The tradition continues. I’ve been documenting my top films of the year since 2002, when Bowling for Columbine took the top spot. This past year had some real gems, including those that made this list, as well as some that didn’t, like low-budget indie The Florida Project and large-scale blockbuster Beauty and the Beast. Check out my 2017 list, then tell me what made your list.
I have a bit of an attachment to this film. “Stutterer”, written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, was submitted to a film festival of which I was a member of the screening committee. I loved it. Of the 100 or so films I screened that year, it was one of the best I had seen. I championed it to the programmers in hopes that they’d agree and add it to the festival’s slate. Alas, the film didn’t make the cut—not because it wasn’t good or deserving. Great films are often rejected from festivals for any number of reasons. Months later, “Stutterer” was nominated for an Oscar, along with one other film I screened for the same festival (which I also championed and was also rejected). “Stutterer” won. (I should start my own damn festival.)
Eight years later, I’m still waiting for that magical piece of mail, inviting me to join your fine organization. But that’s not keeping me from sounding off on a few Oscar categories. I’ve seen all the nominated films, and I have some thoughts that should be considered. So allow me to make your job easier. Here’s who should win. You’re welcome.
On the occasion of the poster release for new film Christine, allow me to tell you a brief story about why doing means so much more than just talking.
Some years ago, I happened upon my college’s Wikipedia page. As I scanned over the “Notable Alumni” section, one name stood out to me—one that I didn’t recognize: Christine Chubbuck. I clicked on her name and found myself reading this story of a troubled woman whose tragic actions shook the world of live television. I happened to think about her again just last year when a psychotic man gunned down a reporter and her cameraman during a live feed in Roanoke, Virginia.
Written and directed by actor Nate Parker in his feature directorial debut, The Birth of a Nation tells the story of former slave Nat Turner (played by Parker), who leads a liberation movement to free slaves in Virginia in 1831. The film also stars Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, and Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley.
The Birth of a Nation is this year’s big Sundance hit, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, and notably shattering a sales record at the Festival by selling distribution rights to Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million. With a fall release date of October 7—and with a powerhouse indie distributor in Searchlight, which also released recent Best Picture winners Birdman (2014) and 12 Years a Slave (2013)—it’s bound to ride high through next year’s Oscars. So perhaps #OscarsSoWhite will finally be a thing of the past.
Nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Short Film, Animated, “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” is a beautiful film about friendship and dreams. This is Russian filmmaker Konstantin Bronzit’s second Oscar nomination in this category; his previous nomination came in 2009 for his animated short “Lavatory Lovestory.”
For the seventh year, we decided to offer you a little help in deciding some of the biggest Oscar races—free of charge. And never has it been as important that we do so than this year, one of the most competitive races in recent memory with no clear frontrunners in many categories. Take it from us, because we’re kinda good at this.
Now that all eight Best Picture Oscar-nominated films have been announced, it’s time to catch up with your screenings before the February 28 ceremony. Here’s a parade of trailers for all Best Picture nominees to get you ready. Check out a complete list of nominees for the 88th Academy Awards here.
Christopher Nolan’s first IMDb credit came for writing, directing, shooting, editing, and set designing his 3-minute short film, “Doodlebug” (1997). The black-and-white, noirish film was made while Nolan (then credited as “Chris”) was studying English literature at university. Its lone performer, Jeremy Theobald, later starred in Nolan’s feature debut, Following (1998), another black-and-white noir just a year later.
It doesn’t take much to notice the early stages of Nolan’s evolving “film mind” in this brief piece. The various levels of reality at play here are fully on display in a greater form in Nolan’s 2010 film, Inception.
I have to say, I’m not David O. Russell’s biggest fan, though he has made some films I admire. Lately, he’s found favor with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook). So if you’re into that quartet, you’ll want to check out Joy, opening Christmas Day. Based on a true story, Lawrence stars as Joy Mangano, the struggling Long Island entrepreneur mom who invented the Miracle Mop and launched a business empire. Russell wrote the script off a story by Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids, 2011) and Russell. The film also stars Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and Isabella Rossellini. Check out the trailer below.