Sunday, January 08, 2017

BEST AND WORST OF 2016

2016 was a terrible year for world events. On that much we can probably agree. For me, it was definitely a stinkbomb for the ages personally, professionally and politically. What's worse is that there weren't a ton of good movies to take my mind off the crapfest going on outside the cineplex. The first four months of the year were predictably blah, until a fun Linklater movie landed around Tax Day to cheer me up. After that comes one of the worst summer movie seasons on record, the only films saving it from utter ruin coming out of left field at the end of August: a low-budget western and a home invasion horror movie. Once fall fell, the interesting, "challenging" movies finally started to drop...almost too many. By the end of August, I'd seen roughly 50 Year 2016 release movies. By the end of December, a whopping 130 movies (a record, even for me).

One positive to point out: It was an uncommonly good year for horror. Lots of innovation going on in that most maligned of genres. The Witch, Hush, Don't Breathe, The Love Witch, The Wailing, Train to Busan, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Eyes of My Mother. It's almost as if 2016 was steeling us for the most horrific film of all...a 2017 Trump presidency.

Don't get me started. Let's save the ranting for all things film-related. Once again this year, my Best/Worst of 2016 was written with Twitter compatibility in mind, the brief write-ups retrofitted for 140 characters. In other words, you may once again have to do a little recreational Googling to know what the hell I'm talking about. But, hey, at least the accompanying pics from 2014 have returned to provide you with a little eye candy...

THE BEST



10) AMERICAN HONEY: What youth & freedom feel like circa 2016. Too many Top 40 sing-a-longs but, hey, least it's not just 3 hours of texting.



9) CHRISTINE: Good film, devastating Rebecca Hall performance. The "Yes, but…" group therapy scene was the most gut-wrenching thing I saw all year.



8) EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! Sublime hang-out flick & most "accidentally gay" as per John Waters. Someone give Linklater's ass a double victory tap.



7) ZERO DAYS: Yes, the Russians are hacking us, but this terrifyingly timely doc suggests we've jammed a Stuxnet worm up their bum already.



6) HELL OR HIGH WATER: Modern day western with great acting & a welcome anti-bank grudge. Doesn't reinvent the wheel, but still a darn good yarn.



5) THE HANDMAIDEN: Chan-wook knocks it outta the Park with a sexy, twisty con artist tale. The gaze is strong in this one, male or female.



4) ELLE: Pitch black comedy of a very specific woman's very uncommon response to very brutal assault. Only Huppert & Verhoeven could pull it off.



3) TONI ERDMANN: The best alt-Father's Day movie you ever want to see. Pair with Hallmark card, petit fours, nude office party, false teeth.



2) MOONLIGHT: Jenkins avoids soapbox "issues" movie trap with highly personal, precise vision. #OscarsSoWhite? Not this year. #OscarsSoMoonlight.



1) OJ: MADE IN AMERICA: An 8 hour ESPN doc is my #1?! Somebody slap me w/ an ill-fitting leather glove. But, hey, that was 2016 for you…more cray than OJ.

HONORABLE MENTIONS



A BIGGER SPLASH: Another luscious Guadagnino flick to make me pissed I'm not Italian or idle rich. Can't wait for his Suspiria riff.



GREEN ROOM: Brutally efficient backwoods punk thriller. Dead Kennedys jam as movie. Director Saulnier keeps getting more interesting.



THE NEON DEMON: God (&I) finally forgive Nic Refn. Excessive, sure, but style over substance is the theme. A treat for ears/edible eyeballs. Yum!



NOCTURNAL ANIMALS: I'll watch Amy Adams read the phone book for 2 hours. Especially if it's a noir phone book w/ dirty Texas cop Michael Shannon.



RAMS: Underseen gem about Icelandic sheepherder brothers with serious sibling rivalry issues. It's on Netflix: Put it in your queue. Or your ewe.

THE WORST



10) SAUSAGE PARTY: What if Don Rickles directed a Pixar movie? Race/religion jokes as stale as expired cold cuts. Food orgy needed more mustard.



9) LIGHTS OUT: Horror flick about on/off switches. Lights on, it's a Lifetime movie. Lights off, it's a Lifetime movie w/ dumb jump scares. Click!



8) THE ACCOUNTANT: Rain Man + hitman + taxman = crap, man. "On the spectrum" Affleck beating his shins with a stick is sadder than any Sad Affleck meme.



7) KNIGHT OF CUPS: I'll follow Malick's ponderous VO & Steadicam thru endless fields of wheat. West of the 5 Freeway, the pretense loses me.



6) SUICIDE SQUAD: Remember when David Ayer was interesting? (Training Day, Harsh Times, End of Watch). This movie completely forgets.



5) WAR DOGS: Tired Scorsese wannabe with soundtrack courtesy of a Midtown sports bar jukebox. Think I know where Jonah got that laugh tho!



4) INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE: Polar opposite of Arrival's smart, humanistic sci-fi. Happy 4th, America. This is the movie/prez you elected.



3) BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE: The most high-profile entry in Affleck's 2016 triple-fail. Snyder & DC are most to blame though.



2) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Most tedious remake cash-in of the year. By the numbers action & Sarsgaard as villain is 110% non-threatening.



1) SWISS ARMY MAN: Charlie Kaufman but after 6 bowls of chili & traumatic brain injury. For weirdness done right, see The Lobster instead.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS



BLAIR WITCH: "Hey, what if we reboot Blair Witch?" "OK, how do we make it relevant for 2016?" "I don't know…" (long pause) "DRONES!!!!!!"



DOG EAT DOG: Schrader screws the pooch again, despite having Cage, Dafoe & solid Eddie Bunker source material. Bad dog! Woof!



THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Airport novel makes glorious leap to forgettable in-flight movie. Skip the plane, skip the Train, have a drink in the station.



KEANU: More meme than movie (enough w/ the cat in a headwrap already!) Hadn't seen any Key & Peele. Probably won't see much more now. Sorry.



YOGA HOSERS: At this point, I watch Kevin Smith joints solely to fill slots on my Worst List. Dude's dependable like that, eh?

SUPERLATIVES

Best Civil War Mumblecore: MEN GO TO BATTLE.

Best Hollywood Popcorn Movie Made in South Korea: THE WAILING.

Best Anthropomorphic Avian Performance: Steven Seagull in THE SHALLOWS.

Best Satanic Goat Performance: Black Phillip in THE WITCH.

Best "Huppardieu": The Isabelle Huppert/Gerard Depardieu dream team reunion in otherwise so-so VALLEY OF LOVE.

Best Herzog Doc: INTO THE INFERNO. Runner Up: LO AND BEHOLD. Werner does lava flows better than data streams.

Best Movie You Wish You Saw With Your Goth College Girlfriend: THE LOVE WITCH.

Greasiest Movie of the Year: THE GREASY STRANGLER. Runner-Up: THE FOUNDER (Michael Keaton McDonald's biopic no one saw, including me)

Most White Powder Blown Up Someone's Nose in South America Since Dennis Hopper Died: EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

Most Overrated: BLANDCHESTER BY THE SEA, BLAH BLAH LAND, MIDNIGHT NOT-SO-SPECIAL, ROGUE YAWN: A STAR BORES STORY

Obligatory One Word Biopic Rankings: JACKIE > BARRY > SULLY > LOVING > SNOWDEN

Obligatory Frankfurter Related Rankings: WEINER doc > WIENER-DOG > SAUSAGE PARTY

"Please, For the Love of Yahweh, Apostatize Already!" Award: Andrew Garfield as Jesuit priest in fine but infuriatingly repetitive SILENCE.

Movie You're Most Surprised Appears Nowhere on My List But Here: HAIL, CAESAR! A fun if lesser Coens effort. Clooney Curse Strikes Again!

Most Anticipated Films of 2017: T2: TRAINSPOTTING, THE BEGUILED (Sofia Coppola), LOGAN LUCKY (Soderbergh), THE DEUCE (technically TV but…)

Happy 2017, everyone!


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