My Favorite Things of 2016 - Day #23

Today's entry on the list is my favorite movie of the year, and one that went criminally under most people's radar.

Midnight Special, by Jeff Nichols, found him reuniting with Michael Shannon (who he directed in 2011s Take Shelter) to tell the tale of one special young boy and his extraordinary powers.

This is, if you'll forgive the pun, a special film. It evokes 80s Spielberg without falling back on nostalgia (it is set in the present day), yet captures the brilliant character studies that always provided the foundation of Speilberg's best work. The tone here is more Close Encounters than ET, and it's all the better for it.

It's a road movie of sorts, the tale of a father and son on the run. They are pursued not just by the government, but also a strange cult who have already experienced the child's special powers. It's well paced, and trusts it's audience to figure out the story as they go along. It deftly side-steps what could have been heavy handed exposition is less talented hands, and ratchets up the tension through to the superb climax.

It's very well cast, with Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, and Joel Edgerton providing terrific support to Shannon, and the film's young lead Jaeden Lieberher.

Superbly shot, with a fantastically brooding soundtrack, this one kept my attention beginning to end. It helps that it had one of my favorite endings of recent years as well. As good as Arrival was, (and it was most excellent), this one is not just my favorite genre film of the year, it's my favorite film of the year.

On a side note, Jeff Nichols has been busy this year. His other title released this year, Loving, staring  Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, is also well worth catching. A historical drama telling the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court. It's obviously a very different type of film, but it is also excellent (and I would not be surprised if it ended up with a couple of Oscar nominations)

A pretty good year from Mr Nichols!