9 items from 2016
In a medium founded on expanding one’s imagination and perception of reality, no genre does it better than science fiction. We’ve come a long way from the days when Georges Méliès took us to the moon, for today’s filmmakers look far beyond our universe and into the deepest corners of our soul to reflect the current society.
With the latest entry in the Star Trek franchise arriving in theaters this week, we’ve set out to reflect on the millennium’s sci-fi films that have most excelled. To note: we only stuck with feature-length works of 60 minutes or longer and, to make room for a few more titles, our definition of “the 21st century” stretched to include 2000.
Check out our top 50 below and let us know your favorites in the comments. We’ve also put the list on Letterboxd to keep track of how many you’ve seen. »
- The Film Stage
In its push for more diversity among its ranks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today issued a record 683 invitations to new members, easily the largest number of new members ever.
The new members are heavily weighted to favor women and people of color - 46% are women, 41% are people of color. Should all elect to join, it would shift the demographic makeup of the Academy from 75 to 73% male, and from 93% to 89% white.
28 Oscar winners and 98 nominees are on the list, while 283 are considered international members. Amongst the high profile names are actors like John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Idris Elba, Rachel McAdams, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Greta Gerwig, Andrew Garfield, Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Johnson, Byung-Hun Lee, Regina King, James Hong, Michelle Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Alicia Vikander, and Damon Wayans Jr.
- Garth Franklin
In 2007, director Richard Kelly released a follow-up to his metaphysical head-scratcher/late-bloomer cult classic Donnie Darko — a paranoid satire titled Southland Tales that was so weird and staggeringly dense that it made his previous film look like a sitcom. The plot, if you can call it that, involved an energy crisis, the ongoing War on Terror and an impromptu sing-along of the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done"; the cast included several Saturday Night Live alumni, Justin Timberlake, a spit-curled Wallace Shawn, and Kevin Smith playing, naturally, a wizard. »
When you think of short stories like W.W. Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw” or Richard Matheson’s “Button, Button” (adapted to the small screen for The Twilight Zone and big for Richard Kelly’s underrated The Box), dark images of death are conjured. The consequences of earning personal reward come at great cost to those you may or may not know. They concern selfish acts that will incite chaos and a purveyor of their too-good-to-be-true opportunities who relishes in watching the destructive path cut by fate’s unyielding need to balance the scales explode. But what if this story was flipped? What if instead of supernatural dread at the hands of a grotesque figure seeking moral bankruptcy, the chance to alter destiny came from a sweet elderly couple with God-like omniscience?
- Jared Mobarak
The 30th anniversary of Aliens got me thinking about Sci-Fi thrillers. Not every one is a home run, but there are so many that are! So while revisitng Aliens, maybe check out some of these other classics, too!
This is one of the most beautiful and most frightening looks at a future that is right around the corner: parents given the ability to genetically manipulate a fetus so that it contains the best traits of its lineage, everyone else be damned. Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, and Jude Law play the pretty people and those who just miss the mark.
Buy Gattaca here!
Scarlett Johansson as an unnamed sexy alien who picks up and seduces men in a creepy black, liquid void. More something to just take in versus a straight-ahead narrative, Under The Skin will get under yours, even if you don’t understand it all! »
- Harker Jones
On May 21, 2006, director Richard Kelly was standing on the red carpet outside the Grand Theatre Lumiere, ready to unleash his two-hour-and-40-minute postapocalyptic satire Southland Tales on a curious Cannes crowd. It was one of three American films competing for the Palme d'Or (along with Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation and Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette). Kelly knew his film wasn't finished and the visual effects were underwhelming. But the clock had run out, and no one turns down an in-competition invitation. "I wanted to go into Cannes and tell everyone that it was a
- Tatiana Siegel
Can you believe its been fifteen years since the release of Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, the film which launched actor Jake Gyllenhaal? Since then Gyllenhaal, more than some of his peers, has been drawn to some dark and different projects. He has still hit a couple of speed bumps along the way – Prince of Persia: Sands of Time proved that Gyllenhaal isn’t cut out to be action hero, and his attempt at romantic comedies (Accidental Love, Love & Other Drugs) both died at the box office. Unlike most though, Gyllenhaal learns from his mistakes and Demolition is yet another bold choice from the actor. »
- Kat Hughes
Diverse, awe-inspiring and memorable treasures that have sadly fallen off the radar
The noughties were a tough decade for film music fans. Not only was there the unprecedented loss of four great masters in the form of Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Michael Kamen and Basil Poledouris; the nature of the industry itself began to go through some seismic changes, not all of them for the better.
With the art of film scoring becoming ever more processed, driven increasingly by ghost writers, electronic augmentation and temp tracks, prospects looked bleak. However, this shouldn’t shield the fact that there were some blindingly brilliant scores composed during this period. Here’s but a small sampling of them.
★☆☆☆☆ Dan Mazer's Dirty Grandpa sets up its stall as an irreverent and defiantly non-pc comedy vehicle for Robert De Niro. At least that's the idea and intention. And we all know what the road to hell is paved with, right? What actually unfolds across a hard slog 102 minutes is a dumb, mean-spirited and woefully unfunny dude-bro fantasy. After losing his wife of forty years to cancer, Richard Kelly (De Niro) just wants to, in his own words, "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." He ropes his supremely uptight nephew, Jason (Zac Efron), into taking a road trip Florida, even though the lad is about to get hitched to bridezilla, Meredith (Julianne Hough). Before you can crank up the volume on your car stereo and yell 'Spring break forever, bitches!' the duo fall into a range of outrageous mishaps and drunken shenanigans.
- CineVue UK
9 items from 2016
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