Monday, January 2, 2017

Top Ten Best Films of 2016

Hello, everybody! Yeah, I usually kick off the new year by digging into Shitmas, but as I am still feeling a bit rough following the holidays I am taking the reviews a bit slow to fine tune them for you. But fret not, because I do have this lovely list I have been wracking my brain over for quite a while and now I get to share it with you.

It's probably the only thing you want me to share with you.

Now, as usual we have to lay out some ground rules. First, this is my list. It reflects my personal taste and opinions, not yours. You may not agree with all or any of my choices, which is fine. If that bothers you, you can easily go make your own list and feel free to share it. Second, I can only include films I've actually seen. Sadly, I was not able to see everything that came out last year and that means that some good things that might've gotten on the list are left out. This includes I Am A Hero and Train to Busan among many others. Bearing all of that in mind, let's jump right in and wiggle about in some good vibes.

"Son, please don't let anyone snap my neck."
#10, Midnight Special

I'm going to level with you: I'm a huge fan of Michael Shannon. Put that in almost anything and I will eagerly sop it up like sponge. But this movie makes it on the list for more than just my own love of the star, delivering a powerfully moving story about a man desperate to protect his son from those who would use him. Throw in the fact that said son has powers and you've got a very interesting little film that sadly didn't get much attention. I would highly recommend seeking this one out, both for the story and the great performances from the cast.

"My brother keeps calling me Robin and talking about aliens being a threat... So, how's your family?"
#9, Manchester By the Sea

Sneaking under a lot of radars, Casey Affleck decided that at least one Affleck should pop up in a good movie this year. I kid, I kid...mostly...but yeah, this is a really fantastic film with a ton of heart. I feel a huge outpouring of empathy towards our protagonist's struggle to be a good uncle in the wake of his brother's death. His own personal issues compiled upon the sudden weight of trying to pick up the pieces after the death and his own desire to leave Manchester weave together into an all too human tale. There are a lot of films about dealing with grief but this one honestly feels like one of the more honest ones. It's still lingering in theaters, so take a chance to go see it. It's worth the trip.

It's like Showgirls, only it's not at all like Showgirls.
#8, The Neon Demon

Our world has a lot of obsessions, but the biggest one is probably beauty. If you're not beautiful or attractive, then you're deemed of less value overall. Not just by others, but by ourselves because we perpetuate this sense of negativity towards ourselves. But here we get a movie that tears down the walls built up by society regarding beauty. Better than films like Black Swan, it shines light on the horror behind beauty. It's a hard watch for many and has really garnered many a mixed reaction, but this film is grotesquely...well...beautiful in the end. Definitely one Nicholas Winding Refn's best works and a film a I will not soon forget.

"This song goes out to all of the Skinheads in the audience! It's called We Hate You, Please Die!"
#7, Green Room

Hooooo boy, this past year has been a hell of a shitty ride. For example, we lost the star of this film, Anton Yelchin, to a tragic accident. Another example is the fact that we now have gangs of Neo-Nazis and Skinheads running about emboldened by a campaign of hate. The even have a fancy new name, the Alt-Right, and are using it to try and glourify their hatred. Why do I bring this all up? Because this is a horror movie where a punk band having to face off against a group Neo-Nazi Skinheads in a battle for survival after seeing them murder someone. It's dark, disturbing, and honestly really scary in today's current political climate. It's a film that I think we all may look back on grimly throughout the next four years.

"Pssst, hey, kid. Adam Sandler once wrote a song about me. Now go kill your family."
#6, The VVitch

You know what always irritates me? When I hear people complaining about a movie being boring because it's "too slow". Not because it's not true that some movies are like that, as there are clear examples of things that drone on forever. No, it bothers me because these people will then talk about how great something horrible and pandering is. Something like a new Transformers fuckfest or yet another interchangeable comedy from Tyler Perry. I heard people call The VVitch (or The Witch) boring and I shook my head sadly. This film is not boring. What it is though is a slow paced story that takes from folklore and religious hysteria, building a masterfully creepy tale that just leaves you feeling profoundly uncomfortable. It leaves you nervous and makes you want to huddle close to a fire. Because what's in the dark? It might want to say hello.

"I think the acid is kicking in."
#5, Doctor Strange

As a comic fan, it was a hard year. We got an incredibly underwhelming film that people have been wanting for nigh on forever and then we got a lot of others that made choosing a single one difficult. Sure, I could've thrown multiple superhero flicks on here, but I don't want to be that guy. So, a choice was made and I ended up leaning towards this surprisingly compelling film about a dickhead with a huge ego who only helps people when he thinks it will serve him. Yeah, that's our hero. At least, that's him in the beginning. But ultimately this is less a superhero film and more tale of sacrifice. Learning to see beyond yourself, to serve others selflessly, and it is probably the most heroic film Marvel has done next to Captain America: The First Avenger. There's been backlash due to casting, but honestly, there's no way for Marvel or anyone to win in that department. Give the movie a chance, is all I can say, because it is so much better than the controversy it sparked.

Speaking of films steeped in controversy...
#4, The Shallows

I love sharks. I really do. They're fascinating creatures and they really don't mean us harm most of the time, so I fully understand the dislike of seeing them vilified in film. Sharks should not be hunted down and slaughtered outright or without any sort of just cause. This movie isn't about that either. No, this is a film about a young woman who is trying to cope with her mother's death by going to the place her mother was at when she was pregnant with her. It's about her trying to reconnect with the spirit with her mother as she surfs with a few locals. But there is a shark and it does attack her, but not for nothing. Initially, the reason she's attacked makes perfect logical sense. And her repeatedly getting in the water does keep drawing it back. It also features some of the best shark CGI I have ever seen. Ultimately, it's a film about her own struggle for survival after she made a mistake. I will defend this movie until I am blue in the face, because it is honestly a great film. Blake Lively essentially has to carry the entire thing too, as she's alone out there. Well, not completely alone. There's a bird friend. At least try it out for the bird.

"See, ma'am, what you've got 'ere is a class-five full-roaming vapor. A real nasty one, too."
#3, The Conjuring 2

I'm not generally a fan of ghost stories. I feel like they're mostly overdone, not unlike zombie movies, so I tend to avoid them mostly. But in the last year I have turned that opinion around a bit, especially after seeing this phenomenal sequel to what was already a damn fine film. Whether you really believe the story happened is not important, because James Wan takes some serious liberties in here, but in doing so he crafts a truly nightmarish tale of haunting and possession that made me want to sleep with the lights on for a while. The designs of our antagonists are dark reflections of things that are seen as pure and it works brilliantly. Not to mention the excellent performances from bother Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, once more taking on the roles of the Warrens. And Madison Wolfe as our tragic possessee really impressed me, leaving me hopeful for what comes of her moving forward. You don't need to be religious to turn this on and enjoy something scary.

Disney is back to create a whole new generation of people who are attracted to cartoon animal people.
#2, Zootopia

I adore this movie completely, from the first frame to the last. I unapologetically sing along to the Shakira song, laugh at the numerous animal puns, and have found myself in ownership of plush rabbit cop. This movie has sunk its claws deeply into me and I know it will likely never let go. And it's not just because of the art style, humour, or the admittedly infectious pop song. No, it's because this movie is a serious crime drama about racism and profiling. yes, the Disney film with all the animal people? It's rife with allegories to our own world and the many problems surrounding us. Racial tension, political power plays, drug dealing, and even chemical fucking warfare are things in this film about talking animal people with that Shakira song you'll never get out of your head. The amazing cast and voice acting just further add to what cements it as a classic Disney film that will stick around in our consciousness for years to come. Believe the hype, because this movie is pure jawsome.

"Sure, it's pretty now, but just wait until one poops on you."
#1, Kubo and the Two Strings

These lists can get so impossibly hard. I went back and forth on so many films for this list, then I had to figure out where all of them fit. But this one? It was always going to be right here. Yet another beautiful offering from Laika, it further shows off the amazing things stop motion animation if capable of. Seriously, there are so many stunning scenes and puppets crafted for this film and it boggles my mind that this movie got shoved out of the way for something that was so much less inspired and safe. This film is a true testament to animation as an art form and the emotions the story brought out of me...it honestly had me in tears when I first saw it. I did a spoilery video a while back, but outside of that I refuse to spoil it. You should drop whatever you're doing and go buy this film, support Laika's work, and let yourself be entrenched in this tale that seems like it hopped straight out of Japanese folklore. Amazing from beginning to end and truly worthy of the place as my number one film of the year.

Or you could just go watch a rehash of Toy Story, but with animals. Yeah, I said it.
After such a rough year, it's good to look back on the good things and remember that it wasn't all total ass. We got Stranger Things, Young Justice got renewed, a new generation of kids got introduced to Ghostbusters as a franchise, we got a lot of great horror films, and Syfy made some stuff that frankly wasn't awful. There were big positives to 2016, despite all the excessive negatives that pounded down on us like a jackhammer. As we enter this new year, I hope you'll all join me in working towards positive change and not let the shitlords of the world tear us all down. Keep finding a reason to smile, because nothing pisses them off more. Now, it's time for me to go prep for the oncoming seasonal festivities that Shitmas delivers. It's gonna be so bad in the best way. Later days, bleeders.

Yes, Virginia, there will be some horror movies.

2 comments:

  1. Great stuff man! Great list, too. I loved Kubo.

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    Replies
    1. It's funny that we both picked that as our nubmer one. Great minds, eh?

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