Had George Lucas never made those painful prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would be the perfect starting place to usher fans back into a universe filled with the force, lightsabers, and Wookies. Instead, those movies do exist (I try to forget them), and last year J.J. Abrams’ crowd pleasing The Force Awakens started what is sure to be a trend of a new Star Wars movie every year. Gareth Edwards continues that success by stepping in as director in this installment, which is essentially Episode 3 ½ in the series, taking place somewhere between when Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, and the rise of Luke Skywalker in 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope. Rogue One may be a small story in the Star Wars history, but it expands the vast universe with a new group of heroes in this thoroughly entertaining adventure, dealing with more Wars than Stars.
Someone once said, “we see ourselves in the movies we love.” I am not sure who that someone was, but I saw every bit of myself in La La Land, a beautiful, whimsical film from Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle. I am a sucker for romance, songs, and dance because I grew up on movies such as Guys & Dolls or Singin’ in the Rain, which are certainly inspirations here. With Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling showing off their many talents, La La Land is by far the best movie of 2016.