It’s that time of year. The Oscars are upon us, thus officially ending the 2016 film season. And with it, my list of all the new films I saw in 2016, ranked best to worst. Followed by some specific thoughts – standouts, let downs, etc. So here goes:
1. Arrival 2. Hell or High Water 3. Captain America: Civil War 4. Green Room 5. Train to Busan 6. Deadpool 7. The Nice Guys 8. In a Valley of Violence 9. The Invitation 10.Rogue One 11.Sausage Party 12.10 Cloverfield Lane 13.Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates 14.Don’t Breath 15.Doctor Strange 16.Hush 17.Zootopia 18.Bad Moms 19.Midnight Special 20.Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 21.American Fable 22.The Autopsy of Jane Doe 23.The Good Neighbor (aka, The Waiting) 24.Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made 25.The Bandit 26.War on Everyone 27.Ghostbusters 28.Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising 29.Lights Out 30.Star Trek Beyond 31.Spectral 32.The Magnificent Seven 33.Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 34.X-Men Apocalypse 35.Phantasm: Ravager 36.Central Intelligence 37.Passengers 38.The Monster 39.Cell 40.The Conjuring 2 41.The Forest 42.The Witch 43.Zoolander 2 44.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 45.The 5th Wave 46.Jason Bourne 47.The Divergent Series: Allegiant 48.Independence Day: Resurgence 49.Kickboxer: Vengeance 50.London Has Fallen 51.Suicide Squad 52.Masterminds 53.Hardcore Henry
Continuing my trend of seeing less and less new movies every year as I get older, 2016 was a historic low at 53. But, alas, Hardcore Henry was so fucking bad it could have easily been 10 shitty movies, there was that much to hate about it. Some other random thoughts…
Masterminds was terrible. I don’t think I smiled once during its running time. It’s almost admirable how well the director kept all humor out of a film starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Ken Marino. With that cast there should have been at least one chuckle, even by mistake. I can assure you, there wasn’t.
While we’re on the topic of terrible movies, Suicide Squad wins the Most Bafflingly Bad Filmmaking Award. When your threadbare plot becomes increasingly hard to follow as your film progresses, you’ve got problems.
I liked Olympus Has Fallen. It was the best Die Hard movie since the third Die Hard movie. So I was all like, cool, when I heard there was a sequel. The dipshits responsible for London Has Fallen should be flogged. Thematically bankrupt and shockingly stupid. The dialogue, I suspect, was written by a disturbed 12-year-old who still hasn’t made it past the 3rd grade.
Independence Day: Resurgence, like London Has Fallen, could win awards for stupidity. Dumbest third act in the history of film. All the main baddie had to do was NOT MOVE. Remain safely anonymous until the soldier aliens have won, because there was a non-sensical deadline I won’t bore you with the humans had to win by and most certainly could not if they couldn’t find the queen alien, who reveals herself for no reason minutes before said deadline. If it sounds confusing and dumb… I can assure you, it is. But hey, as least we get to see the lesser Hemsworth “ahhhhhhhh”-ing every few minutes as he performs some manner of maverick-ian heroics he’s not supposed to because he’s a rebel, or some such nonsense.
I know what you’re all thinking… why would anybody sit through Kickboxer: Vengeance? A terrible remake of a mediocre film whose only scene of note was removed in favor of a completely standard fight scene in a similar location, which is a pitiable state of affairs to be sure. Anyway, I sat through it because I’m an idiot.
Jason Bourne. Why?
Here are some of my biggest let downs, films that made it in the bottom half I was greatly looking forward to:
The Witch – I’ll never stop being bewildered by the warm reception for this movie.
The Conjuring 2 – obvious jump scares and some kid teleporting around a haunted house? what the deuce?
The Monster – A24 has been kicking ass for awhile now and as such, I was very much looking forward to this creature feature. Let me save you all from the concussion you would have received watching The Monster, as the director hammered you over the head with his heavy-handed POV: the mom is The Monster!!!! Not really, not physically, but metaphorically and thematically, you know, she’s a terrible mom. Spoiler Alert: she redeems herself at the end. Kinda.
Passengers – were it not for the chemistry of the leads, I’m sure I’d have no memory of the film’s plot by now. as it stands, I can still remember vividly what a turkey it was. well done Pratt and Lawrence. More here.
Central Intelligence – I like Dwayne Johnson. I like Kevin Hart. I did not like Central Intelligence.
X-Men: Apocalypse – a $200 million experiment to determine what happens when you remove Wolverine from an X-Men movie. I could have saved them some time, money and effort… he guys, you get a shitty movie. You’re welcome. Oh wait, he was in it, for like a minute. For no reason.
Okay, that about does it for the crap.
Best film for me was easily Arrival. I loved everything about it. I’ve spoken to a couple people who hated it. I think I can see why, but it resonated for me through and through.
Hell or High Water was a fantastic little crime film with rich and relevant themes that I suspect will hold up for years to come. Finally Chris Pine seems like an adult male human instead of a high school kid pretending to be an adult. This and Arrival are the only two Best Picture nominations I’ve actually seen. And other than Hacksaw Ridge, the only ones I’m likely to see. I’m okay with this.
I was surprised how much i liked Captain America: Civil War. If you’d like to read more on that, have a gander. Zack Snyder and the DC dipshits should take some notes… a comic book movie is supposed to be fun, you knobs.
Green Room is brutal and utterly compelling. Patrick Stewart is mesmerizing as a murderous white supremacist.
Train to Busan is one of the best zombie films I’ve seen pretty much ever. It’s definitely top five of the genre. And its emotional core packs a punch.
Deadpool, aka Ryan Reynolds stops making shitty movies and reminds us why he’s a movie star.
Shane Black brings his razor wit to The Nice Guys. Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling aren’t quite Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., but they are pretty great together.
In The Valley of Violence was a nice surprise. Didn’t know anything about it going in other than it was a western directed by Ti West, a dude who’s been making excellent small budget horror movies for quite a few years now. ITVOV is a tense little western with a surprising amount of humor. John Travolta. Such an odd actor. Every once in a while, he kills it. Other times you get Hairspray, Old Dogs, and Battlefield Earth.
The Invitation was one of those movies I overheard someone, somewhere say it was excellent and then decided to check it out on Netflix based solely on that. Because I do that sometimes. Remember Kickboxer: Vengeance. This time, it paid off. Best if you know as little as possible going in.
And rounding out my top ten, Rogue One. Everyone’s seen it, no need to rehash.
A few more thoughts…
My favorite line in Sausage Party still makes me laugh just thinking about it: “Fuck you, weiners.” Don’t Breathe starts to fall apart right around the beginning of the third act, but until then its tension is palpable – edge of your seat type shit. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates made me laugh. A lot. Who knew? The Zootopia scene in which the sloth at the DMV laughs at a joke he’s told is worth the price of admission right there. Midnight Special is a fascinating representation of how removing all exposition from a film will render it virtually inert. But Michael Shannon elevates pretty much everything he’s in. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is almost a masterpiece, were it only a bit more fleshed out and a little more clever. Looking back at my list, it probably should have been higher. The Bandit is a terribly made documentary, but it doesn’t matter. The subject matter is so dang entertaining.
And that’s all, folks. For the first time in my adult life, I won’t be making Oscar picks. This year, I really don’t care. Dear me, am I maturing a bit, finally? Probably not. After all, “Fuck you, weiners.”