2016 #13 – Fences (dir. Denzel Washington)

“Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.” – Stephen McKinley Henderson as Jim Bono in Fences.

Fences (2016)
Denzel Washington
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney
Written By: August Wilson
Running Time: 139 minutes (2 hours, 19 minutes)
Genre(s): Drama

One of my goals is to one day see a play on Broadway. Theater as a whole is a medium I’m not all that familiar with, but I can recognize greatness when I see it and I know I’d be lucky if I’m able to watch a production as well-written and well-acted as August Wilson’s Fences.

Fences tells the story of Troy Maxson, an African-American man struggling to provide for his family. It’s an important story capturing the African-American experience in the U.S. and it’s one I’m glad was finally brought to screen considering its script has been around at least since 2005.

Denzel Washington has two very important jobs in this film – he stars in it and he directs it. As a director, Washington lets Wilson’s script speak for itself. To be frank, Fences isn’t very cinematic. The camera is static throughout most of the film and it is almost as if you are watching a filmed play as opposed to a movie. Luckily, the material is so good that this is not a huge detriment to the film itself. The movie could have been better than it was with a director willing to play around with more of the production aspects like framing and editing, but it’s good as it is.

Denzel the actor on the other-hand delivers a masterclass performance. This story is Troy’s from start to finish and Washington was definitely up to the task (and this should not be surprising considering he is no stranger to the production)

However, the person that stays in your mind long after Fences is over is Viola Davis. This is no doubt career best work for her. She plays the role of Rose Maxson with so much brutal honesty that it almost hurts to watch. Her final monologue to Cory (Jovan Adepo) is absolutely stunning.

Shout outs go to Stephen McKinley Henderson and Jovan Adepo who provide memorable supporting turns as well.

While it is not necessarily well-directed, Fences’s superb acting and screenplay more than make up for it and make it a film certainly worth experiencing. 4/5.

2016 Personal Ballot (updates are in bold)

Best Picture
Hell or High Water
Sing Street
The Jungle Book

Best Director
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Jon Favreau – The Jungle Book
John Carney – Sing Street
Jeff Nichols – Loving

Best Actor in a Leading Role
1. Denzel Washington – Fences
2. Joel Edgerton – Loving
3. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
4. Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
5. Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

Best Actress in a Leading Role
1. Sally Field – Hello, My Name Is Doris
2. Ruth Negga – Loving
3. Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
4. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1. Ashton Sanders – Moonlight
André Holland – Moonlight
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
5. Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1. Viola Davis – Fences
2. Janelle Monaé – Hidden Figures
3. Lucy Boynton – Sing Street
4. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
5. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay
1. Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
2. Sing Street – Simon Carmody, John Carney
3. Hello, My Name Is Doris – Michael Showalter, Laura Terruso

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
2. Fences – August Wilson

3. Loving – Jeff Nichols
4. Hidden Figures – Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder
5. The Jungle Book – Justin Marks

Best Film Ensemble
1. Moonlight – Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Hell or High Water – Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin, Katy Mixon, Margaret Bowman
3. Hidden Figures – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monaé, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge
4. Sing Street – Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kelly Thornton, Don Wycherley, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice, Ian Kenny
5. Fences – Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney

Best Original Score
1. Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
Loving – David Wingo
3. The Jungle Book – John Debney
4. Hell or High Water – Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – James Newton Howard

Best Original Song
Sing Street – “Drive It Like You Stole It” by Gary Clark
2. Sing Street – “To Find You” by Gary Clark
Sing Street – “Up” by John Carney, Gary Clark, Graham Henderson, Carl Papenfus, Ken Papenfus, Zamo Riffman
Hidden Figures – “Runnin’” by Pharrell Williams
Hidden Figures – “I See a Victory” by Kirk Franklin, Pharrell Williams

Best Production Design
1. Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig, James Hambidge, Anna Pinnock
3. Hidden Figures – Missy Parker, Wynn Thomas
4. Sing Street – Tamara Conboy, Alan MacDonald

Best Cinematography
1. Moonlight – James Laxton
2. Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
1. Deadpool – Bill Corso
2. Sing Street – Barbara Conway, Sandra Kelly

Best Costume Design
1. Sing Street – Tiziana Corvisieri
2. Hidden Figures – Renée Ehrlich Kalfus
3. Captain Fantastic – Courtney Hoffman
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colleen Atwood
5. Loving – Erin Benach

Best Film Editing
1. Moonlight – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
2. Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
3. The Jungle Book – Mark Livolsi
4. Sing Street – Andrew Marcus, Julian Ulrichs
5. Deadpool – Julian Clarke

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book – Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Adam Valdez
Passengers – Pete Dionne, Sebastien Gourdal, Erik Nordby
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Tim Burke, Pablo Grillo, Christian Manz, David Watkins
4. Deadpool – Alex Burdett, Jonathan Rothbart, Ryan Tudhope, Alex Wang
5. Hell or High Water – Jeremy Cox, Scott Hastings, Daniel Holt, Michael Prawitz

2016 Ranked (updates are in bold)

1. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
Sing Street (dir. John Carney)
Loving (dir. Jeff Nichols)
5. The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau)
6. Fences (dir. Denzel Washington)
7. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi)
8. Deadpool (dir. Tim Miller)
9. Hello, My Name Is Doris (dir. Michael Showalter)
10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (dir. David Yates)
11. Captain Fantastic (dir. Matt Ross)
12. Passengers (dir. Morten Tyldum)
13. The Girl on the Train (dir. Tate Taylor)


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