Sunday, January 22, 2017



Compared to other years, this was one where I can say I saw a lot of amazing films early and late. Of the 55 films I got to see, starting with 10 Cloverfield Lane and ending with Moonlight, there was definitely a spread out range, from complete and utter disappointment (Suicide Squad), to complete surprise (The Jungle Book/Arrival), to “What the hell did I just watch??” (Green Room/Swiss Army Man/The Witch).

I only gave 3 movies a “4 star” rating this year so it was a fairly mediocre year for me…or am I just getting harsher with my criticism? While I delve into the mysteries of my subconscious/taste, I’d like to shoot you my Top 10 Best Films of 2016. This annual list Napoli and I do always brings me joy and I hope this gives you some films you might not have gotten around to, a worthy watch.

My Year End Awards:  
Best Actor: Denzel Washington- Fences
Best Actress: Emma Stone- La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Hugh Grant- Florence Foster Jenkins
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis- Fences
Best Director: Damien Chazelle- La La Land
Worst Movie(s): American Honey + Suicide Squad

BEST of 2016

10.  Sing Street

The little “sleeper hit that could”. I’m a HUGE fan of John Carney since I saw Once in a small upstate NY theater in 2007. I love his take on love and music. That’s why I was a little disappointed by the corny and unexceptional effort that was Begin Again (still a fine film, none the less). Sing Street seems to dip a bit into the corny but then have moments that remind me of what made Once so magical.

Give this a watch even just for the amazing soundtrack. Songs like “Drive It Like You Stole It” or “To Find You” deserve Oscar consideration. And one musical scene involving a “dream” sequence at a school dance is easily worth the price of admission.

John Carney has found his sandbox to play in with these three films giving us amazing examples of “music in film”. I hope he never stops and his masterpiece is still to be seen.

Directed by John Carney

9. 10 Cloverfield Lane

I remember I looked at my two friends (Mike and Napoli) in the parking lot after the end of the movie and said, “I know this is January but this might end up being in my Top 10”. And IT IS!

Dan Trachtenberg makes one hell of a directorial debut. The tension built in the house for the films first half is top notch. John Goodman will have you both laughing and genuinely frightened….what a performance. Watch out for the scene involving a "guessing game" at a table. I'll leave it at that. It's the best of the film. 

Whether aliens/monsters/etc. were your thing or not in the first Cloverfield, give this a watch and don’t think about the comparisons. Just enjoy the gripping storytelling.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

8. Deadpool

Talk about a year for directorial debuts…here comes Deadpool! In a year of X-men Apocolypse, Batman V. Superman, and Captain America: Civil War, the superhero movie that ends up on my list ended up being the one that took the biggest risk and came out shaking up the genre in a great way.  

Ryan Reynolds…you done good. I’d give you an Oscar Nomination, if I could. You and your team deserve all the credit. This is one of the best comedies of the year. And mad props for a good use of “Careless Whisper”.

Directed by Tim Miller

7. Everybody Wants Some!!! 

After pooping all over “Boyhood” for various reasons, here I am praising Richard Linklater for this AWESOME movie that had me smiling the entire time. Every character is so much fun and the entire journey just flows with such positive energy; it’s impossible not to enjoy this college adventure.

I have to give a shout out to actor Glen Powell as Finnegan in this film (also in awards-favorite Hidden Figures). I hope this guy becomes someone big. I loved every scene he was in and I think he has the potential to be the next big thing.

Get this movie on and get ready to party.

Directed by Richard Linklater

6. Hell or High Water

The film opens with an extremely well choreographed bank robbery and jumps us right into action. These early scenes really suck you in. If you don’t like this movie in the first 20 minutes, you’re not gonna like it. I LOVED it.

Jeff Bridges does his “almost out of retirement and I’m gonna grunt through this performance” role that was totally welcomed. Ben Foster does his “I’m a crazy, loose-cannon bank robber brother” that has a wonderful unpredictability to it. But I’ll give credit to Chris Pine for anchoring the film and giving some of his best work.

This films shines because of the small-scale realism it brings and the reminder that this could be happening at any time in our country today. I definitely think this is worth seeing.

Directed by David Mackenzie

5. Moonlight

Alright. Top 5 Films to see in 2016.

You have to see "Moonlight". What powerful film poetry. This is the best acting ensemble possibly in 2016, especially with the three actors that play our lead character  Chiron, in the three very important points of his life. Each performance feels so close to one another that it never feels disjointed even in the story's segmented nature.

Barry Jenkins is able to say and show so much with such little dialogue. His camera flows so well and gives us many shots that speak volumes from their unique style. There are plenty of close-ups and slow-mo shots that all feel perfectly placed. Everything in the film feels just right.

The ONLY thing I could say I didn't enjoy was the ending, which I won't give away. While many probably will find it satisfactory, it left me with not enough resolution and not enough of a punch for the journey that I was put through. However, the journey is perfectly worth experiencing. This story of human connection is a must-see. 

Directed by Barry Jenkins

4. Arrival

Full disclosure: When I saw this in theaters, two people around me fell asleep. And with todays theaters having such comfortable seats and this film having about a 20minute lull period around the first act, I can’t blame them. But, why would this film be #4 on a “Best Film List”? Why is everyone going on about it? BECAUSE THAT ENDING WAS INSANE!

I won’t spoil anything and don’t want to get your hopes up. But Villinueve (master of tension from Sicario) knows how to tell a story. He sets up the plot and the central issue and has a strong character in Amy Adams’ character to take you through all the way. All the set up pays off in an EXTREMELY satisfying third act that reminded me of an all-to rare feeling in modern cinema now: The feeling of genuine surprise. I was elated by the surprises this film brought me and wouldn’t want to take that away from anyone.

While not a perfect film, I think this deserves a lot of praise and I’m looking forward to talking about this for years to come.

Directed by Denis Villinueve

3. Fences

If I want to show someone the “power of acting”, I’ll show them “Fences”. This is the Denzel-Show and man does he give a powerhouse performance. Sure, this adaptation feels more like a “Play shot on film” rather than a “Play adapted for film” but in some ways, I find it hard to think of a better way to show this material so effectively.

This more direct approach will play strongest to those who let it in. The story of American family struggle is effective and real in the hands of talent like this. It’s not to be missed. I was on cloud-9 walking away from it and I hope you are too.

Final thought: Man…it really takes a long time for that fence to get made. This isn’t a criticism…it’s just a test of my patience. BUILD THE DAMN FENCE!

Directed by Denzel Washington

2. Manchester By the Sea

Most people will tell you this is the “Most depressing movie of the year” and “Gear up cause this is heavy”. But it’s actually a very light-hearted take on TOUGH grief that has enough levity to help it transcend just an average misery-fest.

I don’t think I’ve felt more sorry for a character in recent memory than Casey Affleck’s “Lee”. While my vote is for Denzel Washington to take home the Oscar, if Affleck wins, I wouldn’t be sad at the least bit. He gives such a complex range of deep turmoil that I just want to give him a hug.

I think this film escapes the case of one-note melancholy and is able to hit you with enough emotions from enough characters that feel “real”, that I could see this being a film I recommend for years. It’s a dry comedy, a deep tragedy, and ultimately a good reflection on the effort for self-forgiveness.

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

1. La La Land

HO MAN DO I LOVE THIS MOVIE. This is easily my favorite film since Mad Max: Fury Road. What a complete and utter spectacle from every angle to help remind you what this medium can do. Ever since I saw the trailer, I knew this was going to be something special and thank god, it did not disappoint.

With Whiplash and now this, Damien Chazelle has become one of my top favorite directors in Hollywood today. He moves the camera with such precession and attention to fine detail that it shines greatness to behold. In such cynical times, I thank him for finding the right moment to finally get a modern musical out to bring some magic into this year.

From the large ensemble opening number to the ending nod from Ryan Gosling, you will be mesmerized by the ode to classic Hollywood and what love and dreams are made of. From newly classic songs like, “City of Stars” to Emma Stone’s best work to date singing the emotional “Audition” song, the music will bring you all the emotion and power your money is worth.

Run, don’t walk, to a theater near you and see La La Land. I give this my highest honor.

Directed by Damien Chazelle

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In Alphabetical Order)
1. Café Society
2. Green Room
3. The Jungle Book
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
5. The Magnificent Seven
6. Moana
7. The Nice Guys
8. Sully
9.  Swiss Army Man
10. The Witch

Films I Wish I Saw:  
-A Monster Calls
-Edge of Seventeen
-Girl on the Train
-Nocturnal Animals

Thanks for reading! I will see you again with my Oscar Predictions come February. Have a wonderful day, movie-lovers!

-Daniel Bayley

Sunday, January 10, 2016


You know the drill. The Golden Globes are tonight and I get to sit at my desk, with a glass of fine ginger ale, deciding the movies I loved the most this year. It was an odd year because for a while, I felt it was a particularly weak year of movies that didn’t truly move me. That has since changed.

There were some shockers. A movie I never expected to be good, Goosebumps, ended up being one of my most enjoyable times at the movies this year (mainly because it hit upon my nostalgia for Jumanji and Halloween-esque adventure stories). And then there’s Paddington, but I’ll get to that.

There were some also some disappointment. My most anticipated movie of the year was none other than Alejandro Innaritu’s The Revenant. While the cinematography was GORGEOUS and Tom Hardy is always churning out interesting and tough performances, it didn’t surpass the excellence that the trailer gave to me.

But, despite all that, I give you my TOP 10 Best Films of 2015.

10. Steve Jobs    

This movie didn’t get the reception I hoped it would. Why is that? Bad marketing and release play is what you’ll be told. But now it’s been long enough that I hope you find it one day and get into it.

Lets go through all the highlights. 
Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet churn out award worthy performances. I went along with the little embellishments of Steve Jobs’ life AND the three-act structure this movie had. But the BIG thing for me is always Sorkin writing. I will listen to people act out his scripts any day. And Danny Boyle made sure they spoke those words as their characters and not Sorkin himself (although you can definitely hear all the Sorkin in it).

This is essentially a great play of Jobs’ life on film. This is worth your time if you’re a fan of The Social Network, Newsroom, or any of these fine actors.

Dir. Danny Boyle

9. Paddington   

I was looking at my list of favorite movies this year and noticed I have a lot of movies about screwballs and bad people (Steve Jobs, Mistress America, The Hateful Eight). Well…not Paddington fucking bear. WHAT…WHY…HOW…did they put so much talent and wonder into a Paddington movie!?!? I watched this from a recommendation (purely intending on skip it) and THIS is the biggest surprise of the year. If you’re a fan on Wes Anderson’s style of blocking, colors that pop, shots that wonder, a likable animated lead, and some whimsically hysterical jokes sprinkled throughout, this movie is for YOU. It’s the best family film of the year. It’s not just pure fun. There’s a REAL talent going into this one. Trust me.

Dir. Paul King

8. Straight Outta Compton   

Well. This isn’t Paddington. This is a hardcore EPIC that I truly loved. It sickens me that a movie about the late 80’s with a number of talented black youths getting harassed by the police for the first 45min of the movie can’t be seen as a period piece. It resonated so well with our country, it might as well have been about today. But I won’t get deep/political on you with this review (even though that’s what the film wants you to do). 

It does a juggling act of talking about the racism/power of the police force, the rise and fall of power in rap, AIDS, guns, handling money, etc ALL within one film. It works to it's advantage and disadvantage. All you have to know is that while the film is surely very LONG at an ambitious 2 hours and 30 minutes, it’s the best historical movie about music to have come out in a long time.

Also, I gotta call out O’Shea Jackson playing his father Ice Cube and Jason Mitchell playing Eazy-E. I hope they have big careers. They had me the whole movie. Hope you agree. 

Oh...and that great line...

Dir. F. Gary Gray

7. Spotlight   

This is what I’m going to consider the Argo of this year. Poised to win best picture, I appreciate this movie more than I love it, but boy do I appreciate it. It has an all-star cast and deals with a very dark and truthful subject matter. What I appreciate the most is how the entire movie is handled: letting the story come first and having no embellishments along the way. While there are no stand-out performances I could really call out (except maybe Live Schrieber’s understated and impressive role), everyone came to work on the same playing field and no one goes over the top. This movie will have you from start to finish and I have to recommend it as a no-holding-back and seriously adult kind of movie.

Dir. Tom McCarthy

6. Sicario    

Roger Deakins does it again. Most of this film, I couldn’t get over the shots they were getting. Example: Emily Blunt looks through binoculars on a rooftop and see's cops driving towards explosions and gun's they make that look so GOOD!?

Benicio Del Toro does it AGAIN. I’d never want to be stuck in a room with this character.

Emily Blunt does it AGAIN! Most of the film, I was reminded of how I called her out last year as the actress of the year that blew me away. She might be my favorite tough-chick actor of all time (tough exterior/tragic and fragile interior, this character is so amazing to follow).

Plenty of twists, turns, and on-the-edge-of-your-seat sequences, this is True Detective Season 1 meets Zero Dark Thiry meets (insert epic crime drama) but in an extremely original and fresh way. Loved this movie.

Dir. Denis Villeneueve

5. Inside Out  

Oh Sadness. This might be my favorite Pixar character ever. Coming from the guy that thinks Up is the best Pixar movie, I hoped for Pete Doctor to deliver again with this one. He understands storytelling and bringing the feels. I’ll watch anything he does from here on out. 

I particularly loved the message for kids. FINALLY we have a film that understands that kids aren't just into farts and jokes all the time. Kids are just like adults...they go through sadness and disgust and anger all the damn time. And while, yes, we all know that, this film's message is that it's OKAY to feel all those things. Boy am I happy this was executed correctly. 

This isn’t just one of the best family films of the year, it’s just one of the best films.

Dir. Pete Doctor

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

You’ve waited 2 years (maybe your whole life), you’ve seen it 5 times in the theater, you have Rey plastered on your wall, you have ngihtmares about a Kylo Ren temper tantrum, you got the feels for every Han Solo moment, you want your very own BB-8, you want to buy JJ Abrams drinks for making you so happy this holiday season…did I get all of it? 

Bottom line: This movie succeeds in the hardest part a soft reboot of Star Wars could- It has you care about all of its new characters deeply. I think Rey might be my favorite Star Wars character of all time (yes..Darth Maul is taking a backseat). While she's not flawed really in any way (yet), she is infinitely more interesting to watch (curious, brave, adventurous,  independent and energetic). 

 Dir. JJ Abrams

3. The Hateful Eight  

This might have been my most enjoyable time in the theater this year. I think Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds are some of my favorite movies of all time so I expected goodness out of this. But what I got was an EPIC 3 hour event in 70mm with an overture and intermission. The music was sensational. I was laughing throughout. I got sucked into the mystery. Tim Roth’s character was out of this world enjoyable.

So why do people not LOVE this movie? Maybe it’s because of the run time. Maybe it’s because it’s so unbelievably Tarantino to the point where he’s narrating his own movie. But I’ve found it divided by people who loved the first half before the intermission and hated the structure of the second, or vice versa. Maybe that structure is what’s getting everyone. For me…it’s all I needed for a good time this winter. 

It's Quentin Tarantino's Clue Western! I had to love it. 

Dir. Quentin Tarantino

2. Room  

I can’t stop thinking about this movie. It’s hard and painful to watch but it could have been my favorite movie of the year. I hope this gives Brie Larson license to do any role she ever wants because BOY does she bring it here. And Jacob Temblay is the best actor of the year in my opinion…at 9 years old he should be beating Dicaprio for the top prizes this year…I said it.

In a movie like Room where a good portion of it is shot within very small quarters, it manages to make you feel claustrophic yet invited. You know their world, see all it’s angles and dimensions and it gives you something about what the characters inner thoughts are based off their environment. It’s masterful cinematography how this was all handled. 

It's no spoiler that they do escape the Room at some point, and that whole buildup and aftermath had me GASPING. Lenny Abrahamson NEEDS a Best Director nom. 

I will have this on my Top 10 list of the decade for sure, along with…

Dir. Lenny Abrahamson

1. Mad Max: Fury Road 

HOLY SHIT MAD MAX: FURY ROAD IS THE BEST MOVIE OF 2015. It is the most energetic, eye popping, balls to the wall action/chase movie of the decade. It manages to be completely original, never dip in pacing or excitement, and not have any subplots…just one story of epic survival in a wasteland.

If aliens fell from the sky and asked me what movies are and why do humans enjoy them, I would show them the first 5 minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road.


Dir. George Miller

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In Alphabetical Order)
1.     Brooklyn
2.     Carol
3.     Creed
4.     Ex Machina
5.     Goosebumps
6.     Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
7.     Mistress America
8.     The Peanuts Movie
9.     The Revenant
10. Trainwreck

Films I Still Need to See:
Beast of No Nation
Crimson Peak
The Danish Girl
The Good Dinosaur
The Night Before
The Visit

My Year End Awards:
Best Actor: Jacob Temblay, Room
Bect Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Worst Movie: Tomorrowland

Thanks for reading! I will see you again with my Oscar Predictions come February. Have a wonderful day, movie-lovers!