TOP FILMS OF EVERYTHING I SAW IN 2016

In cased you missed it, here are my other Top Films Lists

2015
2014
2013
2012
2011

My Top Films list compromises of any film (from any year) that I've seen for the first time in 2016. As always, I sadly wasn't able to catch all the awards contenders as I'd hoped (and yes, MOONLIGHT, HELL OR HIGH WATER, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA were a few I missed. Hope to get to them soon).

So this is more about discovering and enjoying movies I was able to catch in 2016. These stood out to me, all for reasons of their own. 

16. THE INTERN (2015) written & directed by Nancy Meyers
Felt like something the studios would've made in the 50s. But of course, it takes place modern day and is given the Hollywood polish. There aren't many studio comedies coming out lately that feel fresh, and this one did. Sometimes you want fluff. But smart fluff. And this is smart fluff. Plus, I'm a sucker for "workplace underdog" films like WORKING GIRL (one of the smartest comedies ever made) and THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. I'd put this one just under those, but still entertaining nonetheless. 

  15. GLEASON (2016) -  written & directed by Clay Tweel
An incredible story about NFL player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. You don't have to know anything about football or sports to relate to his struggle and the power of the human spirit. Also, there's a touching father-son relationship thread explored that made me think of my Dad. So I was a blubbering mess. But don't worry, it's a positive film. Just get your kleenex ready.

14. SOMEONE ELSE (2015) written & directed by Nelson Kim
A mind-fuck of a movie. Definitely influenced by Bergman's PERSONA and Brian De Palma (which happen to be 2 of my favorite filmmakers). Plus, it's a film from an Asian-American, so it's great to see another voice out there. This is another film where I enjoy it for showing Asians in a different light. They're not just a supporting character, tech guy, nerd who can't speak English. These are fully realized characters. With doubts. With drive. With sexuality. Though not a perfect film, this definitely stuck with me.

13. A TALE OF WINTER (1992)  written & directed by Eric Rohmer
I find it funny that, like his films, Rohmer has slowly and quietly become one of my favorite filmmakers of the past few years. Just look at my list from last year and you'll see his movies there as well. This time, this tale explores longing and the "what might have been", in only the way Rohmer can do. There are some marvelous, understated performances going on...and I'm always fascinated on how he makes normal life in cinema so utterly engrossing (a perfect example of this is the last shot of the film). Also, in some strange way, I find Rohmer's tales now trickling into influencing my more personal scripts. I'm interested to see how this manifests itself when I make my next movie.

12. MEDECIN DE CAMPAGNE (2016) -  directed by Thomas Lilti | written by Thomas Lilti & Baya Kasmi
Okay, you might think I'm morbid, but for some odd reason....since the death of my father last year, films that deal with death and the quality of life you lead really hit me in a certain way now. So much so that I know this French film might be on the lighter side in terms of story. But the characters (and their predicaments) are so rich. And for me, I always love watching Francois Cluzet. He's always so endlessly interesting to me.  And he makes everything look so effortless. Marianne Denic

11. MODERN ROMANCE (1981) -  directed by Albert Brooks | written by Albert Brooks, Monica Mcgowan Johnson
Albert Brooks was in top form with his writing/directing game during the 80s (well honestly, all his films are pretty damn good). This one has a lot of industry jokes which I found very amusing. Kathyrn Harrold is utterly charming. It's fun to see the underrated Bruno Kirby (man, he' soooo good) in this too. Brooks' neurosis is pretty much unmatched in cinema (only Woody Allen is a close comparison), so be prepared. This is the rom-com that I love. And it's true, they don't make 'em like they used to anymore.

10. THAT MAN FROM RIO (1964) -  directed by Philippe de Broca | written by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Ariane Mnouchkine, Daniel Boulanger, Philippe de Broca
Look no further for an amusing cinematic adventure, where you'll find influences to Spielberg's RAIDERS all over it. I don't think I had a more enjoyable time in this crime caper led by the ever so charming Belmondo. 

9. MISTRESS AMERICA (2015) -  directed by Noah Baumbach | written by Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Watching a film with unlikeable characters is a fine balance. Some filmmakers do it very well,  some don't. Baumbach films are hit or miss with me...and it always has to do with if his lead character is someone I can stand being around for a few hours. And this film was one where I just somehow enjoyed being in the company of Brooke (deliciously played by Gerwig). It's the performances that make this film.

8. NUESTROS AMANTES (2016) written & directed by Miguel Angel Lamata
This is clearly influenced by Linklater's BEFORE trilogy. However, there's enough of a fresh spin on it that kept me engaged. It could also have to do wth the fact that I find Mihcelle Jenner so very charming (please see EXTRATERRESTRIAL if you haven't). This actually might be like  "Rohmer-light", which you can tell is the type of films really exciting me nowadays. 

7. CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON (1972) written & directed by Eric Rohmer
Haha yes. Another Rohmer film. This is the last installment of his "6 Moral Tales" and it's really engaging. Dealing with marriage and fidelity. Again, it's a sort of meandering, but totally engrossing, snapshot of "ordinary" life and relationships. But it's done so, so well. You want it to last forever. 

6. FEMALE AGENTS (2008) -  directed by Jean-Paul Salome | written by Jean-Paul Salome, Laurent Vachaud
The kind of period-adventure film I'd love to direct. A great throwback adventure with some very engaging female leads. I was riveted the whole time. Sophie Marceau is a particular standout, but all the ensemble performances are great. Moritz Bliebtreu (for me, most memorable from RUN LOLA RUN) steals the show.

5. PAULINE AT THE BEACH (1983) written & directed by Eric Rohmer
At this point, you might be able to guess that I'm going through Rohmer's filmography. And you'd be right. This was my favorite of his that I saw in 2016. This is a delicate story taking place during a holiday getaway. We see their lives and revelations unfold without melodrama. It's all about little moments. And how significant they are. (Sorry, I couldn't find a trailer with English subtitles).  

4. THE HANDMAIDEN (2016) -  directed by Chan-wook Park | written by Seo-kyeong Jeong & Chan-wook Park
No other filmmaker took me on such an incredibly wacked-out journey this year. There is such vision to this tale that I don't know where to begin. Other than, it pretty much went in directions I never could predict. All the performances were stellar. And visually, it's probably the most beautiful I saw in 2016. 

3. LA LA LAND (2016) written & directed by Damien Chazelle
I love musicals, so I was biased already going in to this. And it delivered. So many great things about this film. The love for jazz. The struggles of artists. The songs. This is one I look forward to revisiting like an old friend. 

2. ARRIVAL (2016) -  directed by Denis Villeneuve | written by Eric Heisserer
I walked out of this feeling hope. And with the current state of the world, that was really important. So, it could be just great timing that this film came along when it did. It's life affirming. Full of love. The science fiction is smart. And I really appreciated most of the characters for being fully realized. The editing in this one is also very inspiring. Not sure if Amy Adams gives an Oscar-worthy performance, but she's solid as always and, yet again, makes me hope to work with her soon.

1. SING STREET (2016) written & directed by John Carney
Nothing brought a smile to my face more than this. Smart. Charming. Hopeful. And great songs. It's a nice blend of a John Hughes film with Carney's ONCE. And it handles expertly the evolution of a person learning about music, while also learning about themselves. Loved it. Another one I'll be watching again and again. 

My favorite tv shows I saw in 2016:

INSECURE
STRANGER THINGS
THIS IS US
THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY

here's most everything I saw in 2016 (when I remembered to jot it down)

1/1 - The Song; Songs for Amy; Meet The Patels
1/2 - Big Significant Things; Rock Star (rewatch); Making a Murderer (2)
1/3 - Making a Murderer (2)
1/4 - Making a Murderer (3)
1/5 - Making a Murderer (3)
1/6 - Shark Tank; Absence of Malice; Kitten With A Whip;
1/7 - Man Seeking Woman;
1/8 - Room
1/9 - Shark Tank
1/10 - Adult World; The Aviator’s Wife
1/11 - Junior Masterchef; Bowie Doc; A Tale of Springtime
1/12 - Beyond Shark Tank; A Tale of Winter
1/13 - American Idol
1/14 - American Idol
1/15 - American Idol
1/16 - Galaxy Quest (rewatch); Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (rewatch)
1/17 - Junior Masterchefs
1/18 - Beyond the Shark Tank
1/19 - Chloe in the Afternoon; Spotlight
1/20 - The Apartment (rewatch); Ray Donovan (2)
1/21 - American Idol
1/22 - Go (rewatch); Switched At Birth
1/23 - The Last Detail (rewatch); Switched At Birth (2)
1/24 - Only You (rewatch); Switched At Birth; When Harry Met Sally (rewatch)
1/26 - Switched At Birth (2)
1/27 - Switched At Birth (3); Notting Hill (rewatch)
1/28 - About A Boy (rewatch); Last Shift
1/29 - American Idol; Beyond Shark Tank
1/30 - Shark Tank
1/31 - Grease: Live
2/1  - Frozen Time (rewatch)
2/4 - Jem and the Holograms; All Things Must Pass; Joe Vs. The Volcano (rewatch)
2/5 - The Great Beauty;
2/9 - American Idol (2)
2/10 - The Intern
2/12 - American Idol (2)
2/14 - Vinyl, Fresh Off The Boat
2/15 - Burnt
2/20 - Scott Pilgram Vs. The World; Steve Jobs; Infinitely Polar Bear;
2/23 - Unnerved; Broadcast News (rewatch); Tumbledown
2/24 - Tootsie (rewatch); Fresh Off The Boat; Becoming Mike Nichols
2/25 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2)
2/27 - The Librarians; American Idol (2), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2)
2/28 - The Librarians (4); Oscars
3/1 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
3/2 - The X-Files
3/3 - Pauline At The Beach; Secret Admirer (rewatch)
3/4 - American Idol; Barista
3/5 - Creed; Man Up
3/6 - Music and Lyrics (rewatch); Becoming Bulletproof; Take The Lead;
3/7 - Vinyl; Step Up (rewatch)
3/8 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Five Easy Pieces (rewatch)
3/9 - Matchstick Men (rewatch);
3/10 - Breaking Through; Fresh Off The Boat; The X-Files,
3/11 - American Idol; Love (2)
3/12 - Shark Tank; Love (6)
3/15 - Love
3/16 - The Voice
3/17 - Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened; Fresh Off The Boat
3/18 - American Idol
3/19 - The Big Short
3/20 - Shark Tank; Togetherness (2)
3/21 - His Way; Everything Is Copy
3/22 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Duets (rewatch)
3/24 - Fresh Off The Boat
3/25 - American Idol;
3/26 - Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
3/27 - Lachey’s Bar; Togetherness
3/28 - Ocean’s 11 (rewatch); How To Dance In Ohio
3/29 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Lachey’s Bar (3)
3/30 - Fresh Off The Boat; Lachey’s Bar (2)
3/31 - The Cutting Edge (rewatch); St Elmo’s Fire (rewatch)
4/1 - American Idol; Lost and Found Music Studios
4/2 - Sucker;
4/3 - Trainwreck; Togetherness
4/4 - Billion Dollar Buyer (2)
4/5 - Restaurant Startup (2)
4/6 - Fabulous Baker Boys (rewatch); Billion Dollar Buyer; American Idol
4/7 - American Idol
4/8 - One More Time; Billion Dollar Buyer; Restaurant Startup (3)
4/9 - Shark Tank; Pauly Shore Stands Alone
4/10 - American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson (2)
4/11 - The People V. OJ Simpson (2)
4/12 -  The People V. OJ Simpson (2)
4/13 -  The People V. OJ Simpson (2)
4/14 -  The People V. OJ Simpson; Fresh Off The Boat
4/15 -  The People V. OJ Simpson
4/16 - That Man From Rio; Heartbreaker (rewatch)
4/17 - Shark Tank
4/18 - One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film
4/19 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
4/20 - Billion Dollar Buyer; Mr. Holland’s Opus (rewatch)
4/21 - Leave The World Behind;
4/22 - Patton Oswald
4/23 - Shark Tank
4/24 - We Are Twisted Fucking Sister; Life According to Sam;
4/25 - The Duff (rewatch); Fan Girl
4/26 - Born This Way (3);
4/27 - Born This Way (2)
4/28 - Born This Way
4/29 - Billion Dollar Buyer;
4/30 - Shark Tank; Fresh Off The Boat
5/1 - Beyond the Shark Tank; Silicon Valley; Petty
5/2 - Petty doc
5/3 - Petty doc
5/4 - Petty doc; Coda
5/5 - Petty doc
5/8 - Shark Tank
5/10 - Fresh Off The Boat
5/11 - Almost Famous (rewatch)
5/12 - The 60s (1)
5/13 - Road To Your Heart
5/14 - Hunger Games: Mockingly Part 2; Mistress America;
5/15 - The Sixties
5/16 - The Sixties (1); Silicon Valley (1)
5/17 - The Seventies, Fresh Off The Boat
5/18 - The Seventies
5/20 - Beyond Shark Tank
5/21 - Shark Tank; Chasing Fortune; Goosebumps
5/22 - Beyond the Shark Tank (2)
5/23 - Silicon Valley; DramaWorld (4)
5/24 - 72 Cutest Animals
6/9 - The Martian
6/10 - Zootopia
6/11 - 72 Cutest Animals
6/12 - Catch Me If You Can (rewatch); Silicon Valley
6/14 - Hello My Name Is Doris
6/16 - Jaco; Tokyo Fiancee
6/17 - Hail Ceasar
6/18 - The Conjuring 2
6/19 - The Nice Guys
6/22 - Silicon Valley
6/23 - Roadies
6/24 - Birdy (concert)
6/25 - Mudcrutch (concert)
6/26 - The Fundamentals of Caring
6/27 - Silicon Valley
6/28 - Game of Thrones (2);
6/29 - Game of Thrones;
6/30 - Deadpool
7/1 - The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
7/2 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Game of Thrones
7/3 - Hamilton Listening Party
7/4 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
7/5 - Where Eagles Dare (rewatch); The Muse, The Italian Job (rewatch)
7/6 - Almost Famous (rewatch); Modern Romance
7/7 - 10 Cloverfield Lane
7/8 - Suffragette; Lost In America (rewatch)
7/9 - The Thing Called Love; Mother
7/10 - Defending Your Life (rewatch)
7/11 - Mono
7/12 - Game of Thrones
7/13 - Everybody Wants Some
7/14  Dan In Real Life (rewatch)
7/15 - Stranger Things (3); Ghostheads; Road House (rewatch)
7/16 - Blood Sand; Miles To Go Before I Sleep; Stranger Things (4); Someone Else
7/17 - Stranger Things; Ballers; Green Room; The Mermaid
7/18 - Family Feud; The Match Game
7/19 - Crazy, Stupid, Love (rewatch);
7/20- Ant Man;
7/21 - 13 Going on 30 (rewatch)
7/25 - Ballers
7/27 -  Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days
7/28 - Divergent Series: Allegiant
7/30 - Sing Street
8/1 - Ballers; Miles Ahead;
8/2 - Midnight Special
8/3 - Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru
8/4 - What Women Want (rewatch)
8/5 - Loveless Zoritsa
8/7 - Mannequin (rewatch); I Know That Voice;
8/8 - Little Black Book
8/9 - The Little Prince
8/10 - I'll Do Anything
8/12 - Almost Famous: The Bootleg Cut
8/13 - Bedazzled (1967)
8/14 - Alabama Shakes (concert)
8/15 - Ballers; Working Girl (rewatch)
8/23 - Ballers
8/24 - Clue (rewatch)
8/25 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
8/26 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
8/27 - Point Break (1991) - rewatch
8/28 - Ballers
8/29 - Brooklyn
8/30 - Freaks and Geeks - rewatch
8/31 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
9/1 - Freaks and Geeks - rewatch
9/2 - Freaks and Geeks (3) - rewatch
9/3 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
9/6 - Freaks and Geeks - rewatch
9/7 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
9/8 - Freaks and Geeks (2) - rewatch
9/9 - One Mississippi (1), De Palma
9/10 - The Iron Giant (rewatch)
9/11 - One Mississippi (1)
9/12 - One Mississippi (1), Savage
9/13 - One Mississippi (1); Terminator: Genisys
9/14 - Pureplant Nation
9/16 - the walking dead
9/17 - Blazing Saddles (rewatch); Young Frankenstein (rewatch)
9/20 - Hall and Oates (concert)
9/22 - Nathaneil Rateliff (concert)
9/23 - The Secret of My Success (rewatch)
9/24 - 9 To 5 (rewatch)
9/28 - Eddie the Eagle; Me Before You; Joy
9/29 - Operator
9/30 - Body
10/1 - How To Plan an Orgy In A Small Town
10/2- The Jungle Book; Murder by Numbers; Marley & Me (rewatch)
10/3 - Westworld; Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
10/4 - The Secrets of Emily Blair; Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2; Time Lapse
10/5 - Central Intelligence
10/6 - Night of the Living Deb
10/7 - Westworld; Crisis in Six Scenes (1); Particle Fever (rewatch);
10/8 - Predestination
10/9 - Hardcore (rewatch); Act of War
 10/10 - Crisis in Six Scenes (1); Echo
10/11 - Crisis in Six Scenes (1)
10/12 - Crisis in Six Scenes (1)
10/13 - Crisis in Six Scenes (1)
10/14 - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead;
10/16 - Fresh Off The Boat;
10/17 - Big Trouble in Little China (rewatch); Westworld (1)
10/18 - Man Bait; Night of the Comet
10/20 - Being George Clooney
10/21 - Crisis in Six Scenes (1); Hamilton's America; Unutra
10/22 - Mabel At The Wheel; Tillie's Punctured Romance;
10/23 - The Handmaiden; Front Cover
10/24 - Life, Animated; Fresh Off The Boat
10/25 - The Blacklist (1); Westworld (1)
10/26 - The Get Down (1); Other People
10/27 - No Tears For The Dead
10/29 - New Nightmare; The Frighteners (rewatch)
10/31 - Hush; Black Mirror (1), Fresh Off The Boat
11/1 - Black Mirror
11/2 - Black Mirror
11/4 - Love Arcadia, Star Trek: Beyond; Blindspot (2); Captain America: Civil War; Born To Be Blue
11/14 - Ghostbusters (2016); Now You See Me 2; Nuestros Amantes; Medecin de Campagne
11/18 - Cleopatra Jones
11/19 - West Side Story (rewatch); I Am Your Father
11/20 - Female Agents; Born This Way (4); This Is Us (3)
l1/21 - Dirk Gently (2); Cleopatra Jones and The Casino of Gold; As I Am: the Life and Times of DJ AM;
11/22 - Fresh Off The Boat; Born this Way
11/23 - Timeless (2)
11/24 - Billion Dollar Buyer; Timeless (1)
11/25 - Timeless (3)
11/26 - This Is Us
11/27 - Born This Way (2)
11/28 - Insecure;
11/29 - Black Mirror
11/30 - Black Mirror
12/2 - This Is Us; Timeless; Billion Dollar Buyer
12./3 - Shark Tank (3); Fresh Off The Boat
12/4 - Born This Way
12/5 - The Wailing
12/6 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
12/7 - Arrival
12/8 - Lion
12/10 - Dick Tracy; Nightmare Before Christmas (rewatch)
12/11 - Billion Dollar Buyer; This Is Us
12/12 - Million Dollar Listing
12/13 - Million Dollar Listing (2);
12/15 - Million Dollar Listing (2)
12/16 - Secret Lives of Pets
12/18 - La La Land; Blue Jay; The Wailing; The Lobster
12/19 - Insecure (4);
12/20 - The Boatman
12/21 - Insecure (2); For The Love of Spock;
12/22 - The Zen of Bennett (rewatch)
12/23 - Cafe Society; Final Destination 3 (rewatch)
12/24 - Travelers (2); BTS Force Awakens
12/25 - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (rewatch); In Bruges (rewatch)
12/26 - About Time (rewatch)
12/27 - Wishful Drinking; Cas and Dylan; Fresh Off The Boat (2)
12/28 - Postcards from the Edge
12/29 - Neon Demon; The Big Picture (rewatch); Glitter; Searching for Sugarman
12/30 - Young At Heart; L.A. Apocalypse
12/31 - Gleason; Banshee (2)

BAD LUCK DANDELION

I filmed BAD LUCK DANDELION: PART TWO of the LONELINESS TRILOGY last year. I've been so busy, I haven't had time to finish the project. Yet.

I'm so excited about this series, I just had to share some images with you. These are totally unfinished shots (as you can see from the green screen). I can't thank my cast and crew enough for believing in this fantastical story. It's realllllly out there. In fact, the lead actress Marion Kerr mentioned to me "this movie looks full bonkers." -- yeah, that's why I love it.

Click pics to enlarge

Marion Kerr as 'Dani'

Bill DeMeritt & Marion Kerr

Bill DeMeritt & Marion Kerr

Marion Kerr (Dani)

Marion Kerr & Monia Ayachi

Erika Ishii (Barbara)

Great writing advice

Max Landis and Danny Strong are both very successful writers. I've recently come across videos from the giving some good writing advice.

MAX LANDIS - I totally agree with him on this one. The majority of my writing (ideas) come to me as I'm driving, working out, showering, fading into sleep. I keep my trusty EVERNOTE app (yes it's free!) on my phone to make all the notes. So when I sit down to write, I'm basically just transcribing the idea into the script.

DANNY STRONG - Love this advice. Writing what you don't know keeps things exciting. Part of the fun of creating is learning about and experiencing things you haven't done. I'm so pumped about my latest script because it's a world I truly enjoy, but will never get to experience first hand. It's been such a joy to develop it with someone that I can't wait to start filming with in the near future.

The bottom line is you can get a ton of advice. So only use what applies and works for you. There's never really a right way to do anything. These 2 videos from Landis and Strong stood out to me over many months of randomly coming across screenplay advice.

Happy writing my friend. 

Check out my first feature NEW YORK LATELY for free

I made NEW YORK LATELY about 8 years ago with the help of so many talented friends. People who donated their time and artistry to bring my vision to life. I set out to make something grand with a kaleidoscope of characters, influenced by films like SHORT CUTS and BOOGIE NIGHTS. When it came out, people mentioned that it reminded them of CRASH and LOVE ACTUALLY. I thought, "hey, not bad. I'll take it." After all, I didn't go to film school. This movie was my film school.

I cashed out my 401K (which wasn't that much) and mostly used credit cards to make this film. I used the money to rent gear, fly actors into town and feed everyone. No one was paid. To this day, I'm so thankful for the fact that they all were willing to join the project because they believed in me. That means so much and is extremely humbling.

When I see the film now, I notice all the things I could've done better. Choices I made then, that I wouldn't make today. But I also see some brilliant performances and the wonderful moments they created on screen. And I see friends that I still have to this day. And I think about all the friends I've made from screening it across the country. All that makes me proud.

I'm still shocked and grateful the film made some Top 10 lists in 2009 and I can't believe there is even a fan site for it. And now, I'm very thankful that 8 years later, the film is still out there. Being shared and talked about. It's not extinct and forgotten. For me, that's a dream come true. And ultimately, as an artist, having an audience is what inspires me to keep going.

Thanks to Fandependent Films, you can now watch the film for free for the next month. Click here to visit the page. And soon, I'll share free videos featuring a commentary by myself; and one by film critic Andrew James which is highly entertaining as well.

Top Films of Everything I Saw in 2015

In cased you missed it, here are my other Top Films Lists
2014
2013
2012
2011

My Top Films list compromises of any film (from any year) that I've seen for the first time in 2015. Due to my own projects, I sadly wasn't able to catch all the awards contenders as I'd hoped (and yes I've missed a ton).

So this is more about the movies that I watched and left a lasting impression. These were just really damn entertaining. Or inspiring. Sometimes both.

18. COOTIES (2014) - directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion | written by Leigh Whannell & Ian Brennan
Just had a blast with this one. The comedy is actually a bit hit or miss depending on your tastes...but it's been a while since a horror/comedy felt like it was really having fun while also being smart about it. Plus I'll see anything with Alison Pill in it. And of course....dual rear wheel.

17. DOPE (2015) - written & directed by Rick Famuyiwa
The first half of the film bursts out of the box like lightning. So much so, that the 2nd half of the film can't hold up to its promise. But it's still a load of fun. And Kiersey Clemons is just wonderful.

16. THE DUFF (2015) - directed by Ari Sandel | written by Josh A. Cagan
The teen comedy is alive and well. This was surprisingly smart, funny and romantic; featuring a knockout performance by Mae Whitman. It felt like a modern-day John Hughes type film.

15. THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015) - written & directed by Quentin Tarantino
No one does it like Tarantino. Some love his stuff. Others avoid him like the plague. Although this film sits in the middle of his filmography for me, I really admire his boldness and "don't give a shit" attitude towards screenwriting and cinema conventions. Only he can get away with certain things that others would be crucified for. I really dug the atmosphere of the movie, while not entirely loving the story. I dug the performances while not entirely loving any of the characters. I was repulsed at times, but couldn't look away. And I'm a sucker for anything old school in terms of the movie going experience, so I really loved the Overture and Intermission experience.

14. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)  - directed by Matt Reeves | written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
They said it was better than its predecessor (2011's RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES). I didn't believe them. They were right.  

13. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015)
written & directed by Christopher McQuarrie
This was a thrilling, action packed film that was just so entertaining on so many levels. A pure Popcorn Movie through and through. I found myself saying to my wife "this is fun" a lot. Now I realize it may not hold up over the years, however just as so far as enjoying myself with the spectacle of blockbuster cinema, there was no better for me. And that had a lot do with Rebecca Ferguson's electric performance. I enjoyed her so much I'd love a spinoff film with just her character.  

12. EX MACHINA (2015) - written & directed by Alex Garland
The atmosphere in this just oozes with originality and beauty. And as I watched, something felt off and it unnerved me (in a good way). Not sure I dug where the film went in the 3rd act as opposed to what it set up, but it still left me captivated and with some thought provoking questions that I thought about for days after. Not too many films do that nowadays.

11. ME AND EARLY AND THE DYING GIRL (2015) - directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | written by Jesse Andrews
This one definitely felt like a 'Sundance formula' film. But Olivia Cooke is going to be a superstar and it shows in this film. The story is witty. Performances are strong around (Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler have great chemistry). And that ending. I saw this film about a month after my dad passed away, so it probably has something to do with why the film hit me like it did.

10. KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON (2014) - directed by Alan Hicks | written by Davis Coombe & Alan Hicks
This doc about an aspiring artist and his struggles for success, all the while being mentored by the late jazz great Clark Terry was heartbreaking and inspiring. As an artist, I related so much to his plight...the highs and lows. The wonderful bond that is forged between two souls is so poignant and beautiful. And I love jazz, so the soundtrack is a joy. This is also another one I saw after losing my dad, which made the film personally resonate with me in a profound way.

9. BANGKOK HILTON (1989) - directed by Ken Cameron | written by Ken Cameron, Terry Hayes & Tony Morphett
I'm a huge Nicole Kidman fan. And this little seen (around the world) mini-series from her homeland was one of her first breakout roles. For some reason, seeing Denholm Elliot play such a drastically different kind of character was just so compelling. He's just great in it. And Kidman's raw performance had me glued to the edge of my seat. I binge watched this one (approx. 4 hours) in 2 days. PS - look for a young Hugo Weaving in this too.

8. TENDER MERCIES (1983) - directed by Bruce Beresford | written by Horton Foote
Robert Duvall is a national treasure. I think that of all of his most memorable roles, most don't bring up this quiet Oscar-winning performance as their favorite. But for me, watching this broken man's quiet hopefulness slowly slipping away -- and how Duvall just owns it -- left my heart silently aching along with him.

7. IKIRU (1952) - directed by Akira Kurosawa | written by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni
I stayed away from this film for a while as the topic never really interested me. But as I'm getting along in my years, I finally visited it. And it blew my mind on how it directly deals with mortality and questioning yourself upon leaving some type of mark -- somewhere, anywhere -- before you go. Hoping you will be remembered somehow. By someone. Anyone. I was both uplifted and saddened. It had a deep effect on me and what I hope to achieve as some kind of legacy as a filmmaker...which I realize could ultimately be just tears in rain.

6. CHARLEY VARRICK (1973) - directed by Don Siegel | written by Howard Rodman & Dean Riesner
I'm a sucker for crime/gangster films. Not mafia ones, but more like "regular joe" capers. Con men. Losers. People that aren't perfect. Those are my jam. And when you throw in Walter Matthau chewing up the scenery (that actually sees him be romantic) it's just a blast. Then you add in Joe Don Baker and John Vernon...forget about it!

5. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) - directed byJ.J. Abrams | written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams & Michael Arndt
I feel sorry for all the people who rip this film apart for its plot and characters. Because no other movie in a long long time has made me feel like a kid again. I definitely could critique some things, but where's the fun in that? It entertained me. I had a smile on my face pretty much the whole time.

4. IL SORPASSO (1962) - directed by Dino Risi | written by Dino Risi, Ettore Scola & Ruggero Maccari
Quite possibly my favorite road trip film. Many have been done before and after this one. But I just loved how this movie was able to capture the carefree nature of traveling the open road. It wanders naturally. Most modern road trip films feel too constructed, whereas this one just felt like....life. I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of the characters and friendship. And without the surprising ending (and its gravitas), I don't think the experience would've been the same.

 4. CLAIRE'S KNEE (1970) and A SUMMER'S TALE (1996)
written & directed by Eric Rohmer
Nothing like a Rohmer film. The pacing. The wandering story. The conversations. And the unrequited desires. Some hate his movies. Others sing his praises. These 2 films were perfect in capturing moments in time where I was vicariously experiencing them with such fucking delight. I felt like I was on vacation, exploring life and love. I also watched several other Rohmer films this year that left me cold and bored....but these two I want to revisit and live again and again.

3. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974) - written & directed by Brian De Palma
I'm a sucker for musicals. And even a bigger sucker of De Palma films. This one had alluded me for quite some time, even though I've flirted with seeing it many times. I've actually seen snippets of it over the years, but finally it was time to catch this from beginning to end. And oh what an ending. Just loved its bold vision. And the songs. Man, those songs. So haunting and beautiful. So tragic and yet so bitingly funny. I'd love to make something like this.

2. STILL WALKING (2008) - written & directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Man I love this movie from Hirokazu Koreeda. I watched it a few months after my father had passed away, and even though the father character in this film is nothing like mine, it still was heartbreaking. Partly due to seeing this family interact on-screen and knowing I'll never have that again in my life. And also just seeing how this simple story had so much to say in its simpllicty. This one definitely made me think of my parents and how I love them. And I'll never be able to hold on to what I once had.

1. FORCE MAJEURE (2014) - written & directed by Ruben Östlund
This is by far my actual favorite film I saw in 2015. The dark, dark, DARK humor was just so delicious. And the unpredictable story was just so refreshing. The entire time I was riveted, on the edge of my seat...and it's a drama? Or dark comedy? Or it's a hybrid of everything because I firmly believe that's what life is really like. Life doesn't fit into one genre.  And when the story ends in the movie (like a boss), it feels like it's just the beginning. And it's marvelous.

 

Other films I really enjoyed for their creep factor were THE GUEST, SPRING and STARRY EYES. The docs ALIVE INSIDE and GLEN CAMPBELL: I'LL BE ME were heartbreaking. And both original series TOGETHERNESS and MASTER OF NONE were stellar.

EVERYTHING I WATCHED IN 2015

1/1 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Chinese Puzzle
1/2 - Divergent
1/3 - The Maze Runner; Housebound
1/17 - In The Blood
1/30 - Open Windows; Whiplash
1/31 - Mean Girls (rewatch); Little Shop of Horrors (rewatch); Top Chef
2/1 - Luther (3); Orphan Black
2/2 - Sexy Baby;
2/3 - Luther
2/4 - Top Chef
2/5 - Orphan Black (3); Before I Go To Sleep
2/6 - Switched At Birth (2); Orphan Black (2); Gone Girl
2/7 - Orphan Black (2)
2/9 - Fresh Off The Boat (2)
2/10 - Top Chef
2/12 - Top Chef
2/13 - Knock; Disengaged; Slut; A Case of Pyrophillia; The Only Man; Innocent; Grave Shivers
2/14 - Luther (3); Blood Ties
2/15 - Nightcrawler
2/16 - Luther (2); Honeymoon; Windrider
2/17 - Fresh Off The Boat (2); Fur; Luther
2/20 - Life Itself; Blood and Black Lace
2/21 - Togetherness (2)
2/22 - Oscars
2/23 - Togetherness (4 ); Fresh Off The Boat
2/24 - Two Night Stand; Dear White People
2/25 - The Walking Dead; A Life in Dirty Movies
2/26 - Cloudrise; The Spoils of Babylon
2/27 - The Tenant; House of Cards (3)
2/28 - To Be Takei; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Wrinkles; The Frame; House of Cards (3)
3/1 - House of Cards (2); Lucy
3/3 - The Walking Dead
3/4 - Switched At Birth
3/5 - Ouija;
3/6 - Love, Rosie
3/7 - Fresh Off The Boat; Togetherness; Men, Women and Children; Trek Nation; Star Trek: Generations; Secretary
3/8 - House of Cards (5);
3/9 - Walking Dead; Talking Dead
3/10 - Fresh Off The Boat
3/11 - Foxcatcher; Sawdust and Tinsel; Starry Eyes; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (3)
3/12 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Big Hero 6
3/13 - Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story
3/14 - Les Mis on stage (Arizona Broadway Theater)
3/16 - Kingsman: The Secret Service
3/18 - Walking Dead; Talking Dead; Love and Death (rewatch)
3/19 - Phoenix Film Fest shorts; And So It Goes; Switched At Birth
3/20 - The Search for General Tso’s Chicken; Barbecue; Animal
3/21 - Star Trek: TOS; Glee, Everything Or Nothing
3/22 - Spring
3/23 - Force Majeure; I Origins; Switched At Birth
3/28 - A Million Ways To Die in the West
4/1 - Hollywood’s Best Film Directors (Ivan Reitman)
4/2 - The Tale of the Princess Kaguya; Walking Dead (2)
4/3 - Ask Me Anything; Going Clear;
4/4 - Furious 7; Fresh Off the Boat;
4/5 - Whisper of the Heart; Interstellar; Coherence
4/6 - Mad Men; eXistenZ; Twilight Zone (2)
4/7 - Twilight Zone
4/8 - Fresh Off The Boat; Poltergeist (rewatch); Rebid
4/9 - Premature; Twilight Zone (2)
4/10 - Sharky’s Machine; Switched At Birth; The Devil Came From Akasava
4/11 - masterchef; masterchef jr
4/14 - Mad Men; Fresh Off the Boat
4/15 - Big Eyes; Exposed
4/16 - Armour of God
4/17 - Wolfcop, She’s All That (rewatch)
4/18 - Corruption; 10 Things I Hate About You (rewatch)
4/21 - The Babadook; The West Wing
4/22 - The West Wing
4/23 - The West Wing
4/24 - Une Liberation; Boost
4/26 - Luther; The Twilight Zone; Silicon Valley
4/27 - Luther; Mad Men; Girly
5/6 - mad men
5/7 - Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
5/8 - The Great Gatsby; Monster; House on Sorority Row; The Peacemaker (rewatch)
5/9 - West Wing
5/10 - West Wing;  Mission Impossible 4 (rewatch);
5/11 - Australian exploitation film
5/12 - Make Way For Tomorrow
5/13 - West Wing, Switched at Birth
5/14 - West Wing; The Train; Next Food Network Star
5/15 - Underworld (rewatch)
5/17 - Still Alice
5/18 - Silicon Valley; Mad Men; Next Food Network Star
5/19 - Mischief (rewatch); Secret Admirer (rewatch); Next Food Network Star
5/20 - Run; Next Food Network Star
5/21 - Next Food Network Star
5/22 - Next Food Network Star
5/23 - Charley Varrick; West Wing
5/24 - The Rocketeer (rewatch); Zombeavers; The Den
5/25 - West Wing;  Parts Unknown
5/26 - West Wing; Small Time Crooks (rewatch); Parts Unknown; Bangkok Hilton
5/27 - Creature; The Duff; It! The Terror From Beyond Space; Bangkok Hilton (2)
5/28 - Bangkok Hilton (2); The Black Marble;
5/29 - The Thing (rewatch)
6/8 - Silicon Valley; Disturbia (rewatch); The Wraith (rewatch)
6/9 - The Pyramid; The Conversation (rewatch); McFarland USA, The Inbetweeners 2;
6/10 - Capricorn One (rewatch); Nashville Girl
6/11 - Experiment in Terror;
6/21 - Coal Miner’s Daughter
6/27 - History of the Eagles (Part One & Part Two)
6/28 - What Happened, Miss Simone?; Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You’re Made Of
6/29 - The Other One:…Bob Weir; Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
6/30 - Paddington
7/1 - The Fleetwood Mac Story
7/4 - Almost Famous (rewatch); SuperMensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon; Who Is Harry Nilsson?
7/5 - Fame High; Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me; Austin to Boston
7/13 - Ballers (3 eps)
7/14 - Ballers; The Sure Thing (rewatch)
7/15 - Fabulous Baker Boys (rewatch); Roller Boogie
7/16 - Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton; Switched At Birth; B.B. King: The Life of Riley
7/17 - The World of Henry Orient; Love Exposure; Savage Streets; Laggies
7/18 - Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police;
7/19 - Harry in Your Pocket; Little Miss Sunshine (rewatch)
7/20 - Switched At Birth; Ballers;
7/22 - The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel;
7/23 - Masterchef; Home Free
7/24 - Dead Bullet (rough cut)
7/25 - Dead Again (rewatch); Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (rewatch)
7/26 - Ballers; Let’s Get Lost;
7/27 - Il Sorpasso; The Guest
7/28 - Ikiru; Switched at Birth; Goodbye To All That
7/29 - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
7/30 - Troubadours;
8/1 - A Star Is Born (1976); Focus;
8/2 - I, Madman; Phantom of the Paradise (rewatch)
8/3 - Katy Perry: Part of Me; Ballers
8/6 - Master Chef, Home Free
8/7 - Beyond the Lights
8/8 - Insurgent; Far From The Madding Crowd
8/9 - Barely Lethal; Ballers
8/10 - Tender Mercies; Crazy Heart (rewatch); Casting By
8/11 - It Follows
8/13 - A Summer’s Tale; The Sign of Leo; Masterchef; Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll
8/22 - Burying the Ex
8/23 - masterchef; homefree; Eagle Eye (rewatch)
8/24 - ballers; F/X (rewatch)
8/25 - Tell No One; The Fugitive (rewatch); While We’re Young
8/26 - The Interpreter; The China Syndrome; Wet Hot American Summer; Chained Heat
8/27 - The Game (rewatch); Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (rewatch); The Sugarland Express; Hackers (rewatch)
8/28 - Wet Hot American Summer
8/29 - Masterchef
8/30 - Michael Clayton (rewatch); Blackhat; Home Free
8/31 - Wet Hot American Summer
9/1 - Still of the Night; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Project Greenlight
9/2 - Thelma and Louise; Project Greenlight
9/3 - Project Greenlight
9/4 - Project Greenlight
9/5 - Home Free; Project Greenlight
9/6 - The Incredibles (rewatch); Miracle Mile; I’ll Be Me;
9/7 - Project Greenlight
9/8 - Senior Project
9/9 - I’ll Be Me
9/11- Switched At Birth
9/12 - Road Hard
9/13 - Master Chef; Home Free; Project Greenlight
9/14 - Late Spring; Still Walking; Switched At Birth
9/15 - Switched At Birth; Sunrise; Atlantic City; Road to Nothing; Zathura (rewatch); Janie Jones
9/16 - Tig
9/17 - Switched At Birth; Keep On Keepin’ On; Master Chef; Grace Unplugged;
9/18 - Never Tear Us Apart: The Story of INXS
9/19 - Cherry 2000; Firewalker; Mary Mary Bloody Mary
9/21 - Quiet Riot: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back; Greetings From Tim Buckley; Who The F*#K Is Arthur Fogle; Tig: Boy Girl Interrupted; One Direction: This Is Us
9/22 - Paul Williams Still Alive; Knock Knock It’s Tig Nitaro; Love and Mercy; Charles Bradley: Soul of America;
9/23 -  Switched At Birth; The Man With The Golden Gun (rewatch); Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’; Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell; Richard Linklater: 21 Years
10/4 - Project Greenlight
10/5 - The Swell Season; Richard Pryor Doc; Remembering Robin Williams
10/7 - Batkid Begins; I Need That Record
10/8 - Fresh Off The Boat; Harold Mayor Of The Sunset Strip
10/11 - Bruce Springsteen: Blood Brothers; Entourage the movie
10/12 - Project Greenlight; Magic Mike XXL
10/13 - Coyote Ugly (rewatch); Bachelor Night
10/14 - Open Road;
10/15 - Chops; Hit So Hard; Fresh Off The Boat; Final Girls
10/16 - San Andreas;
10/20 - High Fidelity (rewatch)
10/21 - Back In Time
10/22 - The Wolkfpack; Jurassic World
10/23 - Unfriended; Man Up
10/24 - The Blob (1988; rewatch): Fright Night (1985; rewatch)
10/25 - Spinning Plates; Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed;
10/26 - Project Greenlight; It Might Get Loud
10/28 - Shark Tank
10/29 - Shark Tank
10/30 - Project Greenlight
11/3 - Alan Zweig’s VINYL; The Leisure Class
11/4 - Do I Sound Gay?
11/6 - Inside/Out, Shark Tank
11/8 - Saturday Night Fever; Master of None
11/9 - The Collector; Master of None;
11/10 - Tu Y Yo, Lost In Translation (rewatch); Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara;
11/15 - Tomorrowland; The Gift
11/16 - Shark Tank
11/17 - Ned Rifle;
11/18 - Safelight; Fresh Off The Boat; Aziz Live at Madison Square Garden
11/19 -  Dope
11/20 - Unnerved spot check
11/21 - The Runaways
11/22 - Walking Dead
11/24 - Claire’s Knee
12/1 - Electric Boogalo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
12/2 - Chaos on the Bridge; Fresh off the boat
12/3 - 3 Nights in the Desert;
12/4 - A Very Murray Christmas; Bait; Cop Car
12/5 - Shark Tank; Junior Masterchef
12/6 - Junior Masterchef
12/7 - Junior Masterchef
12/8 - Amy
12/9 - Shack Out on 101;
12/10 - Spectre;
12/11 - Cooties
12/12 - Shark Tank
12/15 - Torn Curtain; Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
12/16 - Jane The Virgin
12/18 - People, Places, Things;
12/19 - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
12/23 - Silver Linings Playbook (rewatch); Short Term 12 (rewatch); We Are Your Friends; Ex Machina
12/24 - The Hateful Eight
12/25 - Mad Max: Fury Road
12/26 - Love Actually (rewatch)
12/27 - It Happened One Night (rewatch); John Wick; Goodnight Mommy

Just one look

In researching my current script, I recently revisited Sofia Coppola's LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003). There are so many amazing moments in the film it's hard to choose just one.

This was probably my 5th or 6th time seeing the film. And I was watching it particularly for the karaoke scene this time. There's just so much going on in this sequence, which finds itself smack dab in the middle of the running time.

It's a major turning point for the characters. And it's all done without saying a word.

Rather, they're singing karaoke. Simply looking at each other.

And it says so much.

There are 2 particular moments where I find brilliant.

1) (00:35 click to view) Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) singing The Predenders 'Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)' -- first off it's the perfect song choice as it allows Bob (Bill Murray) to perform the chorus, echoing "special..." as he looks at her. And look how he does it. It's hilarious and honest.

2) (01:34 click to view)  The look that Charlotte gives Bob, his glance catching her do it...then their emotional exchange all through the eyes. Looking and not looking. We've all been there and the actors perform it so perfectly. (It also doesn't hurt that the song is the gorgeous 'More Than This' by Roxy Music as pwoned by Bill Murray)

It's a perfect moment in a perfect film.

Rather than watch my specific moments I've linked, I hope you watch the entire clip embedded above. Even better, see the entire film (again).