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2016 Skokie Public Library Staff Picks: Movies

The expert staff at the Skokie Public Library take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Mustang

    2016by Deniz Erugüven

    “Five Turkish sisters are kept imprisoned by their uncle, and arranged marriages begin. Spirited and rebellious, the girls find ways to fight back. This film is both gorgeous to look at and a moving, suspenseful, and satisfying story.”

    Recommended by Lukie

    “A delightful movie about five orphaned sisters who find creative ways to sabotage their strict and conservative Turkish relatives who have plans to marry each sister off.”

    Recommended by Lee

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  • Tumbledown

    2016by Sean Mewshaw

    “Mewshaw’s feature length debut has a fresh, original feel to it. I loved the British Columbia setting, the script, and the story of a woman wanting to keep for herself her deceased husband’s songwriting legacy when a probing journalist/ fan tracks her down. The down-to-earth Rebecca Hall is perfect in the lead.”

    Recommended by Lukie

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  • What We Do In the Shadows

    2015by Jemaine Clement

    “Not at all my typical choice, I’m so glad I watched this utterly hilarious comedy about vampire roommates. Eager to see more of anything by these New Zealand filmmakers, I also watched Taika Waititi’s 2010 film, Boy, which is a gem, and the enjoyably silly, sweet Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016).”

    Recommended by Lukie

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  • Spotlight

    2016by Tom McCarthy

    “My pick for the best all-around movie of the year. The acting, direction and mostly the story and writing all are top-notch for this Best Picture winner. The trials and stresses of Boston Globe investigative reporters who uncover a sexual abuse scandal of epic proportions in Irish Catholic Boston.”

    Recommended by Cecilia

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  • Eye In the Sky

    2016by Gavin Hood

    “An excellent drama/ thriller that relies more on intelligence and rapier sharp writing than on techno-gadgets and computer effects. In the middle of an impending operation to kill terrorists, one young girl changes everything and tests everyone. Excellent performances by Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman, in his final performance.”

    Recommended by Cecilia

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  • The Second Mother

    2016by Anna Muylaert

    “This movie, set in São Paulo, Brazil, exposes class divisions with wry humor. Val (wonderfully played by well-known Brazilian actress, Regina Case) is a taken-for-granted live-in maid whose awareness of the ridiculousness of class barriers is awakened when her estranged daughter moves in. Excellent!”

    Recommended by Lukie

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  • Bridge of Spies

    2016by Steven Spielberg

    “This dramatization of prisoner exchange negotiations following the capture of a US spy plane pilot in USSR territory kept me on the edge of my seat. Mark Rylant’s superb and understated performance as the Soviet spy who is the US prisoner to be exchanged, won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and boy did he deserve it.”

    Recommended by Terry

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  • Brooklyn

    2016by John Crowley

    “What a beautiful movie. The cast was beautiful and talented, the scenery was beautiful and the story of an Irish girl who leaves her family and small village for a new life in Brooklyn in the 1950s, was touching without being maudlin.”

    Recommended by Terry

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  • Love & Friendship

    2016by Whit Stillman

    “Jane Austen’s epistolary novel Lady Susan gets a clever turn from filmmaker Whit Stillman, and the result is a laugh out loud comedy of manners. With impeccable poise and flawless comedic timing, Kate Beckinsale nails it as the scheming title character. Truly, I haven’t seen Beckinsale this amusing since she starred in Cold Comfort Farm (based on the novel by Stella Gibbons).”

    Recommended by Sharon

    “It’s a match made in cinematic heaven as one of our wittiest, most verbally dexterous directors adapts Lady Susan, an obscure work by Jane Austen and just the sort of comedy of manners Stillman excels at.”

    Recommended by Steven

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged that this witty, diverting romp from Whit Stillman is one of the most entertaining Jane Austen adaptations in recent memory.”

    Recommended by Annabelle

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  • Hell Or High Water

    2016by Dale Dickey

    “After seeing this in the theater, I wanted to run back to the library and tell my colleagues to catch it. A modern day western about two brothers who go on bank robbing spree in a desperate attempt to save the family ranch, everything about this movie clicks into place. The acting, screenplay, cinematography, music are outstanding; and, Jeff Bridges gives an Oscar-worthy supporting actor performance as the lawman hot on their trail.”

    Recommended by Sharon

    “One of the best American films to come out in 2016, Hell or High Water has a deceptively leisurely pace that sneaks up on you, accumulating gravitas as it seemingly drifts along.”

    Recommended by Chris

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  • Kubo and the Two Strings

    2017by Charlize Theron

    “Extraordinary animation, with lovely and tender storytelling, marks this adventure tale set in ancient Japan. A brave one-eyed boy goes on a dangerous journey to find his father’s magical armor; but, he learns a great deal about family and friends, and I was in awe from start to finish.”

    Recommended by Sharon

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  • The Witch

    2016by Robert Eggers

    “Smart horror movies are as rare as, well, smart action adventure movies. The Witch stands out with its meticulous craftsmanship and a truly frightening sense of supernatural dread.”

    Recommended by Steven

    “An exquisitely crafted amalgam of horror, period drama, and feminist manifesto, The Witch left me mesmerized and begging for a good dunk in holy water.”

    Recommended by Annabelle

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  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    2016by Taika Waititi

    “This offbeat buddy comedy from New Zealand is an endearing story about a plucky orphan and his cantankerous foster uncle who go on the lam. I found it funny and touching, and adored the exuberant performance by teenager Julian Dennison.”

    Recommended by Annabelle

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  • The Forbidden Room.

    2016by Guy Maddin

    “Back in high school an amazing teacher whispered in our ears, “Go forth and view Eraserhead.” And so we did. And our brains were lovingly fried by what may very well be the weirdest film ever made–until now. Guy Maddin’s Forbidden Room is a phantasmic fever dream, a cineaste funhouse, and the offspring of the nightmare baby featured in Lynch’s Eraserhead. Simultaneously exhausting and invigorating, I’m still desperately trying to wake up from it.”

    Recommended by Chris

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  • Phoenix

    2016by Christian Petzold

    “Phoenix is a graceful, expertly crafted melodrama with an opening gambit so preposterous it threatens to fly off the rails. But it doesn’t. It’s played with just the right melodramatic panache. The riveting German-based actress Nina Hoss carries the weight all the way to the films jaw-dropping, damning conclusion. Really, endings, no matter what the artistic vehicle, don’t come much better than this.”

    Recommended by Chris

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  • Queen of Katwe

    2017by Madina Nalwanga

    “This biopic about Phiona Mutesi, a young Ugandan girl whose family barely had enough food or proper shelter, becoming a world chess champion, is downright inspiring stuff. A big shout out to the entire cast playing out this incredible story, especially newcomer Madina Nalwanga in the lead role and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as Phiona’s mother. Be sure to watch through the credits to see the real people along side the actors–their seconds of onscreen interaction had me reaching for Kleenex.”

    Recommended by Sharon

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  • 10 Cloverfield Lane.

    2016by Dan Trachtenberg

    “After an accident, Michelle wakes up in an underground room. She is chained up and unable to escape. What starts out at first as a classic tale of a woman in peril becomes so much more twisty and surreal. The audience, like Michelle, is unsure who or what to believe. If you weren’t claustrophobic before watching this thriller, you might be afterwards.”

    Recommended by Lynnanne

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  • The Lobster

    2016by Yorgos Lanthimos

    “Yorgos Lanthimos, the Greek filmmaker of The Lobster, specializes in oddly plausible weirdness made with high production values. The Lobster, his first English language film, continues that trend. I’m not entirely sure what it was about (down with the tyranny of the normal?), though I found the whole thing riveting, its humor and pathos dryly intertwined all the way through to its queasy ending.”

    Recommended by Chris

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  • A Brighter Summer Day = Gu Ling Jie Shaonian Sharen Shijian

    2016by Dechang Yang

    “Long unavailable in the United States (or anywhere, for that matter), Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day was heralded in cinephile circles by those lucky enough to have seen it as one of the masterpieces of 20th-century cinema. Thankfully, the good folks at the Criterion Collection have released a beautifully restored version of the film this year and it’s a revelation. A Brighter Summer Day depicts Taipei, Taiwan in the early 60s from the vantage of its restless youth as they negotiate and explore their identities against the backdrop of a country that was itself forging a new identity. It’s grand filmmaking, both intimate and expansive, the greatest work of one of cinema’s greatest directors.”

    Recommended by Chris

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