Kyle Brunet is a North Shore film/music lover living in the city by the sea of Beverly, and contributes to Boston Hassle regularly. Constantly taking the trek to Beantown to catch movies and screenings, he will go to any length to make sure the films he wants to cover are covered, and always double checks to make sure his writing is okay! On his spare time, he likes to make lo-fi acoustic tracks and complain about the industry like a nerd, even if he defends comic book films with all his heart like a hypocrite.
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) dir. Dan Trachtenberg
John Goodman! Rejoice! 10 Cloverfield Lane is an exercise in how to make a great thriller. While adding on a slight bit of mythology for fans of the original Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane really stands on its own. It’s tense, it’s scary, it’s beautiful. Plus John Goodman! How could you go wrong with a terrifying John Goodman?
9. The Neon Demon (2016) dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
In the words of the great Owen Wilson, “Wow.” What was The Neon Demon?? It’s not really scary, yet it’s still a horror film? It’s surrealist, but in a very grounded way? Whatever you want to call it, don’t call The Neon Demon a bad film, because it’s the exact opposite. It’s incredible! So much better than director Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous film, Only God Forgives, which I found super overrated. Instead, Neon Demon sits nicely with his film before that, Drive, a modern masterpiece. David Lynch would be proud!
8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) dir. Taika Waititi
Another surprise for this year! I had no idea what this film was or what it was about, but it was playing at the theater I work at and it was directed by Taika Waititi, director of What We Do In The Shadows, another film I loved to death. What I got was so much deeper and profound than I could ever imagine. It’s gut-bustingly hilarious at times and tear-inducingly sad at others. Waitit’s talent at knowing how to pull both together and work simultaneously is insane. Plus Sam Neill! How could you go wrong with Sam Neill?
7. The Fits (2016) dir. Anna Rose Holmer
Fun fact! My review of The Fits was the first thing I ever wrote for the Hassle! Let’s get nostalgic and read it right here!
6. The Invitation (2016) dir. Karyn Kusama
It took me SO long to get to The Invitation. I just didn’t have the time or energy to get to see it. Fast forward a couple of months of scrolling through Netflix at midnight and there it was! Excited knowing that I get to finally see this, I put it on. 90 minutes later and I am shocked. Appalled. How did this go so unnoticed? It’s a perfect thriller! It has an amazing set up and an incredible payoff (the final shot is my personal favorite final shot of the year, so terrifying). Don’t read reviews or the wiki page. Just watch it and be as shocked as I was!
5. The Witch (2016) dir. Robert Eggers
2016 was the year of the horror film. They’re back! Horror films are good again! Kicking off the year of good horror films was The Witch, which ended up being the best of the bunch. Half historical drama, half terrifyingly surrealist horror film. I’ve watched The Witch multiple times already and its still refreshing with each and every viewing. Hopefully 2017 can bring us something just as good as The Witch (doubt it!).
4. Krisha (2016) dir. Trey Edward Shults
Oh man. Krisha. Where to begin? The fact that this is a future indie darling’s directorial debut is astonishing. What I wouldn’t give to forget about Krisha and get to watch it over again with a clear mind. It’s a perfect indie film by definition. It looks and feels cheap (I mean most of the actors aren’t even real, some of them are just family members of director Trey Edward Shults), and it acts as if we’re watching a documentary. I love that about it. It’s real, and there is no film this year that is as real as Krisha. You’ll cringe, laugh and feel horrified during this short but sweet film. Just go see it, don’t read anything about it!
3. 20th Century Women (2016) dir. Mike Mills
20th Century Women is sooooooooo _____________________________! (Read my review to find out more, if you care about my opinion!)
2. Manchester By The Sea (2016) dir. Kenneth Lonergan
A better title would be “Heartbreak By The Sea,” but I digress. This is the opposite of La La Land for me. While La La Land has the bright colors and energy that I love in film, Manchester has the emotion and story telling that I love from a great script. The dialogue is tragic yet at times hilarious, the acting is top notch (Casey Affleck’s performance completely wrecks me, even more so with my second viewing) and the direction is GORGEOUS. Living less than 20 minutes away from where this film takes place lets me zone out on the locale of my hometown and towns surrounding it. Even if Manchester is my #2, it complements La La Land, in my honest opinion, and are equal of quality. Just for different reasons. Don’t forget the tissues!
1. La La Land (2016) dir. Damien Chazelle
I’m not a fan of musicals. They always swing between being too grandiose or cliche-ridden gunk. Every once in a while, though, a musical comes out that surprises me and makes me fall in love with film and shows me that the genre isn’t all bad. This year, while I wasn’t anticipating La La Land at all, I still gave it a chance, especially after the great reviews. How wrong I was for not anticipating this movie. Not only is it a great musical (I still listen to the soundtrack every once in a while), but it’s just such a great story of following your dreams and conflicted love in a dreary, dreamy LA setting. As a love letter to film, La La Land hits all the right notes and never skips a beat. After Damien Chazelle directed one of my favorite films of the last couple of years (Whiplash), I should have never doubted his ability to make me fall in love with musicals again, and with film in general. Thanks Damien!