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The Best Films of 2016

The Most Anticipated Sundance Films!


Sundance is less than a week and I am proud to announce that I will be attending this year's Sundance Film Festival! I am continuously impressed by Sundance's extensive and expansive selection of films every year! And of course, I am enthralled by just the sheer fact that I will be breathing the same icy air as these wondrous filmmakers, press, and film lovers alike! Going to Sundance has been a life-long dream of mine so I am definitely starting out 2015 right! There are so many great films at this festival but sadly, I was only able to get 10 tickets for right now. So naturally, I had to ensure that those 10 films were all on my ultimate MUST-SEE list and I am proud to say that I was able to get everything I had wanted. So without further ado, here are the top films I got tickets for as well as the other brilliant films I desperately want to see!



Tickets I've Already Gotten:


Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)

A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, Alla Tumanyan, James Ransone.

Why
: I am so drunk in love with Sean Baker's filmmaking style and stories that highlights underrepresented  communities with such sincerity and ferocity. And Tangerine especially because the story takes place on the nitty gritty streets of Los Angeles featuring transgender actresses in all their glory! I don't expect anything less than a visceral, intoxicating, and dynamic film experience from Sean. The man basically can do no wrong! His previous films, Take OutPrince of Broadway, and Starlet are all on Netflix so get on it folks!


Advantageous (Dir. Jennifer Phang)

In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.

Why: Just watch the short film version of Advantageous and you will know why. This premise is so dense, I can't wait to see a full-length feature of them really digging into this world that talks about complex social issues about economies, values, and gender disparity. And it doesn't hurt that there is an Asian woman in the forefront of this film that isn't sexualized or a tiger mom in any way.


Knock Knock (Dir. Eli Roth)

Two beautiful young girls walk into a married man's life and turn a wild fantasy into his worst nightmare. Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana De Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp.

Why: Two Things: Keanu Reeves and two girls. What could possibly go wrong?! Oh man, so many things and I've grown to love Keanu more and more these days after John Wick and Side by Side. So, I'm really hoping shit goes down and Eli Roth is gives us some sexy time with this uber attractive trio. Of course, some gun play wouldn't be so bad either.


Seoul Searching (Dir. Benson Lee)

A comedy set in the ’80s about a group of foreign-born Korean teenagers who meet at a Seoul summer camp to learn what it means to be Korean. The three boys, from the U.S., Mexico, and Germany, then meet three girls who rock their world. Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Byul Kang.

Why: I've been a fan of all of Benson Lee's work since his first documentary about B-Boys called Planet B-Boy so naturally, I was interested in his new work which is a teen comedy, featuring an all Asian cast! In the 80s! In Korea! I've been waiting to see another teen high school comedy since forever and with the merging of Koreans from all over the globe, it is bound to get so culturally diverse in this film! Check out the film's teaser because it looks like a freaking riot! 


Pervert Park (Dir. Frida Barkfors & Lasse Barkfors)

Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed.

Why: The title alone the reason why I am so intrigued because as much as I fear for my life of having an incident with a sex offender, they are (obviously) people as well who are battling with their own demons. It'll be a nice and eye-opening documentary to see their perspective of their crimes and situation in-depth than what meets the eye.


The Nightmare (Dir. Rodney Ascher)

A documentary-horror film exploring the phenomenon of sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight people. They (and a surprisingly large number of others) often find themselves trapped between the sleeping and awake realms, unable to move but aware of their surroundings while subject to disturbing sights and sounds.

WhyGetting sleep paralysis is LIT.ER.ALLY. my worst nightmare and I wish it never happens to me like it has to so many other people. So why am I watching a film about something that I am so horrified by? Ascher's previous documentary, Room 237 was superbly made and I am continuously fascinated by his work and subjects. So while just the act of watching this documentary will be pure psychological punishment, I'm doing it for the art! And cause I'm a masochist. Horray?


Dope (Dir. Rick Famuyiwa)

Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.

Why: Y'all know me and Los Angeles films! We need more of them! Especially ones that show the unfiltered version of LA and not the glitzy glam of Hollywood. And I always love a good coming-of-age storie with a diverse cast like this one! Who can deny Tony Revolori after The Grand Budapest Hotel! Tbh, this film just looks dope, just as the title implies and with a film with A$AP Rocky, I wouldn't expect anything less! *Cue A$AP Rocky's Wild for the Night*


Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Dir. Chloé Zhao)

This complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home. Cast: John Reddy, Jashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller, Travis Lone Hill, Eléonore Hendricks

Why: I have not seen any of Zhao's previous works but as she is supported by every independent film organization including IFP and Film Independent, I would definitely like to see her work! The premise and image seems like she will tell a unique story about Indians like we've never seen before. And to be honest with you, I don't think I've ever seen a film about Native Americans so it'll be great to see a story that explores their culture, land, and identity. 


City of Gold (Dir. Laura Gabbert)

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold casts his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of his beloved Los Angeles.

Why: Jonathan Gold is my go-to guy when I don't know what to eat and as he is an iconic figure of Los Angeles, I must watch this film! I mean the guy was born in Los Angeles, went to UCLA, and now works for The LA Times! I don't know anyone who is more LA than Gold right here! His eccentric look and positively vivacious writing about food (specifically ethnic food) is what makes him so damn unique as a critic and a figure in the food industry. 


Hot Girls Wanted (Dir. Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus)

Hot Girls Wanted is a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it.

Why: Why not?! Just the word porn is provocative enough to make me watch this documentary but also considering that it focuses on young women, it would be fascinating to see their perspective of what the porn world is like as a novice. Tackling not only porn but the internet and the theme of the "girl next door" is endlessly alluring as how all these factors have contributed to changing the platform of the adult film industry in many ways since the birth of dial-up.
Films I Want to See:

Fresh Dressed (Director: Sacha Jenkins)


The history of hip-hop fashion from its birth in the South Bronx to its rise as a billion-dollar global industry, “Fresh Dressed” is supported by rich archival materials, in-depth interviews with individuals crucial to the evolution, and the outsiders who study and admire them.


The Hunting Ground (Dir. Kirby Dick) 


From the makers of “The Invisible War” comes a startling expose of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and brutal social toll. Weaving together verite footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education and justice — despite harsh retaliation, harassment, and pushback.


The Mask You Live In (Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom)


Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? “The Mask You Live In” explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.


Finders Keepers (Dir. Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel)


Recovering addict and amputee John Wood finds himself in a stranger-than-fiction battle to reclaim his mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction and believes it to therefore be his rightful property.

The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)

Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and recreate meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.

Lila & Eve (Dir. Charles Stone III)

Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder, attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They soon embark on a journey of revenge, but also recovery. Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen.

Mistress America (Dir. Noah Baumbach) 

Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke.

(Synopsis via Indiewire)

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