Fraley 2016 Movie Guide




“La La Land” –  Stone & Gosling are heartbreaking in Chazelle’s dazzling L.A. musical

“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins explores three life stages of gay black man’s identity struggle

“Fences” – Denzel stars/directs Viola Davis in brilliant adaptation of August Wilson play

“Jackie” – Natalie Portman is Oscar worthy as Jackie Kennedy after JFK assassination

“Hell or High Water” – Jeff Bridges hunts Chris Pine in “No Country”-style crime drama

“O.J.: Made in America” – Eight-hour doc is powerful document on U.S. race relations

“Captain Fantastic” – Viggo Mortensen surprisingly hilarious raising family off the grid


3 1/2 STARS

“Arrival” – Amy Adams translates alien communications in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi gem

“Loving” – Jeff Nichols quietly effective look at interracial marriage case Loving v. Virginia

“Hidden Figures” – True story of black women who made history behind scenes at NASA

“De Palma” – Doc about Brian DePalma is insightful, personal look into director’s career

“Lion” – Dev Patel & Nicole Kidman give heartfelt roles as lost boy searches for home

“The Salesman”Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”) chills with Best Foreign Flick winner

“Manchester By the Sea” – Casey Affleck gives heartbreaking, overrated portrait of grief

“The Handmaiden” – South Korea’s Chan-wook Park directs a twisting erotic thriller

“Deadpool” – Marvel’s R-rated superhero is hilarious ‘Mortal Kombat’ meets ‘Orgazmo’

“Sully” – Tom Hanks is heroic Sully Sullenberger in this inspiring Clint Eastwood drama

“Love & Friendship” – Beckinsale dazzles in comic take on Jane Austen’s “Lady Susan”

“The Birth of a Nation” – Sundance champ on Nat Turner hurt by off-screen controversy

“Cafe Society” – Woody Allen remains prolific with “love rectangle” in ’50s NY vs. LA

“Elle” – Isabelle Huppert tracks down rapist in Paul Verhoeven’s chilling erotic thriller

“Nocturnal Animals” – After unnecessary opening, Tom Ford unleashes a stylish thriller

“Hacksaw Ridge” – Mel Gibson explores 1st conscientious objector to win Medal of Honor

“Kubo & The Two Strings” – Search for magical armor a triumph of stop-motion animation

“Light Between the Oceans” – Fassbender-Vikander-Weisz shine in morality melodrama

“A Monster Calls” – Fantasy about power of storytelling via Liam Neeson tree monster

“Toni Erdmann” – German international darling explores rare father-daughter relationship

“Miss Sloane” – Jessica Chastain gives power performance as a ruthless D.C. lobbyist

“Life, Animated” – Doc about boy who deals with Autism through Disney animated films

“The Jungle Book” – Disney turns Kipling’s classic into a star-studded 3D/IMAX wonder



“Doctor Strange” – Cumberbatch tames superhero ego in wonderfully weird origin story

“Southside With You” – Indie gem explores first date between Barack-Michelle Obama

“I, Daniel Blake” – Palme d’Or winner explores frustrating red tape of disability benefits

“Zootopia” – Disney animated romp boasts surprisingly deep social commentary

“13th” – Ava DuVernay delivers searing doc on  racial disparity in U.S. prison system

“I Am Not Your Negro” – Doc narrates James Baldwin’s unfinished novel on racism

“Silence” – Jesuit priests suffer in Japan as Scorsese explores faith vs. doubt

“Denial” – Rachel Weisz & Timothy Spall courtroom drama about Holocaust denier

“Allied” – Brad Pitt & Marion Cotillard mine WWII intrigue in Zemeckis spy romance

“Civil War” – Marvel Phase 3 kicks off with crowded but wildly entertaining romp

“Snowden” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers career role in Oliver Stone’s biopic

“American Honey” – Cannes standout sends Sasha Lane on Midwest jaunt

“Rogue One” – “Star Wars” Chapter 8 marches to beat of own Imperial drum

“Paterson” – Jarmusch’s quiet exploration of Adam Driver’s bus driver poet

“Moana” – Auli’i Cravalho & The Rock sing animated tunes by Lin-Manuel Miranda 

“Patriots Day” – Third Wahlberg-Berg pairing recalls Boston Marathon bombing

“Elvis & Nixon” – Shannon-Spacey mine comedy from 1970 Oval office meeting

“Race” – Biopic tracks Jesse Owens defying Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

“Zero Days” – Alex Gibney’s timely doc explores consequences of Stuxnet virus

“Weiner” – Doc chronicles sexting scandal of Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner

“The Girl on the Train” – Blunt’s killer performance keeps so-so script on the rails

“Finding Dory” – Pixar’s underwater sequel recaptures the “Finding Nemo” magic

“Demolition” – Gyllenhaal plays widower in offbeat comedy by Jean-Marc Vallée

“The Witch” – Eggers’ shocking horror flick more visually impressive than narratively

“20th Century Women” – Bening runs hipster boarding house in 1979 Santa Barbara

“Star Trek: Beyond” – J.J. Abrams left, but sci-fi franchise is still firing on all cylinders

“The Magnificent Seven” – Denzel reunites with Antoine Fuqua for his first Western

“Fantastic Beasts” – J.K. Rowling spinoff is so-so, but a delight for Harry Potter fans


2 1/2 STARS

“Hail Caesar” – Coens’ Hollywood lampoon cluttered with sideshows, but funny quote

“The Infiltrator” – Cranston goes undercover to prevent drugs spilling across the border

“American Pastoral” – Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut is heavy-handed and cynical

“Deepwater Horizon” – Peter Berg nails gripping action, misses big picture of Gulf oil spill

“Me Before You” – Emilia Clarke-Sam Claflin find chemistry in tearjerker based on book

“X-Men: Apocalypse” – Sequel is no “Days of Future Past,” but “X” still marks the spot

“Secret Life of Pets” – Animation is “Toy Story” unleashed, asking what pets do all day

“I Saw the Light” – Hiddleston is convincing Hank Williams in often superficial biopic

“Hands of Stone” – DeNiro-Ramirez shine but biopic covers too much of Durán’s career

“Bridget Jones’s Baby” – Great seeing Zellweger back, starts hilarious, gradually fizzles

“Money Monster” – Foster holds Clooney, Roberts hostage in compelling, implausible film

“The Accountant” – Affleck combines Will Hunting & Jason Bourne as ass-kicking savant

“Jason Bourne” – Damon delivers nonstop action, but 5th film pales to the original trilogy

“13 Hours” – Benghazi film isa  fine tribute to those who risk all, but film doesn’t take risks

“Legend of Tarzan” – Solid cast makes mostly fun, if forgettable, new take on old classic

“Ben-Hur” – Remake delivers thrilling chariot race, but can’t match Wyler’s 1959 classic

“Ghostbusters” – Purists can chill; ladies are game, but not much new here in this reboot



“Huntsman: Winter’s War” – Great cast lost in effects-driven sequel no one really wanted

“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” – Tom Cruise action sequel fueled by paternity questions

“The Choice” – Nicolas Sparks finds chemistry between leads, but cliche weepy ending

“Batman v Superman” – Affleck takes on Cavill in dark, crowded DC superhero crossover

“Suicide Squad” – Margot Robbie shines as Harley Quinn, but the sloppy script is a mess

“The Lobster” – Greek absurdist black comedy is a total snoozer, but points for originality

“Inferno” – Tom Hanks returns in weakest chapter of Ron Howard-Dan Brown franchise

“Now You See Me 2” – Star-studded magician sequel has too many tricks up its sleeve

“TMNT: Out of Shadows” – CGI turtles make us miss Jim Henson’s puppetechtronics

“Zoolander 2” – Stiller-Wilson sequel starts off funny, quickly plunges into stupidity



“Independence Day: Resurgence” – Alien blockbuster sequel sorely misses Will Smith

“Knight of Cups” – Terrence Malick’s latest shatters line between profound, pretentious

Review from Past Years:








Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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