Gil Birmingham

With this final spotlights post, we bring our coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to a close (you can read the previous posts here and here). We conclude by taking a look at six more feature films, once again using our world famous Sundance Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to discern those films to seek out and those to avoid. Enjoy, and we’ll hope to see you in Park City next year!

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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Bridges, Pine anchor riveting western crime drama

Brothers Tanner (Ben Foster, l.) and Toby (Chris Pine) come up with a plan to save their family’s West Texas farm.

Actor turned screenwriter Taylor Sheridan proved he had a knack for conveying the rhythms and feeling of the American southwest with his award-nominated debut feature screenplay for last year’s gritty drug smuggling crime drama Sicario. The success of that debut was no fluke, as we see here in Hell or High Water, Sheridan’s new, follow up screenplay. A similarly southwest-set blend of western and crime drama, the picture rivals the Coen Brothers’ Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men as a modern day, quintessentially American morality tale.
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