The moments of Blade Runner 2049 pass by too quickly, lost in the next gorgeous shot, meticulous special effect, or confounding mystery. Fluorescent advertisements reflect off of murky puddles at the street level, while the higher classes enjoy the seemingly infinite refraction of a glorious light off of crystalline indoor pools. It’s evident immediately: the world of Blade Runner 2049 is complex, dark, and fascinating – a finely-crafted melding of science fiction and noir filmmaking.
In La La Land, the musical genre is simultaneously presented with a vibrant contemporaneity and a celebratory nostalgia for classic Hollywood. Around this structure, the film espouses timeless themes of self-doubt, settling and compromise, and the drive to follow one’s dreams – especially in the context of artistry. There are two great performances at the core of the film, Emma Stone as Mia and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, multiple spectacular song-and-dance numbers, and a hyper-stylized aesthetic that blends reality and fantasy to perfection. Together, these elements make La La Land a wonderful marriage of plot, style, and theme, and one of the best films of the year (and best film musicals of recent memory).
Fans of the crime comedy genre can rejoice, because we’ve been gifted a new masterpiece. Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is a fun throwback that sports a fantastic mixture of neo-noir and black comedy. Like the best examples of the genre, the story unfolds through a central mystery while multiple intriguing characters get roped into the proceedings. Black’s sensibilities take full advantage of the chemistry between stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, and as a result the film compares favorably to similar movies like The Big Lebowski and Snatch. Though it may fly under the radar during its theatrical release, it will likely find a cult following once people recognize its high quality and peculiar tone.
Show of hands: who understands what happened to cause the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the subsequent global recession? Okay, now all the liars that have their hands up – do you think you could explain it to a standard movie audience, while still telling an engaging, cinematic story? Well, Adam McKay, famous for creating the Funny or Die website and directing comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, has succeeded in this endeavor. McKay’s ridiculous stylistic choices help portray the absurdity of the entire financial system, and instill a sense of incredulity in the audience. As a result, he has crafted a wonderful and funny film with full character arcs, rousing thematic statements, and eye-opening revelations about the world we live in.