Well hi there! Remember me? I used to write somewhat frequently and then just… stopped. Because; reasons? Anyway, here I am, back and ready to contribute at least, like, 4 articles this year. Starting with this doozy.
For those of you who have been avid readers of our articles, you'll remember my article from last year, when I could only do my top-5 from 2015 because I'd only seen 7 movies from 2015… But this year things are vastly different. I saw 13 whole movies from 2016, you guys! 13!!! Killing it. So I can actually write a comprehensive list this year.
Some of these will be duplicates from Shaun's list (which came out Monday) but a lot of them will be different. Mostly because I haven't even heard of some of the movies on his list…
Hardcore Henry - An interesting take on an action movie. It is a movie shot completely in the first person so you, as the viewer, are essentially Henry. In sort of a futuristic time period, Henry has basically been brought back to life after being on the brink of death (I guess?) and is basically half-man, half-machine. This means he can take a whollop! The villain is weird and, inexplicably, has telekinetic powers. It's odd. I found the movie slightly nauseating, in the sense that there were a lot of quick cuts and because it's all first person, I almost felt dizzy and disoriented sometimes. It was a cool concept for a movie, but I'm glad they're not all shot this way.
Alice Through The Looking Glass - The sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I found this movie to be… okay. I went because it was a friend's birthday and a bunch of folk were going to it. So I thought, "why not?" Plus I knew this list would be something I had to do, so it was just one more opportunity to see a movie to add to this list. I thought it was visually interesting as these movies tend to be, but the story was only okay. I've never read the books, but it seemed to me like perhaps it strayed from the books a little bit. After asking my friends, apparently I was right. So there's that. Anyway, it was a decent movie but certainly not good enough to warrant cracking the top-10.
10) Batman Vs. Superman
That's right. This film is on my top-10. Now granted, it's because I only saw 13 movies this year. But in all honesty, I didn't dislike this movie. That is to say; once I got past the first hour. Man, it was a slog to get through that first hour. It took me 2 days to finally get through this movie. Granted, I started watching it when the Canada-US World Junior final was on, so I had to postpone my watching of the movie until after the game. Once I finally did, it was late and I was emotionally drained (seriously, who ends a gold medal game with a shootout? Ugh.) So I wasn't really up for watching the movie that night.
I literally turned it off right before Batman and Superman finally met. AFTER AN HOUR! How can you call a movie Batman vs. Superman when they don't meet for an hour? Yeesh.
Once they finally met, I enjoyed it! I didn't expect much from it but fluff, and that's essentially what I got. So fine. It was a fairly brainless movie with some cool fight scenes. And it sets up Justice League, so that should be fun! I hope.
Please god, let Justice League be fun...
So this was the second movie I saw in 2016 and it was the second of a double-feature. Why did Ashley and I do a double feature? Because we went to see The Witch and we both really disliked it. Now it could be because we saw it in the theatre and I was expecting so much more. But it could also be because the audience around us was not loving it, so their vibes were rubbing off on me.
Anyway. We left with a real distaste in our mouths, and the night was still somewhat young, so we decided to cleanse our palettes with a fun kids movie.
There was nothing overly shocking about this film. It was exactly what I was expecting it to be, but that was fine. I thought that the story line was cute, I thought that it was fun the way the hierarchy of the animals came into play. I also really appreciated the voice acting. Some tremendous selections. (Seriously; is there anything Idris Elba can't do?)
Speaking of Idris Elba as a talking animal!
8) The Jungle Book
Now how's THAT for a segue?
As far as movies with talking animals that came out in 2016 go, this one was my favourite. I also have an affinity for the original animated movie, so I was hoping for big things with this one.
I didn't see the one that came out a few years ago but from what I've been told, it's probably for the best. I didn't much feel like having this one get tainted by one that was less awesome.
When I found out who was involved in this movie, I was pretty damned excited. Jon Favreau directing, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson and Ben Kingsley as the voices? Yes please! Incidentally, she had a very small part in the show, but I feel like Scarlett was maybe my favourite part. She has the perfect voice for a huge-ass snake. And truth be told, all things considered; the kid was pretty great too!
I found this movie had the perfect combination of humour as well as a slight dark edge to it. Definitely worth watching. I'm pretty glad I was able to see this one and was able to put it on my list.
7) Elvis and Nixon
So... there are some movies on here that are kind of weird. This is one of them. Now granted, they're not as weird as two of the ones in my top-5 but this one is weird all the same.
I don't know much about Elvis Presley. And I really don't know much about Nixon. Beyond what The Simpsons have taught me, anyway. So I knew that the legendary photo existed, but mostly because, well, because of the Simpsons.
So when I found out that a movie was coming out about the meeting between Elvis and Nixon (even though it's all theoretical because nobody knows what happened in that room) where Michael Shannon plays Elvis, and Kevin Spacey plays Nixon, I was in. Without hesitation, I was in.
And I was not disappointed. Man did I dig this movie. I found the first little bit a bit long-winded, as it was all the exposition and the setup. But it was worth it for the payoff. Once Elvis and his cohorts get to the White House, the movie just picked up steam and I giggled and giggled.
Both Shannon and Spacey play caricatures of the real individuals (or so I think. Again; I know very little about them.) but they were really fun caricatures of them. And they played them so convincingly. By the end, I didn't care whether or not it was actually historically accurate or not. I just had a blast.
The only Marvel movie on my list. BUT one of two superhero movies on my list! So that's a thing. I guess.
I've seen this flick in its entirety once. But I've watched it whenever it's been on because I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's something to be said about just how damned vulgar it was. I know this isn't anything new to any of you. Y'all probably knew more about this movie than I did. But I saw the trailers for it and figured I'd see it. Particularly since my friends Anton and Mel decided I should go see it with them.
I'm seeing a trend here: people say "come see this movie!" and I do. I'm such a sheep.
So I went and saw it. I thought it was spectacular. It was refreshing to see a Marvel movie that wasn't quite as... safe as others. And Ryan Reynolds was perfect. That character needed to be both vulgar and charming at the same time. With a hint of sarcasm. And who better for that than Van Wilder? Am I right??
Something else I appreciated about this movie was TJ Miller. I've heard his standup and it's... okay. But as an actor, he was the perfect choice to counter Reynolds. A wonderful choice for the bartender with whom Ryan Reynolds can play off.
Plus I got to discover new (lesser known) X-Men characters. So that was fun! I don't know if they're real characters, but that's cool. I still enjoyed them.
Well done, Marvel! Well done.
5) Swiss Army Man
Hooo boy. This movie. This movie was something else. It is exactly what the trailer makes it seem. Paul Dano is stranded on an island and finds a body played by Daniel Radcliffe. The body proves rather useful in his escape (the whole "riding the body like a jet ski" thing happens about 6 minutes into the movie, so the trailer doesn't spoil anything.) And then the movie just gets better, and kind of weirder.
Daniel Radcliffe made me so happy in this movie. He plays Manny, who eventually becomes more sentient but has a tendency to lose his filter. It makes for some wonderful moments throughout the movie.
When it comes down to it, this movie is mostly about friendship. And that's comforting.
It would probably be higher on my list if it wasn't for the ending. I found it sort of went off the rails a bit right at the end, which didn't take away my enjoyment of the movie at all. It just made it fall a couple places on the list.
4) Hail, Caesar
Man, I love me me some Coen Brothers. Loyal fans of the podcast, or probably the blog, or most definitely Dave Smith the person, will know how much I love me the Coen Brothers. In the past few years they have put out some terrific movies (Inside Llewyn Davis, No Country For Old Men, True Grit, and let us not forget the classic Big Lebowski I know it's not recent, but it bears repeating.) This movie is no different.
What I really like about the Coen brothers is that they have an ability to tell stories so well, but they also tend to take film genres and make them their own. And really, why not take the piss out of 1950s Hollywood? Exactly.
This movie is laced with terrific scenes that highlight some of the best parts of the Hollywood movies from the 50s. But on top of that, some of the cameos are just. So good. There are also some actors with whom I'm unfamiliar in the movie, but hopefully we see them in either more Coen Brothers films, or just further movies in general. I really liked their work!
There are terrific scenes in this movie. Beginning to end I thoroughly enjoyed it. But if you're going to watch this movie for one scene, it's the scene of Josh Brolin slapping the shit out of Clooney. It's amazing.
3) The Lobster
Remember how I said there were weird movies on this list? Yeah. This one too. But it's ranked number three on my list of the year, so it must be good. Right? Right.
Basically the concept of the movie is that people go to this hotel to find love. If they don't, they get turned into some animal (their choice.) That's the gist of it. I'm not going to get into any more of the plot because I truly believe you (and by "you" I mean "anybody") should watch this movie.
Colin Farrell was great in this movie. When he first hit the scene, he tended to get cast as the pretty boy and I didn't care for a lot of his stuff. But recent credits of his have given me much more respect for him. This one has certainly improved his standing in my opinion even more. He was so subdued, and yet captivating, that it made me want to watch further.
All I can say is this was a somewhat bleak movie but still really, really captivating. And as a final point before I move on - the ending is the sort of ending that you can't wait to talk about with somebody. I literally had a conversation about this ending with a friend today. We've dissected it a few times and have not been able to come to a conclusion. And that's the sort of ending I love. Which is why this movie is number 3.
2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Guys! I saw Star Wars. IN the theatre! How proud of me are you!??!?!
I made the mistake of not seeing Force Awakens in theatres. I also didn't see it until about... August. So I wasn't going to do the same with this movie. And boy was I happy I saw it in theatres! (I also knew this list was imminent so I had to see if I couldn't get this film on the list...)
I don't know as much about Star Wars as most people. Or at least most of my friends. I don't know... Anyway.
I have heard very mixed reactions about this movie. Some people really loved this movie and some people... well here's a direct quote from a friend:
"Hint: I think I need to watch Phantom Menace now to cleanse my palate."
Wow. That's a pretty visceral reaction. And totally fair. If that's the way one feels, that's cool! Maybe I just know less about the movies than others. I just know I loved it.
But if you want to know more about my thoughts on this one, check out the podcast that comes out Friday. Shaun and I spent 40 minutes talking about the movie. So you can listen to the rest there! Plus it's 12:21am the night before this drops so I need to get it done.
So without further ado:
1) The Magnificent Seven
So this is the most recent movie from 2016 that I've watched so that could have something to do with why I rated it number one. But it was also really solid.
I know I've been fairly anti-remake. Shaun and I have even had podcast(s) about that. I was cautiously optimistic about this. I love the original Magnificent Seven movie so I didn't want to watch the remake and be wildly disappointed.
Clearly I wasn't. I thought this was a very well-made movie. The concept of the movie was very similar to the original, while still having an identity of its own. There's only so far it could actually stray, but I thought all things considered, it did a very good job of walking the line between originality and homage. There were actually a couple of lines in this movie that were lifted directly from the original - I thought it was really cool that they would do that but only a few times. It would have killed me if it was line after line that I've already heard before. I wanted something new. And with a cast like they had, originality was key. So it was a perfect tip of the hat to the 60s movie while being wildly entertaining and standing alone on its own.
Plus the final shootout was a thing of beauty.
I already mentioned the cast briefly, but I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about them a bit more. Particularly Peter Sarsgaard. The rest of the cast was really damned solid. All seven of them. Just terrific. But man does Peter Sarsgaard play an unreal villain. Definitely worth the price of admission, alone. But playing opposite the rest of that cast? Yeah. There's a reason it's number one this year.
Plus. You know. Dave and westerns.
Well that's it, kids! My first article of the new year. Only half way through the month. Stay tuned for many more! It's good to get back on the horse and churn some stuff out. This seemed like as good way to start than ever.
I was really happy with my list this year. Partially because I made it to ten movies, but also because of those ten, I found them to be - for the most part - really solid movies. It was a good year for movies (or so I was told) and I was happy to have seen enough of them to write a good comprehensive list.
Thanks for reading, friends! We'll see you anon!