Friday, February 17, 2017

Mason's 2016 Top Ten Movie List

#1 Hacksaw Ridge

Colonel Stelzer: What the hell is your delay, captain?
Captain Glover: We're waiting, sir.
Colonel Stelzer: Waiting for what?
Captain Glover: Private Doss
Colonel Stelzer: Who the hell is Private Doss?

Please watch this movie to find out. This took the number one spot this year the second I finished watching it. The first half is a bit of love story and background. The second half is war and violence. The heart of the story is conviction. I was struck with such pride for how true and strong Private Doss holds to his convictions. I mean, don’t we all have things we deeply believe in? But would you hold strong to those beliefs when all hell and pressure are fighting to get you to back down from them? Even just a bit? And then to pray that all your persecution would be worth it but the pressure and pain never let up. The pay off comes at the end of this movie. What a hero. To see the actual people the movie was based on made me about lose it in the theater. Thank you to everyone who serves and has served our country. You deserved to be honored the way this movie honors Private Doss.

#2 Lion

“Help me!”

Hearing those words from the cutest kid ever and I guarantee your heart will break. It’s the true story of a lost boy. Fast forward and he’s a young man having been adopted and trying to find his birth mother. “I'm starting to remember a life I had forgotten.” An impossible task it seems. This movie really leaves you with how fortunate we are and how good we have it. He goes from an extremely poor but happy home to a prosperous home. I loved the perspective of the mother rolls in this movie. Nicole Kidman was awesome! And his birth mother who never stopped loving or gave up hope her son would make his way home. You’ll be routing for him to find his origins and the payoff is beautiful and miraculous. Just try not to shed a tear. I dare you.

#3 Life Animated

“No sidekick gets left behind”
“Can we watch three scenes of ”dumbo” to celebrate?”

The inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. I could barely stand to watch this. It was sweet and cute and sad and heartbreaking and wonderful. My heart could barely take it. Owen is the coolest. For real. His parents and brother are such loving supportive “sidekicks”. I have such a soft spot in my heart for anyone with special needs. I mean i’m truly blessed in life. Watching Owen try to navigate life was simply irresistable. I could watch an entire reality show on him. His views of life are simple and sweet yet broken down to its simple core. That was sad. This is happy. Simple terms. The story telling of this documentary was perfect. Beautiful animations mixed with real life home videos and clips from disney movies. It will reach out and grab your heart and also educate about autism at the same time. The scene wear he burns himself on the cookie sheet in front of his girlfriend...I can’t even.

#4 La La Land

Mia: It's pretty strange that we keep running into each other.
Sebastian: Maybe it means something.
Mia: I doubt it.
Sebastian: Yeah, I didn't think so.

I’ve heard people loving this movie and absolutely hating it. I guess thats always been the case with musicals. I for one am a fan. They used to be a staple then dissappeared. But have been creaping back in for the last little while and i’ve loved them for the most part. Moulin Rouge and Chicago being among my favorites. This hit the spot as well. Sort of a throw back to the style of the past but blended with a current modern twist. Ryan and Emma were perfectly cast. The chemistry between them was there. The songs were great and heartfelt. The dancing choreography was so fun to watch. For those that hated it, i mights suggest you watch it again. Sometimes musicals need a couple viewings to get used to the music and the vibe. Like a new cd, you got to give it a once over to get the general feel then a replay to really enjoy it. And for those that loved it, might I suggest checking out a full album Ryan put out years ago. The band is Dead Man’s Bones. He’s the lead singer. I love almost every song. Also google him singing “you always hurt the ones you love” from the movie Blue Valentine. Also good!

#5 A Man Called Ove

“Either we die...or we live”

Oscar nominated for best foreign film, this movie is based on a Swedish best seller. The story is of a curmudgeonly old man whose grumpy life is brightened by forces beyond his control. Going into this one I definitely was worried about liking it. I’ve seen many movies where they try and justify someones terrible behavior by revealing the past life they lived that nobody really knew about. I guess the thought that you should be allowed to be a jerk just because you lost someone or have been to war or something doesn’t sit well with me. Don’t get me wrong. Understanding others and empathy are keys to getting along with all the personalities that exist around us. I guess it comes down to those other movies failed at this message where as this one succeeds. There is depth and heart and meaningfulness throughout. At first there is judgement on who this guy is. By the end, there is understanding and sympathy. Life can deal us some rotten situations and there can always be something to be bothered by. But letting people help us and helping them in return is crucial to a fullfilling life.

#6 Arrival

“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”

Twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. It’s not too often you get a smart thinker sci fi movie. While it does move sort of slow, if you let it in, you will be thinking deeper than just surface. Communication and language are explored and a new way to look at life is presented. Worth a rewatch by the time you are done, just to wrap your head around it more fully. What if you couldn’t speak? How would you communicate? Is there a language we all understand? What walls get broken down by being able to communicate? This movie is not so much about the aliens after all but the human race. Our good, our bad and our ugly.

#7 13 Hours

"He died in a place he didn't need to be, in a battle over something he doesn't understand, in a country that meant nothing to him."

At an unofficial CIA base in Benghazi a group of ex-military contractors are providing security. The only forces willing and able to defend it are six CIA contractors. It’s movies like these that i’m so grateful to see. They open my eyes to war and violence outside my safe bubble. I don’t want to go thru life naive to the turmoil going on around us. I especially don’t want to ignore or discredit the huge amounts of heroism and bravery that are happening everyday. The six CIA contractors in this movie are a different breed of men. Their courage and bravery are astounding. The events during the 13 hours this movie is based on will shock you and open your eyes. This came out early in the year but has stood the test of time as one I still tell people not to miss.

#8 Hidden Figures

“Every time we get a chance to get ahead they move the finish line. Every time.”

The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. I love when these stories are told in a way where everyone can enjoy them and learn from them too. Sometimes they can villify the white man to a degree where you lose the integrity of the message. In this case, the messages were clear and the script was so well crafted that you laughed, were inspired and moved all at the same time. We’ve come such a long way. Its important to look back and remember that. To not make the same mistakes. I loved all the women in this movie. Each a unique character that had something to prove. Self worth and pride as a human being. Not defined by race, or religion or color or background. And what a difference they made too.

#9 Hell or High Water

“I've been poor my whole life, like a disease passing from generation to generation. But not my boys, not anymore.”

A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas. I think what stands out the most about this movie are the characters. It’s been a while since i’ve seen a movie where everyone has such depth to who they are. Especially in a western where it can be easy to paint the hero and the villain. Even the location of Texas is a character well established here. Lines seem to be a bit blurred with right and wrong in this sort of bank robber caper. While there is a bit of gun slinging, the heart of the movie is the relationship of the characters to each other. The deputy on the verge of retirement and his partner were a sort of mirror or parralel to the two brothers. The motive is well intentioned and you want them to succeed but you are also cautious to the mess they get in. You feel the tension deep inside. Chris Pine and Ben Foster were seriously so good in this.

#10 The Light Between Oceans

"You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day"

A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat. The problem is...I won’t give it away. Don’t watch the trailer either. Let the drama unfold. Many reviews for this praised the acting the cinematography but sort of shamed the emotional manipulation and over melodrama. I think the key is to look past what you would have done if you were the lead characters and try and go with it. There is deeper message here. What choices do you make in your life? Would you make those same choices if you knew nobody was watching? But our choices have consequences even if nobody is watching.The lighthouse was a character all on its own. Completely secluded and private. There is such a mood and style to this movie that I fell in love with. And the acting was truly superb. It all drew me in and I enjoyed the discussion it sparked afterward.

Worth Seeing True Stories:
Ok, there were a bunch of movies that I really enjoyed but didn’t quite make the top then. Then I realized they are all based on true stories. Definitely check them all out.

• Patriots Day
Loved this one. Almost made the top ten. Great telling of that terrible marathon bombing.

• Eddie the Eagle
Loved the 80’s style of this movie. Just good family fun.

• Florence Foster Jenkins
Probably a half hour too long but I love Meryl Streep. I love that the character just goes for it. Totally oblivious.

• Queen of Katwe
Also could have been edited down a bit. Loved that the character rises from a life of slim opportunity with chess of all things.

• Deep Water Horizon
I saw this in the XD theater and the scnes quite literally rumbled my entire body. I felt completely integrated in the film. Very well shot.

• Loving
Too slow but the story of an interracial married couple and their battle into the supreme court. Worth seeing as a glimpse of how far we’ve come and those that pioneered the way.

• Silence
Probably an hour too long and moves slow with almost no music. Not interested? Ha well there is something to gain from seeing this story. Religious discrimination in 1639 japan was at its height. Still today religious freedom is a fight.

• The Founder
Grab some McDonalds and watch this. Pretty interesting background to a fast food joint we are all familiar with.

• Moonlight
Nominated for best picture this tells the story of the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world. Some interesting discussion points. Looking at the character as a child you would never guess one day he’s be nominated for a movie about his life. Pretty cool.

• The White Helmets
Nominated for best documentary short. This tells the story of a group of first responders who risk their lives to rescue victims from the rubble. I would be in the dark to incredible real stories like this if it weren’t for documentaries. Grateful.

• The Finest Hours
The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod. I just really enjoyed this story. I could not be a seaman.

Best Horror/Suspense Films:

• Green Room
A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. I never really knew where this was headed and I was freaked out by the scenario throughout. One of the last films starring Anton Yelchin who I’ve always liked.

• Don’t Breath
A trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems. Awesome premise right? If done right. And it was. Reminded me of wait until dark. So scary to think you have the upper hand when you don’t. It twists and turns and surprises you.

• The Girl on the Train
I love everything Emily Blunt stars in. I especialy love when its a suspense thriller. We just don’t get good ones anymore. This had a mood and style to it that I really enjoyed.

• Allied
Really worth seeing. The script is great on this and the acting too.

• Eye in the Sky
A story about ethics and moral dilemmas. It was really thought provoking to me.

Best Family Films:

• Kubo and the Two Strings
I feel like a stop motion animation will always have my heart. Such artistic talent involved. This had good story too.

• The Jungle Book
A box office success. This movie looked great and was fun to watch.

• Pete’s Dragon
I remember watching this feeling like it was like the family films I grew up watching. Totally enjoyed it.

• Trolls
I totally enjoyed this. Ha. Just short and silly and weird and colorful and fun!

• Moana
Having just visited Maui how can you not love a story based there? Great looking animation and story telling and music.

Over Rated:

• Fences
Worth seeing for performances only.  The first half is such a struggle to watch. Hated it actually. The last half was better but ultimately didn’t take much away from it.

• Manchester by the Sea
A slice of life movie. Seriously you are dropped in the middle of this guys life and just watch him. Perople are raving about casey affleck but I thought was just ok. Didn’t take much away from this movie either. It was fine but thats all.

• Rogue One
Sorry Star Wars lovers. I fell asleep in this. Don’t get me wrong The Force Awakens made my top ten but this one was just an average movie to me.

• Hail, Caesar!

Hated everything about this movie.

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