’s funny, with a steady patter of bon mots that pretty much all work. It’s also visually inventive, albeit seems somewhat derivative of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, with urban canyons becoming plastic constructs that turn like watch gears. Next, its popcorn phil…

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Added Nov 13, 2016 05:44PM PST • Updated Nov 13, 2016 05:44PM PST
31st The Eagle Huntress
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Mongolian men have hunted with eagles for a millennium, an amazing partnership of human and raptor. Now the eagle hunters have welcomed a female, and a mere girl of 13 at that. This crisp documentary about that eagle huntress awes and uplifts in equal measure, the latter from its cheerful story of female empowerment, the former as a lens into the super cool practice, transcendent really, of hunting with eagles.

What 13 year old kid wouldn’t want a pet eagle? The kid in me fell in love with the notion, and with Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the eagle huntress herself. She and her ever supportive fa…

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Added Nov 20, 2016 02:05AM PST • Updated Nov 20, 2016 02:05AM PST
32nd Allied
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Casablanca it’s not, but Allied is a damn good romantic thriller set in WWII Casablanca, or at least initially set there. Most of the movie then takes place in London during the blitz, with Brad Pitt’s proto-007 thrust into domestic espionage against his wife, played by Marion Cotillard. It’s an enthralling concoction.

Humphrey Bogart notwithstanding, the moviestar backstory to Allied revolves around Brad Pitt, whose real marriage infamously blew up shortly before the premiere. Life imitates art, or so it seems. Further, he and Angelina Jolie famously met as Mr. & Mrs. Smith

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Added Dec 06, 2016 08:07PM PST • Updated Dec 06, 2016 08:07PM PST
33rd Manchester by th...
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Deaths in the family surround Casey Affleck’s New Englander, dragging him down and knocking him around in Manchester by the Sea. Kenneth Lonergan’s latest fractured-family film has been highly praised at film festivals and has Oscar buzz around it, especially for Affleck’s tortured performance. All this is right and good, even if Manchester by the Sea is not the best of Lonergan’s three family drama pictures.

That honor remains with You Can Count On Me, his filmmaking debut from 2000. But that’s not to diss his latest,…

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Added Dec 11, 2016 04:56PM PST • Updated Dec 11, 2016 04:56PM PST
34th La La Land
2016 Really Great 83 Points
_100

La La Land is everything it’s cracked up to be: romantic, brilliant, whimsical, thought provoking, so L.A. Thus it’s a great date movie and a worthy best picture contender, the latter all the more likely after it swept the Golden Globes. Plus it reunites Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone, the Bogie & Bacall of our day.

Or would they be the Astaire & Rodgers of our day? Well maybe neither, since Gosling & Stone are actors who also do song and dance, at which they’re little more than acceptable. Good thing they’re terrific actors. She is especially remarkable, a fact that becomes evident durin…

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Added Jan 19, 2017 11:31PM PST • Updated Jan 19, 2017 11:31PM PST
35th Toni Erdmann
2016 Really Great 66 Points
_100

A professionally successful woman mystifies her foolish father in the brilliantly funny Toni Erdmann. Nominated this year for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, its comedy comes from the juxtaposition of unconditional love with highly conditional status, the former in a family, the latter in a modern corporation.

A father loves his daughter no matter what, and she him, even when he wreaks disaster on her carefully orchestrated and well-heeled life. Meanwhile, she is always on thin-ice with her demanding boss and feckless client, never able to speak a straightforward utterance. Being a co…

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Added Feb 07, 2017 10:17PM PST • Updated Feb 07, 2017 10:17PM PST
36th The Salesman
2016 Great 66 Points
_100

The Salesman validates my love of movies by bringing to the screen a slice-of-life at once prosaic and yet theatrical, and insanely thrilling. It’s also familiar to a Western audience, though set in Iran. Yeah, it’s an Iranian movie, making it utterly fascinating to Westerners like me who are interested in the Iranian people away from their theocratic overlords. No surprise then that it’s a nominee for Best Foreign Language Oscar.

It’s Oscar pedigree extends to writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s earlier film, A Separation, which …

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Added Feb 25, 2017 05:20PM PST • Updated Feb 25, 2017 05:20PM PST

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