Our Favorites: 2016 Year in Review.
We look back at the films we loved, hated or found memorable for 2016.
2016 has been a rough ride. While we saw quite a few pleasant surprises, we also had our share of disappointments and heartache. We saw too many wonderful stars, like David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and Gene Wilder, taken away from us. We also saw a global market sidle up to the bar and confidently start eating Hollywood’s lunch, increasingly becoming the metric by which to judge a movie’s success or failure. We saw an avalanche of super hero films, some excellent (Deadpool,) some decent (Captain America: Civil War,) and some truly awful (Batman V Superman.)
Looking back at it all, we’ve decided to poll the staff and come up with our year-end thoughts about what worked, what failed, and what genuinely surprised us, for good or ill.
Our Favorites: Best Movie of 2016.
Erik’s Pick: 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Some would argue the original Cloverfield was a dud, though I enjoyed it, but that it was the beneficiary of a genius marketing campaign. The pseudo sequel (non sequel?) was marketed brilliantly as well; you had no idea what you were getting into, or how the film tied into the first. Was this film in the same universe? Was it something of it’s own? There was an air of mystery to this film that certainly added to the anticipation of it. Happily, the trailers weren’t just smoke and mirrors to lure you in, as the film kept you guessing right up until the end.
One of the few films that I can think of in recent memory that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, 10 Cloverfield Lane was brilliant in how it deftly maneuvered the viewer to a breaking point just to let off the gas a bit – incorporating ironic musical choices and black comedy to throw you off and then ratcheting up the tension again. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a masterpiece through and through, with an air of meta-suspense that we have not seen since Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds.
-Runner Up: Deadpool.
Neil’s Pick: Swiss Army Man.
Maybe it was how nasty and divisive this year was, or how much bad news we had to absorb on a nearly daily basis, but the movies that stuck out to me this year were ones that had a palpable sense of wonder and joy. Early in the year, Deadpool wowed me with its dedication to selling an R-rated super hero comedy. The never stopped pitching jokes! The only moments that worked for me in all of the big super hero movies ended up being the brief glimpses that showed these movies could be fun. Quicksilver beaming as he saves everyone in the X Mansion or Wonder Woman grinning as she gets up from Doomsday’s haymaker, basically saying “lets get it on!” Those moments made watching movies fun again.
The ultimate joy ride this year was Swiss Army Man. This movie took nothing seriously except wonder and whimsy. The premise is sheer lunacy: a suicidal loser finds a corpse who has super powers all based on bodily functions, and makes that corpse his best friend. Whaaaaat? It just works. Daniel Radcliffe (the corpse) and Paul Dano (the loser) have amazing chemistry, and totally inhabit the weird world created for them. Adding to the feeling of childish wish fulfillment was the wonderful music, which would often start as our main characters singing (poorly) and then swell into a full chorus of glorious voices, like the angels were watching the fun and singing along.
The film tackles dark themes and thorny issues, and overcomes them with pluck and merriment. If 2016 has got you down, pop in Swiss Army Man and see how much better you feel with a best friend and a well placed fart joke.
-Runner Up: Collective Unconscious.
Nate’s Pick: The Accountant.
It was an 80’s kinda year for me, and no, I’m not talking about what time period the X-men decided to strip mine for nostalgia this outing. Of all the movies I watched this year, even the good ones, seemed to score B to B+ in the final tally. Nothing really blew me out of the water…except The Accountant, which gets my nod for favorite movie this year.
It was a well told tale with great pacing and solid action. The only real knock I had was that it was a well told tale that doesn’t really need a retelling. I caught everything I needed to catch the first time around, and while that means an A+ for good directing/writing, it also means I have no desire to see it again. Unless it’s to stare longingly at Anna Kendrick while holding the Squirrel Girl cosplay I made lovingly, painstakingly, and very creepily in my basement. Why won’t you take it, Anna? I made it for you….
-Runner Up: Rogue One: a Star Wars Story.
Our Favorites: Worst Movie of 2016.
Nate’s Pick: Zoombies.
If anyone thought I WASN’T going to take one last whack this year at my nemesis Zoombies, get me in touch with them so I can sell them this multi-level marketing program I came up with (Seriously, you just have to tell 5 friends about this amazing product. It’s virtually a money printing press. You’re losing money not doing it!)
Horrible acting, terrible pacing, and special effects so un-special that a new cinematic term needs to be created for them. This movie had none of the cheesy fun it was trying to ape (get it, the whole fucking thing revolves around infected apes!) from better (at being worser?) films. Good riddance, worst movie of a terrible, awful, no good, very bad year. With this, you are finally un-dead to me, forgotten. You were neither hot nor cold, so I spit you from my mouth for all time.
-Runner Up: WarCraft
Erik’s Pick: Yoga Hosers.
Does Kevin Smith even care anymore? I am a massive fan; I own almost his entire line of view askew toys and movies. Chasing Amy is perhaps one of my all time favorite films, and I celebrated his departure from the comedy genre with Red State. Even his later stuff was alright. Tusk was somewhat trying. I went from hating it to being able to appreciate it after a few viewings, thanks to Michael Parks. Regardless it was a middling effort from Kevin Smith, but I held out hope for the True North Trilogy.
Clearly I was misguided.
Yoga Hosers is so bad I do not even know where to begin. I will say Kevin Smith knew this film was shit, even while he was writing/filming it. The mandate of the “Bratzi’s”in the film to kill all critics is telling. Later comments from Smith that he made this film solely for thirteen year old girls – sorry you don’t get it! – is laughable. (I’m not going to address the case of nepotism in casting of Smith’s and Depp’s daughters. That may be a poor decision, but not what sunk this film.) It’s unfortunate but I’m just about done with Smith’s “I’m not making this for you” excuses.
They aren’t completely terrible actresses, considering Johnny Depp looked like an amateur in the film too. Ralph Garmin’s impressions were embarrassing at best. Ultimately, I blame the writing. Kevin Smith was never a brilliant director but he could deliver dialogue. That is what took his film/scripts from good to great. There is none of that here.
-Runner Up: Zoolander 2
Neil’s Pick: The Last Heist.
I am still salty as hell about this damn movie. For all of the mindless dreck at the cinemas, none of them managed to get me as frothing at the mouth as this turd. I guess that would be because most of the other crappy movies you could spot coming a mile away. Gods of Egypt? There was no way in hell that was going to be any good. Ben-Hur? When has Hollywood ever remade a classic and done a better job? If you got suckered into anything with a roman numeral or digit after the name, you knew what the score was before even opening your wallet. This movie held out a thin hope that it would be different. An indie crime thriller with the intense presence of Henry Rollins. The trailer had me chomping at the bit. And then I watched it and choked.
There is not a single redeeming feature to this movie. The dialogue is horrendous. The cast, minus Rollins, is the worst collection of unprofessional hacks who think swearing and eye-fucking the camera makes their performance gritty and memorable. The special effects are laughable, and the film is so sloppily crafted that people gain and lose bullet holes repeatedly in the same scene. The only thing this film had going for it was Henry Rollins as a serial killer who fate has stranded in the bank when it is robbed. That’s a clever wrinkle. The hunters are the hunted, but only we know it! How is it handled?
Horribly. They take Rollins, a dynamo of wrath, and hide him in the central air conditioning most of the movie. You literally only remember he’s in the film when they add the corny sound effects of him clumping around in the ducts. Holy shit balls, this movie fails on every level!
-Runner Up: Passengers.
Our Favorites: Biggest Surprise of 2016.
Neil’s Pick: Hardcore Henry.
For all of the films I watched this year, there is only one that I re watched. Only one that I actually bought to add to my collection. That movie is Hardcore Henry.
I gushed over this film in my review, so I’ll do the short version here. Shot in first person perspective on self-made Go Pro devices, a fresh director from the music industry makes a glorious ode to stylish violence that harkens back to the great action shooters of video game lore. Once the movie settles in, it is a ballet of gun fights and choreographed fist fights set to an amazing soundrack that never lets the needle drop out of the red. All of the insanity is ushered along by a brilliant performance by Sharlto Copely, who deserves six Oscars for the multiple roles he plays in this movie.
This movie is not flawless, and probably won’t win any awards, but it had tremendous swagger and gave zero fucks about taking risks. That is indie cinema making at its best.
Nate’s Pick: Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence.)
Well, in keeping with love of Asian cinema, I would have to say that Shin Godzilla was the most surprising movie I saw this year. The new genesis (neon-genesis perhaps?) for our city stomper was as surprising as it was gloriously unsettling. The fact that a movie that spent most of its run time as a bureaucracy documentary but was still tense and exciting is a kaiju-sized surprise.
Lastly, his new power set shouldn’t have taken anyone who’s watched every single iteration of NGE by surprise, but for everyone else I’m sure it was a jaw dropper. For reals, there isn’t a single articulation Hideaki Anno WON’T fire a laser out of. And the endiing!? Those proto-Gojira 2.0’s sticking out of Godzilla’s tail that the camera lingers on for one final shot? Surprising in a “nope nope nope, kill it with fire then kill the fire with fire” kind of way.
Erik’s Pick: Sausage Party.
What surprised me was that Sausage Party was incredibly low brow in it’s humor (expected) but had a real smart take on spiritualism (unexpected). Couple that with it’s lampooning of Pixar, Sausage Party was a treat.
Our Favorites: Biggest Letdown of 2016.
Erik’s Pick: Warcraft.
First off, Warcraft wasn’t a bad film. The story was solid (even if you aren’t part of the MMO universe fan base) and the visuals were pretty slick. However I felt mostly “Blah” after watching Warcraft. For such a dynamic universe everything about the story felt really generic.
Warcraft wasn’t Warcraft-y enough for me.
Ultimately I am disappointed because this movie was hyped for ten years, scrapped, and then came out at a time that its popularity was dwindling. The film does its job setting the table for the universe, and in 2006 it would have been a blockbuster that spawned a franchise. When WOW had massive appeal, they could have done what they wanted and had a hit. But in 2016 they should have catered a bit more to their fan base and lowered their budget. Unfortunately now the Warcraft movie will be little more than a side note on the WOW Wikipedia.
Neil’s Pick: The Witch.
It was early in the year, and I was fresh off of writing our most anticipated movies of the year list. I was totally enamored of this period horror film. I thought it was a slam dunk. Tight cinematography, a novel setting, an unknown but solid cast, and some of the creepiest visuals I’d seen in a trailer in a long time. Unfortunately, all was for naught. This movie was disappointing in almost every way possible.
The historical setting ends up being a liability because the old-timey dialogue is nearly unintelligible. The strong cast is derailed because one character, the little brother, ruins every scene he is in by being shrill and annoying. The visuals are quite grotesque and innovative, but the film never owns them. We’ve already seen the witch eat a damn baby, but the director keeps pussy-footing around, trying to pretend that this may all just be in our protagonist’s head. Goat shit. You can’t repeatedly flash the monster and then try to go back to building tension that the monster may not be real. The people who made this need to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane to see how you keep ambiguity boiling in a horror thriller.
Nate’s Pick: Suicide Squad.
All of Harleen Quinzel’s friends may be heathens, but their treatment of her in Suicide Squad was my biggest letdown. I knew going in that Margot Robbie’s butt was going to get top billing in this flick, but the casual misogyny lobbed her way was puerile and unnecessary.
The scene where Mr. J uses her as sexual currency was deplorable, and was probably filmed specifically for a certain basket of deplorables. It knocked a full letter grade off my review of this film… oh wait, we don’t use letter grades here at Deluxe Video Online. Our motto: DVO – Screw You Metacritic ™.
Our Favorites: Movie You Wished You Saw.
Neil’s Pick: Anything Animated…Especially Storks.
I’m copping out here, but I really wish I had taken the time to see any of the animated films that came out this year. There were a ton, and a ton that did really well. Finding Dory, Zootopia, Moana, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing…this year was on fire when it came to animated features, and for once Disney did not totally own the category.
For all of the great movies that come out this year in the genre, it is a crappy one I wanted to see the most: Storks. There was just something about that trailer that had me itching to buy a ticket. The pacing was tight and frenetic, the dialogue was ironic and flippant, and the characters where odd and compelling. Sure, it looks like it was a dumpster fire and it made very little money…but I just wanted to see it for myself. They don’t all have to be On the Waterfront. Sometimes you just want to wallow in The Island of Dr. Moreau instead.
Nate’s Pick: Star Trek Beyond.
I can’t say any movie really left me with regret for not having watched it this year. Most of the movies this year were B grade fare, but we did have a plethora of said movies. I saw most of the good ones, and as my RedBox adventure through the remaining candidates has born witness to, the one’s I skipped were thoroughly skippable.
I had a faint itch to watch the third Star Trek outing, but only for some of the strong acting, like what the first movie gave us in the form of Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin. Mr. Yelchin’s passing should have been the final nudge I needed to see it, but I just couldn’t get the taste of Into Darkness out of my mouth.
Also, WTF is up with recoloring (as to essentially DE-color) black people in space? Why is Samuel L. Jackson the only black person on the Jedi Council? “I mean, none of the rest of them are black, and if they are they have a bone stickin’ out of their heads!” (thank you, Sequential Pictures). ST:B had to go that lame route, and that was a big reason I stayed away. Don’t worry Hollywood, black people can withstand the rigors of space travel just as well as their lily white counterparts without being painted green and shit.
Erik’s Pick: Embrace of the Serpent.
There’s a lot that I missed out on this year, but few that I’ll say I really “missed.” One of the films that is tops on my list to make up for is Embrace Of The Serpent.
I’m a sucker for black and white; there is a lot to be said of the beauty in its simplicity, and how it can be utilized to add to the imagery and aesthetic. Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, may be the most beautiful film of all time, largely in part to the dedication to using austere black and white visuals.
Throw in the complex morality tale, non professional actors to give the film a shot of realism, and Embrace of the Serpent is a movie I’m all in for.
Our Favorites: Best Movie Moment of 2016.
Nate’s Pick: Grenade + Ass = Gold. (The Accountant.)
This year had some fantastic movie moments. Captain America curling a helicopter. Whatever the hell that was that Godzilla did with all those lasers. A certain sand hating Sith showing those rebel scum that if you sow the storm you reap the muthafukkin whirlwind!
But this year, I have to give my friend Benny “The Sweet One” O’Callahan a make-up call. In my review I forgot to mention a scene in The Accountant where a bad ass close quarters combat fight ends in Batfleck sitting on a guy’s chest, pulling the pin on a grenade attached to the baddie’s flak jacket, and killing him while BLOWING HIS OWN ASS OFF. I have no freaking clue how he survived it, but I cackled deliciously, and for that, he gets my nod.
Erik’s Pick: Walter Pulls a Piece on the Lane. (10 Cloverfield Lane.)
It goes without saying spoiler alert.
So it’s not just a favorite moment of the film but a moment that sets off a chain reaction leading to this movie being one of my favorite movies of the year. 10 Cloverfield Lane did an amazing job of ratcheting up the tension of the film throughout… but the moment that Howard blew Emmet’s mind blew mine as well.
That scene just opens the floodgates of insanity that was to ensue. Between Howard’s muffled ramblings (“This is how it was supposed to be”) to his coming out clean shaven the next scene, shows that we have rounded a corner in the crazy bus, and it is right off a cliff of madness. Scary stuff.
Neil’s Pick: Sweet Dreams are Made of These. (X-Men: Apocalypse.)
There is one movie moment this year that I watched over and over and over. X-Men: Apocalypse was just so-so, but it did have one of the most innovative and fun moments of the year. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) had one of the best moments in X-Men: Days of Future Past using his time slowing speed, and here he outdoes himself. Set to a gloriously blaring rendition of Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, we see our puckish speedster revel in his power, saving lives while pulling hilarious sight-gags and smiling like he is God’s own fool. With all of the grim and dour heroes beating each other up this year, this one scene showed that having great power can be great fun as well.
I’m going to drop the mic (twinkie?) and (moon) walk off the stage. Goodbye 2016.