Looking Back at 2016

As the sun sets on what can only be described as an “interesting” year, time for some reflections, thoughts, and hope for what is to come in 2017 both cinematically and for the world as a whole.

A bunch of wouldas-couldas-shouldas. Normally I am eager to run to my latest multiplex or art house theater to see the latest and greatest. Well, 2016 seemed to provide a mixed bag for me. While I still averaged about one trip to the movie theater a month, overall, until pretty late in the calendar, not many films I felt were “must sees.” This and the fact that my work-life balance in 2016 got totally out of joint meant that I had a bit of a scaling back of my viewing and coverage of many films. Among some missed opportunities this year included:

Sure this is a short list which will over the years grow as I look back and attempt to play catch up, but for now, these are films I really wish that I had seen while the getting was good.

And yet there were more than a handful of pleasant surprises… some were covered here and some have yet to be covered. Chief among this lot is the Irish indie Sing Street, which screams of nostalgia for that wonderful musical decade (the 1980’s) in a refreshing and entertaining way. More on this in an upcoming post.

Increased access and availability to decades worth of world cinema. One of the more pleasurable experiences I have had in mixing old and new when it comes to my luv of cinema is that the possibilities of “discoveries” becomes nearly limitless. And now, thanks to specialist streaming services like the TCM-Criterion collaboration Filmstruck, the world of cinema is a few clicks of a remote or keystroke away. My first film viewed using this service was the 1943 French horror film La Main du diable. Based on my reaction after plucking this title out of the catalog, I am sure that over the course of this next year (paid subscription through 2017), I will definitely get my money’s worth.

The year in which I saw The Passion of Joan of Arc. I discussed this film around the time I saw it at the 2016 TCM Film Festival, but it is worth mentioning again. Simply stated, seeing this film on the big screen with live musical accompaniment was a truly transformative experience for me. I cannot say enough about this film.

… also the year I saw I, Daniel Blake. Speaking of transformative cinematic experiences, Ken Loach’s latest reduced me to a puddle of tears. It is definitely a film that I found myself recommending over and over again to folks.

Not all ‘boyhoods’ are created equally. I know that everyone is praising Moonlight right now, but believe it, it is well deserved.  I said it at the time and it holds up even more now that I have had months to meditate on it – Moonlight, a poetic story of a young man coming up in a world that may not totally understand him, is everything that I think films like Boyhood could only aspire to be. And I say that as someone who liked Boyhood.

Looking ahead to 2017 …

This probably is worthy of its own post in the coming days since it requires a level of research on my part, but as I always do, I go into the new year with my eyes and ears open. Maybe because of the world events which surround us all, I am really (really) looking forward to going to the movies as a form of escape. What does that mean about the frequency of and selection of the films I see? Only time will tell. But starting in mid-January, I look forward to covering the Sundance Film Festival – again from afar (scheduling will not allow me to travel out to Park City this year). I have taken a look at the films scheduled, but now plan on really going deep, as in recent years, I have used the films screened at Sundance as a barometer of gauging what most to look forward to in the next twelve months.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Even before my ‘remote coverage’ begins, I am starting the new year off right by seeing Fences tomorrow.

So that is me done – see you next year!


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