The Movies of 2016: Some Sort of List

Hello hello! I am back in LA after a cold jaunt to New Jersey for my annual xxxmas pilgrimage. Believe it or not, another year has gone by, and I saw a ton of fucking movies. Here’s my favourites, the ones I thought were sort of “eh”, and the absolute piping hot messes of 2016.

Spoilers ahoy, so no bitching.

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In no particular order..

THE GOOD;

  • Nocturnal Animals. This movie is absolutely HAUNTING, my god. Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon deliver incredible performances in Tom Ford’s second foray into film, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I saw it a couple of months back. There’s this uneasy tension throughout that winds tighter and tighter and tighter.. it’s a movie I won’t ever forget, it’s so intense and bonkers. Just, wow. See it. And if you haven’t seen A Single Man, see that too.
  • La La Land. Oh my god, this movie is so fucking charming. It filled a void and a yearning I didn’t even know I had, it was just the right movie to close out the shit year of 2016. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are wonderful together, the music is super fun, and that montage at the end is nothing short of imaginative and wonderful. The perils of ambition and dizzying love colliding with the truths of reality, it’s all good good great. This movie is lovely.
  • Captain America: Civil War. I dig most of the Marvel movies, and I never tire of Chris Evans’ Cap. I dig the way this movie is structured, and Tony Stark with a bonus Spider-Man and Ant Man are never bad.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was feeling lukewarm about this movie until I saw it; I actually saw it the day Carrie Fisher died, and the theatre was absolutely rammed and filled with this understandably sad energy. That first act is a damned disaster, but the rest of the movie is solid.. though I really want to see the original cut pre-reshoots. Not sure what the point of Forest Whitaker’s character was.. and CGI Tarkin was pretty unsettling. Should’ve just gone with actors and makeup/a little enhancement rather than full on creepy BFG CGI.
  • Moonlight. This movie is fantastically written, well acted, and a complete triumph of storytelling. See this movie.
  • Arrival. Emotional science fiction? Yes please. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are great, the story is mesmerising, and the ‘twist’ is really fucking well done.
  • Dr. Strange. Enjoyable! Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent needs some work, but I really dug this movie a lot more than I thought I would. I mainly like that this is a character Stan Lee invented to shut the hippies up. He’s got a dope cape, and uses the power of being an infuriating dick paired with a time loop to save the day. Prettay, prettay.. prettay good.
  • Everybody Wants Some! I love Linklater (except for Boyhood..), Dazed and Confused is one of my faves. This flick is just the right dose of nontoxic masculinity and fun rowdy dude shit set over the course of the first weekend at a Texas college. Linklater excels at capturing the feeling and energy of a particular time in your life, it’s totally magic.
  • Sing Street. This soundtrack hasn’t left my regular rotation since this movie came out, oh my god. It’s an absolutely delightful movie! Positive and hopeful amidst the backdrop of early 1980s Ireland which was anything but. Sing Street is the type of movie you didn’t know you needed until you see it. Watch it right the fuck now, it’s on Netflix.
  • High Rise. I’ve never been so intensely attracted to Tom Hiddleston until I saw this movie. High Rise is a surreal, expertly stylised, darkly funny, dystopian jaunt that I’m still thinking about. It’s intense.
  • Complete Unknown. Michael Shannon again! This movie is slow and subtle, a woman shapeshifting and running from her life and coming back to the man she once loved. Equal parts fascinating and gripping, but very true to life. They have a lost night together in New York City, as he tries to change his life while she wants to stop changing hers.
  • The Nice Guys. Shane Black can do no wrong in my book, I’m a huge fan of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are great together as washed up PIs in 1970s Los Angeles.. this movie is a whole lot of fun, a cool take on noir like his other flicks. So well written.
  • Cafe Society. I never thought I’d see Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart fall in love in a movie (ah fuck, forgot about Adventureland), but here we are. I love the world this movie creates; it’s vintage gorgeous and feels real, along with their ~romance~. And hey, Steve Carell is a complete delight. Well worth watching.
  • Star Trek Beyond. This movie is such a fucking joy to watch! It feels like Trek, the action and story are on point, and you really align with the characters. I watched this again the other night and was completely charmed.
  • Midnight Special. Man, remember when we all thought that Tomorrowland was going to be the second coming of Christ? And it turned out to be a wet fart? Whole lotta big ideas that turned into nothing. Well, Midnight Special is the right kind of sci-fi for me; it’s serious, striking, and grips you with wonder. Michael Shannon gives a stellar performance amidst a sea of fanatical cultists dressed in the earth’s dumpiest dresses made of couch fabric.
  • OJ: Made in America. Holy shit, you guys.. this nearly 8-hour long documentary was on ESPN over the summer and it’s INCREDIBLE. I was 10 when the OJ Simpson trial was going on, and besides being both a literal child and someone who knows fuckall about sports, it was fascinating and horrifying to see what a beloved figure OJ once was, and the darkness.. the cultural background for the fever pitch of race relations in 1990s Los Angeles, all these pieces coming into play.. truly fascinating and shattering, heartbreakingly sad. Check this one out.
  • Elvis & Nixon. I never knew I needed Michael Shannon as 1970s Elvis before, and once I saw this flick, frankly I don’t know how I survived without it. Spacey plays a great Nixon, too. Well worth a spin.

THE BLAND;

  • War Dogs. This movie was incorrectly billed as a comedy. Overall it was pretty fucking dark and enjoyable, but also sort of unpleasant. Todd Phillips has a knack for writing these man friend BRAH characters with a whole lotta mean streak coursing through their veins. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller have real chemistry as bros, even if the latter distractingly resembles a boiled potato. *[editor’s note; my dear husband thinks that comparing Teller’s face to a potato is “harsh”, but I implore you to locate the lie.]
  • Hail, Caesar! I adore the Coen Bros, but this movie felt like it was missing something. The cast is fantastic, the look and feel of everything is incredible, Brolin’s Mannix is fucking magical, we got Alden Ehrenreich’s delightful Aw Shucks character, but the story was .. not great? It seems like it’s going to take a bizarre, surreal left turn when Clooney’s Whitlock is kidnapped by a group claiming to be ~The Future~.. but it’s just a group of Commies. I’ll have to give it another whirl.
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane. John Goodman is fucking incredible in this movie, but it didn’t really hit the mark for me overall. I don’t know. Maybe it’s good?
  • Keanu. Man, there’s a really tiny kitten in this movie. Most of it is pretty funny, but a lot of the humour fell flat for me. Eh.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence. This shit heap of a “movie” is only on the Bland list because of the presence of Jeff Goldblum. There’s SO MUCH fucking wrong with this flick.. AND THEY HAD 20 GODDAMNED YEARS TO GET IT RIGHT. Now. I adore the original ID4, it’s one of my favourite movies in life. This trash sequel from hell has an overabundance of dull undeveloped characters, a blatant franchise setup, Judd Hirsch riding out the apocalypse in a goddamned tugboat.. and they did Vivica Fox real dirty by killing her almost immediately. No. It does, however, have Bill Pullman as a complete crazy person which was sorta cool, and he Randy Quaids it to save humanity all over again. It’s the worst kind of bad movie; there’s so much going on that it actually manages to be fucking boring.
  • Central Intelligence. I love The Rock and Kevin Hart together, but this movie didn’t really land. It was close! Got some laughs.
  • Ghostbusters (Ladybusters). I waffled on this flick. Hated the trailer, liked it when I saw it, and have not thought of it once since. Meh.
  • Why Him? About 80% of this movie works, I’ll be honest; it’s just not entirely all there. Bryan Cranston is fantastic against James Franco, but there was a toilet gag that went on for too long, shit like that.. some of it was a little on the dumb side. I saw this movie at a test screening on the Fox Lot months back, so I’m sure some things were tweaked for the final release.
  • Snowden. Well, that was a movie.. I think I don’t like Oliver Stone.

THE CONFUSINGLY HORRENDOUS;

  • Girl On The Train. Man, this book sucked. It was so predictable and boring. I was hoping the movie would be better and a little Gone Girl-esque, but it was ultimately forgettable and tedious. It did make me crave a dirty martini or 10 from the Grand Central Oyster Bar, though.
  • Sausage Party. This movie tried so fucking hard to be ~edgy~ and Rated R. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Seth Rogen’s brand of stoner humour, but I’d heard a ton of positive stuff about this flick so I checked it out. Though the beginning is promising and creative, and there are flickers of actual funny gags, this movie was bogged down with SO MUCH SHIT that seemed to exist purely for shock value alone. It was mind-boggling. And that massive food orgy at the end? WHY did that even need to exist? What the fuck?? Maybe I’m an old person, but what the FUCK??
  • Anomalisa. I found this movie so fucking repellant I dedicated a whole blog post to yelling about it. Apparently this is such an uncommon opinion for this flick that it’s one of my most read and Googled posts.. so I’ve got that going for me, I guess. Seriously! I get a couple of hits on that post per week for the past YEAR. Goddamn.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse. What a fucking dumpster fire this thing was, my god. I absolutely loved Days of Future Past, so I had high hopes for this flick.. NOPE. It was at least 7 kinds of dumb, the worst kind of camp, and Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse character touching a television and crooning “LEAAAAARRRNINGGG” was so fucking hokey I laughed out loud for about a minute. What a complete disaster.. not even James McAvoy and flawfree Fassbender could save this mess.
  • Jason Bourne. I adore the Bourne movies (not that Jeremy Renner garbage  filler flick), and this movie was super disappointing. It was not good. Lots of noise, killing off Julia Stiles WAY too soon, and it’s overall super forgettable. Honest to god I don’t even fucking know what happened in this movie.
  • Now You See Me 2. What the fuck? Why is this a movie? The first Now You See Me was one of those extraordinary movies where it all just clicked; it’s an outrageous fun romp that bends reality and is all over the map, and though everything about it conspires to make it a fucking mess, it just works. This sequel absolutely and completely sucks, save for Mark Ruffalo fighting some rando using actual magic.. which was awesome.
  • The Lobster. Everyone has such a huge monster dong boner for this movie, and I absolutely loathed it. The concept is enchanting for the first half of the movie, and made me want to know more of why this world of Relationships Only existed; the hell is that about? Why is this happening? What’s the machine that turns people into animals? Is the rest of the world like this, or only Ireland? The second half of the movie is sad, drab, dull and overall.. no. The tone is so flighty, I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be taking itself seriously as a movie, or if it was a dark comedy, or what.. ugh. I also can’t see Colin Farrell without thinking of him cockslapping that lady in his sex tape and talking dirty WAY too much. So, at least that’s sort of depraved and delightful.

And there you have it! 2016 had some really great flicks for sure. I’ve still got a few movies to see.. but nobody can pay me enough cash to give an iota of a shit about Casey Affleck.

Here’s to 2017!

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The Movies of 2014

Holy shit, remember when I had a blog? Me neither. Sorry for the radio silence – lots of Real Life(TM) nonsense went on on including moving, hustling, getting engaged, getting a full time job, Christmas in NJ, planning a goddamned wedding, the whole nine. I was reading on Facebook earlier about how disappointing the Oscar noms are and figured I could slap my thoughts about my faves of 2014 in here rather than blow up a Facebook status. Sound good? OK!

Those of you lucky souls who follow me on Instagram have probably noticed that between photos of booze and cats, I post a photo of every ticket stub for movies I see in the theatre. This is due to a couple of reasons – the constant deluge “of the now” realness that social media has enforced is slowly seeping into my brain, but it’s also utilitarian in a way; it allows me to keep track of the movies I see because I can’t remember anything that happened more than a week and a half ago. In short, I very much enjoyed in no particular order; Gone Girl, Top Five, Nightcrawler, The Gambler, Interstellar, The Judge, The Disappearance of Elanor Rigby Her/Him, The November Man, XMen Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I’ll elaborate a little more on some of these along with the flagrant disappointments of 2014 in a bit.

FAUX AWARDS;
Best Achievement in Throwing a Goddamned Horse: The Rock in Hercules.
Most Eraserhead Realness Served in terms of Uncomfortable/Cold Feeling Homes: The Double.
Most Lewd Fun had in a Theatre: Filth.
Best Fun Sci-Fi Flick with a Female Character who shockingly wasn’t Made of Fucking Cardboard: Edge of Tomorrow.
Most Realistic Horrifying Gritty Violence: Blue Ruin.
Best Non-Ironic Nicolas Cage Performance: Joe.

THE GOOD;

  • Nightcrawler. Probably my favourite flick of 2014. This movie is written absurdly well, with Gyllenhaal as this bizarre misanthrope antihero with no real character arc and it STILL works. He’s an absolute fucking lunatic with LA as the co-star, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie once I saw it. It’s just a solid movie, a type that I didn’t think was made anymore. Truly enjoyable and tight.
  • The Disappearance of Elanor Rigby. This movie was originally intended to be two separate back to back experiences, one strictly from His POV and the other from Her POV. Thanks to the fucking Weinstein Company, we got some mangled slapdash ‘Them’ cut first before the original Her/Him versions were released in theatres here.. needless to say, this movie should be enjoyed in its original form. There’s so much depth to these characters and their experiences that the edited/combined version just misses the mark. The performances are fantastic and the story is heartbreaking, but ultimately satisfying, gripping, and real. These movies have stayed with me for months. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain play really well off of one another, and I believe them existing as a couple.
  • Gone Girl. Jesus, this movie is fucking fantastic. I struggle to recall any movie that has ever improved upon the novel as source material; I enjoyed the hell out of Flynn’s book, and read it in about three days flat mostly on a flight back from Ireland in June. The casting of Ben Affleck opposite Rosamund Pike could not have been more perfect, and Fincher just makes this whole movie work. It’s sinister and upsetting, the dialogue and action are taut, and Reznor/Ross’ score is delightfully creepy. Plus.. it has an orange cat named Cheeto deftly playing the role of Nick and Amy’s cat. Aaaaand you see Affleck’s dick. Not bad!
  • Edge of Tomorrow. If you haven’t seen this movie, DO IT RIGHT NOW. It’s fantastic, it’s fun, it’s funny without being gimmicky, and the story is really great.
  • The November Man. Pierce Brosnan is always a delight, and I’m not just saying that because I grew up watching Remington Steele with my mom. It’s an action flick and is of course a little predictable, but still a totally fun experience that surprised me with how much I got into it. Brosnan’s still got it, and Cobra Commander from the fantastically awful GI Joe sequel plays opposite him so whatevs. Totally unexpected fun romp, complete with miscellaneously Eastern European villains.
  • Interstellar. Now, in case you haven’t noticed the inalienable truth, I’ll reiterate it here; the Nolans are not good writers. McConaughey does the heavy lifting and brings the relatable human touch to the Nolans’ otherwise typically sterile characters, and Hathaway manages to not be completely intolerable so there’s that. The robots steal the show, which says all you need to know about the Nolans. The movie is not flawfree, but the strange thing here is that I liked it more and more upon reading/thinking about it and a couple of additional viewings. This movie really grew on me. It’s also worth noting that the Hans Zimmer score is fucking MAGICAL.. I haven’t stopped listening to it.
  • Top Five. Chris Rock wrote and directed this movie, and it’s really, actually, funny with heart.
  • Joe. Every now and then, I am reminded that Nicolas Cage is an actor, and a great one at that. This movie is nuanced and stripped down, and he gives a hell of a performance. It was the first movie I wrote about on this blog, in fact!
  • Jersey Boys. Now, before you all think I have brain damage, this movie isn’t actually good; I know that. It’s camp and totally absurd, but it sure is fun. Sometimes I want a fun movie to take me out of reality for a couple of hours, and Jersey Boys is the movie for that. And I love the music! I feel the same way about the 2008’s Mamma Mia; it’s genuinely terrible, but still manages to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

 

THE BLAND;

  • God’s Pocket. I had some high hopes for this one, considering John Slattery directed it and Philip Seymour Hoffman headlined, but it was just another one of those forgettable “THIS IS MY NEIGHBOURHOOD AND YOU’LL NEVER BELONG BECAUSE YOU’RE DIFFERENT” steaming piles of nothing.
  • The Drop, another steaming pile of nothing, for a movie I hoped would be great. The late great James Gandolfini puts in a wonderful performance in this otherwise banal movie that I really cannot recall much about; it was just sort of.. there.
  • Birdman. Unpopular opinion, I know. Performances aside, this movie was a goddamned mess. I went into it with high expectations, had read so much positive critical acclaim, and it was just one of those blowhard Faux Arthaus shitpiles trying too hard to be edgy and artsy. Don’t even get me started on the fact that this movie’s “score” was nominated for a Golden Globe, a score that as far as I could tell had someone strap a drumstick and cymbal to a couple of dogs.
  • A Most Wanted Man. I couldn’t tell you a goddamned thing about this movie other than the fact that PSH had a German accent.
  • Snowpiercer. Eh. I enjoyed it while watching it, and then never thought about it again.

 

THE CONFUSINGLY AWFUL;

  • Inherent Vice. Holy shit what a letdown this was. Now, I am mostly hit or miss on Paul Thomas Anderson flicks because I think they’re lazily referred to as ‘character studies’ when they should really be categorised as ’roundabout messes’. I was genuinely hoping this would be another Boogie Nights (which is the only PTA movie I actually enjoy, come to think of it), but IV is inconsistent, rambling, and nonsensical. At least it wasn’t as horrendous as The Master, which gave me an actual migraine. The styling of everything in IV is great though, so at least there’s that. What an abject disappointment.
  • The Theory of Everything. This movie is not only awful, it is aggressively awful. It is infuriating. Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s take Stephen Hawking’s story, strip it of any and all actual character, feeling, and science,  throw it into the Romantical Story(TM) garbage disposal with a love interest who manages to look constipated for the entire two hours she’s on the screen, and you get this fucking movie. Not really an actual spoiler, but that ending: where he’s next to his estranged wife and looks at their children frolicking around a fountain at fucking Buckingham Palace and has his computer say LOOK AT WHAT WE MADE I wanted to hurl my rocks glass at the wall.
  • Locke. What in the goddamned world was this movie? It just didn’t work for me. Everyone was shitting themselves over how wonderful and visionary it was, and all I could think was, did these people all have lobotomies? Dafuq?
  • Hercules. Aside from The Rock throwing the aforementioned horse, this movie was a mess AND it was boring. There’s nothing worse than an action movie that’s incredibly dull. How in the fresh hell does that even happen? It’s the worst combination.
  • Noah. Speaking of boring, THIS fucking movie. Granted, I would never have seen it had Nick not wanted to, but HOLY FUCKING HELL IT WAS BORING. Mind-numbingly awful. And one of the characters was named Ham, so I kept thinking about ham. That’s really all you need to know.

 

SO, that’s about all I have to say about 2014 movies. And hey, Mad Men is back on April 5th, so look forward to more content on here in the near future. Rock n’roll.