Last Seen: Aneesh Chaganty's "Searching" and other missing persons cases, real life and on-screen

Daily life is mundane until someone is murdered or goes missing around midnight. This is when habits and errands, downloads and web browsing history can point to intrigue. Searching streams the mouse clicks, window sweeps and video chats of David Kim (John Cho), as he sleuths the internet for clues to locate his missing teenage daughter. A recently widowed father, Kim discovers a disconnect between the teenager he thought he knew and the life she was living online. Suddenly, every Instagram heart, online banking transaction and video feed leads Kim down a dizzying rabbit hole.

Searching was picked up by Sony Pictures at Sundance for $5 million and is the feature film debut of Aneesh Chaganty, who left Google a few years prior to pursue a career in Hollywood making movies. The irony of someone who worked at a FAANG company directing a film about the invasive nature of technology and social media isolation shouldn't be lost on viewers, it would've only been more ridiculous had …

The Dream is Always the Same: From Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" to Timothee Chalamet in "Call Me by Your Name"

Tangerine Dream's sultry synths pulse in the background as the camera zooms out from twinky Tom Cruise's wayfarers, a slim cigarette dangling from his lips as he flashes back to a reoccurring dream of sneaking into the neighbor's house and stumbling upon a beautiful girl showering, she invites him to wash her back, but the steam obscures his reach for her until he finds himself transported to a classroom, three hours late for the college entrance exams.

With the aforementioned opening scene following the moody neon pastel credits as a night train rolls through a gritty Chicago twilight, we are introduced to Joel Goodson and for the most part, Tom Cruise, in Paul Brickman's 1983 classic Risky Business. The film was a breakout for Cruise, who some 35 years later has both delivered and disappointed on the potential of his brilliant performance in this early movie. Cruise can act and when he truly slips into character, as he did when portraying the innocent "Good so…

Oscar Preview Part II: Thoughts and predictions

The 90th Academy Awards are this Sunday and there can't possibly be a bigger screw-up at this year's show than last year's Best Picture envelope opening fiasco. There are some really good films being nominated this year so let's get right into this...

Best Picture:

Call Me by your Name - it would be awesome if two gay themed movies won the big Oscar award two years in a row, CMBYN is deserving and a great film, but I just don't see it winning against some of the other big dogs... but stranger things have happened.

Darkest Hour - omfg no! This was just a really boring Masterpiece theater reject.

Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan is obviously a visionary -- but Dunkirk lacked vigor and passion, character development and a plot worth buying into.

Get Out - Reader of this blog know I loved Get Out, it would be absolutely amazing if this won and it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Lady Bird - I much would've preferred to see The Florida Project nominated in place of

Oscar Preview Part I: My 20 favorite films of 2017

2017 is poised to be one of this decade's best years in film and perhaps one of the best years ever, with dozens of good movies and a bundle of great ones likely to be regarded as classics as time marches on. Even some comic book flicks (Logan, Wonder Woman) and the new Star Wars were truly fantastic. New directors (Greta Gerwig, Jordan Peele, Sean Baker) emerged showcasing immense talent and vision. A burgeoning, transparent class of actors (Lucas Hedges, Timothee Calamet, Caleb Landry Jones, Saoirse Ronan, Daniel Kaluuya, Michael Stuhlbarg, etc) are proliferated among some of the best films in the past few years.

While streaming, the "me too" movement and television's "second golden age" have all been posited as Hollywood's reckoning, the magic of the movies lives on -- be it on screens big or small. Looking to this coming weekend's Academy Awards, I've compiled my list of 2017's best films.

Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh)
There wasn&…

A DAMN. Good Time: The bestest music of 2017 (a playlist)

Another year, another holiday party. This one flew by, didn't it?

In 2017 we should all realize we're not perfect. We are a nation that elected Donald Trump as our President. We are a human race that still allows the horrific regime of North Korea to exist. We have laughed at Louis C.K.'s jokes and watched Charlie Rose ask the tough questions while all along there were Big Little Lies being swept under the rug. We are all flawed. Even Jay-Z, the penultimate cocky billionaire looked into the mirror and saw the pitfalls of the id and egomania.

Leonardo da Vinci was gay. The polio vaccine was developed from cells taken from Henrietta Lacks without her consent. There is so much of history to come to light - we don't have all the facts and we never will. We don't know enough about each other. We don't know jack. I guess Kendrick Lamar said it best: "Bitch, be humble."

There was plenty of great music released over the last year and some change. I have not …

A Stranger Day: HBO Asia's supernatural charmer "The Teenage Psychic"

While I've been laughing along with the return of Larry David's hi-jinx in the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, there's a new show that quickly became an all-time favorite and it arrives imported from HBO Asia. The Teenage Psychic, a six-episode Taiwanese mini-series, combines the supernatural bent of Stranger Things with the tugging heart strings of Edward Yang. Reminiscent in naivete to Eleven, sixteen year-old orphan Xiao Zhen (Kuo Shu-yao) struggles to balance her medium powers with the typical high school drama. Xiao Zhen lives at a temple, run by her surrogate father of sorts Teacher Kim (Akio Chen), who carts out Xiao Zhen as "The Holy Maiden" as local villagers seek romantic advice and he peddles love potions. But despite some snake-oil shenanigans, "The Holy Maiden" does perform rituals to ward off evil spirits possessing the living and can see the dead to help grieving survivors. Despite her gift, Xiao Zhen would rather be a normal teenage…