fantastic fest 2016 awards

You never know what you’re going to get at Fantastic Fest, the Austin-based genre film festival that takes great delight in immersing attendees in the strangest, wildest, and most unique movies from around the globe. Over the course of eight days, I saw 27 movies. I saw some of the best films I’ve seen all year. I saw oddities I will never forget. I saw some things I wish I could forget. As is always the case, I missed a few big titles, like Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, the divisive The Greasy Strangler, and the crowd-pleasing Bad Black.

But now, it’s time to put a bow on this year’s fest. Sure, the festival itself has juries on hand to recognize films in the line-up, but there’s only one awards ceremony that really matters here – the one that I create out of thin air to throw imaginary accolades at my favorite movies from the line-up.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in the best, weirdest, funniest, oddest, scariest, etc. movies to emerge from Fantastic Fest 2016.

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Everything We Saw at Fantastic Fest 2016


When the smoke cleared, I ended up seeing 27 movies over eight days at Fantastic Fest 2016. The Austin-based genre film festival always has a strong line-up of odd, unusual, and unique movies from around the world, but this year was truly exceptional – I saw very few movies I wouldn’t recommend in some capacity. I even saw a handful of movies that are in serious contention for my end-of-the-year top 10.

For the sake of completeness, I have compiled all of my Fantastic Fest coverage into one place, with links to my reviews and smaller capsule reviews for everything that didn’t get their own post. If you’re looking for a something terrifying or unique or action-packed or tear-jerking or just plain unusual, there is something here for you.

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american honey interview

Andrea Arnold’s American Honey is a remarkable movie and one of the best films of 2016. At the center of this intimate and quietly epic drama is newcomer Sasha Lane as Star, a young woman who escapes her abusive home by joining a “mag crew” of equally disaffected youth. We follow this crew as they travel from state-to-state, peddling magazines, having misadventures, and finding hope and pain in every nook and cranny of the the American heartland.

Lane gives the kind of raw and brutally real performance you do not often find from more polished and experienced actors. The same applies to an interview in a karaoke room at Fantastic Fest – she’s not one to offer a canned answer. Over the course of a too-brief conversation, we spoke about working with a director as empathetic as Andrea Arnold, what it’s like to work with Shia LaBeouf, and how most movies turn away from the subject matter explored in American Honey.

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american honey review

The United States of America is a nation of many nations. Within this vast expanse, you carve out your own destiny, define your existence, and struggle against the walls, both real and imagined, that box you in. You choose to look past those whose nation is so different from your own, your gaze deliberately passing through a individual, a fellow human being, whose circumstances are so alien to your own. Or maybe you wonder why that person won’t look you in the eye, why they’re looking at you without looking at you, and why their polite smile is so empty. It’s easy to get lost in America.

Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey is a machine powered by empathy, 163-minute odyssey through the forgotten and overlooked ranks of humanity who call America’s heartland their home. This is a road trip through flyover country, a cinematic opportunity to meet the gaze of those so many have forgotten or dismissed. It is a masterpiece and one of the best movies of 2016.

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2016 fall movie preview

This 2016 fall movie preview was written by Jacob Hall and Jack Giroux.

The summer is over and the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting milder and (fingers crossed) the movies are going to start getting better. The next four months offer an embarrassment of cinematic riches, with new films from Martin Scorsese, Damien Chazelle, Tim Burton, Gareth Edwards, Paul Verhoeven, Mel Gibson, Robert Zemeckis, Park Chan-Wook, Terrence Malick, J.A. Bayona, Jeff Nichols, Ang Lee, Denis Villeneuve, Kenneth Lonergan, and other filmmakers of note waiting in the wings.

We’ve narrowed down the list of must-see movies to 32 titles and have ranked them from “We really want to see this!” to “We will push you out of the way at a sprint to see this!”

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American Honey trailer - Shia LaBeouf

Andrea Arnold may be a British director, but her latest feature, American Honey, is about as all-American as they come. And to emphasize that point, she’s getting a little assist from that most American of musicians, Bruce Springsteen. The Boss’ “Dream Baby Dream” soundtracks the latest American Honey trailer, along with some voiceover reminding you that American Honey has gotten some really, really good reviews on the festival circuit.

As with Arnold’s Fish TankAmerican Honey stars a total newcomer. Sasha Lane plays a troubled teen who takes up with a traveling magazine sales crew, falling in love with a particularly charismatic member named Jake (Shia LaBeouf). Running the operation is steely Krystal, played by Riley Keough. Watch the latest American Honey trailer below.

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American Honey

Andrea Arnold‘s (Red Road) first U.S.-set film, American Honey, made quite an impression at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The drama won the Jury Prize and, although it somewhat divided critics, it provoked a variety of passionate reactions. Some called American Honey superficial, others proclaimed the film an achievement. Whatever the quality of the movie is, it’s directed by Andrea Arnold, meaning it’ll be, at the very least, an experience.

Below, watch the first American Honey trailer.

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new Andrea Arnold film 2014

Andrea Arnold‘s films Red Road and i are must-sees, and her 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights is strong work, too. Those three films all have one thing in common, besides Arnold: they were all shot in the UK. Now Andrea Arnold is coming to America to shoot a film, and the result, American Honey, sounds like a road movie that could be a great framework in which a young new actress could take command of the screen. Read More »