LESSON #1: 2016 WAS A BANNER YEAR FOR FEATURE DOCUMENTARIES— If you haven’t sought out the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature, do you yourself a favor and remedy that. The multi-hour/multi-part “O.J.: Made in America” is going to win the Oscar and is available on Netflix. The streaming powerhouse also offers Ava DuVernay’s powerful and comprehensive nominee”13th,” as well as the Oscar-snubbed Werner Herzog musing “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World,” and “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.” My winning vote would be “Life, Animated” was my #3 film of the year and is available on Amazon Prime Video along with “De Palma.” If you can make it to the theaters, “I Am Not Your Negro” just opened and is expanding.
LESSON #2: HOLLYWOOD STILL CAN’T HELP ITSELF WITH THEIR OWN REMAKES OF FOREIGN FILMS— Germany’s “Toni Erdmann” from Maren Ade is the front-runner for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Word dropped on Wednesday that Jack Nicholson wants to come out retirement to star in an American version with Kristin Wiig. Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) is executive producing and the speculative fantasy casting and hiring has already begun. Sure, I’d love to see wily Jack in the title role, but many cinephile fans of Ade’s original film are up in arms, and dutifully so, that Hollywood is going to water down and ruin a good thing for sake of fewer subtitles. Little to no one is standing on the “this is a great idea” side of the line.
LESSON #3: HOLLYWOOD IS NO BETTER WITH REBOOTS— In movie news, get ready for “Pineapple Express” director David Gordon Green for “Halloween,” Kevin Smith stirring up his own redux of “Jay and Silent Bob,” “Arrival” screenwriter Eric Heisserer teaming with “Passengers” screenwriter Jon Spaihts on “Van Helsing,” “John Wick” steward Chad Stahelski next up on “Highlander, and, last but not least, a Coen brothers rewrite of “Scarface” for an unfilled director. As always, ask yourself which ones of these you actually want to see.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He is also one of the founders and directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.