Nick Hornby

The Sundance Film Festival ran from January 18th to 28th this year; over 120 films were shown in ten days. For the fourth year in a row, I was on the (often snowy) ground, knocking out almost 20 films in five days in order to bring you the Best of the Fest. I present here the ten best films I saw – five features, four documentaries, and one special screening. Keep your eyes out for these during the coming year, as they are well worth your time and money. And if you’d like to know all the films that took home awards this year, you can see the winners here.

TOP FIVE FEATURE FILMS

1.) Search
(USA 2017, 101 min. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Category: Next)

Worried father David Kim (John Cho) uses the Internet to search for his missing daughter.

The word innovative doesn’t even come close to doing filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty’s first feature film justice. Using a narrative that unfolds completely on a computer screen (via video chats, texts, emails, Internet searches, and news videos), Chaganty immerses us in the story of recently widowed dad David (John Cho, excellent as always) and his desperate search for his missing teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La). Debra Messing, cast against type, is terrific as the San Jose police detective heading the investigation. Filled with red herrings and twists and turns you’ll never see coming, Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian’s South Bay-set mystery is as imaginative as their method of telling it. Both a celebration and a critique of our increasing reliance on technology, the brilliantly executed Search is my hands-down favorite film of the Festival. Sony Pictures acquired the picture for five million dollars in one of the Festival’s biggest buys, so a wide release will be forthcoming. The film also deservedly won both an audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. Don’t miss this one. [read the whole post]

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2015

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2015. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. (And you can find Chad’s here.)

1.) Brooklyn

Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) shares a tender moment with boyfriend Tony (Emory Cohen).

The immigrant experience in America is exquisitely captured in director John Crowley’s finely crafted film about love, loss, and longing in 1950s Brooklyn. Based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, Nick Hornby’s screenplay presents us with the intrepid young Irish woman Eilis, who leaves her family in the Irish countryside for adventure and opportunity in New York. Saoirse Ronan suberbly conveys Eilis’s gradual shift from shy newcomer to confident cosmopolitan. Called back home for a family emergency, Eilis must choose between familiar comforts and new possibilities, and Ronan depicts Eilis’s struggle with heartrending openness and aching honesty. Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson, as competing suitors on opposite sides of the Atlantic, also deliver strong, sharply drawn performances.

[read the whole post]

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We’ve got three final spotlights from the 37th Mill Valley Film Festival, which closed Sunday night after ten days of showcasing dozens of fresh and exciting titles. Festival highlights, photos, and videos are available at: http://mvff.com. We’ll see you at the Fest next year!

Wild
(USA 2014, 120 min)

Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) at the start of her long and often arduous journey.

Director Jean-Mark Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) and writer Nick Hornby have turned Cheryl Strayed’s exceedingly popular memoir Wild into one of the best pictures of the year. Reese Witherspoon gives perhaps the fiercest performance of her career as Strayed, who, in the mid-1990s, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) solo as a way to cope with several losses in her life. A powerful meditation on grief, healing, strength, and redemption, Vallée’s picture benefits enormously from the emotionally raw performances of is two lead actresses. Laura Dern, as Strayed’s mother Bobbi, seen in flashbacks, is devastating as a young mother whose capacity for hope and love is beyond measure. Shot on location at various points along the PCT, Yves Bélanger’s cinematography is breathtaking, and fittingly accentuates the emotional complexity of Strayed’s story.

Release Date:
– Opens nationwide on December 5th

[read the whole post]

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