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The Best Films of 2016


Year: 2016
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: James Gunn
Cinematography: Luis David Sansans
Cast: John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Sean Gunn
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Time: 88 Mins.



In The Belko Experiment, a 9-5 job never looked so deadly! Directed by Wolf Creek's Greg McLean and written by Guardian's of the Galaxy's James Gunn, The Belko Experiment is Battle Royale set in a office setting. In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogota, Columbia and ordered by an ominous voice via the intercom to participate in a game of kill or be killed. What could possibly go wrong? (Considering that most people hate their co-workers!)



This should've been an instant hit considering the talent behind it but sadly, the screenplay and direction succumbs to cliches. While the action is wholly satisfying to ultra violence lovers, the beautifully set-up character development and premise doesn't pay off like it should. Instead of utilizing the office space in its entirety as a battle ground and weapon registry, it relies on quick kills via a gun. Regardless, it was a thrilling watch but let's be real, this is no Battle Royale.

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It feels like forever since I saw Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch at Beyond Fest last year! The trailer for it finally came out and it's always a delightful surprise to see how they edited the trailer. Safe to say, there is no misleading or spoilers shown, it is just as eccentric and transcendental as you think it would be. Sal from Crome Yellow and I did a review for it and we were completely enthralled and entranced by the whole cinematic experience. We especially were fond of Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey like always! Catch The Bad Batch when it comes out in theaters June 23rd! 

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Sofia Coppola's latest film The Beguiled, is just the kind of thriller we didn't know we needed! Adapted from Thomas Cullinan's novel, A Painted Devil and the 1971 film adaptation starring Clint Eastwood, the film stars an incredible line of women: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Angourie Rice and of course Colin Farrell.  Think the Virgin Suicides with less teen angst and more sexual tension! O la la! The Beguiled comes out on June 23rd by Focus Features. This is gonna be a good one!


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Kristen Stewart has teamed up with Olivier Assayas once again to bring us a ghost story called, Personal Shopper. Y'all know, I don't do ghost stories but I didn't realize that till the end of the trailer so I'm in for a reaaaal treat! Stewart was in Assayas' previous film Clouds of Sils Maria where she went to win the Cesar Best Supporting Actress Award, making her the first American actress to win a Cesar Award (French equivalent to the Oscars). Personal Shopper is a film that seems like it'll challenge Stewart to face certain demons while providing a dense story about loss. It comes out March 10th and so I still have time left to build up some courage to watch it!

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February was an exciting month for films! I realize that 3/4 of these films are horror films which explains why I haven't been sleeping so well these days. Started off the month with a bang with the all female-directed, horror anthology film, XX, which feature 4 killer tales by 4 killer directors. Then I was entranced by M. Night Shyamalan's split-personality film, Split, starring James McAvoy like we've never seen him before! There was the Oscar nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro that offered a refreshing perspective on not only the history of racism in America but the possible solution for progression. And then I capped off the month with the uber haunting and nuanced political satire, Get Out. All these films are so timely and executed to perfection, go watch them!

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Year: 2017
Director: Chad Stahelski
WriterDerek Kolstad
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Common
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Time: 122 Min.



John Wick is baaaacck and he is not messing around. As much as I was elated to hear that Keanu Reeves was reprising his role as Wick, all I could do was wonder "Why is he back?!" in John Wick: Chapter 2. Turns out for Wick to be able to quit the hitman game, he had to ask a favor from an Italian drug lord. And because of a marker aka a "blood oath", Wick has to now pay him back. Can't John Wick just live in peace?



It's no surprise why director Chad Stahelski was able to craft such an adrenaline-pumped and innovative action film as he was a stuntman for more than 20 years before he got a chance to release his directorial debut feature, John Wick. I went a little bonkers when I saw the trailer and for good reasons because there was a mini Matrix reunion and you know how much I love The Matrix! John Wick: Chapter 2 was one hell of a good time with a star-studded cast, ultra-violence and expansive look at the hitman culture! I can't wait to see what the third film has in store for us! 

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Oscars 2017 was a wild trip. From Jimmy Kimmel's outrageously satisfactory roast of Matt Damon to the Big Picture screw-up, this Oscars was one for the books. I recap some of my favorite highlights as well as list my predictions and wins down below. My most favorite part has to be when the all the La La Land producers knew that they lost but gave their winning speeches anyways. Whew! What a way to end Black History Month! A huge congrats to the Moonlight team, they deserve all the awards!



Red = Who Won
Blue = Predictions

BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land (Will Win)
Lion
Moonlight (Who I Want)
Manchester by the Sea

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences) (Will and Who I Want to Win)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) (Will and Who I Want to Win)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Isabelle Huppert (Elle) (Will and Who I Want to Win)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land) (Big Chance)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Viola Davis (Fences) (Will and Who I Want)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle (La La Land) (Will Win)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) (Who I Want)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings (Big Chance)
Moana 
My Life As a Zucchini
The Red Turtle (Will Win)
Zootopia (Who I Want)

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
Ennemis Intérieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro (Who I Want)
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made In America (Will Win)
13th (Big Chance)


DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran) (Will Win)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany) (Who I Want)

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Arrival (Will and Who I Want)
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Hell or High Water
La La Land (Will Win)
The Lobster (Who I Want)
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women (Big Chance)

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Jackie
La La Land (Will Win)
Lion
Moonlight (Who I Want)
Passengers

ORIGINAL SONG
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land
"Can't Stop The Feeling" from Trolls
"City of Stars" from La La Land (Will Win)
"The Empty Chair" from Jim: The James Foley Story
"How Far I'll Go" from Moana (Who I Want)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival (Will Win and Who I Want)
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight (Who I also Want)
Silence

FILM EDITING
Arrival (Will Win and Who I Want)
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight (Who I also Want)

COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Who I Want)
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie (Who I Want)
La La Land (Will Win)

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond (Will Win and Who I Want)
Suicide Squad

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Who I Want)
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land (Who Will Win)
Passengers

SOUND EDITING
Arrival (Who I Want)
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land (Will Win)
Sully

SOUND MIXING
Arrival (Who I Want)
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land (Will Win)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Thirteen Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book (Who I Want)
Kubo and the Two Strings (Will Win)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Arshad and I did another trailer reaction and this time to J.D. Dillard's Sleight! It premiered at Sundance last year and got picked up by Blumhouse Productions and WWE. After his mother's death, a young street magician (Jacob Latimore) turns to dealing drugs to support his little sister. When she is kidnapped by his supplier, he uses his magical abilities and intelligence to find her. I adored Chronicle so I know I'm going to enjoy Sleight especially because it is set in the inner-cities and the combination of the environment and this kind of story is something I've never seen before. I know we said the film comes out April 7th but it comes out on the 28th so get ready!



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Here are my Oscar 2017 Predictions!




BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land (Will Win)
Lion
Moonlight (Who I Want)
Manchester by the Sea

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences) (Will and Who I Want to Win)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) (Will and Who I Want to Win)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Isabelle Huppert (Elle) (Will and Who I Want to Win)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land) (Big Chance)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Viola Davis (Fences) (Will and Who I Want)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle (La La Land) (Will Win)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) (Who I Want)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings (Big Chance)
Moana 
My Life As a Zucchini
The Red Turtle (Will Win)
Zootopia (Who I Want)

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
Ennemis Intérieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro (Who I Want)
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made In America (Will Win)
13th (Big Chance)


DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran) (Will Win)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany) (Who I Want)

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Arrival (Will and Who I Want)
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Hell or High Water
La La Land (Will Win)
The Lobster (Who I Want)
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women (Big Chance)

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Jackie
La La Land (Will Win)
Lion
Moonlight (Who I Want)
Passengers

ORIGINAL SONG
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land
"Can't Stop The Feeling" from Trolls
"City of Stars" from La La Land (Will Win)
"The Empty Chair" from Jim: The James Foley Story
"How Far I'll Go" from Moana (Who I Want)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival (Will Win and Who I Want)
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight (Who I also Want)
Silence

FILM EDITING
Arrival (Will Win and Who I Want)
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight (Who I also Want)

COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Who I Want)
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie (Who I Want)
La La Land (Will Win)

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond (Will Win and Who I Want)
Suicide Squad

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Who I Want)
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land (Who Will Win)
Passengers

SOUND EDITING
Arrival (Who I Want)
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land (Will Win)
Sully

SOUND MIXING
Arrival (Who I Want)
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land (Will Win)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Thirteen Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book (Who I Want)
Kubo and the Two Strings (Will Win)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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