Thursday, October 12, 2017


It's that time of year for this blog to look at the new edition of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Book and see what new movies have been added to the old list. In preparation, I watched most of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture as well as the Foreign film and Documentary winners, figuring some of these titles would be added...And the results are in...and there are twelve new entries this year and it turns out that five of these are from the Oscar list. And they are...

1. Moonlight (Best Picture Winner)
Moonlight is a little movie about a young African-American who has to deal with growing up in a poor neighborhood as well as having to struggle with the acceptance of his sexuality. Moonlight neatly avoids obvious angles the story can take and the effectiveness of the story benefits from this greatly. I'm glad this little movie got the accolades it received.

La La Land

2. La La Land (Best Picture Winner for about five minutes)
Due to this film being initially identified as the Best Picture Winner, this film will always be linked in a way to the eventual winner Moonlight. As far as content goes, La La Land is pretty much the opposite from that film as far as presentation goes. Big, splashy with impressive production numbers, La La Land is undeniably robust entertainment, but hindsight makes me think more and more that the Academy got it right when they picked Moonlight (even belatedly) as  Best Picture.

 Manchester by the Sea

3. Manchester by the Sea (The acting tour de force-Male)
Atmospheric and gut wrenching story of a man trying to cope with the accidental death of his family. Not light entertainment in any way, this drama got the Best Actor prize for Casey Affleck.

Hell or High Water

4. Hell or Hight Water (The Audience Picture)
Modern day Western featuring a sheriff Jeff Bridges playing a cat and mouse game with bad guy Chris Pine in modern day Texas. You can also add this one to my ever growing list of recommended heist films.


5. Arrival (The Cerebral Science Fiction choice)
Challenging sci-fi movies like Under the Skin and Solaris have found its way into the 1001 movie book in the past, so why not add this intriguing story of a linguistics professor trying to figure out the message that aliens are trying to us? No reason not to!

Four of the Best Picture Nominees didn’t make the 1001 cut: Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion.


Here are the remaining new films that made the 1001 movie list:

Victoria (The artsy-fartsy choice)
When I think of movies filmed without a single edit or cut, the two I think of are Russian Ark and Hitchcock’s Rope. This film goes the same route. The first half of Victoria features the titular character getting involved with some petty hoods that are about to get in on a caper that is way over their heads. The first section of the film is pretty slow, but if you manage to stay with it, the slow pace nicely sets up the actual heist and its aftermath in the second part of the story.

Jungle Book
Jungle Book (The family favorite)
Live adaptation of my old animated favorite from the 60’s. This new version does harken back to the older film, but is certainly distinctive in its own right. And certainly any movie with Bill Murray as Balou the Beart singing Bear Necessities is worth seeing just for that.


Jackie (The Acting Tour de force-female)
Character study of Jackie Kennedy during the aftermath of the assassination of her husband manages to be an effective character study of a big event and makes us look at it from a different perspective. Natalie Portman would have been my choice for Best Actress over Emma Stone, but nobody asked me.

Toni Erdmann
Toni Erdmann (The offbeat foreign film)
What I got out of this two hour and twenty minute film is that we have a middle aged man who is a guy that likes to play practical jokes and has a daughter who is a more serious minded businesswoman. At the end of Toni Erdmann, the daughter thinks that her father has the right idea about things and decides to take life a little less seriously. Did I miss something else about this one? Asghar Faradi’s Oscar winner The Salesman would have been my choice for this slot on the 1001 list. (But once again, nobody asked me.)

Under the Shadow

Under the Shadow (The critically acclaimed foreign film)
Interesting mix of horror, political intrigue, family drama and a bit of feminism thrown in all set during the Iran/Iraq War! Also features the charismatic Narges Rashidi in the lead role!

I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake (The Indy film hardly anybody has seen)
...But they should see it. Ken Loach's film of a fifty-nine year old carpenter who has just had a heart attack moving through the miasma of English bureaucracy is a moving, depressing but dramatically satisfying film.

13th (The documentary film)
The Oscar winning documentary for last year was the excellent (but long) O. J. Simpson: Made in America. Another nominated documentary about race was the one that made the 1001 cut. The 13th Amendement refers to the 13th Amendment to the constitution which outlaws slavery. Director Ava Duvernay links slavery through the Jim Crow period to the modern day penal system in a very convincing way. The film is enhanced with interviews running the gamut form Angela Davis to Newt Gingrich! Highly recommended.

I'll take a look at the next post on how many movies I have left to watch.

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