By Sean Tuohy
“The Nice Guys”
This should be no surprise: I love this movie. I’ve been in love with it since I read Shane Black’s 2006 script for this dark comedy. The film, which ended up being directed by Black, is the movie that moviegoers were crying out for but didn’t know it. Smart, funny, and filled with enough gunplay and one-liners to bring out the movie hard on.
This sci-fi thriller penned by Writer’s Bone podcast guest Eric Heisserer was a stand out this year. If “Independence Day” is on the lowbrow end of the scale for “aliens invade Earth” movies, then “Arrival” is very much on the high end. Paced just right and filled with wonderful images, this film captured the spirit of modern sci-fi storytelling. The best part in this film was that the major action scene never happens. You never see a gun being fired, but you hear it. The film wisely doesn’t rely on action, but focuses all its attention on the characters.
Listen to Sean Tuohy's interview with "Arrival" screenwriter Eric Heisserer.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
I left the theater smiling with joy after watching this film. Harry Potter was in my life, but I was not a mega fan like some (cough, Daniel Ford, cough). This movie captured the wounded and joy of the original Potter books. I definitely had a tear in my eye during one of the saddest moments at the end of the film.
“Midnight Special” was the perfect mix of science fiction and noir. Shot in muted tones, grounded in the real world with characters that peel off the screen, “Midnight Special” was overlooked by filmgoers. The heart of the story—a father protecting his son—is heartwarming, but the action in the story is believable.
Crime legends Ross Macdonald and James Ellroy would be proud to see that their tradition of dark storytelling, featuring criminals and violence, continue on in this thrilling heist film. A group of bank robbers indebted to the mob must kill a cop—a triple 9 call—to pull off their next heist. Character-driven, dark, moody, this movie was sadly overlooked.