Hell or High Water

Film critics Carrie and Chad on who will – and who should – win the 89th Academy Awards

The 89th Academy Awards air this Sunday, February 26th on ABC at 5:30pm PST (tune in an hour or so earlier if you want to see any of the red carpet glitz). Once again, Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann share their annual predictions – and hopes – for the major categories. Follow along and see how we – and you – do on the big night!
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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 Chad’s list, presented in descending rank order. And check out Carrie’s list!

10.) Hail, Caesar!

Tatum goes full Coen.

It takes a few viewings to fully appreciate the tremendous wit and satirical humor in Hail, Caesar! When the Coen Brothers released their latest film earlier this year, it was met with a lukewarm reception from audiences and critics, partially due to the Oscar-worthy brilliance of their previous three films — A Serious Man, True Grit, and Inside Llewyn Davis. Compared to those three, Hail, Caesar! is a silly comedy, yet it’s actually both an entertaining throwback and a salute to the unseen Hollywood players of the 1950s studio system, specifically the Hollywood fixer, played here by a confident Josh Brolin. Mix in a few Golden Age film sets, including those of an elaborate synchronized swimming musical number, and a Roman sandal epic, and cap it off with a phenomenal straight-out-of-the-’50s song and dance number with a handful of handsome seamen (led by Channing Tatum), and you’ve got a colorful, slightly absurdist take on Hollywood yesteryear that only the Coen Brothers can manage and deliver. Hail, Caesar! also puts Alden Ehrenreich on the map; here he plays a lovable typecast singin’ cowboy, and you’ll see him again soon as a young Han Solo. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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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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