Ranking Every Movie I Saw In 2016, #21: Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

Ranking Every Movie I Saw In 2016, #21: Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

This is an unusual film. I mean, first of all, it’s a Christian film and it’s good, which means it’s basically a unicorn (this year also gave us Miracles from Heaven, The Young Messiah, 90 Minutes In Heaven, and God’s Not Dead 2, so it stands out pretty sharply).

But it’s unusual in another way. A title card at the beginning of the movie announces “this film is intended as a theatrical worship experience. The filmmakers welcome your participation.” And almost immediately, we are thrust into what is essentially a Hillsong live DVD, with lyrics filling up the bottom of the screen so we can all sing along.

I don’t know what the reaction was in most screenings, but I saw this film two weeks into its release, and watched it in an almost-but-not-quite empty theater – too many people to have a quiet worship experience, too few to join in as a congregation.

Wrapping Things Up (Part One of... I'm Not Sure Yet)

Wrapping Things Up (Part One of... I'm Not Sure Yet)

So, one of my promises in last night’s drinking game was that the Oscars weren’t going to be interesting, a prediction that seemed more or less correct and then turned out to be quite emphatically wrong. A solid but unremarkable Oscars ceremony was abruptly buoyed up by its “producers rushing the stage to rip the Oscars out of the hands of the La La Land producers” finale, four hours into its runtime. Jimmy Kimmel tried to force humanity into an airless program by busing in a bunch of random tourists, but it was La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz’s gracious handing off of the trophies that provided the only real moment of the night. We just had to wait until 12:05 AM Eastern Time for it to happen.

Oscar Night Drinking Game!

Oscar Night Drinking Game!

Okay, even if the Oscars aren't interesting (and they won't be), there's still plenty of fun that can be had. A good Oscar drinking game obviously leads to plenty of drinking and light-hearted teasing, but a better one sends you down a dark voyage of self-discovery, where you come out the other side a changed person, with a scar you can't remember getting and a series of tattoos whose meaning are a mystery that will haunt you for the rest of your days. You will probably also have to do some community service.

This is the magic of the movies.

Breaking Down The Oscars, Part One: Almost Definitely Correct Predictions

Breaking Down The Oscars, Part One: Almost Definitely Correct Predictions

This started out as a drinking game post, but I realized I couldn't throw out a drinking game for the Oscars without first predicting what will happen. Therefore: a predictions post, guaranteed to be nigh-foolproof. Feel free to use it in any office pools you do. My vig is 10%.

Every Oscars broadcast has some sort of narrative to it – a neck-and-neck race for Best Actor, a possible surprise for Best Picture, a “will the Academy stay conservative or make the daring choice?”* conversation. So what’s the conversation this year?

*The answer to this is always – always - “go conservative.”

Last year, we assumed this year’s Oscars would be about reacting to the #oscarssowhite controversy. Every branch added new members, pushed out old ones, increased diversity, etc. That had to affect things, right? Maybe we’d get some unusual choices this year!

Nope! We got exactly what we expected (though the nominations are much more diverse this year than last, there just aren't any surprises). But all the diversity directives will affect what is certain to be the theme of this year’s broadcast: this year’s overarching story is going to be “how much will people talk about Trump?” That’s right, guys, this year’s broadcast is going to be about the speeches! What a lot of fun we’re all gonna have.

My Favorite Songs of 2016: Spotify Playlist

This doesn't give anything away in terms of my final rankings, which are still getting rolled out slowly. Instead, I put this list together mixtape-fashion, trying to make it something you can put on and play and get alternately hype and sad, which the sort of musical bipolarism I aspire to create.

I'm slipping it into your locker with a carefully hand-lettered song list and a kitschy title of some kind, probably pulled from one of the song's lyrics. It's recorded on a Maxell High-Bias XLII 110-minute cassette for maximum quality. You slip it quietly into your stereo as you drive home. It's already cued up to track one, ready to define the album's whole tone.

The song comes on, warm and fun, and you smile and roll down the windows.