This is a little later than I intended, but I suppose I might have burned myself a little by making, like, 12 posts in a row over Christmas. But anyway, I felt like I saw enough movie this year that I could give a a relatively decent movie of the year list. That being said, you’ll see a very common theme here amongst the types of movies I saw.
But you know what they say about simple minds and simple tastes. There were still a lot of movie I didn’t see this year, not only that there were critically acclaimed movies that I simply didn’t enjoy too much. Spoiling the list a little, The Revenant isn’t going to be on here. While I thought the movie was well made, I just wasn’t for me. I’m no critic, I’m not going to break down movies based on their artistic merit. All I’m going to list here are the movies I enjoyed the most throughout the year. A brutal slog through the old west, not really that enjoyable…
This movie kept slipping further and further down my list as I was compiling it. It was a good movie don’t get me wrong, I just don’t hold it in the incredibly high esteem that many other people in these circles seem to.
Amy Adams is a linguist called in by the government to help commentate with one of a number of space craft that have shown up around the globe. The film is a race against time to try and communicate peacefully with the aliens while other countries are seemingly on the verge of starting war with them. Much of the movie follows Adams’ character as she deals with strange nightmares and learns the true nature of how these aliens communicate.
The movie has some very creative science fiction elements and really drives forward just how alien and unknowable extra terrestrials could probably be if we were to ever encounter them. It’s much more of a thinker than an action movie. Filled with great visuals and a little mind bending towards the end.
It would be higher on my list, but while others are raising it as a legendary piece of science fiction, I personally thought it was full of things I’ve seen or read before. I didn’t think Any Adams was amazing in it either, her performance being pretty wooden throughout, but then again, I’m not professional critic.
While I might not have thought it was as amazing as some people do. It’s still a very good movie and should be seen.
#9: Hail, Ceaser!
I’m not a fan of all of the Coen’s work. But I appreciate almost all of it. Some of it is a bit too gritty for me. However, it’s the more absurd pieces of their filmography that always stick out in my mind. Like Burn After Reading before it; Hail, Ceaser! is the same brand of “whuh?”
Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, the film follows a group of different characters, but mainly Josh Brolin’s character of Eddie Mannix: The head of production at a film studio. We spend a day following his bizarre job where he has to juggle a group of larger than life characters as he tries to keep the studios’ next big epic from tanking. It involves kidnapping, a secret soviet plot and a solid five minute dance sequence from Channing Tatum.
The movie has a great cast full of stars of today and the past, all looking like they’re having a great time. Its a great spoof of that era of film making, but also wonderfully absurd. I liked it a lot and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the golden age era of Hollywood. Or if you just want to see the Highlander and the Kurgan in a movie together again.
#8: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Much like the first Cloverfield, this movie was a great big mystery right up until its release date. It’s connection to Cloverfield remained ambiguous even after viewing, if it was connected at all. As it turns out, it doesn’t have much of a connection to the original, but is a better movie all the same.
A locked room film that shows us tension isn’t dead. Filmed in a small location with a small cast, the movie stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman who crashes her car and wakes up in a bunker having being “saved” by a deranged John Goodman. The movie flip flops with how trustworthy Goodman’s character is, making him sympathetic one moment and utterly terrifying the next. It’s a tense movie where you don’t know if the world outside the bunker really is destroyed, or if John Goodman is just insane.
I really liked this movie and I don’t think it needed to create ambitious connections to Cloverfield to market itself as it is a much different type of movie. While the ending was a touch jarring, I still enjoyed it mostly for the performances of the three main leads alone. As I said, John Goodman was utterly terrifying in this and a presence that would intimidate me, and I’m not a small dude either.
It’s defiantly worth a watch for anyone who likes a bit of phycological horror.
#7: Star Trek Beyond
Controversial opinion: I didn’t really mind Star Trek Into Darkness. Sure it had issues, but it was still a very watchable movie. I never felt that Star Trek Beyond had to make up for anything. All the same though, I enjoyed the change in direction this film brought.
A much tighter and more simple story than the previous movie, Beyond abandons the crew on an uncharted planet and lets them spend the movie figuring out their escape. Much of the charm of this movie comes from the cast and their interactions and how they’re grouped together after the crash. Karl Urban continues to kill it as McCoy and I don’t know why Zachary Quinto isn’t in more movies.
The movie is full of action and charm, it also features an antagonistic force that bare a number of striking resemblances’ to Mass Effect’s Collector enemies. An odd nod that creates a satisfying circle between the two franchises. It has some great action to, with the final act throwing some amazing visuals at us.
It’s bright and cheerful and is much less of a serious face movie when compared to the last two. A lot of fun.
#6: The Conjuring 2
Good horror is few and far between these days. Thank God to the Conjuring for showing us America can still make good horror with a budget.
Following Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s characters from the first movie, the film takes us to the famous events of the Engield Poltergeist in the 1970s. Following the two stores of the family in the house and the Warren’s. With a lot of horror these days, there seems to be a desire to fill the movie with a lot of comic or detestable characters, almost as if to make you root for the monsters. The Conjuring plays it completely straight throughout making the lead characters very likeable and relatable. Not only that, the movie is genuinely one of the most creepy things I have seen in a long time.
One scene in particular involving a darkened room and a painting of a nun is one of the scariest movie scenes I’ve seen in a horror in years. It’s a great example of how silence can be a lot scarier than a jump scare if done competently.
The best horror movie of 2016 for me and one I’d honestly recommend.
#5: Doctor Strange
Now cue the superhero train. I’m not going to try and be coy here. I like superhero movies, if you’ve spent any time reading my blog you’d know that. That being said, of the six that came out in 2016 there were three I really liked and three I really didn’t.
I struggled to find a place for Doctor Strange, I liked the movie a lot and wanted it to be higher, but number five is where it found itself. The origin story for Doctor Strange, the movie shows how a New York surgeon goes from being a rich, asshole playboy to the sorcerer supreme. You could draw parallels between Doctor Strange and the first Iron Man movie, but there is a different feel about this movie altogether.
First off, the movie has a very unique visual style. Making full use of the mind bending and crazy visuals of the comics and adapting them surprisingly well to the big screen. The effects were the real star of this movie but it still works without them. Strange is a much more subdued lead than many of the other Marvel protagonists, but is charming in that he is something of a straight man to the characters around him.
The movie also ends very satisfyingly, with the hero beating the villains with his brain rather than his fists. You know if this is the type of movie for you without me selling it to you, but Doctor Strange’s introduction into the MCU was very well done and worth a watch.
I had to decide which I like more between this as Doctor Strange. In the end I settled for Deadpool for just how subversive it was. It seemed like a movie that would never come out. Never mind actually come out and be good. Deadpool felt like a testing of the waters, like it was the studios seeing how much interest an 18 rated super movie would get. Surprise, surprise it turned out to be one of the most successful movies of the year.
Deadpool is a revenge story, a movie about a man who turns into a ball sack to cure his cancer, and goes on a murder revenge spree to get his pretty back. The movie is just hilarious, despite being packed with sophomoric humour, it is also pretty clever, poking fun at itself, the people who made it and the X-Men franchise itself. I think part of the reason the movie is so high on my list is that I honestly didn’t expect it to be as good as it was.
Ryan Reynolds is fantastic and almost embodies the character in a way I’d never thought possible. My only worry is that Deadpool was a total fluke and Fox will really overthink the sequel. But in the end, if this is the only good Deadpool movie we get, then it’s a hell of a high point. It’s dumb, gross, childish and violent as hell. You should see it.
#3: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Part of the reason this list took so long for me to finish, aside from laziness, was that I didn’t get a chance to see this till almost after the year was over. I had a feeling that the, now annual, Star Wars entry would make it onto my list.
The first of the spin-off movies, Rogue One tells the story of the team of people who stole the Death Star plans that would eventually find themselves inside R2-D2 and kick off the events of the original trilogy. The movie is much grittier, tonally, than any of the movies that came before it, starring a much more morally ambitious rebellion than we have seen before.
The movie still holds many classic Star Wars tropes, ending with a big action scene taking place on multiple fronts, a giant space battle and a race against time. That all being said, the thing that I appreciate the most about Rogue One is how different it is. As someone who was deeply ingrained in the expanded universe before it got thrown out the window. I’m really happy to see a Star Wars movie focus on something other than the Jedi and the Sith.
While the lead isn’t the most compelling character, she is surrounded by much more interesting and entertaining people. There is a much more serious and less science fantasy feel to the story taking place, the movie feels a little more adult and has some genuinely chilling visuals.
And while its a divisive subject, I didn’t mind the C.G. Peter Cushing effect. While it did have a touch of the uncanny valley to it, it looked good enough that it didn’t bother me. Without a doubt it’s the best Star Wars Prequel.
#2: Captain America: Civil War
I’m an easy mark for these Marvel movies at this point. The cinematic universe has become so expansive and tied together that every time I see one of them I feel like I’m a part of some giant unfolding story. And Marvel have continued their trend of making the Captain America movies amongst the best of each phase.
More of an Avengers movie than a Cap movie, the film tells of Tony Stark’s continuing desire to protect the world and actually gives some heft and fallout to the events of both the Avengers movies, as well as Winter Solider. It presents two characters we know quite well and plops them in a situation where both are justified in their actions, making them both the heroes and the villains of the movie.
Civil War contains one of the best action set pieces of the entire franchises, introduces newcomers Black Panther and the MCU Spider-Man with huge success and manages to be both funny and brutal at the same time. The movie manages to have a more serious tone than some of the more bright and fluffy movies in the franchise, but also manages to keep its charm and humour. While I don’t want to throw shade in this list in celebration, seeing it so soon after seeing Batman v Superman, made me appreciate it all the more when it did an infinitely better job.
Recommending this series has become more difficult the longer it has gone on. To get the full appreciation of the film, you should really watch the twelve movies that came before it. And going in cold you probably won’t get the enjoyment out of the movie that I do.
#1: Hardcore Henry
This movie was a total shock for me. Filmed entirely from the first person perspective of the main character, most of the talk about the movie prior to release was about motion sickness and being hard to watch. Curiosity got the better of me and I ended up being treated to one of the most exhilarating movie experiences of the past few years.
Hardcore Henry follows the story of a cyborg who, just after being activated, is attacked by a group of mercenaries and their weirdly wonderful leader; a telekinetic named Akan. The titular Henry escapes with his wife from the airship he was being kept in, only to see her kidnapped as they land in Russia. The rest of the movie is his story to rescue her from seemingly the entirety of Russia as he fights off countless mercs, police and other cyborgs. Filled with none stop first person action, brutal violence and accompanied by a pumping synth soundtrack. It’s a thrill ride.
The mute main character is shortly accompanied by a man called Jimmy who has the ability to seemingly die and come back whenever he wants, who almost carries the quitter parts of the movies being weird and like a different person each time you se him. Aside from being filled with non-stop action and creative set pieces, the movie is really funny, packed with a ton of visual and audio gags. Like Henry catching a wild horse and the movie randomly playing the theme from the Magnificent Seven, only to halt abruptly when he gets thrown off moments later. The movie also features a half naked man, covered in cocaine firing dual AK-47s in a brothel. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of movie this is, not much else will.
The movie has a very video game quality to it, having high action, cut between slow moments before getting into action again. The final has a build that ends in a ridiculously satisfying way. This isn’t going to be a movie for everyone. Character development is sparse to non-existent and the story is pretty shallow as al things go. But I walked out of this movie buzzing, it had a physical affect on me. This does feel like a one and done kind of movie, but it managed to stick with me throughout the year as a great throwback to violent-ass 80s action flicks. It’s not for everyone but if you liked what your heard from me here, then give it a try.
I have a bit of a backlog to catch up on now the year is up. After I’ve seen a few more of 2016’s bigger movies, maybe I’ll revisit this list and make some changes. But now I’m off to see Assassin’s Creed, somehow it don’t think it’ll make my top ten of 2017…