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Best Movies of 2016

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Best Movies of 2016
There Will Be Games

Well, it’s that time of year again where we’ll take a look back on what the very best of the year had to offer us in terms of movies. Let’s get right into it!

Best Movies of 2016


Worst of the Year 

Before getting to the best, let’s ring the bell of shame on the ones that made me want to polka my eyes out.

Kung Fu Panda 3 – having a little girl means that I need to go see my share of children’s movies and this snoozer one put me into a nice deep hibernation in the movie theatre.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Although I’m sure that this will win all the Razzies and top everyone’s list of worst of the year, I was shocked that I actually saw something worse…

The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Absolutely the worst movie of the year. I watched it in a small theatre on a cruise ship and ended up being that guy having very loud reactions to how bad the movie was. At one point I thought to myself, “oh wow, it would be such cheese if this girl got killed right here in this moment----“…and sure enough.



Mea Culpa

A new yearly feature to these lists! As the year goes on I not only see movies from the current year, but sometimes I see something from a previous year that I hadn’t and is worth drawing attention to (especially in that I think it might have made my top ten list for that year). There were two such movies I saw this year, and both were from 2015.

Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) – 2015

Outstanding film on the last Amazonian tribes. This was good brain medicine for me after subjecting myself to The Green Inferno (ugh).

Truman – 2015

This year we had Manchester by the Sea which dealt with the practical aspects of having to deal with death (amongst other things). This Spanish movie visits how you spend the last few months dealing with the practical matters of death BEFORE you die. You call up a friend, you visit funeral homes and such. Much like Manchester, it is both funny and heavy at the same time.



Honourable Mentions

Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s give a shout-out to some of the gems that didn’t quite make the top ten list this year, but are worth drawing attention to just the same.

Pete’s Dragon – One of the better kids’ movies this year. Everyone I brought with me loved it, adult and child alike.

Queen of Katwe – Disney making an uplifting movie about slum kids in Africa playing chess. Pretty well done.

10 Cloverfield Lane - I can’t get enough of Mary Elizabeth Winstead but this movie surprised me again and again, which is rare.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – What a total treat, speaking of surprises. I hope to see way more like this down the road.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World – No documentaries made my top ten list this year but this one was VERY close. Super interesting and thought-provoking. I like being challenged by movies.

Eye in the Sky – Easily the tensest movie of the year. A real nail-biter.

Everybody Wants Some!! – Exactly what you need to see after something like Eye in the Sky. Just good fun, revisiting your youth and college days.

The Innocents – Powerful stuff, not easy.  

Finding Dory – Most overrated movie of the year but still very good.

The Witch – Wins the award for “most unwell I’ve been watching a movie.” I didn’t know this was a genre for scary movies but I had my hands on my face for most of it.

Moana – Sad that I couldn’t find room for this in the top ten, it was excellent. When I think that this was my 3rd favourite animated movie of the year, I’m amazed at how good this genre has become.


And the bubble boy award for movie that JUST missed being in the top ten…

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – I’m so sad that a risky movie like this Kiwi comedy couldn’t crack my top ten. It was so close. This movie is a total blast and I really enjoyed it.



Top ten movies of 2016!


10. Fences

This just barely made my top ten. But the performances are so good and some of the moments feel so real, that I had to find a place for it. Look, Broadway play adaptions to the big screen can often be awkward, but here the performances are beyond good enough to make up the difference. 

One of the problems of plays being on the big screen is it often seems that characters are in their own soliloquies, completely oblivious to the presence of other actors/characters beside them. In other words you know how Tarantino films hyper-realistic dialogues? His screenplays are made for the big screen. This isn't the case here and several times I was very aware that I was watching a play instead of a movie, due to the same set pieces being used over and over, to how silo'd the dialogue between characters seems. 

STILL, i can understand why Denzel Washington will give Casey Affleck a run for his money for best actor this year. In the end I prefer the latter, but Denzel is excellent although there are moments where I think I saw a bit of Frank Lucas peeking his disturbed head into this character. Viola Davis steals scenes she’s in as well, which is terrific. She will win for Best Supporting Actress although I’m not sure why the role would be considered supporting. Both leads go completely all-out in their renditions of these characters and these are some very talented actors. 



9. Sing Street

Grud will hate that this is placed so low in my list, given that it’s his favourite movie of the year. He’s right; it’s amazing and so much fun. Sort of a mix of The Commitments with Once (same director so no wonder) but yet totally unique. 

Very quick synopsis since no one here ever knows these movies i see: 14 yr-old Conor is growing up in 80's Dublin. Having a tough time at home and at school, he luckily gets lost in the eyes of one Raphina. Giving him new purpose in winning her heart, he decides to be a rock star and quickly forms a band. That's all you need to know. 

I don't think I've seen a music movie that focuses this much on the writing and inspiration process. "Want to help me write a song?" just never gets old. 

I have a soft spot for Irish movies but this is just as good as Brooklyn (which i loved). The ensemble cast is all terrific as a bunch of reject kids going to a Christian high school, finding each other through music. Heck, I was all ready to complain about Littlefinger being in the movie but you stop seeing him as such no more than 6 seconds into his first scene. This speaks to the quality of directing and of that particular actor whose name I can never remember.... I think it’s Petyr Baelish.

The music is SO good too. A mix of plenty of styles as the band tries to find itself, going from Duran Duran to The Cure and beyond. I immediately bought some of the music. I can't get "Up" out of my head and "To Find You" is lovely. I can't seem to be able to legally obtain Adam Levine's "Go Now" but I'll keep trying. 

The love interest in the movie is gar-jess (trying to evoke an Irish accent there) too. That little ginger producer's scene when trying to recruit pianist Ngig is one of the funniest scenes I've seen in a while. 

I can't recommend it enough. 



8. Zootopia

Fantastically funny and important film. I really need to take my girl to see this a second time I think. There are some pretty important messages in here on tolerance and career-aspiration dreams. But honestly, I think I just want to rewatch the sloths in the DMV again. I was in stitches during that part. The one taking the 

It's just a terrifically fun movie. I tell you, it's nice not falling asleep in a kid's movie. Which leads me to think this isn't really a kid's movie. 

Strongly recommended. 



7. Love & Friendship

Well, this is going to be tough sell to this crowd. Let me first state that I don't like Jane Austen novels or movies AT ALL. They don't do it for me and I find them quite forced. I saw the trailer for this one and was still not convinced but the cast seemed to strong, i just had to go.

It's hilarious and a bunch of quick fun. It's a slow build to the laughter, however. You know how Tarantino takes his time to build up the suspense until you can no longer bear it? This one really takes it time to get funny, but when it does... a real treat. Tom Bennett steals every scene he's in as Sir James Martin, think of Michael Scott if he were a lord. "That prophet that went up that mountain and came back with 12 commandments..."

When I saw this, I was 100% sure it would get recognition at the Academy Awards but now I’m not so sure, there has been too many better movies with better performances since this came out. Which is too bad because if there's one scene that really sells how much fun and subtle the comedy is, it's James Fleet as Sir Reginald DeCourcy trying to read a letter out loud to his long-term wife, Lady DeCourcy (Jemma Redgrave) from their daughter warning that their son is besmirched with Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale). The way this letter gets read and how annoyed that his wife is that he's not reading it word-for-word.... man, i could watch that scene 12 times.

Be warned that it's not for everybody. It's like a VERY British Woody Allen movie. 

I could listen to Steven Fry threaten to ship Chloe Sevigny to Connecticut all day long. That never stops being funny. What a cast. I want to see more Tom Bennett in the future.



6. Arrival

This ended up being even better than I was expecting. I knew it was going to be good, i had no idea it would be THIS good. There were one or two moments that I was literally on the edge of my seat. 

Amy Adams is great in this and thank goodness as the movie really revolves completely around her character. The movie has a few similarities with both Contact and Interstellar but is better than both on many levels. I had a few hiccups at the beginning (why would the military fly fighter jets that low over populated areas?) but as the movie got more complicated, it actually started to make more and more sense. Good storytelling for sure. 

It's neat how in a movie about aliens visiting Earth, the movie is much more about us than them. 

The soundtrack is extraordinary too. 


5. Kubo and the Two Strings

Incredible animated film.

From the studio that brought us the superior Coraline, here we have young Kubo, voiced by the young Stark son that barely gets more screen time in the entirety of Game of Thrones than he does here, who after forgetting to follow Gremlins-like rules of not feeding koalas after midnight, finds himself on an epic Zelda-like quest to acquire three or four magical items, including the legendary Sword Uncomfortable. Each one is naturally guarded by a dungeon boss, leading to some epic set pieces that I'm not sure I've ever experienced with such a feeling of grandeur in an animated film before. If you want to know why they feel so huge and real, make sure to stay during the credit roll.

At first my ears rejected the voice work of Matthew McConaughey, as I couldn't accept this Lincoln-driving narcissist as someone that would see Kubo as a hero when we all know he sees himself as his own hero, but he grows into the role very well and provides some good comic relief. Other voice acting is all very good, with a weird cameo by George Takei. 

The movie is a total visual feast for the eyes but your brain will have a hard time trying to unravel the many threads the story is trying to string together. Also, i brought my 5-year old girl to it and she wasn't a fan. I think it's much more of an adult-targeted animated film than one for children. 

I'm curious if the next movie out of this film studio will again reference implied eye trauma. It seems to be an obsession of these guys. 

In the end, this became my favourite animated movie of the year when I look back. I am really curious who will take the Academy Award this year. It was an outstanding year for animation.


And now ladies and gentlemen, we really enter the best of the best. La crème de la crème. These top four movies of the year really are reels and reels ahead of the rest in terms of being engrossing, beautifully-made motion pictures. I would strongly urge you to see these if you haven’t yet had the opportunity.



4. Hell or High Water

Simply fantastic. It’s a great crime drama starring Chris Pine and the always amazing Jeff Bridges as a Texas Ranger trying to outwit some small-time bank robbers. 

Pretty boy Chris Pine takes a bit of time to grow into the role of a mastermind bank robber, but don't worry. He does. All the characters are remarkably deep. Even just a random waitress is explored to a surprising amount.

The cinematography is beautiful. You really feel the big sky of Texas and it's great. 

Note that this isn't an action movie at all; it's VERY slow and I like that. A nice slow boil, which makes explosive moments much more impactful and unexpected. Some people in the theatre were disappointed that there wasn't more action, so just make sure your expectations are in check. 

The last scene is pure perfection. Heard from this movie-goer out loud, "" Edge of my seat.



3. La La Land

Typically dramas always dominate the top of my top ten lists so how did a musical get up here? Well, it’s a surprisingly dramatic musical as it turns out. 

It's safe to say i had very high expectations walking into this movie with my g/f. I don't think I've seen a proper musical since Hairspray (Once was actually more recent but felt well above and beyond a simple musical), so as soon as people start dancing on the LA freeway, I'm thinking to myself, "ah yes, i remember these. I need to just smile and enjoy it." and then minutes later as the back of a cube van opens up and an enthusiastic percussionist starts playing the sides of the van and an even more enthusiastic flutist starts swaying back and forth, I find myself with a huge smile on my face and I just let everything go and fell into the fun escape that good musicals deliver. 

In the end, it got fairly surprisingly dramatic (it's no Manchester by the Sea or anything) with relationships and supporting or not supporting your partner's dreams. One of these scenes in particular goes on for a quite a while for a musical. I actually don't think this is a love story, as I never really got the feeling the main characters were in love, it felt more like infatuation to me. I think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling had more love chemistry in Crazy, Stupid Love than they do in this. 

In terms of performances, Emma Stone will likely win Best Actress but I, personally, was more impressed with fellow Canadian Ryan Gosling as he really seems to be literally stepping out of his comfort zone, which i highly respect. I thought his dance numbers were quite impressive and he was very believable as a struggling jazz pianist. I loved the little quirks he brought to his character as well (I have a feeling that making Sebastian jumpy was his idea). 

I haven't seen a movie so perfectly suited for Oscar since The Artist. I would already bet heavily that it will win Best Picture and, more appropriately, Best Director. However, this is a year I think that Oscar will get it wrong as I don't believe La La Land is the best movie of the year, I liked the upcoming two films much more…



2. Manchester by the Sea

My heart still hurts from having seen this movie. It took hours for it to feel a bit better, and even now it still aches a bit when I think of it. This is one HEAVY movie. 

I can't say enough good things about Casey Affleck's performance. He is so obviously going to win best actor this year for this at the Oscars. I liked him before and now I LOVE him. What a deep character to try and master, and he does so with great skill. Michelle Williams is great, and that one scene of them together on the street is easily this year's best scene on film thanks to her. It just absolutely tore me to pieces. Even the second time I saw this it hit me just as hard, if not harder.

There are so many of these awkward drama moments captured super well in this film. Like a hockey team standing by and waiting while a teammate learns that his father has just died. Most movies wouldn't give screen time to a bunch of teammates standing on the ice waiting, but this one does and it adds massively to the quality and impact of the drama. 

I also love that the screenwriters completely respect the audience. Never once do we see certain pictures in frames, we only see the characters' reactions to the pictures, that's all we need. You don't need to connect all the dots and they didn't, so kudos to Manchester by the Sea for being a smart adult movie. 

This movie is simply incredible and I can’t recommend it enough.



I’ve spent the last couple weeks trying to figure out which movie I think was better between Manchester by the Sea  and the number one  movie of the year (for me). In the end I really had to give it to…


1. Moonlight 

I'm not sure where to even start with this one. There are so many scenes done in such a unique way that I haven't seen before. It's a tough movie to talk about since I went in not knowing a single thing other than the title, so I wouldn't want to spoil any plot surprises. 

It's weird that I saw this in the same year I saw Closet Monster because this is the perfected version of the other. 

It is almost as good as Boyhood and follows the same idea of a young man finding himself over various stages of his life (but this time with different actors). There are so many incredible performances, it's tough to single out specific ones. Alex Hibbert playing young Little is amazing, as are many others. Mahershala Ali will absolutely win Best Supporting Actor for this.

Honestly guys, I think this is the very best movie of the year. I left the theatre yearned badly for an epilogue.

You know how Grand Theft Auto V tried to offer some skin-deep insight into the modern-day African-American experience through Franklin? Well... Moonlight will take you 100 fathoms deeper, to put it lightly. You will feel it. 


Highly recommended. Get ready to be challenged. 




Well that’s it. I think this is the closest I’ve ever been to a tie for best movie of the year, but I really do feel Moonlight has a very slight edge. Both of them are extraordinary. See them. See them now.

I’m really hoping 2017 will churn up some great movies as well. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed by Alien: Covenant (my most anticipated movie)  and Star Wars: Episode VIII. That’s easy, the big question will be what will surprise and astonish us, can’t wait to see.



Thanks for reading!

There Will Be Games

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ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #242424 14 Jan 2017 12:40
3 of your honorable mentions are in my top 5. I'm sure we have different list criteria though.

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

2. The VVitch

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane

4. Captain America 3: Civil War

5. X-Men: Apocalypse
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad replied the topic: #242427 14 Jan 2017 13:28
I would add "Fantastic Beasts" and "Deepwater Horizon" (a movie that cements the Mark-Wahlberg-Survives sub-genre) as the most pointless of the year.
By the way, have you seen "The Lobster"? Although it shows as 2015 at Imbd, it came out this year in the US theaters. I did not love it, but of all the movies I've seen this year, this was the most interesting one visually and conceptually (I have yet to watch Manchester and Moonlight).

Going slightly off the topic, I think 2016 has been a much weaker year for films than 2015. It also has been the first year (for me) to acknowledge that the TV shows were better than the movies. And I mean without reservations: more engaging, original, poignant, better shot and written. Like the best scenes I've seen on the screen in 2016 are the Battle of the Bastards, or the first episode of The Night Of. The characters I liked most are the kids from Stranger Things. The best crime story is Narcos. Best comedy Vice Principals/Veep. Maybe it is just me, though.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242433 14 Jan 2017 14:05
Mad dog, you liked Apocolypse that much ?? I skipped it cuz I heard it was hot garbage. The Witch almost got #10 in my list but I didn't want to have to think of that movie anymore, lol.

Vlad, because of the increasing quality of television, it's getting tough for movies. Especially cuz the only movies getting big financing are comic book stuff. That's a problem that there can't be another Shawshank.

Hurry up and see my top two do we can talk about them!

I think you're right that 2016 wasn’t fantastic. I think there were only 4-6 really great or memorable movies. That's not enough. Fences making my list speaks volumes... In a year if someone mentions Fences, I'll assume they're talking about a Tom Skerrit TV show
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #242435 14 Jan 2017 14:54
Originally I had Apocalypse tied with Deadpool. I think Deadpool is more fun but at the same time I doubt I'll watch it more than once. Apocalypse has flaws but its more watchable as light entertainment for me.

I don't usually go see dramas in the theaters so I won't see a lot of your stuff until it moves its way up my video backlog.
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #242436 14 Jan 2017 15:58
I need to catch The Handmaiden, Silence, The Founder and Lion soon before I can make my list. Stupid end-of-year limited releases!

Good list, Barney. We'll share a lot of the same picks, if not the same order. #9 or not, your praise of Sing Street is well stated.

I thought Kung Fu Panda 3 was great, though.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242437 14 Jan 2017 16:12
Silence ? Garfield seems so miscast in that one. Please see Handmaiden, I really want to know about it.

Yeah kung fu panda 3 knocked me right out
Colorcrayons's Avatar
Colorcrayons replied the topic: #242438 14 Jan 2017 16:17
I too haven't seen many, because I wait for dramas to be watched at home. The big screen, for me, is reserved for movies that offer visual feasts. Dramas don't do that often.

But, this has given me a bucket list for Netflix or the like. Thanks!
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #242440 14 Jan 2017 16:22

Black Barney wrote: Silence ? Garfield seems so miscast in that one. Please see Handmaiden, I really want to know about it.

Yeah kung fu panda 3 knocked me right out

If I see Handmaiden, it might not be through altogether, uh, legal means. I was set to go to Portland a few weeks ago to see that and La La Land with a ladyfriend, but the weather turned nasty and hasn't let up since. Looks amazing, though.

I've heard some very good things about Silence, and also some more meh reviews. But I think it's the kind of thing I might appreciate, and it is coming to my area next week (I think), so I'll want to make my own judgment.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242441 14 Jan 2017 16:25
I'm sure Silence is very good, I have no doubt. But the Andrew Garfield scenes in the trailer are awful. That guy has no range.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #242442 14 Jan 2017 19:33
I don't see a lot of movies in the theater anymore. Two generations since the VCR, and at least of 1/3 of the movies I've seen in the theater in recent years have been spoiled by at least one asshole in the audience. So I'm only going to list a top 3:

1. Doctor Strange - my new favorite Marvel movie. Strong performances, amazing visuals, action, drama, and humor. Imagine if the Matrix movies had featured Doctor House.
2. Deadpool - Though the pace was a bit slow in the middle, this was still a bold and witty comic book movie that finally like one of my least favorite comic book heroes.
3. The Witch - Outstanding horror movie with a startling ending. The immersion in the period was wonderful. Still, the unrelenting bleakness made this film a bit hard to like at times.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242451 15 Jan 2017 09:56
I don't think we're supposed to like The Witch. I think that's the point. Ballsy filmmaking.
Gregarius's Avatar
Gregarius replied the topic: #242456 15 Jan 2017 13:51
Good list. Happy to see Hell or High Water ranked so highly. More people need to see that one.

I thought it was an excellent year for movies, and I'm still woefully behind on so many. I have firm plans to finally see Moonlight this Tuesday, so I'll finally be able to discuss that one. Have you seen Moana? I kinda expected that to be high on your list, moreso than Kubo. Of course, I still haven't seen either. Some additional yet to sees: Jackie, Silence, Tower, Sully. Maybe X-Men: Apocalypse just out of curiosity.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242457 15 Jan 2017 14:33
Moana was fantastic, it almost got #10. That was the hardest spot to fill. I had 4 movies all fighting for it. Maybe five even.

I really do think Zootopia is a better film and Kubo is a better animated film. How is the Academy going to possibly choose between these three this year? It has to be Kubo, right ?

Can you please see Apocalypse so I know if Mad Dog is nuts or what?
engelstein's Avatar
engelstein replied the topic: #242458 15 Jan 2017 14:49
Glad to see Eye in the Sky get some love. That one really stuck with me, in spite of the obvious audience manipulation.

Kubo was visually amazing, but in retrospect the plotting has knocked it down a few notches for me, particularly the (too drawn-out) ending.

Really enjoyed La La Land - it surprised me in a lot of ways. Have yet to see MBTS and Moonlight. (on a 2017 note we saw Hidden Figures and it was very well-done).

At the bottom for me were X-Men Apocalypse - so, so stupid - and The Lobster. I haven't been actively angry at a movie in a long time, but The Lobster managed it. What a pretentious piece of tripe.
jeb's Avatar
jeb replied the topic: #242462 15 Jan 2017 15:47
Haha! I liked THE LOBSTER. Man, I was laughing a lot in that movie. Absurdity goes a long way with me. I was hysterical with laughter during BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and folks moved away from us in the theatre. (The scene where his fucking little puppets do TRISTAN & ISOLDE? I was crying.)
engelstein's Avatar
engelstein replied the topic: #242463 15 Jan 2017 15:58
Malkovich is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love Spike Jonze's stuff, and figured that The Lobster would be right up my alley. It started out good, but then lost me early and lost me hard.
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #242465 15 Jan 2017 17:51

engelstein wrote: Malkovich is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love Spike Jonze's stuff, and figured that The Lobster would be right up my alley. It started out good, but then lost me early and lost me hard.

I felt almost the same way about The Lobster. It was very good for a while, but lost me later. For being an oddball film from last year, I think Swiss Army Man was better. Granted, very different style and tone to each of them. Swiss Army Man wasn't perfect, either, but worked its premise to more of a payoff.

I agree that Zootopia was better than both Moana and Kubo. I've said it enough previously, but Kubo was like a 12 in visuals but a 6 in story cohesion and didn't hit its emotional/narrative targets.

Saw Captain Fantastic again last night with the Viggo Q&A. (They ended it right before my Q!) Despite a few scenes that are a bit contrived, it is wonderful and firmly my #2 of the year (pending viewing of The Handmaiden). Have you seen that yet, Barney?
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #242466 15 Jan 2017 22:54
Not yet, no. I think I'm done with 2016 for now. Maybe it'll make my Mea Culpa section down the road !

The Lobster sounds awful. I can't take pretentiousness in film. Terrence Malik is dead to me.

Kubo is as high as it is because of the animation and just pure ART in it. I agree story is way better in Zootopia and characters as well. But honestly, Kubo is a beautiful and brilliant piece of art.

You know.... like the cinematography of Dances With wolves...
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad replied the topic: #242467 15 Jan 2017 23:40
Man, The Lobster is not nearly as bad as a Malik movie (although I don't think I ever endured a Terrence Malik movie till the end). It is beautifully shot and has a sense of humor. I laughed at some bits. But it is not funny as a whole, and it does take itself far too seriously by the 3rd act. But it is not aimed to be a goofball movie, imho. Although it has a lot of homage/rip-off from Luis Bunuel movies, it is aiming more at dystopian. It very much reminded me of the old 451 Fahrenheit. Despite its failures, I kinda think this was the most interesting/original movie I saw this year and the one I'll most likely to remember 5 years from now. But I have no inclination at all to watch it again.

I liked Kubo a lot, too, and very happy it made your top 10 instead of Moana (which is good, but gives up a slight - yet distinct - smell of staleness). I swear I was very close to crying at the end with "My Guitar" and all, and it was a lot like "Eternal Sunshine", but in stop-animation.

Oh, and I agree with the tendency of watching Oscar-nominated dramas on Netfilx. I still can't forgive myself for going to a cinema to see "Spotlight" a year ago. And "The Big Short" (which is excellent, by the way, I just saw it again on Netflix).
Gregarius's Avatar
Gregarius replied the topic: #242473 16 Jan 2017 09:42
The Lobster is a very problematic film, but also very good. I liked the first half a whole lot more than the second half; they're almost like two different movies. Comparing it to a Spike Jones film like Malkovich isn't fair to either. There are surface similarities in the absurdist humor, strange premises, and philosophical questions, but Lanthimos and Jones are flip-sides of a coin. Jones: more humor with philosophy on the side; Lanthimos: more philosophy with humor on the side. They both provide good fodder for discussion long after the film.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #242525 16 Jan 2017 23:12
I feel like I've more or less given up on cinema as particularly immediate, relevant, or necessary, which is sad, I suppose, but compared to the best "TV" (can we even really call it "TV" anymore?), it often is just spectacle or hopelessly compressed.

I've also pretty much given up on the Marvel movies as anything but serviceable entertainment. 2015's Ant-Man was cute but slight, and 2016's Doctor Strange was an inferior Iron Man. (Inferior Iron Man would be a good comic, maybe.) Civil War was decent--better than Ultron by a good distance--but far enough below Winter Soldier that even the better "team" movies feel like exercises to me.) After subjecting myself to Man of Steel and, gak, Green Lantern I have no interest in DC at all and "missed" Dawn of Justice, as I will probably continue to "miss" the rest of them--though I did see Suicide Squad, which by its comparative superiority at least had the virtue of highlighting just how bad--as in "lacking all cinematic virtue"--X-men: Apocalypse is and how bad a director Bryan Singer has become. I didn't even get that much out of Rogue One, regrettably, which was, frankly, kinda boring till a Star Wars Armada game broke out.

There were some highlights for me, in no particular order.

Weiner: A great doc of a true twerp of a human being. I thought about that movie a lot, and my wife and I discussed it at length. I think I liked it more than she did because I had a bit more empathy for the guy, even though he brought on himself and his family (and, indirectly now, the nation) all the garbage that happened to him. It's not really to his credit that he allowed that film to be made--it's just another symptom of his narcissism--but it's still a good thing that it was made.

Swiss Army Man: If nothing else, it's a "different," memorable movie, even if it is weakened, in my opinion, by the apparent hope that we empathize with the main character.

Sing Street: A really phenomenally warm-hearted movie whose music and well-chosen cast enrich a slight, oft-told story.

The Edge of Seventeen: In a different time, this movie would've found its audience and have gotten the popular love that it got from critics. Instead, it's one that won't get the credit it deserves unless it gets a second (or even a first) life from streaming.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Having not seen Cloverfield at that point, I had no particular expectations for this, which was all for the better. It's a little rough around the edges, but the leads are solid and the mood is generally right. John Goodman proves again to be an actor worth appreciating.

Moana: Luminously animated and engaging on a story, emotional, and musical level. Probably not peak Disney, but appealing nonetheless.

I make no pretense to being comprehensive. I very much want to see La La Land but haven't yet, for example.
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Black Barney replied the topic: #242535 17 Jan 2017 08:30
Jpat, you talk about giving up on movies but you aren't seeing the best movies. You took a big paragraph to talk about comic book movies. Surely seeing Sing Street reminds you about what's amazing about seeing movies in the first place ? That combination of being surprised and entertained all at once. Evoking feelings and emotions and all that?

I'm jealous you saw Edge of Seventeen, I really wanted to see that one
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jpat replied the topic: #242542 17 Jan 2017 10:03
Yeah, I'm lame. :) We actually started out the year seeing better films, in part because we had a membership in a local small-film theater, and then tapered off. I'll try to make amends.
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Grudunza replied the topic: #242560 17 Jan 2017 12:10
So, I watched The Handmaiden. I suppose this belongs in the other movie thread, but it definitely belongs here talking about the Best of 2016. And since Barney asked so nicely (I suppose you're no longer dead to me, Barney)...

I'd never seen any Park-Chan Wook films before, and only knew very little about this movie other than hearing a lot of praise for it. It ended up being quite the trip. I won't spoil anything, other than to say that if I had to describe it via more conventional comparisons, it would be like Tarantino filming Barry Lyndon set in 1930's Korea. And with input from Larry Flynt. No, that's going too far. It's not depraved in its depiction, though some kinky/depraved kinds of things are involved. It's also beautifully erotic and romantic in some scenes. And there is a pretty strong mystery/crime/puzzle element, shown from different sides, that runs through the narrative.

This is hard to comment more on without saying too much... but much as I appreciate it, I'm not sure I'm completely sold on it based on a certain factor. The ending makes it seem like a snake eating its own tail kind of thing, where we end up on the voyeuristic side of a story much like the stories that one of the main characters tells a group of men during the film. I suppose in a way that's brilliant as a meta commentary on the type of exploitation and power that's part of the story, but it's also super indulgent, and some scenes in the film seem to play into that. There could be some cultural influence/bias at play here, as far as that goes. Ahhhhhhh, there's something more I want to say, but can't without spoiling things. If you see it, Barney, we can discuss it more then.

Just a few minutes in and you'll be blown away with the beauty of the cinematography. It's a masterfully directed and shot film in that respect. And there are a lot of wonderful details and moments throughout, and some decent humor. It probably belongs on my 2016 top 10 somewhere, but it may have to be an honorable mention for leaving me just a bit cold and uncertain about some things. Still, I'd say it's a must-see for its many positives.
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Nodens replied the topic: #242987 25 Jan 2017 05:31
Finally completed my mission of seeing three major films of last year acording to this forum.
You guys have great taste, but I knew that. All were very special, all had things go awry. No spoiler tags, as I am late to the party.
LaLa Land was the weakest, maybe I was just hyped and thus then disappointed. Agree that it's not about actual people but about Hollywood, and that pissed me off somehow. I do understand that if a movie takes a stand on an issue it subsequently loses half its audience, but still. I saw a sad piece of film museum furniture longing for the golden past where everything was perfect and easy, but too lazy to think about change. Why put all those imperfections in a movie that expensive just to make a small point? A friend even said that as a fan of Ryan Gosling's singing (how? why? I guess there has to be every type of taste) she was put off by him deliberately singing badly. There is this thing very early on: everyone is dressed in monochrome and getting out of their cars, and suddenly there is this blue truck full of pittoresque immigrants, a samba band (of course), but they don't get out. Am I the only one who was reminded of how many people die in trucks every day trying to get into LaLaLand? Either make the point or shut up, don't give me this shit and sell it as art.
Which nicely brings me to Captain Fantastic, which was an amazing ride. Very to the point with great acting by everyone. The sons left a particularly strong impression. I reckon for most people (those that do not think that every action is a political one) it was rather strange on the outside, but on the inside it is a very US American thing about the value of family and how to reconcile ideals and reality. Several times one of us would snicker and say 'oh, my, these americans and their fetishes', but apart from minor things it can be translated to the old world. If that movie had been made in Europe though, religion might not even have been mentioned. Loved Frank Langella, I immediately knew where to put him. I found the last act a little weak, maybe, Aragorn growing up, but very much worth it.
Best marks for Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Actually, it's the other way round: this one is very formulaic and we have seen that story a hundred times, just never told that good and with so many layers. So hard to pull off all these heavy themes and horrible things and keep the whole thing lightfooted and funny. Laugh out loud funny. The only problem that I have to mention is how sweet the boy is. That kid is kind of unreal. I mean, Ricky really is an easygoing, friendly, smart, open kid. Not hard to like at all. On a side note, it's easy to imagine that story actually happening, just not in Hollywood. There would have been a lot less talking and more bodies.

Because I haven't gotten around to seeing Manchester and Sing Street, the best movie of 2016 is Big Hero 6 (rewatch from two years ago).