The 20 Best Films of 2016:
2016 was a terrible year for film. Most of these films will not be watched more than twice by me. But I have to make a list, and here is mine. Most likely, Hail, Caesar will be the one I return to because of the Coens, though my top 2 are pretty epic. Enjoy!
1. The Nice Guys
This was the most fun I had at the movies all year. Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe star as action buddies brought together due to the 1970's LA underground crime scene. Shane Black's screenplay and direction are pitch perfect in this brilliant deconstruction of the buddy cop film he created with Lethal Weapon.
Denzel Washington directs August Wilson's adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize winning play about a black family dealing with every issue we all face, but in a pre-civil rights America. Viola Davis gives the performance of the year as his long suffering wife.
3. A Monster Calls
In the tradition of E.T. and The Iron Giant, this wonderfully deep and beautifully made children's film looks at the grief children face while their parents face death straight on with incurable desease. Liam Neeson's voice is both terrifying and comforting as The Monster called to protect a little boy.
4. Manchester By The Sea
No other film felt more like a balancing act than Kenneth Lonergan's bittersweet story about grief and growing up. Matt Damon produced the film, and in many ways this would be the best film of its kind since Good Will Hunting.
5. The Founder
Michael Keaton creates a masterpiece performance as McDonald's founder Ray Kroc in John Lee Hancock's biopic detailing how a 50 year old milk shake machine salesman turned a hamburger stand into the symbol of the American Dream. Keaton's hot streak continues.
By far the most challenging film of the year. Old in three parts, the story of a young black man struggling in a world of poverty, drugs, absent parents and his own sexuality, nothing was more raw on the screen.
The most politically astute film of 2016. Hopefully, children will watch this more than President Trump's speeches, as Disney creates the greatest film argument against stereotyping groups we fear. Where Dreamworks Animation just makes animals sing, Disney makes characters shine.
8. Hail, Caesar
The Coen Brothers go back to Capital Pictures and the results are a mishmash of religious satire, Hollywood satire, and Coen Btother lunacy. George Clooney hams it up in this dark comedy about two religions in Hollywood: American Christianity and American Communism.
Amy Adams deserves an Oscar for making us care so deeply for what could have been a B movie sci-fy desposible film. Instead the aliens-are-here film treads new territory and provides deeper answers as to who we are and why others might come to us.
Martin Scorsese's 25 years in the making film about 16th century Jesuit Priests persecuted for their evangelical faith in Japan is beautifully shot and harshly real. There are few answers and many questions. Just like any great sermon.
11. Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson and Andrew Garfield create the best Christian film since the original Ben-Hur...because they're just making a great film.
12. The Birth of a Nation
Sadly, Nate Parker's passion project about Turner's Slave Rebellion got dunked in controversy and bad box office receipts. It's a powerful work.
13. The Jungle Book
Jon Faverau's version of Life of Pi...I mean The Jungle Book is a fantastic adventure that is easily rewatchible.
Robert Zemeckis creates a glorious old fashion love story/spy thriller with Brad Pitt somberly getting through a tense, tight, rewarding espionage film.
15. Hidden Figures
In the 1960's three African American women helped get John Glenn into space, and their story is finally being told. A total crowd-pleaser, the film suffers from following the same formula of comedy-drama-comedy-really dramatic-let's end on a high note that most historical dramas follow, so the story feels both real and repackaged for audiences.
My guess is Jackie Onassis probably suffered greatly in her life, and this film tries to capture the emotions of a story we know all too well.
Probably too dry and too long, but wonderfully acted from start to finish, this historical drama about interracial marriage's journey to the Supreme Court feels 100% authentic.
18. Hell or High Water
Many films imitate the Coen Brothers but few get there. A bank heist film with crackling dialogue, the film is anchored by Jeff Bridges leading the way; the film is as close to a good Coen copy we'll see.
Tom Hanks has become so good we don't even notice him anymore. As the pilot who save the lives of his crew and passengers, his performance reminds us that even 30 years later, he's still the best movie star we have.
20. The Conjuring 2
A horror film? A sequel? Who cares! I was scared and once again the Conjuring series goes deeper in the areas of faith and scares than any other current series.
I hate "ranking" worst films, so I do what Siskel and Ebert did...I categorize them. Here you go...my worst memories of 2016!
PS: I don't see all the worst films like Madea movies, romcoms, etc...these are films that tried and landed fave forward.
Worst Film of 2016:
The Lobster - The emperor's new clothes in every frame. The most boring film of the year by far. I slept for 20 minutes in the middle. That never happens.
Independence Day 2 - Ugh.
Bad Santa 2 - Not one laugh
Barbershop: The Next Cut - Why?
Suicide Squad - It wasn't a movie. It was a soundtrack with pictures.
Batman v. Superman - Find me a fan! See you can't!
The Boss - Melissa McCarthy tries. But this was DOA.
What Were They Thinking?
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Ang Lee directing. A popular book. Steve Martin in a fun supporting role. Yet nothing happens. It's Hollywood existentialism for the sake of it.
10 Cloverfield Lane - I'm still confused. And having a climax in the last 10 seconds with no follow through is unforgivable. Too much talent for such poor execution.
Where's the Funny?
Sausage Party - A Pixar satire about atheism? Sure! Just be funny. I guess hearing food swear is funny? Maybe if you're 12. I'm not 12.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.