Films in 2016: January

We’re one month into the 2016, and most of the movies I’ve watched so far have been great. As it is Oscar season, I caught up with most of the Best Picture nominees (the only one I have left to see is The Revenant), and as an Oscar junkie I watched some other Best Picture nominees from years past. And seeing as 31 Days of Oscar on TCM started today, I’m sure February will be about the same. A lot of the films I watched also had Oscar-nominated performances from women, as I feel like I haven’t seen enough of them (it seems the films with Oscar-nominated male performances get a Best Picture nod more often than the female ones…), and as you’ll see with most of my favorite discoveries for the month, the female-focused films resonated with me the most. And speaking of women in film, I also watched a few movies for the 52 Films by Women challenge and am enjoying it a lot so far! Anyway, let’s look at what I watched this past month.

New-to-Me: 34

Re-Watched: 10

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 0
  • 1930s – 0
  • 1940s – 4
  • 1950s – 3
  • 1960s – 6
  • 1970s – 5
  • 1980s – 1
  • 1990s – 2
  • 2000s – 2
  • 2010s – 11

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Traffic (2000)
  2. Erin Brockovich (2000)
  3. Awakenings (1990)
  4. An Unmarried Woman (1978)
  5. Spotlight (2015)
  6. The Big Short (2015)
  7. The Two Faces of January (2014)
  8. A Most Violent Year (2014)
  9. Radio Days (1987)
  10. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
  11. The Bigamist (1953)
  12. Love & Mercy (2015)
  13. Room (2015)
  14. Starting Over (1979)
  15. Carol (2015)
  16. Brooklyn (2015)
  17. A New Leaf (1971)
  18. Sounder (1972)
  19. Love Letters (1945)
  20. Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
  21. A Thousand Clowns (1965)
  22. Bridge of Spies (2015)
  23. Trumbo (2015)
  24. Beyond the Lights (2015)
  25. Third Finger, Left Hand (1940)
  26. Woman’s World (1954)
  27. Arabesque (1966)
  28. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
  29. The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
  30. The Shaggy Dog (1959)
  31. Ivy (1947)
  32. The Remains of the Day (1993)
  33. BUtterfield 8 (1960)
  34. Le bonheur (1965)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

An Unmarried Woman (1978), directed by Paul Mazursky

I watched this film in the beginning of the month, and it’s really stayed with me since I saw it. Jill Clayburgh gives such a natural performance as Erica, a woman who reevaluates herself after her husband leaves her for younger woman. I loved that throughout the film she’s exploring her identity as a single person instead of being part of a couple, and really just learns to be her own person instead of half of a whole. I watched Starting Over sometime after, which features Clayburgh’s other Oscar-nominated performance, and now I just want to see more of her movies from the ’70s. But here she’s truly remarkable, and she really drew me into the film.

Carol (2015)

Carol (2015), directed by Todd Haynes

I’d been very impatient to see Carol since I first saw the trailer sometime last year, as it looked like another great period piece by director Todd Haynes. It finally came to theaters in my area this month, and I saw it soon after the Oscar nominations were announced. And really, I can’t believe the Academy didn’t nominate this film for Best Picture, and at least Best Director! Anyway, this film is clearly inspired by David Lean’s Brief Encounter (the image above evokes a particular moment from the film), and though Haynes is often inspired by old movies (like his Far From Heaven and Douglas Sirk’s melodramas), he has a way of making it his own where it’s not a rip-off. And everyone in the cast is great, especially Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the latter of whom gives an effective internal performance.

Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn (2015), directed by John Crowley

After Mad Max: Fury Road, I’d say Brooklyn is my personal favorite of this year’s Best Picture nominees, and a lot of that is due to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. Ronan is simply captivating in this, and you can see how special this role and film was for her as she herself was raised in Ireland. Some of my favorite scenes were when her character Eilis interacted with the other young women in her boardinghouse, especially at dinner with their landlady, played brilliantly by Julie Walters. It’s not a groundbreaking film by any means, but it’s one of those movies that I’d love to live in.

Beyond the Lights (2014)

Beyond the Lights (2014), directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

The plot for Beyond the Lights is familiar and rather predictable, but the execution of it all is wonderful. It’s very earnest in its approach, and isn’t ashamed of being a romantic melodrama. And the characters feel like real people instead of some sort of cliche, and it’s enhanced by some great performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver, and Nate Parker. This was my first time seeing Mbatha-Raw in a movie, and I was really blown away by her. I’ll be checking out Belle this month for sure, and I can’t wait to see what she does next as far as leading roles go (please give her some more Hollywood). Also on a superficial note, she looks amazing with purple hair.

Third Finger, Left Hand (1940)

Third Finger, Left Hand (1940), directed by Robert Z. Leonard

I didn’t watch as many classic films as usual this month, but one that was really a joy to watch was Third Finger, Left Hand. Myrna Loy always lights up the screen in any movie she’s in, and I just love seeing Melvyn Douglas in comedies like this. They made a great team together in this film, and I was pretty much smiling the whole time I was watching.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

A Woman Under the Influence (1974), directed by John Cassavetes

I posted my first entry for the 2016 Blind Spots series a few days ago on A Woman Under the Influence, another great film I watched this month. My thoughts on the film can be found here.

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4 thoughts on “Films in 2016: January

  1. Hi there! I was looking at the announcement for the Marathon Blogathon and I noticed you were doing Denzel Washington. First of all, great choice! Second, I wanted to suggest one of my favorite movies “Deja Vu” (2006) if you haven’t already seen it. “The Pelican Brief” is another favorite.

    Also, I’m so happy to find another person who has seen “Third Finger, Left Hand.” I feel like that’s one not many people have seen. Loy and Douglas are two of my favorites. Have you seen “Theodora Goes Wild”? It stars Douglas and Irene Dunne. It’s along the same vein. Someone finally put it on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKQFOoDUDQE

    And now I’m going to look around your blog some more 🙂 I’m over at phyllislovesclassicmovies.blogspot.com/

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