Top Ten Films of 2017

We pretty much knew last year’s Best Picture Oscars race was coming down to La La Land and Moonlight right after the completion of the Toronto International Film Festival in September. But while there’s something to be said about the strength of films able to ascend to frontrunner position, I can’t help loving the idea of heading into March without a clue as to who might win. Ask ten different critics what their favorite of 2017 is and I’d estimate hearing at least eight unique titles. There’s a level of excitement to this reality…

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REVIEW: Mudbound [2017]

They say it’s bad luck to watch somebody leave. People too often speak about America’s scars as though the damage was done, skin healed over, and remnants already mostly faded away. But this isn’t true. Ask any member of a group that has been marginalized from the moment Europeans landed on the Atlantic shore until now—namely anyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Christian—and hear about the myriad ways in which their country has still yet to treat them like they belong. Too many wax on about giving Native Americans land,…

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REVIEW: Detroit [2017]

“Burn it down” The title may be presumptuous enough to broadly call itself Detroit, but make no mistake that Kathryn Bigelow‘s latest film is very much about the Algiers Motel incident on the night of July 25th, 1967. Screenwriter Mark Boal allows for some prologue exposition before reaching that fateful evening—setting up the events that sparked the city’s five-day long 12th Street Riot—but nothing more. We witness the raid conducted on a club operating without a liquor license, watch the streets erupt with fury in response, and move between archival…

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REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island [2017]

“Eating’s for the living” It’s amazing how a film’s success can create a tidal wave, but that’s exactly what Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla did in 2014. We’re talking critical acclaim, half a billion dollars at the box office, and a rejuvenated plea for monster flicks. Well the first two are fact, the third merely hope on behalf of Legendary Pictures. Because their investment isn’t just sequels, it’s about a “MonsterVerse” so important to them that they got Universal Pictures to give Kong: Skull Island‘s rights to Warner Bros. so a single…

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REVIEW: Keanu [2016]

“It’s like smoking crack with God” After the massive success of former “MADtv” comics Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s eponymous sketch comedy show “Key & Peele” it was only a matter of time before the duo would grace the silver screen together. It’s actually surprising that it’s taken this long (the Comedy Central property went for five seasons before being put on indefinite hold by the creators) considering Key is everywhere you look these days on TV and film. Peele is the one you don’t notice very much (and only…

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Top Ten Films of 2015: Where emotions run high

I have no problem saying 2015 was a great year for cinema. Putting together a Top Ten was difficult at every turn—both because each time I had to do so meant I had seen more films and as a result of my preferences constantly changing. There are more than a few from 11-20 that easily could be Top Ten candidates on a different day. Sadly for them that day isn’t today. Happily for us: the art’s level of quality was good enough to cause such problems. Rules: eligible feature-length films…

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Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

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REVIEW: Straight Outta Compton [2015]

“Speak a little truth and people lose their minds” NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton is a conventional biopic. And I hate conventional biopics. It’s therefore a good thing its story is anything but. Between its time period containing an excess of racial and political strife to the void of a black voice filled by rap lyrics expressing said climate devoid of fear to the crisscross of music industry and gang life, this thing is so much more than merely a rags to riches tale of some kids from Los Angeles.…

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