And we’re off! The best time of the year is officially underway — and though I have been absolutely awful at keeping up with September and October releases, I still managed to check a few off my list.
But before we get into all that, let’s quickly review the qualifications for my rankings. Last year I developed a soccer-themed hierarchy for classifying the movies I watched each month — here they are again with a bit more context for any non-sport enthusiasts:
- The Golden Goal
(n). a rule used to decide the winner of a match in which the score is equal at the end of normal time; under this rule, the team that scores the first goal wins and ends the game
*note: ceased to apply to most FIFA-authorized games in 2004 (but I still like it because sudden death is infinitely better than penalties)
(movie ranking). my favorite film from the month; the must-see, the can’t-miss; the end-all, be-all
- The Hat Trick
(n). the scoring of three goals in one game by one player
(movie ranking). the must-sees that hit my three main movie-watching criteria: excellent performances, beautiful direction, engaging plot; receiving critical acclaim
- The Bicycle Kick
(n). advanced soccer skill achieved by throwing the body backward in the air and getting one leg in front of the order to hit an airborne ball rearwards above the head level before hitting the ground; usually garners wide attention
*note: that may sound complicated so here
(movie ranking). the solidly entertaining mainstream efforts; possibly having great success at the box office; don’t need to be an uber pretentious film critic (*cough* me) to enjoy these great movies
- The Yellow Card
(n). penalty card shown by the referee to indicate a player has been officially cautioned for committing an offense
(movie ranking). the misses; lack something that could have made them great; watchable if you’re curious but come with my humble word of warning
- The Red Card
(n). penalty card shown by the referee to signify a player has been sent off; cannot be replaced during the game
(movie ranking). avoid this at all costs
Alright! Now without further ado, I give you my October 2016 movie roundup:
The Golden Goal:
I cannot emphasize this enough: go see this film. Beautiful, subtle, evocative, stunning — director Barry Jenkins gives us a glimpse into a life not often seen on the big screen. The life of gay, black man growing up during the “War on Drugs” era in Miami. His life told in three defining chapters provides only glimpses — the audience dances on the edges of the complex and vibrant lives of the characters and the environment. We may never get the full view, but we get just enough — enough be swept away. Similar to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014), the film exists as a simple spotlight on a life, a personal journey. It is a singular experience in both its grandness and intricateness. The stunning cinematography, the delicate performances, the careful direction. This should not be missed. Trust me.
The Hat Trick:
Birth of a Nation
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to classify this one. It absolutely hits all three hat trick requirements. But on the other hand, the scandal surrounding this film has severely impacted its critical acclaim (x)(x). I myself struggled with the decision to see the film — acknowledging the importance of Nat Turner’s story while at the same time having the internal age-old debate of separating the art from the artist. There are so many complex issues surrounding this whole narrative. In the end, I decided to view it as the second movie in a double-feature (in other words, see it but not pay for it). My thoughts: the movie is powerful. There is no doubt about that. The acting is tremendous, the visuals are astounding, the story is profound. Had no controversy surrounded it, I would recommend it without hesitation. And I still fully believe it is a story that must be told and a movie that must be seen. But I leave it to each moviegoer to make that decision for themselves.
The Bicycle Kick:
At this point, it’s physically impossible for me to dislike anything Tom Hanks does and this movie was no different. I really enjoyed Sully — I remember so clearly the “Miracle on the Hudson” and seeing it play out on screen again was something special. Clint Eastwood’s direction kept it simple yet emotional, focusing on the characters at the heart of the film. Despite knowing the ending, I felt completely engrossed and connected — which isn’t easy for films based on true stories. It’s definitely worth a watch, if anything for the feel-good experience you’ll have by the end. And honestly we do not deserve Tom Hanks he is a national treasure protect him at all costs.
Did I only watch this movie because of Gina Rodriguez? Maybe. Okay no actually it’s been on my list forever but she’s just so incredible. I really loved this movie, and though it won’t feature in the awards conversation as much as I might have thought before, I would still recommend it. It’s been a while since I’ve felt so caught up in a movie, and Deepwater Horizon does a great job of building tension and creating emotional connections — again, not easy for a story to which the audience knows the outcome. Not as lighthearted as Sully and definitely tougher to watch, but absolutely worth checking out.
And that’s all folks!
I know what you’re thinking — only four movies?! Yeah October was crazy for me, and I’m ashamed to admit just how behind I am on my list. But fear not, these next few months will be jam-packed with incredible releases and as we get closer to the awards, many movies will begin coming back (whether to theaters or on-demand). I will definitely include all those in future monthly reviews, especially if any begin gaining more traction as we head deeper into awards season.
But for now, a quick preview of my November must-watch list:
- Loving — 11/4
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — 11/11
- Arrival — 11/11
- Fantastic Beasts — 11/16
- Manchester by the Sea — 11/18
- Moana — 11/23
- Nocturnal Animals — 11/23
- Lion — 11/25
Kindly ignore the fact that we’re ten days into the month and I still haven’t seen any… I’m working on it!!
But for now this will give you a good guide for these next few weeks when you’re debating what to see. So my fellow moviegoers, I’m off to do some serious scheduling. Until next time, happy watching!