Sunday, January 1, 2017

Favorites of 2016 :: And a Pretty Good Year It Was, Too. Honest. No. Really...

Normally I barely see enough first run movies in a year to qualify making a Top Ten list. This year, however, I saw 42 films in the theater. And frankly, it was a pretty good year as there were only two tickets bought that resulted in buyer's remorse and only one that I really and truly regret ever entering the darkened theater. Thus and so and here we go, my Top Ten films of 2016 in no particular order -- unless alphabetical counts as particular. 











If I had to pick the best film I saw last year it would be a toss up between Hell or High Water, The Nice Guys and Zootopia


Zootopia has a lot of heart and had a lot of things to say, and said them rather deftly without pounding you about the head and neck with the Clown-Hammer of Significance and the Mallet of Morality! Also, pretty hilarious, a good mystery, and great characters and world-building. 


Meanwhile, The Nice Guys is the closest I will ever probably get to a sequel to Shane Black's equally hilarious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) -- well, more like a prequel due its 1970s period setting. Nah. That's not really fair as the film's characters and story stand well enough on their own. Alas, middlin' box-office means we probably won't be getting any further adventures of Healy, March and Holly either. That's on us -- well, you all, as I watched the film five times during its theatrical run, and not the movies. 


And Hell or High Water was a pitch perfect blend of noir and a modernized western, with outstanding performances by Bridges, Pine and especially Foster, that kept screwing with expectations and had me guessing how it would end -- with everyone dead or living happily enough ever after -- until the closing credits rolled.


Huge props to Captain America: Civil War, too. I kinda thought Marvel had painted themselves into a corner with certain revelations in Winter Soldier (2014); namely the fact that Bucky was responsible for the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark. So, kudos for not just ignoring this and logically following the ramifications of it to the bitter end of the Avengers as we knew them. And dare I say, by the end, I was kinda Team Iron Man. And yet, dammit, I cannot stay mad at my man Cap for very long. (Also, Marvel, a Vision and the Scarlet Witch movie, too, please and thank you!)


A breath of fresh air, cinematically sci-fi speaking, The Arrival was a pretzel that was an utter delight to unravel and consume. The ending had me going like, Wait, what? And then I was like, Oh. And then I was like, Ohhhhhhh. And then I was like, Oooooohhhhhhhhhhh. Thank you, Hollywood; more of the same please to help balance out the other crash, boom and bams.


Midnight Special was another pretty nifty sci-fi mind-screw as the audience tries to decipher what exactly is happening onscreen. Simple. Economical. Engaging. Again, I hope someone is taking notes. The film was also buoyed by a rock-solid performance by Michael Shannon...


... Who also turned in another stellar performance as Elvis Presley in Elvis and Nixon, where he was matched up with Kevin Spacey, in an even better performance as Richard Nixon, with both plugged into a speculative interpretation on a true story of what allegedly happened when the King of Rock 'n' Roll dropped in on the POTUS for reasons you probably wouldn't believe even if I told you. Just watch this. Trust me. 


2016 was a pretty good year for horror, too, and the top of that heap was The VVitch, which, again, had me guessing to the end as to if there really was something supernatural going on or was it just human hubris and stupidity in the face of nature that led to this frontier family's downfall as they tried to carve out a pious existence in the wilderness. Very slow and very deliberate, who knew a horror film by way of a National Geographic historical doc would be this good?


And I think the most pleasant surprise I had in a theater this year was just how much I enjoyed The Shallows, even the completely bonkers ending which saw the shark go airborne -- while it was on fire -- as it battled a stranded surfer trying to work through the stages of grief. 


And while Shin Godzilla seemed more interested in navigating through bureaucratic red tape than monster rampages -- seriously, there's a ten minute segment where the government can't decide whether to open fire on the monster or not, it was all very compelling and had me hooked pretty deep when the crap hit the fan. And while my interpretation of the ending is not what director Hideaki Anno intended, as many, many fans have pointed out to me, I'm gonna stick with it. 


Now, this list could've easily been a Top Twenty as, again, I had a lot of fun in the theater this year. And all of these films were pretty great and I'd watch 'em again in a heartbeat:


  • Deadpool
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Finding Dory
  • The Conjuring 2
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Don't Breathe
  • Green Room
  • Hail Caesar
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Ouija: Origin of Evil
  • Doctor Strange
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Moana
  • Rogue One
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer 
 

Again, it was a great year for big studio horror. Green Room was outstanding. The Conjuring 2 was a solid follow up and left me wanting more adventures with the kooky Warrens as played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The twist on the twist in Don't Breath is worth the watch alone. And if Ouija (2014) was half as good as Ouija: Origin of Evil I think I would probably remember how this prequel dovetailed into it better. And, wow, Lulu Wilson joins Angourie Rice in the most welcomed fresh-faces of 2016 pile. Hacksaw Ridge shows that Gibson can still handle epic action. And, dammit Rogue One, I liked you well enough but I kinda want to see the movie that first trailer promised. (Man, this really was the year of studio dickering, wasn't it?)


Also nice to see Star Trek Beyond finally has this reboot on solid ground -- hopefully they're not too late. This also qualifies as one of my favorite cinematic experiences this year, seeing it in IMAX with the volume turned up to RuMblE-RaMa levels. Wow. Also nice to see Denzel Washington can still carry a movie as the second biggest surprise this year was how much I enjoyed The Magnificent Seven remake. Great year for animation, too, with special shout-outs to Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana. Doctor Strange was solid and highly enjoyable, though it didn't really find its legs until the stellar third act. And Deadpool gave me Negasonic Teenage Warhead, my most favorite new euphemism of the year with shit-spackled muppet fart, and my most favorite visual image of the year:


Which brings us to the next batch of, eh, they weren't THAT terrible: 

  • Lights Out
  • The Jungle Book
  • Secret Life of Pets
  • Jason Bourne
  • X-Men Apocalypse
  • Suicide Squad
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Purge: Election Year
  • Keanu
  • The Finest Hours
  • The Blair Witch
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The Legend of Tarzan


Ghostbusters wasn't great, nor was it the apocalyptic shit-hemorrhage some knuckle-draggers hoped it would be. Suicide Squad was a mess, which was made an even bigger mess by studio dickering. I finally caught up with The Purge (2013) franchise this year and caught the third installment in the theater, which failed to pay off the set up of the second one. Frank Grillo shines in Election Year and deserves a better franchise. Key and Peele have a great movie in them, Keanu wasn't it. And I wanted to love The Legend of Tarzan but couldn't due to a few glaring hiccups. X-Men Apocalypse wasn't terrible, just mediocre, like the rest of that franchise. I just don't like what Fox has done with these characters. And The Jungle Book would've been better served if it could've decided on whether it was a musical or not. 


Which brings us to the buyer's remorse segment of our recap. Thankfully, it's pretty small:

  • Batman vs. Superman
  • Shut In


I didn't hate Batman vs. Superman. "Martha?" But I didn't really like it all that much either. "Martha?!" A tonal mess, it was. "Martha!!" Eisenberg's Jokerish twist on Lex Luthor -- from his snack food choice to the jar of piss -- was a tactical misfire, and the fact that he pulled one over on this scale on the [quote/] World's Greatest Detective [/unquote] makes it even worse. "Martha!!!" Bruce Wayne is a killer, and Clark Kent is still a mopey McAsshat. "Martha!!!!!!" And the sooner DC and Warners can get this franchise away from Zack Snyder the better it will be for everyone involved. Do it for "Maaaaarrttthhhaaaa!!!!!" And Shut In was just plain dumb. As a horror movie it fails. As a thriller it clunks. As a Lifetime Original ... well, as that, with that twist ending, it is kinda brilliant. 


And finally, we have this piece of shit:

  • The Greasy Strangler



Or, as I like to call it: The Horrors of Malformed Dicks. To sum up: Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And then, Rutti-tutti-disco-fruiti. AAAAAAND cut to the car wash. Then a bag of dicks. The end. Once again proving Cult Films happen and cannot be manufactured, this thing can go sit and screw itself to death on a prickly pear. 


Alas, I did a really horrible job of keeping track of what else I watched this year, meaning no first time vintage encounters list. Though I did see The Sting (1973) for the first time ever a few nights ago and that was pretty great. However, this was also a pretty good revival year for me -- especially in October, where I managed to catch Night of the Living Dead (1968), a double feature of Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Halloween (1978), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) on the big screen.


And so, that was the year that was in cinema. Hope the sting of luck continues in 2017, and we'll see you all again in about 365 days.

4 comments:

Randy Monk said...

Wow! The most amazing thing Chad might have ever written is that he hadn't seen The Sting. It just goes to show, that there's a lot of movies out there. My personal missed gem that I finally saw this year was The Last Picture Show. And Chad, if you haven't seen Redford's The Sting before, please tell me you've seen Three Days of The Condor. And if you haven't rectify this immediately. Great list as usual. I saw fewer movies at the theater this year than usual, my fave was The Nice Guys.

W.B. Kelso said...

Thanks, man. Contrary to popular belief, I have not seen everything yet. Thank heavens, making things like THE STING a real treat. My Redford checklist is pretty sad but I have seen 3 DAYS and loved it. I have THE CANDIDATE in my Amazon que. Now to just carve out a couple of hours to watch it.

Randy Monk said...

The 70s were really kind to Redford, not so much in the decades that followed. Just focusing on his output in the 70s heres my picks. 1, Three Days of the Condor (in the running for best pic of the decade) 2, The Candidate (make time to see it soon) 3, The Hot Rock (hilarious, and the best Donald Westlake treatment on film) 4, The Sting (one of the few best pics that actually deserved the win) 5, Jeremiah Johnson (best seen on the big screen) 6, Little Fauss and Big Halsy (underrated) Overrated movies; The Way We Were (I know about suspension of disbelief, but I'll believe a man could fly, before I believe Redford falling for Babs), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (more stylish than good), and All the President's Men (just pretty boring actually).

W.B. Kelso said...

I get Barbara Streisand, I just don't GET Barbara Streisand. And BC & tSDK gets ruined a little bit more by BJ Thomas with each passing viewing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...