Top 10 Films of 2016, No. 8 – Fences

Fences is a drama directed by Denzel Washington, with a screenplay by the late August Wilson, which he adapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The film, which is set in a black working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh during the 1950s, follows Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), a waste collector living with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and his teenage son Cory (Jovan Adepo) during a time of racial tension. Throughout the film, Troy and his best friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) set up shop in the Maxson’s backyard to drink gin and talk about life, including discussions about race, women, and whether or not Troy will ever finish building his fence.

august-wilsonThe late August Wilson’s Fences is considered one of the greatest plays of all time, but Wilson has transformed that award-winning story into one of the most emotionally affecting films of 2016, with a screenplay that he penned prior to his 2005 death. With the help of Denzel Washington’s brilliant filmmaking—and Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s exquisite photography—Fences gets a picturesque silver-screen treatment. This superb script explores thought-provoking themes of race, death, love, revenge, and family, and Wilson’s rapid-fire dialogue makes for an exciting ride for the audience. Over the course of his career, August Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes and one Tony, so it is only right that his final contribution to the arts resulted in a much-deserved posthumous Academy Award nomination.

fences5As I mentioned earlier, this film is incredibly affecting on an emotional level, and it is not just because of August Wilson’s beautiful script—what truly carries Fences is the remarkable acting. However, it is no surprise that the chemistry between the performers was spot-on and effortless—five of the actors took part in the 2010 Broadway revival of Fences. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprised their roles as Troy and Rose Maxson, for which they both won Tony Awards in 2010. Further, Stephen Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, and Russell Hornsby all returned in their roles as Bono, Gabriel Maxson, and Lyons Maxson, respectively. Needless to say, these skilled actors had already spent years with their characters, which allowed for the most immaculate portrayals that an audience could have hoped to see.

fences6Speaking of the acting performances, the hype that Denzel and Viola Davis are receiving is completely justified—just as their on-screen characters are constantly battling, these two celebrated actors fight each other for ownership of every single scene they appear in. The Best Actor category is an incredibly tight race between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington, and although I preferred Affleck’s performance, I would have zero problem with Washington taking home his third Oscar—his performance is as commanding as any I’ve ever seen. As for Davis, well, her epic snot-pouring scene in the film has surely locked up the Best Supporting Actress category. fences3One of my favorite performances, though, was that of Williamson as Troy’s disabled brother Gabriel, which was quite underrated. Fences featured a few moments that cued the water works, and many of those came courtesy of Williamson’s emotionally invested portrayal of Gabriel. Fences is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references.

Fences trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj-ZYPVRQbc

Academy Award nominations for Fences:

Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black)

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Viola Davis)

Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson)

Previous movies on the countdown of my Top 10 Films of 2016:

9. Zootopia

10. Nocturnal Animals

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Countdown to the Oscars — Round Three!

Imagine What's Possible - Oscars

Welcome back to the red carpet, movie fans! The stage is now set for my 3rd annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog!  Each year it gets more and more exciting to delve deep into the newest additions in film history, and again I am thrilled to get back to commentating on this year’s fantastic cinematic achievements.

Starting today and continuing right up until the ceremony, I will post regularly about the Oscars.  These posts will include both my “Top 15 Films of the Year” list and my own personal Oscars ballot for this year’s major categories (14 of the 24 categories, to be exact).  I will also again be posting a review about the actual ceremony in late February. In addition to these perennial posts, I will also include a new post—tomorrow morning I will release my “Top 3 Most Disappointing Films of the Year.”

NPH OscarsThis year, Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the Oscars ceremony. NPH is a decently humorous actor, but in my opinion, he has some massively large shoes to fill. Last year, Ellen DeGeneres absolutely killed it, and I would have loved to see her return to the stage. DeGeneres’s performance last year garnered universal acclaim, provided a wealth of memorable moments, and even included a “celebrity selfie” that went on to become the most retweeted tweet of all time. Needless to say, NPH will have to elevate his game to meet the new “Ellen” standard. But ultimately I think he will come through—he is a veteran awards show host, with a résumé that includes hosting four Tony Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. I imagine his performance will include musical numbers, mirroring the performances of Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackman in their years as hosts; obviously, this is because NPH is a talented performer, adding a Tony in 2014 for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to his long list of accolades.

This year, the Oscars will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on February 22nd, 2015—that is just 23 days away!!

Many thanks to all of you that are back again this year, and I look forward to any new readers—I really do appreciate the support.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show—it’s OSCAR TIME!