You can also check out the post I did at the beginning of the year and see how close I was to predicting my reactions to this year's movies.
January's winner is... The Revenant! You think I'm late? Which one of your friends who didn't work in the industry actually saw this movie legally before January? That's what I thought. It's no Birdman, and I don't think Leo should have won for this performance but it's a dope movie and great to look at.
Ride Along 2 was no where near as modestly endearing as the first go around, so yeah. However, I feel like Dirty Grandpa is the perfect January throw away movie. It's not memorable enough to elicit strong emotions one way or the other but there are some great side characters who make the movie move along. I just did not get sucked into the narrative of The Finest Hours even with the dope cast. It wasn't for me when all was said and done.
Of the two animated films, I loved Kung Fu Panda 3 and definitely had to sit down and really think about whether or not I liked it more than The Revenant. Anomalisa is a nice concept that I don't think lives up to repeat viewings but was prettay good the first time around.
February's winner is... Deadpool! I podcasted about this film not just once, but twice! It was everything I hoped it'd be. I'm sure I'll be less and less amused with it the more I watch it but 5 views in and it's still pretty strong! Another strong contender for this month was Zootopia which wasn't just a funny cartoon for the kids as I wrote about over at DorkShelf! In terms of really tugging at the ol' heart strings, I was a big fan of Eddie the Eagle aka White Cool Runnings!
Hail, Casear! was fun, but I remember feeling like I didn't need to revisit it as I left the theatre, and I never did. I legitamtely liked George Clooney and new Han Solo in it, but felt that we focused on some of the wrong characters for too long and probably didn't need the Jonah Hill/Scarlett Johansson story. Triple 9 was dope and I now realize that Casey Affleck was in everything this year. However, it was never competing for best film. Where to Invade Next just made me feel bad that I don't live in the places that Michael was rapping about then I lost interest by the end.
How to be Single is more proof that Dakota Johnson shouldn't be headlining anything. However, I enjoyed the time out with Pauline! Zoolander 2 is weird in that I don't like it, but I honestly can't tell if it's just because I'm too old for the jokes. Like what if I was 12 and saw this movie would it be the best ever? I'll never know.
March's winner is The Lobster! This movie won me over with it's concept before the opening credits. I didn't expect to be taken on such a unique journey with an actor I rarely enjoy and my favourite actor who has starred in 2/3 Mummy movies! For fans of being immersed in a new world through film, you gotta check this movie out if you haven't already!
I thought The Bronze was really funny and I haven't seen Ms Rauch on The Big Bang Theory so, no, this isn't some sort of "oh wow, Bernadette is being naughty now" knee-jerk reaction to this movie. In an effort to push myself I went to see more thrillers pushing on the the border of horror this year starting with 10 Cloverfield Lane and this experiment didn't go wrong with this movie! What a nail biter until they actually leave the house, am I right? Pauline loved, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and that's enough for me to look past the weird choice to cast a non Afghani person in the one Afghani role that could have really helped whoever got that role's career.
You know what Pauline and most people didn't love? The much maligned, BvS: DoJ! I wrote about this when it was first announced. I wrote about it when I thought people were being silly about the trailers. Then I talked about it and even Pauline voiced her opinion. Ultimately, it wasn't good but I found things to appreciate anyway. Grimsby, Knight of Cups, London Has Fallen, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and Pee Wee's Big Holiday were all doo doo! And I loved Olympus has Fallen, that one hurt the most!
April's winner is Keanu! I feel like people low-key slept on this movie because of who made it! But as we all know, I'm in the bag for Key and Peele (especially if Peele is leading the charge)! This was as high concept as possible, and yet they managed to have some timely odes to George Michael, social commentary on the use of the N word even amongst black people and actually pull the wool over some of my friends eyes in terms of how many roles Key and Peele had in the movie.
The Jungle Book and Sing Street were strong but just not strong enough for me. And what was with the half-hearted effort at doing musical numbers in The Jungle Book? Anyway my experimenting with more horror styled films continued and I think I'd like Green Room better if I wasn't in constant fear that Anton Yelchin was going to die on screen right after I heard he died in real life. Miles Ahead was cool because Don Cheadle is the man, but it's not really a biopic and that's what I wanted.
I actually saw Barbershop: The Next Cut (or A Fresh Cut) days after Fences and those two movies should be a Ratchet/Righteous double bill. They both deal with the black experience but I'll let you decided which one does a better job. The Boss is the ultimate test for Melissa McCarthy fans like Pauline and me. There are funny parts but are you willing to sit through a real life sword fight between her and Peter Dinklage?
Bruh, I'm sorry, but Hardcore Henry, Everybody Wants Some!!, and Midnight Special just ain't all that. They all fell flat for me, but if you like them, don't get mad at me, it takes different strokes for different folks! I really didn't like Special Correspondents... that's hard to admit as someone who thought he liked Ricky Gervais but just had a year that made me realise I might actually only like Stephen Merchant.
May's winner is Captain America: Civil War! I'm in love with this movie! How this movie could make sure that I got everything I wanted out of it and still find ways to surprise me, I'll never truly know. I also wrote about this movie ahead of time at DorkShelf! I reviewed and spoiled it on one of my podcasts and then had someone try to convince me it wasn't all that on my other podcast! THIS MOVIE IS AMAZING!
Did I really think that The Nice Guys was as thoroughly enjoyable as Civil War? Was it just benefiting from such low expectations? I like Shane Black but I didn't realise Ryan Gosling was up for actually being engaging this year and I did not see Rusell Crowe winning me over either. Ultimately it's my second favourite movie of May and probably 6th favourite of the year. I thought I liked Apocalypse more than DoFP, but I just re-watched it and no it didn't deserve all the nice things I said about it on my podcast. It's pretty boring overall. However, I did actually like THE Quicksilver scene and pretty much anything to do with him. Also for once I liked Cyclops... maybe that's what made me think I liked the whole movie?
The experiment continued and I did end up seeing The Neon Demon... gross, guy! People said this movie made them realise just how bad Only God Forgives was, but it did the opposite for me. I was like, oh so Only God Forgives was actually good... this is what it looks like when I don't like a Winding Refn joint! I enjoyed the poetry of Only God Forgives, and didn't like anything but Keanu Reeves in Neon Demon. Neighbors 2 was dope and I don't care what anyone says! They improved on the characters. Where I thought the first movie just made everyone look bad, I actually saw where every major player was coming from and thought there was an argument for everyone to feel they were justified this time around.
June's winner is Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping! Why do people hate on Lonely Island movies? I don't even feel like this is a case where I have to defend their movies anymore. I think they're funny. This movie was making the jokes I would make and even surprising me with where they were able to mine humour. If nothing else, this was the best comedy of the year PERIOD!
I probably just have bad taste because I really liked Now You See Me 2. It was really fun, sue me! Findng Dory was fun. It's no Finding Nemo but I'm glad they didn't completely embarrass themselves. The true surprise in terms of middle of the road movies that don't deserve ire was Central Intelligence. I went in thinking, I like Dwayne and Kevin, and came out thinking that The Rock killed this performance! It was a true showcase of everything he can do and might be able to do later. I also legitimately was not sure if he was the good guy or bad guy till the end. Kevin... at least got the only F bomb of the movie. Look, OJ: Made in America is a TV show! I'm glad to talk about here since everyone for some reason is pretending like it's an 8 hour movie but boy what a ride! I hate documentaries but boy howdy is this a great watch!
Out of the Shadows, in addition to having a far too long title, didn't make me as angry as the first Bay produced film but it was just as stupid as Warcraft, and ID4: Resurgence. I saw The Fundamentals of Caring and thought it was fine but it didn't really stick with me after it finished.
July's winner is Hunt for the Wilderpeople! Bruh, get this Waititi guy a big movie so everyone can see him and love him! Oh, thanks Marvel! There is just something about Taika's sensibility that works for me! This movie has got laughs and heart and a surprisingly sad moment I didn't think would hit me as hard as it did! Definitely top 5 material.
My boy Woody actually put out a good movie this year in the form of Café Society! RATS! I was happy to watch him fall out of public favour because of his work and not because of allegations that are probably true but, "HE MADE ANNIE HALL!!!" Swiss Army Man is nice to look at but feels a bit too long for me based on the pacing of how we arrive back on the mainland and what happens once we're there. All praise due to Simon Pegg and Justin Lin for making Star Trek Beyond a solid entry in the series mostly because its the first entry that actually feels like an episode of the show.
Now here's a first. I actually like the theatrical cut of a movie better than the extended. Which movie? Ghostbusters! If you want to know why I like it and where I think it falls short listen to my special edition episode with a true Ghostbusters fan HERE. Bad Moms was also just fine with me! That may have been helped by it being a date night with Pauline complete with a theatre full of women who created stories for Pauline and I to tell for years! Mike and Dave falls under the same category.
Despite glowing recommendations I did not like Tarzan... but I knew I wouldn't before I saw it. What I didn't know was that Samuel Jackson would have to convince Tarzan that he wasn't going to lick a gorilla's "nuts!" If you want me to want to see your movie, put alt comedians in your animated movie... well played Secret Life of Pets... well played. Not a good movie but you got me to watch. Jason Bourne and The Killing Joke are in a weird spot in that I don't think they're great but they played to their strengths and played it safe so they can't be listed as bad either. But it is bad that The Killing Joke didn't just settle for implying Batgirl got raped, they added a prologue in which she is overtly sexualized by ending a fight with batman with sex on a rooftop. Which is fine, but what are the logistics? Someone must have seen them right?
And now Don't Think Twice... I feel like people like this movie because of who made it. And maybe I dislike it because of who made it. But, despite his un-ironically good turn in Popstar, I feel like Mike Birbiglia talks a big game then doesn't really deliver. There is no way this movie could truly resonate with someone who isn't an improv actor. It is so inside baseball to the point I just hate all the characters for being who I can only assume every improv actor is. Which leaves me not caring about them or the story. Oh well.
August's winner is Kubo and the 2 Strings! You just have to see this movie. Don't let the animation fool you. I bet most kids would be put off by this movie, it's pretty mature what with all the family members trying to kill a pre-pubescent boy or at least gouge out his other eye.
Suicide Squad... not just a great soundtrack! At the heart of everyone's hate is the fact that they were hoodwinked, along with Jared Leto, into believing that this was a Joker movie... despite the title and the ability to look up what the history of said Suicide Squad is. I don't blame them, that was a silly move on the advertisers part and here's what I would have done. The point is the movie just isn't as bad as people want to belive based on BvS. It features some great performances including Will Smith and save for a stupid main villain, was more fun than people give it credit for. Hell or High Water was decent I liked Chris Pine's stance against law enforcement and didn't like Jeff Bridges jokes at the expense of someone I'm led to believe he loves. War Dogs was also decent.
Sausage Party reminded me that I'm getting old. Much like Jeff Bridges' jokes in Hell or High Water, I was put off by Sausage Party's racially insensitve jokes even though they call attention to it. And the food orgy doesn't get funnier with repeat viewings for me.
September's winner is Queen of Katwe! AKA Chess Cool Runnings! The moral of the story this year is I realised if you recreate the underdog story of Cool Runnings with a humorous underdog and cool mentor, I'm down! The Magnificent Seven almost took September considering it was surprisingly good. Want to know why I felt this way? Why not listen to this episode of my podcast then?
Snowden was good for me, but is that because I didn't see Citizen Four first? I'll never know. Sully was fine, as was Miss Peregrine's far too long title! All of these movies benefited from me not knowing more than a headline's worth of information about each.
If I'm out with Pauline nothing can be that bad and so goes the story of how I came to not hate Bridget Jones' Baby. The experience was enhanced by Pauline going back and forth on who she wanted Bridget to end up with.
October's winner is Moonlight! Thanks to DorkShelf I was able to see this movie and review it. But the best part was I was able to interview the director and cast as well! DorkShelf has been very good to me! This isn't really a suggestion; you have to see this movie. Tough break, The Accountant, becasue you were released in the same month as the unstoppable Moonlight! I agree that the autism spectrum wasn't really an appropriate framing device for this movie but I enjoyed the action and accounting all the same!
13th was great, but Trump still won so I guess not great enough and I don't like documentaries. Mascots was funny just like What Now? But, unlike What Now? they didn't have an amazing House of Cards/House of Lies joke with Don Cheadle's reaction. Jack Reacher 2 just wasn't good and I hope they don't go back.
Now the tricky ones. Do I dislike The Late Bloomer because it was made by someone who spat on the grave of Michael Clarke Duncan then proceeded to explain that if he says something racist it's the listener's fault for not realising he didn't INTEND to be insensitive even though he's lived long enough to know what is and isn't appropriate? Does it help that after seeing Hamilton he could only relate to the King (the one white character in a show filled with people of colour...) I don't know... all of that may have played into me judging this movie a bit harsher since I knew what an enlightened director was at the helm.
The Birth of a Nation isn't good people. I'm sorry. I know people have their Bill Cosby-esque conspiracies about this roll out and they're not wrong about the double standard at play as Woody Allen and the next month will prove, but! All of that lands better if I didn't sit through a movie that gets every last drop out of white cruelty towards black people and then minimizes what most would assume the whole point of the movie was to a scene and epilogue. I did not come out feeling empowered. It was pretty demoralizing actually.
November's winner is Manchester by the Sea! I went into this movie ready to HATE it! What was this cold unflinching look at being sad going to do for me? Welp! I was wrong, this is one of the most well rounded stories you could tell about death and tragedy. It also helps that two of my favourite actors from Moonrise Kingdom are in this! It is funny how people were willing to look past the Casey Affleck allegations in order to give this movie its proper due though.
Arrival was really good until the end made me think too much and I think I ruined the experience for myself. The important thing is that it is ultimately a great film about what if we didn't just shoot aliens when they came down and created a way of communicating with them. Moana was dope! Lin-Manuel continued to kill it in 2016 with the music including a great Bowie/Flight of the Conchords pastiche.
Doctor Strange was way better than I thought it would be and you can get my full thoughts here! Fantastic Beasts on the other hand didn't really do it for me. Again, my full thoughts on the matter can be found HERE. Loving was kind of underwhelming if I'm being honest but there are some great moments sprinkled throughout.
December's winner is Fences! Bruh! You haven't seen acting till you've seen this movie! There are like 6 characters in this nigh on 150 minute movie and you never get tired. There is a constant desire to learn more about these people. That's quite a feat! Hidden Figures was also strong and I already mentioned I loved the soundtrack. I'm glad It got a December release that was a nice Christmas present. La La Land is also good but I didn't think it needed to be a musical. It doesn't hurt the film, but I don't know anyone who came out of that movie singing the lyrics to their new favourite song either. RYAN GOSLING THO!!! Amirite? This guy brought the charm in 2016.
Rogue One... I didn't love it! That's probably because I'm not in LOVE with Star Wars. Like Mr. Plinkett I'm a fan of the first three movies. Unlike Mr. Plinkett, I don't see them as some holy grail that can't be touched. For a more level headed criticism of the film, from two people who understand what context actually means and don't just spew the word willy nilly, listen to this episode of my podcast! Jackie is in the same enjoyment range as Rogue One actually. I liked it, but can't fawn over it like everyone else.
Office Christmas Party is better than people will give it credit for. I know this because I actually saw it instead of letting the commercials for it rob me of the experience of enjoying myself at the movies with Pauline. Having said that, it's not ever going to be anyone's favourite anything.
If you don't think you'll like Assassin's Creed, you're right. If you think you will... ummm... I mean... the Spanish Inquisition stuff is dope but that is like 25-30% of the film so...
2016's winner is... Captain America: Civil War! I get it, I get it! Moonlight is such an important film. But I need to rewatch it and think about if I just liked that I got to see it early and talk to the director and cast. My enjoyment level doesn't have any impact on how important it was to have an all black cast that actually showed the different types of black people you can meet and bucked against stereotypes for gay men, black men, and gay black men. So I'm definitely hoping that come Oscar time I'm not complaining about the lack of attention it's getting.
The Lobster represented what I love about movies. World building and taking me away from real life. something that Fences and Manchester by the Sea couldn't do, even though they were excellent films. However, if I'm being honest, The Lobster kind of lost steam for me and as such I couldn't give it the number one spot.
Popstar and Hunt for the Wilderpeople were two excellent examples of the kind of comedy I love. I give the edge to Popstar but only by a little. Either way, they both didn't win because I just didn't have as many fond memories with them as I did with Civil War. That's not an indictment that's just how the cookie crumbled.
I know people say these Marvel films aren't real films anyway! But I've talked about what I like about what Marvel is doing with these films. And I feel like this isn't an instance of something missing, it's an instance of something new. Art lovers can find something to love about a Rembrandt and a Basquiat. They're both pieces of art with different criteria for what makes them significant. Yes it means that you can't judge the MCU it by what you normally judge movies by but I don't think that hurts the overall goal of what's trying to be accomplished. It's just a paradigm shift and I'm fine having these kinds of movies out in the world.