Yes, there are Oscars and Golden Globes, SAG “Actor” and critics’ honors. But there’s only one “Schumie” and, as the awards roll in for the movies of 2017, the Reel Dad honors the achievements of the movie year.
Baked to Perfection: Get Out
Never could we imagine that such an entertaining escape could deliver the year’s most relevant (and impactful) social commentary. Writer/director Jordan Peele brilliantly plays with the conventions of a movie thriller to deliver a chilling message about prejudice. He invites us on a roller coaster ride that reveals the realities we may face when we return to the ground.
Piece de Resistance: The Shape of Water
While Guillermo del Toro is not the first moviemaker to explore what can happen when a creature from another place visits our world, his fairy tale romance presents a unique view of how souls can connect. Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins creates a mesmerizing look at a woman who intends to protect her dreams no matter the outcome.
Greta Gerwig’s breathtaking comedy ventures into the emotional land mines of mothers and daughters, filled with anger and denial, graced by love and kindness. She refuses to simplify the complexities and never takes sides. Gerwig simply expresses the hope that, ultimately, people who love each other will look beyond what drives them crazy.
Cooking With Gas: The Post
At a time when so many in power may challenge the pursuit of truth, Steven Spielberg offers an essential look at the bravery that truth requires, to find it, share it, learn from it. With the pace of a thriller, and the detail of a documentary, the film recreates a moment in time when people put their lives and reputations on the line to ensure that real facts would be revealed.
Tasty, Bittersweet, Unforgettable: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
British playwright Martin McDanonagh explores how anger can paralyze in a film that dares to acknowledge the rage that burns when people are unable to move forward. While some may see this movie as a rant against people who complain, it actually examines what they want to believe about the institutions and leaders they fear will disappoint.
In his eighth feature-length film, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson reaches cinema perfection with this detailed look at the layers of a man who resists emotional commitment by burying himself in his work. The movie maker makes the most of every moment in a film as intricate and precise — and involving — as the fashions its central character creates.
Brimming with Flavor: Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan defies what we expect from a blockbuster about World War II. We hear minimal dialogue because the director knows what a powerful picture can communicate. We see little blood as if he trusts us to realize what war requires. We see conflict after we begin to absorb bravery. Instead of the routine, Nolan defines how everyday people can be heroes.
This stunner reminds us that beneath the surface of a society that pretends to take care of others lives a population that society overlooks. These people hang on, one day at a time, one motel room by the week, until they run out of ways to avoid inevitable the conclusions when people and institutions overlook those whose pain is inconvenient.
Hearty Helping: The Big Sick
How families cope with change serves a delightful surprise in this engaging comedy about the ups and downs of two people who discover how inconvenient love can be. While Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon base the narrative on their lives, and reach for plot devices we have seen, they make it all feel fresh by creating a unique world we want to experience.
Lasting Nourishment: Call Me by Your Name
Like a fine piece of literature, this beautiful film from writer James Ivory and director Luca Guadagnino inspires us to savor every moment of its careful storytelling. They make us believe in the hope people can feel when they first meet, initially connect and powerfully discover what they may mean to each other. If they let themselves follow their hearts.
Years ago, before social media made it easy for opinion to swell, Tonya Harding was America’s favorite villain. This outrageous film, part documentary, part parody, part biopic, part horror story, embraces the absurdity of its heroine by portraying Harding’s rise and fall in an appropriately exaggerated manner. This is not a serious film. And it’s impossible to forget.
More Schumies from the Reel Dad
By Mark Schumann
Father of Three
Here are more “Schumies” to honor the achievements of the movie year!
Like any history lesson on film, this movie is at its best when it takes us beyond where textbooks reach, into the minds of leaders and the fears they experience. Like the best bio pics, the film limits its narrative to a specific moment in time to discover real issues and questions. It’s as much a story of the chaos surrounding a person in the spotlight as a look at that person.
Frozen Surprise: Wind River
From its opening moments, we feel the cold, the bitterness, the isolation. Taylor Sheridan writes and directs a powerful tale of a man who tries to connect the dots when a young woman is murdered on a Native American reservation in a remote part of Wyoming. We see how people, in a place so desolate, find ways to live and cheat, lie and deceive, attack and hurt. And we wonder how they continue.
Memorable Meal: Detroit
At any time, Kathryn Bigelow’s film would be a powerful reminder of the impact of hatred between races. Seen today, with all we experience in our world, its message could not be more significant. This detailed, heart-breaking recreation of the Detroit riots of 1967 reminds us what can happen when people only believe in what they fear.
Tasty and Familiar: Paris Can Wait
Eleanor Coppola may not say anything new about Paris, waiting or relationships, but driving across France is always a delight. The documentary filmmaker, making her first narrative film at age 81, takes us on a journey of people coming to terms with what life brings. This light soufflé of a movie may tease at every turn that more may happen than actually does. But who cares? The ride is lovely.
Devilish Delight: Personal Shopper
We don’t always know what actually happens in this movie. It’s filled with so many twists and turns — some real, some fake — that we aren’t certain, as the film ends, what has happened and what has been imagined. But we don’t care. We are so totally spooked, and thoroughly entertained by such a delightful ride from French director Oliver Assayas that we want to get back in line for a second viewing.
Surprisingly Memorable: Battle of the Sexes
For all the memories the movie may generate, this detailed recreation of tennis in 1973 is less a tale of sport than an exploration of bravery to confront personal truth. While the film may make us chuckle at how we once lived, it should make us think about the standards we held. This perceptive look at days gone by reminds us that battles for fairness and equality never end. They simply begin new games.
Prime Cut: Wonderstruck
This meaningful look at two children searching for truth captivates from its opening frame until, two hours later, we don’t want to let go. Director Todd Haynes uses the visual language of film to tell its story in ways dialogue cannot create. Rather than burden the piece with too many words, Haynes lets images tell the tale. And he uses silence to inspire us to discover what’s behind the sounds we hear.
Some movies should not be remade. They are too special, their approaches too creative and their impact too significant to be taken apart and put back together again. But Disney likes to remake its classics so we get to suffer through this half-baked attempt to recreate magic. From the opening moments, something is missing from this live-action version of the animated classic.
Fallen Soufflé: The Founder
When I was a child in the 1960s, a trip to McDonald’s was a special occasion. This film may entertain with its rendition of Ray Kroc, the man who grew the company, but it fails to examine how he adapted the ideas of the others to create an empire. It does little to help us understand how Kroc thought, what drove his ambition, what inspired his choices.
Overcooked: Molly’s Game
Since movies started to talk, movie makers have relied on voice over to advance a narrative. But Aaron Sorkin relies so much on recorded narration to tell his story that we lose the characters. The writer/director never lets us know what he’s trying to accomplish. And the voice over feels like a last-minute attempt to make it all make sense.
Flat as a Pancake: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Noah Baumbach examines the emotional complexities of relationships with aging parents in a framework of broad comedy and drama. When the film succeeds, it shares insights into how people cope with the passage of time. But, when it misses, the movie shows what can happen when a filmmaker fails to translate what may work on paper to what will work on screen.