2016 Year-End A&S Nominations

Dozens and scores of films later, with superb renditions of Sundance (that police station scene), Cannes (that wig), Telluride, and TIFF behind us yet again, I present the inaugural Year-End A&S Nominations, in advance of my 2016 Retrospective, coming in January. Twenty-seven films are represented below: one special mention goes to Justin Hurwitz for La La Land, in honour of the catchy songs that mark (along with Emma Stone) the high points of Damien Chazelle’s crowd-pleasing musical. See below for the full results.

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American Honey

Perpetually engaging and enthusiastically irresponsible, American Honey is a fascinating coming-of-age story with naturalistic performances; and a free-spirited road movie with languishing, exultant moments. Gleefully unhinged and indulgent, it’s a wild ride through sex, drugs, and hip hop, with the journey led by one of Britain’s preeminent auteurs working out of her supposed comfort zone.

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2009 Retrospective

For the first time in a long time (perhaps ever), the Cannes Film Festival – and its elite, typically inscrutable jury – awarded its top three prizes to the best three films of the year, irrepressibly bleak though they were. In other news, the Coen brothers offered their blackest comedy yet; sci-fi, horror, and animation got a much-needed boost; and British and foreign filmmakers alike played in the sandbox and came out screaming, in a year that had quality and variety for everyone to enjoy.

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Little Men

Gentle, poignant, and engrossing, Little Men is a tiny drama of big themes and well-drawn characters; a detailed, delicate portrait of two families in conflict; and a compelling generational jump for its filmmaker from retirement into childhood. Humane in its truthfulness and beautiful in its humanity, it’s a canvas on which the most relatable of all experiences plays out: life.

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TIFF 2016 Wrap-Up

The cinematic dry spell known as summer 2016 is over: the Toronto International Film Festival is behind us, and Oscar season is in full swing. More quality films have hit the shores of Canada’s biggest city in the past 11 days than in the past 8 months, and only three big films have yet to be unveiled (or not) before year’s end: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (world premiering in 4K at the New York Film Festival next month); Fences, Denzel Washington’s highly-anticipated adaptation of August Wilson’s play; and Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited passion project.

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Kubo and the Two Strings

Artistically dazzling, visually ambitious, and deceptively layered, Kubo and the Two Strings is an imaginative, origami-inspired animated adventure; a dreamlike, mythical tale steeped in history and the horrors of growing up; and a captivating exploration of destiny, death, family, and following your own path. Original and evocative, it’s a lovingly sculpted, fully realized work destined to be enjoyed and cherished by audiences of all ages.

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The Light Between Oceans

Tender, uneven, and overly sentimental, The Light Between Oceans is a melodramatic tearjerker buoyed by an exceptional cast; an initially moving and increasingly unbelievable tale of moral misdeeds; and a cinematic love story ultimately betrayed by its shortcomings. Handsomely shot yet narratively damaged, it’s a sincere but emotionally manipulative work that ends up wringing tears from its audience.

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