We’re almost there, guys. 2016 is almost over, and hopefully we can all enjoy a small bit of relief over that fact before 2017 comes up and sucker-punches us with its own particular existential shitshow. But even with all the awfulness of the last twelve months, there were some bright spots. I got my first comic story selected for publication. I got engaged. And as always, there has been some tremendous art from incredible artists to guide me and inspire me and lay the groundwork for how to face the world. So, in lieu of a normal Favorites list, I decided to write up the artists that helped me get through the ugliness of 2016.
So far this year, my favorite movies have been films driven by uplift and hope and sheer entertainment, spread over a range of tones and styles. But even now, when I could use as much entertaining inspiration as possible, it can just as (if not more) cathartic to watch something unabashedly mean and ugly and grisly. For me, that film is Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, a rip-roaring motherfucker of a film that punches you in the face and expects a “thank you” for it. I highly recommend it.
There have been many iterations of The Jungle Book over the years, including several live-action films, but none have been enough to usurp the 1967 animated classic or the original Rudyard Kipling stories. Until now, that is. With this latest incarnation of the tale of Mowgli, director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Marks have created what might prove to be the ultimate version of Kipling’s world, removing the ugly racism and retaining all of the wonder and adventure. The result is one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and one I already can’t wait to revisit.
This past week has seen Las Vegas play host to the annual CinemaCon, a convention where theater owners and Hollywood executives gather to show off new movies and hardware, and to panic about the future of their industry. Over the last few years, it seems like CinemaCon has always been the backdrop for the latest hand-wringing about winning over young audience members or internet streaming or what-have-you. This year’s convention was no different, and once again showcased an industry that seems incredibly desperate and oblivious to what its audience wants.
The first few months of this year have been… hectic for me, to say the least. I left my job, wound up back at my previous job, struggled to nail down health insurance and unemployment and found out my cat is very sick. And through all of that I was attempting to complete several creative writing endeavors, launch a podcast and maintain this blog. It’s been stressful, upsetting and difficult to say the least. Thankfully there have been plenty of good movies (and comics and books and TV shows) to provide at least some relief from the perpetual panic. But two films in particular– 10 Cloverfield Lane and Eddie The Eagle— did more than distract me. Rather, these films inspired me and uplifted me in the exact way that I needed. So it’s not surprising these have been my two favorite movies of the year so far.
On my Facebook page, I have my religion listed as “Film”. Because ultimately, film has been the biggest guiding light in my life, the art form that has not only led me to so many tremendous stories but that has comforted me when times have been most difficult. I think that film, at its best, can be the great Rosetta Stone for the times in which we live, and provide meaning and comfort just as well as the Church or the Talmud. I only bring all of this navel-gazing bullshit up because this seems to be exactly the mentality guiding the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! and while I may not unreservedly love the whole package I absolutely appreciate its dramatization of my feelings on film in a film.