The thing about depression and isolation is you end up watching a lot of movies. Boy, I sure watched a lot of movies in 2016. This year’s had everything: a contentious election, home issues, work issues, medical issues and more! But at least I’ve been lucky enough to be able to afford seeing lots and lots of movies.
Consider this: in 2016, we got to see a new Star Wars movie and a new Batman movie. I guess 2016 might go down as my best year of all-time.
So please take a walk with me as I reflect on the past year. My criteria is completely subjective. It’s mostly based on which movies stuck in my head the most. Which movies affected me emotionally? Which movies do I want to watch multiple times? Which movies did I just really have a great time watching? Movies should be fun too, ya know!
La La Land
What can I say about La La Land that other movie lovers haven’t said already? How about, “It’s an incredibly depressing movie.” Yeah, I’ve already said that. But I will continue to pile on the accolades. La La Land is magical. It’s beautiful. It’s addicting. I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack yet. If you haven’t seen La La Land yet, just see the damn movie already!
Hell of High Water
One of my biggest movie regrets this year was not taking advantage of Hell or High Water playing at Cinerama. Not only is Cinerama the best theater in Seattle; Hell or High Water turned out to be one of the best movies of the year. Luckily Redbox, Blu-Rays and a home theater projector are a part of my life.
What makes Hell or High Water so good is that it is a true western. From the scheming outlaws, to the gritty old Texas ranger, it’s got the genre down, even though everybody’s driving cars instead of cattle.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I like to laugh. I like to cry. Sometimes I like to do both simultaneously. If you like that sort of thing as well, I’d recommend Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I described the movie to my family thusly: “Imagine the director of Napoleon Dynamite made a movie with real, authentic emotions. And everybody has cool accents.”
Rogue One is a total fan film. Why is that a bad thing? It’s painfully apparent that George Lucas is no longer a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy (if you hadn’t figured that out after he wrecked the originals with CGI). In the prequels, all the things you loved about Star Wars were missing, replaced by soulless action and wooden acting. I get it. Lucas is an artist. He wants to explore different themes.
Well, I’m a consumer and when I get something I like, I want more of it. Rogue One delivers the spirit of Star Wars while still creating something new.
Zootopia & Moana
Who’da thunk that Walt Disney Animation Studios would ever surpass Pixar. But in the year 2016, up is down and down is purple. While Pixar was shoveling regurgitated fish food, Disney presented us with two beautiful, fun and unique movies: Zootopia and Moana.
Zootopia tells the story of a young (bunny) woman who’s determined to follow her dreams. As counter programming, Moana tells a story about a young woman who’s determined to follow her dreams. Well… they’re a bit more different than that. But ultimately, they’re still both very much Disney movies.
No movie made me weep more than Arrival. Nor did any movie come close to making me ponder the the reality of time or our constructs of free will. Jeez, I thought this was supposed to be about aliens. Turns out Arrival is much more than that.
A Monster Calls
With all due respect to Arrival, A Monster Calls put the waterworks on full blast. Interestingly enough, I had a more emotional experience describing the plot to someone than I did watching the film.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t care. I really like Batman v Superman. I like it a lot. But here’s the twist. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the movie on my first viewing. It was choppy and disorientating. Who knew what? Why’d he do what now?
Normally when a movie is confusing and bad, you just forget about it. But I kept thinking about BvS. There was something there. So I saw it one more time, and then one more… and everything clicked. It’s all there. The movie just got hacked to hell by Warner Brothers.
Again, I don’t care what you think, I really liked Warcraft. And I’m not even a fan of the Warcraft series or fantasy films. My biggest issue with fantasy films like Lord of the Rings is that I don’t really care all that much about the lore… which is pretty much the draw for fantasy films. I’m easily bored whenever a film starts to sound like that section of the Bible that’s just people begetting each other.
I really liked Warcraft’s approach to lore. If you know it, you know it. If you don’t, you don’t have to. If you want to learn, it’s there to be learned. The movie doesn’t waste my time. Plus, the orcs were super dope.
I have yet to see Lion,
The Witch, Manchester by the Sea, Sing Street, A Monster Calls, Live by Night, and countless others. As I work through my queue, I expect one or more of those movies will make it onto my list of favorites… or maybe they’ll be cursed to live below.
Least Favorite Movies
The Jungle Book
No movie infuriated me more than The Jungle Book. I give all the credit in the world to the visual effects team who put the movie together. It is a modern spectacle. But that green screen technology is gonna lose its luster. And when the shiny glow of modern wizardry wears off all you’ll be left another tale of why man has dominion over the animals. I mean, never mind the fact that Mowgli 100% deserved Khan’s punishment.
Gods of Egypt
In an attempt to cash in on the lucrative super hero genre, God’s of Egypt attempts to turn Horus into Batman. It’s also part video game. It’s also a romance. It’s also being serious. But it’s also a light-hearted romp. And the special effects are terrible. And there are a ton of special effects. It’s terrible.
Steven Seagull, The Shallows
A shark is hunting Blake Lively who’s stranded on a slowly disappearing outcropping. Blake’s outlook is looking grim. But who cares about Blake. What’s going on with Steven Seagull?! Steven was also injured by the shark and he can’t swim or fly. How will he survive?! Stop showing me the human girl. Show me the bird!
Aaron Eckhart, Sully
While the world heaps praise upon Sully (Tom Hanks) for landing the plane, co-pilot Jeff (Aaron Eckhart) just sits back and smiles. He smiles because despite the lack of recognition, he knows his mustache is totally boss. He can fly my plane any day.
Alexander Skarsgård, The Legend of Tarzan
What’s beefier than a beefcake with beefy muscles rippling up and down his body? How about a beefcake who’s super into wild life conservation. Nothing is sexier than caring for African animals. That’s why I like to fantasize about Tarzan and Jane Goodall hooking up.
Kim Eui-sung, Train to Busan
Apocalypse movies are required to have at least one major dick as a main character. Movies in this genre benefit from having a human that the audience hates and hopes dies painful death. And when zombies attack South Korea, no one is a bigger dick than Kim Eui-sung.
Barry & Smushed Hot Dog Bun, Sausage Party
There really is someone for everybody in this world. Whenever you’re feeling down about the lack of love in your life, just remember Barry. Despite constant harassment for being a diminutive hot dog, Barry perseveres, finds his soulmate and gets his happy ending.
Most Likely to Have Filmed All Scenes in an Apartment with an Upstairs Neighbor Who’s Constantly Threatening to Call the Police if there is any Noise
Marion Cotillard, Assassin’s Creed
Marion’s character bears a lot of the brunt when it comes to delivering exposition. What she says is critical to your understanding of– What? Huh? Honey you’re gonna have to speak up if you want me to hear you… Come again? Maybe hearing what she had to say would have helped me like Assassin’s Creed. But probably not.
Most Likely to be Placed on a Sex Offender Registry
Chris Evans, Captain America: Civil War
Chris Evans took the super hero genre to a whole new level as Captain America; he went down twenty levels to the sub-basement. With the love of his life about one day in the ground, Captain America starts putting the moves on his deceased lover’s niece. Steve is +70 years the niece’s senior. Normal humans like you and I would cringe at the idea of doing something so revolting. Chris Evans is not like you and me. He’s a soulless monster who gives a truly creepy performance in an otherwise fun movie.
Most Likely to Stick to British Accents from Now On
Alicia Vikander, Jason Bourne
Alicia Vikander is from Sweden. Her character in Jason Bourne is supposed to be from… Texas? Ireland? I honestly can’t tell you. Maybe she’s from that really small part of Texas that shares a border with Ireland. Alicia is a very fine actor… but it may be in her best interest to take on British roles for a while longer.
Most Likely to Watch the First Ten Minutes of Up and Say, “Meh.”
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Good God! Here I am just wanting to watch a movie about aliens coming to Earth and– WHAM! The beginning of Arrival says, “Nope. You gotta pay the price in tears if you wanna see some aliens.”
Most Unnecessary Cleavage
Haley Bennett, The Magnificent Seven
Look, I’m a red-blooded man but cleavage for the sake of cleavage is cheap. Especially when the movie is supposed to be an authentic western. Why is Haley Bennett the only woman in The Magnificent Seven wearing a low cut top? Wait, I take that back. While in the brothel there are other women with low tops. So is Haley Bennett’s character a prostitute?
Worst Social Life Outside of Work
The Entire Crew, Kubo and the Two Strings
Imagine all of the tasks you need to accomplish during a normal work day. Let’s say you have about eight main tasks you need to complete for the day. Consider having to do each of those tasks by first breaking them down into 24 smaller steps. Now add a gap between each step to setup for the next one because really each of those 24 steps is broken down further into 50 steps. And you can’t miss one single step. And if you mess up once you have to start over… I need a drink. What’ya mean I can’t leave work to get a drink?!
A Look to the Future
What’s gonna happen in 2017? Oh boy. This one could be a doozy; everything is up in the air. What’s gonna happen in my personal life? Where am I going to live? How are my career prospects looking? Is the United States going to start a war? Anything seems possible in January.
But who cares about me, let’s talk about movies! This should be another solid year for movies. There are a ton of good looking blockbusters coming out. And I’m sure, as always, that I’m going to get blown away by a movie that I haven’t even heard of yet. I’m not going to try and speculate on independent movies, that’s too hard since they usually just spring up with little warning. So which blockbusters will be my favorites in 2017? If I were to venture a guess I would say…
Wonder Woman, Justice League & Lego Batman
Okay, this is more of a hope than a prognostication. Maybe the new DC movies will be jaw dropping masterpieces. Maybe they’ll faceplant. I really like Batman v Superman. I really like parts of Suicide Squad. Here’s hoping my relationship with DC goes to the next level 2017.
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Duh. Of course I’m going to like the new episode of Star Wars. Let’s see: Is it Star Wars? Yes. Is it directed by Rian Johnson who’s never made a movie I didn’t like? Yes. I’ll give YOU twenty bucks if this is not one of my favorite movies next year. I mean, that’s not even a fair bet because I already know what’s gonna happen.
Another one of my favorite directors is making a new movie! And Simon Pegg isn’t involved? Neither is Nick Frost? There won’t be any Cornettos? Jeez, I don’t know anything about Baby Driver. But I do know that I’m probably going to love it.