Best Films of 2016 — So Far

Posted on June 10, 2016 at 12:51 pm

At, critics talk about their favorite films of the year so far. Of course there are the usual festival gems and art-house indies, but also films like “The Nice Guys” and “Captain America: Civil War.” I was very happy to get a chance to talk about one of mine: Everybody Wants Some!! \

When “Everybody Wants Some!!” was described as “a spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused,” I was expecting a endearing mix-tape movie with party scenes and an impeccable cast of mostly unknowns playing quirky characters. It has all that but it reminded me more of writer/director Richard Linklater’s more existentially ambitious films like “Waking Life” (still my favorite he’s done so far), the “Before” trilogy, and “Boyhood.” Though like “Dazed and Confused” it takes its title from a song that places us immediately in the year (1980) and setting (weekend before classes start in an unnamed Texas university), “Everybody Wants Some!!” (two exclamation points) starts upending our assumptions right from the beginning, as the central character, starting his freshman year, shows himself to be self-aware, confident, and knowing right from the start. Wait, what? Aren’t all college movies supposed to be about freshman who have to achieve that over the course of the film?

Yes, there are a lot of parties and a lot of sex and drugs. But the women are not objectified or exploited by the characters or the camera. And I loved the way the guys had to keep going back to the house to change their clothes before each outing: a disco, a “kicker” bar, a punk concert, a party given by the drama majors. The malleability of the various personas they were trying on as they were discovering what it was like to be on a team where everyone had pretty much been the star of every team he’d been on through high school was skillfully portrayed. And the exploration of the competitive tension between wanting to stand out and knowing that the only way to do that is to work seamlessly with the team was lightly but thoughtfully explored. I loved the discussion of the possibly imaginary scout for the majors who could be hiding anywhere. And I love the so crazy-it-just-might-be-true idea that the character played by Wyatt Russell may be the same breakthrough role that was played by Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed and Confused.”

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