Films in 2016: February

February was an Oscar-filled month for me as usual, as I always watch a ton of films during TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar and try to get caught up with this year’s nominees. In getting caught up with movies recognized at the Academy Awards this past Sunday, I ended up having a Rocky marathon leading up to Creed, and seeing as that series had a couple of real duds I did watch some bad movies this month too (though some of the movies nominated this year and in years past that I saw were pretty bad too). Anyway, it was a fun movie-watching month overall, but I’ll probably slow it down a little in March now that awards season is finally over. So let’s look at what I watched this month!

New-to-Me: 39

Re-Watched: 3

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 0
  • 1930s – 2
  • 1940s – 4
  • 1950s – 2
  • 1960s – 4
  • 1970s – 2
  • 1980s – 5
  • 1990s – 4
  • 2000s – 3
  • 2010s – 13

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. The Revenant (2015)
  2. Dear Heart (1964)
  3. The Human Comedy (1943)
  4. Five Star Final (1931)
  5. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
  6. The Hateful Eight (2015)
  7. Running on Empty (1988)
  8. Swing Shift (1984)
  9. Malcolm X (1992)
  10. Middle of Nowhere (2012)
  11. 45 Years (2015)
  12. Rocky II (1979)
  13. Rocky III (1982)
  14. Rocky IV (1985)
  15. Rocky V (1990)
  16. Rocky Balboa (2006)
  17. Creed (2015)
  18. Training Day (2001)
  19. Pariah (2011)
  20. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)
  21. Viva Villa! (1934)
  22. Executive Suite (1954)
  23. Lydia (1941)
  24. Joy (2015)
  25. Blackboard Jungle (1955)
  26. Talk to Me (2007)
  27. The Hurricane (1999)
  28. Z (1969)
  29. The Danish Girl (2015)
  30. Steve Jobs (2015)
  31. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
  32. Tom Dick and Harry (1941)
  33. That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
  34. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
  35. Straight Outta Compton (2015)
  36. Sicario (2015)
  37. Belle (2013)
  38. Cry Freedom (1987)
  39. Leap Year (2010)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

Running on Empty (1988)

Running on Empty (1988), directed by Sidney Lumet

Every time I see a movie with River Phoenix I get sad thinking of how great he could’ve been today had he not died so young. This is the only film that earned him an Oscar nomination, in a case of category fraud where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor even though his character is clearly the lead of the film. Anyway, he’s truly magnetic in this role, playing teenager Danny Pope, who’s struggling to find his place in the world. The real problem is that his family has been on the run from the authorities since the ’60s when his parents set a weapons lab on fire in protest of the Vietnam War. Because of that, his identity is always changing, though his passion for music has prevailed. What makes Running on Empty so great is how the relationships are written and portrayed, especially the ones between Danny and his parents, and him and his new girlfriend Lorna (Martha Plimpton). Though Phoenix is an obvious stand-out, everyone else in this film really shines too.

Creed (2015)

Creed (2015), directed by Ryan Coogler

With sequels, reboots, remakes, and spin-offs running rampant in movie theaters these days, it’s hard to find one that actually comes close to the original. As a sequel spin-off, Creed pulls it off in focusing on new characters, but not forgetting the aspects that made the original Rocky great. Sylvester Stallone makes a great comeback as his most beloved character, and watching him in this made the movie more emotional for me after seeing him in previous Rocky movies. Michael B. Jordan though really owns this movie, and gave truly one of the best performances of the year. Another thing I loved about the movie was how the boxing matches were filmed, it made the experience much more engrossing. After seeing Fruitvale Station a couple years ago, I knew Jordan and director Ryan Coogler were ones to watch, and their second collaboration together is just as good as the first. I hope they become a dynamic director-actor duo, though I’ll definitely stay tuned to their careers whether they work separately or together.

Z (1969)

Z (1969), directed by Costa-Gavras

Z was nominated for Best Picture the same year as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and winner Midnight Cowboy, and after seeing the movie I can see why the Academy couldn’t ignore this foreign film. It’s a political thriller based on a real event that’s revolved around the public death of a political leader played by Yves Montand, which is continuously covered up by government officials. The events unfold like a news story as there’s no true protagonist to the film, though the closest to it is in the form of the magistrate played by Jean-Louis Trintignant. It’s a slow-burning thriller but one that still keeps you on the edge of your seat as the story takes twists and turns in trying to uncover the conspiracy.

Belle (2013)

Belle (2013), directed by Amma Asante

After watching Beyond the Lights last month, I had to see Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle, and she did not disappoint. With just two movies alone she’s proven to be a great leading lady, so she really should be cast as the protagonist more often than she is. Anyway, I loved seeing a period piece such as this centering around a non-white person, though Dido’s (Mbatha-Raw) background is important to the story. Though the film features a nice romantic narrative, it’s most focused on the social problems Dido faces, and considering the time period, this also concerns her gender and social standing alongside her mixed-race.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), directed by Robert Altman

I posted my monthly entry for the 2016 Blind Spots series a few days ago on McCabe & Mrs. Miller, another great film I watched this month. My thoughts on the film can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “Films in 2016: February

  1. I love Belle, and I need to check out Beyond the Lights too. Ditto on Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler. I hope to watch Creed soon.

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